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 Akbal 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 like 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 and had not made it, and 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 mouths 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 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 grandpa again fingers crossed. And I'm on my way to grand 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 grand park. 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. Emily said daddy. I'm so sorry. I don't think anybody's coming to your party. This shows you how kids are she was so protective of him. I'm so sorry. There's nobody there. He goes. I think they're going to be people there, and we get to grand park, 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 a good night. And this was like early seventies. I think low seventies. And so I'm standing backstage. And I'm thinking, what can I say to my friend capture how I feel and I was suiting for words, and I'm not usually at a loss for words, and I saw him come up the steps to the riser, and he's walking towards Manny starts out about his far as back of this room. And I'm like, something broken 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 squeezed him and tried to fight back, the tears and that and I'm glad actually. Because I wouldn't probably not so the exact right thing. And it's better to just have the emotion that's left unsaid at a time like that. And what a beautiful moment, and the fact that there was everybody in grant park felt the way we felt in Springfield day, only with a few more people jubilant excited. The cameras were on folks who are in crying hugging. Perfect strangers. I was a beautiful moment. 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 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 going to absorb a lot of pain on your way to that. Longview. And that you just can't put your short term political interests ahead of what's best for the country, and perhaps your forcible characte passing. 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 determined 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 members of congress had gone home to their districts coming for hearings, and the Republicans were promoting this notion of death panels, and nobody actually knew it a death panel was, but you knew you didn't want one right does the name was perfectly diabolical name to say, and we were in the Oval Office, and every all of your team were just so dispirited, and he asked one guy well, fill third way, Phil who hasn't tried to 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 was like. It's not gonna work disaster. And President Obama said you asking me if I feel lucky he said, we're are we fill so. We're in the 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 in 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 just like relaxing from Chicago. We counted the votes long before they took place. And. We rolled. And so it's late at night and Susan on our jobs. 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 at nonstop. I said we'll we'll just watch it from here. And 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 rested slipped back and have the celebration. And then he's like hundred people come on stairs. And celebrate. Well, this is Obama was out of town. That's the only way that. And you could 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 press? 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 everybody how important they were from vice president Biden to the most junior person on my staff who found this woman to McCann field 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. She 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 an Witter developed this relationship with Natasha and her 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. Who was like, oh my God. The president United States is talking to me. And he said it 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 and I signed up to President Obama, and we were on the balcony my favorite place in the White House, and you're looking out on the south lawn and the 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 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 they're human 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 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 few. Few days ago is I've spoken to several of the candidates who are either running thinking of 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 between 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 of by the time, we get to the general election, whoever our nominee is so 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 push eight 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. It 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 in 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 back to my earlier point just shunning all institutions right now, you can develop your community in the palm of your hand. You don't really have to have a community geographically where you live. And I think that's a problem. I think social media contributes to it the polar at the toxicity in the air, but contributes to it, and I think we have to do is lift up the voices of the people who say this is my -firmative vision for our country. This is where I think we should go. This is why I'm qualified to do that. And I think those are the politicians I would like to see rise to the top. Yeah. And your book you had what you call a breaking point. When that situation occurred on a regular basis where everything that the president did to try and work with people was met with the opposition. So tell us how were you able to move past that why did have a breaking point? And I am pretty temperamentally even keel and similar to the president. I think his comes from Hawaii, you know, where everything laid back, and I didn't have that. But I just think temperamentally I have this resilience again, probably came from my parents and having worked and local government. I know that hard things are really hard, and that you just have to push it through and we were trying to earlier Kelly, and I went to some of the worst public meetings in the world as we were trying to help develop neighborhoods, and so I'm used to people being afraid of change and having to earn their trust to get it through. But in this, particular instance, we were facing was call the debt ceiling, and that is raising our debt limit. So that we don't default on the full, faith and credit of the United States of America treasury bonds, which.