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If you like Alberto R. Gonzales's story, you might also like:
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Rudolph Giuliani,
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Alberto Gonzales
 
Alberto Gonzales
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Alberto Gonzales Interview (page: 4 / 6)

Former Attorney General of the United States

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  Alberto Gonzales

When you got out of law school, what was your intention, what did you want to do?


I know I wanted to go back home to Houston, so I joined a large firm in Houston. It was a firm that I had clerked at, Vincent and Elkins. It was a very fine firm, and I knew that I would get the best training possible as a lawyer. And so I began working at Vincent and Elkins as a business lawyer. I never had any ambitions to get involved in politics or government service, didn't think about that. But early on, I did get involved in community service in Houston. I realized that someone of my experience, where I was at -- at Vincent and Elkins, a very powerful player in the business and legal community in Houston and in Texas -- that I could have a significant impact, and that people were interested in having me involved in various causes, particularly in the Hispanic community. And so I got involved very early on, joining various groups and serving on various boards. My law firm was very supportive. I think they realized the importance of civic involvement for their lawyers, and so I was able to be involved in lots of groups, and the Houston Bar Association, Big Brothers and Sisters, Catholic Charities, Leadership Houston. There were a lot of groups that I wanted to be involved with, because I realized that that was important, and I felt that, some obligation to try to give back to our community, particularly the Hispanic community, where I saw too many of our kids dropping out of school, and I wanted to be involved in issues and with people that were focused on addressing that problem.

[ Key to Success ] Passion


Alberto Gonzales Interview Photo
What do you think then-Governor George W. Bush saw in you, that he tapped you for public service?

That's a very good question. I often tell the story about the first time that I met with him after I came on board as his lawyer. We had a meeting in Austin, this was a few weeks after he was first elected governor. He and I didn't really know each other. We had met a few times during the campaign. My wife reminds me that I first met him in 1988, when he came to Houston as a surrogate speaker for his father, who was running for president. So I didn't know him, and I was surprised that he wanted me to be his lawyer.



So the first time that I met with him (George W. Bush) in Austin, about a week or so after the election, he talked to me about what he expected, what his vision was, what his goals were as governor. And then I asked him, "Why me?" and he told me that he had first heard about me many years ago, when his father was looking to identify rising minorities in America and bring them to Washington and serve in his administration. And I had come to Washington and interviewed, I think with the Veterans Administration and with HUD, and was offered some positions. But I was at a point in my career at Vincent and Elkins, where I wanted to stay and make partner, and so I said no, and Governor Bush described it that he -- I first got on his radar screen because I had turned down his old man for a job. And we, you know, when you work with someone as their lawyer, if the relationship is right, you really get to know them as a person. You get to see how they deal with adversity and defeats. You see how they deal with victories. Are they modest? Do they learn lessons from experiences? And so I developed a good relationship with this man, and we've been through some difficult issues together, and you know, you develop a relationship when you share those kinds of experiences.


It's been a long road from your boyhood in Houston to the jobs you held in the state of Texas, to the jobs you held in Washington, and now as the first Hispanic Attorney General. Could you have foreseen that journey?

No, I could not have foreseen the journey here. It's one of many great chapters in the story of America.


I travel a lot around the country, and when I was in Texas government I traveled a lot around the state, and there were many people, many people who have similar stories. I mean, it is the greatness of this great country. People that come -- because they come up to me after I speak -- and they say, "My story is just like yours. My parents, you know, they had nothing, and here I am. Everyone in our family has gone to college, and this is what I'm doing." I mean it's a wonderful story. So my story is not unique by any stretch. I mean there are many people in this great country who have come from similar beginnings, and because they've worked hard and applied themselves and have put themselves in a position to take advantage of an opportunity that comes along, they're able to do some wonderful things.

[ Key to Success ] The American Dream


In any life's journey there are setbacks and disappointments. Have you had them, and if so, how did you deal with them?

I'm sure if I sat down with my wife, she could readily remind me of setbacks and disappointments. But I really have been very fortunate in my life. I don't know why that's the case.


I could leave today, government service today, and just thank God and be appreciative and grateful for everything that's happened in my life. It's been a terrific ride, as far as I'm concerned. I've got a wonderful family, a wonderful wife who loves me, wonderful kids, and so it's -- I really do not have any complaints. I wish I'd get more sleep in the job that I do, but to be able to, you know, to walk into the Oval Office and brief the most powerful person in the world on a Supreme Court vacancy, or to be in the Situation Room when the President orders our young men and women into battle, or to walk into the residence and give the president a piece of paper that you drafted for him to sign -- a piece of paper you know is going to be analyzed and reviewed by historians for years to come -- that's some pretty good stuff, and so I've got no complaints.

[ Key to Success ] Passion


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This page last revised on Jun 29, 2013 17:40 EDT