International Policy Center Home Page

Harold Ford: Today's political landscape

December 23, 2010 1:29:38
Kaltura Video

Harold Ford Jr. talks about today's political landscape. April, 2010.


[ Noise ]
[ Inaudible Discussions ]
>> Hello everybody and welcome.  I'm Susan Collins, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean here at the Gerald R. Ford School of School of Public Policy and it's such a great pleasure to have all of you here with us this afternoon.  I'm welcoming you here on behalf of both the Ford School and our newly launched Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies and I'll say just a bit about that in a minute.  I'd like to extend an especially warm welcome to our speaker today Mr Harold Ford Jr.  He's here in part.  Thanks to our special guest Mr. Sanford Weill who is also here.  Sandy will introduce Harold more fully in a few moments.  And in just a moment, I'll get things started by introducing Sandy, but I first wanted to share a few things with the group that's here with us this afternoon.  Let me begin by welcoming our distinguished guest.  We're very pleased that Debbie Dingell is able to join us here this afternoon.
[ Applause ]
And as you know, Debbie is a very well-known figure in Michigan political and charitable circles.  And we're very pleased to have her here with us.  Today's panel is co-sponsored as I mentioned by the Diversity Center which is a brand new center here at the Ford School.  And before I turn things over to Sandy to start the program, let me just tell you a little bit about our new enterprise.  It is a first of its kind center, which is designed to shed light on how public policy can most effectively navigate opportunities as well as the challenges as our societies become increasingly diverse, both locally, nationally, and internationally.  With the opening of our new Center for Public Society in Diverse Societies, the Ford School has become a host to the first policy school-based center of its kind at the university and we're very proud of that distinction.  For the faculty, the postdocs, the students who are here in the room, I'd like to mention that we are currently hosting a call for proposals to support innovative ideas for research and events and initiatives that would enrich our broader community's engagement on issues of diversity and our understanding of the ways that they impact public policy.  And I invite you to visit our web, there's the website on your programs for more information about both the center and that initiative.  I'd also like to recognize the Jean Fairfax Fund which is helping to support today's event.  Jean is an alumna of the University of Michigan who earned degree back in 1941.  She established a wonderful initiative here at the university to encourage African-American alumni and friends to give back in meaningful ways to the University of Michigan.  Her gift was matched by the Ford Foundation's Fulfilling a Dream Fund and we are extremely grateful for their support.  Now, it is my great pleasure, it is my great pleasure to introduce Sanford Weill, the Chairman Emeritus of City Group Incorporated.  In addition to an incredibly distinguished career in the financial sector, he has, for decades, demonstrated unparalleled commitments to public service and to philanthropy.  Among many other posts, he has served as Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  And he continues to serve on the boards of some of the world's top institutions in a wide range of sectors including education, healthcare, and of course, the arts.  He has been a good, good friend to the Ford School and we are incredibly grateful for all of his generosity and for his time that he has spent with us in a number of visits including here today.  And so, please help me in welcoming back--him back to the building that bears his name, Sandy Weill.
[ Applause] 
>> Thank you.  Susan, I just thank you very much for that very kind introduction and I just like to say that I love working for you, [laughter] and you really make things interesting and it's really fun to participate in what you all are building here.  And I think it's very important to the future of our country and the world that people understand how to really make other people get along better and to create the kinds of legislation and outreaches to make our world a better place 'cause that's going to be good for everybody. And today, I'm especially happy to be here with my good friend Harold Ford.  I call him congressman 'cause he calls me chairman.  Neither of us had the job anymore [laughter].  And I think maybe we both feel a little bit lucky [laughter].  But I've known Harold I guess for close to 15 years now.  I think I first met you at Howard University in Washington, and then shortly after that, you were at the Kennedy Center when Alvin Ailey performed down there, which is an institution of my life as chairman of.  And we've become really very good friends and basically, the beginning of the friendship for me was the developing respect that I had for Harold in his 10 years in Congress and I'm watching him grow and watching him really be his own person and trying to lead our country to the middle of the road which is where most Americans are and most Americans want to be governed rather than to one extreme or another which will not end up making us a great country.  And I think what Harold was able to accomplish in Congress was really fantastic in that period and I would then, and I would now, and you all have heard me say it now publicly so you could hold me to it in some time in the future.  But if he ever calls on me for my service to help him manage the affairs of this country and just about anything, I am at his service, and I'd be proud to be at his service 'cause we need people like Harold.  He's now getting a little bit of the other side of the coin rather than doing things to make our country better.  He's in the undistinguished profession now of being a banker and he's trying to do things to make things better from that point of view.  But I think most importantly for today, Harold is a graduate of law school here at the University of Michigan.  He loves this institution.  He--when I talked to him about coming out here and doing this today, he jumped at the opportunity and I think--I feel sorry that his wife wasn't able make it because of an illness, but I think we got to show her around what is really one of the great institutions of the United States.  And Harold, it's my pleasure to--and they all came to hear you not to hear me introduce you and I think you'll all see, after you hear him talk for a minute or an hour, that this is somebody that really has the ingredients to do a heck of a lot to make our world better.
>> Thank you Sandy.
[ Applause ]
>> Thank you.  There--I'm glad to be back, go blue, and I hope we win more games for ball games next year, but I am delighted to be around [laughter].  I'm delighted to be with, I call him Mr. Weill for a number of reasons.  You know in any lifetime have the chance to be around, learn from and call a friend.
Someone who help create, help build a business, start a business, create an industry, create jobs, help grow the country and strengthen the country.  And someone, at the same time, who wants to get back and continually gives back and sets the examples for those who have achieved as much as he's achieved and those who have not achieved the kind of professional and material success that he has.  He may spoke a little bit, but I'm here today because I love his wife more that him and she told me I had to be here today.  And I'm delighted always to say yes to the both of them.  But for him to make--and he and his wife to commit themselves into this campus and to this school in particular and to give at the rate that they've given and to continue to give and want to be a part of the life of this university and this school in particular is a huge statement about him, about his wife, and about his vision of giving and philanthropy.  I cant thank you enough for someone that loves this school and feels a part of it, although I didn't attend to Ford School, I'm happy that my law school has taken the parking lot from you that it wants to add to buildings [laughter] to expand, now remind me here, I've used to park in that law school parking lot.  My classmate [inaudible] is here.  And all of us then will go drive to school.  But I wanted to just take a moment just to thank Sandy Weill again, he and his wife for all they do for the Ford School and all that they meant to the life of the University of Michigan, so I thank you again sir for the your enormous commitment.
