Constitution Day Lecture: Kelly Ayotte, Former United States Senator for NH
Articles,  Blog

Constitution Day Lecture: Kelly Ayotte, Former United States Senator for NH

– Good afternoon. Let me begin my welcoming the Dartmouth class of 2022 to
campus and by welcoming back our returning students for another year. For those of you whom I have
not yet have the chance to meet my name is Andrew Samwick. I’m a faculty member in
the Department of Economics and I’m the director of the
Nelson A. Rockefeller Center. The Rockefeller Center is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. The day-to-day mission
of the Rockefeller Center is to educate, train, and inspire the next generation of
public policy leaders. One of the ways we seek
to achieve that mission is to host lectures on
a broad range of topics in public policy and the social sciences by leading academics, policy
makers, and practitioners. If you want to stay informed
about our programs and events, particularly in this anniversary year, please go to our website to sign up for news updates via email or your favorite social media platforms. It is a recent tradition
at the Rockefeller Center to open the academic year with a program in honor of Constitution Day. On September 17th 1787 the delegates to the Constitutional
Convention met for the last time to sign the U.S. Constitution and present it to the American public. The Constitution is the singular document that guarantees a representative democracy in the United States,
and it’s formed the basis of our freedoms for over two centuries. Those freedoms are a delicate balance, not just for the individual relative to the federal government, but in the responsibilities afforded to the federal government relative to state and local governments. In honor of Constitution Day, today’s lecture will focus on federalism, both its importance in the
design of the Constitution and its relevance for the
quality of public policy making in Washington today. We are honored to welcome
today Kelly Ayotte, a former United States
senator for New Hampshire and the 2018 Perkins Bass
Distinguished Visitor at the Rockefeller Center. This visitorship and a
companion internship program for students commemorate the
public service of Perkins Bass, a member of the Dartmouth
College class of 1934, who served the state of New
Hampshire as an elected official at the local, state, and national levels. Each year we have the privilege to honor a New Hampshire
citizen who has made an outstanding contribution
in the field of government. Perkins Bass visitors make
several trips to campus to engage with students, faculty, and the larger Dartmouth community. During her time in the
Senate from 2011 to 2016 Senator Ayotte chaired the Armed Services
Subcommittee on Readiness and the Commerce Subcommittee
on Aviation Operations. She also served on the Budget, Homeland Security and
Governmental Affairs, Small Business and Entrepreneurship,
and Aging committees. She also served as the sherpa
for Justice Neil Gorsuch, leading the effort to
secure his confirmation to the United States Supreme Court. From 2004 to 2009 Senator Ayotte served as New Hampshire’s first
female attorney general, having been appointed to that position by Republican Governor Craig Benson and reappointed twice by
Democratic Governor John Lynch. Prior to that she served as
the deputy attorney general, chief of the Homicide Prosecution Unit as as legal counsel to
Governor Craig Benson. She began her career as a law clerk to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and as an associate at the
McLane Middleton law firm. At present she serves on numerous boards in both the private and nonprofit sectors. Senator Ayotte graduated with honors from Penn State University
and earned her JD from the Villanova
University School of Law. Our program with start
with some prepared remarks by Senator Ayotte posing the question, can federalism, the
genius of the Constitution restore public confidence in Congress and U.S. government institutions? We will then invite
Professor Herschel Nachlis to join her for a conversation and a moderated question
and answer session. Professor Nachlis is a
research assistant professor in the Department of Government and a Policy Fellow at
the Rockefeller Center. He received his PhD and Masters in Politics and Social Policy
from Princeton University and his BA in Political Science
from Macalester College. He studies and teaches American
politics and public law focusing on institutions,
health, and social policy. His courses at Dartmouth
include, Law Courts and Judges and Policy Implementation. Ladies and gentlemen
please join me in welcoming Senator Kelly Ayotte.
(audience applauding) – Thank you so much Andrew
for that kind introduction. And I am very honored to
be here today at Dartmouth. This is actually an important day for a couple of reasons for me. First of all, believe it or not, it’s my son Jacob’s birthday, which we celebrated yesterday but I had a lot of fun on
the way into school today because he has turned 11 today so we were talking about the fact that his birthday is Constitution Day. And what an important
day that he was born on because, you know, as
Andrew said, if we go back to September 17th of 1787 that is the day that the delegates to the
Constitutional Convention actually completed their work. And not all of them, but many of them signed onto our draft Constitution. And of course New Hampshire
holds a very special place in the ratification of our constitution being the ninth state and
the state that was needed because they needed
nine out of 13 colonies to actually make the
Constitution effective. And if you think about
it, after four months of very vigorous debate
the Framers emerged with a brilliant, innovative framework for the new American government,
a constitutional republic. As we sit here today it’s pretty easy to take their work for granted, but the ratification, the
drafting, the final product, and the ratification of our Constitution was by no means assured at the time. And I think we sometimes forget that. The Framers believe that in order to protect individual liberty, power should not be concentrated in more than one person
or one institution. To protect liberty they
created a system of federalism with dual national and state
governments and further, three separate branches
within our federal government in Article One, Article
Two, and Article Three of our Constitution
reflecting on the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. This was a great conversation, by the way, on the way to school and finally
my son said, “Really Mom?” OK.
(attendees laughing) Now we all know that the
concept of federalism or sharing power, or maybe we
don’t think that much about it but the sharing of power between the state and federal government actually
wasn’t a given at the time. If you think about this unitary system that they had come from as colonists of, it was a unitary system of Great Britain and they were reacting,
really, to being subjects of the King, and so in
reaction to that they went and of course our first
somewhat form of government were the Articles of
Confederation with a very, very weak national government
which had no effect. Really no power to collect taxes, no power of the states
to actually work together to enforce laws, and it
was really in reaction to this ineffectual form
of government that went to the other extreme that
the Constitutional Convention met against this backdrop. And the debates were
fierce in that convention. I’m sure many of you
here have studied them in much more detail than I have, but when I thought about it today I was thinking about my own
experience in government both at the state level
and then also serving in the United States Senate
representing New Hampshire. We all know that the approval
ratings of Congress are, I think abysmal is probably a kind word. In fact, one of the students
that was interviewing me today said she looked it up and I
think it’s at 17% right now. I think all of us would want
more than a 17% approval rating and unfortunately this has been the case no matter which party is in charge that the approval ratings of Congress have a lot to be desired. And my good friend, who recently
passed away, John McCain had a joke that he made all the time about the approval ratings of Congress. And he used to say that the
approval ratings were so low that basically we’re
down to blood relatives and paid staffers.
