BRIAN LAMB: Good morning everybody. I want somebody in the room to please tell me what this program is all about because we have some viewers out there in C-SPAN land that want to know it. Who can do that? Who wants to be the, how about you?
CALLIE PORTER: OK.
LAMB: What is this program?
PORTER: This is the United States Senate Youth Program.
LAMB: What does that mean?
PORTER: It means that two delegates were chosen from each state to represent our states, chosen out of leadership and an interest in public service.
LAMB: I need to know your name and where you’re from.
PORTER: I’m Callie Porter. I’m from Klamath Falls, Oregon.
LAMB: Who would like to add to that and tell us what you did this week? Anybody want to do that? Your name?
SHIRA LEE: Shira Lee, I’m from Wyoming.
LAMB: Where in Wyoming?
LEE: Cody, Wyoming.
LAMB: So what did you do this week?
LEE: Well, number one, we met the president.
LAMB: Big deal. Where did you meet him and what was it like?
LEE: Well we met him at the White House. We got to see him touch down on the White House lawn in the helicopter and we got to see him get off the helicopter and he met us in a room and we took a picture with him. He talked to us a little bit and answered some questions.
LAMB: Were you nervous?
LEE: Oh yes.
LAMB: I’m sure none of the rest of you were. OK, who can fill in the blanks here on some of the people that you were able to meet and talk with this week?
KATHERINE STONE: We were able to speak with several high ranking members of our current government and former and some alumni.
LAMB: You’ve got to name somebody though.
STONE: Chief Justice Roberts and Henry.
LAMB: What is your name and where are you from?
STONE: My name is Katherine Stone, I’m from Florida.
LAMB: What did you learn from being in the Supreme Court?
STONE: We learned about how our justice system works, at a more personal level, how they have to separate their own beliefs from what is in the constitution in order to insure proper judicial proceedings.
LAMB: Who can tell me how you get to be one of these delegates over here? Yes sir, where are you from?
NOAH MCCULLOUGH: I’m Noah McCullough from New Mexico.
LAMB: So how did you get here?
MCCULLOUGH: Well, it was kind of a complicated application process. First, we applied, at least in New Mexico, we applied and we wrote an essay about why the United States Senate Youth Program was important and then out of that, some semifinalists were selected, I believe 15, and from there we had a personal interview, a debate and then a test over our governmental skills and identification of quotes of current leaders in government.
LAMB: Why did you get picked?
MCCULLOUGH: Well I would hope I would get picked because I’m a future leader of America, but we’ll see.
LAMB: How many in this room want to run for political office at some point in the future? Oh my goodness. I have to tell you, for someone that works at C-SPAN like me, I ask this group here how many of you ever watch C-SPAN and every hand went up. We don’t get that much for 16 and 17 year olds. So I know that you’re all energized and ready to go. Who else has somebody they want to talk about that you met this week? How about somebody over, what’s your name?
ELIZABETH WICKS: Elizabeth Wicks and I’m from Mississippi.
WICKS: In Ocean Springs, Mississippi.
LAMB: Who did you hear from that you want to talk about?
WICKS: The Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was very interesting, an interesting person to meet.
LAMB: Why was he interesting?
WICKS: He was very, he’s just very knowledgeable and he had a lot of good information.
LAMB: Who can tell me who pays for this week? Who pays for this week because this isn’t, this is not a government program per se, is it?
PATRICK EISENHAUER: No its not. It’s sponsored by the government but the Hearst Foundation covers all the costs, just like they have for the past 50 years.
LAMB: This is the big 50th anniversary and what’s your name and where are you from?
EISENHAUER: My name is Patrick Eisenhauer and I’m from Hartland, Wisconsin.
LAMB: I want you all to think about something you learned this week that’s maybe surprised you or you didn’t anticipate learning and it can be a positive or it can be a negative. Coming to this town, you’re not going to have another week like this. I don’t care how old you are. This is the most magnificent week in politics that you’ll ever have unless you become President and I suspect a couple of you in this room might like to become President and then things really get like fun.
Who has, who wants to tell me, yes ma’am, what’s your name and where are you from?
TARA GHASSEMIKIA: My name is Tara Ghassemikia , I’m from the state of Washington.
LAMB: All right, tell me what you learned.
GHASSEMIKIA: I think its embodied in one of the quotes that the Secretary of the Senate said to us, she said surround yourself by the smartest people you know because although we learn so much from the speakers and politicians, a lot of the things that we take out of this experience is from each other because we’re each from different states, different backgrounds, different political views and its incredible because we sit here and for fun, we debate. We discuss, we challenge each other so a lot of this has been an experience of what we learn from each other.
LAMB: Someone this week that meant the most to you when you heard them.
GHASSEMIKIA: A speaker or one of my fellow delegates?
LAMB: Either one.
GHASSEMIKIA: Delegates, I would say everybody in this room, don’t want to be rude to any single one.
LAMB: Very diplomatic, politician on the way right here.
GHASSEMIKIA: We’re all rock stars in here, but a speaker, I’d have to say Chief Justice Henry, he was incredible.
LAMB: And Chief Justice Henry is from where?
GHASSEMIKIA: Oklahoma sir.
LAMB: Thank you very much. You don’t have to call me sir. Who else wants to talk about something that you learned this week? Yes ma’am, where are you from?
AMANDA PATARINO: I’m Amanda Patarino. I’m from Colorado and last night we got to speak with NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. and one of the most important things that he taught us was do whatever you do with something that you’re passionate about and you never have to work a day in your life and that really spoke to me to just find something you’re passionate about and you will always enjoy it and it won’t be work.
LAMB: What are you most passionate about?
PATARINO: I’m most passionate about public policy and communications and broadcast media.
LAMB: Where are you going to college?
PATARINO: Either in Colorado or out here in Washington, D.C. I haven’t decided yet.
LAMB: All right, who else has something you want to, my goodness, we’ve got great hands up. Yes sir, what’s your name? Look over here so the camera can see.
