Interview: President Clinton, Finchem, McCallister

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January 17, 2013

BOB MARRA:  Good morning, everyone.  My name is Bob Marra.  I'm the Executive Director and CEO of the Humana Challenge.  It's great to have you all here on this very beautiful warm and very special day. 

On behalf of the tournament staff, it is my honor to introduce our tournament partners and I want to tell everyone here that we're very proud to be working with this great team and you've all seen the results over the last couple years of what's happened with the tournament. 

So I would like to start by introducing President Clinton, who will be up here joining us and thank him for being with us.  Also commissioner Tim Finchem will be talking with us today and then Mike McCallister, the Chairman of the Board of Humana will come up now and say a few words.  Thank you. 

(Applause.)

MIKE MCCALLISTER:  Thanks, Bob.  We're really thrilled to be here it's been a great couple of years as we have gotten involved with the TOUR and the community.  It's been terrific.  Before I get into that my comments I do want to introduce the new CEO of Humana, Bruce Broussard.  Bruce, do you want to raise your hand.

(Applause.) 

You know, we have talked a lot about this week and basically we think of it as a week of well being with a side of golf and actually both parts are equally important.  Several years ago, when we decided to pursue this idea of beginning to change the conversation around the nation's health and well being we were looking for platforms and a way to do that and then Tim called me one day and said I have an idea, how about this.  And that brought us here today and last year. 

So it's been a terrific start to the process, the President has stepped up and he's always had a lot of passion for the subject.  It's been great to be involved with the health management conference and to be a part of all that.  We're in the process of building on last year's success.  We're pretty pleased with how things are going so far this year.  We are into it for about an hour and a half and there's been no wind, so that's a good start. 

(Laughter.)

We had a 68 percent increase in attendance last year which was a nice bump.  We had actually outside of the Majors we had the sixth best field in the PGA TOUR, so that says an awful lot about the new start here.  From a wellness perspective, we had 84 million steps taken in this community the last year.  It was a remarkable thing.  We have really been driving this idea of getting up and moving and fitness and pedometers and all that sort of thing and it was terrific to see the community step up and do that.  We had a record two million dollars last year that went to charities around the community and we're really glad to do that.  It's all part of this.  It's been a foundational thing for the PGA TOUR for years and for our company. 

Later in the year we received the Sports Event of the Year, which was is remarkable, given some of the competition we had, such as the Super Bowl and other things. 

And then I think basically we walked away last year with the idea that we could use this platform to really change the conversation and we're really thrilled with how that has gone.  We want this year to be bigger and better.  We're pleased to be here and we're looking forward to a long relationship with the community TOUR and the Clinton Foundation.  So thank you very much. 

(Applause.) 

And Commissioner Finchem, it's all yours. 

COMMISSIONER FINCHEM:  Thanks, Mike.  Good morning, everyone.  Just a few comments and then I'll introduce President Clinton. 

From a PGA TOUR perspective we obviously couldn't be more pleased with what's happened this week and with this tournament.  This tournament, going back to the mid 1960's, was one of the tournaments on the PGA TOUR that really drove the notion that this platform could really be used to do huge things for charitable purposes and to help people.  Bob Hope, the relationship with the Eisenhower Medical Center, it just grew every single year and given the attention that it got, because of Bob Hope and the celebrities he brought here really sent a great message to the rest of the country about what can happen.  And of course today in the last, next year we'll announce getting to the two billion dollar level in charity giving.  The second billion coming in the last eight years.  So significant growth. 

Now, as we moved away from Bob Hope's period, but to an era where we're recognizing and remembering his contribution, we have great partners.  We have a lot of great title sponsors on the PGA TOUR.  The best ones are the ones that really get engaged, they take advantage of all the elements of the tournament, and that's certainly what Humana has done and is doing here. 

Including, and maybe most importantly, the idea that the message that gets created here in terms of wellness and fitness and the impact it has on our long term aspects as a country is so important that it can be carried across our platform and reach decision makers all around the country. 

But they're a great sponsor and they're helping drive a new enthusiasm here. 

The Desert Classic folks who have been doing this tournament for decades are great partners to help with the operations, but the Clinton Foundation and the involvement of President Clinton has been very, very special indeed. 