(attendees laughing) And he always got a laugh out of that. But then when they got even worse he took it one step
further and he used to say, “You know what, I called my mother.” And by the way, his mother
Roberta is 105 and still alive and very engaged in the world. And John would say, “Yeah,
and I called my mother “and was talking to her about
what’s happening in Congress “and she doesn’t approve
of what we’re doing. “So now essentially we’re
down to the paid staffers “that approve us.” Now John had such a great sense of humor, but let me just say first today that the reason he thought that
Congress’s approval ratings were so poor and that the American people had such a dim view of Congress is that people didn’t work together. And that was something
that he cared about deeply. He worked across party lines whether it was on McCain-Feingold or whether it was
working with Ted Kennedy, there were many issues that
he worked across party lines. And I’m sure many of you
followed the funeral ceremonies for Senator McCain recently in Washington. I had the privilege, he was a mentor to me and someone who really has
meant a lot to me in my life. And I had the privilege of
doing a reading at that ceremony and it really struck me, first of all. John put the entire ceremony together, but to see President
Obama and President Bush eulogizing the same man, to
see Republican and Democrats and independents all sitting
in the Washington Cathedral to honor the memory of Senator McCain. And I believe that is
because of his legacy, not only as a patriot but also
that he was deeply committed to be bipartisan. You didn’t have to agree with
him and there was often people who vehemently disagreed with him. By the way, they forget that now. But that he could be a statesman and he could bring people together. And I think the fact that
there was such a big outpouring for Senator McCain was not
just a reflection on his life, which was such a great one,
but I think it’s also a hunger right now among the American people for people that work together, for people that put country first, for leaders to solve problems. And for a moment the country stopped and really saw Republicans and Democrats and people of different
viewpoints all sitting in the same room for a patriotic
ceremony that mattered. And the reason I raise that today, because that is really what
my friend Senator McCain thought was the problem with Washington. And he wanted people
to find common ground, and I don’t disagree with him because I think that a huge problem with what happens in our
dissatisfaction as people about what happens in our
nation’s capital can be reflected in the extreme partisan
differences we see now. We’re not just in a place
where we disagree with people. We have to insult them, too. And it’s really hard to get business done when you’re insulting each other. But as I’ve reflected on my experience I don’t think that it’s the
only issue that is at play of why we’re often dissatisfied
with our government. And so I wanted to get to, also, the topic of our discussion today. One of the issues that
I think is significant is the larger role our federal
government continues to play and it continues to grow
and how intertwined it is in people’s daily lives. And it seems that often the
more that the government grows and the more its involved
in people’s lives the more people are dissatisfied with it. And this isn’t something
that I just came to as some kind of philosophical conclusion. One of my jobs when I served,
and I had the privilege of serving New Hampshire in the Senate, wasn’t just to legislate, it was actually to help constituents and people in New
Hampshire who had problems. And that’s why you see members of Congress having offices throughout our state because people in New
Hampshire would come to me, come to my staff, but I could
of course learn about it and they’d have a problem
with a federal agency. And they would have some
difficulty that you can imagine, whether it was a veterans issue
or a Social Security issue right, almost any issue
you could think about I would have a constituent
come to my office. And they really couldn’t get an answer or they couldn’t get their problem solved. And sometimes we’d just look
at things things and we’d say, wait a minute, this is obvious. There’s a really easy solution. And the person who brought
it to me would say, yeah, if they just did this
we could fix this problem. But the breadth and size and
the rules and the regulations and the size of where things are done often made it really
hard to satisfy people and to really get them the result that they deserved from their government. So as I reflected on this and
really the continued expansion under frankly both parties,
it’s not just a one party issue. I was wondering if we should
ask ourselves, are we dealing, when we legislate in Washington or when the executive
branch, unfortunately, tries to legislate beyond its role, what kind of issue are we dealing with? Are we dealing with an issue
that truly crosses state lines and can’t be dealt with
effectively at the state, local, or community level,
for example national defense. Or is the issue that has come before us, is it one where more of our
tax dollars and resources would be better left
locally at the state, local, or even the community nonprofit level rather than the federal
government taking the slice employing people, and
then giving us less back to deal with a problem in our community? I think our Framers
anticipated this balance when they drafted the 10th
Amendment to the Constitution which states that powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution or prohibited by it to the states are reserved to the states
respectively or to the people. As James Madison described it, the powers delegated by
the proposed Constitution to the federal government
are few and defined. Those which are to remain
in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. Would people feel better
about their federal officials not only if they worked together more, which I’m gonna go to
Senator McCain’s proposition which I hope we all think about more. But also would they feel better if they didn’t always look
to the federal government to solve every problem,
and could these problems be more effectively solved
at the state and local level where officials, I think,
are more accountable because they have to see locally
the citizen that they serve much more than our
representatives in Washington do. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The states can best
govern our home concerns “and the general government
our foreign ones. “I wish, therefore
never to see all offices “transferred to Washington
where further withdrawn “from the eyes of the people
they may more secretly “be bought and sold at market.” I thought that quote was somewhat apt from Jefferson this morning. Would members of Congress
be better at their jobs if before approving a
new piece of legislation in Washington, which most of
it does typically delegate a lot of authority to
the federal bureaucracy if they ask, is this
the best place to do it, or should these resources
really be spent better at the local level? Federalism also offers more creativity and a unique solution to allow states to tailor policies to
their diverse residents and the specific issues in their states. And we all know that how we
address certain poverty issues in New Hampshire may be different than how someone in
another state in the South may need to address poverty issues or other important issues. And giving our government
the flexibility to do that in my view is very important. We have seen in the last
decade that so much anger is fueling our national politics. And I think we all can agree that we’ve seen that very much today, not just on the left, on the right, but whatever your political perspective. We see populist movements
demanding change. Many people feel disconnected
with their government. They feel that their representatives can’t empathize with them,
don’t understand them, and that they are not working for them. I would argue that part of the problem is not only polarization and
the foulness of our politics where people often
unfortunately insult each other rather than trying to find common ground, but it is also that people feel detached from the federal government, which continues to seek
more and more control over their daily lives
just by its sheer breadth. Not by malfeasance, but
just often unfortunately I’ve found when I was a senator and I was trying to solve
a problem for a constituent it’s not that people working
for a federal bureaucracy aren’t good people trying
to do the right things. It’s just sometimes what
they’re surrounded with and the rules and the regulations and the things that
they have to comply with make it very difficult for
them to serve the people that they’re trying to serve. So on Constitution Day I wanna
leave you with two points. And most importantly, the
reason I wanted to change this into a conversation is because we will have an opportunity
to talk about certain issues that relate to federalism,
but I want to give a sufficient opportunity for
you to ask your questions about what is on your mind
on this important day. But the two points I want
to leave you with is, first, the obvious one, the need
for more collaboration, compromise, and civility
in our national politics, but at politics at every level. But I think we see the acrimony the worst at our national level. And second, let me just say that I think that if we think about compromise we would not have a republic. We would not have our form of government if our framers did not compromise. In fact, one speech I would
ask you to take a look at, which I thought was a very brief
speech but a very good one. It was a speech that Benjamin
Franklin actually drafted for the last day of the
Constitutional Convention. And he himself did not give it because he was frail at the time. His friend James Wilson gave it. But in that speech he humbly confessed that there are several
parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve. But I’m not sure I shall
never approve them, for having lived long I have
experienced many instances of being obliged by better information or fuller consideration to change opinions even on important subjects
which I once thought right but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment and to pay more respect
to the judgment of others. Could you imagine a politician
today admitting that? I think it would be a good thing. It’s clear that our framers understood that they were not going to agree on every word of our Constitution. But imagine if they were in
the Constitutional Convention and they decided it was
my way or the highway. Where would we be today? So compromise is my first point. My final point is getting back
to the genius of federalism, a bedrock of our Constitution. Deciding how much power
and control do we want to or should we give our federal government? Or would we be better off
allocating more resources at the state, local, and
community level to solve problems rather than expecting
many of these problems to be solved in Washington D.C. I leave you, again, with the
words of Benjamin Franklin. As he left the hall in Philadelphia, and many of you have
heard these words before but they’re important ones. A woman yelled from the
crowd and asked him, “Well Doctor, what have we
got, a republic or a monarchy?” And Franklin famously answered, “A republic if you can keep it.” No matter what your political
viewpoints are, as Americans we all have more in common
than we have differences. And we all share a responsibility
to preserve this republic. We cannot take it for
granted and we have to ensure that it continues to serve we the people. And if we continue at
our national politics to insult each other, to disagree in ways that are beyond issues but are much more in going to the character
of people then I don’t see how we’re ever gonna work
together to solve it. And secondly, if we
don’t really think hard about what role we want our
federal government to play I fear that we will
continue to be dissatisfied with some of the results that we get from the alphabet soup
agencies in Washington. So I thank you for having me today and most important I’m looking forward to this conversation with Herschel, whose questions will
be excellent, I’m sure. But I’m also looking forward
to time from all of you to ask whatever questions
are on your mind. Thank you for having me.