DANIEL WAQAR: Sure, I’m Daniel Waqar from Las Vegas, Nevada and one of the things that we, that I learned, I was at the table with, when we were at the National Archives and Records with Senator Susan Collins and I learned about the art of compromise and civility when it comes to politics. So I asked her about the, what her thoughts were on the retirement of her fellow senator from Maine, Senator Olympia Snowe and whether that signaled that there are a lack of moderates in Congress and Senate. She goes, you know, there are highs and lows. There are, I guess it’s kind of a cyclical thing. There are plenty of moderates. There are plenty of people who are willing to compromise and risk their political careers for what they believe in. So I really appreciated that from Senator Collins.
LAMB: How many in this room, I don’t know that high school kids do this, but how many in this room tweeted this week? Yes, it’s big in college but maybe, who had their hand I saw, I’m going to need to go all the way here in the back, who put some of your photographs on Facebook this week? Oh my goodness.
JAMIE ROSEN: Hello.
LAMB: What’s your name?
ROSEN: My name is Jamie Rosen and I’m the delegate from New York.
LAMB: Where in New York?
ROSEN: I’m from the upstate Albany area. We spoke to Congressman Cory Gardner yesterday and I thought that he was a very interesting, it was interesting to hear his perspective seeing as he is a congressman who also was a USSYP delegate and something that he said really rung true within me. He said that there are three types of politicians, the politicians who have run and their main focus to get elected is to continue to get elected, the politicians who run and their focus is to gain as much publicity as possible and the politicians who run because they want to make a difference.
So he said that an issue that our generation will face and something that we could potentially fix is that we need to step up and to say, and to try to focus the attention on the politicians who are really trying to make a difference and that can be us if we raise our voice, not only to help support the politicians who are trying to make a difference, but to potentially become those politicians one day.
LAMB: I have to tell you, you’ve all been here all week, you’re exhausted and I’m not going to point any fingers at anybody but here’s, everybody knows what this is, it’s a little bit of a kick to get you through the day. I’m sure nobody needs that. Who else had their hand up here? How about over at this table? Anybody? Yes ma’am, your name?
ELISE TWOHY: Elise Twohy from South Dakota.
LAMB: Where in South Dakota?
TWOHY: Rapid City.
LAMB: And tell us about your reaction to something you saw.
TWOHY: Well, I’m going to talk about the food. We had, we’ve had amazing dinners, amazing lunches and desserts and my favorite one that stands out, we actually had a white chocolate capitol dome building filled with a chocolate mousse and fruit. I took a picture of that and I put it on Facebook. It was amazing. It was really good.
LAMB: You look like you can get away with eating that chocolate capitol, I couldn’t. So what are you going to take away from the week that might change your perspective?
TWOHY: I think hearing all of the different viewpoints that we all have on the political stuff that’s going on right now really resonates with me and it allows me to be more open in debates and to the other opinions, listening respectfully, being able to present my own belief also in a respectful manner.
LAMB: You don’t have to answer this question. I’m going to ask for a show of hands. You do not have to answer this question. How many of you in the room at this stage in your life think you’re Republicans? How many think you’re Democrats? How many consider yourself an independent? Aah, I love that. Abdul, tell us again where you’re from.
ZACHARIAH: I’m from West Haven, Connecticut.
LAMB: Why do you consider yourself an independent?
ZACHARIAH: Well from, its actually I discovered here that I’m an independent because from seeing all the Republican kids, I kind of agreed with half of what they said. With all the Democrat kids, I agreed with half of what they said. I thought being an independent, that’s a great way to build compromise and everything like that and we need more of that. So if I could ever be in public office, I would want to be an independent because I know I can bring both decisions and both sides together.
LAMB: Who else is an independent that wants to tell us why? Let me get over here, right here, yes sir. What’s your name?
ROBERT CHUN: Robert Chun, I’m from Illinois.
LAMB: Where in Illinois?
CHUN: Around Chicago, Illinois.
LAMB: Where around Chicago, Illinois?
CHUN: Oak Brook, Illinois.
LAMB: Thank you very much.
CHUN: I just generally think it’s important to be an independent regardless of your position on the political spectrum because too often, and this is something that we’ve seen in Congress, people tend to simply follow the party line rather than take for themselves, make a decision based on their own beliefs. So even if you are a right or a conservative or liberal, I think it is important to be an independent at heart so that you can make the right decision regardless of your party’s line.
LAMB: You consider yourself liberal, moderate or conservative?
CHUN: Well I consider myself probably moderate conservative.
LAMB: Moderate conservative, you could be a moderate liberal, moderate conservative, moderate independent, who’s a Republican that wants to talk about being a Republican and why? Aah, this gentleman back here, your name sir, you’re living overseas?
JOHN BONNEY: I am.
LAMB: Your name?
BONNEY: John Bonney.
LAMB: How did you get here?
BONNEY: I flew for a long time.
LAMB: Brilliant, let me ask that question again. Where do you live over there and why were you chosen to do this?
BONNEY: I live in Vicenza, Italy and I was chosen to do this through a selection process and hopefully because I was better than the other people who applied.
LAMB: What about Mom and Dad? What do they do?
BONNEY: My mom is a stay-at-home mom and my dad is in the military. He’s in the Army.
LAMB: OK. Republican, why?
BONNEY: Well, I like the idea of being able to live without too much government interference. I do like the government, that’s why I’m here, but I’ve just, I’ve seen a lot of different governments. I’ve moved in a lot of different places and I just think it’s, there are definitely times when a democratic president is needed, but overall, I lean Republican because I think that it’s best if we could be able to survive without too much dependence on the government.
LAMB: For our audience in C-SPAN land, this is the United States Senate Youth Program. These young folks have been here for a week. They’re 16 or 17 years old, juniors or seniors in high school, chosen two per state and a couple from United States military. Who’s a Democrat that wants to tell me why?
