tv Former White House Chiefs of Staff Discuss White House Transitions CSPAN August 15, 2016 2:00am-3:18am EDT
our conference is one of three that we are going to hold at texas presidential library. the other two are going to be at the lbj library september 22 and september 23, dealing with national security, and then on october 18 at the george w bush -- george h.w. bush library. a national security crisis. in all, our theme of the importance of bipartisanship in transition. staff going to chief of who know the beginnings and ends of administrations, mack mclarty, he came in at the beginning of the clinton administration as chief of staff and josh bolten was at the end of the bush administration. his chief of staff. and aber 11 attacks, transition out of office of george w. bush changed the tone
and actions undertaken during the transition period. led the president bush most determined transition out of office that we have experienced. he began the transition cycle in 2007 in discussions with his chief of staff, josh bolten, who lead that effort. closed the circle that truman proposed to structure by having representatives of the incoming and outgoing chief executives meet well before the election. he brought together representatives of the two candidates in the white house in july, almost too much fire to the 2008 party conventions. , lead theon transition as executive director for president bush into office in 2001, clay johnson was the deputy for management at the office of management and budget
and was the department and agency planning, gathering information for a new team. he is going to be on our second panel. equally important in the 2008 transition was interest in making use of these administration preparations by those leading the transition effort for senator and then- president-elect obama. he was in those july meetings and hised with bolten deputy on the bush team. he is now the secretary, deputy secretary in the department of involved in the transition out of office of president obama. ofa brown was codirector agency review for obama, also began work in july assembling teams to go into that meants -- into the departments and
agencies on programs and staff positions and upcoming schedules and budgets. president bush and his team willingly lead a transition , the results of which president obama was eager to use. in finding ways to expand the areas of agreement such as the presidential appointments process. mack mclarty along with clay johnson has been a leader of the aspen institute's project for reforming the appointment process. lisa brown was part of a congressional and obama administration appointment reform effort. group a a knowledgeable quick talk about the transition. our program today comes about through the work of many institutions and individuals. from aelists have come
distance to speak about presidential transitions, and we thank josh bolten, mack mclarty, chris, and clay johnson. thank you for the support of the moody foundation and for your and jamie william's interest in our project. we appreciated and also the work you are doing in the presidential leadership program that you support. next, the george w. bush presidential center has provided our space as well as significant logistical support. we thank you as well as your colleagues and his director of operation just instilling, the stirling,- justine the director of events. finally, we thank the staff of the white house transition project, have worked for our onorerence and h
analytical programs. let us begin with josh bolten who knewmclarty, transitions theater their work as chief of staff. this will be followed by a program on the presidential appointments process and a discussion of the administration's transition out of office. thank you. [applause] [laughter] you can tell who is in charge. [laughter] >> there. the 2008 transition was by the best viewed as
that we have had. you all put attention in a way that it was not previously indicated in the transition out of office. ms. kumar: i wonder if you can talk about the elements that you see that were important in that transition? why was it so good? >> thank you. [laughter] for the recognition of the work that the bush administration bid. mr. bolten: and that the president did himself. that is my answer to your question. is, it comes from the president. in a presidential term agendathe executive's comes what the president says,
he or eventually she, is interested in. certainly true of the 2008 presidential transition, bush directed me more than one year before the transition, and you mentioned late thousand seven is when the president first spoke to me as his chief of staff. and talked about how important he thought this presidential transition would be because it was the first presidential transition in our modern history during which our homeland was actually under threat, 9/11 changed everything. not just the bush presidency, but about our country. so, he was determined that we unnecessary period
theulnerability during early months of the incoming president's administration, regardless of the party of clever the next president was going to be. that was irrelevant to president bush's consideration when he said he wanted, when he gave me the direction to run the most effective and most complete .ransition in american history now, that was a pretty low bar to meet. [laughter] mr. bolten: traditionally, i have been on both and that a transition already, both going out of the bush 1941 administration and coming into .he bush 1943 administration it is a low bar, it was a low bar in a bipartisan way. it is not something that attracted a lot of attention.
will, nottion of ill a question of partisanship. mack, i do think you will agree. historically, in america, a question of, we do not need to do that. they will learn on the job and they have got time to get their feet on the ground and run the place they want to run it. we do not need to spend a lot of time doing stuff, doing preparatory work for the next and it probably is not welcome in the first place. it was definitely a change of psychology. in the 2008 transition, we had ultimately a terrific partnership with a very well that willobama team be represented on your next panel. ms. kumar: what direction did he give you?