(audience applauding) – Thanks so much.
– Thanks. – That was great. We’re being told to switch seats. – Oh. – From Joanne, who really
runs the show here. Great–
– Oh, I think she told me and I just didn’t follow
directions, it’s typical. – So thanks so much for those words to start us off on Constitution Day. We will return to Senator
McCain and his legacy soon, but want to start off
thinking about federalism for a little bit before
we get to something that I think is probably
on everybody’s mind which is the Supreme
Court nomination politics. So a bit about federalism first. So I think you helpfully pointed out that in the area of national defense that’s something we might
have the federal government have more control over, but
thinking about domestic policies specifically can you
tell us some of the areas where you think local control
and laboratories of democracy are something we wanna see more of? But then maybe a set of
issues where you do think in domestic policy national
and uniform standards are really the way to go. – Well, I mentioned one
that is one that upsets me is veterans, number one. You know, we have a very
large per capita population of veterans in this state. I also come from a military family. I’m married to an Air Force veteran but thankfully he hasn’t
needed any services of our government, but
I was really surprised at how many veterans issues. I wasn’t surprised ’cause
I heard a lot about it on the campaign trail, but just, you’ve heard all the horror stories about, unfortunately probably
some of you remember manipulated wait list
and all those issues. And these issues aren’t
unique to a Democrat in office or a Republican in office. And unfortunately they’re not being served whether on healthcare benefits. They wait a long time often. I had a veteran come up to
me the other day in a store, in the grocery store and its like, makes me feel good that I
had the opportunity to serve ’cause he came up and hugged me and said, “You changed my life.” Because he was waiting for
years for a disability payment. And so I think that’s an area where we can have a
Veterans Administration at the federal level, on
certain national issues, but on the healthcare and the care level in a state like New Hampshire
we would be better off giving veterans, I worked on
the Veterans Choice Program, but that had a ton of bureaucracy, too. We’d be better off getting veterans the opportunity to go to
any hospital in this state, and there’s a lot of
discussion about that. And we’d be better off cutting through a lot of the bureaucracy and simplifying and making it easier. They’ve been trying
for years, for example, if you’re a disabled veteran, to qualify you have to go through
two sets of qualifications and simplifying things, so
sometimes issues like that I think we should be, yes,
have a national policy, but we should deal with
that at a state level because I think that our
veterans would be better served. I think a lot of issues, for
example, like healthcare. We have a big debate about that, but when we had things like
the rollout of that was kind of a mess I
think having at the state level more support and innovation than dealing with the federal HHS and
this sort of bureaucracy that we’re better off on issues like that. On issues of poverty I think that the issues in New Hampshire may be very different
than they are in Utah. For example, Utah has an
innovative state program that they’ve dealt with
some poverty issues. So I don’t think that
there’s a monolithic answer to all of this, what I do think is that we should be thinking
better about, should we create a new bureaucracy in Washington
or would be better off leaving those resources in the community and letting the communities
address these issues. Because what happens is,
when our taxpayer dollars, we all know what happens, right? When we pay our taxes
and they go to Washington on every issue there’s a slice. Even if we’re granting
it back to the states, there’s a slice that’s
taken to administer it of the people that have to
administer the agency, right? It’s just common sense,
so if we could figure out on some of these issues how to make sure the hand’s going directly
to the people that are need, and work together on these issues. It doesn’t mean we’re gonna do the issues. I think sometimes people think
something like block granting is oh, we’re gonna abdicate
our responsibility. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is, let’s
more effectively serve people at a closer level. So issues that I think the national government has to deal with. I mean, national defense,
some common ones. You know, the Constitution spells it out. I mean, trade and treaties
have to be dealt with at a national level, we
can’t have New Hampshire having a different policy toward China than Arkansas or something. I also believe that issues
of environmental quality, that it’s important to
have some federal laws and some issues dealt
with at the national level because when it comes to clean air and clean water there aren’t boundaries, and so certain issues
there aren’t boundaries that it makes sense, so
my whole view on this is that it’s really come to
more of where I’ve seen people just have problems with
getting anything done. And so do I think the state
government is perfect? No, but do I think it’s
closer to the people and we can hold it more accountable than the people in Washington often? Yes. – Another controversial
case of local control is what’s come to be called
nationwide injunctions. So not to get too into the
weeds here, but this’ll end up being about both President
Trump’s travel ban and also Obama’s DACA program. So when President Trump
issued the travel ban, the Muslim ban, whatever
you wanna call it, it wasn’t the Supreme Court
who initially said no. It wasn’t the nine justices. It wasn’t initially one of
the 200 circuit court judges. – It was a district court, right? – It was one of the 700
district court judges in a random district court
in the state of Hawaii. So one judge sitting
in the state of Hawaii said that an entire national
policy could not be implemented so Democrats were thrilled, right? Democrats love this judge is not allowing the implementation of the
travel ban, the Muslim ban. Democrats cheered for–
– It’s great if you like the issue.
– Right. – But if you don’t like the issue, like for example if you’re
a huge fan of the ACA and they were to stop the
implementation of health care, you know, you can see yourself on different political sides on this why this could be an issue.
– Right. So Republicans were livid, but then during the Obama administration
when a district court judge stopped the implementation of DACA Republicans cheered and
Democrats were livid. – Right.