JACOB WALDEN: Well, it’s a complicated thing to decide what party you belong to, but I think the reason I chose to become a Democrat was because I believe that there’s something we can do to improve the lives of people in the united states and the government should not be overbearing in its reach, but it also should have an influence promoting happiness and the welfare of citizens while maintaining the right for them to make their own decisions about life, but also making sure that everyone has an equal chance to participate in democracy and sometimes I believe the government needs to intervene to protect the rights of some citizens that formerly were not able to participate and to promote all those people to achieve the same, equal amount of happiness through equal opportunity and the ability for them to succeed as much as possible.
LAMB: That’s an acceptance speech if you didn’t recognize it. Your name and where you’re from?
WALDEN: I’m Jacob Walden, I’m from Larkspur, Colorado.
LAMB: You are also a Democrat? Tell me why.
JOSH HANSON: I am a Democrat, Jake hit it really well. I’m a Democrat for numerous reasons. I believe in people having a right to have their options to choose without government interference especially on social issues. I am socially extremely liberal. I think everybody should have an option when it comes to anything, abortion, birth control. Fiscally, I’m more of a moderate. I think there are times that we need to spend to help get ourselves out of sticky situations I guess but there are also times when we need to back off and do things and I think Democrats bring that to the table.
LAMB: Your name and town?
HANSON: I’m Josh Hanson. I’m from Wisconsin and I live in Black River Falls.
LAMB: Thank you. We need another Republican to even this off here, to keep it balanced as we say, somebody we haven’t talked to, yes sir, your name and where you’re from.
NATHANIEL MICKELSON: Nathaniel Mickelson, Arkansas.
LAMB: And why are you Republican?
MICKELSON: I believe in the principles originally founded upon. Mr. Lincoln’s party was a group of men that came together because they believed something was wrong and they wanted to fight for what they believed was right. Economically, I agree with those policies and for the most part, I believe some of the policies of the Republican Party today are still those people trying to fight for what they believe is right.
LAMB: Who in this room has beliefs that do not look or sound like your parents and I want somebody to explain why. Yes sir, where are you from?
CHANNING RUFF: I am from Elberton, Georgia.
LAMB: What’s your name?
RUFF: Channing Ruff. Well I have different views from my parents because I’m a lot more moderate than my parents, probably a little bit left on the political spectrum and they’re very conservative because we’re from rural Georgia.
LAMB: But why have you changed?
RUFF: Well, I used to be ultra conservative when I was younger, lost a lot of arguments to a lot of people and started to think maybe on a few of these issues, I might be wrong. On a few of the issues, I believe the Republican Party is right so I’m sort of an independent I guess you’d say and a moderate.
LAMB: Who else disagrees with their parents, living in their homes, taking their food, paying your education, yes sir, what’s your name?
CONNOR RUBIN: Connor Rubin from Michigan.
LAMB: Where in Michigan?
RUBIN: Metro Detroit.
LAMB: You guys don’t realize your city is as important as your state, nevermind. So what’s the difference between you and your parents?
RUBIN: My family is fairly liberal except that my mother is not a fan of unions and I guess I see unions as more of a safeguard in between the people and their employers, much as the federal government is between the people and tyranny where my mother does not.
LAMB: So does that mean you’re going to join a union?
RUBIN: If I have a job that merits it.
LAMB: Who else here disagrees with Mom and Dad? What’s your name and where are you from?
Brandon Wagner : Brandon Wagner from Huntsville, Alabama.
LAMB: And how is the disagreement working out?
Brandon Wagner : Well, as far as they know, it’s fine. I consider myself a libertarian and my parents, especially my mother, hi Mom, considers herself a very strong republican and we’ve had disagreements, especially over the Patriot Act, civil liberties. We get into big arguments about them all the time.
LAMB: What is a libertarian?
Brandon Wagner : Essentially we believe in non-interference from the government in both economic and social issues. Essentially you create a government that only protects from the harming of rights so, but in all other, so I would keep you from harming others in the government, but all things else, they stay out of.
LAMB: Quick show of hands, if you had to vote today, how many would vote for the man you met this week, Barack Obama? Ooh, that’s a little bit beyond our breakup earlier. Who would vote for, we’ll go through this quickly, Ron Paul? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Who would vote for Mitt Romney?
Newt Gingrich? I’m going to come back to that. I want to find out why. What about Rick Santorum? Three or four. And did I miss anybody? OK, I’m sure there are lots of others we could bring up. Who wants to tell me why no one in this room would vote for Newt Gingrich and why you all clapped? That’s what I really want to know. Excuse me, yes sir, your name and where you’re from.
MATT DUCEY: I’m Matt Ducey and I’m from Toledo, Ohio. I just think we all kind of recognize, especially through this week, how important it is to have bipartisanship and have some kind of compromise and Newt Gingrich was kind of the architect of the current political state where there isn’t compromise, where it’s just party line votes and really a lot of hatred and spreading types of bad vibes through Congress so I think we recognize that if that’s what’s going to happen in Congress, we don’t need that to happen in the presidency as well.
LAMB: So you’re not for hatred?
LAMB: Who else wants to tell us? Where, where are we? Oh my goodness, you’re getting me lots of exercise, calorie reduction and all that stuff. Yes sir, what’s your name and where are you from?
MASON HILL: I’m Mason Hill and I’m from Lexington, Kentucky.
LAMB: And why do you think everybody clapped when the name Newt Gingrich came up?
MASON HILL: Well I think Speaker Gingrich has done many things right in his public career, but his presidential debate performances were sort of over the top, especially with some of his peculiar policy beliefs and also I think he just sort of comes off as somebody that’s not ready to, in personality it’s just a very poor fit for the managerial demands of the presidency.
LAMB: While we’re on this subject, I don’t know if you saw the statistics yesterday, but I believe the deficit in February was $229 billion, the highest ever. That creates more debt. Who’s got a view on this and did you get any sense anywhere while you were here this week that anybody is dealing with this problem? I’ll talk to both of you. What’s your name?
PAYTON FINCH: My name is Payton Finch and I’m from Paragould, Arkansas.
