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tv   Commerce Secretary Talks About Role In Biden Administration  CSPAN  January 31, 2022 2:03pm-2:27pm EST

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the c-span network or on c-span now, our mobile video app and head over to for scheduling information or to stream video. c-span. your unfiltered view of government. >> gina raimondo talks about the women in leadership on the private and public sectors. >> good afternoon. thank you for joining us on politico live. i'm excited to be leading our first conversation of women rule this year. i'm joined by commerce secretary gina raimondo. raimondo became the first female governor ovarian 2015 and now is commerce secretary secretary
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raimondo, thank you for joining us today. secretary raimondo: thanks for having me. >> we have a lot to cover, but including the role you played in advancing president biden's signature policy proposal such as the bipartisan infrastructure bill, build back better act and your work on the u.s. innovation and competition act. but first, i want to rewind a bit so you started working in venture capital years ago. you founded the only early stage of venture capital firm in rhode island. you serve as rhode island's secretary of state and were later elected as the first female governor of that state. those tend to be male dominated field even in 2021. is there a story that you can share with us of when you total you were underestimated because of your gender?
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secretary raimondo: as a woman, i have a been consistently underestimated in my career. but it's ok. my view has always been doesn't really matter if you're underestimated. just do the job, produce, be productive, get allies to help you, be productive and effective and eventually after -- what has always been my pattern is after, you know, showing that i could get some things done, then people come around to recognizing i can get things done. i will say it's been very honest as maybe when i was a little younger, i would get frustrated by that. you know, why is that? why am i underestimated?
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i'm just as good, just as talented. and after a while, you just kind of real ice that -- realize that it is the way it is. it is i knowing and frustrating but you just get things done and that's the best way to get over it. >> there are nine female governors currently across the country. why do you think it's been so difficult for women to get elected to the governors mansion? secretary raimondo: you know, i was first elected, there were two female democratic governors in the whole country, me and maggie he'sson in new hampshire. two of us. and at that time, there were only four or five women in total in the country. and i remember going to democratic governors association events and recently, i would be in a meeting and look around and realize that i was with 15 of my colleagues and i was the only
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woman. it's pretty rough. why? i think people are still a little uncomfortable with women being in charge. i think that people have gotten a little more comfortable sending women to congress, the legislative jobs. but when you're the governor, the president, the chief executive, you see in business, too, there's lots of females, c.f.o.'s, vice president of marketing and sales. very few c.e.o.'s. and i think it's just something quite visceral, actually, that people are still a bit threatened by women in this -- during the tough job and it is unusual and which is why i keep doing what i'm doing. because the women who do it, the more typical it becomes, the pleasant threatening it is, the
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more normal it is and we have a pathway for more people to do it. >> speaking of women running for executive office, there's a governors race in rhode island this year as you well know. helena is a friend of yours who is running and nelly who is endorsed by latino victory and nelly woods. it's a wide open race but do you think it's time for rhode island to elect the first latina governor? secretary raimondo: so i'm going to completely bail out of that question. i wish them all the best. >> ok. i had to try there. as we move on to your current role, now as competition -- commerce secretary raimondo -- commerce secretary coming to d.c. president biden trusts you to negotiate with congress on a number of fronts. what's your relationship like with the president?