– So do you think this is something that local judges looking sort of at their own districts but then aggregating to national policy. Like district court judges
should not do at all, there should be no more
nationwide injunctions? – Yeah, first of all I Think that they should be very limited, if any. I think this idea that
the federal district court in New Hampshire can
suddenly issue an injunction for the entire nation before it goes up to the circuit court of appeals level would create a lot of problems and in some ways is very undemocratic because yes, the Article
Three branch of government is supposed to be a check on what happens obviously in both the
legislative and executive branch, but when a district court
orders an injunction that is issued to the entire nation rather than a certain geographic area that just one district court
has an oversized impact. And it’s really a trial
level judge position at the federal level. Can I say never? Yeah, you know, I’m sure
we could all come up with some scenario that
we could all agree on on both sides of the aisle
so I’m not gonna say never, but I think it should
be incredibly limited. And if the issue is of that importance than you should be able to
file an expedited ruling on it. If it’s an issue of an emergency then there is a procedure
in our federal courts where you can actually go up
within the federal court system to the higher courts and get a ruling if it’s one of that
importance and emergence. So it’s not that people
aren’t without redress if there were some thing that needed to be enjoined right away. – Interesting, all right so–
– So you have me thinking of things I haven’t, you know. And this is really interesting having been a state attorney general, I probably, if I was
an issue I cared about would have wanted to try to
enjoin the entire nation on it. – Right.
– But now that I’ve had a chance to be at the federal level and I can look at the
bigger picture I’m not sure that that’s necessarily the right result. – That’s really interesting. So I–
– ‘Cause you know the attorney generals are pretty involved in some national issues. – And actually that’s a new
phenomenon as well, right? It comes out of some of the
dynamics you’ve described. So take the case of tobacco regulation. This was something that was
not happening in Congress. Tobacco, cigarette products
weren’t being regulated in Congress, they weren’t
being regulated FDA, and then it was state attorneys general that sort of got together, advocated and really changed policy in that regard. So do you think that
that’s sort of a nice way for the states to sort
of assert themselves amidst this gridlock, this polarization that we’re describing or do you think now states attorneys general have
actually got too much power? – I think it depends on where you sit on that side of the issue
of whether you think state attorneys general
have too much power. I think the way that the
tobacco issue was addressed by the states attorneys general
is actually a good example of states joining together on an issue. The reason that the tobacco companies basically had to enter a settlement, and it was a settlement. It was their agreement
to enter the settlement. It was a private agreement,
they didn’t have to do it. They may not have liked the
results they were getting in the court system,
but it was their choice to enter the settlement,
and what made it powerful was it wasn’t just one attorney general. It was a bipartisan group
of attorney generals where they started to
become a consensus of states that really made it happen, so
yes AGs have a lot of power, but they’re the most powerful
when there’s a consensus. And right now the issue
to watch is opioids because the attorneys
general have been suing not only the drug
manufacturers of opioids, but also now the pharmacy
benefit managers, the sort of middlemen in this issue. And I don’t know the last number, but it’s a very large number of states on both sides of the
aisle that have joined in on this issue and now
there is a case in Ohio that it’s a multi-district legislation. Now that decision if they
were to issue an injunction should be effectual because it’s joining all the litigation from across
the country in one court with an agreement that it all
should be in that one court. Now that’s a good example of a court that should have the authority,
whatever the ruling is. – Let’s talk about the Supreme Court. Of course it’s on nobody’s minds today. Why don’t we just start with
the elephant in the room. Do you think that there is
a greater than 50% chance that Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States? – I think that the confirmation
process is not over yet. And obviously we’ve all
become aware of allegations that have been made against him from a woman during the period
that he was in high school. And I think that there’s
going to be a hearing. She’s agreed to testify
and there will be a hearing before the Judiciary
Committee where I’m sure she will testify, Judge
Kavanaugh will testify and I’m guessing anyone who was a witness or has information about
this may also testify. Whether that will stop
his nomination I don’t. You know, I don’t know the facts yet so it’s hard for me to conclude that. I think people will also, you’ve
heard a lot of Republicans talk about the timing
of these allegations. They’ll take a look at that and make sure that politics aren’t at
play with what’s happening. But the reality is that
this woman’s come forward and it’s important that
people hear from her and then judge what she has
to say in light of someone who’s going to have a
lifetime appointment. There’s no doubt in my view
that he’s eminently qualified in terms of his experience, his education, his background to serve on the court. You may not agree with
his judicial philosophy, but like Justice Gorsuch, his education and experience qualifications
are really impeccable. – [Herschel] Two quick followups on that. If there were 50 women in the
United States Senate today. – Well that would be news.
– Yeah. There are currently 21.
– Big news. – That would be big news.
– 21 is the most in the history of the country right now that Woman that have ever
served in the Senate, yeah. – So suppose there were 50 evenly divided across the two parties.
– 25 Republicans, 25, OK. Would Brett Kavanaugh, would your estimation–
– No, but who’s in charge? Republicans or Democrats? So do we have the–
– So let’s say that the Republicans are still in charge for the purposes of this question. – So the vice president
could break the tie. – Yes, vice president could break the tie. Lotta hypotheticals here.
(audience laughing) – This is pretty important
though, like who’s in charge. – So Republicans are still in charge. They have 51 senators, 25
of them happen to be women. 25 of the Democratic senators are women. Would your estimation of the probability of Kavanaugh’s confirmation
go up, down, or stay the same? And then the followup to that is, if Judge Thomas, if Clarence
Thomas were nominated to the Supreme Court today,
holding all else equal, would he be likely to be confirmed to the Supreme Court today? – Wow, um.
(audience laughing) Justice Thomas, I don’t know. I mean, but he has a track record now. Well obviously we knew he
was eminently qualified, but we have had a whole series. And honestly I was of an age then during the Justice Thomas hearings that I didn’t watch all those hearings, so I don’t want to pretend to judge one way or the other, but
I think we would be blind if we didn’t think that Me Too Movement and what’s happening hasn’t had an impact on our social consciousness of people coming forward on issues that
maybe they never did before, but that doesn’t mean that
if someone comes forward that we don’t afford the person that comes forward due process, but also the person accused
the full due process because we would not have a
good, it would not be fair if that did not happen. So I don’t know that I can
judge Thomas in hindsight, but wow, that’s a really tough question. I appreciate it. – [Herschel] 50 women senators
and Kavanaugh probability. – Oh, the 50 women senators. I actually think the result
would be no different. I really don’t.
– Right. – And the question is going to be, though, I mean in terms of probability because I think the real question is, what is the substance
of these allegations? How credible do people find them? And that that will drive this
process for Judge Kavanaugh where we are regardless
of the configuration of men or women, I really do. – So I’d like to return
to the Gorsuch nomination. Everyone in the audience should know that when judges are
nominated to be justices, or people are nominated to be justices, a really important and
prominent public figure basically acts as their,
it’s called a sherpa for some reason.
