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Denis McDonough: New frontiers - Labor, immigration, and foreign policy

February 26, 2020 1:14:00
Kaltura Video

McDonough talks transforming labor markets and the new economy, as well as leading interagency coordination and crisis responses in the White House. February, 2020.


>> MICHAEL BARR: Good afternoon, everybody. 

Reak pleasure to welcome you here to 

the Ford School of public 

Policy. I'm Michael Barr, I'm the 

Joan and Sandy Weill Dean of public 

policy here. It is

A great pleasure to welcome all of

You to this Policy Talk, a Weiser

Diplomacy Center event with 

Denis McDonough, former 

White house chief of staff for 

President Barack Obama. Denis is

Going to be in conversation with

John Ciorciari, associate professor

of the Ford School and director Of

the Weiser Diplomacy Center. 

They're going to be discussing 

New frontiers, labor, 

Immigration and foreign policy, 

But feel free to ask them 

Questions about anything that is

Of interest you. Before I say 

More about Denis and his 

Distinguished career I want to 

Recognize the special role of 

The Weiser Diplomacy Center. The

Role of the center is to provide

Practical training to students 

Interested in international 

Affairs. To inform research on 

Topics related to diplomacy, and

To serve as a hub for the 

University of michigan's 

Engagement with a foreign policy

Community. Since its launch just

Last semester, the weiser 

Diplomacy center has hosted an 

Amazing array of visitors here. 

Including two former secretaries

Of state, two former ambassadors

To the united nations, two 

Former national security 

Advisors and a u.S. Special 

Representative to north korea 

Who is now the current deputy 

Secretary of state. All that in 

Addition to our wonderful guest 

Today. For making all this of 

Possible I want to offer my 

Deepest gratitude to ambassador 

And regent ron weiser, his wife 

Irene and the entire family for 

Their generous gift that 

Established the weiser diplomacy



Today we are deeply honored to 

Host Denis McDonough. Denis has 

Devoted his career to public 

Selves. Having worked not only 

As chief of staff for president 

Barack obama but also in the 

U.S. House of representatives, 

The U.S. Senate, the national 

Security council. Denis began 

His career in the leshthive 

Branch working as a professional

Staffer on the international 

Relations committee in the u.S. 

House of representatives. Later 

In the u.S. Senate for majority 

Leader tom daschle of south 

Dakota then working with both 

Senate ken salazar of colorado 

And then senator barack obama of

Illinois. Dennis serveds as a 

Senior former policy advisor on 

President obama's 2008 

Campaigned, working during the 

Transition. Then after president

Obama took office Denis became 

Deputy national security 

Advisor. Four years later 

Starting in 2013 he served as 

President obama's chief of staff

For the whole second term of the

Administration. Denis managed 

The white house staff as well as

Cabinet secretaries, agency 

Leaders. He advised the 

President on domestic and 

International policy, management

Issues facing the federal 

Government, devised and enforced

Plans for accountability and 

Transparency in government. 

Anybody who knows anything about

Washington knows that this is 

Both the worst job and the best 

Job in washington. It is the 

Best job because you have a 

Chance to work with someone like

President obama and to have 

Reach across the federal 

Government.  It's really the 

Most important position next to 

The president of the united 

States in terms of its reach 

Across the government. It is the

Worst job in the country because

It's an impossible job to do.  

So, anybody who occupies that 

Job gets the gray hair that 

Denis has earned. And I'm sure 

He is going to talk to you about

It during his discussion. Let me

Just say what president obama 

Said on appointing Denis as his 

Chief of staff. Denis is 

Respected by leaders across our 

Government. He always holds 

Himself accountable first and 

Foremost. And it's no easy task 

But through it all Denis does it

With class and integrity and 

Thoughtfulness for other 

People's points of view. He is 

The consummate public servant. 

He plays it straight. And that's

The kind of teamwork that I want

In the white house.  That's 

President obama. Since 2017 

Denis has been at the markle 

Foundation where he's currently 

A senior advisor working to 

Create a skills based market 

That will allow all americans to

Succeed in a digital economy. 

He's also an executive fellow at

A school called notre dame at 

The keough school of global 

Affairs where he teaches a 

Global policy seminar. He is 

Also our first and only speaker 

To have been portrayed by the 

Actor john hamm in a movie. I 

Believe this achievement will 

Not be repeated. Or at least any

Time soon. Finally, before I 

Turn things over to john and to 

Denis, let me just say a little 

Word on format. Those who have 

Been here before know how we 

Work. Towards the end of the 

Event today we're going have 

Time for questions and answers 

From all of you. Professor along

With two Ford School students 

Will sift through the question 

Cards that will be handed out 

During the course of the event 

And they will pose them on 

Behalf of the audience to our 

Speakers. For those who are 

Watching online we usually have 

Quite an active online audience,

Please tweet your questions 

Using the hashtag #policytalks. 

Without further ado it is my 

Pleasure to welcome Denis 




>> JOHN CIORCIARI: thank you so 

Much everybody for joining us 

And thank you for visit fog the 

Ford school. I am delighted to 

Have this chance to speak with 

You. For this opening segment 

I'd like to focus on two as 

Penalties of your -- aspects of 

Your background. One the work 

You have done as deputy national

Security advisor and chief of 

Staff to deal with complex 

Organizations and interagencies 

Processes. Another is to 

Confront complex, multi-faceted,

Cross-border policy challenges. 

I'd like to start with a few 

Questions pertain to your 

Current projects on labor 

Markets in the new economy then 

Shift over to complex crisis 

Responses that are relevant in 

Today's context with 

Coronavirus. On the first topic,

I'd like you to speak about your

Work with marco and the rework 

America traask force. Maybe we can

Start with what keeps you and 

Your colleagues up at night with

Regard to the changing economy, 

What are some of the main 

Challenges that we need to 

Consider in in an era of 

Artificial intelligence and 

Online gigs and the like. 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: thank you so

Much. And michael thanks for the

Overly generous introduction. 

And to the ambassador and your 

Wife thanks so much for this 

Institution. I will say that I 

Love working for uncle sam. It's

Hugely rewarding, hugely 

Challenging.  And, as I've said 

To every student I've run into 

Since I've worked for the 

Government, uncle sam needs you.

Uncle sam needs level headed 

Reason-based logical policy 

Makers like your own betsy 

Stevenson who is like an 

Unbelievable colleague to work 

With in the u.S. Government. 

