Former White House chiefs of staff talk foreign policy at Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Two former chiefs of staff shared their “View from the West Wing” at Notre Dame on Wednesday.
President Barak Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and President George Bush's Chief of Staff Andrew Card visited the university for a forum on foreign policy.
Students filed the 850 seat hall, with over 300 watching a livestream from an overflow room. It was moderated by Maura Policelli, who serves as the executive director of the Notre Dame Keough School of Global Affairs’ Global Policy Initiative.
McDonough says the goal was to have a common sense, level headed, bi partisan discussion with hopes of inspiring a campus wide conversation.
The two offered commentary on the current administration and discussed their critical roles in the White House.'
“The responsibility of a chief of staff is to make sure the president is available to make a brutally tough decision at any time of any day,” says Card.
McDonough added, “Often times as Andy alluded to, he is going to have to make those decisions over the course of hours, sometimes in the dead of night.”
As the closest advisor to the previous president, McDonough gave perspective on some current events.
On recent rumors about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:
“It looks like he denied what looked like unsourced rumors overnight. My hope would be rather than focus on this sort of thing we can get our whole government led by the secretary of state focused on major challenges like the continuing nuclear crisis with North Korea. That’s what we really need to focus on and I think we have good answers to that but we have to get out of the tit-for-tat and all of the back and forth.”
On the on-going challenge in North Korea:
“I think it is a tough challenge. We want to make sure we are staying close to our friends in the region to include the South Koreans and the Japanese. But we need to make sure we don’t give them any reason to continue their bluster. We don’t need to contribute to any further escalation of the back and forth with the North Koreans.”
The forum focused on foreign policy and the role current students can play in the future.
“I’m very optimistic about our future and you can’t help but feel more optimistic the closer you get to remarkable students like the students at Notre Dame. My goal in being here is to not only feel some of their enthusiasm but I’ve told them a number of times that Uncle Sam needs them,” says McDonough.