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tv   Former Atlanta Mayor South Carolina Congressman on Urban- Rural Divide  CSPAN  June 24, 2022 6:37pm-8:00pm EDT

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>> former voters their political views and commonalities. they spoke at an event hosted by the georgetown institute of politics and public service.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage emily it is and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage emily fisher and bridgerton, georgetown university class of 2022. [applause] good evening, everyone, and thank you for joining today's form, i hosted by the institute of politics
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and public service at the macomb school of public policy known to you as do politics. tonight we are excited about the inaugural event for a new series called cease-fire, where we will prioritize dialogue over debate on some of the most pressing issues of our time. for tonight's inaugural cease-fire event, we will see two formal atlanta beer bottoms and force former south carolina congressman gowdy for a conversation on one of the most profound political divisions facing our country today, the orbit will divide. this event is being sponsored by the georgetown university college democrats, georgetown university common college republicans, and georgetown university bipartisan coalition. please join the conversation on social media by tagging gu politics using at gu politics and the official event hashtag, hashtag, cease-fire. >> yeah, thank you everybody, and good evening to you all. a fun thing about emily and i doing this introduction is of course emily is a very, very smart democrat from rural west
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virginia, and i'm [interpreter] -- republican from no state. and so it really fits up. but you might fit this speak it's about to show people from different backgrounds, different parts of the country, different regions can talk together and. -- reflective conversation. so with that we'd like to introduce our special guest tonight and i'll start with mayor. so that the 60th remains of atlanta georgia and isn't a visionary and you don't bring -- kit she became the first married lanterns history tour served in north branches of government, having previously surged served as a judge and city council. she has committed herself to realizing a vision of white atlanta, and of and 40, resilient and equitable and i'd. we are bottoms soaked as me doing some of the most challenging times in the history of atlanta. during a global pandemic, and racial justice -- became the challenges and opportunities facing cities and leaders across america. we're never getting these unprecedented challenges, the bottom's administration was able to remain focused on the relives of atlanta degree shooting and closing the
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largest real estate transaction in the history of the city and one of the largest in the southeast united states, delivering billions of dollars in community ballots to people across atlanta. she -- childhood and ship by a child ended professional career that highlighted the inequalities among americans where bottoms administration undertook several major issues that would seek to eradicate -- i also created a model for cities to follow. we are steadfast leadership integrity forced philosophy has led to numerous accolades in -- including serving as the chair of community development and housing committee and the census task force for the united states council of mayor, and as a trustee for the african american players association. it is also selected as chair for the platform committee of the 2020 democratic national convention, and so says the dnc's vice chair of -- . emily. >> thank you so much, brady. and next i have the honor of introducing our second guest for tonight. trey gowdy was born in greenville, south carolina, and grew up in spartanburg, south carolina. he is a graduate of baylor university, with a degree in
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history, and the university of how south carolina school of law, where he was a member of the scholastic honors society, order of the wigan robe. after law school, he closed for a judge on the south carolina court of appeals and then for united states district court trial judge. in 2010, he ran for congress to represent the fourth congressional district in greenville and spartanburg counties. while in congress he served on the judiciary committee, oversight and government reform committee, intelligence committee, education and workforce committee, and ethics committee. he was also chosen to chair select committee on the events occurring in libya and september 11th to 12th, 2012. while in congress, he actively participated in numerous congressional investigators, sponsored girls signed into law, and had deep and meaningful relationships with scores of colleagues on both sides of the aisle. after four terms in congress, he announced he would not she seek reelection in 2018, and would leave public service for good, that ending his career with a flawless record in the courtroom and undefeated in political races. in january of 2019, he returned
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to his beloved south carolina to practice law, teaches classes with his close friend, senator tim scott, and speak on legal issues he considers important to our country. mr. gowdy is an author, the host of a television show, and the podcast. >> with that we would like to welcome mayor bottoms and representative. thank you all. enjoy the conversation. [applause]>> good evening every. congratulations on making good evening, everyone. -- congrats on making it to the end of the semester, you all. and thanks for joining us tonight for our inaugural takeoff event kickoff event for the new gu politics series, cease-fire. i'm going to take a second just
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explain what this is all about. because it's a little bit different than i think what a lot of us are used to seeing if you watch cable news. there used to be a show on cable news called crossfire, you'll remember that? which was about bringing people together from different perspectives and picking a fight between the two of them. the idea of cease-fire is the exact opposite. our goal here beginning tonight is to identify some big issues that are dividing our politics, bringing to people together from very different perspectives, ask them to lay down their swords, and to have a conversation, to help us understand those different perspectives. as we say this isn't about and this isn't a debate it's, a dialogue and. that we were putting together the concept for the series we
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thought of starting with this particular topic, the urban rural divide, because this is, i think, one of the most defining divides in our politics today. if you look at the last couple of election cycles one of the biggest predictors of how you voted was your geography, moreso than your ideology the closer you lived to the downtown of the major city, the more likely you voted for the democratic nominee for president, the further away you lived from the downtown of a major metropolitan area, the more likely it was you voted for the republican nominee. and when you think about it, if you watch cable news and if you talk to your friends, wherever you live, whether it's in an urban or a rural community, you
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realize that there are a lot of preconceived notions about the people who live in the other. some of those might be in some truth, some of them might be total misconceptions. and so that's what we are going to start talking about tonight. it's sort of exploring the rural urban divide, what voters are looking for, what the people who live in those communities are looking for. maybe by the end of this conversation will find some commonality if not in terms of policies prescriptions at, least in terms of motivations. but even if we don't find commonality, that's okay. maybe just with a little bit better understanding of where the other is coming from, we can instill a little bit more respect in the dialogue. that's the goal. let's find out if it works. i'm incredibly pleased for this kickoff event for this conversation to bring two people who are just amazing public servants in their own rights. mayor keisha lance
