The woman who’s become Hillary Clinton’s top foreign policy advisor, after previously serving as President Obama’s expert on Asia-Pacific relations, said she’s always been dedicated to public service.
Laura Rosenberger said someday she’ll “get a life,” even though few in her inner circle believe her.
The woman who’s become Hillary Clinton’s top foreign policy advisor, after previously serving as President Obama’s expert on Asia-Pacific relations, said she’s always been dedicated to public service. It’s a trait that dates to her Jewish upbringing in Pittsburgh, where she came to realize how fortunate she was compared to others in this country and throughout the world.
That’s largely why, in the words of the song from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, she “cain’t say no.”
“My family jokes with me they’re going to stop listening every time I say I’m going to slow down in my next job, because I never have,” said the 37-year-old Rosenberger, who was in Philadelphia last month to speak with Clinton supporters. “I have a very hard time saying ‘no’ when asked to do things to serve my country.
“Service is very important to me, and when you’re asked to serve by somebody at a senior level, it’s very difficult to say ‘no.’ At this point, my focus is on Nov. 8, and if it doesn’t come out right, nothing else matters.”
To that end, she’s devoting her energy toward the woman hoping to become the nation’s first female president. That includes prepping Clinton for the recent “Commander in Chief” interviews on the USS Intrepid on Sept. 7, where NBC’s Matt Lauer grilled Clinton on foreign policy.
She’s also playing a key role getting Clinton ready for the presidential debates.
“Any time there’s something on foreign policy, I’m very involved,” said Rosenberger, who lives in Washington, D.C., although she’s usually somewhere on the road. “It’s a process.
“We do a lot by phone, but we also send out briefing materials and papers. She gets updates on world events from us. Obviously, as we’re heading into crunch time, there’s a little bit more intense of a pace.”
Rosenberger was a senior at Penn State considering her options when the 9/11 attacks occurred. After that, her direction was clear.
“I’d been really interested in domestic policy issues and efforts to combat violence against women,” said Rosenberger, an avid Steelers’ fan, who was born nine days after Terry Bradshaw & Co. won the 1979 Super Bowl and keeps a “Terrible Towel” in her bag. “But I was also really interested in foreign policy issues. I was kind of at that point where you need to make a decision about your career path.
“Then, on Sept. 12, I woke up and said, ‘My decision’s been made. I need to do whatever I can to make sure this never happens again.’”
That led her to spend time as a graduate student at American University of Kosovo following the Third Balkan War. Next she turned her focus to Asia, starting in Korea and then expanding throughout the region.
“I ended up launching into a nine-year focus on the Asia-Pacific region,” she explained. “I worked for the president at the White House for two-and-a-half years. When I was working on Asia, I was involved with a number of meetings he was in with the Korean and the Chinese presidents. And I was in the national security office and many meetings with him in the Situation Room.”
Now she’s taken that expertise to the Clinton campaign. While that’s her prime focus, she’s never forgotten where she came from.
“I believe in making the world safer and more secure because I believe in social justice,” she said. “A lot of that is informed by my Jewish upbringing and what I see as a Jewish approach to the world.
“Passover is my favorite holiday. The story of Passover teaches us [that] having been slaves and an oppressed people, we have an obligation to help root out oppression and slavery all over the world.
“We remember that we were slaves because we remember how fortunate we are as a people. But with it comes a responsibility. For me, that is kind of the core guiding principle of my life.”
It’s also why she doesn’t consider herself special.
“Gosh, the idea of thinking of myself as a role model is a funny way of thinking about things,” said Rosenberger, who, having visited Israel, does feel a connection. “I just do what I do because I feel passionately about it.”
But Laura Rosenberger does have one regret. “I have not been to a White House Seder,” she admitted.
If things go the way she hopes Nov. 8, perhaps that may change.
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