thebolten: you know, well, truth is, i do not really remember. [laughter] mr. bolten: but i do recall that it was not, it was not detailed instructions. that was not george w. bush's style to say, you know, i want to make sure that they have got all their appointments in place, and that the briefing books are here, and the diagram of the west wing, that is just not, anybody who knows george w. bush knows that he is a leader, and a man of principle. he empowers people to do their jobs, and he considered it my job and the job of my staff, the job of clay johnson to figure
out what the details were, but what i do recall him saying very explicitly is that "i want these people to be as prepared as possible to deal with a crisis, should one happen on the first day of the next administration, " and that is both a tall order and a major undertaking in any administration. ms. kumar: in fact, there was a threat on the inauguration. mr. bolten: there was. we were particularly concerned a terrorist attack during the actual inauguration. it is a moment of really extraordinary peril in this country, if you think about it, because so much of the government actually moves. in other systems, a key people
at the top move around, but most of the government remains in place. in our system, the top few thousand leaders in government actually replaced in a transition, especially in a transition between parties where basically everybody who used to be there is out all at the same moment. it is not like it is sort of a low process of one month a few people, and, the next month more people, and so on. it is new on january 20 every four years that the people who have been in charge suddenly have no authority anymore. they are done. you are out. your batch does not work. you cannot get back into your office. nobody either expects to or should follow your instructions of all the people that worked for you.
so, it is a very abrupt change , and the new people, you know, i remember onking into the white house january 20, 2001, and you know, you kind of walk into a blank office, there is nothing on the walls, just a few supplies on the desk, there is computers, but you know, there is nothing .n the memory banks you might know the phone numbers of a few of the people you may it is a very, but complete and abrupt transition, and for the country, that is a real period of vulnerability. i do not think it lasts all that ing in the stark sense that am talking about, but for those first few days, in a crisis, you know, the people who need to make decisions might not even know how to reach the other
people that they need to reach to take action. so, what we did in the transition period in 2008-2009 to thedid our best incoming folks to work with each ther, and also to pair up outgoing people with the incoming people, so, for example, we held a tabletop january, inearly which we assembled the cabinet officers who were relevant to a .ational security crisis we assembled in the old executive office building and we had all the outgoing officials of their from the bush administration who would be involved in a national security crisis, secretary of homeland security, the national security
health, the secretary of , because what we postulated was ,n attack in the united states and so on. we had all of the right officials who in the outgoing administration knew each other and knew their roles, knew who did what in case of a crisis, and we brought in their incoming counterparts, and we went to the tabletop exercise with the old people sitting next to the incoming people, and i don't know if, i don't know how much you can learn in a three-hour tabletop exercise about how to act in a crisis, but the main thing was that they laid eyes, everybody laid eyes on the other people with whom they would need to communicate, and i will bet, for most of the people in the incoming obama cabinet, that was
the first time they had met fbi director mueller, who was one key official who because of the nature of his position, transitioned across administrations, and would be a key person to know and to communicate with in the event of a crisis. one other thing i will mention that we did, and that is that we asked the homeland security , whotary, michael chertoff had planned a vacation with his wife beginning at 1:00 p.m. on january 20 -- [laughter] mr. bolten: we asked him to stick around for a day, and during inauguration day, he was in an off-site with the incoming secretary of homeland security in a control center where they could monitor all of the threat information and so on.
