Former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett on finding and learning to listen to her voice
VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Valerie Jarrett, who was the longest-serving senior advisor to President Barack Obama, opened up about her views on the current political climate, the only time she met Donald Trump, and her advice for 2020 candidates.
Jarrett’s journey — from growing up in Iran as a little girl to becoming a single mom in Chicago to ending up at the White House — is chronicled in her new memoir Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Jarrett recalls one of the best hires she ever made that changed the trajectory of her career, when she was working in the Chicago mayor’s office and hired someone named “Michelle Robinson,” who was “tall and elegant.”
Soon, she met Robinson’s fiance, a young Barack Obama, and a lifelong friendship began. “I worked very hard to work their trust,” Jarrett said of her relationship with the Obamas.
Jarrett described the “political landscape today” as “depressing.”
“I think tone does start at the top,” she said. “We look to the President of the United States to be leader, to be a role model, particularly for young people. And … some of the rhetoric has been profoundly disappointing and troubling to me.”
She recalls the first and only time she met now-President Donald Trump, during the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011, a time when she says he was “the driving force behind the birther controversy.”
While her outlook on the current political climate is grim, Jarrett said she is “delighted with the field” of Democrats running for the Oval Office in 2020. “And I’ve offered my advice to anyone who has asked.”
“I’ve encouraged them all to try to … start to spend their time really focusing on what they believe in, you know, what’s their vision for our country,” she said.
Finally, if there is one thing Jarrett said she hopes people take away from her new memoir it is to “take some risks.”
“Calculated risks, but risks nonetheless,” she added. “And get outside of your comfort zone. I think there’s nothing scarier than the thought of getting outside of what’s familiar … and straight. But there’s nothing more exhilarating than that zig zag.”
[CLICK HERE to read a preview of Finding My Voice: My Journey to the West Wing and the Path Forward]
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