Bob Menendez grew up the son of immigrants in a tenement building in Union City. A product of New Jersey's public schools and a graduate of the state's universities, he has served as a school board member, a mayor and a state legislator. Since 1992, he has been fighting for New Jersey families in Washington, where he rose to become the third-highest ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives before taking office in the Senate in 2006.
In Congress, he has fought to make health care more affordable for New Jersey's families and to improve schools so they prepare our children for a successful future. Now he is fighting to make college more affordable for the next generation of leaders. After September 11, 2001, Bob earned national recognition for his leadership in reforming the country's intelligence and public health systems and for fighting to establish an independent commission to investigate the terrorist attacks on our country. Today, he is working to improve the security of our bus, rail and public transit systems.
Elected by his colleagues in 2002 as the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Bob Menendez became the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congressional history. He previously served as the Vice Chairman of the Democratic Caucus and has led key Task Forces on Education and Homeland Security. After being appointed by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, Bob was sworn in to the Senate on January 18, 2006. In November of that year, New Jerseyans elected Bob to serve a full six-year term as United States Senator. He currently serves on the Senate Committees on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources; Budget; and Foreign Relations. Bob is also the Chairman of the Subcommittee on International Development and Foreign Assistance, Economic Affairs, and International Environmental Protection.
Question: Do you have a political philosophy?
Robert Menendez: I do. My political philosophy is rooted in the belief that when one of us is left behind, all of us are diminished. And it probably can best be exemplified in the words of . . . I believe it was Hubert Humphrey who said a society is judged by how we treat those in the dawn of life – our children; how we treat those in the shadows of life – those who have some disability, or affliction, or other challenge; and how we treat those in the twilight of life – our parents and grandparents. And so that view that we move together as a nation, but when we leave people behind we are all diminished is one that instructs me – personally speaking – in terms of what I both believe that politics, and public policy, and government should be about.
Recorded on: 9/12/07