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bottoms and congressman trey gowdy, two people who sort of really exemplifies what it means to represent their constituents, coming from very different areas, very different communities, and who both, when i called each of them to pitch this idea, didn't take a very much convincing at all. and to that, i want to say thank you. so, with that, i've got a couple of questions if. i do my job right i'm not going to speak much more beyond what i just did and i'll let you guys do most of the talking. i've got a few questions but i want to start with a really basic one to each of you. mayor, what is it that rural voters don't understand about people who live in cities? and congressman,
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what is it that people in cities and don't understand about rural communities and? that you may start with you, mayor. >> first of all, thank you for having me. it's great to be here. i think the biggest misunderstanding is that we are not the enemy. we are not, we are not full of criminals and drug addicts and people who wish to wreak havoc on society. and i base this upon the way that the city of atlanta is often vilified in the state of georgia. we are a blue city in a red state, and it's often said there's atlanta and then there is the rest of georgia, because it's that big of a divide. but the reality is that we care about all the same things. we want safe communities, we want access to health care, we want to be able to send our kids to great
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schools. and i think we have much more in common than not, but i think that's the biggest misconception, that cities are the enemy, and that we are takers and not givers. >> well, i want to start by saying thank you for letting me do it and thank you for the students for being here, and thank you, madam mayor, for being willing to be seen in public with me. >> [laughter] you know, when you called me, i thought you had a sense of humor, because if you added all the major cities in south carolina together, i don't think we equal atlanta. so, for me to kind of understand the divide you know, what's open in south carolina, ahead two of the five largest cities in the state in my congressional district. but they are nothing compared, really, to charlotte, much less to atlanta. so i just thinking. and what i've been able to come up with, moe, and i'm sure i'm
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wrong, and it's just a question of how wrong i am and who was willing to correct me. i do think there is this natural human nature bent to an us versus them. and i think oftentimes when we were in the green room, it's good nature. there was a reference to somebody being from up north that you, know, somebody from down south met in a good-natured way. that was for the same is not always good-natured. but i think we are kind of a little bit wired, you know, skins versus shirts. the second thing that popped into my mind is the closer you are to an urban area, i think, the more you get to see what your government can do and what your tax dollars can do. and the farther removed you are from parks, maybe the less you understand why we need our tax dollars to go for a park. for
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the removed you are from major highway projects, maybe you question. so i think the size and scope of government and how people view that and the third point, and the one i don't have an answer for, i think president bush and president clinton both won the urban and rural vote. so it's happened in our lifetime -- maybe not their lifetime but our lifetime -- so what has changed, i think what has changed, moe, is there is no longer a desire to persuade people who live in a different zip code that we do have something in common. i think politics now is about ratification and validation and less about persuasion. and if i can win with just the rural vote why would i ever try to appeal to urban voters and? the country would be to also. >> i'm i, think there's a lot of truth to that last point. i
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think we really have moved in our politics to a place where as you both know it's cheaper to mobilize than it is to persuade, right? and we see it both in terms of politics and the media. and if you watch the media, if you watch what people would consider progressive-leaning media talk about rural voters, what do you hear? do you hear that these are voters who are constantly voting against their economic self interest, you hear that these are voters who are living in communities that are sort of economically dying and wondering why they don't just move, right? to open areas or suburban areas, you hear that they are harboring racism, right? and if you watch conservative leaning media, what do you hear about our cities? i mean, you are some
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conservative media, and you would think that every city is a burning scape right now, right? that is crime infested, burning house cape, that is the home of elitism and the woke mob -- that it can descends to rural areas. so i think the media and our political leaders are tapping into and stoking some of that. but it's, they wouldn't be doing it if it wasn't working. they wouldn't be doing it if it there isn't something here in the first place and people in those communities didn't believe that. so i guess i'm trying to figure out why, right? why is it that rural voters are so concerned over urban voters? why is it that urban voters are
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so concerned about rural voters? i think back to bobby kennedy in 1968, who would go out and deliver the same message in appalachia as he did in inner cities, speaking to, sort of, the disaffected in both. why can't we do that today? >> i like to think i do it. >> tell us how, mayor. tell us how. >> well, my mom always said you only have to tell the truth once. and i, i found it far easier to be consistent because it really is hard to keep up with a lie. and my vantage point was a very different, because i was a mayor in a state controlled by the republican party. so it did not prove me not to get along and to work well with our republican leaders. i remember having a meeting with a leader i'll tell you when we leave our tour who it was -- [laughter] we had a great meeting. and he said you'd better not walk out of here and tweet and say we had a good meeting. and i thought, gosh, if only we could
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say that we had a good meeting. and as i look at david perdue and governor kemp, i think, if i were to ever publicly -- is this public? considered public? -- if i were to ever publicly speak about how well we worked together and how helpful they both were, it would probably sink both of them, quite frankly. and i think therein lies the challenge that it's not politically expedient for us to say that we work together. and the reality is, especially with african american singers, they are often as conservative as it gets on policies. and probably more aligned with rural voters on a lot of policies. but at some point in the course of our nation, it's become popular to say that you don't get along and that you don't compromise. and i think that makes for very poor politics, and i think it