Every single week our tournaments give a hundred percent of their net proceeds to charity.  We have 90 some tournaments on three tours, they all do that.  But here you have kind of a different level with the President, his Foundation, and this conference and the messaging that comes out of the conference.  It really sends a stronger message in terms of what can happen when PGA TOUR golf is combined with an effort to really change things. 

And the President's personal commitment, his personal time to this week, to the sponsorship that leads up to the conference, to bringing people the best and the brightest minds in our country on these subjects here together is very, very special. 

Certainly from a PGA TOUR perspective, Mr. President, we owe you a debt of gratitude for that, but we also look forward to what can really happen here.  What can really develop out of this unique partnership between Humana, the Clinton Foundation and the PGA TOUR. 

As I bring the President up, I just want to go back a little bit.  In 1992 the President was elected.  In '94 he hosted the teams from the first Presidents Cup at the Whitehouse in the format of a state dinner.  An incredible experience for the players who played and the captains who were involved.  After the dinner, there was music in the East room, and a little bit of dancing for the teams and their wives.  And as the night went on at one point Hillary Clinton came over to me and she said, commissioner, if you want your players to play golf tomorrow, you need to get them on the bus, because my husband is not going to bed as long as they're here. 

(Laughter.)

And so nothing's changed.  As I watched him out talking to the players on the driving range this morning and practice area, and talking to the amateurs, nothing's changed.  He then was the chairman of the Presidents Cup in 2000.  He's attended numerous Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups.  Most notably perhaps at the K Club in Europe when, after the last group went off, we looked up and here was the President, former President of the United States walking down the middle of the first fairway and getting more attention than the players who were playing in the Ryder Cup. 

But he's been a great supporter of what the TOUR's all about, the individual players that play it, the charitable aspects, and we couldn't be more pleased with his partnership and with that I'll give you President bill Clinton. 

(Applause.) 

PRESIDENT CLINTON:  Thank you very much, Tim.  First, it is true that I would have stayed up all night with the golfers when I was President.  When I hosted the Ryder Cup team when Tom Watson was the captain of the team, he was 49 years old weighed 155 pounds and was still in the Top 20 in driving distance on the TOUR.  And I never will forget he gave me the best political lesson I ever got from a golfer.  And practically the best political lesson I ever got from anybody.  He said, let me see your grip.  He puts a driver in my hand.  He said, first, he said it's too tight.  He said, all average golfers grip the club too hard.  He goes, here's my grip.  He holds the driver, and I just took it out of his hand. 

And he said, now, he said, let me see your grip again.  He said, golf is the way politics is.  If you're grip is too far to the right, you're going to get in trouble on the left.  But if your grip is too far to the left, you're going to get in big trouble on the right. 

(Laughter.)

The trick is for your grip to be just right. 

Worth remembering in these days. 

I wanted to say, first of all, how grateful I am to Tim Finchem for giving Mike McCallister and Humana and me and our Foundation the chance to be a part of this great tournament which Bob Hope sponsored for so many years.  It's been a real honor. 

How thrilled I am that the new format, and perhaps the new emphasis on health and wellness, have continued to improve the quality of the field.  Actually, our field's a little bit stronger than it was last year and I wasn't sure we could do any better, because as all of you know we're in competition with the Dubai Classic. 

So I'm grateful.  And I'm grateful that Tim has supported these year round activities trying to, first, highlight the health care work and promotion that many professional golfers and their spouses are involved in already and trying to get more of them involved.  This is a very big deal.  I think that it's sort of heightened awareness of what a lot of them are already interested in. 

Just in the last few weeks I've spent rather extended amounts of time with our last year's winner, Mark Wilson and his wife, Amy; and Phil Mickelson and Amy at their tournament for the Wounded Warriors.  And Notah Begay came to our health care conference again this year and as a lot of you know he's been uniquely active in Native American health care issues. 

So I think that we're going to try every year to do a little more to more fully integrate what we do with this health conference with what the golfers and the PGA as a whole are doing. 

Secondly, I'm very grateful that Tim and Mike participated in the conference.  But this is something that the golfing world should be proud of:  That conference would not exist if it hadn't been tied to the beginning of this tournament. 

When we had the conference two days ago, the people who came there made commitments worth more than a hundred million dollars that will benefit the health and wellness of more than 25 million of our fellow citizens, with a special focus on the Valley here, and what could be done to first of all integrate the efforts we have already made in the schools with the retired population and everybody in between. 