we asked him, even though his authority would be eliminated as of noon on generate 20th, we asked them, stick around, be 20th, we askedry him, stick around. there was a threat on inauguration day. it turned out, a credible threat. it turned out not to be an actual threat, an actual incident. intelligencedible suggesting an attack at the inauguration itself on the mall, know, we were not perfectly prepared. i imagine if that had happened will be a lot better prepared than we were in we at least have thought about it, had talked
peoplelks, and had our as well petitioned as we could under the circumstances -- well-positioned as we could under the circumstances. had both worked as prosecutors and knew each other very well. it was an easy discussion between the two of them. can you tell us about the discussions about transition into office that you had with president clinton? mr. mclarty: i would be glad to. first of all, it is good to be with you and terry sullivan, and the white house transition, the bush institute. good to be with chief bolten. i always look forward to it. our transition was quite different. it was a different time and place. i think josh makes a very key point about 9/11 really changing
the fundamental psyche in many ways of our country. personal security became national security and vice versa. it affected transitions. ours is at a much earlier time. at that point, terry and i talked about this. governor clinton, like most presidential candidates before him, was very concerned, if you , largeerious developed effort underway on transition, it would be easy for the press to say "well, such a show of arrogance here, measuring the the office." in there was talk about that with his transition efforts even after 9/11. that was part of it, for sure. i think, in our case, as lisa remembers from her time working , i came into it
late, having served as his chief executive officer of the new york stock exchange national gas company. you were coming in knowing some of the people, but not all. on the positive side however, governor clinton, like most presidential candidates, had laid out a pretty clear agenda of what he wanted to accomplish his firstst 100 days, two years in office. that, in and of itself, laid out a roadmap, pathway, in terms of the policy to work within the administration. i think, secondly, during the transition, a high priority was placed on the selection of the cabinet. we spend a lot of time there, and i think our work reflected that, and richard's death, the newstaff, -- richard ewsta
the historian -- it was clearly a priority of president-elect clinton, as he and al gore had run as a team. before that, the vice president had been an important figure, but it had not been fully integrated into the presidency as we have seen in more modern presidencies. where we got behind the curve was on selection of white house staff. i think that was a setback for us, although, on the policy side, we were able to move forward with economic plans. we were able to move forward with the cabinet. i like to so much of the spirit of bipartisanship or the theme because we did receive good cooperation from the republican members of the senate getting our cabinet members in place, but as clay johnson notes are well, that is only a start. you have got to get the deputy and the assistant secretaries in
place. that was our experience. i think, on the national security front, again, it was before 9/11, before the terrorist evidence we have seen. landscape,fferent although there were vulnerabilities and there. you hadnk the fact that a very experienced team in national security that had worked during the campaign. they were able to make that transition. andfinal point i would say josh has alluded to it, the real two hallmarks of a transition open, and,being start early, which i think now has become much better understood, much more accepted. recently i had spoken with the atiness roundtable, speaking the national governors association this weekend with governor leavitt, i think it is
much better understood how critical transitions are. it is that moment in a 77 bay period where there is so much -- is so period were there much to be done, so many various stakeholders to respond to, a moment where it is essential to pivot from campaigning to governing. that is really what transitions, that is the hallmark of any successful transition. ms. kumar: how'd you make one of the aspects of moving from campaigning to governing is that there are different needs in a campaign. the rhythms of a campaign are different because you are trying to win each day, and you have a policy agenda that is limited that you are talking about. when you come in to govern, you lesspeople that are
partisan, in a sense, and ones with experience in the washington community because you are going to move from one issue to another, where you may have in one,ns of supporters and then, your enemies, your friends in the ones afterwards. when you have campaign people, their mindset is your guys good, your opponent bad. how do you make that transition of the personnel, of bringing in people who are appropriate for governing who may not have been on your campaign? and what do you do with the campaign people that you want to reward? and how does a president deal about? mr. mclarty: i'm getting a headache does try to remember all those problems. [laughter] makeclarty: i think you exactly the right point. you have had people in the workedn that have truly
their hearts out for their candidate in that campaign, and in many cases, made tremendous sacrifices where they have taken a leave of them from their job, at work, and moved to little rock, arkansas or austin, texas, or were ever to spend a year plus of their lives trying to get george w. bush and bill clinton elected. there is a feeling of loyalty -- by the same token, you do have to be pretty steely-eyed. you are moving into a different passage. there are different requirements. you have to have basically a blend of people that were in the campaign who were naturally and hopefully well-suited to make that transition to governing, and there is usually a good
number of those people in the policy realm, the press realm, and others of that are pretty natural in that regard, but you need new people, broader people. ofernor clinton knew a lot other fellow governors that were natural cabinet selections. he had worked with a number of people in education, so that was a natural area. a number of people in the national security area, that was a natural. that is i you make the transition. you have got to achieve that balance. there is one other major factor that is different. that is the members of the congress and the house and the senate. you are not going to get your first hundred days moving in the right direction with your legislation, as josh knows so well and is so skilled in handling members of the house and senate without establishing immediate rap would leadership thereport --
withiate rapport leadership there. you cannot get ahead of yourself for that will create problems in and of itself. in our case, i do not think we did as good of a job reaching we to the republican side as could have, in retrospect. i think we caught up with that otherfare to work and legislation in the administration, but that is absolutely key. it is very different in campaign. that is a new constituency. in our case, i know you are going to talk about this later you had hadon, but a years of republicans being in the white house, so that is quite a big change when you have a different administration, a different party, into the white house. in our case, i think it is worth noting, governor clinton only got 43% of the vote. that had a difference in our dynamic in that campaign.
