Albright visits Lakewood to talk to women

Heather Vitale

Former Secretary of State chats about financial crisis, Obama

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke in Lakewood yesterday about Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, the economy and global issues.

About 40 women gathered on Edgewater Drive for the arrival of Albright, whose entrance was formal and cheerful. Everyone huddled in a circle to listen to her speak.

“People ask me, “Do you care if America is popular?'” she said. “I don’t care if we’re popular. This isn’t high school.” The crowd laughed.

She went on to describe how badly the United States is in need of a president like Obama.

“It’s so exciting that we have Barack Obama,” she said. “We need someone who knows who he is. It’s very important to have a president who gets it.”

There are six big umbrella issues that need to be addressed, Albright said. The first is how to fight terrorism without creating more terrorists. The nonproliferation regime and how to restore democracy to the world are other problems.

Albright said globalization and the growing gap between the rich and poor are becoming issues, environmental health issues such as disease can no longer be ignored and the global financial crisis and the economy are in chaos.

“I thought the world was a mess before this financial situation,” Albright said. “Every hour of every day is crucial.”

Albright said Americans need the foreign investments in the United States to survive. China has a large gap growing between the rich and poor. The country has helped raise up those individuals living below the poverty level. China has very serious problems as well, such as food regulation recalls, but Americans rely on it for a lot.

“We compete with them for energy,” she said. “We don’t want to turn them into an enemy.”

The current financial crisis has everyone wondering where the economy will go from here and how that will affect the country in the long run.

“We need to solve this crisis,” Albright said. “We need to remain strong so other countries will work with us. There is a ripple effect. It does have a foreign policy effect. This is very, very serious.”

With a smile on her face, Albright responded to the question, “What is a woman’s role in politics and how is that changing?”

“I think it’s important to have women in power,” she said. “It’s been proven that when a society is led economically and socially by a woman, it runs better.”

Albright said in the beginning, people wondered if she could be the secretary of state. She had more problems with the men within the government than anybody else. Albright said before being appointed secretary of state, she used to make coffee and file papers, and the men in the government treated her like they were the ones who deserved the position. It’s not easy, but it’s a great career choice, she said.

Hosts Michelle Tomallo and Micki Tubbs found out Saturday that Albright would be in Ohio for only 24 hours. They received a phone call asking if they would be willing to host the discussion. They happily accepted.

“The turnout was great,” Tomallo said. “We wanted it to be comfortable. We live in an area with a lot of Democratic supporters.”

She agreed with Albright about turning the focus to other situations in other countries to restore leadership to the world.

North Olmsted resident Helen Herron said she liked Albright’s discussion and relation to women. Herron also liked her enthusiasm toward Obama and his campaign.

“I think she was inspiring,” Herron said. “There was one woman here who was undecided and this swayed her decision.”

Contact public affairs reporter Heather Vitale at [email protected].