I think that's good for golf too, by the way.  I think that the number of golf rounds tapering off indicates that a lot of the biggest golf fans think when they get older they should slow up and indicates the trouble to the economy. 

But if we're going to promote health and wellness, all you have to remember is that Gene Sarazen was still hitting the ceremonial first ball at the Masters when he was 92 years old; and Gary Player drove the ball about 280 yards I think today on the first tee at the age of 77. 

So I think this is all good, that it's all working together, and our foundation's part of it, at least, we're just trying to get better every year.  I think our demonstrations are better, we have got an interest    we're going to have some chefs and cooking available over at our tent.  Go visit. 

We are using a bigger version of this remarkable technology that a 14 year old boy I heard developed.  He and his mother decided they weren't drinking enough water and if it were fruit flavored they would, it would taste better; and they could hardly drive around town with a big jug of orange juice and then figure out how to mix and strain it and everything. 

So he actually devised a little machine that would do that, that every kid could take to school.  And so you will see a bigger version of that if you come to our tent.  Along with the memorabilia that I had and that Bob Hope Foundation has given us on golf. 

So we're trying to put this together, we're trying to get better, I think we're better this year, and I think we'll be better next year on the golf side and on the health care side.  And I think we'll be more, we've intelligently integrated every year as we go along.  And along the way, if you have any good ideas, we would be glad to have them.  Thank you. 

(Applause.) 

MARK STEVENS:  We're now going to open it up to questions.  Just a reminder we have a being microphone on both sides. 

Q.  Mr. President, just to get to the really important things, what's your stance on the proposed ban on the long putter? 

(Laughter.)

PRESIDENT CLINTON:  In a totally selfish way, since I have never    I actually am one of those guys that ought to benefit from it, because I have a condition that sometimes you get with aging.  You may have noticed that my hand has a little tremor when I'm tired.  And a lot of people do when they're older. 

First time it happened I had to go get myself checked to make sure I didn't have Parkinson's.  And I was so relieved, I didn't care how much it shook after that. 

(Laughter.)

But I've never been able to figure out how to use one of those things.  So I don't care. 

(Laughter.)

But on the other hand, a lot of the golfers, including a lot of the younger golfers, really like it.  And I just don't have an opinion about what    the only thing that would animate the rule is whether it gives some people an unfair advantage or whether it sort of changes the character of the game. 

I remember, see, I'm old enough to remember, the first change I remember is when Sam Snead started putting between his legs.  Do you remember that?  And it was legal for a while. 

And once I got over 40 and my vision started to warp, and my lens started to flatten out, I got it.  I mean, if you let me putt that way now, I would make three times as many putts of 10 or 12 feet.  Even if just with one hand, even if I didn't do something clever with two hands, just throw it up there.  It's stunning the difference it makes. 

So I just trust the PGA to do the right thing on that.  I don't have an opinion.  And it won't affect me, because I can't figure out how to do it anyway.  And for those that love it and do it, I'm sorry, but I can't weigh in, because I don't know enough to have an informed opinion. 

Q.  Mr. President, a lot of times in this tournament through the years we have heard golfers were intimidated by the entertainers they were playing with and the entertainers were intimidated by the pros.  I noticed you walking along the range today.  Do you get the impression some of these guys are intimidated by your presence here?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:  They might have been last year, but when they saw how lousy I was on the golf course, I think they got over it in a hurry. 

(Laughter.)

There's some of that, but I think that the amateurs are way more intimidated by playing with the pros.  It's probably, it's a little different for the ones that are really good.  Like we got half a dozen of these amateurs that average the same distance with the same level of accuracy off the tee as most pro players do.  And they're just looking forward to it. 

It's just fun to them to see if they can bring, at least for one round, the level of concentration and combined skills that they only have occasionally that the field has every day.  It's a different deal. 

But if you're just an average golfer, it's an overwhelming prospect.  You see Gary Player is out there at 77, hitting a ball 60 yards further than you ever will at any time for the rest of your life, and you're thinking, why did I join this field and give this contribution and do all this stuff and what was I thinking.  I mean, you know, it's pretty scary for them. 