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hurts our people when we are afraid to publicly say that we work well together or that we compromise. you look at the 2020 election, joe biden won. joe biden was a moderate candidate. but if i were to go by social media, even based on what my policies were, i did not support defunding the police, but if i look at fox news, i looked at social media, i wanted to defund police, i thought it was a horrible idea. horrible tagline. i didn't want the all-star gang to leave georgia. that was a bad idea. if i look at social media, i ran the all-star game out of georgia. so i think that there is a combination. it's become easier for people to attach tags to you. and i think as elected officials, we don't do
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enough on our end to push back and say, no, we actually like each other and we work together well. it's not popular to say. >> well trey, a lot of your former colleagues, right, in congress, railed against, sort of, the urban elite on a daily basis. and democrats, you know, did the same in the congress. what's your take on it? >> what i don't know, is whether that's a supply issue or a demand issue. i don't know if that is how folks are going to politics in this day and age are white or if they believe that that is what the voters want to hear and some people may argue, well, what difference does it make? well, it does make a difference if you are reacting and i do think
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it takes more that it leads at, this when i was in the house. it was reactionary and if you felt that was the way to win the primary, and what 80% of the districts are primary districts now, they're not general election districts, you've got to win the primary or you're not going to be the general. either you in the primary, you know, i remember during the health care debate, there's an ad of speaker ryan, whether people like him are not, i do like him, but whether people like him or not, he's pushing the senior citizen off a cliff. i mean, you can't disagree with the affordable care act without thinking that he wants to engage in a genocide of elderly people. what i start with is, okay, what makes someone lean more democrat or lean more republican? the mayor, when she's got a choice, she says, i identify more with this party, i identify more with that one. i do think it boils down to your view of government and what government is responsible for and what government can and should do. and i may be dead
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wrong, and i'm talking to, you know, former mayor of one of the largest cities, one of the most vibrant cities in the country, maybe the world. i think the more you see government up close on a daily basis, the more appreciation you probably have for it. i mean, the two cities in south carolina that are kind of destination cities torch are charleston and greenville. i'd be shocked if those were not the two highest taxed cities in the state. and people can't wait to go to them because of services and infrastructure and the opportunity that you have there. so, i think, when i am, i don't live in a rural south carolina, but i don't live in a city. i think, when i take my own trash to the dump, i have less of an appreciation for trash service. when i don't see the
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police on a regular basis, i think i probably have less of an appreciation for the need for my tax dollars to go support the police force. that's simplistic. i'd rather stay there than think that the us versus them, skin versus shirt divide is getting -- president obama almost won indiana, if i'm not mistaken. that's not an urban -- >> i think he did the first time, not the second time. i think he did the first time. >> there are politicians who can bridge that gap. there is a new york times guest editorial today, a state rep in maine, who won in a district that no one thought she could win in because she decided to engage in the art of persuasion instead of ratification. i don't know people want to put the effort into it anymore. she told a story in this op-ed of stopping in someone's house, and it being told to stay off their property. she stayed. she had a conversation. he was a supporter. i don't know many
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folks in elected office who are looking to spend 30 minutes per voter, when you can really just micro-targeting for media. exhausting now to be >> i think, the reality, is it's exhausting now to be in politics, quite frankly. not to discourage anyone. nobody is ever satisfied. the left is mad. the right is mad. and those in the middle are quiet. so, you are constantly feeling like you are not doing enough, that everybody is angry with you all of the time, because that is -- i do pretty good about not staying on social media. i used to like to look at social media to see where
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the pothole was, and what was happening in the city, but it would get so toxic coming from the right and from the left. i remember, when i announced that i was not running again, i had someone call me, and say, did we fail you? they said, did we not do enough for you. i thought that was a really interesting question, and i think really speaks to how the solid majority feels. nobody wants to put themselves in the middle of a fight. only politicians do that. regular, normal people don't usually like to be yield and screamed at. i do think, for the sake of our country, it's going to be extremely important for people with moderate views to be much more vocal, because there is a reason you have a lot of elective officials seeking not to run for office again. nobody,
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and i said this when i -- i said this to my husband, i think. i didn't sign up to have fun. but, i didn't sign up to be miserable either. and coming out of 2020, there were a lot of miserable days. i mean, you know, you are going to go through tough times, but i think what we are experiencing in our country right now is a tone that i've not felt during the course of my political career. i would venture to say, not even in my lifetime. >> can i say two things, to pick up on what the mayor was saying? one of them would not relate to what she just described, because it's more indigenous to congress. i think 80% of the congressional races are decided by more than ten points, which is a landslide in politics. ten points is a landslide. 80% are landslide districts, which means the
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primary is all that matters. and mo, if you were running someone's campaign on the democrat side, would you tell them to be more moderate, or would you tell them to be more progressive? i can assure you, what i would tell them on the right is it's the most conservative candidate that usually wins. to your other point, i think, maybe it was different in atlanta, so who sets the expectations for whether you are doing a good job or not? i can tell you, on the right, the expectations are set by people primarily who have never run for office, never held office, and never cast a vote on a piece of legislation. i wonder how many people that set the expectation for what a good mayor should be have ever been a mayor. >> yeah. i mean, and you know, we pole all of the time, so when i made the decision, my poll numbers were at 68% which was incredible. coming out of 2020, and all that we have been through, so i was in a very interesting position because i
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could have run again, and very likely would have won. but, you know, the self analysis. why did i run for office? i ran for office because i wanted to do good. i wanted to do better for my communities. and at some point, when you feel as if you your best is not good enough, it begins to wear on you, despite the fact that the 68%, it was -- the best word that i have is, it was exhausting. and it doesn't mean that i won't ever run for office again. i'm not stepping out of politics likely forever, but i needed to put a period on that season of just for self care. i think that's what you see happening with a lot of people who are