[ Applause ]
Dean Collins is a new friend.  Beth Johnson is a new friend.  I thank the both of them for today.  I'd mention my dear friend John Matlock who was also one of the reasons that I ended up at the University of Michigan.  I have known him since I was probably 10 or 11 years old.  He was my father's Chief of Staff when he was in Congress and remained friends with him.  He and his wife were my home away from home when I was here in law school.  I thank you Dean for being here for the unbelievable support you've shown mw over the years and I know you feel like I do, about the foot ball team as well so thank you again for your friendship.  Debbie Dingell, I love you.  I love your husband.  I thank you for the commitment you've made that you continue to make to--I should say the enormous commitment you've shown to this university and continue to show, you and the chairman.  And I thank you for your friendship over the years.  She's known me as bad as long as anyone in the room has as well, and I still call Miss Dingell.  So Miss Dingell, thank you again for coming.  Whenever I speak before groups, I'm reminded--I run for Congress when I was 25 years old.  I went out of law School.  I was here in law school.  I was going home every week to campaign and do the exploratory work.  My friend Moe [phonetic] and others would help with keeping notes in class because I'd leave on Wednesday and comeback on Sunday night.  I did it for about 25 weeks, and I got lucky.  If you ever won for office, you don't want to have your dad as the predecessor in Congress if you decide to run or your mom for that matter.  And I had a dad who was my predecessor.  I had tough race.  I faced a lot of local political currents and winds, but I never forget when I announced.  Shortly after, I came back to school to take my exams and finish up, which was I announced at Saturday before Easter in '96.  I flew back to Memphis, I flew back here rather, spent a week or so getting ready for exams, took exams and finished.  About 10, 11 days before graduation, which I flew back home and kept doing the exploratory work I was doing to get--kept doing the campaigning I was doing rather.  I flew back and graduated on May 11th.  I flew back that night to Memphis, and walked in my head quarters, and my campaign staff had a nice, little graduation party for me.  And the next morning, I was waiting for all of the invitations to come and speak before various groups.  I was hoping to be invited to speak before business organizations, labor organizations, political organizations, neighborhood organizations, Civil Rights groups, women's groups, environmental groups, all of the groups that make up the constellation of political constituencies within the district.  And I'm running as a democrat hoping that some of the democratic clubs will invite in the district to speak.  I got not 1 invitation.  I was able to generate excitement, Mr. Weill, in the campaign and largely by just showing up where groups of people work.  So if I read that somebody was coming to speak at the Ford School and this was in the district, I'd be outside shaking hands as people walked because I hadn't been invited.  I might come in and sit, but I'd leave or come back when the program was over and shake hands.  I did that at grocery stores.  I did it at bowling alleys, I did it at PTA meetings, I did it at church, I did it at church banquets, I did it at Wednesday night Bible service, I did it anywhere I thought there would be crowds of people.  But once I announced, I assumed I would be invited to speak in some place, I haven't shown some at a level of dignity to be campaigned that had not existed prior.  But no invitations came.  It wasn't until about a week and half then that we'd started going to breakfast spots and popular lunch spots, and anywhere again, there were big numbers of people.  I was being criticized for thinking about running.  They said I was too young.  Then my dad was giving me a graduation gift from law school that this is going to be my first full-time which it would be and--but I didn't have--did not have the experience and the where with all and the capacity at 25 or 26 years old to be US a congressman.  But I just kept plugging away and plugging away and plugging away and finally, my elementary school principal Heidi Jackson [phonetic] run into my office one day.  She was one of my campaign managers.  She's the lady to ever paddle me in school, the one time I got paddled in second grade.  She came running into the office, she said, "Baby--babe I've got you 35 graduation speeches."  And I said Miss Jackson, I love--I looked at her, I couldn't have been more excited.  It was my first set of invitations.  I assume, like anybody, that it would smart to get prepared.  Debbie Dingell and I decided to go on and collect every voter registration form in the district and I thought we'd be systematic about it.  I didn't believe that we'd find them all in the public libraries 'cause we're talking about 35 graduations, I couldn't politic, but I can certainly encourage people to register and vote, these graduation seniors and encourage them to participate in the election, hoping that they would vote for me 'cause I look like them.  I look like I was about 10 years old when I was running and I figured they might feel a link to me if I got up before them and talk a little bit about politics.  I said so let's run to the voter--we'll go to the election commission, somebody go to the libraries, let's order these voter registration forms and be ready.  We got a few days to prepare.  She looked at me and she said, "Baby, these aren't high school graduation."  So I looked at her and said "It must be middle school, still get the graduate--still get the registration forms.  They may have older siblings.  They may have cousins, other family members.  People may need change of address forms.  I want to armed and ready at these graduation speeches."  She said "Sweetheart, they're not middle school graduations."  So I looked at her and said, "Miss Jackson, what have you done sweetheart?  You got me 35 graduation speeches, can I ask what are they for?"  She said, "Baby, I got you every kindergarten graduation speech in the city of Memphis."  Now, I wanted to be angry, but I had no other place to be.  I had not been invited anywhere so this was in fact an honor to be invited.  Let alone if they were 5 and 6 year olds that would comprise most of the audience.  Disappointed I was, I quickly did the math and determined there were 3 others.  So, I said "Ms. Jackson, where are the remaining 3 graduation speeches?  You said there were 35."  She said, "Sweetheart, I got you 3 elementary school graduation speeches as well."  Again, I couldn't be more angry, frustrated, kind of abandoned.  The idea of collecting all of these voter registration forms and there should be more.  I thought about I said, "They're going to be young parents."  So at least I might be able to register the parent.  I start this track of doing the 35.  My dad who was in congress would come home and ride with me in the car to some of this event.  We didn't have much money to campaign rollouts, all we have were bunch of stickers and fans with my name on it 'cause it was so hot and humid in Memphis during the summer time, and a bunch of leaflets saying that what I just did for 4 or 5 planks or points [inaudible] to run on the campaign.  I don't know if anybody runs with the planks and I'm against education, I'm against healthcare, I'm for nuclear war.  And there are things that you are for that would make sense for the country.  I'm writing for my 16th to 17th graduation [inaudible].  I'd never forget as one of the schools called Russell Accelerated which is in midtown Memphis to Valentine Elementary which is in north Memphis.  And my dad is in the car and there was this local radio showing everyday, this political guy would just go on and on and say negative things about me.  And he went on and on, everyday and I get so frustrated riding, listening to him, thinking to myself and saying to my dad, why don't we have someone and call in and say something positive.  Remind him that I'm not a criminal, remind them that I can read, remind them that I've gone to college, just something positive 'cause they've said all these negative things.  He said, don't do that, don't do that.  He's saying that in this ride, and it's easy for him to say because they're not saying negative things about him necessarily, on and on.  Finally, as we're pulling into the driveway of Valentine's, there's a big hill that you got to go up.  We pulled in, and all of a sudden, this lady calls in and identifies herself as a grandmother and says that she listens to the show everyday.  She said favorable things about the announcers or the DJs on the show, the host of the show and said, "I want you to know, I've listened to you all everyday over the last several months.  I've listened to you in particular over the last few weeks talked about that boy Harold Ford.  And I got to tell you I believed you until yesterday."  And the fellow said, "What do you mean you believe this until yesterday?  You said you listen to us all the time.  You believe in us.  You'd support us.  Well, what will makes you change your mind?"  She said, "Well, yesterday, I went to my grandbaby's kindergarten graduation."  She said "I walked in, and there he was standing before these kids and I was just amazed" and the man said, "What do you mean you're amazed?  He was speaking to kindergartens.  They can't vote."  But newspapers and presses are calling me the kindergarten congressman, something like that, not speaking to people that can't vote and the so forth.
She said, "You know, I thought all of those things I've read are weird but I watched him," she said, "He got up.  He started speaking up.  He was introduced and as soon as he started speaking, every kid fell asleep," she said, "But that didn't stop him," she said, "He kept talking and talking and talking and talking and talking and when it was finished, he gave everyone, the kids, their kindergarten diploma, took pictures with the kids, took pictures with their parents and the teachers and everybody in the room in the auditorium."  And the fellow said, "What would make you want to support somebody 'cause they took pictures."  She said, "I watched him take the pictures but it was what he did after he took the pictures."  So he said, "What did he do?"  She said, "He went back at the back of the kitchen in the school, shook everybody's hand, took pictures with the kitchen staff and all the janitorial staff."  And she goes, "I'll never forget that and I'm going to vote for him because of that."  My dad looked at me with a kind of an I told you so look on his face as we're getting ready to get out the car.  I thought a little better bout it.  And before we know, we're getting out the car, another call comes in, a lady she said she's a grandmother and had the same experience at another school, one of the other 15 schools I've spoken at.  I told the story because and I'm reminded of the story, because 2 things.  1, opportunity will present itself and everybody has a story like this.  We're going to say what's your business may be your businesses, Mr. Weill has built them and put them together and grown them over the years.  Everyone has a story.  They can tell about a moment when the momentum shifted in their favor or when the least likely of circumstances presented itself in a way that looked [inaudible] but turn into something far more positive.  We found ourselves in a lot of ways in unique situations and say the unique situation confronting us as a nation in so many ways today.  I was blessed about 6 years ago to have the opportunity to come and speak before graduation exercises here at the school and I had a chance then I was, I don't write speeches but I remember what I talked about that day as I was--as Mr. Weill and Mrs. Weill I had to be here a few months ago.  I remember saying if the one the challenges for this generation of public policy school graduate is to not be confined or not allow the current dogma and current conversation and current dialogue among public policy in the current alphabet soup of agencies and acronyms for various legislation to limit your thinking about answers to the public policy problems confronting the nation.  And in so many ways, the deregulation free trade, the fact that the growth and innovation and technology was changed in the country and for that matter, the world is such in a rapid pace and it would take a different kind, a new kind of thinking on the part of public policy makers of that matter, every professional particularly public policy makers to adjust and address and anticipate challenges and opportunities that would present themselves going forward.  So in many ways, nothing much has changed.  We still confront that same kind of reality as a nation and for that matter, be it financial regulatory reform, be it health reform, be it education reform, be it the president's most recent announcement about the nation's poster with regard to our nuclear weapons.  The world has become or should I say, we've become a more global community and a community that in large part, depends more on technology today than we did before and will even more going forward.  