But it's good, because most of the players, particularly in this format, interestingly enough, when they change who they play with, and when they, there's no sort of even subconscious resentment that we might be messing up their game by making them stick with the amateurs virtually to the last day; and then having three amateurs and one pro.  You know, with two and two you can, I think a lot of the amateurs who are friends of mine told me last year that they were, they had done these things a lot, and that they love this format because they felt that the players had plenty of time to concentrate on their own game and still a little time to relate to them and to calm them down and to make them reassured that it is okay, they don't do this for a living, they don't have to hit the ball 300 yards, they don't have to par every hole, they should relax and shoot the best score they can.  So, but my guess is that the intimidation factor wears way more on the amateurs than the pros. 

Q.  If I wasn't a cynic I guess I wouldn't be a reporter and quite honestly last year both Health Matters Conference and this tournament exceeded my expectations.  And this year it was clear that the Health Matters Summit, that it wasn't just a pep rally last year, that real progress had been made.  Has the success come quicker than you thought it would be?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:  No, but I would say that it's been a bigger jump.  Last year I was really pleased with what we did.  I think that Mike would agree that this year's conference was probably twice as good as last year's.  I rarely have seen this much improvement, but I think what it reflects is the, besides the fact that we have all been working hard on this, what it really reflects is everyone knows this is a big deal.  They know we can't keep spending more of our income on health care.  They know that the baby boomer retirement alone could make us do that. 

They know that already we have paid a terrible economic price for it, as well as an enormous human price in the loss of our loved ones, or their capacity, at premature ages. 

But, boy, it was a, you know, it was just so much better this year.  And then I saw this field and I realized we were up against this competition from oversees, and I thought, oh, this field is going to be very hard for us to make it any stronger, but the strength has actually gone up some. 

So I would say what has surprised me is how much better it got, how much quicker.  And a lot of golfers that have gone out of their way to ask me are golfers, in the case of this TOUR, golfers wives have gone out of their way to ask me, about how they could get more involved because of what they're already doing. 

So I'm hopeful, I think this is    maybe we just met at a moment in time when we all needed each other and we're going to wind up doing a lot of good because of it. 

Q.  Yesterday you got a chance to meet one of our local sports stars Timothy Bradley.  Now Tim was surprised and flattered how much you knew about him and he said you guys had a good conversation about your vegan diets.  Could you expand about how you got to know about Tim and also some of the notes you guys shared about your vegan diets. 

PRESIDENT CLINTON:  Well you know when he beat Manny Paquiao in that rather controversial fight.  I get around, I have a lot of friends in the Philippines, I have a lot of Filipino American friends, I knew him.  And I didn't know Bradley, but I was very impressed with how he performed.  I mean, really, he acquitted himself I thought rather well.  And so I started nosing around, just asking about him and I read a few things about him on the Internet, because I knew Manny. 

So then we get to the school yesterday that we were touring to see what they were doing, and primarily it was to meet with the Desert Charities group and the hospital people, but we were at a school that is participating in this health initiative.  So I was touring the school and we were looking at a chef there whose doing amazing thing by the way.  Those of you who are from around here will be impressed by this. 

All these elementary school kids are around three sides of a big square, at separate tables and they have baskets of apples in front of them, at least 10 different varieties, all grown here in the desert.  And the chef and her assistants had apple dicer that would cut them up in chunks safely and they taught the kids how to do that.  And then they were proceeding to make something when I had to go. 

But since you're from this area I'll tell you.  So the woman says, okay, now it's history and geography time.  In a health class.  She said, how many different varieties of apples are there in the world?  And one kid said I think it was 5,600.  May have been more.  And it was the right answer.  Whatever it was.  Some massive number.  I had no clue. 

Then she said, how many in America?  And nobody got the right answer.  She said 2,500.  Did you know that?  Different varieties of apples. 

Then she said, look at the map, this is where they started, up over the Black Sea, and they go through all this. 

It was stunning, these kids were learning all these things by trying to find out how to eat healthier. 

So then we go outside and they said, you know Bradley is a father of one of our students, he's out there leading all these kids on this huge athletic field walking or jogging around. 

And I said, oh, I got to go meet this guy.  It's amazing, that fight was amazing, he's amazing.  And it wasn't on the schedule.  They all looked at me like, what is he doing? 

(Laughter.)

I said, I want to go meet the guy. 