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secretary raimondo: we come from secretary backgrounds, working class background. i admire him tremendously. now that i've gotten to know him up close, i think he's pretty amazing. he's so patient. he's so dedicated. he's so humble. as the governor, i had to work with a legislature, which is not always friendly to my ideas. and i know how hard that can be. and i just really admire the president's persistence and the fact that he just constantly puts the needs of the american people before his own ego. i think that he -- i think he respects the fact that i was an elected official. i think he respects the fact that i was a governor and an executive and kind of had a political touch and frankly, i'm ready, willing and able to talk
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to anybody in congress any time of day. yes, i think it will advance the president's agenda. >> on that note, is there any woman in washington, be it in the white house or on capitol hill that you found yourself confiding the most in d.c.? secretary raimondo: not particularly. i would say the president has an extraordinary team around him. you know, i think janet yellen has been wonderful for me to work with. i like her so much. i've known her a long time. she's terrific. you know, the women in the white house, i have worked very closely with. so, i just think he has a really good team around him. >> you mentioned you're willing to talk to almost anyone at any point to advance the president's agenda. you're one of the cabinet secretaries who was engaged with lawmakers on the hill regularly around the bipartisan infrastructure bill and as the senate was working on that,
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senator collins described you to me as "a hidden player in the cabinet." and one official told many you're "fluent and republican." so, what do you do to build those relationships with republicans, especially many of whom have voted against or have blocked the majority of biden's agenda? secretary raimondo: yeah. that's very coming, by the way. talk to people. engage people. ask them to their vote. listen to their concerns. and recognize that they're valid. you know, i think that's so important. whether it's susan collins or roger wicker who is a member of my committee. these are really smart people who are in it for some good reason and have valid concerns and smart things to say. i think it's very important to listen to them, respect them, and see if -- where there's common ground. with respect to being a hidden
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player, that's fine with me. i just want to get things done down here. you know, i've lived the life of governor, of being in the headlines every day. this is a different job. and i rather always be known as a workhorse, not a show horse. just putting points on the board. >> staying on the president's agenda, build back better is currently stalled in congress. and a lot of people want to know if the administration is comfortable with the package of a few items, paid for over 10 years as opposed to the last package that was passed by the house. so yes or no, secretary if are you comfortable with that type of package and what items do you think have to absolutely be in there? secretary raimondo: that's the president's call. that is not my call. so i will obviously defer to him on that. but i think he's been very clear, crystal clear. he's willing to compromise. he wants something done.
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the president's priorities are putting things out. now it's time to find common ground. there's enormous support for public pre-k. so also for prescription. we have to circle around those handful of things that are support for and get it done. you're a former governor. joe manchin is a former governor. do you think he's gettable on a revised build back better package? secretary raimondo: i do. i think we will get him and i think this is going to happen. >> do you have a timeline? secretary raimondo: after 10 years in rhode island doing a lot to the legislature, it always takes longer.
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the secretary of the house supported it. it was supposed to take two months. it's been a year and a half. so i don't know. everything takes too long but i feel it would happen. >> is there a certain reason that you think the senator is gettable on this? given what we've seen over the last few months. secretary raimondo: well, he has said. he is publicly on record saying he supports the investments to bring about universal pre-k. you know, he supports the job training. he supports a lot of it. so we know there are large things that he supports and we start, you know, with that and figure out, ok, how do we add on to that? >> i like to move on to the u.s. innovation and competition act.
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it's a big white house project that is before congress. it tackles 'xplain -- supply chain issues. do you think this package provides a stronger argument in the midterms for democrat because of the fact that it -- in an attempt to return manufacturing to the country? secretary raimondo: yes. it is a major national security problem. so to shore up national security and also create tens of thousands of good paying manufacturing job in america, that's why we should do this. having said that, this is good politic. it is popular.
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i think, you know, supply chains, people are struggling right now in their daily lives because of supply chain disruption. a third of inflation is attributable to the increase prices of cars, which is entirely related to lack of chips. right? if we had more chips now, g.m. and ford could produce more cars, prices would come down. that's simple fact. so, yes. creating manufacturing jobs in america is popular in every district in america but also this goes directly to inflation and supply chain disruption, which are the things that we know america is struggling with most right now. >> you've said that this can't wait until i think april or may. does this happen by the time of president biden's state of the
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union address? secretary raimondo: there's no reason it couldn't. there's no reason it couldn't. i don't know that it will. but it's that big of a priority. and there is enormous bipartisan support. you know, it came out of the senate with more than a dozen republican votes. the bones of this bill in the house and the senate are broadly bipartisan. and it's time to get it done. delay doesn't help anyone. the issues won't change the crisis gets worse. >> house democrats are speaking a lot of changes to it. one of the themes of the amendment was racial equity. how is this bill going to help minority communities that are socially and economically disadvantaged? secretary raimondo: it's a big opportunity. i would say whether it is the
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jobs that we're creating through broadband or the jobs that we're creating by fixing roads and bridges or the jobs we're creating by building more semiconductor, manufacturing facility, the administration is absolutely dedicated to ensuring that those jobs will be jobs made available to men and women, people of color, people who inner cities. so the way we will be implementing all of these investments, the manufacturing and infrastructure will be -- i actually am so excited. this is a huge opportunity. the way we implement these
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programs by ensuring that the jobs and the job training go to women go to people of color, go to previously ignored or disadvantaged communities. it is going to be a huge opportunity. >> you know, looming over all of this is the pandemic which i know the administration had said we are hopeful that these jobs will build back better helped by the pandemic. given the staffing shortages that we've seen and the short term damage that it can cause to businesses, do you think the administration needs to do another covid aid package in some form? >> i don't think so. i would defer to the president.