Creative, reason-based, 

Experience-based and just 

Exceedingly decent person. And 

Then many other university of  

Michigan graduates. From 

Broderick johnson to cecilia 

Munoz, to valerie jared, these 

Are all -- I call them 

University of  michigan 


Nationalists because they're so 


Strident. No one nor strident 

Than my good friend who is now 

The deputy secretary of state 

Steve beacon who I've worked in 

A variety of capacity. There's 

Little that steve and I agree on

Politically other than the 

Greatness of this country and 

The people and institutions like

The university of michigan as a 

Real manifestation of that 

American power and american 

Strength and greatness.  So, 

Thanks for all that you do and 

Thanks for having me.  You know,

I got involved in this issue and

I just said this to a group of 

Folks associated with the ford 

School and others upstairs which

Is not an overstatement. I got 

Involved because of the work 

That betsy and several of her 

Colleagues on the council of 

Economic advisors did with 

President obama. I still 

Remember president obama coming 

Home from a trip to the west 

Coast and we used to take a walk

At the end of every day. We took

A walk from 6-6:30. Rain or 

Shine. Even a day like today he 

Would have prided himself -- he 

Pretends like he is a chicagoan 

But he is more hawaiian.  So, he

Is not big on the cold. We'd go 

Out rain or shine, snow or 

Otherwise. I remember this walk 

Where he talked about a visit to

San francisco and he had met a 

Young entrepreneur who was 

Working on a new radiology 

Algorithm. Which, as I think we 

All understand now, allows 

Better accuracy for cheaper by 

Accessing instab tan usely, you 

Know, millions and millions and 

Millions of x-rays against which

To judge whether there's 

Deviations in existing x-ray.  

So, you are much more able to 

Make a decision about an 

Individual x-ray by running it 

As a against millions of other 

X-rays rather than putting it up

On the screen with your glasses 

And you are looking at, you 

Know, how it goes. And so he 

Talked about it a little bit and

I got excited as want to do. But

He didn't as he want to do. He 

Is a very rational man. But he 

Was quite down about it. I said 

What are you bummed out about. 

Sounds like an amazing thing. He

Said radiology is a good 

Middle-class job, you know, even

Upper middle-class. How many 

Radiologists are going to be out

Of work because of this 

Technology. And I said upstairs 

And I believe that one of his 

Great attributes is his ability 

To see around corners and to see

Impact of decision. And it's one

Of the things that at the ford 

School is so good at teaching 

Students. Let's think not only 

About the policy but think about

The people behind the policy and

What are the impact of the 

People on the people of those 

Policies. And this was an 

Ongoing theme. We used to 

Discuss it either in the monthly

Job updates when betsy and jason

Would bring the president the 

Jobs data the first friday of 

Every month. Or just an ongoing 

Conversation where he asks, you 

Know, what's happening to work, 

The dignity that comes with 

Work, the meaning that comes 

From work.  And whose job is it 

To worry about dislocation from 

Work. And whose job is it to 

Think about that before the 

Dislocation happens rather than 

Picking up the pieces of 

Dislocation ex-post facto. And 

So when I left the government, 


John, as the long line to your 

Question I really thought I want

To spend my time on two issues. 

One is the dislocation of people

As a result of climate and 

Conflict. And that's refugees.  

So, I spent a lot of time my on 

That. Then the other question 

Which I spend a lot of time on 

At marco which is what about the

Nature of work and the changing 

Technological underpinnings of 

Our economy; can we anticipate 

In terms of dislocation and 

Problems and how can we get in 

Front of that. And how can we 

Make sure that our government 

Policies are both informed by 

What works and what needs to 

Happen for the economy but 

Informed by what people need to 

Have access to dignified work. 

Meaningful work, well paying 

Work. So, that's what we're 

Trying to do at the marko 

Foundation. By aggregating 

Experience from governors, by 

Business leaders, labor leaders,

To extrapolate from what works 

And what doesn't to inform 

Federal policy making questions.

>> JOHN CIORCIARI: give us a 

Sense of some of the approaches 

You have identified that appear 

To be effective or potentially 

Effective in managing some of 

These challenges. 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: so just 

Take -- one thing we spent a lot

Of time on in colorado through 

What we call skillful is 

Focusing on a question of 

Non-college educated workers.  

So, these are workers with some 

College or no college. And how 

Are they finding access to 

Meaningful new training 

Opportunities to new jobs. We 

Did some partnership with 

Linkedin, for example, on trying

To aggregate training 

Opportunities by geography. 

Trying to connect those training

Opportunities to jobs, open jobs

That needed the skills available

In those training opportunities.

And one of the things that we 

Found is that the person most 

Successful if finding new 

Training opportunities, getting 

Through and completing those 

Training opportunities then 

Getting into a new job, one of 

The things that defines success 

In a relatively small population

Set was access to human coach.  

So not just access to technology

But actually access to a human 

Coach. And something that 

Allowed a person to understand 

That allowed us to understand 

That that person can't stop his 

Or her life to go to a training 

Program that's only available in

Work hours, for example, if that

Person still has to make money 

To pay the bills for her family.

That interaction with a coach 

Allows that person to somehow 

Personalize the training 

Opportunities so that they can 

Take into account their own 

Life, their own needs, and that 

It's not some kind of single 

Cookie cutter situation that 

Doesn't recognize that it's the 

People who are in needing of 

Training and skills, 

Opportunities are moms and dads.

They have oftentimes one, two, 

Three existing jobs. But to get 

To that next level of 

Opportunity, to get to better 

Pay, more meaningful and 

Dignified work they need a more 

Nuanced opportunity to get new 

Skills and training. 

>> JOHN CIORCIARI: are there 

Good models that exist about the

Division of labor or the 

Complementary of federal 

Government agencies, state and 

Local agencies, private 

Companies that might be the 

Employers for these workers? 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: well, you 

Know, so there's like big trend 

That's are troubling. One big 

Trend, for example, is the 


Relatively smaller amount of 

Capital that companies 

Themselves are investing in 

Training. This is a problem. 

Companies are getting out of the

Business of investing in their 

Workers. I think that's not a 

Good long-term trend. But it 

Does point out a public policy 

Problem for the government who 

Says then who is responsible for

Skilling and who pays.  So, one 

Of the things we're spending a 

Lot of time on as we look at 

Policy innovations how are we 

Thinking about who pays for 

Training opportunities, for 

Workers who are not owning a 

Bachelor of arts or a masters. 

