On a tour to push her new memoir, former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice told the story of the time she thought President George W. Bush and herself were going to die.
The current faculty member at the Stanford Graduate School of Business said the two, along with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Chief of Staff Andy Card, were told that they had potentially been exposed to botulism poisoning.
The news was delivered by a secure video conference line message from Vice President Dick Cheney while the pair were traveling to China shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
"I remember everybody just sort of freezing, and the president saying, 'What was that? What was that, Dick?'"
Mr. Cheney informed them that the White House detectors had detected botulinum toxin and all of them had been potentially exposed.
Rice said they had to wait 24 hours for a test to be conducted on mice to see if they had been exposed or not. The president asked her aide, Stephen Hadley, to keep them updated on the test.
"(He) has this very dry sense of humor and he said, 'Let me put it this way. If the mice are feet up, we’re toast. If the mice are feet down, we’re fine,'" Rice said.
The test came back negative and Rice informed Mr. Bush while he was meeting with his Chinese counterparts.
"I went back to the president, and he was sitting next to the Chinese, and I said: 'The mice are feet down,'" Rice told ABC News. "And the president said, 'That’s a good thing,' and I’m sure the Chinese who probably got a translation thought it was some sort of code."
Rice is currently on a media tour for her new book "No Higher Honor," which recalls her eight years serving the president.