LAMB: That’s where my mother was born.
FINCH: Oh really?
LAMB: Hi Mom.
FINCH: Everyone knows we just have the gangster Nash buried there.
LAMB: Yes, Mom’s not buried there but that was her hometown. Anyway, tell us about this debt thing.
FINCH: Well, we’re in some pretty tough situations, but we have to have a comprehensive plan to tackle this and from the views of some of the people we’ve talked to, we’ve seen that some of the parties don’t want to compromise and have a really go get it plan by raising revenue and then cutting spending to a point where we can manage everything. It doesn’t have to be dealt with in the next two years, but it needs to be, have a long term problem.
LAMB: Why does it not have to be dealt with in the next two years?
FINCH: Because sudden changes are never good, but if we have a long term plan, it can be handled very well.
LAMB: Your name and where are you from?
TAYLOR OSTER: I am Taylor Oster and I’m from Bismarck, North Dakota.
LAMB: What’s your take on all of this money that’s being spent?
OSTER: My mom and I have had many debates about this. I personally think that we need to have increased revenue and we need to cut spending. Spending cuts is very important, but talking with some leaders like Leon Panetta, he talked how important it is to be financially sound because if we’re not financially sound, devoting money to national defense isn’t going to be worth it because we’re not going to have any money to devote to it.
So I think it’s really important that we need to get both our deficit and our debt under control because we don’t want to be beholden to anyone. I honestly think, especially going through this week, that we need a tax increase of some sort. It doesn’t have to be a large tax increase, but it needs to be a tax increase nonetheless and we need to drastically cut spending.
LAMB: Do you and your mother disagree on anything and if so, what is it?
OSTER: We disagree on a lot of things. She’s pretty, she’s definitely on the right side of the spectrum and I’m more moderate right. Gay rights is one that we disagree on a lot.
LAMB: Why do you disagree on gay rights?
OSTER: I personally think that they should be able to be legally married, that they should be able to say that they’re married and she thinks that a civil union should suffice.
LAMB: So should we just leave it there and you can work that out when you get home. Let’s go back to this week. You have met the Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts. You have met the President of the United States. You’ve met Leon Panetta. You’ve met the head of NASA.
Susan Collins, who was a veteran of this program, a Congressman who was a veteran of this program, put all this together based on what you’ve observed. I know you have things that you want to say about the week. Can you tell us other, I hate the word things, but other things you’ve learned about the week, about people you’ve met, about watching famous people, your name and town?
MITCH MCMAHON: Hi, my name is Mitch McMahon. I’m from Kansas City, Missouri and the best part of my week and what I learned the most is last night at dinner, me and my good friend Channing over here, we’re sitting across the table and we tend to not stay too political at our dinner conversations much to the chagrin of some of our military mentors, but we were just talking.
We were arguing. We are very, very different as far as our views go on how to, because we were talking about the deficit mostly. We were just talking about how we had different ideas on how to go about that and we were getting pretty heated. I was standing up on occasion, I will admit.
LAMB: Where were your hands?
MCMAHON: Occasionally, I would grab my napkin, did one of these because I just couldn’t look at him anymore. At the end of it, he stood up and he gave me one of these, like an I love you, which we need some more of in politics. We had completely different views, but at the end, we’re like hey, after this we’re going to talk about something else.
We’re still going to be friends. It’s not going to be the end of the world just because we have different views on this and I think that’s something that needs to be more present in our political system.
LAMB: What side are you on?
MCMAHON: I think a big issue with American politics is that we see it as a linear game that’s just either left or right and I see it more, much more as a three-dimensional thing so I don’t like to put myself on a line.
LAMB: Channing right over there? OK, we’ve got to find out what Channing thinks. What do you think of this conversation? Where are you from again?
RUFF: I am from Elberton, Georgia.
LAMB: Yes, we’ve been over this. So what happened last night between you two?
RUFF: He said that he got upset. I usually don’t get upset because that’s usually a sign that you’re losing an argument and its usually a sign of weakness so I stayed pretty calm and pretty collected with my statements.
LAMB: Congratulations, yes, all right, who else? We need to talk to people we haven’t talked to, yes ma’am, your name and where you’re from.
Erika Batiz: I’m Erika from Minnesota. One of the things I learned was when we visited the Department of State and we had a luncheon in the big room up there. We got to sit with, at every table, there was representatives from the State Department and I just learned, that wasn’t exactly as much of a certain theme that I learned as much as just learning about this other side of the government that doesn’t rely upon political parties or elections every two or six years.
It’s something that is consistent thing that varies from administration to administration but they just, I was at the public affairs table and they were talking how they have to convey our foreign policy to people in foreign countries and it was just a fascinating experience hearing about this other side of the political spectrum that you don’t really get to hear about that often in the media.
LAMB: State Department, OK, who else? Yes sir, the man with the yellow tie over here and the red shirt. What’s your name and where are you from?
JOHN CONNOLLY: My name is John Connolly and I’m from Oakmont, Pennsylvania.
LAMB: So what do you want to say?
CONNOLLY: Well, I think one of the greatest experiences of this week was when I got the opportunity to meet both my senators, Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, and just being able to meet them and talk to them and speak, especially with Bob Casey who we spoke to on end 15, 20 minutes just about us and where we want to go, where we see ourselves in the future and to be able to share that experience with someone so powerful and so out of our reach, which is what this opportunity is about, this program.
Being able to see that, it inspires you really to do anything and I mean anything. He gave both me and my delegate extremely wonderful messages in our notebooks and it really inspires you to go be more than you are and that’s what I’m going to take away from this, just the ability to be there with someone that’s so incredibly awesome.
LAMB: Are you from Pennsylvania?
MARIAM AHMAD: Yes I am.
LAMB: What’s your name?
AHMAD: I’m Mariam Ahmad from Altoona, which is significantly better than where he’s from.
LAMB: Do you want to refute what he just said about how joyous he is about his opportunity to meet his senator?
