Both Sides: New perspective on running the White House from former top aides

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WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Running the federal government and working at the White House is an experience few Americans know intimately. NewsNation spoke to two women who served under recent presidents to get a fresh perspective — Anita McBride and Valerie Jarrett.

Valerie Jarrett

FMr. Senior advisor to President Barack Obama

Jarrett was the longest-serving senior adviser to President Barack Obama. We talked about President Joe Biden’s plans for the country.

“We have a very divided country,” Jarrett said. “It will take a while to diffuse it and to heal the wounds and to have the 70 plus million people who voted for President Trump recognize that they now have a president who still represents their interests and who wakes up every single day thinking about them. And I think what President Biden knows is that actions speak louder than words, but words matter too.”

Jarrett thinks President Biden’s plan for the pandemic is “leading by example,” and praised his use to invoke the Defense Production Act for key parts of the vaccine process.

“That’s been available all along. And he is not shying away from using that resource because of the urgency of the situation,” she said. “Over 400,000 lives (have been) lost. We need to know that the president has given this its maximum attention to put the best people on it. And he has done just that.”

Jarrett also discussed the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, her thoughts watching the inauguration, the historic swearing-in of Vice President Kamala Harris and if Biden will call on his former boss.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 19: President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting of the Democratic Governors Association while Vice President Joe Biden (3L) and Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett (2R) listen at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House on February 19, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci – Pool/Getty Images)

Jarrett talked about her friendship with McBride, who NewsNation also spoke to.

“She’s terrific,” Jarrett said. “She’s a believer that people, when they come together and they listen to one another, they find things in common. And even though we work for presidents on opposite sides of the aisle, we developed a friendship.”

Watch the full interview with Jarrett in the player above.

Jarrett is currently a senior advisor to the Obama Foundation. She also serves temporarily as the foundation’s president, since the former president was nominated by President Biden to be Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Department.

Anita McBride

Fmr. Assistant to President George W. Bush; Director of White House Personnel to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush

McBride worked at the White House during three Republican administrations: President Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

She said Wednesday’s inauguration showed the resilience of America, but also the challenges ahead.

“It’s almost like were needing to retrain ourselves that we can have disagreements without being so disagreeable,” McBride said. “And I think there was one line in President Biden’s inaugural address where he said ‘disagreements should not lead to disunion.’ And I thought that was a really a profound and important statement for Americans to really reflect on.”

McBride said both sides will continue to have “tremendous” policy differences and disagreements.

“I think that the new president has an opportunity to get Americans thinking along the more civil line again, by really reaching out to Republicans,” she said.

McBride also discussed her thoughts on the pandemic, the future of the Republican party, impeachment and how she would advise President Biden to get work done.

Watch the full interview with McBride in the player above.

McBride is currently an executive in residence at the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies in the School of Public Affairs at American University.