– Yeah. – Basically like leading
them through Congress, helping them deal with the media. And so I’m wondering if you
could just tell us a bit about that process with Justice Gorsuch. What was the most interesting
or impressive part of being on the other side of that? And maybe the least impressive
part if one existed. – Yes, so I was asked to be the sherpa for now Justice Gorsuch pretty
much at the end of January right after I had lost my election, right, so I thought yeah, I was pretty surprised when they called me and
asked me to do it, truthfully if you know my history with the president. But I was really impressed
with Justice Gorsuch and his background so I
agreed to be his sherpa. And the reason, you know the sherpa basically brings people up mountains and I don’t know, whoever is sherpaing, I know Jon Kyle was sherpaing
for Judge Kavanaugh right now but I’m sure they’re feeling a little bit like really a sherpa
whoever took his place now that he’s been
appointed in the Senate. But being on the other side
with a Supreme Court nominee. First of all, being in the
White House, that was different because I had just served in the Senate. And I’d served as a
state attorney general, but I was not an elected attorney general so I didn’t have a long political history where I’d served in the White
House or anything like that. So that was actually a first time where I was on the inside
of a White House issue. And a new White House where I got there and they were pretty new. Obviously the White House,
they had just got into office. Justice Gorsuch had been
nominated the night before and I was with him the next morning. And so the first thing was
like, OK, where’s the plan. And we’re looking at it, where’s the plan? Oh, we are the plan, OK. So let’s figure out what we need to do. Who should we meet with
first in the Senate. And then going over to the Senate I had just lost an election
and being on the other side of listening to, we had probably
I think over 70 meetings with senators, so one of
your jobs is to bring over, introduce the justice to the senator and the senator will ask
them questions to decide whether or not they’re gonna
vote for his confirmation. And so sitting in a room
where I’m not the senator asking the questions and listening to other people’s questions I thought was fascinating and frustrating. And I also figured out who is really good at asking questions, which I’m
not gonna name anyone here, and who was really annoying. But so,
(audience laughing) which I’m not naming my
former colleagues here. – Don’t even ask.
– It’s really different having a job and then being asked to actually sit and
shepherd someone through to watch the job from that side. And I learned a lot about it. And the other thing that was really cool about being a sherpa that I
hadn’t even thought about, but was the best part
about it is I now have, I mean, Justice Gorsuch is my friend. I mean, we went through so much together in a confirmation process. I helped not only the 70 plus meetings but every good, bad, difficult one, but also I got to know him very personally and helped prepare him for,
along with many others, but helped prepare him for the hearings. And so he became a friend and I never thought I would
know a Supreme Court justice that well, and so that was
a really cool part of it. The hard part of it
sometimes is that, you know, it’s a political process,
and so some of the meetings you go through or you realize
are kind of a sham, right, ’cause you know what
the result’s gonna be. And there are real
meetings that you sit in and you think people are being earnest and actually trying to get answers out. And so that’s the hard part about it. And it was also the part that
Justice Gorsuch found hard, when he could tell that
someone wasn’t really, he was never gonna have a shot with ’em and they weren’t really listening. Those were hard meetings for him, too ’cause he’s a really smart guy and he likes engaging on
an intellectual level. I mean think about it,
he didn’t get nominated to the Supreme Court if
he’s not incredibly bright. So he likes engaging, and so if someone’s not really genuinely engaging
those are harder meetings. – Yeah, I had a conversation
with Justice Alito once after he was confirmed to the court and he hated this entire process. – Well, I haven’t met a
nominee yet who likes it. – Right.
– I, you know, the one thing I used to always, which is when you’re
doing the Supreme Court you can at least assure the
person you’re working with, you’re never gonna have to do this again. So great, like the rest of us actually might have to interview
for another job. (laughs) – So I have a question
about Merrick Garland. – Oh, the other thing
I used to tell him too, I was like, you should see what it’s like running for office.
(laughs) This looks like a picnic, no. – I have a question about Merrick Garland. – Yes.
– So, you spoke in your talk about the constitutional
structure, the role of federalism, and the importance of federalism to the original constitutional structure, and I think it’s important to note that the Republican
Party has traditionally been very strong on this,
quite accurately in a way that the Democratic Party hasn’t. So the Republican Party
is sort of fidelity to that Constitutional norm, I think, has exceeded the Democratic Party. But another constitutional
norm that’s sort of recently been a source of controversy is the norm of the Senate giving advise and consent on judicial nominees, in
particular the Garland nomination. So Garland was nominated seven months before a presidential election. And the norm of advise and
consent is not advise and concent sort of after the next election. It’s sort of advise and consent
on a reasonable schedule. And Mitch McConnell, brilliant tactician, brilliant strategist didn’t
hold a vote on that nomination, which many on the other
side feel was an abdication of Constitutional duty, an abdication of Constitutional structure, a violation of an important norm. And so, I think you weren’t in favor of, you agreed with the leadership
in not holding a vote. – I did, I did, yeah.
– On the Garland nomination. So by way of contrast,
suppose the Democrats were in power today, Judge
Kavanaugh was nominated four months before a midterm election and the Democrats came
along and said, well, you know, there’s an
election in four months. We think that the norm
should be to not hold a vote. – Well, they’ve actually
made that argument. No, I mean, they’ve
already made that argument. – Right, right, and so
would you find that argument persuasive given that
you were persuaded by it at a previous time?