AHMAD: No, I actually enjoyed it a lot. I really appreciated the time that they took out from their busy schedules to come and speak with us and like he said, they wrote us personal messages in our books and talked to us about civic engagement, about college, about our future lives and supporting all the decisions we have, we’ve already made and that we have yet to make.
LAMB: Anybody have an experience where you felt that the person, the celebrity, the official that you were around wasn’t listening to you, didn’t want to pay any attention to you, was self-concerned? Anybody want to go there? I know no one wants to be negative about anything, yes Monica, tell us your name and where you’re from.
MONICA DILEO: I’m Monica DiLeo from Connecticut, Cheshire, Connecticut. It’s not quite as negative as that but I have definitely been asking questions that I hadn’t thought of. One thing that I noticed at home was that all of my congressmen and senators said there’s a lot of partisanship going on in Congress and I’m the one who’s reaching across the aisle and everybody we’ve met here from Congress and Senate has said that and it kind of makes me wonder if everybody is saying that, but it’s not actually happening. Is there a discrepancy between what they’re saying and what they’re actually doing and I had never really thought about that before I came here.
LAMB: I can tell you right now that there are people watching this out there in the country and I’ll just tell you, I know what they’re saying, we’ll get emails. Those kids are terribly na´ve about this getting along thing. They’re terribly na´ve about how hard it’s going to be to solve these problems. What do you say to them because you know, people, there’s a reason why there’s deadlock in this town. Yes sir?
PATRICK MCGLASSON: Patrick McGlasson, Eldred, Illinois, I don’t think anybody in this room is na´ve about how much it’s going to take. I think we just wish that people would take those steps to do it.
LAMB: Why aren’t they?
MCGLASSON: Its easy not to. It’s easy not to change. Changing is hard.
LAMB: What’s the public think then? There’s no such thing as the public, but give us your feeling about that.
MCGLASSON: I think the public as a whole is terribly na´ve about how this process works and how people can get in an elected office and stay the same and not have a need to change because they keep getting reelected.
LAMB: Who else? Somebody else. You had your hand up, yes sir.
BRETT BIEBELBERG: I don’t think, my name is Brett Biebelberg. I’m from Springfield, New Jersey. I don’t think any of us are na´ve and I think that for the most part, the general public underestimates the abilities of high achieving children. I think that all of us are probably people who come from towns where we’re very vocal and we’re probably criticized for being so outward in our opinions and I think that instead of being criticized, we need to be appreciated and I think that people should embrace the fact that not only do we care but we’re so passionate about things and I think that that’s what we need too is to start bringing to the table to get things done.
LAMB: Yes sir, your name and where are you from?
JOSH DUDEN: I am Josh Duden from Kansas.
DUDEN: In Shawnee actually.
LAMB: You told me that.
DUDEN: I did.
LAMB: I forgot.
DUDEN: Me too.
LAMB: Go ahead.
DUDEN: I don’t think any of us in this room are na´ve at all. Actually I think we know something a little bit more, this may be kind of a strange idea, but we were thrusted in a situation for this week with the same number of senators we have in the united states including the honorary chairs and some people represented outside the country and we all were willing to set aside our political views and listen to each other and I think that’s exactly something Congress must learn and kind of take note from what this experience has offered us.
We’ve learned not only from each other but also from each other’s views. You have Democrats, Republicans, Independents and we have compromised and gotten along and that’s exactly what they need to do.
LAMB: Yes, but what happens when they go back and there’s an election coming up in November and the citizens in their areas say we don’t want you to compromise with those people. You hear a lot of that discussion.
DUDEN: Leon Panetta actually mentioned that and he was a big critic of the idea of bipartisanship and he said they aren’t elected here to constantly be reelected, but to make the big decisions that need to be made on Capitol Hill that affect positive change in the nation.
LAMB: Did you know that Leon Panetta started out as a Republican? Yes, worked for the Nixon administration then he switched, yes. Your name and where you’re from?
JENNY GAO: Hi, I’m Jenny Gao and I’m from Des Moines, Washington, close to Seattle. I think it was best put this week when Brian , someone from the White House, came and said, he said a quote and said those who think that they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones that actually do and so while everyone here has radically different or radically similar views, and they’ve been able to talk with everyone about their different perspectives, one thing that we all have in common is ambition and passion and so I think that’s where it really lies in changing the world and making it so that we can all come together and actually compromise and make progress.
LAMB: Where did you get your ambition?
GAO: From experiences like this, from hearing from other people that have just dived in wholeheartedly on one subject that they are passionate about and wanted to change the view so much it’s infectious.
LAMB: I saw a lot of other hands. Who hasn’t talked to us? Oh excuse me, I’ve got to get over here. Your name and your town?
KATHRYN RENTFRO: I’m Kathryn Rentfro from Lincoln, Nebraska. I just want to say to all the people who think we are na´ve, if you call us naive for believing that we can compromise, then you have to also call the founders of our nation na´ve because they set up this government so that we could compromise and so that different political parties could take power and we could switch and balance and compromise and feed off each other. I think it’s very important that we hold that belief, that we can still do that and not, like Mitch said, not take such a linear view of our political spectrum and to really listen and make our government great again.
LAMB: Who else? Your name and town?
JEREMY ALLEN: Jeremy Allen from Oklahoma City. To those who say that we’re na´ve, I think that that whole rhetoric, the whole idea is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The reason that we have this lack of compromise is because people assume that it can’t happen and then changing that paradigm is the best way to change Washington.
LAMB: Hands over here, yes sir. How much time do we have Michael?
UNIDENTIFIED PARTICIPANT: .
ANDREW WILHELM: My name’s Andrew Wilhelm. I’m from Centreville, Maryland. I don’t think it’s being na´ve, I think its optimism. I know I just spent a week with the people in this room, but I think there’s a different feeling than the adults have. It’s an optimism that even though everyone in this room has slightly different views from each other, we’ve still managed to come together and really enjoy each other’s presence and like Chandler and them were saying earlier, coming back together even after a dispute and the whole point of this is to encourage future leaders to go into public office so I think that in the coming years, we’re going to start seeing this partisanship dissolve and more better things coming out of it.