And so there are examples of 

Private institutions like 

Goodwill interacting with local 

Employers or local community 

College s. Some of it funded by 

Available federal funding that 

Connects that training 

Opportunity to an actual open 

Job and does it in a much more 

Affordable way than to just put 

It on the worker herself to both

Make her schedule work for an 

Existing program and pay for 

That out-of-pocket. But we'll 

See. We're continuing to work 

With 27 governors across the 

Country, republicans and 

Democrats. We're trying to 

Aggregate data from existing 

Programs and trying to identify 

Best practices of what works and

What works well. 

>> JOHN CIORCIARI: in addition 

To the governors forum, are 

There other channels where you 

Think we need to invest to 

Generate ideas for policy 

Innovation? It can be 

Universities. It can be other 

Kinds of public/private 



There's a lot of really 

Interesting institutions 

Existing. And one of the things 

Is you ask somebody -- one of 

The big challenges we find is 

For people looking for training 

They're captive to a closed 

Network.  So, I talked a little 

Bit at lunch today with several 

Of the business school students 

And the Ford School students 

About their colleagues. It is an

Amazing network that you have as

University of  michigan 

Students. That network will 

Travel with you forever. And 

You'll add new people to that 

Network and that will be very 

Kind of flexible and growing 

Network. A lot of workers in our

Economy who are captive by 

Geography or by experience to a 

Much smaller network. And you 

Talk to some of these workers 

And say who are you talking to 

About training opportunities. Or

Who are you talking to about new

Job opportunities. Often-times 

The answer is, well, my brother,

My sister and my dad, my pastor.

And the question is, how do we 

Then plug into those existing 

Networks to broaden them, to 

Make them more vibrant. And can 

That be something as kind of as 

Informal as working through the 

Local goodwill.  And how do we 

Pay for that. So those are some 

Of the questions that we're 

Looking at. Again, needn't be 

Some big structural question. 

People are operating in and out 

Of existing networks all the 

Time and so especially with the 

Amount of data that we have and 

The amount of technology that is

Available we should be able to 

Grow those and make them much 

More vibrant than they have 


>> JOHN CIORCIARI: one set of 

Challenges of course is how to 

Make the workforce as a whole 

More dynamic, adaptive, 

Responsive, retaining and so 

Forth. Another is to think like 

Many of the individuals in the 

Audience who are training now at

The university of michigan to go

Out into the workforce. I wonder

If you could comment, you've had

A lot of different kinds of jobs

Or jobs that have required a 

Diverse set of skills. How does 

An individual who is here at the

Ford school or at the university

Prepare him or herself to be 

Adaptive and to have a skill set

That can thrive in this new 


>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: first of all

Use your judgment. If someone 

Comes to you with a big 

Difficult job with a lot of 

Stress that will turn your hair 

White as michael said, you know,

Exercise your judgment. Say no. 

No, look, we talked about this 

At lunch, john, and I think this

Is the secret right. Which is, I


Saids and I say if I could hire 

Hungry, I'd hire hungry every 

Time. The question then is what 

Are the attributes for hunger.  

You know.  And how do you know 

That when you are hiring 

Somebody you are not hiring 

Somebody because you know she 

Has all the answers. You are 

Hiring her because she knows 

Where to go to find the answers.

She knows how to lead a team to 

Develop the answers. She has the

Confidence to ask the question 

Of the expert to get to the 

Answer. And, you know, I don't 

Know what the full suite of 

Skills on a resume are that says

Hunger but I think I know some 

Of them, right. Which is 


Languages, travel, work, 


Experience.  You know, going to 

School and putting yourself 

Through school, that speaks to 

Me about discipline. That speaks

To me about hunger. Team sports,

Working on tein teams. The ability

To delay your gratification for 

A better outcome for the team. 

So those are things I'm looking 

For. The last thing is hunger is

Just like curiosity.  You know, 

What's great about being 

President of the united states? 

You get to work with people like

Betsy and ask them any question 

You want to ask them. Then you 

Get the answer 



Obama used to say all the time I

Love that I get to work with all

These smart people and ask them 

These questions. Imagine if you 

Are that kind of curious person 

What kind of opportunity you are

Presented with.  So how you 

Demonstrate your curiosity. What

Are you reading? Who are you 

Going to meet? And are you 

Really just talking to people 

Who share the same views as you 

Do? The same politics. How 

Boring. Are we really going to 

Let algorithms on our news 

Aggregators feed us up what to 

Feed? Or are we going to go find

What we want to read or we know 

We need to read. Are we going to

Let our biases be confirmed 

About what we learned before but

You have to say I need to learn 

More about x. And let me find x.

I'm not going to wait for x to 

Come to me. That is at the heart

Of the university of  michigan. 

That's at the heart of the ford 

School. I said to michael at 

Lunch, my brother used to -- 

Every day he would start with 

The sports page. I would say 

What are you doing. He said look

If president ford can start 

Every day with the sports page I

Can start with the sports page. 

I said but you start and end 

With the sports page 


The question is where are you 

Going to get additional new 

Thinking. And, you know, don't 

Be the master of your own 

Opinions. Be the master of 

Finding new thinking and 

Associating with new people. And

Boy you are out of the gates on 

That strong right now. 

>> JOHN CIORCIARI: and new 

Thinking gets you nicely to the 

Next segment of this 

Conversation which is to talk 

About complex multi-faceted 

Policy challenges. All of us are

Reading in the newspaper about 

Coronavirus and thinking about 

Whether our institutions are in 

A position to be able to respond

Effectively to it here at home 

Or internationally. I wonder if 

We could start by going back in 

Time several years and learning 

From your experience in the 

Response to the ebola crisis 

Several years ago. Widely fer 

Sieveed has -- perceived has 

Having been a successful 

Response despite the obvious 

Limitations to any response in 

Those scenarios. I wonder if you

Can tell us what you think 

Worked well and what elements 

Could be replicated here. 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: sure let me 

Start with something that didn't

Work well. Which is for -- so 

President obama thought -- I was

Obviously bias but I think he 

Was a great leader. One of the 

Things he did really well is he 

Relied on experts. Could make a 

Team work together and sing 

Well. But then he circled back 

With thank yous to the team. 

Which I think is a really 

Important thing.  So, you may 

Recall that we had a bunch of 

Doctors that deployed overseas. 

Some of them u.S. Government 

Doctors, some of them private 

Doctors. But he met with many of

Them in the oval to say thanks. 

And everybody had on the way in 

Had to get their temperature 

Taken. We wanted to make sure 

They didn't have -- we stopped 

By the med unit. And I thought 

That was good.  That's a good 

Safety check.  So that meeting 

Happens and as soon as 

Everybody's gone I get a call. 