– I think the reality is of where we are in the
judicial confirmation process is not exactly a pretty
one, but it is where it is. And that is that we no
longer have, in the Senate unlike the House where a
majority passes legislation, in the Senate typically first
of all to pass legislation usually to have to have first 60 votes to end debate on something
to get a vote on the floor. It’s the same thing with
nominations of significance. It used to be for
nominations of the president to the cabinet and other positions that there was a 60 vote threshold, but also for judges at every level. And now through a series
of back and forth, first starting when I was in the Senate when Harry Reid changed the rules and the Democrats were
in charge of the Senate they changed the rules for lower courts, for district courts, and for
circuit courts of appeals and made it a 50-vote
threshold instead of 60. So essentially they wanted
to shut the Republicans out when they were in the minority. And then when we were going
through the Gorsuch confirmation this was a big part of
what we were focusing on because we didn’t know
what was going to happen and we were trying to
get a bipartisan vote of over 60 votes, that’s
why we had so many meetings and we worked hard at
it ’cause at that point we were hoping that that
could be the result. But then the Democrats decided they were gonna dig their
heels and so the Republicans then changed the rules to 50
for Supreme Court justices. So now we’re very much
in a confirmation process in a pitched battle on the Supreme Court. And not just the Supreme Court,
but all the lower courts. It’s become a very partisan exercise. Do I think it’s necessarily
a good place, no. Are we there, yes. And so then you’re in a position where, will the confirmation
process ever change back where the other side, where
we see a more bipartisan day. I wish I could tell you yes. I think the answer at
this point is probably no. I could certainly understand,
and I understood at the time the criticism on the Garland decision. On the other hand, under the Constitution I think if it were invalid
under the Constitution the Obama administration
actually would have rightly and correctly won a lawsuit against us in the Supreme Court on that. They never brought it because
they knew constitutionally they may not like it, it
may not be good for ’em, it may not be how things are done, but under the Constitution it was allowed. And I think we will
probably see more of that, I don’t know, from whoever’s in charge. And now that we’re in a place
where it’s a 50 vote threshold for the nomination of
judges on both sides, what’s gonna matter to the executive is how many Republicans do I have or how many Democrats do I have and who’s controlling the Senate. And so that’s why these elections become even more pitched
sometimes for the Senate seats. Can I also commend to
you an opening statement that I thought was really
interesting and excellent and that was from Senator Ben Sasse and from the Kavanaugh nominations and he talked at length in a very, very just very understandable, clear, I thought an excellent
summary of why he thinks that the Supreme Court, we’ve put too much in the expectation of the Supreme Court and it’s become so politicized. And part of his argument is actually that Congress has abdicated
too much of its role to the Supreme Court. – [Herschel] Two very
quick final questions. – I know I’m talking too much, sorry. – No, no, no, this is great. This is really interesting. So one is about Senator McCain and the other is some parting
advice for our students before we open it up to the audience. So I think for a long time
people thought the future of the Republican Party was
people like Senator McCain, people like you, people like Jeb Bush, people like Marco Rubio, people
who were strong republicans but could get things
done across the aisle. People who might appeal to
educated suburban voters, people who might appeal to
racial and ethnic groups who are traditionally not in
the Republican wheelhouse. Senator McCain never
did win the presidency. Donald Trump is now the
president of the United States and the leader of the Republican Party, so is Trumpism the way forward
for the Republican Party? – Well, I actually think
that if you look at, I touched on it a little
bit in my initial comments, but there’s a great
dissatisfaction with our government and how it was serving people. And we see ourselves sort of swinging from one side to the other on this issue. And our political system at the moment is actually not rewarding
compromise or bipartisanship. It is much more focused on the person that agrees with me most
and meets my checklist as opposed to who is going
to be in a better position to actually get something done and will work with other people to do it. But I think that president,
I mean, people didn’t expect President Trump to win, right? Very unconventional candidate,
no political experience, and he beat a huge field of traditional Republican candidates. By the way, even though Bernie Sanders has a long political history, I mean, you could have seen something
more populist happening on the Democratic side,
too, and it still may yet. In the very rigorous primary
I expect we’re gonna have leading into the 2020
presidential elections on the Democratic end, but I really think that it’s not necessarily that
somehow the Republican Party is changed, I think it’s
overall a reflection of, there was a great dissatisfaction with the establishment of all
forms in the last election. That people, their government
wasn’t meeting their needs. People felt left behind, and
he somehow tapped into it. We can talk about why that was the case. But you know, the lesson
from that in my view is that OK, what are we not doing that were meeting people’s needs and why are we so disconnected
with some average people in this country that maybe
haven’t gotten ahead, that are feeling left
behind or feeling left out or aren’t feeling included. You know, those I think are the questions that should be asked rather than, does this transform one party or the other because I could argue that perhaps maybe Bernie Sanders is going to
transform, I don’t know. But I think, is this a
long-lasting populist movement on the Republican Party? I don’t know the answer to that. I think that has not been written yet. There’s obviously clearly as the president of the United States he’s
gonna have a long-term impact on the party and the nation,
but really looking back at the last election, you know, what is it that people weren’t happy with? And we better serve people better and understand people’s issues in the so-called establishment
or the so-called mainstream or however you want to
describe us, I don’t know, if we’re going to be effective and actually be better at governing, and better at helping
people solve their problems. – [Herschel] Final question,
for the students in the room both the ’22s and those of
you who have been here before. What is the best advice
you have ever received during your political career? The best advice you ever gave, the advice you’d most want to
communicate to our students. – The best, I’m not gonna
pretend to give the best advice, but I will, I really had
fun talking to the freshmen in the front row, but I
think my advice would be, number one, first of all,
you’re all here at Dartmouth because you’re incredibly
bright, you’ve worked hard or you wouldn’t be at
this excellent college. And I think the question
you have to ask yourself is why am I here, what do I want to learn? And you know, eventually that’s gonna lead to what do I want to do with my life? What is my avocation? And I would just say this, is
that, find a sense of purpose. I mean, the thing that
I have been blessed with is that I have had opportunities to really get up everyday,
have a sense of purpose that even on the most frustrating day that I felt like I was
working on something worthy and something that made a difference even if I couldn’t get
anything done that day that moved the needle, and it seems to me that everyone in this room is
in a very fortunate position to be at this education institution to get the tools to find
your sense of purpose. And the other thing I would say
to you is take some chances. There is no way I would have been attorney general of our
state, or a U.S. senator if I hadn’t taken some chances and believed in myself
and taken some risks to do the thing that I wanted to do even though it was definitely not assured. And the last election it
didn’t work out for me, but I wouldn’t change
putting myself in the arena. Go read the Teddy Roosevelt poem. It’s a fantastic one, it
was John McCain’s favorite. Because if you’re not in the
arena you can’t make it happen. And if you aren’t willing to get in there and get a little bloodied
and take some risks then you’re not gonna make it happen. And this room has the background
and the ability to do it. So I would just say,
have a sense of purpose, find out what it is, it’ll be
different for every person, take some chances, and by the way there’s a lot of really
smart people at Dartmouth and really cool people that
once in a while come to visit. I’m not saying I’m cool, but… (audience laughing) Ask them, ask them what experiences
have shaped their lives. Ask them what they did
to get where they are. Ask them what made them successful or what did they really mess up that they wish they could do differently? Those are all things that you
have access to people here that not everyone else does,
so make the most of it. It’s a great opportunity, and
as I said to the guys up front have some fun, too, ’cause I mean college is a great time in your life. – Please join me in
thanking Senator Ayotte. (audience applauding) So we’ve got a lot of time for questions. – Now we have the hard questions. – There’s a microphone rotating around. We will start with
students as we always do. So we’ll start down here in the front. – [Kyle] Yeah, do you want
me to stand up, or like? All right, hi, I’m Kyle. I’m a student from St.
