FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2022
Former Chiefs of Staff Reince Priebus and Thomas “Mack” McLarty shared stories about their time at the White House Wednesday during the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) 2022 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle—himself a veteran of the White House as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush—moderated a discussion between the two.
Priebus, who served under President Donald Trump, and Clinton veteran McLarty both served as the first chief of staff for an incoming administration, which comes with its own challenges, primarily hitting the ground running when it comes to running a government.
“I went down to my office down the hall from the Oval Office, and there was nothing but a Bible verse on the table, left by Denis McDonough, and a password for the computer,” Priebus said. “That’s it. No lessons, nothing. You’re running the federal government, you’re the White House chief of staff, and it’s day one.”
McLarty said he considered one of his chief responsibilities to stay grounded, remember the mission, and keep focused on the goal at hand.
“Part of any effective diplomacy is just human relationships. You have to have some measure of a relationship—hopefully a friendship but certainly respect and trust—and that takes some time to build,” he said.
Both men, despite being heavily involved in opposing political parties for most of their lives, left the audience with a call for bipartisanship.
“When we put the idea of America on the line, I would venture that everyone of us would step up to the plate and lock arms, and none of us would worry if we’re Republican or Democrat,” Priebus said.
“If you look at national challenges, whether hurricanes, or floods, and you look at ordinary men and women, coming together to help their neighbors, no one is asking, ‘Are you liberal or conservative?’” McLarty said. “People just come together in the best way to truly help their neighbor. That’s America at its best, and that’s who we really are.”
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