Political strategist Donna Brazile certainly knows how to command a room. In accepting her award as the 2016 Wonk of the Year (WOTY) at American University, she was at times funny, invigorating, and inspirational. The WOTY award honors an individual who is smart, passionate, focused, and engaged, and Brazile epitomized all of those traits on Thursday night.
The Kennedy Political Union hosted the event, and School of Communication professor Jane Hall moderated the question and answer session. The three previous Wonk honorees were former President Bill Clinton, journalist Anderson Cooper, and former first lady Laura Bush.
If you’ve seen Brazile on TV, you know that she’s highly quotable. So it’s best to let her do the talking. Without further ado, here are 10 memorable quotes from Brazile at AU.
1. On her acting performances and political battles: “I’ve appeared on The Good Wife and House of Cards, but after all these years in American politics, I’m probably best suited for the Game of Thrones. I’ve dealt with just about everything this side of dragons. But who knows? This political season is still unfolding. I might be the dragon soon.”
2. On the importance of the younger generation: “When it comes to young people, it’s time that politicians start listening to you. You’re the most optimistic group of people in this country,” she said. “I think every one of you should sign up to run in the next election. And why you? Because there’s no one better. And why now? Because tomorrow is not soon enough.”
3. On dancing with President Barack Obama: “Y’all saw him in Argentina last night putting that move on and doing that dance? Well, let me tell you, I taught him everything he knows about doing the cha-cha and the tango.”
4. Of course, the name “Donald Trump” came up quite a bit: “Donald Trump’s strategy has been to try to mirror the electorate—to mirror their fears, their anger, their animosity, their prejudices. And the media loves it, because it’s outrageous.”
5. About Trump’s relationship with Republicans: “A major political party has been taken over by an alien—a political alien. He’s not one of them. He’s not a real conservative. When is the last time you heard a conversation about the budget?”
6. On Hillary Clinton: “She is comfortable in a small room. She’s not comfortable on a stage with 20,000 people,” Brazile said. “She has to run the campaign that she is comfortable with, and we have to accept the fact that she’s going to run a campaign that is policy driven.”
7. About being a Democratic superdelegate: “This is what we look like,” she said. “Many of us are minorities. We’re members of the labor movement, we’re civil rights leaders, we’re political activists, we’re women’s rights leaders, we’re gay rights leaders, we’re elected officials. We’re super, but we’re not superior.”
8. After a student asked why women in leadership positions get saddled with the “bossy” label: “Be the boss of your future, be the boss of your community, be the boss of this country. I’m looking for more bossy women tonight!”
9. The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. left her distraught, and changed her life: “I knew then what I wanted to do with my life,” she said. “I wanted to work for civil rights and justice and equality, no matter the cost.”
10. On seizing the moment: “This is a wonderful period of time for those of you who love politics,” she said. “To answer the call to serve, to answer the call to lead, and more importantly, to give back and pay it forward.”