As I watched this president, and watched my former colleagues and friends in Congress and have over the last several weeks, several months, it's fascinating how so many of my friends and for that matter, so many in the country had never watched an inaugural address before or least have got some of the cable outlet and others, when president Obama delivered his address over a year ago now.  People acted as if after he spoke that no other president had ever said anything quite like this president, and don't get me wrong, this president inspired a feeling, he rose above and transcended politics in so many ways in his campaign, I think it's hard to argue, credibly that anyone has run a better primary campaign than this president run in the last 30 years.  I'd put Jimmy Carter, some of us forget how--where Jimmy Carter was and the kind of campaign he had to run and I would even put a Reagan in some ways in the category.  But when you think about how Obama run in this--I'm talking about primary, not general, but the primary campaign, Obama run 1 heck of a campaign.  You think about how he run his general campaign and the emotions that he evoked and mainly how we was able to transcend politics and went on behalf of a democrat taking independent and republican votes in the fall.  There's no doubt he was helped by his predecessor.  The fact that George W. Bush, whether you like him or not, it created some questions and in large part, had made America at best, misunderstood around the world and at worst, disliked.  So, people wanted to change.  They wanted something different.  Obama got up before the country and declared that we were going to bring people together, work together.  He was going to reach out with an open hand and those from the Muslim world that reach out with an open hand, not of clenched fists would see in America to want to work with him clearly a shot at and in the indignant of President Bush in the way he went about doing business, he talked about healthcare and education and finding sensible answers and being in middle.  A year later or I should say later that day, I went to the White House to started the work.  And America, I find large people who've never seen these things were amazed.  And I thought to myself, for those who've never seen it, they behave act as if president stood before the country before and gave inaugural addresses or something along a lies, but I can't wait.  When I leave the steps of the [inaudible], I'm going to travel down in Pennsylvania Avenue with my wife during this parade.  And when I arrive at the White House, I'm going to send a draft piece of legislation to Congress that will divide, antagonize, and make every American angry with me and democrats and republicans just like one of presidents talk about bringing people together.  All president who--when inaugurated talked about enlightening and for that matter, bridging the divide and transcending politics.  The last year and 3 months we've seen in a large part, the country become as polarized [inaudible] more than it was when George Bush was present at its worst moment.  It says a lot about us as a country, says probably a lot about some of the priorities and the choices that President Obama and his administration, decisions they made about which policies to pursue, and nobody even argued the way they pursued it.  Some appointed as we talk about healthcare, Mr. Weill had a chance--the chairman had a chance to talk to--and by the way, chairman is a better title than congressman.  But we had a chance to speak to a group of students here at the Public Policy School early in the day.  And so many people point to what happened in August with democrats on healthcare and the way republican organized.  They don't call themselves republicans, but the tea parties or those who oppose the healthcare.  The way they organized in August last summer and appeared at town hall meetings held by democrats, protesting what they thought healthcare was going to look like.  I would argue that some of the bipartisanship broke down before the healthcare conversation started.  And there were some hands that they strained around whether or not the President would be able to hold this broad coalition together.  Some of you may recall during the confirmation process, the early stages of confirmation process for [inaudible] you are now just in front of my view.  There was belief that she would garner some 80 votes for confirmation.  It's why I believed she would score support from Southern Republicans, West Coast Republicans, North--well, not Northeast Republicans, but Midwest Republicans and Northwest and Southwest Republicans, and certainly, those in the South and the Deep South.  She ended up winning back comfortable margin, no doubt about it.  But the margin was not what many people thought or should I say, we anticipated from the outside, which in a lot of ways showed this resetting and this retreating in many ways.  People back to their comfortable approaches of being a democrat or republican.  Now, as on aside, I don't think anything is wrong with people being democrat or republican.  I think when we reach the point where people have definitive views and ideas and perspectives on policy, and for that matter, policy proposals, there is nothing wrong with it as long as it is a willingness to at least listen to the other side.  I integrate this integration in politics as not being they are more republicans or they are more democrats, or democrats and republicans sometimes don't talk about it.  The real challenge is people don't listen nearly as much as they have to.   We've talked today a little bit about answers on how do you address, on how do you insure the big issues.  There's a young man here who was a part of the group early who referenced President Johnson and his approach to passing Civil Rights legislation.  And those who have asked the question, we would be able to address it, ticket items going forward and how do we move beyond the kind of paralysis that now seems to exist.  Well, if we're able to come this far from a year and 3 months ago from this high point to where we are in terms of the tone and the substance of the tone and even the lack of dynamism in terms of addressing issues in Washington in this period of time, we can certainly find our way back I believe to a moment where big issues and for that matter, the President's real leadership and his stature will shine again and democrats and republicans can work together again.  Again, my fear is not that people, some are republican and some are democrat, but it's just that people are unwilling to sit, talk and respect the other side, let alone--listen to what the other side maybe saying.  I happen to think that one of the answers and there are probably several and I know there are so.  But one of the answers to what I think is an ever growing problem and one that really trends undermine the Congress' ability, again, to tackle huge and pressing issues being entitlement reform or energy reform or emigration reform or other pressing issues facing and confronting the country is that we've got to look at how we elect people and not just from a campaign finance standpoint, but the way our primary system is organized.  I'm a huge believer and some have a spouse around the country including governors and mayors, the mayor of my home city down in New York, the governor of California whose recommended and we perhaps should take what some do in Louisiana.  And I learned earlier today what some do in the state of Washington in terms of an open primary system.  And allow candidates to just run for office and not declare democrat or republican.  It's more likely if you--in prime areas across the country that those who are the most active, the most spirited and the loudest will determine whom the democrat is and those who certainly are loudest and sometime the most obnoxious.  And the Republican Party will determine whom their republican nominee may be in congressional and senate races event or the other important electoral contests across the country.
There's no doubt those people deserve a voice, but they shouldn't drown out the rest of the country which I believe find themselves situated somewhere in the middle.  The middle sometimes takes a punch from bloggers and from those who again, are the most spirited and animated who seem to have the most thumb on their hands to express their opinions.  People in the middle seem to be attacked because they are accused of not having a position, I like it and I'm a Michigan fan, football fan.  I never went to a game and painted in my face.  I used to see guys and a woman at games who were painted upside down.  Now, I wanted Michigan to win just as much as they did.  I just didn't paint my face and paint my back and take my shirt off in 10-degree weather to show my enthusiasm for the team.  I felt very comfortable on parker [laughter] expressing my support for Michigan's football team.  The same is true with those on politics.  Just because you're loud and oftentimes uninformed, that'll make your position superior to someone who actually who may be as uninformed, but not as passionate, but sometimes maybe more informed and who's less passionate, much like someone who's very informed and very passionate shouldn't have anymore say than someone who maybe slightly less informed and slightly less passionate about issues.  We've reached this point in so many ways because of the way information is transferred and disseminated in the way that political views are expressed on cable shows and people are--say all the time, "I can't stand that liberal talk, that really conservative talk, I wish it was balanced."  But the top rated shows are the nuts.  The people who are most--let me take that back 'cause we're on tape, the most animated people [laughter] on the conservative side, the best shows and the most animated people in the liberal side have the highest ratings at their networks.  And I said--I mentioned them only because I think it makes it harder for real conversation and an honest conversation and a reasonable dialogue to take place between adults.  In short, there's sort of a dearth of adult-like conversation that occur over and over again.  Now, we get the policy and what I hope to do is to be able to open up here shortly, I know we've got a good little time in our hands.  I'd rather be able to react and respond some of the many questions or even comments or criticisms that some of the audience may have.  But I think about where we are as a nation from a policy standpoint.  The healthcare built a path without a doubt, [inaudible] political achievement for the president to be able to pass.  Anyone that believes this is not a huge fit when you consider the attempts over the years, put a side your politics, whether you like to be able to  was any enormous fit and this enormous accomplishment, particularly when you consider what happened January with the election of the Republican Senator in Massachusetts, what happened at the end of last year with the election of Governors, Republican Governors in both New Jersey and Virginia and what that may have pertinent for the President's overall legislative agenda.  For them to fight and to be able to pass this was a remarkable thing.  The flip side of the politics is that it certainly suggested a different kind of tone will determine and influence how things are addressed in Washington and even the outcome.  The way we went about doing this is democratic or strictly a democratic approach.  We probably could have done this a year ago today and had the same outcome with most the democrats supporting and then some would argue that a year ago today, remember Al Franken was in not the senate yet, they were still contesting that race.  He and Norm Coleman were still going back and forth and went to that--the 4th of July last year, the democrats reached 60.  And so might--maybe after the 4th of July, we could have gotten this or 8-9 months ago, we could have gotten where we are today when you consider that this is the numerical composition that make up the senate.  We passed a bill just on democratic support.  Most people in Congress, [inaudible] most Americans who are knowledgeable and spend time at work, who read often, raise their families couldn't tell you what's on Health Care Bill.  They can tell you what to heard within the Health Care Bill, but when they think about how transformed this is, most Americans can only tell you what either their political perspective if they like it or don't like what their saying.  And sometimes, even what they're saying is simply just not true.  2, it is unclear to me when if and to the extent taxes will go up for the majority of Americans who will be asked to pay taxes to cover the cost of this healthcare transformation that we've undergone.  And 3, it's unclear to me if it actually will curb cost, recall from the outset of the healthcare debate, my President--our President stated the 3 objectives with health care reform, 1, to cover everybody.  Probably give them a B plus on that although 32 out the 46 are without--is in the Math school so we'll go up, should be a C plus, but we'll go up to B plus, it should be nice.  