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: When you read the newspaper of watch the news, what issues stand out for you?
Robert Menendez: Well obviously I think what stands out is . . . You know they say the essence of a good story is conflict. And it seems to me that I read a lot about conflict. Conflict in the political sense. Conflict in our society between ethnic, racial and religious groups. Conflict, you know, in our families. And so much of the stories, if you read about them, there’s an element of conflict to it. And so broadly defined, I’d say, you know, of course the issues of the day. You know Iraq. How do we educate our kids? How do we get a quality education? How do we have healthcare for every American? How do we preserve the planet? Those are the big issues, but even within all those issues is conflict. And so it seems to me that what is missing is a combination of . . . instead of talking about the conflict, how do we go about solving the conflict? And also, you know, there’s a lot of good things happening in our communities and in the country. And those good things which can be models of successes, or instill pride, as well as promote a certain positivism for us collectively, they’re missing because they’re not the essence of a good story.