Barack Hussein Obama, President Trump, White House discussed on Commonwealth Club
The night that he won the night that he won. I was actually in Ohio. I was like I fell asleep in the car because I've worked so hard. But how did it feel that night? I was exhausted. I was so tired. We gone out that day. My daughter came with us we flew to Indianapolis for one campaign. Stop Justice show people. He was still on that day of the election, working hard, and we had been running full out. And my daughter said, well, this isn't bad one-stop wise is so hard. And I was like, no, you don't understand this is election day, we've been really working hard, and sadly his grandmother had died that just the day before to cut so close and had not made it so it was kind of bittersweet in that way. But we were preparing for this rally in grand park, hoping for the best and one of the funny stories, it just shows you kids out of the house of babes with the Obamas left. Their home to go to the hotel where we waited for the return. So driving down lakeshore drive. And it's packed. Right. And so then they get to the hotel. And then when it's time to go to grand park everybody who was in the hotel left earlier. So we could get to grand park again fingers crossed. And I'm on my way to grant park with a busload of supporters, and we hear that he's one. And so, of course, the bus goes up in uproar, and then I get to grand park, and I decided wait backstage to see him. Now, they come from the Hyatt hotel towards grandpa. And by that point. He's the president elect, right? Not a car on the street because secret service kicks in immediately. And there is no traffic me said daddy. I'm so sorry. I don't think anybody's coming to your party. Shows you how kids are she was so protective of him. It's like, I'm so sorry. There's nobody there. He goes. I think they're going to be people there, and we get the grand park lo and behold beholder million people there, and you know, any of you know, you guys take your weather for granted November. And Chicago when it's above sixty degrees, you're on. It's a good night and early seventies low seventies. And so I'm standing backstage. And I'm thinking, what can I say to my friend to capture how I feel and I was searching for words, and I'm not usually at a loss for words, and I saw have come up the steps to the riser, and he's walking towards many starts out about as far as back of this room. And I'm like, something brilliant, come to mind. Something brilliant, come to mind. I couldn't think what to say literally, not a word came out of my mouth, and he came over. And I guess he couldn't think of what to say either. We never said a word. He hugged me, and I hugged him, and it was like squeeze him and tried to fight back, the tears and that. And I'm glad actually now because I would've probably not so the exact right thing. And it's better to just have the emotion that's left time like, and what a beautiful moment, and the fact that there was everybody in grant park felt the way we felt in Springfield day with a few more people jubilant excited in the cameras were armed folksy were crying hugging. Perfect strangers. I was a beautiful moment amazing moment, I was sleeping car after he's I I didn't hear the whole speech. But I was like I just heard him start speaking. And I was like this. We worked hard and Ohio. We were so happy, and we wanna high was a big state to win. Yes. And tell us a little bit. I mean, I know people are dying here about, you know, so many things that you accomplished in the White House. I mean, the work that you all did with vomit hair, the work that you did with same sex marriage, and all of the just really challenges that had existed you guys over. Overcame these tremendous obstacles, despite the drama that you had to face when there was a change. And we won't even go there. But there was really some challenging times when they're White House in and to the point where I remember you talked about in the book, there was a breaking point. But let's talk about that that moment where you felt that we did something amazing. And maybe not everyone else realizes how amazing it was. But you were like in the middle of it. You helped make it happen. The hard work you made it happen through this incredible process that can sometimes be very difficult to make anything happens all of us a little bit about that. That's true. I'll tell you one of the strengths. I think of his leadership is the ability to take the long view and recognize that you're gonna absorb a lot of pain on your way to that long view. And that you just can't put your short term political interests. I had of what's best for the country, and perhaps your Ford -able karaoke, passing is one of the best examples where it was. An uphill climb seven presidents before him had tried to get it passed and failed. And he was just a Termine to get it done. And one of the ways that he would lift us up sometimes with humor. And I remember one time we were really thinking that there's no way this is going to get done. It was a summer recesses and the members of congress had gone home to their districts where coming for hearings, and the Republicans were promoting this notion of death panels. Now, nobody actually knew what a death panel was. But you knew you didn't want one, right? Just the name was perfectly diabolical name to say, and we were in the Oval Office, and every all of this senior tamer just so dispirited, and he asked one guy will fill third way, Phil who was in charge of legislative affairs. What are we going to do? And so Phil said, well, if you're feeling lucky we can do this and that and everybody else. It's not gonna work disaster. And President Obama said you're asking me if I feel lucky he said, we're are we fill? So we're in the Oval Office. And he goes what's my name? And he says President Obama, and he said my name is Barack Hussein Obama, and we're at here. Yes. Go figure out how to get this done. And it just lifted us up, and we did get it done and the night that it was scheduled to pass. I went home with my same friend who I sat across the table with a back way back in the mayor's office who was in the White House counsel's office. Susan sure, and we go home to watch the vote and Maud might have been there. But we're just like relaxing from Chicago. We counted the votes long before they took place and. How we rolled and late at night and Susan pajamas. We have a big bowl of popcorn glass of wine. And we're getting ready for the vote on the phone rings. And it's Katie Johnson, President Obama's assistant, and she says President Obama everybody who worked on the character come back the White