LAMB: You all have these little blue books. Who in the room is known to write the most during this week? There’s got to be somebody who, where, this gentleman over, we’ve talked to him before, but why did they point to you as writing the most?
DANIEL WAQAR: I’ve written the most. I write down quotes, I write down all kinds of things, little T-charts, just everything that I can get from these people because they have such priceless anecdotes and they have such valuable insight in different things, whether it’s humorous, whether it’s serious, whether it’s just insightful, I really do. I’ve gotten a few signatures from people. I’ve gotten signatures from Cory Gardner, representative from Colorado that we talked to, Charles Bolden and then a guy that, a fellow that worked at the White House too. So I think I’ll keep this for as long as possible.
LAMB: Dig into your books and find a quote for us, a quote that you wrote down that moved you during this week. Who’s got their hand up? Gentleman over here in the back, find a couple of these things so we can hear some of the gems that you’ve heard this week. Yes sir, your name and where you’re from.
CHRIS SHEPHERD: I’m Chris Shepherd and I’m from Reston, Virginia. We heard from Brian Kamoie who’s on the President’s National Security Team and he told us, I think he got a question about when it was, when he’d give up his commitment to public service and he said the day I walk through the White House gates and I’m not in awe is the day that I should leave because public service is a privilege and every day should be treated that way. I think that far too often we have public servants who take their devotion to public service for granted and that’s a shame.
LAMB: That’s the second time we’ve heard a quote from that gentleman. Yes sir, what is your name and where are you from?
TIM HEGEDUS: Hi, I’m Tim Hegedus and I’m from Newark, Delaware. Judge Henry who was mentioned before, he was a former chief judge of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and a quote that he said, he was telling a story about this rally that they had and a man was very charismatic and spoke about how everyone should love one another and that’s how we can bring about change. Then a man, a rabbi came up after him and thought about it and said love one another, that sounds good, but it will never happen.
What we can do is follow the law and so that really meant a lot to me because its loving one another sounds really good, but even if we can’t get that done, we should still work together and get compromise done and further different things because we can really follow the law and we can help create laws that will make this society better. So that quote really stuck with me.
LAMB: Your name and where are you from?
OFELIA PINA: from Arizona. Mr. Brian Kamoie, the same man that Christopher was talking about said choose carefully and execute relentlessly and that meant a lot to me because too many times, we find ourselves taking too many things on and not really focusing on that one thing that should be your top priority and that not only happens in our personal lives, but with work, people that work in our government today.
LAMB: What did you do to get picked for this program?
PINA: I filled out an application. I submitted an essay. I took a test and I interviewed.
LAMB: And if you were going to tell others who might want to do this in the future what they need to do in order to win one of these, what would you tell them?
PINA: Know a lot of presidential trivia. There was a lot of questions on there that were very odd, but I mean, just an overall knowledge of how our government works and facts within our government.
LAMB: Who else has a quote? Somebody we haven’t heard from, oh the man with the yellow bowtie, excuse me. Your name?
BAILEY WHITE: Hi, I’m Bailey White from Winston-Salem, North Carolina and we heard from Cory Gardner, he’s a representative from Colorado and he said, referenced a quote by Chris Christie that said it’s hard to hate up close and he was referencing the partisanship in Congress, saying that a lot of times it’s easy to send hateful stuff when you’re not with people and it’s easier to not compromise when you’re actually around people and you’re close together with them. It’s hard to be mean and it’s hard not to work together.
LAMB: What would you tell a person in your high school how to get this next year?
WHITE: You better know your politics. My interview at least was an hour of just grilling me on current events and you have to be reading the paper and knowing what’s going on in the world and I’ve got my iPhone USA Today app and that’s kind of how I kept up with everything.
LAMB: Now I have to have, I’ve got to try to have a moment of ecstasy and this is crazy on my part, and I shouldn’t do this and you’ve got to be honest, I’ve got to ask people in this room, these 17 and 16 year olds, how many of you watch C-SPAN?
Makes us feel pretty good because a lot of audiences that come to town your age don’t watch at all so I don’t know what this means. It means that I guess you’re getting ready to run the world. All right, who has another quote? Yes sir, name and town.
JACOB LEVIN : Hi I’m Jake Levin from western Massachusetts and one of the quotes from Brian Kamoie, White House staffer, that I thought was really exceptionally inspiring was ”once you realize the magnitude of difference you can make in public life, everything else will pale in comparison.” I’ve got to think that this entire week is about public service and everyone we’ve talked to, all the speakers and all of our military mentors are public servants and there’s no doubt in my mind that everyone in this room will make an exceptional public servant one day.
LAMB: You know it’s interesting, Brian Kamoie ought to feel pretty good about this whole thing. He’s getting quoted more than anybody. Maybe you can call him, tell him I want to do a Q&A interview with him and send him down to the studio. Yes ma’am, your name and where you’re from.
MARIETTE ABORN: I’m Mariette Aborn and I’m from Manchester, Vermont. I have yet another quote from Mr. Kamoie and the quote was ”you’ll never quite get everything done, accept it, its liberating” and I thought that that was just kind of cool because everyone this week was saying oh public service, it’s great, its great and all of us are passionate about public service, but we can’t get everything done. So we have to pick a few things that we really are passionate about, not everything. We don’t have to change the world, just a little bit of it.
LAMB: Did he have this written down or did he just talk off his cuff?
ABORN: I think he just talked off his cuff, yes it was really impressive.
LAMB: Have you ever been to Hildene?
ABORN: Yes, it’s one of the great museums in my town. It’s funny, Lincoln was never actually there, but we like to pretend he was.
LAMB: It’s where Robert Lincoln and his mother went in the summertime. Yes sir, your name and where you’re from.
