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Norman Mineta

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

When I was in the House, people would always ask if I would consider running for the Senate, but you know, when you run for the Senate, first of all, you have got to just raise a lot of money, especially in a big state like California. But I have always felt that when you are in the House, you represent people, when you are in the Senate, you represent interests. And I was always more comfortable dealing with people than interests.
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Norman Mineta

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

"Honey, this is what they are talking about." So she said, "You've got to talk to President Clinton and Vice President Gore. I said, "Yeah. Absolutely." So I called President Clinton. He said, "My inclination is you ought to do this." I said, "Well, I don't want to be diminished as a Democrat or thought of as a turncoat." He said, "No, no, no. We can give you cover on that. Don't worry about it." So anyway, then I talked to Vice President Gore, and he said, "Norm, I want to encourage you to do this." He said, "I didn't like the result of the election, I didn't like the Supreme Court decision, I'm still chafing from this whole experience, but I want to encourage you to do this, because you can be part of the healing process." So the next day, Saturday and Sunday, I talked to over 100 people, including just about every African American member of Congress. African Americans had voted 12 to 1 against President Bush, and if I was in this position, these are all good friends of mine in key spots, I didn't want them pulling the rug out from under me. So I talked to every one of them, and they all said do it, and it was really Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton who put it in perspective. She said, "Norm, we can't slam President Bush for not having a Democrat in the Cabinet, and at the same time, dissuade every Democrat from going on the Cabinet." She said, "You know Transportation. You chaired the Transportation Committee in the House, you know it. You used to always tell us that there were no such things as Democratic bridges or Republican highways. You really ought to do this."
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Norman Mineta

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

On the next day, we had a Cabinet meeting, and Congressman David Bonior of Michigan said, "Mr. President, we have a very large Arab American population in the Detroit area, and they are very concerned about what is going to be happening, and they are afraid of racial profiling," and the President said, "David, you are absolutely correct, and we don't want happening to them what happened to Norm in 1942. On that following Monday, the 17th of September, he had a meeting with Arab American and Muslim leaders at the Islamic mosque and study center in Washington, D.C., in which he said, "We know who the terrorists are. They are not you as loyal American citizens or as faithful followers of the Muslim religion, so don't worry about racial profiling."
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Norman Mineta

Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation

No matter where you go or what you do, always pay back to the community in some form. Now, people don't have to be elected to be in community service or in public service. To me, you could be well read, you could be a voter, but to do public service is an important facet, and so if a person is an M.D., they can still serve as a member of the Health Commission for a city or a county. They can still be doing, being a Planning Commissioner, Recreation Commissioner, whatever, because mayors and county commissions and governors and presidents are always looking for people who are willing to devote some time to public service and take their own background, their own expertise, and share that with the community.
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George Mitchell

Presidential Medal of Freedom

A vacancy occurred on the Supreme Court, and President Clinton told me that he wanted to nominate me to that vacancy. It was very flattering, and under almost any other circumstance, I would have immediately said yes and been thrilled about it. But I told him that I thought we had a real chance to pass health care reform. I'd been working closely with Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island, a Republican, a close personal friend of mine, a really wonderful man and a great senator, and we thought we might be able to develop a bipartisan package. As it turns out, we were wrong -- we couldn't. And my estimate of the situation proved incorrect, and we couldn't pass legislation. But at that time, in the spring of '94, it looked possible. So I told President Clinton, "I'm flattered, and I think I could do a good job. But you can get plenty of people to serve well on the Supreme Court. What's really important is if we can pass this health care reform. It'll be great for the country."
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George Mitchell

Presidential Medal of Freedom

As I told Colonel North in the hearings, people admired his patriotism, his courage, and his loyalty, but he cast the argument in religious and patriotic terms, that if you believe in America, then you must give aid to the Contras, and if you don't, then it's somehow unpatriotic. And what I said to him was that in America people are free to criticize the policies of the government, and that's not evidence of lack of patriotism. In terms of religion, I said that, "Although he's regularly asked to do so, God doesn't take sides in American politics," and that it is possible for one to love America and to love freedom and to honor God, as much as did Colonel North, and still disagree on the policy of aid to the Contras. It is not a case of religion and patriotism on one side and lack of religion and patriotism on the other.
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Mario Molina

Nobel Prize in Chemistry

It's easy to exaggerate problems as well, so we have to be very cautious. We have to always preserve our integrity as scientists. Even though we were advocates in terms of trying to get society to do something about it, we had to continue with honesty, in terms of how to express these fears, for example, to the news media. It's easy to try to exaggerate the problems just to get more attention. So for me, it was very clear that the best way to deal with that was to do the best science that I was capable of doing. Furthermore, to try to distinguish clearly when I was talking as a scientist, in contrast to talking just as a person with value judgments, in terms of thinking that society should do something about it, but that's not necessarily the scientific issue. That's more a conviction issue.
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