in that transition. ms. kumar: yeah. josh, how did you all establish your legislative relationship? you had lasess. mr. bolten: george w. bush came in with a landslide by comparison. [laughter] mr. bolten: we both had our respective challenges there. [laughter] bill underestimate 571 votes in florida. [laughter] >> that made it challenging. that gave the start of the administration a pretty rough start because a substantial portion of the country was pretty raw, and a substantial portion felt that president bush had not been legitimately elected. it had been decided by the supreme court, and so on.
mr. bolten: we were keenly aware of that. the president was keenly aware that he needed to reach out at the beginning of his administration and make sure that everybody understood that he intended to be the president of all the people, not just of the folks that had voted for him . so, there were a number of rich efforts at the start of the administration. , bush 43 when he was governor in texas, as clay as aescribe well, governed real uniter. he had hoped to be able to do the same in washington. he had been intending to go to washington as the education president, and do that on a bipartisan basis.
and so, the administration started out with an agenda that included tax cuts, which he had campaigned on, and education reform, -- the democratic chairman ted kennedy in the senate and they were his close working partners on what eventually became the no child left behind act. sadly for the country, that kind of momentum was very hard to maintain even after the aftermath of 9/11. >> why do you think it was? >> that is the $64 trillion question. why have we not been able to stitch together some substantial
element of bipartisan cooperation in the last 20 or 30 years. it seems to have degraded through each presidency and there are a lot of things to point to. gerrymandering in the house. make the vast majority of house members safe in their seats. except for the challenge from the fringe of their own party. it tends to make house members much more responsive to the right, the extreme right in the republican party, extreme left in the democratic party and make
them less inclined to be receptive to compromise. there is the influence, the dramatic change in how and where people get their news that the explosion of media outlets from which we all benefit it has been a tremendous and it must respect positive change in our society. also means that people take the bias in the news and aren't operating off of a common set of facts. that used to have a unifying effect in the country. there are semi-factors involved. -- there are so many factors involved. identify just one but i think the biggest challenge for the coming generation of government leaders to try to
bridge the divide. >> certainly the transition has proved to be an area that democrats and republicans can work together whether it is in congress or in an administration. at least we have one area and i guess there are a few others. they -- it is hard to put together. for both of you all, what is the advantage of a fast start? and if you have trouble at the beginning of the administration, lose the way on the fast start, how can you get it back together? >> first impressions are important. all of us have heard the phrase in presidential history and campaigns, the first 100 days,
that is the goodwill coming off the election. what did its 100 days or the first six months of the administration. it is also the same time as he pointed out, you are to get your team plays and may have the least experience in some ways to implement that. i think in our case, the economic plan was crucial because the campaign had largely been about domestic issues and the economy. had we not been able from a policy standpoint to develop an economic plan and to move that to the congress and get it passed in the beginning of the administration, i am not going to go as far as to say that you might have had a failed presidency, but i certainly think that would have been written about had you not been able to follow with anything on the plan.
withlike joshua alluded to the election, we passed that by one vote in the house and vice president gore both the time the senate. that was crucial. that was essential to the start. you are also going to have, in most cases, we certainly did, some bumps, some unexpected unforeseen occurrences that are going to come in and you had to deal with whether they are micro, unsettling problems or whether they are major unforeseen occurrences. you can have all of your plans and agendas laid out as perfectly as you would like, but you are inevitably going to have to deal with the unexpected events. it is essential that you lift off. i think a real crucial element comes into place, many of you in the business world here and it
is what clay and i have been so adamant about and committed to, you have got to get your team in place to deal with all of that and it starts at the cabinet level in the white house senior level. you have to fill out the remainder of the administration. >> you all had some bumps at the beginning as well. the economic transition, i was part of the transition that was well formed when you came in. he created the national economic council which continues today. i think the president management council was created early too, and the economic program and it
was coupled with -- troubled with appointment. >> john sky-mobi interesting to get your perspective. i think most administrations have had some issues on appointments and are confirmations. we certainly had it on the attorney general. on the other hand, as i had noted earlier, and i get the republican leadership and the senate a lot of credit for this, we got our cabinet in place say the attorney general office. i believe more properly than any other administration i got in there can in place because we had cooperation from the senate in getting those approved. we got those in place but we also had some other issues, some military issues that came out that were distracting for a central messaging and central efforts to that things in place. i think what you have to look at is at the end of the day, most presidencies will be judged by piece, which i would now say security and homeland and prosperity. that's the two goals you have to keep before you.