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deciding not to seek reelection right now. >> you've got two people here tonight, both of -- well, i don't want to speak for myself, but she would've won reelection. i might have? i don't know. i tell you this, i would not have lost in the general. now, could i have lost in the primary to someone that said, you know, i'll give you $1 if you guess the most contentious vote i cast the eight years i was there. you will never guess what it was. the most contentious vote i cast was for john boehner, speaker of the house. and he was the only nominee for speaker of the house, so. the fact that the two of us left unindicted and undefeated should tell you something about the state of politics. the question, is how do you fix it? clinton, bush, both won the urban and rural vote. it can be
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done. it cannot be done if you make no effort to do it, and if you are not interested in doing it. >> so, we are going to get to student questions soon, and they always ask better questions than we do. but, we want to throw a couple issues out there that i think kind of exemplify the urban rural divide, some of which i don't understand why, so maybe we can talk it through a little bit. i will start with one that still baffles me, covid. i mean, if there is an issue that should be unifying us as a people, where there's a clear, common adversary, it is a pandemic. and yet, you look at the divide between left versus right, but really pronounced in urban versus rural, in how we mitigate and how we have been mitigating the pandemicm that i
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try to wonder why and sometimes, i think, like, does this really come down to just the basic argument of individual freedom versus collective responsibility, or is it something else? i don't know the answer to that. so, i would love to hear from each of your perspectives, right? why we are so divided. why urban versus rural is so divided in how we tackle this pandemic? >> look, i am not an epidemiologist, but that does not keep most people on television from talking aout issues. so i am going to do it anyway. i would imagine, the more you live around other people, the more interested you are in masks. i can tell you that i'm much more of a fan of masks when i am on an airplane than i would be if i was in the backyard checking golf balls. so, the more you are around people, i am guessing the urban voter is more interested in
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restrictions than the rural voter. i have no explanation for vaccine numbers other than a distrust of government, in which case i would say see answer a. the closer you are to government, probably the less distrustful you are of it. my father is a medical doctor. i got both vaccines. the booster, i'd get one today if you offered it to me and it gave me another week. but i'm in the minority among people living in rural areas when it comes to the vaccine. >> a bit of honesty, i was surprised to see you with a mask on because of assumptions, and stereotypes. i was very surprised, pleasantly surprised, but i was surprised. so, even in coming here to have this discussion, i still made assumptions, which goes back to what you said about these
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inherent ideas that we have about who people are and what they think, and what they feel. but i can tell you, there were many alarming conversations i had in my city, in african american community. there were some times i would stand in my kitchen, and i would look at my son. i'm like, are you listening to qanon? like, what are you talking about? because his ideas about covid, and the things -- now, my younger kids say that he just says things just to bother me, that he really doesn't believe half of what he says, but he only does it for me. but easter, i had a cousin come over who's not vaccinated, so i demanded that he take a test, and my very smart cousin explained to me
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why he can't get covid, based on nothing other than the fact that he believes he can't get covid. other than that, he is brilliant. so, that divide is -- there were a lot of people, rural, urban, all races, who had some really crazy ideas, in my opinion, not based on science, as it relates to covid. and ironically, at the beginning of the pandemic, the governor asked me to lead his task force on homelessness. we were working together quite well right up until we weren't. and, at some point, i began to go, who is this guy? he was getting one set of information, i was getting another set of information, and that's when you saw our very public split on the pandemic. but in my mind,
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it's like it's science, look at the science. i also, at some point, quite frankly begin to think, maybe it's because -- maybe i am so very sensitive to this because i can see the numbers in the african american community. now, there are other reasons that, you know, when you look at minority populations, congregate living conditions, underlying health conditions and all these things that make covid-19 more deadly, in minority populations, i began to wonder if this virus were killing people in the rates we were seeing in cities, in rural communities, would the response have been the same? i don't know the answer to that. >> i don't either, and i am tempted by the, you know, individual liberty versus collective responsibility
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argument. i'm tempted by it. and i'd be shocked if the majority of the women and men who sign up to serve our country in uniform did not come from rural areas. in fact, i think they do. so, immediately, i have impeached my own idea that there's this lack of interest in a collective responsibility. i mean, i used to talk about it, mo, but i think it fell on deaf ears, maybe no one was watching. even if i'm not doing it for my own well-being, i wonder what the church attendance rate of rural people would be. my guess is it'd be pretty high. so, why is it not enough to do it to help someone else, even if you don't think it's going to help you. i mean, all the major religions teach that. i don't have an answer other than -- you
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mentioned follow the science. i admit, i was vaxxed. you admit, i was vexed. you correct me on my geography. i think there are parts of the district of columbia that abut maryland and virginia, and there may even come a point where they all come close to one another maybe. so why, if you are following the science, would you have three different policies? i do think that science, in some ways, science and clerks, in some ways, is the ultimate casualty of the pandemic. it used to be unified. we haven't had one person in this a good job joiners you get. i'd get a vaccine if you. i don't know why this vaccine became a political issue rather than we're in an environment where we are dying for us versus them ideas, arguments. >> all right. i want to get to student questions. i want to throw it two more issues that. while i'm doing that, feel free to start lining up at the
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microphone, there's one in each aisle. and we'll get to you in a second. but i want to throw out two more issues where i feel i -- mean there's so many i could go to -- but to some areas where i feel like the urban world to rural world is really pronounced. the economy. right? i mean, you listen to sort of the conventional wisdom, the narrative is that urban areas are the economic hubs of the country, they are generating the gdp, they are generating all the economic growth, they are getting all access to capital, and the rural communities are getting screwed i remember taking mark warner when he was running for governor of virginia back in 2001 to a peanut factory in inside the southeast virginia and guy there saying, you know what our number one export is down in this part of the state?