So I met him and I said, how's your vegan diet going?  And he said, how did you know, and I told him.  And he said, how are you doing?  I said, well, the worry I have is when you're over 60 you lose muscle mass anyway and you got work out like crazy just to stand in place.  So if you lose the iron and the B 12 and the other stuff, if you go in a strict vegan diet you got to figure out how to replace it. 

And so I said, do you take B 12 shots?  I said, my doctor tells me to.  He says, yeah, he says, I take them two or three times a week when I got a fight coming up.  But he said you need it.  So we had this long talk. 

But what impressed me was this guy that's won this amazing fight, he beat one of the most outstanding boxers I think of the last 50 years in his weight class, and he was there doing what he should have done, taking care of his child and his child's school and the welfare of the families who may not have someone who have a job like him who have the time to do that. 

That was a big deal to me.  There were no headlines there, nobody knew he was there, as far as I know.  If I hadn't gone over to see him, there wouldn't be a story there.  But there he was.  And I was more impressed by that than I was by what he did in the ring. 

Q.  With all of these great ideas that have come out of the conference and out of this Challenge, how do you take those ideas and actually turn it into something that helps the country?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:  Well, first of all, the answer to that is two fold:  First of all, we try to get people to make specific commitments around the best suggestions that come out of the conference. 

So what you saw with the specific commitments that were made in this conference, as I remember there were more than 30 of them, is that correct?  Val?  More than 30, right?  This year. 

So as I said, I expect we'll get    we work on this year round    so I think we'll get a lot more commitments in the, over the course of the coming year, coming out of this conference.  Virtually all the commitments that were made this time came out of what started a year ago.  So we do that. 

The second thing is we pick two focus areas here in the Valley and one in Little Rock where my Presidential Library is and my School of Public Service, and a big AmeriCorps Volunteer Center.  And we're going to have more as we go along, but we're trying to make places that are small enough to make a difference and big enough and diverse enough to be held up as examples that the rest of the country could implement. 

That's the amazing thing about the Valley, you have so much ethnic and income and age diversity here as well as the diversity in what people do for a living that, but it's not so big that a bunch of volunteers and NGO's in companies will say, I can't, that's way beyond me. 

And you have really strong community institutions.  You have these schools that were over the moon about participating in this; and you have the health care networks and businesses and all the mayors and everything. 

So our goal is to do two things:  To build on the conference and get new commitments; and to use the community model to prove that, if you put all this together, you can lift the well being of people of every age and income and ethnic background.  Thank you. 

Q.  Since President Obama owes you so many favors, are you going to bring him with you next year?

PRESIDENT CLINTON:  Listen, I would be doing him a favor if I brought him here next year.  He has become a total golf nut and, you know, he never got to play very much before.  He doesn't play all that much now, but he does on a regular basis. 

And we played 13 holes at Andrews Air Force Base the other day, before he had to leave as a result of being re elected and getting ready for the Inauguration, the legislature coming in and everything, the Congress coming in. 

And he had the lowest score by far he had every shot at Andrews, he was five shots ahead of me after nine holes.  But I'm older, I start slow and pick up. 

So I picked up four of those strokes in the first three holes of the back nine and after, so I'm only 1 down, and he leaves at 13 he says, got to go. 

(Laughter.)

I said, hey, you're talking to somebody that's had this job and made that excuse. 

(Laughter.)

But I said, as it happened, we were playing partners, so I wanted him to shoot well. 

But I think I, I think he would love to do that.  And he's talked, he is aware of some of the initiatives going on in schools because of what Michelle Obama has done on the school health front. 

And I would like to talk him into coming out here.  I came once as President for Bob Hope.  And I think it would really mean a lot to him and I think that he would be able to, he and Michelle Obama, could look at some of this stuff that's part of what they're trying to do. 

I think that in the next four years how this health care reform bill is implemented will determine whether people see it as I do as a big step forward, assuming we implement it right; or whether they have their fears confirmed, because they don't like the way it's implemented and they think it's more trouble and less good.  And coming here would give them a chance to see that with fresh eyes. 

So I'll do what I can.  I can't promise.  But I'm never going to say it's because he owes me so much.  I did what I did because I thought it was the right thing to do.  And I told him when it was over, I said, nobody owes me anything, I'm going back to do my Foundation, if I can ever help you, call me, and if you don't, it's fine with me.  This was a, I did this because I thought it was right.  End of story.  Thank you. 

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