>> getting the white house staff in place early is something that now everybody seems to recommend and clinton has talked about how that was one thing -- a lesson learned. i think we spent a lot of time on the cabinet which pays big dividends. not only did we had the collegial cooperative cabinet, they give us great advice and were able to amplify and you
know this from your time and the obama administration, amplify the president's message and a pretty impactful way both in the country, internationally and on the hill in congress. an important point on transitions, that gotten in a understanding way how critical it is to have early, developed, engaged transition efforts that are on a separate track from the presidential campaign and that will help and is key to getting the white house staff in place in addition to the other positions of government. >> to underscore what he said, that is crucial and important that the environment that the white house transition project has created, the legislation adopted as a result of the efforts has altered the mindset about presidential transition because it used to be that those candidates who were even focused on the importance of the transition were reluctant to
admit that in any public sense because you were immediately accused of measuring the drapes, getting ahead of yourself, being arrogant. we found that even in 2008 when i reached out at the direction of the president in the summer of 2008 all -- before the conventions, i reached out to the presumptive nominee campaigns, the obama and mccain campaign. the obama campaign got it. they were well organized and had a terrific team in place led by john podesta and chris lu. the mccain campaign was very nervous and very reticent to be seen as having a plan, having
leadership of the transition and so on precisely because they do not want to be accused of measuring the drapes and getting ahead of themselves. there's been an important change in the environment just in the last few cycles about the propriety and necessity of making the preparations and is -- and it is one of the ways operations like yours and terry's and others have made an important contribution the way we run our public life. >> if i may build on what josh has said and such a thoughtful and articulate manner, i think the environment has changed. a lot of people in this room and a lot of others have helped to move that forward. i think 9/11 has changed the psyche too. i think administrations coming and have
a bit of a different attitude, how much can i learn from this other group that either i was smarter than or better than, after all i did defeat them? you write about that in your book. there is a much better understanding that even if you have sharp differences on policy, there is a lot to learn from prior administrations who had been in that chair or seat in the white house. there has been a change in that environment. building on the broader change that josh spoke about. >> the outcomes of these transitions out of office, one has to be legislation. institutionalized many of the things that you did. you had an executive order that created a transitional council. that is in law. you have legislation in 2010
that creates the pre-election transition effort so that after you have the national party nominating convention that the transition headquarters that is open up to the general services administration and provide support for candidates if they choose to use it. >> people should understand, this is paid for by the federal government. which is crucial that, he not -- it is not just that you get some money, but that you have the standard operating procedure to set up an office, put people in it and let them start planning and hopefully going forward, it will be a natural thing for both candidates to engage in that important planning activity.