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our young people. that they can't, they can't get jobs here, they're all leaving for the cities. right? so this is 20 years ago. but at the same time, poverty isn't just a rural issue, right? there are a lot of people in urban areas that are struggling with access to opportunity, to economic opportunity. so why is this pronounced divide between urban rural? where is there some commonality there? >> i think there's certainly an interconnectivity. i think there are rural voters that drive to the cities for jobs because manufacturing jobs have left certain -- we have moved to a service based economy. so if you want work you, drive into the city. i think that may wind up being the best hope for curing the divide is the more because the more time you spent around people people not like yourself the more appreciation you have for them. the interstates in my state, if the interstate passed you by when they were building the interstate, those communities are dead, they're just, they're gone. so it's not for initially
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gone. so it's not volitionally are us versus them, it is a common sequence of the laws of manufacturing, it is a consequential where we put the inter state systems. if you think that your life is not going well you can look at yourself and or you can blame an exterior force and i think the temptation is to sometimes want to brain blame and exterior force. >> i'll give you another example, affordable housing. when i went over to the state legislature to talk about my state legislature, i debated, should i talk about affordable housing? or meet with republican major leaders, mostly from rural communities, i think they won't want to hear about atlanta's affordable housing issue. i was dead wrong. for several reasons. one, i assumed they would not want to hear about it, but they were very interested. one, because they all had to come into the city during the session, so they were looking for housing. secondly, just what you mentioned. their kids and their
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grandkids were moving into the city. so housing was an issue. there were people, you know, even from the metropolitan area, the second grade teacher couldn't afford to live in the city. she was driving an hour. so all these reasons that meet people care. but that could have stopped in my office in city hall and just said, they don't want to hear about this, they don't care about affordable housing, not going to even bring it up. but i did, and it was a very productive conversation. so i think oftentimes we've got to get out of our own way in making assumptions about what people care about. it may not be for the same reasons that i care, but oftentimes, again, there's much more commonality than we often give people credit for. >> i'm going to throw out one more issue, then we'll go to the students. race. a lot of
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times when people talk about urban versus rural they talk about white versus non white. and a lot of that got spilled out into the public discourse in the real way in the summer of 2020. mayor, you are on the front line of, sort of, that conversation in a very real way down in atlanta. but i think it's even more nuanced, as every other issue is, right? 20% of people who live in rural communities are people of color, right? president trump didn't just win white rural america, he won the majority of white america, urban and rural. so it's a bit more nuanced than just white, non-white, rural, urban. i'd love just your thoughts on that divide, how the rate and geographic divide plays out. >> you know, my mom said to me at some point during 2020 that
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it felt like 1965 to her all over again. and that was heartbreaking to hear that. so, i believe that what trump did -- made popular in our country, most efficient. my concern is that that was not a one-time event. i don't know how we turn the corner from that. it's like he put a torch to it and it's taken hold and it just didn't seem to be going away and that worries me. i was very hopeful with the election because i thought, okay, well, we are kind of coming back to some sense of normalcy. but i don't
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know how long that will last because again is not popular. it's not popular to work together and get along. extremes are popular, and that concerns me. >> well, i think about mr. clyburn, who represents a large geographic part of south carolina, much of which is rural. and i, i don't know. as you know, mo, tim scott is not only my best friend in politics, he's the man that will pitch my funeral. but i don't pretend to be able to see issues of race through the eyes. the best hope i have is to borrow the eyes of someone who's lived it. so i don't, i don't have an answer to that. i will say this. i think even before president trump, we figured out that a
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divisiveness is not just good for politics, it's good for business, it's good for television, it's good for newspapers. i think i you started by saying, is there a constituency for compromise? and i don't think there is. and so what we have to ask ourselves, is that the supply problem or a demand problem? is it we're not getting it but we want it, or we stopped wanting it? and i don't have the answer to that. and i i, know this, i spoke about this i spoke about that last night on the very like leave you television show that i host. but i think redistricting is going to give your house of representatives that consists of the squad and the freedom caucus. and so if i were going to fix something in our politics right now, i would probably fix the way political lines are drawn and make it where you actually have to talk to people that may not currently agree with you to be
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successful. >> i want to come back to that point. but let's start taking some student questions. so we start over here and then go over that. tell us where you are, you name, your school, where you're studying, where your from, and then your question. >> i. my name is river, i'm from atlanta, actually. so my question is for you, madam mayor. i'm a sophomore in the school for of foreign service. and my question, and once again, thank you for being here, lived in my, in atlanta my entire life, so it's an honor to see you here. my question for you is this. two years ago, many of us in atlanta where maybe expecting you to either still be mayor to be in joe biden's cabinet, or maybe even vice president. but, so what do you think that you have maybe learned during your time out of office, and what do you think
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the future holds for you? >> first of all, what high school? >> chamblee. >> all right! you know, i learn more than i ever expected to know because we didn't have, there is no playbook coming out of 2020. and i think in many ways for as for frustrating as it was for me to watch president trump, it made me a stronger leader, because i had to rely on what i knew and often what i didn't know and to figure it out. and i don't know that i would have had to work that hard as a leader under a different president. so i learned, i learned so much about myself. i also learned intuition is a superpower.