This wasn't the president's, you

Know, scheduler, this was the 

President. He doesn't pick up 

The phone and call a lot. He is 

Like can you come down here. I 

Said well of course I can and I 

Will. He said why did that last 

Doctor give me the elbow? I said

What are you talking about. He 

Said the last doctor in the line

Didn't shake my hand. He gave me

The elbow. And remember that, 

People would not shake hands. 

They didn't want to share any 

Germs. I said I think maybe it 

Was a joke. He said it was not a

Joke. I'm not going home to 

Supper with the first lady and 

The girls until I know why that 

Guy gave me that eh elbow.  So, 

I said okay I'll get you an 

Answer calmly and I walked down 

The hall thinking to myself oh 

My god did I just give the 

President of the united states 


   [ laughter ]

   So, I called up ron and I 

Said hey can you get that doctor

On the phone I want to find out 

Why he gave the president the 

Elbow. And so he tracked him 

Down and, of course, it was a 

Joke. I was able to tell the 

President. But I'll tell you 

What, it did not work because I 

Thought holy mackerel I'm going 

To go down to the chief of staff

Who gave the president of the 

United states ebola. But here's 

What works. Right. Science 

Works. Best available data 

Works.  So, you recall that one 

Of the things at the time was, 

Look why don't we stop all 

Travel from west africa to the 

United states. And on one level 

That logic seems sound. But the 

Best science says that stopping 

Travel encourages people to 

Withhold data. Withholding data 

Means you are going to get an 

Incomplete picture about the 

Nature of the spread of the 

Virus. And so if you incent 

People to hide what they're 

Experiencing, they will. Because

If somebody wants or needs to 

Travel they're going to withhold

Important information to help us

Get a more complete picture of 

How the virus was being 

Transmitted. The political 

Answer was to say, yep, we can 

Turn off travel and access to 

The united states including by 

The way several were saying at 

The time, private american 

Doctors who had traveled to west

Africa to help with the virus. 

We should just say you made that

Decision you got to stay out. 

This was an active debate in the

Country. But the data, best 

Practice and science all 

Dictates that's not the way to 

Run an operation. And it also 

Then requires you to go defend 

The scientific based -- science 

Based reaction to the crisis. 

And that may be political 

Uncomfortable. But at the end of

The day, if you know what the 

Right outcome is, you have to 

Make a stand for that right 

Outcome.  So that's one thing. 

Which is make your decision 

Based on best available science 

Not on bias, not on prejudice, 

Not on what even might be in 

Your best political interest, 

But rather on science. One. And 

Then two is use all the 

Instruments of your power to 

Confront this. And I think a 

Real unsung hero of that time 

Was chairman dempsey. The 

Chairman of the joints chiefs of

Staff who under orders from the 

President arranged for the 

Deployment of many mobile 

Medical units staffed by u.S. 

Military personnel into west 

Africa that ended up serving, 

Putting our troops in the front 

Lines of this complex medical 

Challenge, crisis. Drawing on 

Their considerable skill and 

Training but also then 

Generating a host of goodwill 

For the united states because of

The treatment and the support 

That we gave, you know, 

Thousands and thousands of 

Families in west africa.  So, 

Science using all the elements 

Of american power and then also 

Just recognizing that honesty's 

The best policy. Right. If we've

Got a crisis, call it a crisis. 

You don't wish it weren't a 

Crisis. Right. You don't pub

Publish, don't worry we've got 

It all under control if you 

Don't. Because at the end of the

Day, all you have, as a general 

Matter, but all you have in the 

Midst of a crisis is your word. 

And the confidence of the 

American people that they can 

Take to the bank what you say.  

And the minute you lose that is 

Going to be the minute that you 

Can't contain a crisis. So those

Are my kind of first three, 

John. By the way, in each of 

Those places there's like 

Critically important person. Ron

Who coordinated u.S. Government 

Policy kind of across agencies 

As the president's in effect a 

Czar for this. Dempsey the 

Chairman of the joint chiefs 

Really mobilized the military 

Presence in west africa. The 

President himself of course. But

Then those multiple doctors. We 

Use to send the doctors out to 

The podiums all the time to 

Update the american people on 

What way eh knew and what we 

Didn't know. And these are all 

Things that I think the american

People have come to expect from 

The government and I think 

They're wright to expect it. 

>> JOHN CIORCIARI: what do you 

Think are the similarities and 

Differences diplomatically 

Between the ebola response and 

Now coronavirus. In 2014 you had

U.S. And britain had long 

Leadership roles and close 

Relationships. Here you've got a

Large power with whom we have a 

More difficult relationship, 

More inclined to assert 

Sovereign control and management

Over the problem, perhaps. In 

What way would this change the 

Response that you would 

Recommend diplomatically to this

Coronavirus outbreak? 


It's -- I think the first and 

Most obvious difference is the 

One you cite which is, you know,

The current covid 19 broke out 

In the heart of china. In a 

Province which is like kind of 

The functional equivalent of 

Chicago.  It's about four times 

The size of chicago but it's 

Like a second city. Which all 

The chicago people in here just 

Gasped at. High wife just gasped

As well. What do you mean second

City? Anyway, you get the 

Picture.  So, its major place --

And the chinese are not going to

Throw their doors open to the 

U.S. Or others to come in and 

Dig into the bottom of this. 

Whereas I think our west african

Friends did. They invited in 

International support from day 

One of the threat.  So that's 

One big difference. The second 

Big difference is -- and I saw 

Ron said this publicly the last 

Couple days is we know far less 

Today about the nature of this 

Virus, the coronavirus, than we 

Did at the start of the ebola 

Crisis. Which is something 

Because we didn't know much at 

The start of the ebola crisis.  

So, there's a lot to learn. 

Which underscores the importance

Of maintaining open dialogue and

Opportunities for open and 

Honest sharing that I referenced

A minute ago.  So that we can be

Learning from each other's 

Epidemiology and each other's 

Experience. Really all we know 

About this virus is what we're 

Learning in the main from the 

Chinese but now south korean, 

Iranian and italian experiences,

And japanese experiences. Our 

Ability to get up the curve of 

Understanding what's happening 

Is enhanced by our ability to 

Share across these countries. 

Chinese have not been great 

About this. I think people have 

Been pretty public about our 

Concern that maybe the chinese 

Are not fully sharing what they 

Know. And that's a challenge. 

But that's a challenge the u.S. 

Should be able to get our hands 

Around by increasing our 

Interaction with the chinese. 