Petersburg, Florida, I’m 22. I have two questions. One is related to related
to the federalism issue. And then one is related
to national politics because I’m sure you wanna talk more about national politics. – I’m happy to talk about either. – [Kyle] Anyway, federalism issue. To sort of follow up to the
nationwide injunctions issue that we were discussing earlier, if district courts and lower
level courts were to issue non-nationwide injunctions, or injunctions on nationwide policies would
that result in a situation where for example DACA or
the travel ban was applying to certain areas but not others, and what effect would that
have on the legal system? Would you have a situation
where DACA only applied– – Yeah, it’s an absolutely great
point and a great question. You’re right, because
would DACA only not apply in New Hampshire but it
would apply everywhere else? And that would create an
administration problem. I think that’s a very valid point. But I also think it’s a huge power to give one district court
to issue an injunction on an important matter
for the entire nation. And that’s why the better
course would be to wait before anything is
enjoined or not enjoined to go up to the higher court, especially on a national policy. And I hope our courts would
allow their expedited procedures to be used very quickly
in these circumstances when we’re involving something that really impacts the entire nation. – [Kyle] OK, and then my
national politics question. Do you think that President Trump will receive a primary challenge in 2020 from the establishment wing of the party? And if so–
– Or I don’t know, maybe the not so establishment
wing of the party. – That’s a fair point, and if so– – I shouldn’t have
categorized myself that way ’cause I really haven’t
been in politics that long, but we’ll call it that. – [Kyle] Do you think that a challenger, and obviously this would
depend on who it was, but would that challenger have a reasonable chance of success given, I’ll say the Trump administration’s
track record so far? – Oh, if we were just doing today. Like let’s say I have no other information We were having the election
tomorrow, a Republican primary. – [Kyle] Sure. – As opposed to some other
issue that may come up in the future that I don’t know about. Or I may know about or we don’t know. So I think that if there
were a Republican primary challenge today that
President Trump would win. He is quite popular within
the Republican Party base and I think it’s hard to mount
a challenge, first of all, against an incumbent of
any form in a primary. It happens and we’ve seen
it happen around the nation, but an incumbent president
has certain infrastructure in place in terms of the
Republican national party would be behind him and
structure that a challenger, it’s hard to meet. Do I think there will
be a primary challenge? If I were voting today I think
unlikely, but I don’t know. There are some people I think out there who are at least, like a Governor Kasich who are at least making some,
based on their public comments some noise about it. I was talking about Senator Ben Sasse. I mean, he’s still serving in the Senate so I’m not gonna say he’s
making a primary challenge but he’s had some
criticism for the president so there are people out there presumably with enough stature that
they could certainly throw their hat in the ring. And you know, one of the
things about being an incumbent is that within your own
party there’s no guarantee that you will get the nomination again, so you have to not only keep
your party support but then also bridge that support to
the middle to be successful. Like my last election to the Senate I had a primary challenge
heading into the election. I won it pretty handily, but
I still couldn’t ignore it, right.
– Right. – [Herschel] Let’s keep the
microphone in the front row. – [Kyle] Hello. – You can do whatever you want. – [Ranjan] Hello, I’m
Ranjan Sehgal, class of ’22. I know we talked a little
bit about the Supreme Court and you talked a little bit about solving the partisanship issue. A little bit more specifically, it’s interesting to look
at the Supreme Court and how like in the late ’80s
how it was a very resoundingly the nominee would be confirmed. And if you take the
Neil Gorsuch nomination and how that was a lot more partisan, I was wondering if you have any ideas of how we can get back to
the other days, thank you. – Well, I’ll quote Senator Sasse, but he’s not the first person to say this. But it goes back 31
years to the confirmation of Judge Robert Bork
and that really changed the nature of that confirmation process. Really changed how these
court seats were viewed in these confirmation, and
his nomination was defeated in the Senate and it also changed that the nominees for these positions decided that it wasn’t to their advantage to answer the questions that were asked. And of course now each
nominee will tell you I can’t prejudge a case, and
there’s a lot of validity to that, you really wouldn’t want someone up there telling as a judge saying how they’re gonna rule on a set of facts if you’re the person that’s
gonna come before them on those facts, so that’s valid. But you know, it really
changed with Judge Bork, who was quite open in his hearings about what he thought and how
he would treat certain issues and that of course caused the Democrats and then got others mobilized against him and so the whole hearing process really became much more politicized then. The other point that,
again, I’m not trying to cite Senator Sasse
too much, but the reason I asked you to listen to his speech if you have an extra
minute is that his theory is one I find is worth consideration, which is that because
Congress is so dysfunctional and often Congress doesn’t
want to make a decision on important issues ’cause they
just want to get reelected, that when legislation’s passed they leave so much discretion
in the administrative state. So the Affordable Care
Act, there were so much the secretary shall, right? And certain things weren’t spelled out. Well that happens with
veterans legislation. That happens with all kinds of,
I’m not just picking on that because it happens all
the time in Washington. And his argument is, is
that we then put so much on the Supreme Court in deciding we want it to be a policy decision maker. It was never intended to
be a policy decision maker as the third branch. The legislative branch
is the First Article. It’s intended to be first
in terms of making policy. That that abdication has
actually made the focus even more so on the Supreme Court because some people want the
Supreme Court to solve problems that the legislative branch should solve under our separation of
powers, under our Constitution. So that’s his theory and I
thought it was really one worth considering, and a pretty good one. – [Ranjan] Thank you. – [Herschel] Let’s take
another student question. Jasmine. – [Jasmine] Hello,
thank you for your talk. So just speaking about federalism, when thinking about
issues like healthcare, the Affordable Care Act, Title IX, I think kind of my
understanding of these movements or initiative is trying
to establish who were are as a nation and what kinds
of values that we stand for. And so my question is,
how do we deal as a nation with the disparity of
kinds of programs available across state lines and kinds of the gaps of programs available. – Well first of all, I
think for example states, you’re right, states
make different choices. Like New Hampshire
doesn’t have an income tax and Massachusetts does have an income tax and maybe there’s certain programs that New Hampshire chooses not to fund to be able to do that, that Massachusetts or another state would choose to fund. But I also think that we are
in a position, two things. On some of those issues, the inequity we could even say we’re gonna keep the same amount of resources,
just we’re not got gonna do it at the federal level, we’re
gonna keep them in the state. Because collectively
we’re paying the money. So you could allocate it at
the state level, number one, if you thought there
was inequity of an issue that needed to be much more equal across the state governments. But I also think that people
have in our federalist system an ability to be mobile and to leave. And that that will drive state policy. If a state is not handling certain issues or serving certain people
or treating certain things, you know, then there are
also are going to be people who will inevitably decide, I’m
not gonna live in that state and that’s gonna drive policy as well. So you’ve got two factors there. I do think though that you could decide to equalize funding without
making the federal government in charge of it all. It’s a different way of
distributing the money and I actually think states
would be more efficient overall in how they would use it. Or localities, maybe
it’s not the state issue. Maybe it’s better dealt at
a local government level, the mayoral level. – Why don’t we open things up. So the man on the end here. – [Bill] Hi there, thank
you, my name is Bill. In thinking about maintaining
the optimum balance between national authority
and state autonomy can we learn anything
from other democracies, how they are successfully
doing it, or how they do it? And the problems they may have or not have because they do it differently than we do. I’m not saying better or worse. – No.