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women, especially, often dismiss feelings because we think it makes us weak and it's not tangible but i learned that it's a gift that sometimes you won't have all of the facts, that you just have to make decisions based on what you think and what you feel, and i learned that did not fail me. in terms of the future, i'm still trying to figure it out and i haven't had a break yet from being mayor. i'm still going full speed. so i think once i settled down -- i'm a woman of faith -- i think if god were to give me a message i'd be too busy to listen to it right now. so i think when i take the time to slow down i'll have some clarity on what my next move will be. >> you mean you didn't come here to make an announcement tonight? >> [laughs] i did not! you
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we're going to have run and take it together! >> yet it first, you heard it here first! >> [applause] [laughter] and then somebody will make it into a commercial and then he'll never win again. >> my promise you'll never win again because on never run again! >> all right. next question. >> thank you for both for being here today. and i'm incredibly excited for the future of this program because he's five brings people together. my name is jim assawa, i'm a freshman in the school of foreign service. originally hailing from philadelphia, which is an urban area, but my family is from maine. i'm rural area. so i really appreciate you mentioning coley maxman, who is a bright hope for the future of
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mean. and my question is, we face a lot of different issues. so you have the issues of broadband in me you have the issues of homelessness and food insecurity in philadelphia. but you also have trade issues. you have shared issues of health care, of misinformation. so what advice do you guys have four young leaders such as myself who are seeking to navigate the current political space, and how can we bridge divides and hope to sort of take different issues, meld them together and create a policy plan that will bring together americas wherever they are, wherever geographically you are living? >> when i hear policy i, think you. because i was a lawyer. i'm not good on policy. so i'm going to let you take the policy. i can take the politics, but i'll let you take the policy. >> no, i would just say, be a truth teller. and you all, you know what your issues are. i found out more in my kitchen about what people care about between my kitchen and my mother's kitchen than i do from any poll and any roundtable in the mayor's office. and i would
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say because you are such savvy students, you're savvy young people, take what you know to be the challenges, and then work to find solutions. because the reality is that as elected officials, we can get lead to sometimes. we are often dealing with what's in front of us, and not thinking ten steps ahead. but some of the best policies that i was able to create came from people telling me what needed to be done. my affordable housing plan came from someone saying, hey, i think you can set aside, you can make a goal of one billion dollars towards affordable housing. i thought, that's crazy, i can? and by the time i left in four years, and we were over 700 million in. cash bail bond, eliminating cash bail bond in atlanta. someone came to me and said, you really need
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to look at this, and i did. i said, yeah, this is impacting poor people. this is a penalty on poor people. and we did it. so you know what issues are, you know what people care about, and you also know how to disseminate the truth in ways that i never could. i don't know how to get on snapchat, i don't know how to do tiktok. [laughter] but you do. >> this is a tough political environment, if that's what you are think about going into it. it may be different, you know, by the time you run. what i would tell you, is to embrace that reality that there is a difference between losing and failing. and if you run as what you are, now -- you just mentioned easter. i think i am right on this. i think he lost a voice vote to a guy named barabbas. anybody can lose. the question is, are you willing to
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lose as what you are? the statistic -- i'm not big on polls, this one caught my attention -- two thirds of all democrats don't have a single republican friend. two thirds of republicans don't have a single democrat friend. if i am trying to understand why someone who voted for president obama twice, i don't know who i would ask, except for someone who did. i am trying to understand why someone voted for president trump twice. i don't know who i would ask, except someone who did. so, policy, it's also smart politics. it is hard to hate someone that you know. it's hard. so, i would bring in my worst critics, and i would engage them. they may not support you. they may not vote for you, but they may be closer to neutral, and that's a victory too. so, when i say it's a tough political environment, the way to do it,
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identify your voters, to get them out, and suppress the votes on the other side. the question, do you want to win or do you want to make a difference? if you want to make a difference, then reject that mindset, and engage in the art of persuasion. try to persuade people that you are way is better, and just understand, there's a difference between losing and failing. every hero i've had has lost. there's no shame in losing. >> thank you. >> thanks for the question. >> thank you so much for speaking with us today. you know, you said that thing about friends across political lines, i saw, like, four people who did fist bumps, so that's a good start. i'm just curious, what do you think our news organizations and journalists cannot do to limit the detriments on the urban, rural divide, and how journalists and
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news consumers can play a role in that? >> you both now work for a cable networks? >> i think we have to sort out whether it's a supply issue or a demand issue. i tend to think that the media, not unlike a congress, reacts. i mean, keep in mind, you can have a fabulously successful show on any cable news network with a couple of million voters. you're not going to win any election, you're not going to win a national election, but you will have, what they call, a successful news show. look, i am trained as a lawyer. i did that longer than i did anything else. i would cross examine everything i hear, no matter what show it is, including my own. you should ask. how do you know that? what are the limits of your knowledge? you should ask that anytime anyone says something, on television or anywhere else? cross-examination is the most powerful tool we have to
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elucidate the truth and understand that just because something is said, doesn't -- what did my dad tell me? don't believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see. don't assume, because it's said in a serious voice with a lot of gravity, that it's true. cross examine everything. >> and again, i think we see things through our lens, so i would say cnn is pretty neutral. a lot of people wouldn't say that cnn is pretty neutral. but, it is to me. and again, because that's the lens that i am looking through. i think, you know, we have to demand more, so it we speak with our dollars. we support networks or don't support networks, and it impacts the bottom line, and i think that when we demand more, we get more in return. so sorry.
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>> i would give some thought to supporting individuals, as opposed to networks or newspapers. if you find a columnist that you think is fair, no matter where she writes. you mentioned cnn. i don't want to get them in trouble. bakari sellers has been a friend of mine for probably 15 years now. he's a very, i think, by anyone's standard, progressive commentator on cnn. >> i didn't think he was progressive. [laughs] >> for south carolina, he's pretty progressive. but, i have never had a crossword. we've just decided, friendship. look, he is never going to vote for
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me, but then again he should not. he shouldn't vote for me, and i shouldn't vote for him. but, you can get along with someone, and you can't support them. something happened to him recently, and i texted him, and i said, i am thinking about you. he's made the mistake of supporting me publicly, which was a dumb thing for him to do. but he did it anyway. pick people that you think are worthy of your trust as opposed to institutions. >> yeah, i do wonder on this point, so much of our national political dialogue is being driven by media outlets that are either new york or d. c. based. and you're seeing local press, even in metropolitan areas, especially in rural areas, local press around the country, really taking the shorts, right? i mean, it is a slow, painful death that you are seeing out there. and i wonder how much of that is driving this. if new york and d. c. are dictating the terms of the debate, we are losing the local nuance, whether it's in a major city or in a rural