They said they would pay for the entire bill.  It's unclear if the bill is entirely paid for, but a good chunk if it's paid for with tax--new taxes on, investment come and new taxes largely on the high in health care plans.  And finally, I said it would curb cost and lower cost over the long term.  Now, the way that bill was presented to the office known as the congressional budget office, which is the favorite of my friend Mr. Weill, the congressional budget office argues that it will lower cost.  And they argued that largely because of the way the bill was presented to them, that they'll set it with lower cost so they accepted the fact that the bill indeed will lower cost over a period of time.  That makes it a very rosy assumption that fixes to paying to doctors and hospitals and other providers will remain at a static level as opposed to being increased.  I served in Congress 10 years and we paid doctors a lot of money, we paid our voters a lot of money.  Rightly so, not to say they didn't deserve it but to argue that you're going to curb cost on that model raises some questions.  My hope is that over the next few months that we view this moment as really just another starting point around health care, that the fixes that have to come had some of the test runs in this Health Care Bill which seek to determine if care in one part of country for X element, why they are paying Y plus in another part of the country.  We can find ways to lower cost over a period of time, not only will I embrace that, I hope Congress will very quickly to replicate and amplify that and ensure that becomes policy long term.  As it relates to the doctor's fixes and other increases they could come, I hope that might colleagues will stand firm with the promises that they made to the country and if they choose to raise spending on it that they cut it elsewhere.  When I was in congress, I was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, I think I was the coach chair of the Blue Dog.  We're a group of primarily Southern Midwest pro-balanced budget, pro-trade and largely, pro-business democrats that believe in a very promise, something that Bill Clinton--I'll never forget telling me after I got elected and said, "How do you do?"  We're sitting at the White House shortly after '97and we were talking about--he had a group of freshmen democrats over and I said, "Mr. President, how did you," he's a great friend of Mr. Weill as well.  I said, "How did you do this?"  He says, "Harold, we brought back one thing to Washington that had been missing, arithmetic."  He at least wanted to make everything added up at the end of the day and we thought that, that was an important way to govern.  "I governed like that when I was in Arkansas, and I'm trying to govern like that as President."  I give President Obama huge credit for actually trying to pay for this thing.  We may not like the way and some of the numbers may have all add up, but at least he understood that his predecessor, President Bush, made two huge areas that's related spending.  One, we went to war and we didn't pay for it, now if we went to war twice, then pay for it.  And two, we passed an enormous entitlement program called a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan which we didn't pay for.  Now, you and I will paying for that for a very, very long time, both--all 3 of those enterprises.  We'll at least able to come back on them, and we can argue the--whether investment was the right thing, but within the day, we didn't pay for it while doing.  But in fact, we decided to go to war and do something no generation of Americans have ever done.  We decided to fight a war, pay for it as Americans and at the same time pay, for the other guys that fight us as well by our enormous diction to sort of energy products.  So we as a nation find ourselves working through this moment 7 or 8 years and this President gets in and decides that health care is the most important thing to do.  Now, I'd differ with the President on that.  I thought about running for the United States in New York about 3 months ago and decided a month ago not to run.  There was a lot of thinking to it, but part of the advice I gave trying to give them a party shortly after Scott Brown lose his race with make health care second or third that you do.  Things we should be focused on is how do we grow the economy and how do we create jobs.   Because at the end of the day, if you subscribe to them all that government can pay its bills and lower the deficit by raising taxes and raising taxes only, we can't do it.  The country is not organized in that kind of way where we--where we finance all of obligations by paying taxes.  Don't get me wrong, taxes are critical, but the country has to grow.  I think the idea of pitting classes of people against one another is a bad thing.  It's never served the country well.  The great thing about America is you can come, work hard, and do well.  Are there times when there excesses?  Sure.  Are there times when markets go off the rail?  Sure, that's what government's job is to do to come and try to curb this and ensure that people are playing within some boundaries, but you shouldn't determine in a game if a guy scores or a woman scores 30 points, you got to stop them.  If he score 50, let him score 50, allow him to play by the rules.  The challenge we face as a nation is how we get back to a moment where government is not as involved in private matters, where the economy can grow again, and where government actually balances its books again.  I'm not as concerned in the short term about the rise of deficit because I think we've got to figure out how we get growing again, how we begin innovating again and in a way in which will help everybody grow in for that matter, every part of the country grow.  Long term, I think, we have to be sensitive to it and very sensitive to it.  As a matter of fact, my whole premise and mission in the Congress is around honing for things that were balanced and ensuring that we didn't settle generations to come, with that, we could have avoided today.  But we find ourselves in a unique position where I think we have to make a different kind of choice, which has had a different set of choices.
And if that--those choices require some spending in a short term, they get us going again, be it tax cuts and new spending, we should do it.  This President faces a full plate of responsibility; it's of then a matter of full plate of political complexities over the next several weeks.  It's obvious that probably--it's obvious that the next big tackle for this President and for the Democrats in the congress is this financial services reform.  I hope they do it, I hope they understand that banks, regulators, rating agencies as my friend is reminding me today politicians and even consumers of the world that all of us played in.  And then we understand that suddenly, things have to be traded in the open.  That we understand that banks probably got to keep a little more capital that it hopefully lowers some of these leverage rates?  We understand that at the same time, we as consumers have to be more responsible on how we conduct our own personal financial business and even some of my great friends in congress, Democrats who voted.  Or some of the things that landed us on the mess that we are, but we are going to approach this conversation debate with some humility, some honesty and understanding.  We got to look forward and solve these problems.  It's a moment for President Obama in his style, in his way, in his substance of leadership to lead again because if we find answers to these and move on to helping and finding ways to create jobs and grow the country again, I think not only will Democrats be better served but I think the country will be better served in huge ways as well.  Will Republicans be on board and be a part of that?  I hope so.  I think with the smart things politically and substantly the President did in the last 10 days was to announce that he was willing to open certain parts of the country to sum up to certain drilling activities.  I hope that that translates into some of my Republican friends who have said they're willing to support a broad energy bill or energy reform bill.  I hope that it shows the commitment on the part of this President to be--a willingness to talk to Republicans, to reach out for those whom he may have disagreed within recall in his campaign for President, he declared there's no way he would support drilling.  A matter of fact, he took Hilary Clinton on for her call for drilling offshore.  I think it shows maturity in politics when you can assess the situation, one day and assess it another day and understand that things have changed and it requires a different set of answers.  This notion that you ought to be attacked for changing your position which I was, I was against gay marriage a few years ago on fourth today.  The only way things changed in this country.  If it--not only will we make progress, if everybody doesn't agree with you, a majority of the people don't agree with you today but they all agree with you 6 months from now, what will you do, attack the people for changing their opinion, for agreeing with you and giving you a majority?  Of course not.  You embrace it and so let's move on and get better.  And I applaud the President for recognizing that the moment today and the set of facts and circumstances today probably require a different mix and a different set of answers to long-term problem and I can only hope that my Republican friends who have vowed and made some awful, awful declarations and for that matter made some dangerous statements about this President for that matter, dangerous statements about the direction of the country, the kind of willingness to work with him.  I can only hope that there's a willingness, not that we've moved beyond this health care debate, to have an open, serious and adult-like conversation about the real challenges confronting this country.  And as my friend Sandy, while reminding me on the plane, putting in place a set of policies that can help ensure America's global leadership in the next 25 to 50 years.  This great school is helping to educate and prepare and mold minds to do that.  You'd get advice over and over again.  I can only hope that if I can leave you with one piece of advice before opening up for questions, I know you will hear it over and over again, and  I said it from the out--somebody has just to listen.  It'd never hurt, you'd be surprised.  You may find that the guy who you were against, you really are against him or her, or that maybe you had them wrong.  And there's something you're saying that's redeeming or something you're saying that you might be able to take from to grow your own position and to make your own idea that much better.  At the end of the day that's--that's what makes politics work.  At the end of the day, that's what it makes this country so great, and at the end of the day, that's what's going to make the country great even going forward.  So with that, I'd love to open up and maybe take some questions and take some comments.
[ Applause ]
Yes sir.  Tell me your name and your year, where you're from if you don't mind, I'd like having that in the--
[ Inaudible Remark ]
Yes sir.  I see the beard, I can tell you've been [inaudible].
>> The first one is especially just for you, [inaudible] about what you said in addressing the American public has primarily milled the road and milled the road I think it's more accurately a [inaudible].  And I think the difference is [inaudible] is enough to manage for policy but, to you, I want to ask--first I want to say sorry you lost to Corker.  I said--I said too much.  I said, yeah, I got to--
>> Well, I agreed with you on that one.
>> Yeah.  I think, no doubt, you've been a better senator and I'm sorry it was a dirty campaign that you lost to, but I want to ask what you thought about the direction that the new DNC chair Tim Kaine is taking and moving away from Howard Dean's 50-state strategy which on any measure, important measure I can think it was a big success namely in getting more public interest, Democrats elected, and more places and engaging more people and voting in the public process.  You know, that's how, I think, that they did back set up, but Kaine seems to be moving away from that and he seem, you know, is more DLC mold.  I wonder if you agree with that and so maybe you see some virtue in that or, you know, some of that game that I might not see or if you have any paying--that or.
>> Sure.
>> Center before left.
>> Sure, I will, yeah.
>> Can I ask you to very quickly summarize the question and make sure that people in the back--
>> Yes, I'm sorry.  The question was the--twofold.  One, about Tim Kaine and the direction that he is taking a party contrasting with Howard Dean's approach which was a 50 stage strategy and the assumption, the belief, that that strategy resulted was a successful strategy and whether or not the Kaine strategy, which, I think is suddenly maybe having a little deal.  I share the DLC too, but a DLC kind of tone to it if that's really the right approach.  Is there a second question?
>> No, that's it.
>> And then he said that he didn't necessarily agree with Chairman Weill's notion that the majority of the nations, and I happen to agree with that, too.  I think we're probably a little center right that we are center left, but that's for another conversation.  But I think it leads to--
[Inaudible Remark]
>> In the--with regard to Tim Kaine and Howard Dean, the 2006 and 2008 elections--let's put in a little perspective--remember, '06, when democrats won a majority, there were a number of things that happened.  The biggest thing that happened was it was Republican president who was below 50 percent.  His approval and favorables were below 50 percent in every state that we picked up seats.  I lost in Tennessee.  Mine was the only state where there was a competitive senate race where Bush stayed above 50 percent throughout my race.  He ranks from 51-1/2--not that I remember his number--the 51-1/2 to 54.2 throughout my race when it got joined in the last six months.  At one point it was as high as a little over 55 percent and at the end it was about 52 where his favorable was.  I think the most valuable player in Democrats who wins in 2006 was undoubtedly George W. Bush.  What the people--whether you like them or not, whether you agree with them or not, there was certainly a perception about him that people wanted to balance and wanted to check, too.  We put together some pretty good candidates in '06.  I'd argue that most of the candidates that ran Democrats in '06 would have been DLC members based on if you just look at them, they might not have personally said it, but if you look at their profile, they probably fit more in the DLC mold than the DNC--than the--if we can be, just play with the words and play with some--roughly play with the models here, probably a little more moderate to conservative and they would be considered moderate to liberal, largely because we wanted some southern states where a lot of these men and women ran.  They were more conservative on social issues and they ran the notion on the fiscal issues that George Bush had spent too much and they were going to curb spending and contain some of his spending.  And it helped him win in a lot of Republican areas.  '08, don't think it's a doubt, it was a year that would advantage Democrats greatly.  Again, I give Obama's campaign the primary.  I thought it was just mass [inaudible] campaign, the fall was too, but he had a great [inaudible], you know, a candidate in John McCain, who they successfully tied to the last eight years of people who were ready for a change.  It's another side to the story, 'cause President Obama's win was--it was really pedestrian in some ways in presidential politics.  People vote for president to a react--as a reaction to the previous president in many ways and there is no doubt the moment and the mood and dynamic in the country was, we want change.  And when you confront--when you put George--I mean, John McCaine next to Barack Obama and then we consider some of the other factors, the selection of the vice presidential candidates, some of the statements made about the economy, it certainly advantaged Barack Obama.  Now, I give Dean credit from the standpoint that they went out and they organized in various states.  And they put together operations and apparatus in various states.  But I'm not convinced that--but for that happening that we would not have won in North Carolina, in Florida, in Indiana, in Virginia, without that strategy.  So, if you ask me about Tim Kaine, I think the real challenge when your party is in the White House and you're party chairman, is not how you react.  Remember, Howard Dean was acting outside of the president 'cause we didn't have the presidency, so the chairman of the party has a different kind approach.  When you are the chairman, when your president controls the White House, you really are a political director for the White House.
So you are reacting and responding in a lot of ways carrying their water and carrying their message.  So, Tim Kaine, in large part, if you look at his stance and posture, he's come from being somebody we're going to reach out to, we're going to go get Democrats, 'cause in a lot of ways he reflects in mirrors what the White House wants him to do because the president chose the party chairman, as opposed to Howard Dean having to be elected 'cause the party was not in office.  I'll argue vehemently that I think, if you look at the history of the country, presidential politics, the most successful presidents--don't misunderstand me when I say the most successful president, generally, govern from the middle.  That doesn't mean they don't do transformative things, but they're able to bring people together from both sides because they are viewed as someone who wants to listen and wants to work together, so forth and so on.  This is why I said this several times a day.  Remember, when Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, he signed it in [inaudible] in Everett Dirksen's office who happened to be the Republican leader of the senate. Now, I can't imagine my good buddy going over to Mitch McConnell's office to sign anything, other than maybe a picture of himself to give to some constituent and McConnell may wanted him to give one, too.  So, it's a--the moment, obviously was very, very different in this day.  There are a number of factors that have contributed to that.  But I think it's unfair to make that--that's not a fair comparison between Dean and between Kaine.  Kaine's success will depend, I believe, solely on Obama's success.  Dean's success depended on how many seats Democrats picked up and, frankly, depending on individual candidates, depending on the Democrat's message in the congress.  I'd give, I say grudgingly, 'cause he's my buddy, I like giving him the credit, but while I deserve some credit for the '06 wins, because--not because of how you ran a campaign but because he convinced the leadership, you got to let us recruit candidates who don't necessarily fit the liberal democratic model in the congress.  If you let us recruit candidates who say they are Democrats and they make me the promise they're going to vote for you and ask [inaudible] to be the speaker, let's let them run, because the most important vote a Democrat cast when he or she gets there is the speaker, and that's the one we should be most concerned about.  Now, we many have a philosophical argument about Democrats got to say there for this and got to say there for that.  We are a big tent party.  We criticized Republicans when I was there for always voting lockstep whatever the Republican leaders tell them to do.  If Tom [inaudible] said vote one, well, they voted one way.  They lead votes open for hours including the Medicare Prescription Drug vote where they went around, they cut deals on the floor.  The vote set them for 3-1/2 hours while they cut deal or two 2-1/2 where they cut deals on the floor to try to win support for it.  I didn't like that kind of leadership and, frankly, I think it's hypocritical of me then to be--to say that Democrats who have wide ranging views on issues ought to be whipped in the line also, which leads me back to my first point about open primaries.  I think the closer we get to having district support, those people that represent the entirety of a district, the better it is because oftentimes we nominate people from either south of the party and the districts are drawn in a way where it's either Democratic district or Republican district.  And if it's a Democratic district, as much as Democrats may not like that Democrat, they certainly did not like that Republican.  In all those Republican districts someone may be nominated they really don't like, as much as they may have some differences with that Republican, they certainly don't want that Democrat.  So you end up electing people in large part who are able to appeal to the most animated, spirited, loudest, sometimes obnoxious members of their party and I think that has to change.  Yes, sir.  I'll come to you in a minute.  Yes, sir.  
>> My name is Gordon Chazen [phonetics].
>> Take care, Carl.  I'll talk to you later.  Yes, sir.
>> I'm a senior here in [inaudible] in Michigan.
>> What part?
>> I wanted to say, you talked about--
>> What part of Michigan?
>> Southeast Michigan tenth district.
[Inaudible Remark]
--you mentioned that you wanted to have an honest conversation, I just wanted to say that on Morning Joe, both when you're on and when you're not on, I think that that's one of the closest things we get to an honest conversation on politics.  And I hope the next time you're on, you're getting Joe back 'cause they really did a good job.
[Inaudible Remark]
Alright tell David that then.  I think that one of the biggest challenges maybe not in terms of giving good innovation from our generation, maybe this civil service part of our side and I tell people that I want to run for congress one day or I want to run for senate, and they look at me with sort of why would you do that kind of look.  And I wanted to ask you in your years serving the congress, what is the greatest single message--a piece of advice you could give me or give my generation, at least those of us who would like to run for office one day.
[ Inaudible Remark ]
>> I think your attitude is the right one.  You know, it's unfortunate that politics has developed such a bad name.  My mother-in-law, who was very supportive of me thinking about making this run, right before it all happened she said, you know, people have grown so sour on politics, so just be thoughtful about it and mindful of it.  In a lot of ways that inspired me even more 'cause it's tragic when you can't find people who want to, not only serve, but who want to work in and around this group of peers is a wonderful and, hopefully, growing exception to this idea of working in public policy and trying to shape policy and change it for the better is a good thing.  I asked you where you were from largely because my first day of law school here in Michigan, we were sitting in a room and a buddy was sitting around in a desk.  It was orientation and I was sitting--about ten of us around a table and the buddy--say where we're from, where they went to college and all.  I'm with the Penn, I say I was from Memphis and that.  And this kid next to me said he had gone--gone to UVA from Birmingham and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  So I'm thinking somebody else on the south in the room.  So l leaned over and I hit him.  I say, man, you're from Alabama, I'm from Tennessee a [inaudible], but, you know, you're all right with me.  He looked at me like I had three noses.  He looked at me, said, what are you talking about?  I said you're from Birmingham.  See, I'm from Birmingham, Michigan, not Birmingham, Alabama.  Stay on the path that you're on.  Don't--those who have issues about politicians, ask them why and maybe able to answer them at the moment, but just begin the process and then think about it.  Get involved where you live and the things that you care deeply about and don't be dissuaded or for that matter dispirited by those who may early on discount or dismiss your candidacy.  The history of people in this country who ran who had stories very similar to mine are far more prevalent than those who ran who were the frontrunners who are definitely supposed to win.  There are a bunch of frontrunners who are sitting at home today who never got elected to what they want to get elected to, so I'll be happy to leave my car, too, and good luck to you.  Yes, sir, right here in the front.
>> I'm Eric.  I'm from [inaudible] Michigan, southern district.  What do you the key distinctions were between President Clinton's healthcare reform attempt and President Obama's?  Do you think it was in terms of transparency, messaging, or even just numbers of the congress?