– So is there any kind of a best practices study
going on around the world on this subject of local autonomy versus national government authority? And they would have maybe
provinces instead of states, but any thoughts about that? Can we learn from the rest
of the democratic world? – Yeah Bill, I think that’s
actually a really good question. And I have to confess
I haven’t studied it. I probably should, but to the extent that we have other democracies. First of all, I think we
can learn from other people. I mean, I’ll give you an example not on the federalism front, but Germany has some excellent
apprenticeship programs and work programs that
I think we should look at what they’re doing because
their education system has some very good ideas
that we could implement here that would be good for people. But I can’t cite you offhand
in the issue of federalism of how things are operating. Maybe that research is out there and I personally have not studied it, but I think you’ve raised
a really good point. I always think we can
learn from other people And one of the things that
is the beauty of federalism is that states can learn from each other. I mean, that was one of the ideas. Of course we’ve heard a lot of discussion about the laboratories of the states. But learning from each other as opposed to one unitary approach from
a federal top-down level we’re in a better position
to know maybe perhaps what would work and be effective as opposed to what has not been effective. – [Bill] If I could
maybe just real quickly, my international experience
has caused me to observe that we tend to be on the extreme side of the balance more towards
the state or local authority versus the national, and
compared to other countries our life is more complicated. As this young lady said here,
there are many differences between the different states. And I just found that
maybe life was easier in other countries
because they didn’t have all this local autonomy,
not that it was zero, but I mean, I lived in
Germany for a long time and I remember talking with
a group of Germans one time and they were telling me
about capital punishment. They were not for it, of course, and why doesn’t your
president just eliminate it? That’s just a subject
that is an example here to make a point, and I had to tell them it’s not a national
decision, it’s by state. And I had to spend the
whole evening explaining our federal system and
they still never got it. – (laughs) So Bill, you actually raise an important point, I mean,
the Framers put this together but it was by no means simple. And I think, but in some ways
the system that they set up to bring our states together, you know, and the mechanism that they set up to protect individual freedom
and somewhat innovation among the states is not a simple one. But I personally prefer it
to a more unitary system because I worry about some of the, not necessarily with
the Germany obviously, but some of the more
simplified unitary systems can end up to places where
some of your basic rights get denied and sometimes it’s
sort of the benevolent leaders who even do that, and
so that’s the challenge that we face and it’s
probably why Franklin left the convention with a
Republican if you can keep it. A republic if you can
keep it, I should say. – [Bill] Thank you. – Why don’t we collect
a few questions at once. So in the back and then
in the purple shirt. – [Blake] Hi, my name is Blake and I’m 22. You spoke a little bit earlier
about your relationship with Senator John McCain,
and I guess my question is obviously recently we’ve
seen that under the guise of Trumpism a lot of
conservatives, Republicans have kind of turned their
back on Senator McCain. And he made certain legislative decisions like his decision to go
thumbs down on the ACA, repealing the ACA in the
Senate, but for the most part he’s been one of the staunchest
conservatives in the Senate during his tenure and I was wondering what this shift in the
perception of the senator says about where the
Republican Party is now and how loyal they are to Donald Trump. – My friend John, I didn’t always agree with everything he did,
he didn’t always agree with everything I did,
and I heard about it. (laughs) But he was not a quiet man. But where are we. I think what’s emblematic
in terms of people’s respect for someone like Senator
McCain is what we saw at his funeral because if you
really sat in that cathedral and looked around you
would have seen people from all different viewpoints
including the spectrum of the Republican Party. Now are there people who disagree with him and think that his
compromise on certain issues made him less Republican or
more of what people like to call a RINO, yes, and he faced those arguments during his lifetime and he faced ’em with a lot of courage. I mean, when he did immigration
reform with Ted Kennedy, I mean, he was vilified on talk radio. So it was nothing new for
him in terms of what he faced unfortunately heading into his passing is what he faced with courage in his life. And one of the things I
admired most about him and I think it’s what
people respect about him is that he put his
shoulders up and was like, he had a lot of courage and frankly, he could understand and listen
to somebody else’s position but he wasn’t gonna let
people push him around in terms of what he believed in. And that’s sort of a rare
thing because it’s kinda easy to push some politicians around in terms of what they believe,
but that was never him. So I don’t think that the
people who disagreed with him in the Republican Party, by the way, existed even before President Trump and he just tapped into it. – [Herschel] Why don’t
we take two or three lighting round questions
in quick succession. – [Dave] Yeah, so this
is just a smaller issue that might affect us, but it also kind of relates to federalism. I’m Dave, by the way, I’m a senior. And it’s about voter regulation
and voter requirements for different states and a
law recently changed that for New Hampshire that
will take effect soon that will probably prohibit
a lot of us from voting here where we spend most of the year. And I just was curious to see
what you might have thought of that in the scope of being involved with our local governments and of course that’s where we reap the most benefit is where we’re living, so
considering that a college student might not be able to vote in
New Hampshire, for example, not in this upcoming
election, but in future ones. How does that contrast to
our civic responsibility and things like that? – So I got this question
earlier in the class I was in about first of all, I have to confess I haven’t fully read the law
that the governor signed in. It’s already been reviewed
by our New Hampshire Supreme Court and found to be valid under our State Constitution
and the federal Constitutions at least by our state Supreme Court. But my understanding of
our laws is first of all, New Hampshire, every state has some form of residency requirement. New Hampshire actually has
been somewhat out of line with some of our neighbors in terms of what our residency requirement is. And so I don’t know all the
ins and out of that law. But from what I know of it I don’t think that you’ll be prohibited from voting. I mean, as I understand it
you have to get a license or some form of residency here or if not you vote by absentee
in the state that you’re from and that’s really not, I think
if you look at it closely not that different from
a lot of other states. And why do I think that it’s, OK, why should you be a
resident of this state. Let’s make sure that we
have residence, right? That’s important, is because
you, when you vote in a state other than for the presidential election you’re really voting on who’s gonna, the president you’re representing who’s gonna vote you,
but if you think about the unique issues in New
Hampshire or in Maine or wherever you’re from
you wanna make sure that the people that vote have a stake in the people that they’re voting for not just for a temporary period, but they’re actually
declaring this their residency or their domicile, so I
haven’t studied that law inside and out, but I don’t
obviously think anyone should be denied the right to vote. It’s really important, it’s fundamental. And you know, I think
that hopefully people will still be allowed to vote either here or in the state that they came from. – [Herschel] Let’s take
one more down here. You’ve been waiting
patiently the whole time. I hope it’s a good question.
(audience laughing) – [Audience Member] So I had a bunch but I’m gonna narrow it down to just one that I hope will be an
interesting one for you to answer as an ex-senator, so what do you think about term limits on Congress? Will that encourage
senators to be more active in their decisions as
they will not be afraid of making controversial choices that might get them not to be elected. – There aren’t many, I love
answering this question ’cause there aren’t many people that are gonna come here that
are gonna give the answer that I’m gonna give, I’m for term limits. I was for them when I ran for the Senate and I’m still for them. And the reason that I am for them, is I actually think it would
be good to have a renewal and to have, I think
our Founders did think that people would go and
they would serve for a period and then they would go
back to whatever profession or work that they had before they left. And the one thing though
that is a valid argument against term limits is
that the bureaucracy that I talked to you about,
there is really a concern that if that continues to grow and we continue to see
Congress not legislating but delegating more to the
agencies that aren’t elected that they could then just
wait members of Congress out through their terms and
basically have even more power and make decisions knowing
that they could wait you out when your terms are done,
and that is a valid argument. And so I’m for term limits,
but I’d also like to see some reforms in terms
of how much delegation the Congress is making to these agencies and also what role we are
giving to our federal government in conjunction with it. – [Herschel] Thanks again. (audience applauding)


  • briannxx

    No it’s because the Democratic Congress does way to much and Republicans are too chicken shit to role any off it back

  • briannxx

    John McCain was a dangerous warmonger who should not be celebrated. Bipartisanship brought us every bad piece of legislation or war that exists today

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *