NBC News reporter and analyst Chuck Todd sat down with retiring U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka over the summer for a wide-ranging “exit interview.”
Topics included the increase in partisanship (“It’s different. … Partisanships were strong, but friendships were also strong.”), service during wartime (the key difference between the World War II and Vietnam generations was the G.I. Bill) and why he’s leaving the Senate.
“Part of many reasons why I decided to retire was that when I went home in 2011 we had a family gathering,” Akaka said, counting off five children, 15 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. “When I went home there, I didn’t know them. I had to ask their names, who’s their parents, and I thought, ‘ohhh.’”
Any advice for his successor, whoever it turns out to be?
“I feel that since I came here, one of the things I’ve tried to do and I’ve done it as much as I can was to bring about a feeling here of a spirit that comes from Hawaii that we call aloha spirit. Because it opens things up and cuts down fences. It helps people to feel that they need to work with each other.”
Watch the 30-minute interview here.
— Michael Levine