SCOTT SYROKA: I am Scott Syroka from Johnston, Iowa, outside Des Moines. My quote actually comes not from anyone on our itinerary, but from my military mentor, Major Bates. Very early on in the week, he had said ”make an impact without impression” and that was something I wrote away right away. Just because he didn’t really give us any of his background right away on those first couple of days and it wasn’t until we got back to our room that night that we saw whoa, this guy has a PhD, he was in the choir, he has this great resume and everything and it exemplifies that trait that he was trying to get us to accept and everything and just one of the most humble people I’ve ever met and hopefully something I can take back to Iowa and for the rest of my life.
LAMB: All right Major Bates, where are you? Are you here? He stepped out? Tell me when he gets back. OK, where’s, who’s got a quote over here? People we haven’t talked to. Yes ma’am, your name and where you’re from.
HAILEY STEVENSON: My name is Hailey Stevenson and I’m from Austin, Texas. My quote is from Senator Collins from Maine and she said ”do not be afraid to take risks in your life. If I had listened to political experts, I would never be here.” Something that amazed me was that she had never run for any political office ever until she ran for the governor of Maine and I thought that was incredible and she lost but because she believed in herself, she kept going and her determination is absolutely exemplary and she just encouraged us to stand tall for what we believe in and to continue on with our passions and that the sky is the limit and not even that, that we can do anything and she was absolutely amazing.
LAMB: So which political office are you going to run for first?
STEVENSON: You know, I’m not actually sure that I will run for a political office but I do know that I want to change the world. I want to make a positive impact and so possibly it’s still an option.
LAMB: Whose hand up? Yes sir?
CARTER WILKINSON: Yes, I’m Carter Wilkinson from Bozeman, Montana. Charles Bolden, Jr., who spoke to us yesterday and is a former astronaut and administrator of NASA, said everything works out if you work hard and set your sights on the next goal. I think that’s really applicable to especially the delegates here because every one of us is a testament to hard work and passion for the political system and I think everybody in the political system that’s had success or had great influence and even in American society are those that work extremely hard and stay passionate and it’s just, I think it summarizes the attitude that a lot of delegates have in the program.
LAMB: Did you have a quote? Name, town?
PAARTH SHAH: May name is Paarth Shah. I’m a delegate from Horseheads, New York. This is again from Mr. Brian Kamoie. ”There’s never a lack of opportunity or lack of work for those who want to make a difference.” I think in today’s system, in today’s economy, it’s often very difficult. There’s a lot of naysayers who say there aren’t enough jobs, but if you just want to make a difference, if you just want to do the small things in life, you can change the world.
It doesn’t take, you don’t have to be president, you don’t have to be secretary of defense to make a difference. You can be people like you and me today, my fellow delegates, who have done such great things in their communities and who are here today and maybe some of us will become presidents, but the majority of us wont. I hope that each of us can take this experience and make the most of it to do the small things in life and to improve the lives of others.
LAMB: Brian Kamoie, he’s really, this is his magic week, I’ll tell you that. He ought to speak more often. Yes sir, your name and where you’re from.
JOHN CORCORAN: I’m John Corcoran from Rocky River, Ohio, just outside Cleveland. I have a quote from Chief Justice Roberts. He said that ”I rule in favor of a lot of things that I think are just awful” and he was referring to the fact that he often had to put the Constitution before his own beliefs when he was making Supreme Court decisions and that stuck with me because I think one of the reasons our government is so strong is because we have people that will put the Constitution and the meaning of this country in front of their own personal beliefs.
LAMB: Were there any restrictions on you this week when you met with these folks, that the language they used was off the record?
CORCORAN: I hope not.
LAMB: Yes, I bet you, you and everybody else. Yes ma’am, what’s your name and where are you from?
NINA KAMATH: I’m Nina and I’m from San Jose, California. One of the restrictions was that we couldn’t touch Obama, Panetta and a couple of people and we only had limited time for autographs and such. So it was, a lot of times people would run to the front to get the autograph as soon as possible.
LAMB: Were they afraid they’d melt if you touched them?
KAMATH: I don’t know, but I think it was more like security for that person.
LAMB: Somebody else had their hand up. All right, we’re talking quotes now. I want to get as many people involved as possible. Your name and where you’re from.
ASHLEY CHEN: My name is Ashley Chen. I’m from Nashua, New Hampshire. My favorite quote was from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. He said ”it doesn’t mean a thing if you aren’t willing to fight.” That just really stuck with me because all of us have so many amazing ideas, things we want to accomplish, but it doesn’t mean anything unless we take the initiative to go for them and make a change in this world.
LAMB: You think it makes any difference to you that you’re from Nashua, New Hampshire, where they have the primary?
CHEN: Definitely, I voted last year for the first time so that was really empowering and to just be in one of the states that’s in the forefront of the political process is incredible and it’s just taught me so much about political system.
LAMB: Your name and town?
ANNA HARBISON: I’m Anna Harbison from Vestavia Hills, Alabama and my favorite quote this week was from a former united states Senate Youth Program, its actually Congressman Cory Gardner and he said ”you’re not here to be a part of history. You’re here to make history.” I think as lovers of history, all of us were kind of freaking out because we were like George Washington touched this banister and everyone famous has been here, but it’s easy to forget that we are the future leaders of America and we’re the ones who can actually make change. So reminding myself when Congressman Gardner said that, that I can actually make history was the biggest part of the week for me.
LAMB: Does anybody have, I’ll walk over there, anybody have a story in the room about somebody you competed against for this week’s fun and interesting opportunities and what happened to them? What was their reaction? Yes ma’am?
SHIRA LEE: Actually the person I competed against is actually here with me. We have two people from the same town from Wyoming and it was interesting at first because we both went in the same room and the, we had an interview over Skype and they’re looking at us and we’re like, we’ve never had two from the same town. At first, I placed and I had another person going with me but the other person dropped out and he came with. So it’s been an interesting journey together really to finally be up at the top with a friend of mine.
LAMB: Again, your name and town?
LEE: Shira Lee from Cody, Wyoming.
LAMB: Cody, the home of, who’s, what famous man is from Cody, Wyoming?
LEE: Buffalo Bill Cody, he’s a famous cowboy.
LAMB: He is a, and they have a nice museum there too. What about senators, is there a senator from there?
LEE: Al Simpson.
LAMB: Thank you. Where is your partner from Wyoming? Major Bates is here? Do you have anything you want to add to what she said? Again, your name.
CARTER REED: I’m Carter Reed from Cody. Shira and I came to the program together and it was a big deal for Wyoming to be able to have two people from the same town. It’s a great honor and I think we can both be very representative of our state. even though we’re from the same place, we’re able to get an idea of what the whole state of Wyoming is like and we’re able to represent it and I think it’s a really interesting prospect that our senators for the first time got to see two people from the same town and they got to focus on a different group of people because both of our senators are from different places around the state.
LAMB: How many people live in Wyoming?
REED: Five hundred thousand.
LAMB: One of the smallest. Major Bates is over there now. Put up your hand Major Bates. OK, where was the gentleman that talked about Major Bates? Right here. We have to have you quickly restate why he thinks you’re the greatest. One more, what was the quote?
SYROKA: The quote was ”make an impact without impression.”
LAMB: And you went on to say some rather nice things about Major Bates. You pay him very well? Give us your full name.
MAJOR BATES: Major Bates, III.
LAMB: Where are you based?
LAMB: And what message do you want these folks to get besides what this gentleman just said?
BATES: Well the actual quote is from my mentor. He told me to always seek impact, not impression. Impression is what people get from your bio or they look at your uniform and they see ribbons and medals. Impression is what people get when they see rings on your fingers and know you graduated from West Point.
Impact is the personal impression you make on people’s lives. It’s the interpersonal relationship you build with them. It’s the story that they have of you after they leave an engagement with you. So I’d rather people not know stuff about me that leads them to make an impression or make assumptions. I’d rather they know my story and they live that because that’s what an impact is.
LAMB: Where is home originally?
BATES: Bessemer, Alabama.
LAMB: And did you go to West Point?
BATES: I did.
LAMB: Why did you do that? What motivated you?
BATES: My high school counselor.
LAMB: I want to ask the same time, who was the mentor you were talking about?
BATES: It is Barry Price, General Barry Price. He works at the Pentagon and he’s the Director of Army Human Resources Management.
LAMB: Why is he a mentor?
BATES: Because he did that for me. He’s always been an impact in my life. He wrote my recommendation to get in graduate school. He was there when my son was born. He travels across the country to be at engagements for me and with me and I can call him right now and I know he’s very busy, but he will come out of that meeting just to see what I need.
LAMB: Major Bates, thank you very much. This gentleman over here has his hand up and wants to say something.
HEGEDUS: Sorry, I just wanted to talk a little bit about the military mentors in general because we haven’t really touched on them very much, but to me, that was probably the biggest impact of the week. We had 17 military mentors this week who were probably some of the most distinguished military members that we could have ever met and I had never personally met anyone who was a current military officer so I didn’t really have a full impression of how they actually were.
Once we were matched up with our military mentor who actually took us under their wing and taught us so much, the military is really the example of how people from different political views and different situations can really bond together and get things done because they’re all working for the common goal. My military mentor, Captain Tran, was deployed seven times and I couldn’t even imagine myself being deployed once and this man has served our country in seven different places so that really meant a lot to me.
LAMB: Again, your name and town.
HEGEDUS: I’m Tim Hegedus from Newark, Delaware.
LAMB: Captain Tran, I have to ask you, are you originally from Vietnam?
CAPT. TRAN: I am. I was born there and I came over to the U.S. when I was a baby.
LAMB: What were the circumstances that brought you to the United States?
TRAN:: The war in Vietnam was ending and my parents wanted us to get out of the country.
LAMB: What is your message for this group?
TRAN: My message is be humble. I was humbled just meeting them. It’s about them. I learned a lot from them. Hopefully they learned just as much from me.
LAMB: Thank you, Captain . Yes sir, your name and where you’re from.
DUCEY: I’m Matt Ducey from Ohio. Just expanding on what Tim said, yes the military mentors really had a tremendous impact this week and I think just the military in general. The people that are willing to put their lives on the line for this country, I think shows us a lot about what we need in the legislature. If they’re willing to put their lives on the line for this country, then our congressmen should be willing to sacrifice their jobs for this country and I really think that’s what’s important this week and I think we’ve really gotten that out of this and I think when we go on to become the future leaders of America, we’ll take that with us and I think that makes the future of America that much brighter.
LAMB: We have just about two and a half minutes, two and a half minutes, yes sir. Name and town?
EISENHAUER: Patrick Eisenhauer from Hartland, Wisconsin. I would just like to add on to how some people in the country think that we’re na´ve in thinking that Congress would work in a functional way. It was the founding fathers who were bold enough to defy the na´ve people who said a country couldn’t exist by the people and for the people. It was JFK who defied an entire Russian country who had launched a mission into space by directing his NASA administrator to go to the moon. It was Barack Obama who boldly defied the cynics and the stereotype people when he got elected President of the United States.
LAMB: One more back here. Yes sir?
WALDEN: Well I’d like to combine the military mentors and this idea.
LAMB: Name and town?
WALDEN: Jacob Walden, Colorado, larkspur, I’d like to combine this idea of the military mentor and this idea of the great statesmen the leadership the military mentors have offered us. More than any other speech, I think Secretary Panetta really emphasized the spirit of leadership and compromise that we need.
I think Tim said it well by saying that the military mentors have been the greatest speakers that we’ve had. I think Major Bates who was also my military mentor really emphasized that idea of leadership, service and humility and showing that we can rise above partisanship, we can rise above personal differences in order to make a much more substantial effort like Patrick said that people have made before.
LAMB: We’re out of time and I thank you very much for letting us hear your story. Have a great week.