>> Question was what are the differences between Obama and Clinton's healthcare bills?  There were more than a few.  The press has highlighted how President Clinton kept the writing or drafting of the healthcare bill in the White House or kept it close to his vest and didn't involve congress, and that President Obama learned that lesson that's why he outsourced most of the work to the house and the senate.  Probably would have--probably was a little better way to--another couple lessons that could have been taken from the Clinton plan versus the Obama plan.  One of the interesting things is talking about how a president to grow up from the rhetoric they ran.  I remember President Obama was against an individual mandate, which is a part of his plan now which, as you know, people will be required to buy health insurance after a certain period of time.  If they don't, they will face some penalties.  During the campaign he was not for that.  He was for a mandate for children.  Hillary Clinton was for it and they had a back and forth about it at a critical point during the primary.  Even though when you pay for the bill during the general President--then Senator Obama criticized Senator McCaine for suggesting that high end healthcare plans, or [inaudible] we call it now [inaudible] plan should be taxed to pay for the health plan.  He said that was the wrong thing to do.  He changed his mind when he became president, and I can't fault him for it.  I think it shows a president willing to listen and be nimble in mind.  And so--and so things that help achieve his long term policy--short term and long term policy goals.  At the end of the day, when you go through it line by line and look at some of the differences between the--
>>--barely necessarily but the way they sold it, the way it got through.
>> Well, I don't think there's any doubt.  When you have 60 democrats, it helps.  When you have a speaker of the house, when you have a large majority in the house, it certainly helps.  And when you ran on a notion of a broad healthcare reform, it helps.  President Clinton didn't run on those things.  Remember, he ran as a real centrist.  I mean, he had disarmed a lot of Americans who felt that Democrats were tax-and-spenders, but for the presidents who have lost [inaudible] in a race, it's likely he would have lost.  So that was a different kind of thing.  I mean, we haven't had a president get--Democrat get a majority of the electorate since Jimmy Carter got 50.1.  So, you know, that's--and you look at other--you look at democrats prior to that, we haven't many Democrats score that high of a number in a presidential race in the country.  And that's what I base these numbers on being center-right.  I know Mr. Wallace said center, but whatever you want to call.  It means, I think, we're a little to the right of the center.  If you just look at numbers as a nation and how Obama suggest your thing about center left is more accurate than center right because the numbers that he scored, the 52, right at 53 percent that he got in the national election.  So all of these helped tremendously.  And I give the president, this is tenacity, his unwillingness--his lack of willingness to give up on this thing because there were three bad political outcomes that he fall through.
I, again, think that the one thing they compromised on early to public option was the one thing they should not have compromised on.  'Cause I think that was our best chance of tempering and controlling cost long term.  It could've been structured the right way.  But in the day they just decided not to do that.  And yet they ask the question, "If they decided not to do that then when republican votes, did they really get what they wanted?"  Yes sir, in the middle.
>> Yes, I'm--I will describe myself--my name is John Well [phonetic].  I describe myself as an alienated republican.  I think the most present problem for the country is to political reforms so our political systems serve us much better.  My own personal belief is the key to that is opening up our political process to third parties which I don't believe could be done without building reform.  I've been trying to work on this for a decade--
>> You said building reform, what do you mean?
>> Instituting--I would like to institute the voting system that my employer uses at federal elections that's called approval voting, it will open up our political process to third parties.  And if you had--if it were Florida in 2000, those people that voted for Nader would also have the option voting for either Bush or Gore.  I would submit that if that type of system had been in place in 2000, Gore would've won the presidency and would've better reflected what people want in that state in terms of the outcome, in terms of who the voter's counting.  We cannot get better governance, in my judgment, without opening up our political process with third parties and that's not possible without building reform.  I don't know how to bring it about.  I think it's very important for any to comment.
>> I don't think that you'd find much disagreement from people who want more choices and who--I should say, who are not satisfied with the--with some of the outcomes in the choices they have.  Matter of fact, some of the data shows that just about an even number of Americans, a few more Americans identify themselves with one of the political parties, the major parties, but right--point or 2 or 3 points beneath them is people identifying themselves with the Tea Party Movement.  The Tea Party Movement which is a nice name for a phenomenon today that I think is a manifestation of what--I mean, with a lot--that name has a lot of residents, a lot of history, obviously, but the movement and I promise you, most of the people who were part of the Tea Party Movement don't know the Whole Tea party history.  But I mean, they--it's a great moniker and they wrap themselves around.  But my own point is that those movements spring up in America.  I think we're moving closer to realizing what you've articulated.  I think a plurality of Americans take the Tea Party thing out.  Plurality of Americans consider themselves--they don't identify with either the parties, so there are more independents than there are democrats or republicans.  I think those numbers will continue to grow and I think we'll find ourselves, at some point, what is the voting system that mirrors yours at your workplace.  I don't know if that will be the case, but it'll be something closer to that than what we have today.
>> How do we do it though?
>> Well, I think people do it.  I mean I--and I think people are making clear that they are not completely satisfied with choices and they're willing to upset it up and, basic assumptions for that matter, conventions.  Scott Brown, 4 months ago, was not supposed to be elected as the United States Senate in Massachusetts, but voters went out.  A lot of democrats had to go out and vote that way.  And one of the misnomers about Massachusetts that the majority of voters in Massachusetts actually are registered as independents.  I think that with this perception nationally, that Massachusetts is just liberal bashing, but the majority of voters actually identify as independents.  And I think the realization of what you're saying, whether if something happens in Washington or in state capitals that change the way we get revoting reform that way you envision it, I'm not sure.  But what I do know is voters are gonna go in those voting booths and they're gonna vote for the candidate that they think best represents them.  And that sometimes might be a republican, sometimes it may be a democrat.  Again, I think open primaries, I think dealing with the way districts are drawn, I even think dealing with some of the way these campaigns are financed will have a big impact.  Now, third parties and state, you have to go state by state to do the kind of things you're talking about.  Well, tell me how you think you'd do with it then.
>> Congress--simple statutory act by congress.
>> What would that simple statutory be?
[Inaudible Discussion]
>> Very, very clear.  Richard Weiner [phonetic] is the one who basically pointed this to me [inaudible].  A simple statutory act on congress could mandate in federal elections for the congress and for the presidency a system like approval voting and actually make an amends with the [inaudible].
>> Maybe we'll get there.  Maybe we'll get there.  Yes sir, in the back.
[Inaudible Remark]
My man.
Where did you go high school?
>> I went to [inaudible]
>> My roommate who [inaudible] some place called Cranbrook.
>> Well that's pretty [inaudible] So as a fellow centrist, I'm wondering, like, what's the tone in Washington as partisan and now you're a congressman, 10 years, and what causes this this sort of partisan have led that like it is right now?
>> What's the tone in Washington when I was there as partisan as it is now?  Look, I don't mind partisanship.  And be clear, I don't think there's anything wrong with a good back and forth, a good spirited back and forth.  As long as again, people will and it's alright.  Now let's listen and try to this, we had to be as committed to arguing as we are of resolving things.  And I think the commitment to resolution or resolving things is just waned.  People look to the next election cycle.  We're gonna--I mean this year, it'll be hard for Obama to get a whole lot he want to the congress, 'cause a lot of republicans who argue to republicans, "Don't vote for that because we're gonna pick up seats and we'll get a better", in their estimation, "better policy outcome if we wait."  So, you know, you're gonna--that reality is there.  What is worst today than I think--or at least equally bad as the time--any time I've been there is that these guys aren't talking to one another in minimum moment.  If I say I got minimum moment, they're not talking to one another.  There don't seem to be a willingness to admit wrong and to move beyond it, on both sides.  And when that--when you lose that capacity, whether your in business--politics or business, you cannot refuse.  Business you probably go out of business.  Politics, you really use time and the opportunity for real progress to be made.  And it is--it's unfortunate.  It's unfortunate.  Well, I think it could get better.  I mean, I think that it takes--it will take some leadership from the president 'cause he's gotta be, "It ain't matter who the pre--he's got to step up and hopefully, one day we say, she, she's gotta step up so here's what we do and here's the way we're gonna do this.  I'm going to come and work with everybody to try to get this done."  President Obama probably got to do it smaller steps now 'cause I think it will be hard for republicans who probably stay in lock step unless he just promotes their own agenda on everything which is unlikely.  So he'll probably have to do it in smaller steps going forward.  And I think it'd be smart if I were president, I'll look to George Voinovich in Ohio, I'll look at Kit Bond in Missouri, I'll look at some of those members that are leaving and I look at a Scott Brown who's going to run again.  And at the end of the day, Massachusetts still center--way center left that it is in a right.  And voters there are gonna want a sensible senator and someone willing to work with to stand up to Obama when he's wrong and the democrats, but to do work with them when they're right.  That's fine, if I were them, I'll look for those instances where you can find three or four, five republicans to be supportive of some of those ideas.  They did it with the jobs build up, that small payroll tax thing that hatch in--show more supportive than end up getting five or six republicans to support it.  There was a hand in the back.  Yes sir.  And I'll come around.  Yes sir.
>> Thank you.  I'm Daniel Lopez [phonetic].  I am in junior high school.  I go to [inaudible].
>> Yes sir.
>> And I had a question for you.  What do you say the main differences between the 1994 election and the 2010 election because, you know, the healthcare bill was passed--was built in 1994 and there was major backlash?   And now, even though the healthcare passed in 2010, there are so major backlash with [inaudible].