House, and we're like we're good here. Popcorn we're exhausted. When working on it nonstop. I said we'll we'll just watch it from here on she goes President Obama would like everybody who worked on they Care Act to come back. So we're like, okay, we get it. We get it. So we get dressed slipped back and have the celebration. And that he's like hundred people come on up stairs. And celebrate. Well, MRs Obama was out of town. That's the only way that you can just imagine. What's happening ushers are like what one hundred people coming upstairs. What are we serve there in the freezer? Looking for pigs in the blanket or something and secret services like renegades on the move plus one hundred. This just didn't happen. But it was a unique night. And then we get up there, and we're celebrating and he's saying to everybody how important they were from vice president Biden to the most junior person on my staff and found this woman to McAfee who'd written a note to President Obama explaining her illness, and why affordable health insurance would be so important to her because she did what many families would do she played Russian roulette. She contracted cancer. She was treated for it. You went into remission. And then she was her premiums went up because she had a pre existing condition and she's choosing between holding onto her mom's childhood home and paying premiums and she opted to not pay the premiums. And of course, the cancer came back. And so she became our spokesperson when she was too ill to talk about. Her sister showed up at her place, and my staff person and Witter developed this relationship with Mathoma and our sister. And so President Obama said to her you're the reason this past. And he has her hands like this. And there's a photo of my book of him looking at this woman. He was like, oh my God. The president United States is talking to me. And he said this is what I want. I want us to be engaging with the American people. I want them to be a part of what we're all about. And so that was a moment but later that night, and we're talking to I am I'd had maybe two Martinez to confess to you. Because we're celebrating sidled up to President Obama, and we were on the Truman balcony, my favorite place in the White House, and you're looking out on the south lawn and Washington Monument is blinking in the Jefferson memorial behind that. And I said, how do you feel tonight compared to election night because you look so happy, and he said there's no comparison he said election-night was just about getting to this night. And yes election night, I won. But tonight, the American people win, and that's what you're supposed to do. And I thought that's why I work for you. You know, and so many great stories in the book. But what I found quite interesting to is like really, you're relationship where you the president will call you or you'll just show up at his house and have dinner, and it's like, I'm going to go hang out with Michelle and Barack and all of us here. We look at Michelle and Barack and we go, whoa. Wow. That's amazing. And you have this incredible relationship with them. And part of what you do in the book, which I think is great. Is you expose it in such a way that you're like, wow, they're human. All right. Well, your and your normal. But you're like incredible. And. And again, I say that this is exciting because I it's like, I'm glad you wrote the book because it's like I have this newfound appreciation and respect for all the incredible things. You did. I mean, we saw from afar in watching it on the news and rooting for you and get mad with you and everything else. But to just understand it better was absolutely fascinating. One of the questions from the audience is what do you make of the current tug of war between so-called establishment, Democrats and the far left and what's happening with the party. And what are we going to be able to do to change that post Obama? Well, so this is what I think about the Democratic Party. It has a very big tent. And I think that's a strength of the party is that we embrace a whole range of ideas of fall under the democratic values progressive values, and the comment that I have made an actually President Obama was talking about this in his European swing? The few. Days ago is. Spoken to several of the candidates who are either running thinking putting their name in the hat. And I said look a few things first of all have an affirmative action. Affirmative message for what you believe you will do as president. You have to earn the trust of the American people in its long robe where we are right now very early and the race at this point President Obama was down by about twenty points. So a lot will happen between now and the time we have a nominee next summer. So remember that the real prize winning the general election don't beat each other up so much in the process by the time, we get to the general election, whoever our nominee is bruised and beat up that we can't rally everybody behind this. So I think that's important. I also think that it's great to have big, bold ideas. And I and I support those ideas surly President Obama had them. Once you go from campaign, though to actually governing you have to appreciate that. You can't let perfect be the enemy of the good and your idea perfect isn't going to be everybody's idea. Perfect. And if he we let perfect be the enemy of the good perhaps would have gone for a public option for healthcare, and then twenty million people wouldn't have healthcare today. One to Americans wouldn't would be worrying about peak Sistan conditions. Young people wouldn't be able to stay on their parent's plan until they're twenty six women wouldn't be having access to preventive care. And so you have to once you're in a position to govern recognize it can't be my way or the highway. They can't be just my bold idea. And I'm going to turn blue until I get it. And I experienced being on the other side of that in the White House where the Republicans basically said we're just going to say no to everything President Obama wants to say, even if we meet them three fourths of the way, even if we. Make two hundred amendments to the Affordable Care Act trying to find some bipartisanship. We're just going to say, no, I don't think that that's ultimately why no it's not what's in the best of the country in the country. But as I have traveled this country over the last ten plus years twelve years now, I don't think it's what's in the heart of the American people. And so so many people that to my earlier point just shutting all institutions right now, you can develop your community in the palm of your hand. You don't really have.