Closer Look with Rose Scott, Politics

Retiring US Sen. Johnny Isakson Talks Bipartisanship And Political Lessons Learned

Retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson reflects with "Closer Look's" Rose Scott about his four decades of service.
Retiring U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson reflects with "Closer Look's" Rose Scott about his four decades of service.
Credit Grace Walker / WABE

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson will officially step down from his Senate seat on Dec. 31. The Republican senator announced he would retire in the middle of his third term earlier this year, citing health challenges.

On Monday morning, “Closer Look” host Rose Scott sat down with Sen. Isakson at his office in Georgia for a conversation about race, bipartisanship and lessons learned after decades of political service.

Below are some highlights from their conversation:

On bipartisanship and how Washington, D.C., reached its current political climate:

“We developed a lot of very bad habits and made them worse. …You know, you can be different with your next-door neighbor or your partner in business. But, if you believe in the same result happening, it’s just how you get there that counts, you can get there. You can find ways to trade off and find common ground. If you’re just in there because you don’t like the other side, and it doesn’t matter what they say — they’re wrong — and they don’t like you. And whatever you say, you’re wrong. You’ll never solve any problem. You’ll never have any agreement. So what I was trying to point out was nothing ever eventually happens one way or another, good or bad, unless people come together and settle on what they will agree to and save the other stuff for another day.”

On his personal political philosophy:

“My mother really gave me that service mentality, that service commitment and that servant’s heart. My father brought about that can-do, you know, work as hard as you can, as long as you can until you get the job done spirit. And I merged those together, and I turned out all right. But it’s to both of [their] credit.”

On his legacy and future:

“I don’t need a legacy or a statue or a sports event or a book. I don’t have a book in me. I’m not a good writer. But, I do have a lot of love in me. And I’m happy to work with somebody who loves the city and loves public life and loves America and helping to make it a better place. That’s the one good thing about being like me and having a little bit of an affliction and going into my senior years. I’ve got a few things I can’t do. But I’ve got a lot of things I can do. Now I’ll have more time to do [them]. But all of them will involve taking care of the state I love and the people I love.”

For the full conversation between Rose Scott and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, listen above.

“Closer Look” is produced by Candace Wheeler and Grace Walker. Joy Barge is a contributing producer.

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