Voices of Power Transcript: Chris Lu

By Lois Romano
Thursday, October 22, 2009; 5:57 AM

Ms. Romano: Welcome, Christopher Lu, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary at the White House.

You are among the most senior Asian-Americans in the administration and in the White House. What does that mean to you?

Mr. Lu: It means a lot to me. My parents were both born in China. They moved to Taiwan for grade school and high school. They both emigrated here in the late '50s for college.

There is not a day that goes by that, as I park my car by the West Wing and walk into my office in the West Wing, that I don't think about my parents and how fortunate I am and how this incredible opportunity that I have is not only the result of what I've accomplished, but all that they've accomplished, as well as all that other Asian-Americans before me.

Ms. Romano: What was it like when you walked into your West Wing office for the first time?

Mr. Lu: I remember this distinctly. It was right after inauguration. We had a bus that took us over from the Capitol to the White House.

We actually came down the parade route, the bus. And a lot of the folks on the side were waving to us because I think they thought we were important, and I think they also thought that we were starting the parade and [not] just a random bus coming down the street.

They let us off by the entrance to the White House. We filled out our paperwork; got our Blackberries, and then we were shown to our offices. And I remember getting to my office. There was no furniture there, because they were repainting at the time. And so, I basically just sat on the floor and just kind of soaked this all in.

And I remember calling my mother, and my mother was the first person I called, and said, "Mom, I'm sitting in my office in the White House." And she said "How come you're not at the parade?" And I said, "Mom, I'm sitting in my office in the White House." And I think it finally hit her at that time, and I think it hit me at that time that I'm now in the White House.

Ms. Romano: Now, I know your dad didn't live to see this moment, but have you brought your mother into the White House to see your office?

Mr. Lu: I have, and, you know, one of the funny things about the various jobs that I've had over the last couple years is that it seems like with each job I have, my office gets smaller and smaller, which is something that my mother perpetually comments on.

But she was--I think she was awed too that her son was here, and my mom and I are very close. We're not emotional people, but, you know, she said, "Your dad would have been very proud of you, if he could have seen that." And I think we kind of both teared up a little bit.

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