From pipe fitter’s helper to CEO of PhRMA.
I was working as a pipe fitter’s helper in a shipyard the summer after graduation from Nicholls, trying to make a little money to go to law school – LSU. And got a call from my state senator who I had helped get elected to ask me if I would come to Baton Rouge and become his aid in the state Senate. I explained to him I couldn’t. I had just taken a job, and they had trained me, and I had bought some safety shoes, and I had an investment in this new job at the shipyard and couldn’t very well leave this early. And I remember getting off the phone and my dad said, “Who was that?” and I told him. And he said, “Well what did you tell the man?” And I said, “Well I told him I’d just taken a job in the shipyard. I couldn’t very well leave.” And he . . . So he walked me over to his bedroom where he had a full-length mirror. And he stood me up in front of the mirror and I was covered with grease and oil from working in that shipyard that day. And he said, “Does that look like a lawyer to you, kiddo?” And I said, “No sir.” And he said, “What are you gonna do?” I said, “I’m gonna call that fellow up.” (Laughter) I called the senator up and accepted his offer, and moved to Baton Rouge and started working in the state Senate as the one and only aid the state senator had in those days. And so doors . . . doors opened for me. And that’s, I guess, what happens in this country. Doors magically open for people of, you know, rather simple means and simple backgrounds. And suddenly you get a chance to do something extraordinary. And it began there. It began with that . . . that four year service as an aid in the state Senate, graduation from law school, and the determination that I wanted a career in politics, and the decision to run for the state House in 1971.Recorded on: 9/11/07