>> JOHN CIORCIARI: there's a 

Debate in the papers of course 

Which many of you have read 

About whether an authoritarian 

System is better positioned or 

Less well positioned than 

Democracy to be able to deal 

With something like coronavirus 

When it enters a population. I 

Wonder if you could walk us 

Through your sense of where the 

United states would be better 

Prepared or where it would have 

Challenges that may not exist in

China if indeed coronavirus 

Becomes prevalent in this 


>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: I think at 

Some point it would be really 

Great to be on the other side of

This crisis and be able to look 

Back and have this debate.  So, 

I guess my first reaction is 

Let's make sure that we handle 

This right. And then look back. 

But some of the attributes -- my

Wife and I have been discussing 

This at considerable a length. 

Because I think like a lot of 

Families people are worried. But

What do I think are the positive

Attributes of our system. One is

That really since 9/11 we've 

Both at the state level then 

Coordinating fed -- through 

Federal to state level, we've 

Gotten good at sharing 

Information from the feds to 

State and local authorities and 

State and local medical 


Institutions, hospitals. We've 

Gotten good at making sure we're

Prepared for big crisis. That 

We're sharing necessary 

Equipment. Making sure that the 

Federal government is helping 

Subsidize and fund that 

Equipment to state and local.  

So, I feel good about that. And 

Then we're also good at 

Exercising these capabilities. 

One of the things that was 

Really remarkable watching how 

We treated, for example, 

Infected doctors who came home 

With ebola was, you know, those 

Facilities in houston and 

Atlanta were expert at managing 

That particular virus. And 

That's just a function of 

Intense training and then 

Exercising those training 

Skills. So those are three 

Things that I feel quite good 

About.  The thing that I am 

Worried about is that we not 

Somehow think that we can 

Explain away the nature of the 

Crisis. Just have to be very 

Candid about what we know. Very 

Candid about what we don't know.

Then be very candid and regular 

In our communication with the 

American people to bring them up

To speed on how we're learning. 

So, I think it was a very choppy

Start yesterday where there seem

To be different messages coming 

From the federal government 

About whether this is going to 

Be a pandemic, whether it's 

Currently in control, what to 

Expect.  And then fairly 

Nondescript guidance to families

To say everybody should be 

Prepared for this. I remember 

Reading through the stories 

Thinking okay that's great but 

So what does that mean.  So, I'm

Worried about the relatively 

Choppy nature of the 

Communication so far. And so 

Those are all resolvable things 

And I think the american people 

Have a right to expect answers 

On those questions. 

>> JOHN CIORCIARI: in just a 

Moment I'm going to open up to 

Questions from the audience that

Vivian, jacob and professor len 

Will pose. But one more on this.

Back to the level of 

International organizations. I 

Read a statistic the other day 

That says the world health 

Organization's annual budget is 

Around the same as a mid-sized 

American hospital. And making 

The case for more investment in 

That global organization as a 

Way to coordinate and transfer 

Knowledge. What's your sense of 

How reliant we are on effective 

Multi-national organizations to 

Respond to crisis like this as 

Opposed to networked bilateral 



We're -- I think we are reliant 

On it. I don't think overly 

Reliant on it.  And I think, you

Know, so I saw something in the 

News this morning in the 

Newspaper on the way out flying 

In to detroit that I think 

Harvard and yale were to 

Announce a project where they're

Cooperating on some epidemiology

Around this virus with ex

Existing -- institutions in 

China with whom they have 

Existing relationships. I think 

That's a really good thing. I 

Think that we have bilateral 

Cooperation with the chinese. 

Certain international global 

Health issues. For example, out 

Of ebola the chinese were very 

Supportive of the effort in west

Africa on ebola in 2014/15. That

Cooperation was I think as much 

Profound set of cooperative 

Efforts between the united 

States and china and the 

International system as we've 

Ever had. I think that's a 

Positive thing. So those are all

Positive things. But at the end 

Of the day, I think what you 

Need the w.H.O. For is and you 

Want to make sure its there when

You need it.  So, you can't spin

This up occasionally.  It's got 

To be an available capability, 

Reliable capability, is the 

Ability to share data about 

Existing challenges.  So, w.H.O.

Team just has come out over the 

Course of the last day I gather 

From woulu hann. They're able to 

Come out with data which will 

Help inform us about decision 

Making about this virus. If we 

Didn't have that data we'd been 

Even further behind trying to 

Understand what's happening in 

As much as I said. I think the 

Chinese have not shown us all 

Their cards yet. And the w.H.O. 

Gives us an opportunity of 

Something to get smarter much 

More quickly than we would have 

Without it.  So, I think the 

Answer to your question is that 

Yeah I think we could rely on --

I think we could invest more on 

The w.H.O. But it doesn't have 

To be massive, right. What it 

Does, it does well. What it does

Is it shares data and 

Information about what's 

Happening. But that is not 

Enough. We have to continue with

These bilateral cooperative 

Efforts at both the government 

And non-governmental level. 

>> JOHN CIORCIARI: let's turn to

Some questions from the 

Audience. I realize that we've 

Got other issues that would have

Come up in conversation that 

You've done work on including 

Migration, cybersecurity, and a 

Whole host of other issues and 

I'm sure we'll get to some of 

Those now.

thank you for coming. My name

Is jacob. I am a senior in the 

B. A. Program here folk if us on

Middle east policy and 

International development. First

Question is: your pre-chief of 

Staff background is heavily 

Grounded in foreign policy and 

International relations. 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: so why did 

He hire me to do the other job? 


   when you are chief of 

Staff and oversee a massive 

Portfolio. In what ways did your

Foreign policy experience inform

Your analysis of domestic 



Remember talking to the 

President about the job. And I 

Said, look, here's what I know, 

Mr. President. I can't be like a

Domestic policy advisor like 

Rahm or j-- ron or jack. Probably

Because I'm so much taller than 

Ron and so much better looking 

Than jack 


I said look that's just not 

Might thing, right -- my thing. 

Right. The good news though is 

That there are people around you

Like betsy and like jeff and see

Celia munoz and broderick 

Johnson who are expert in their 

Area. And so if you put me in 

This job, I'm not going to be 

Your policy advisor, because I 

Can't be that person. By the 

Way, you have a national 

Security advisor in tom and 

Susan rice who are world class. 

So my job is not to be your 

Advisor. My job is to make sure 

That this team works and gets 

You sound advice that the 

Decisions that come to you are 


Square, that the options have 

Been developed transparency, and

So that you won't be surprised 

That somehow you make a decision

Then you learn ex-post facto 

About the decision that well, 

You know, three or four agencies

In the government oppose the 

Decision. Every decision he 

Makes, look, do you reserve the 

Hardest decisions for the 

President right.  That's their 

Job. And the thing the chief of 

Staff has to do to be a good 

Chief of staff is to tee those 

Decisions up square. Not be the 

Person who is on a walk saying, 

You know, well, you know, let's 

Really delve into mr. President 

The difference between medicare 

And medicaid. I am here to tell 

You that thank god I never did 

That because I don't know 

Anything about that. All right. 