>> and 2016, march 20, president obama signed legislation that the presidential transition improvement that is going to provide even more because the transition cornet in council has -- coordinating council now has to meet their by law and it is created six month for the -- before the election and there is an agency transition director counsel that was created that has career civil service people running it. information has to be provided, the kind of information that you and clay have put together in 2008. so that there was a legislative impact on the kind of work that you did. max referenced a conundrum. the conundrum i discussed here
is the transition is the time that has the maximum opportunity to change. for example, when you're coming into office is a good time to make organizational changes. because the public is watching and are willing to support and members of congress also are more willing and the public is more willing to support you. if at the other hand, you are bringing in a team that is an experienced, that really doesn't know where the levers are and how to make them work, how do you deal with that? >> it has not been fully resolved at this point. it goes back to what i tried to note earlier, you have to try
your very best to blend the organization of the campaign staff, many of whom have been deeply ingrained in the policy development as well as the campaign on both domestic and foreign policy issues but with new blood and implicitly, experienced hands if you will from the washington scene. in our case, howard pastor came in as head of legislative affairs and how it had a long-standing relationship in washington and had a partnership there on a bipartisan basis. he was well suited on the legislative front to have a number of relationships already established. a little bit later on as you recall, we reached out to david served fivead presidents and he served in a
number of administrations and we specifically wanted to get someone from the republican side that could help us build those bridges. those of the types of things you do. the only other point i would make that maybe we have not emphasized enough for this group and for the c-span viewers and so forth, just the magnitude of what is really entailed in a 77 day transition. you really have so much work to get done in such a short period of time. and there are so many stakeholders who voted for you, appointment process, getting your people in place, in our case, the governor stepping on the world stage, meeting other international leaders. establishing relationships with members of congress, often who think they are pretty important in this process. the press, it is a different press that covers the white
house that has generally covered the campaign. there is a multiplicity of stakeholders that have to be engaged in a very short period of time as you are lifting off. >> josh, how did you deal with the conundrum? >> we had a blessing in the outset of the bush 43 administration. in the campaign in which george w. bush was elected in the -- and the blessing was that a large portion of the country thought that george w. bush was stupid. the reality is that he's an exceptionally bright policy person. i spent my career in government policy and george w. bush is one of the sharpest policy minds
i've ever encountered in decades. but that was not the reputation he had. we had a political necessity to run a campaign that was chock-full of substance. that would have been george w bush's instinct anyway. we ran a campaign that was disciplined in setting out in one month it would be to health care policy in the next month would be tax policy and the next month with the energy and environmental policy. there were speeches that went with that. fact sheets that went with that. with the end of the campaign we published a 300 page book of campaign speeches and policy papers that were the governing agenda for the first hundred days that mac was talking about.
so that made the conundrum period you're talking about much easier for our crowd because, we had the agenda in a 300 page book that people had internalized. people those who had worked for the campaign. political and policy people. we had the game plan set out for us and the reason i say that is a blessing, that we were blessed and having to run the campaign is that it made the george w. bush administration unusually well prepared to govern and the development in our campaigning now is that policy
does nothing to be that important and i think what we need to find is a way back, i don't think a particularly helps if the country thinks it is candidate is not bright. we need to find a way back to a mode of campaigning and politics where the candidates with the meatiest agendas and the agendas that suggested people, and what the people do in the first hundred days is what the country wants done. i think that is good be critical -- going to be critical for our politics going forward. >> you could say that the most important thing going forward for the transition is having an articulated policy agenda as you
come into office and really developing it at this point said that you know what you are going to do and organizationally that you can put together. >> both. >> as a much better way of saying what i intended to say. [laughter] >> you set the table very nicely for the professor. [laughter] >> there are differences in types of transitions that you have. same party transition where you are going from democrat to democrat or republican to republican. and then, a change of party transition. both of you all were involved in change of party but how did you,
-- because you were in the george h.w. bush administration and that was one from reagan to george h w bush, what are the differences between the two and how should the two candidates, hillary clinton and donald trump think at this point about the differences in the types of transitions they are going to have and what differences they should make to how they prepare? >> i will take a first stab at it. i think first of all, the fundamental point i would make, the one that we have suggested a -- that we have suggested so far is that both the clinton
campaign and the donald trump campaign already have established transition efforts in place and i think that reflects the environment that we talked about this morning. obviously as some know, with john podesta as secretary clinton campaign, chairs -- he is very knowledgeable. the trump people have established, a credible transition effort. we have talked earlier. that is number one. having gone through the change of parties, that is a very different dynamic than when you have a not a change of parties. it will be interesting and kris can speak to it, if secretary clinton is elected, how the transition will take place with the obama administration because that will be the same party. in our case, you were clearly
got to have a significant change not only in terms of policy and direction and style, but in terms of personnel. i was understood and agreed upon. i would really harken back to the central point you already made, this is one of the few areas that truly bipartisan cooperation, sincere bipartisan cooperation takes place. as the governor mike likes to they have to put down their swords and cooperate for the good of the country. i think that happens regardless of whether it is party to party or a different party. it is a very different dynamic. i think the changes more dramatic as you would think when you have republicans and democrats and vice versa. i think it is a little more complicated and tedious when you have one party transferring to the same party.