>> Who coaches young fellow, high school senior here in Bloomfield Hills.  Well spoken, too.  What district you live in?  I got to tell a guy to watch out the way you [laughter]--the way you're talking, you got a woman to watch out.  He asked the question the differences between the '94 cycle and the '10 cycle.  He highlighted healthcare and some of the other similarities.  Is that a fair characterization of the questions?
>> Yes.
>> So, '94 you had a democratic president and a democratic congress, a democratic president who had grown unpopular by election time, so much so that most democrats running for reelection did not invite him to their districts to campaign.  You had a group of republicans who in the last month of the campaign developed a national agenda, really, the last few weeks.  They called that the contract with America and they identified those seven, eight, nine, ten things that they were gonna do and they were all able to choose, some of them or all of them to campaign on.  And they rose up in certain districts and surprised democrats who, a week I thought, that they had a comfortable lead heading into the election nationally.  Ten is different.  First of all, it didn't happen.  But two, healthcare passed.  It didn't pass in '94.  So, it's good and bad.  Arguably be that at people for like their taxes are gonna go up and that the bill won't work.  Two, it could be that it pass and some of the things the president talked about, keeping kids on health insurance under 26, not allowing health insurance companies to drop you if you face a health hardship.
There's some immediate things that will happen that might be able to translate into--will help people see that this is a good thing and we had to reelect them.  Three, the president is still popular now.  If he loses his popularity and drops, remember, Clinton's numbers are pretty low in the '94 election, and he--and whatever you want to say, the president, if it's your party, is the face of that party.  I would argue--which is why I argued to the first question with my friend from Massachusetts, is that in '06 and '08, people were going to the poll and voting against George Bush as a republican as much as they were doing.  If they liked George Bush, they voted with him.  They didn't, they voted--they largely voted against him because of the policies.  So we'll have to see over the next few months.  I would argue the biggest teller--the biggest telltale will be jobs.  If there's not a sense that we're creating jobs, that steps are being taken to create a climate for more jobs to be created, for innovation to flourish and for America to begin growing again, my party will face some real challenges heading into the fall elections.  If people sense there's some turnaround with it, meaning healthcare hadn't hurt as much as some weren't, that we passed the jobs bill that's actually helping small business people.  Think about this one.  The last three years, more than half the jobs created in this country have been created by business with 50 or few employees.  And of that group, 2/3 of those jobs have been created by companies that were born in the last three years.  So we got to figure out how we encourage that engine or rub that engine back up.  The president is able to do that and democrats are able to do that and get some credit, they'll be fine.  If not, it's could be a tough year.  And there was a woman in the back.  I thought I saw a hand.  'Cause I hadn't call on one woman yet.  I wanna make sure--yes ma'am.  I'm sorry.  I was looking in the far back.  I know you are.  Thank you.  I'm sorry.
[Inaudible Remark]
You're from Los Angeles?
>> Yes.
>> Were you--you're a student here?
>> I'm a student.
>> What year are you?
>> First year.
>> Very good.
>> But I've actually spent quite a bit of time in Memphis over the last few years and Kentucky and Mississippi.
>> Can I ask you what?
>> Doing political matter.
>> Dong political matter?
>> Yeah.  And I guess I feel like I believe that if a fairly good polls on Canada, the politics there.  And I'm wondering how you kind of can see that the Democratic Party moving forward in the South and the deep South--yeah, and if you would ever consider trying your hand there again.
>> So the question is in the South she spent time working on political matters in Tennessee, Memphis, Mississippi, Kentucky, and the future of democratic politics there and whether or not I would go back.  I'm a New Yorker and proud of New York and we'll live in New York and whatever future I have in politics will be in New York.  Answer that now 'cause we're on tape and I wanna be clear 'cause I've been criticized on that [laughter].  Two, I think in the South I love my--where I'm from and people of Memphis in the 9th district in Tennessee gave this 10 year old looking pimpled faced guy, just got his braces off a year before they elected him, the chance of a lifetime.  But I mean to live out the beginning of a dream.  And--but for that election, I want to have the opportunities or chances to do--this helped create it, my college at Penn and my parents and all that, but I'm being elected without voters taking at risk.  I wouldn't have had the opportunity 'cause I love and love my city, love my home, and I'm grateful to my constituents.  Having said that, I think the party has some challenges in the short term.  It's important to remember that we go through these phases in the south.  People right at the South offer democrats and you get democratic governors elected and say we're back and then 2 years later they lose.  Some other group I'm losing, 2 years later, some will say, "We're back."  I think congressionally and from a senate standpoint, I think it's gonna be tougher than we think, because a lot of democrats are running for election there now and I have some friends who are stepping down from congress in Tennessee, again John Tanner, again Bart Gordon, and those races are very, very tough for the democrats running in those seats to win.  A matter of fact, democrats have conceded one of the seats almost, from what I hear at home.  And the held by Tanner, my friend Roy Herron is running, he's got a good shot.  The challenge democrats will have is they will likely have to run against Obama.  Meaning run against some of his policies and argue, make the case they won't vote for further government expansions or encroachments on in a private sector or expansions of government that will run up the nation's debt.  But people have unbelievably short memories in this business.  It's hard to imagine that a year and a half ago how excited we were about change you can believe in and we are the change we've been waiting for.  Just a year and a half ago we were all preaching that or a lot of people in the country were preaching that.  You know, a lot of independents and even some republicans were out preaching it as well.  So these political cycles can change, but I do think that the notion of taking a chance and a risk on a democrat to lead the country nationally would brought majorities in the house, in the senate and a chance a lot moderates--or should say independents and republicans, too.  I think they're gonna think much, much harder the next time if given that option because I think people are worried about giving too much power to one party.  And it's gonna be interesting to see in that Kentucky race, the senate race there, what happens.  I got a friend running and--well, I like both of the democrats that are running.  I've got a friend that's running in that race on the democratic side.  It'd be interesting if Ron Paul's son who is running in that race on Republican side if he can mix it up a little bit and weaken the republican.  I'm not sure if he--if that happens or not.  And the Mississippi race is on.  I'm not--I don't --I didn't follow it quite as closely, but Tennessee will have those two critical house races and, naturally, I'm concerned.  Both of them--one of the guys running remains a good friend and the two guys that stepped down were great friends in congress.  Yes, sir, you put your hand up quick, 'cause you look ready.
>> You mentioned--
>> Tell me your name and where you're from.
>> Sorry.  I'm Alex Lane [phonetic].  I'm from Carol City up north, fourth congressional.  You mentioned open like primaries and your support for reform there and I agree with you in so far as the lack of partisan identification of the ballot.  I think we're toning down a lot of the rhetoric and get some more interesting candidates in the field.  But I'm also hesitant about the idea because it seems to me that a lot of the reason that the party infrastructure is in place is to ensure that there are good candidates running and sensible candidates running and not increasing that jobs, you know, on either side.  And part of what concerns me about that is, without that kind of infrastructure and with an open primary system, you can have so many candidates, either democrats or republicans that they're just kind of, you know, rooting each other out and what you wind up with is not the sensible candidates but, as you also mentioned, the loudest and most animated characters who seem to get all the attention and those could be a major not needs.  I mean, you could have two republicans running against each other, with your democrats are running against each other that, I think, especially in the statewide level, wouldn't be very good choices for either one.  I mean, at--like as an example, I think in '91, David Duke came dangerously close to winning a U.S. senate race in Louisiana because of their jungle primary system.  So what I'm wondering is do the benefits--in your opinion, do the benefits outweigh those kind of risks in opening up the election system?
>> The question is about open primaries.  Do they really work?  Do they actually create the same said openness--in fact, the same set of questions you have on--in the traditional setting where you attract loud candidates, obnoxious candidates, racist candidates, bigoted candidates, whatever.  Let's presume you're right about the Democratic Party and the Republican Party from both providing us--you only mentioned a democrat for the republicans like that they get parties given people structures.  Well, there's nothing that would prevent the republican or democratic parties from endorsing candidates in open primary races.  The only thing that they cannot do then would be in some states democrat and republican organizations, and I live in a state now where they exert enormous influence about who can even get on the ballot.  So you have some states where that zeal to ensure that you a good candidates results in making--creating onerous obstacles or insurmountable obstacles or very difficult obstacles for people to even get on the ballot.  So the open primary system would actually mitigate against that pretty heavily, that wouldn't stop either party from endorsing whom they want.  I would also, as you to look at participation rates in a democratic or republican primary, how many people actually vote versus the jungle or open primary system you have in [inaudible]--in your language, Louisiana or Washington, wherever.  How many people participate there?  I'm want--I think the wider the participation, the broader participation, the more this gentleman's point can be addressed.  It won't fulfill his vision but it will certainly get closer.  We'll be closer to him than where we are today.  My only interest in this is ensuring that the best candidates have an opportunity at the end of the day to be heard and to have as many voters as possible, take a look at them and have a chance to vote for them.  If you are a moderate democrat and you live in a liberal area, you're a liberal democrat and you live on moderate--in a moderate area, should the Democratic Party be the party determines whether or not the overall group--I can make the opposite.  Should they be the--should that party apparatus--what gives them the right to say that they're the only ones that can determine whether or not you can be viewed or, for that matter, your issues and your positions and your perspective should be weighed fairly by the overall electorate.  I'm--argue it either way.  I just think that the open primary system doesn't--that they--it doesn't discriminate any more if we use the democratic primary systems as the examples.  I think it is far less discriminatory than those two set ups.