But we have people like kathleen

Sebelius and sylvia and gene who

Did.  So my job was to make sure

They had an opportunity to 

Present those options to the 

President. And my commitment to 

Him was that those decisions 

Will be presented squarely, the 

Team will feel part of the 

Decision. Because at the end of 

The day, the decision is just 

The start. Because the decision 

The president makes sets off 

Execution. And white houses get 

In trouble when they forget that

The hard part comes after the 

Decision on the execution.

good evening. Vivian. A first

Year mpp student here at the 

Ford school with interests in 

International policy. This next 

Question pertains to the labor 

Discussion we had earlier. 

Specifically what are your 

Thoughts on a universal basic 

Income or guaranteed income for 

Lower income individuals as a 

Tool to combat the rise of 

Automation and skill-based 



Interesting I mean I've seen a 

Couple of interesting papers on,

For example, how alaska managed 

And has managed proceeds from 

The alaska oil pipeline and how,

You know, that has arguably 


Functioned similar to kind of a 

Ubi-like policy tool for alaska.

And there's a lot to commend to 

That and some problems that have

Come from that.  So, I don't 

Rule it out, but I'm very clear 

Eyed about it because at the 

Moment kind of the fundamental 

Attributes that we have to a 

System that supports people in 

Transition or people suffering 

From dislocation in our system 

Are just the basic pieces that 

We have today are currently 

Under attack. Right the 

Affordable care act, work 

Requirements around medicaid, 

The efforts to reduce access 

Associated with the affordable 

Care act. Work requirements, for

Example, around medicaid which I

Think have been proven to not 

Show any discernible uptick in 

Work but have proven to show 

Discernible down tick in access 

To medicare and healthcare 

Treatment or access to 

Healthcare generally. I'd like 

To staff those and solidify the 

Pieces of our existing safety 

Net that have proven themselves 

Quite well over time. And then 

I'd also like to make sure that 

We're focused on making sure 

That there are dignified 

Training options for people who 

Want them cognizant of the 

Individual circumstances of 

Those people who are looking for

Those training options so they 

Have access to dignified work. I

Think there's currently enough 

Dignified work to be done. The 

Question is how are we 

Disintermediating between the 

People who can do it and the 

Work. And one of the big pieces 

Of it I think is how we 

Advertise open work. In 

Colorado, 75 percent of open 

Construction manager jobs 

Require a bachelor of arts. 23 

Percent of current construction 


Managers have a bachelor of 

Arts.  So, why is that? I think 

That the market itself is 

Insufficiently transparent, so 

Opaque, and leaves out a lot of 

People who may have the skills 

But are not able to advertise 

Those skills because we 

Advertise the job for a 

Credential, a b. A., that 

Two-thirds of the country does 

Not have.  So, we're just 

Leaving too much of our massive 

Talent off the field..

   audience member: this is a

Job training question. How does 

Job retraining and the tools 

That might be successful change 

When looking at a whole industry

Is built on an industry such as 

Coal mining. How do you get that

Job training. 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: this is the 

Hard case, right. And I think 

That we -- well the short answer

Is I don't know yet. But I think

If you go back to honesty is the

Best policy, part of this is 

That promising a return of jobs 

That are not going to come 

Because of changing technology 

Or changing requirements is not 

The best way to do that. And so 

I don't -- I don't want to over 

Promise this. I think we don't 

Know yet. The data is out on 

This. I think the interesting 

Part is that we have a lot of 

Governors who are trying a range

Of options. And our goal at the 


Re-org america task force is to 

Try to extrapolate from those 

Experiences to see if there's 

Something the federal government

Can co differently. Audience e

Eps --.

   audience member: what 

Changes do you believe need to 

Be made to the education system 

To promote a more fair labor 

Market that addresses the 

Strength of the individual? 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: well, this 

Is both in response to the 

Question and response to my 

Current situation since I have 

Kids who are 18, 15 and 12. I'd 

Like to see higher education get

More affordable 


Two is also it would be good to 

Figure out a way for us to have 

A more nimble training and 

Education opportunity over the 

Course of an individual's 


Lifetime. Recognizing that you 

Don't stop upscaling when you 

Are 22, 23 or 25 or 26.  So the 

Question is how do we make the 

Rest of the training 

Infrastructure more accessible, 

More flexible and agile to 

Respond to people's lives rather

Than making people drop their 

Lives to try to get into the 

Training system so that you can 

Continue to add skills in those 

Years, say, 25-55. And, you 

Know, so I think some of the 

Attributes of those to an 

Education system that does that 

Would mean people are more able 

To carry with them in some kind 

Of reasonable cost-effective way

A record of the skills they'ving

A regated over time. Right now 

If you want to go get your -- so

I've got a b. A. And an m.S. 

When I want to get my 

Transcripts I have to pay 25 

Bucks. All right.  It's not a 

Major deal for me but what's the

Deal? Why do I have to pay 25 

Bucks for that. I thought I got 

That when I went to college 


Right.  So, I say that mostly in

Jest but think if you're a 

Military spouse and you've taken

Courses at a variety of 

Institutions across the country 

As you've gone from different 

Bases to different bases as your

Spouse has been active duty. And

You have to aggregate those 

Skills or the transcripts and 

You are paying 25 bucks a pop. 

Why is that? Shouldn't we be 

Much more able to allow somebody

To carry that lifelong learning 

Transcript with them.  So they 

Cab call on it. All right. With 

Technology being what it is 

Today, that should be more 

Doable.  So, there's things from

Big structural things to 

Relatively smaller technology 

Fixes -- technical fixes that I 

Think what actually empower 

Workers themselves to demand a 

Better wage in the market. But 

Right now too much of the market

Is really tilted towards opassty

And away from the interest of 

The worker..

   audience member: so given 

Your experience on security 

Issues, what do you see as the 

Role of drone strikes right now 

And how would you evaluate that 

Policy based on your time at the

White house? 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: awesome 


So I commence to you a speech 

That president obama gave in may

Or june 2013 at the national 

Defense university where he gave

A speech about how he saw the 

Limits on his power to carry out

And to use this new technology 

Of drones. And I think the 

Speech itself largely holds up. 

The principals at the heart of 

The speech which is that the 

President maybe even especially 

Because of the new technology 

Wanted to make sure that the 

American people had confidence 

That he in exercising this great

Power afforded to him by that 

Technology is still ultimately 

Accountable to the american 

People as their elected 

Representative.  So that he owed

Them answers about the 

Circumstances under which he 

Used that technology, the impact

Of that technology. Say, for 

Example, on civil an casualties.

The legal basis for him to use 

That power. And as a result of 

All that he felt a great 

Opportunity to make transparent 

And public as much of that 

Information as he could. Partly 

Because of the nature of our 

System, which is it is a 

Democratic system, he has the 

Ability to exercise that power 

Because of the votes of the 

American people so he owes them 

Transparency. But also because 

This fick is going to pro -- 

Technology is going to 

Proliferate. And if we are not 

As transparent as accountable as

We can be in our system, how 

Will more closed systems, like 

Russia, less accountable systems

Like iran or china, use that 

Technology. So, he felt a great 

Responsibility to kind of put 

Out those principals in such a 

Way as to try to raise the bar 

On other governments. I think 

The extent to which those 

Practices that he laid out in 

That speech and that we've 

Subsequently followed until 2017

Have been changed. I think 

That's ultimately detrimental to

The american national interests.

For two reasons. Which is it 

Reduces accountability to the 

American people as I suggested a

Minute ago. Two is it gives 

Greater cart blanche to other 

Actors in the international 

System to operate less beholden 

To the kinds of principals that 

We have come to expect from our 



   audience member: what was 

The most challenging event or 

Situation you encountered while 

In the white house and how did 

You handle it? 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: that's an 

Excellent question.

So I will say one thing first 

Just about the structure of the 

White house.  So the west wing 

Is kind of the business end of 

The white house. The east wing 

Is the first lady's business end

Of the white house. Then the 

Residence is right in the 

Middle.  That's where the first 

Family lives. In the west wing 

The chief of staff's office is 

On the corner, kind of the 

Southwest corner of that 

Building. Then about, I don't 

Know, 40 yards east of there is 

The oval office.  So it's pretty

Closs. 120 feet, 150 feet. And 

Here's two things. Maxims. In 

Four years as chief of staff 

Never once did I beat good news 

To the oval office 


Never once. Mr. President, I 

Just wanted to come down and let

You know we just got the 

Decision from the supreme court 

On the affordable care act. Oh I

Know. Just got a call from eric 

Holder we're all set. 

Mr. President I just want to let

You know I just heard from 

Negotiators, we've got a deal on

The paris accords. Oh I know. I 

Was just on the phone with john.

Okay so 0 for 4 years on good 

News. Here is the flip side of 

That maxim. Never once did bad 

News beat me to the oval office 


Every single time, hey did you 

Mention that to the president, I

Haven't had a chance 


In fact, josh bolten who was 

President bush's last chief of 

Staff said well you have to have

A chief of staff because if you 

Didn't the president would never

Get any bad news 

   [ laughter ]

   So, as premise -- with that 

Premise, here's my worst day in 

The white house. About 

October 8, 2013. And I remember 

Walking down the hallway from 

The chief of staff's office to 

The oval office and I was about 

To tell the president that it 

Wasn't an access of demand for 

Healthcare that was stopping 

People from being able to get 

Through healthcare.Gov. It was 

That healthcare.Gov itself was 

Broken. That we rolled out a 

Broken piece of technology for 

Him. And I knew I was going down

There to tell him that after 

Literally every week since I 

Became chief of staff the 

President literally said this to

Me. He said, Denis, you know 

That healthcare.Gov and the new 

Marketplace only works if the 

Website works, right. I said 

Absolutely, mr. President. We're

All over that.  So, I told him 

That.  So, I started the first 

Week of february and this is now

The first week of october.  So 

What's that, 32 times I told 

Him, got it all under control, 

Mr. President. Everything's 

Fine. And I remember telling 

Him.  And it's one of those 

Things like we've all had it. 

You anger your parents and you 

Really hope they just yell at 

You. But they're so disappointed

They don't even raise their 



You are just like this is 

Terrible. Please yell at me or 

Fire me. I don't know.  So, I 

Did tender my resignation and he

Was having none of that. But I 

Think he knew that we are in an 

Open enrollment period.  So that

Is to say a period during which 

People could enroll in the 

Market place. And we had a set 

Period. For the first year it 

Was three months.  So, 12 weeks.

And we needed every day of those

To the risk pool as we could 

Get. Not just sick people who 

Knew they needed healthcare 

Insurance but healthy people so 

That we could smooth out the 

Risk. And he knew that if he 

Fired me we'd be slower than 

Getting the system back up and 

Running and getting people 

Enrolled.  So, I was saved by my

Own incompetence. But that was 

By far the worst day. I still 

Have plenty of times when I lay 

In bed at night and close my 

Eyes and I still see that little

Hour glass on the screen of my 

Computer that no matter how many

Times I press the button on my 

Keyboard, nothing happened.  So 

That was a terrible day..

   audience member: how do 

You balance your own beliefs and

Working in the white house? And 

What is your best advice to 


Students hoping to serve in 

Public life? 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: that's a 

Great question.

So I -- I am going to answer 

This in two ways. I had a mentor

In graduate school named seth 

Tillman, a terrific man.  In 

Fact the first person I told I 

Had been offered the chief of 

Staff's job by president obama. 

And he is a fascinating guy. He 

Was senator fulbright's speech 

Writer. And so you think about 

All the great books that senator

Fulbright wrote. Legislator as 

Educator, power and principal, 

Arrogance of power.  And you 

Think about the role that he 

Played as chairman of the 

Foreign relations committee in 

Ending the vietnam war and think

To yourself that must have been 

An interesting guy to work for. 

And seth was a fascinating guy. 

And he talked to me about 

Something he called the staffer 

Ethos. Staffer ethos he says 

Is -- by the way he worked for 

The same foreign relations 

Committee when there was not a 

Republican and democratic staff 

There was just one staff.  So, 

He worked for eh republicans and

Democrats. He said his job was 

To be best prepared on his 

Position for the private 

Discussion with the senator and 

Argue his position as stre

Strenuously as he could until 

The senator made the decision. 

At that time that was now his 

Position. And it would forever 

Be his position. If I have sim 

Pa this I for president trump on

One thing, it's this. Staff 

Walking out of a meeting with 

Him and saying he decided x but 

It was for y. What gives you the

Right to do that? That strikes 

Me as chicken. You make your 

Arguments in private and then 

The president makes his 

Decision, her decision, and 

That's your position. Now, this 

Is not easy with senator 

Fulbright. Democratic senator 

From arkansas who finally lost 

Re-election in 1972. Because 

When he wasn't stopping the war 

In vietnam you know what he was 

Doing? Filibustering the voting 

Rights act. Filibustering the 

Civil rights act.  So, I asked 

Seth about that. I said gees 

That's like a little hard on the

Whole staffer ethos thing, 

Right. You are working for a 

Segregationist. Seth points up 

The challenge of the question. 

Right. Which brings me to the 

Second way I often get this 

Question which is: I have ten 

Brothers and sisters. Myoldest 

Brother is a catholic priest. My

Second oldest brother is a 

Former catholic priest.  So the 

Question often comes as a good 

Catholic how can you work for a 

Democrat.  You know.  So, I 

Usually try to moderate my anger

But then the answer is this. 

Which is if I want to be the 

Decider I should be the 

President. Or the member of 

Congress or the senator. But as 

A staff guy you're asked to 

Be -- hired to be in those jobs 

To make your positions known. 

And in that regard I feel like 

Oftentimes president obama 

Sought me out particularly 

Because of my view. And 

Oftentimes because he knew it 

Was different than his.  So my 

Expectation isn't that I win 

Every argument. Who gets to work

In a job where you win every 

Argument? And if you do, you are

Probably working in the wrong 

Place. Right. The challenge is 

Do you get the opportunity to 

Make your argument. Or is 

Somebody trying to force you to 

Trim your argument to coincide 

With a generally popular view. 

Or can you speak your mind 

Because you've trained your 

Mind, you've through hunger 

Developed your mind. Through 

Association with these great 

Professors learned all sorts of 

New things. The president that I

Know best wanted a staff person 

Who did that not who gave him an

Answer that he warranted to 

Hear. Or that he was predisposed

To believe in the first 

Instance. Those he was most 

Suspicious of. Isn't that right?

If he knew you were building the

Lily boy that's it.  So, in 

Response to the question, what 

Do I -- I forget precisely the 

Question but what's my advice. 

My advice is to be the smartest 

Youen can be and be as 

Passionate as you can be. And 

Don't put your light under the 

Bushel. Put your light on top of

The bushel and make your 

Arguments. But recognize you 

Don't win every one. By the way,

As I said, if you are winning 

Every argument, you are probably

In the wrong place..

   audience member: how does 

The recent polarization between 

Majority conservative and 

Majority liberal communities 

Make it increasingly difficult 

For the american people to 

Collectively respond to crises? 

>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: that's a 

Good question. I mean, I 

Think -- I don't think there's 

Anything about polarization per 

Se that makes response to crisis

Harder. Provided that our 

Leadership is relying on some of

Those tenants we talked about 

Earlier. Which is letting 

Science dictate decisions. Now 

Being afraid to take the hard 

Right position, that is to say 

The hard difficult position 

Rather than the easy, more 

Politically attractive decision.

And relying on people because of

Their expertise. If you are 

Willing to stick to those 

Principals I think you can 

Manage any crisis. Our 

Institutions have seen 

Everything. I said this at lunch

But think about the white house 

Itself. 45 presidents, actually 

President trump is 45. Every 

President's had a piece of that 

White house. Washington didn't 

Live in it. He negotiated the 

Purchase of the south lawn. 

Adams lived it but just for a 

Couple months. Long enough to 

Write like the most beautiful 

Letter to his wife. I wish I 

Could write the way these guys 

Write. My wife might actually 

Like me better 


Madison decided to move out. 

Everybody else moved back in 

Until truman. He had to move 

Back out but they realized how 


Badly we rebuilt the building 

After the brits and canadiens --

I repeat what I said before and 

I won't use a swear word that I 

Used at lunch -- burned it down.

But every president's had a 

Piece of that building. Which is

To say everything this country 

Has gone through, saying a big 

Part of our population is three 

Fifths of a person, slavery, 

Civil war, world war, civil 

Rights movement, 9/11. How 

Arrogant to think that any 

Individual moment you have in 

That building is so unique that 

You should just invent a new way

To deal with a problem.  So, our


Institutions are up to the 

Challenges that we face. And 

That's because our institutions 

Of made up of all these people. 

This is why I so badly want more

Of these university of  michigan


Nationalists to move to 

Washington and go to work for 

Uncle sam. Because you are the 


Institutions. And we're up to 

These challenges. There's no 

Question in my mind. Absolutely 

No question in my mind. Any time

A leader tells you we're not, we

Got the wrong leader.  It's time

To change him..

   audience member: I think 

This might be the last yes we 

Have time for you. What advice 

Can you give young voters when 

Trying to vote for in the 

Primaries and what bolsies 

Should we prioritize and how 

Much does a candidate's past 

Affect how much we should trust 


>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: I say the 

Most important advice I can give

You is vote. President obama 

Used to come back from these, 

Like, trips to see students. I 

Mentioned this earlier today. He

Was always so excited. Students 

Are so all truistic, so 

Creative, entrepreneurial. But 

Sounds like they're so busy 

Doing those things they don't 

Vote. Mrs. Obama has a saying. 

She says raise your hand if you 

Are listening to the play list 

That your grandmother made for 

You. No list. No hands. Raise 

Your hand if you are wearing an 

Outfit that your grandfather 


Picked out for you. No hands go 

Up. Says well as long as you 

Keep not voting you're by virtue

Of the data letting your 

Grandmother and grandfather 

Decide who will lead you.  So, 

Vote.  That's the thing I just 

Cannot tell you enough of. Vote.

And in terms of the person's 

History.  You know, I forget 

What axlerod calls the 

Primaries. He calls them 

Something like gut check or 

Something like that. You can't 

Get through this without the 

American people knowing you.  

You know, I think you know after

Seeing everything that's come 

And gone in primaries, I think 

You know the people at the end 

Of the day. I am not one of 

Those who is very cynical about 

These people. I think as a 

General matter, most of these 

People are in this for the right

Reason. And in any case they're 

Showing you all their cards. And

So I actually don't really care 

Who you vote for. I just really,

Really, really, really, really, 

Really want you to vote. And if 

That happens there is nothing 

More than we hope for.  So, 

Please vote. 

>> JOHN CIORCIARI: Thank you. A 

Very good sort of call to 

Concrete action to take away 

From the conversation. We 

Appreciate your insights on a 

Broad array of issues. Let's 

Please continue the conversation

Outside where we have a 

Reception and please everyone 

Stay involved. We've got a great

Stream of events continuing 

Through the winter and spring. 

Please join me in thanking Denis


>> DENIS MCDONOUGH: Thank you 

Very much.