we will see if that takes place this election. >> let's see if you can take a swing at that. >> i was a junior appointee in the incoming bush 41 administration and there were a lot of rough spots in part because when there is a transition in the same party, the political appointees have a tendency to think they are welcome to stay so there's an important element of expectations management that needs to be done largely by the outgoing president. to let everybody know that you don't automatically get to stay.
it will be at the sufferance of the new president. this is in a third reagan term. secretary clinton wins, it is not a third obama term. it will be the first hillary clinton term. it is important for the outgoing president to set expectations properly and probably to direct that everybody send to the president the resignation now and let the president decide, let the incoming president decide whether to accept them.
there is a benefit to a same party transition and that is, although the incoming president of the same party will almost certainly want to change over all or a most all of the cabinet, there are number of subcabinet positions that are pretty technical in nature for which it will take time to get your own good people in place and you can keep the gears are government running much more smoothly and aggressively if you can keep a number of those people in place. it requires both expectation management and a fair amount of planning on the part of the incoming president of the same party, which i assume given the very experienced people involved in the clinton campaign is well on their minds.
>> you are helpful when you sent the letter to the particle appointed time and that their term was up. even provided a sample letter. [laughter] >> it wasn't really a suggestion. [laughter] >> there is principle that we have of one president at a time and in the 2008 transition, seem to be not quite so clear. there were certain things that happened and particularly with the financial meltdown that you all at the obama people had to do and work together. can you tell us something about
that? >> we did all this planning. we were having a financial crisis at the time. the same kind of training applied. the same sort of close interaction between the outgoing and the incoming applied and for the most part, it went smoothly. not entirely smoothly. there was an episode involving the bailout of the auto industry in which the bush administration had concluded against the political wisdom of most of the republicans in the congress that the federal government did need to do something to step in to support the auto industry.
lest there would be major bankruptcy that i would have a cascading effect on the economy. we had hoped with the support of the incoming clinton team to appoint an auto czar. sorry, freudian slip. [laughter] the incoming obama team that we would hope in cooperation with them that we would name and auto czar those accountable to the bush administration but was really the obama administration's auto czar so we could set in motion the process of rescuing the auto industry but that the auto industry would understand that they cannot game the system.
[indiscernible] was that president bush? [laughter] the auto industry that we had wanted to have a consistent policy so that the auto industry would know what to expect and know they could not game the system and that from our side we would ensure that they survive well into the beginning of the obama administration but also wanted to be sure that we put in place some very tough strictures on federal support that would require the industry to take difficult step to make up the competitive going into the future so it was that money down
the drain. ultimately, that is basically what happened but the obama administration was reluctant to be seen to be cooperating with the bush administration's son never took us up on this offer of a straddling auto czar and we basically had to put in place ourselves. it worked out ok in the end. that is an example of where the notion of the incoming cooperating with the outgoing and the incoming had basically just run against and defeated was a bridge too far. it was not a eisenhower and truman moment of the kind that you referenced in your opening remarks but it was a clear indicator that there were limits
to the number of and depth of cum buy ya moments. in the midst of the financial crisis was absolutely critical to the financial well-being of the entire planet and steps that president bush took at the end of his administration to staunch the crisis were largely picked up by the obama administration and extended. there was not an abrupt shift in policy. it is interesting that the person whom president obama picked to be his first treasury secretary and therefore really the navigator of the course in
responding to the financial crisis was tim geithner. who had been a democratic treasury appointee earlier in his career but at the time of the financial crisis during the bush administration was the president of the new york fed. geithner was part of the triumvirate. that triumvirate is the one that really charted out a course for responding to the crisis on him president bush relied in making his decisions. there was an unusual element of continuity between the bush and obama administrations and the stewardship in response to the crisis. it has to be regarded as one of the most effective government
responses in the history of economic policymaking. >> to really underscore that, josh and his typically modest way has not stated as starkly as i think it was. i think you make such a key point about one president at a time. that is the fundamental tenet of any transition. in this case with the economic crisis, not a security crisis, i think it our country truly looked into the abyss of what likely would have been a depression had that transition not been handled in the way that it was just outlined in terms of the bush administration and the obama administration coming in. it was seamless, appropriate, may not had fully integrated on every issue but it was absolutely crucial at the time to avoid what likely would have
been a depression to restore stability and order and i think our entire country and for that matter the world economy benefited from that i commend you. i think there's a real respect between anyone who has had that sacred responsibility as president of the one president at a time. i think we certainly experienced that with president bush 41 in the clinton administration. that served our country and our democracy well. >> thank you very much.