And I think it guarantees that more voices are heard which is what I'm most interested in giving voters more choices.  Let me take a basket of three then I'll stop.  Yes, sir.
>> Hi.  My name is Joseph Day [phonetic], I'm from Detroit, Michigan.  [Inaudible], 13th issue is that as one of the questions I'd like to ask you.  Under that partisanship, two questions.  First, do you think the congressional turn limits would help--cause enough turnover to--maybe possibly the best some of these and turns interest and power to incumbency from people.  This people sets their ways for 10, 20, 30 years and always voting with the same groups consistently?  Second part about partisanship questions, was would some of the issue--the cognizant issues that are coming up--come up recently like Senator Gregg's Commission on China Reform Budget, I believe with Senator Conrad as well didn't get the votes they needed to get up of the United States senate.  Senator McCain is caught in a primary situation saying he doesn't need further cooperation.  And we also have some more contentious issues like energy and things like that, that's coming down the pipe.  Is there a point where we should just say I don't really see a partisanship in the cards right now?
>> That's two questions.  I'll comment that one moment.  There with the hand.  The fellow in the red back there.  Yes, you.  You shouldn't wear red at Michigan, but go right ahead and ask your question.
>> I'm Robert Palmer [phonetic], first year Law School in California.  Given your interest in balancing budget, I was wondering what programs you think we--what specific programs you think we should cut or packages.
>> And the last question in the back, the gentleman in the far back.  You, sir, you with the Michigan law.  I'm partial little Michigan law.
>> [inaudible] Michigan law.  I was thinking about [inaudible], these things with the other informing--
>> My man.
>> You talked about financial firm and--as a competition moves in that direction, I was wondering what do you think the conversation should start?  It won't be the biggest lesson though.
>> First of all, let me thank everybody for having me and I may run out right when I finish 'cause I got a plane to catch.  But let me try to answer in the order that we went through backwards.  One, I think transparency, a willingness to take on every aspect of the system from bankers to consumers and everybody in between including regulators and, for that matter, the rating agencies and even members of congress who voted a certain way.  I have to be willing to measure--live up to responsibility that they have create some of these challenges.  I think we had the zeal on bonuses and a consumer protection agency, all that is relevant.  But at the end of the day it's not gonna address--its looking too far back, it done the dress, challenges going forward.  Again, I'm a capitalist.  I think people ought to be able to earn what they want if they work hard and do, not or not if things don't go well and we got to help restore that system.  This focus again on trying to dictate what--how banks ought to be shaped and whether too big or this--remember, we live in a global economic community and we got to ensure that we don't handicap competitiveness here and push opportunity and, for that matter, job creation offshore.  One of the two of the three greatest end issues in this country that we export, Hollywood is one of them, financial services is another, and we should try our hardest to hold on to two of the things that we do very, very well.  As Sandy Weill said many times today, if you look at nations around the globe that are growing or that have growth engines in place, they largely have much of the financial architecture--the financial services architecture, that we help--that we exported, they're using and which would go to their countries. Their accesses, they need to be fixed and I can only hope that people won't go--they don't' know--looking at a--looking backwards as opposed to looking forward.  To my man there about the deficits and what would I do, first of all, to answer your question, sir, although the senate didn't vote for that, Obama created by Executive Order as you know, something similar; but was identical but with something similar and it's gonna take-- come to you and once it come--takes a look at some of the entitlements to go within how you reduce some of the--hopefully, reduce some of the spending in a long term.  But at the end of the day, its entitlements are gonna have to be tamed if we're gonna figure out ways to slow some of these and we got to figure out how we grow again.  One of the things that Clinton did was that he raised taxes slightly on some of the wealthiest of Americans but the country grew, he put us on a more stable financial footing, had a pretty good treasure secretary and economic team to help him do that.  And what are people want to say about Bob Ruben and be critical.  I think he did on heck of a job as treasure secretary.  So I hope we can do that.  One of my ideas is that--I don't know if I said it here, I've said it three or four times a day, so forgive me.  But I think we ought to be willing to mean test so security people on the 45 ought to not are be able to sound on America's first pledge saying we won't take it to 70 and if--we won't become eligible until we're 70.  If we reach a certain economic level, won't take it at all.  If we face economic hardship, we'll take it at 66.  But we got to begin the grow the country again 'cause I do believe there's great truth and validity to this nation--this notion of us growing out of the challenges that we face.  Your point about the--about some of these entrenched members of congress and other things, I ran to be leader of the democrats in '02 against the now speaker Nancy Pelosi.  I'd been in congress three terms.  I was completely frustrated sitting as they call this back ventures, a young congressman, young in the minority, I was watching the leadership do things over and over again that obviously weren't working.  They've been in the real world, he to fire them.  If they worked for him after at US--I got this great idea, this great plan, he invested money and it came out with the same result.  Just look you're a nice guy but you shouldn't be a banker.  You got to find someone else to do. And some of these guys were doing the same things over and over again.  So I decided to run.  [Inaudible] part was a leader.  He decided not to run.  I had a feeling I was--may have a hard time winning because the campaign was such a long one before then.  But I decided to take them on and tell them what I really thought about them and the institution and how we've allowed republicans who were screwing up things to continue screwing up things.  And we have an obligation to do it differently.  End up losing, losing a race for leader but at the same time help remind people in the democratic caucus that you can't keep talking about winning back the majority because the majority of us never had it.  I mean, by the time--in 2002, the majority of democrats in the congress were not there before '94.  So we'd start talking about things a little differently and you had a group that came in and you had a president that messed things up so much that people wanted democrats, they wanted some balance in the house and the senate.  I think the way you address the entrenched members locally, you gotta have an open primary system.  In large part, people are--to your point, you are able to organ--the parties organized in such a way that it come to be able to block other ideas that other people had.  If you had an open system, it would be easy for everybody to be heard.  There's still campaign finances just have to be addressed and so forth, but that's why I'm a believer that it's not a perfect answer, open primary, but I certainly think it answers some of the questions and I'm open to a different solution as long as, you know, achieve the goals of allowing more voices and for that matter rational voices to be heard and to be voted on.  Go blue.  I'll come back in the fall.  Thank you again.  Thank you again for having me.  Thank you.
>> Thank you.
>> Thank you so--
>> Is that okay 'cause I have got--
>> We have already thanked our speaker.  He does have to run.  But there is a reception that out in the great hall and I hope you'll stay and join us.  And I also again like to thank Sandy Weill for bringing him and for all he's done for our school.
>> I didn't know you're here buddy.
>> Oh, yeah.
>> I would've called you up men, and see you, you know right?
>> Well, I was in the middle.
>> I could--I didn't see you.  I ought called you--I would've called you men.  You should.  How you doing sir?  Oh nice to see men, you are a good man here.  You are a good man.
>> In New York, I was sad to hear you're not running anymore.
>> I know when I was--[inaudible] at the game.  But it'll come another time.
>> Yeah.
>> Your dad was a lot of big thing afterwards.  I think everybody by--seems his very--
>> Real deal of partnership.
>> This is [inaudible] Schwartz.
>> Hi.
>> This is Sandy Weill.
>> Nice to meet you.
>> So Sandy, Prolman's [phonetic] partner Barry Schawart [phonetic]--that's his day, this--yeah, this is Diane.  Matter of fact Prolman called Mrs Weill a day while we were--since we've been here as--and we were talking about him on the plane here this morning.  He's a senior here, he already graduated in the undergrad.
>> You go Augustine?
>> Yeah, I got to run.  I got to run [laughs].  That's what I was--I'd email you [inaudible].  Tell you're dad I said what's up.
>> I will.
>> Alright.  Nice meeting.
>> Nice meeting you too.  Oh, by the way, my family's in China.  He's going to see--
>> What's your family's name?
>> [inaudible] George Williams, she was friends with the Roy Keith [phonetic].
>> Absolutely, the great Roy Keith.  Absolutely, told him I said hello.  They still live there?
>> Yeah--no.  My grandmother passed away and my great grandmother [inaudible].
>> Alright, God bless.  What year are you here?
>> I'm a senior.
>> Good luck to you.
>> Thank you, appreciate it.
>> Alright.
>> It's nice to meet you.
>> I'm Andrew, I'm from New York.
>> You're a good man.  How are you sir?
>> Not too bad.  From your study which like a half and hour--
>> I know it is.
>> Graduates cool to come.  Actually a class, that was I was late but it's nice to actually see you speaking.
>> Thank you.
>> I'm working on Senator Schimmer [phonetic] that next year, invite him also--
>> Congratulations.  You going to be in Washington, you're going to be in New York?
>> In New York but hopefully.  My question is what do you see happening in regards to the senate in terms of you think and how [inaudible] the seat?  What's going to happen in terms of--you think--
>> Schimmer's in the running.
>> Do you think Durbin will be--
>> Durbin will be formidable.  People like Durbin a lot.  Chuck has proven himself as a--he's delivered for the democrat so it'll be an interesting--I hope Harry don't lose but--