I am interested in getting people to use the healthcare system at the right time, getting them to see the doctor early enough, before a small health problem turns serious.
Higher education is one of few areas where this country competes with the rest of the world and wins. The best of American higher education outstrips any in the world. Look where the rest of the world goes for higher education, for graduate degrees. They come here.
But for me, it is when a student has died. I find the death of a young person the most difficult and painful of times. To explain it to other young people, to see a bright future snuffed out, is just awful. I am haunted by those deaths.
You can't have a university without having free speech, even though at times it makes us terribly uncomfortable. If students are not going to hear controversial ideas on college campuses, they're not going to hear them in America. I believe it's part of their education.
We know the parental support, community support, makes a difference. It's not just the metrics of testing and putting pressure on the schools and on the teachers.
Every year, I am reminded of the kids who aren't in the freshman class and aren't graduating. I remember every single one of them. That is the worst of times for me, to see the future snuffed out.
I have to admit, in January and February I was in an absolute fuzz. I had no one on board. It wasn't that I didn't know what I was doing, but we didn't have all the pieces put together.
The economic dimension is very clear. I was at a dinner party, a mother got up, who's a very distinguished scientist, and said she had to get home and help her daughter with her homework. The two waiters, their faces changed. They were working their second jobs, they couldn't get home to help their kids with homework.
You go to college not only for the latest knowledge but also to meet people from different backgrounds. That's the genius of the American higher-education system compared with the Europeans'. We don't simply skim the elite.
I think anyone that thought that we were coming in as a bunch of liberal Democrats to deliver more large-scale social programs was nuts. I sure didn't expect it.
It's coaches. It's people that are involved in kids' lives at every level, and it's supporting their parents. Their parents need better jobs. So that they can help them with their homework and don't have to work two jobs.
Sure, it is apparent that presidents are looking at polls, but they are also stepping up on issues. President Clinton stepped up on tobacco. He shaped the polls on the tobacco issue.
What you really remember at the beginning was that you have to throw a budget together. We made some terrible mistakes at the beginning in my own budget that took us at least a year to catch up on.
Our young people are out on the streets looking for parties, a place to dance, looking for a scene. No institutions are providing them with alternatives, fun things to do that don't necessarily have alcohol at the center.
I bring other constituencies - I also have ties to minority communities. And obviously, to the world of world-class research universities. So I can bring some constituencies that I'm used to working with.
I think President Bush tried to step up on Social Security even though the polls showed that was unpopular. He has not been successful and backed off, but I admire people who take on big problems.
We need to drive down requirements for the schools. In the 19th century, we increased the quality of the schools by higher education saying, 'You can't come in unless you have these skills, unless you've taken these courses.' We did that in Wisconsin when I was there, it helped to transform the secondary school system.
I would argue that we have a generation of young people, particularly minorities, who are no longer putting up with the kinds of things their parents put up with. They're much more self-confident. It's no longer acceptable to make fun of people because of race or sex. But it has always been present in American society.
I have always hired people of different ages. Young people and older people. People in their 70s and in their 20s. People who are fully capable of talking back to me.
We have to mainstream everybody. No matter what their circumstances when they were growing up. Part of that is knowing that after they're finished with school, everybody in this country gets up and goes to work.