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community, it changes the nature of our discourse, it changes the nature of the debate on these issues, and people start thinking it a little bit differently. so, okay. over here. >> my name is tyler, and i am originally from a farm in wisconsin, and now i'm here study economics. i'm from a farm in wisconsin, and now i am with the georgetown bipartisan coalition, so this issue really hits home for me, and so i want to thank you for having the event. it really means a lot. my question for you, when we think about bitter polarization like this, and geographic divides, people tend to blame the internet. i've lost track of how many times tonight you guys have mentioned social media in a negative tone. but it's difficult to go out into your local community and have a conversation with people who disagree with you when our local communities are now sorted into red america and blue america. so, my question for you is, to what extent can social media be a force for good and for healing? and, what needs to change in order for
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that to happen, both policy wise and culturally? >> you know, again, there is an opportunity to spread truth via social media. but, social media also has its limits. i talk about my best polling sources. if ti were -- i was on cnn today, i promise you my son didn't see me. he didn't even watch tv. he gets everything on his phone. my mother saw me. if i posted it on social media, she would never see it because she is not on social media. so i think it's important, in the same way we run campaigns. when we run campaigns, we knock on doors. we get on the radio. we are on television. we are on social media. we mail. we do
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fall bank, we do it all. i think, if we did a better job of doing that not just in campaign season, then i think we would be better off as a country. i think that we could communicate better with our constituents. they would understand that we are not all bad, washington is not awful, all elected officials aren't crooks. but, when we all lay spread to information when it's campaign season, i don't think it helps us very much. >> as someone who is not on social media at all, this will be a very short answer. i think that technology is benign. it's how you use it. i have never -- ithink social media is great for raising issues. i don't think it's great for resolving them. i think i said it last night. if you -- how many do we get, 280 characters on twitter? i mean, look, you can share your thoughts with the world, as long as you can reduce them to two sentences or three
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sentences. i just think issues oftentimes are more complicated than that. and so, having said that, most of my kids are on it. i haven't seen their eyes and probably five years, even one of them. i don't even know what color eyes my daughter has, because they are always looking down. but, i am a dinosaur. it's great for raising issues. i would, from a mental health standpoint, i would be very careful letting what someone who does not know you well thinks or says about you have any impact on your life at all. and, i would say that to all young people. not just young people. i saw my colleagues flipping through facebook and they read nonpositive comments, and they focus on the negative one. but none of the ten know them. so why do they care? the
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chances of you being the smartest person in the world or the dumbest person in the world are not great, unless you know everyone in the world. i don't know how you would know that. so, look, this is heretical for me to say, particularly for a group this age, social media, i would use it to raise issues, i don't know that it's that helpful in terms of resolving them. >> all right, we are running short on time, so apologies. we are going to do one more for each mic. and then for those of you that were behind that, i'll polish. we'll go here and then here and then wrap up. >> hi, my name is tom. i'm from the general public, i guess. i found it on eventbrite. but my -- [laughs] >> did you see my tweet? >> [laughter] >> but my question is there's a lot of talk about compromise
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and coming to the center. if that's not popular, if both sides are on the extremes, why not have some sort of national divorce or at least a system where one side is not dictating terms to the other? because if we're going to have a divorce it seems like an abusive relationship right now, especially for conservatives who might have a referendum on illegal immigration or homosexual marriage, only for some federal judge or justices far away to overrule the will of the people? >> i don't know that we are headed for a divorce. i still naively think that if you put two people beside each other, as we have done tonight, and we were to go through life, we would have exponentially more in common than we do now do not. i think we have one big in common. you mentioned faith. you can build a relationship on nothing but that. and you can build a relationship on nothing but the fact that we are both parents. i just think we're in an environment when we kind of run through what we disagree on. so i'm not, i'm not into a
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national divorce. i think we tried that once. it had disastrous results. i think we are one nation indivisible. and we've got to start talking to people with whom we don't currently agree. and even if there is no reconciliation on the issue, i don't think the mayor and i are going to agree on certain issues, no matter how long we talk. but i think it just really hard to hate someone you know. so i'm not into a national divorce, but maybe that's just the old-fashioned southern baptist in me. >> [laughter] >> yeah. i do you think it's about grace. i think we also have to give room for people to grow. and i don't think we are often willing to do that. so we say we want people to understand us, we want to know each other better, and then when they ask a question that may be insensitive, then we are
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done. i don't think we can do that, because you're not giving the people room to grow and to understand you better. and you are going to ask some dumb questions. i made the mistake, a few weeks ago, on social media. i said that i'm on the fence about complete student loan debt relief. it may not be a popular question or statement in this room. but i said i'm on the fence, i want to know more. and people went nuts! and someone said, didn't you know you can't have logical discussions on twitter? and a woman said, i would love to send you more information, da da da da da, and she did. and i was very grateful for that. but i ended this evening, this is the night of the oscars, so will smith slapped chris rock
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and i forgot all about it. [laughter] but i ended, i ended the twitter discussion by saying, this is the first and last time i will engage in a twitter discussion, because it is completely pointless. but thankfully, someone said, i want to send you more information, and she sent it to me and my dm, which was great. so my point is you've got to give people an opportunity to say, oh, i don't know how i feel about that i, want to learn a little more. and then you've got to let them learn a little more and ask questions without trying to chop their heads off too. not just on twitter, but in general. >> all right. let's go here, and then i've got to wrap up question. >> hi, my name is sanjina, i'm in the school of foreign service. i was raised ino the bay area -- i have friends with the withdrawal of, i had friends with friends with who is conservative, first time i made a friend from a rural area. but i understand that b
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being able to do that in half by perspective faced is a privilege that i get by coming to a school like georgetown. and so i guess my question for you is, what do i get to go home and tell my family or my friends back home who on a day-to-day basis don't see or meet rural people? what do i tell them to do to kind of bridge that divide on their own personal intellectual level? >> i'd like to start -- or is there any chance you are going to want to be a lawyer in life? >> possibly! [laughs] >> all right, good. the best lawyers are the ones who are one fact away from changing his or her mind. and there are very few people in the world, i