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some folks are still refusing to get vaccinated especially after we know how safe the vaccines are and more testing to which the administration i think is doing an excellent job of accelerating the pace that it gets testing out to folks. >> is there one thing that worries you the most? secretary raimondo: i think supply chain. the vulnerability -- it has been exposed, how reliant we are in other countries, in particularly china, in particularly asia to make critical supply, whether that's health care, pharmaceutical, semiconductors. part of the reason we're in
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trouble is most of the semiconductors we buy come from countries halfway around the world in asia. if you need ventilators and you don't make them in america. so i think that has certainly been highlighted in the administration. it is very focused on fixing that by reshoring and making it more america. i was with the president friday in pittsburgh and that's exactly what we talked about. make more in america. create jobs. deal with the jump balls from the supply chain. i would say the other thing i think an awful lot about is the pandemic exposed just how much women are the backbone of the american economy. -- as teachers, as nurses, as child care providers, as retail
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workers, and how women has been so hurt. -- by child care. women couldn't work and family suffered. and i hope that every american now realizes women are the backbone of the american economy. they -- we can't have a highly functioning productive economy unless women are fully engaged in the economy. and the only way that's going to happen is if we have child care, pre-k, home care, job training for women so women can fully participate. lauren: secretary, i have one more policy question for you and then we're going to do a quick lightning round. so president biden promised during the campaign to decriminalize marijuana and has also entertained scheduling it.
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some businesses don't want to see it descheduled because it would increase competition, creating across state markets. do you think cannabis should be removed from the schedule? secretary raimondo: i don't -- that is so far from anything i've been working on. so i don't have any up days with you on that. lauren: i know it's all china on the brain. so, let's do a quick lightning round wrap-up. secretary, what is your dream job? secretary raimondo: [laughter] oh, my favorite job is being a mom. i can tell you that. i love being a mom. and like being wife to take care of my family. lauren: but do you see yourself? i got to press you, but do you see yourself in the white house in the future or -- treasury? secretary raimondo: no. i love my job now. i love being governor. there's a lot at stake. and i just like -- i'll tell you
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this. i like, you know, being on the field right now. it is such an important job when we have so much to do and there's so much at stake. so whether that is, you know, governor of this job, i just believe so much in public service, especially right now. >> and just take it back to rhode island. what food do you miss the most from your home state? [laughter] secretary raimondo: all the seafood. i really do. rhode island, i'm biased. but we just have the best seafood. i miss it. and all the italian restaurants. i would say rhode island, pound for pound has amazing restaurants. i used to say the best italian restaurants in boston was providence. so definitely, i miss the food. >> i got to get up there. i love italian. thank you, secretary raimondo for joining us for our first women rule conversation of the
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year. we're planning more programming for the rest of 2022. so please follow politico live social media for updates. thank you, everyone, and have a great week. >> c-span offers a variety of podcasts that have something for every listener. weekdays, washington "today" gives you the latest from the nation's capital. and book notes plus has in-depth interviews with writers about their latest work. and the weekly looks at how issues of the day developed over years. and our occasional series talking with features conversations with historians about their lives and work. many of our television programs are also available as podcasts. you can find them all on the c-span now mobile app or wherever you get your podcasts. ♪
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