we will now go to questions. raise a hand and a microphone will go to you. >> can you give us a quick discussion of what happened on 2004 and 2012 on presidential planning? start transition planning while the running for reelection? and there's a vulnerable period if the other person were to win. >> that is a great question. the answer is, very little. it is just against the nature of any incumbent administration running for reelection even to contemplate the possibility that they might have to transition out so as great as president bush's leadership was in directing the 2008 transition, i would have to say that there is very little done in 2004.
you should pose the same question to chris lu he was the cabinet secretary 2012. my guess is you will come up with a very similar answer. it is a significant problem but that may just fall into the bridge too far category of actually doing, the incumbent doing preparation to permit the person to just eat him and cut him smoothly. here is where i think organizations like the white house transition project can play crucial role because they are institutionalizing the mechanics and the wisdom of presidential transitioning and so when you can't rely on the white house to be as forthcoming as you would like them to be, there are these outside entities who can do precisely that.
>> in addition, there is legislation that covers this. the 2010 legislation on transition provided that a president may create a transition coordinating council and may create a agency transition director's counsel will but nothing having happened in 2012 and have in london that experience that 2016 legislation says the president shall take action. shall create six month before hand the transition coordinating council. that mark was may 8 and may 6. the president issued the executive order entered into will effect that legislation.
the legislation called for the transition director's counsel, that one has to meet at least once a year. that is a continuing body preparation. you make a good point. the optics of running for reelection in preparing for your successor, people are going to think they know they are going to lose. that is a good point. >> worse than measuring the drapes is taking them down. [laughter] >> other questions? >> [indiscernible] getting elected, did it change what they did in the 77 days which turned out to be not that many days?
>> we did not have 77 days. we had -- clay was the transition director. he remembers it, every minute of it. 38 days. i hope you will have a chance to address this when you come up but the first 39 days of the transition, it was uncertain he was going to be the president. clay had gone to work on preparing stuff but the focus of everybody was down in florida, not everybody, but almost everybody who was involved in the bush operation. most people were down in florida try to make sure -- trying to make sure that your president was recognized and the thing was
happening on the gore side. a it was a difficult thing. i think clay, you would agree, it worked out ok. 77 days as a short time, 38 days is not a whole lot shorter than 77 in this context. if you are well organized enough, it can be done. it has more to do with who is involved, what is the direction, what is the plan, is there a program, it has more to do with that been exactly how many days you have. -- then exactly how many days you have.
>> i worked more bush's office and the transition process was amazing and just how the and administration really wanted to care for the next administration coming all the way down to the individual offices. i had to put together a packet of what it was like a plan an event for laura bush and when a first lady comes from another country and what the processes and the team coming in and having to meet with mrs. obama's team. i was impressed. you hear stories of coming in saying it was just not like that for us. he the figured out and calls figured out. we set the administration up very well and i believe president bush really left the place but it than he found it and prepare the next administration. that was awesome. thank you for the leadership. >> what you are underscoring if the tone gets set from the top
and if the president and mrs. bush say this is the way we want it, that is the way it will be. i've a lot of confidence that the president and mrs. obama had not only said the right things but will communicate the right things to their folks and, however the election turns out, there will be a good experience for the incoming and administration. >> not taking the drapes down, the 1992 campaign was a difficult time for president bush 41, while we made not had as well organized transition effort as he may have liked, i will underscore that the cooperation we received from jim baker, directly at the request of president bush 41 could not have been better. it allowed us to play catch-up
so much more effectively than otherwise would have been the case. that is the case where it was a difficult time. yet you had an effective, smooth, positive transition of power which is a hallmark of our democracy and what we are seeing is that you are refining the process now and moving it forward in a much more serious developed way with the funding, technology, all of these things where the transition planning and i give credit to people in the room, it is now becoming increasingly understood part of a critical period of our democracy. >> thank you very much.
let us all think our panelists. [applause] a panel looking at how a new administration picks cabinet secretaries and personnel to staff positions. this is about an hour and 25 minutes. >> when we started this in 1998 which we were often reminded was actually a long time ago, it seemed like just yesterday but it is now quite a long time ago. one of the things that people talked about was measuring the drapes was the equivalent of changing your socks in the middle of a winning streak in baseball. we just had to deal with the fact that politicians