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think, i was in an event in dallas, and i said, i am one fact away from changing my mind on any issue. and that was not a popular thing to say. and they viewed that as a lack of conviction, a lack of do you really believe in something. lawyers should always be one fact, it needs to be a good fact. so i would ask people in my family or in my sphere, if you want to be the most knowledgeable person you can be, how could, use the example i gave. if you don't or anybody that voted for president obama, who else would you ask, other than someone who did? i don't know that people who voted for the mitt romney, john mccain and mitt romney, i don't know how they could tell you president obama was voted, elected twice, overwhelming. and i don't know anyone who didn't vote for president trump to tell you one in 2016. personally, it's about improving yourself, making yourself a better advocate. if you don't know the facts on the other side of the issue, i
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don't think you are going to be as good a lawyer or as good an advocate as you can be. so how else would you find it out if you don't talk to somebody who disagrees with? >> i think the fact that you are in a bipartisan group speaks volumes. you go home and say, hey, i've met some people who don't think like me and they are okay. and i think that makes a difference. >> thanks for the question. all right. i want to -- we're over time so, thank you for indulging us. i want to ask one last question of each of you, though. let's say your both back in your old chops. what's one issue that you think you could lead with to help bridge this divide between urban and rural? one issue that you as a mayor could take to some rural lawmakers and find some commonality, one issue that you as a congressman representing a significant urban community could take to someone who represented an urban community and find some commonality? where can we start to bridge these divides? >> you know, i think the issues are, i think we are already there. we just don't speak of
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it in those terms. so we all want health care. quality health care. we want quality education. we want safe communities. so i think we're there on what we want. how we get there together, i think, is the big question. i think we agree on a lot. i just don't, i don't think we message it as agreement. >> mo, i would say having a justice system that is not only respected but worthy of our respect, proportional, just, fair in the eyes of all parts of the american family. and, but part of that is i insulated from a bit of criticism, because none of my critics have put anybody to jail. i know what it's like. i know what our justice system could be like,
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what it should be like. there is, i think, you know, granted this is not the best atmosphere to be talking about criminal justice reform. but that is, because you start with this big precept. i mean, do you believe in proportionality? do you believe in fairness? do you believe in that lady, blindfolded, holding a set of scales? i don't think anyone no matter where their lives is going to say no i, don't believe in that. so you have agreement on a broad -- you mentioned health care. i don't know anyone in the world who thinks that you should be denied health care based on your ability to pay. i would hope not. i would hope there is no constituency for letting people die. so, if you can't get consensus on that broader issue, and then you can begin to build consensus on how we get there, i just think --
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you know, mo, in this environment, we don't talk about the thing. we don't talk about health care in our justice system. we want to go to those issues that we disagree on, and are probably not going to solve, because that is better for politics. it's better for fund raising, and is probably better for media. >> i just want to add two more things, just, that i think are noteworthy. you mentioned criminal justice reform. a lot of our criminal justice reform in georgia came from nathan dale, republican governor. voting. we had motor voter registration in georgia. you get a license, transfer your license. you can register to vote. 800,000 voters put on the voting role. it came from nathan deal's policy. so, again, there are these issues that are
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important to all of us that there is commonality there. i think we just need to be bolder as leaders, and less timid, and what we know our communities need, and what we know people are asking for, and push for it. >> can i ask the mayor one question? >> please. >> there was a u.s. senator that told me one time, you should never tell voters they are wrong. but, if you are meeting with a group, and you do think they are just mistaken, that they don't have all the facts. you know, the reason i told a young man it's okay to lose is because, if winning is all you want to do, maybe you don't have those frank conversations with someone and say, you don't have the right facts. the facts are wrong. how did you tell people that you thought they were mistaken? >> someone on my team recently said, someone asked, what was the hardest thing about working for me? and he said, working for a politician who doesn't care about politics. so, that
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was easy for me because i -- i didn't do the politics well because i would have those conversations, and i would say, well, that doesn't make much sense. and it, you know, it didn't always work out well for what i wanted to get done. but i did it, because again, going back to what my mother always tells me, you don't have to always tell the truth once. so, i found it far easier. i always wanted to be able to sleep at night, good, bad, and indifferent. i wanted my soul to be well with decisions i made, and if that meant telling someone that they were wrong, or not misleading someone, having them walk out of a room thinking i'm going to do one thing, and then do another, that was just -- that was important to me. how did you do it?
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>> i took ambien. that's how i slip that night. [laughs] yeah, i tried to do it with questions, you know? when i left congress, i could've written a book about it. i don't know that much. i wrote a book about persuasion. how do you use questions to change peoples minds? >> yeah, well, now available in paperback. so, the big issue when i was there was impeaching president obama. i had constituents who would line up to want to know why i wasn't doing more, and then it was costcon and then the irs commissioner and someone else. so, i tried to use questions, like i was not
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cross-examination, but questions to try to get them to see the ecological of where they were headed. i was not good at saying, like, mick mulvaney who is a georgetown graduate, one of the flaws he has, and he has a lot of them, but he is very, very blunt. i, mean he would say, well, that's just wrong. you are wrong. i don't know what it was. i was just saying, he was never good at telling a group of people sitting around a conference table, you are wrong. i want to use questions to try to prove to them that maybe their facts weren't reliable. if i had been as tough as you, and my mom did not tell me -- she probably did tell me it was easier to keep up with the truth, but i wasn't paying attention. i was doing something else, so i don't remember that. >> there's so many issues that we didn't get to tonight. i was hoping we might. everything from the environment, you touched on health care a little bit. so many others. so, we are just going to have to bring you back and continue this conversation at some point. [applause] a model, let's look at these digital public
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politics is politics can be public service is a good thing, politics can be too. the past four years it's been tested quite a bit of. we're hoping more conversations like this might show us the way back. so, mayor, congressman, can't tell you how much it means to all of us here that you are helping us kick off this series and gave so much of your time and your wisdom to us. thank you both for being real public servants. [applause] and to all of you, thank you for spending part of your evening with us. this is it! the final is coming up! good luck to all of you want finals! and stay tuned, keep following at gu politics we, will be continuing the spy cease-fire series in the fall. thank you all very much. [indiscernible]
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