By Jack Fink

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO for the Trump administration, Kay Bailey Hutchison, said Tuesday, Jan. 26, she believes the all-important alliance is stronger than before.

Hutchison just returned to Dallas less than one week ago after serving for three-and-a-half years.

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“Always great to come home to Texas. Texas is my first love.”

She began her new job in August 2017, four years after leaving the U.S. Senate where she served Texas for 20 years.

Hutchison started at a time when President Donald Trump often criticized the European allies for not spending enough on defense.

“I think he came around to understanding the importance of the Alliance, the importance of having allies, so that we’re speaking not with one voice, but with 30 voices, plus 40. partners, we really have a partnership of 70.”

Hutchison acknowledged the tensions between the President and some European leaders.

“There are going to be tensions. There are going to be disagreements, but I think the great thing about NATO is every Ambassador was working together.”

She said she and President Trump had good and frank discussions about whether Europe was doing its part.

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The United States Permanent Representative Kay Bailey Hutchison speaks during a press conference given also by NATO General Secretary on the eve of the NATO’s defence ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters, in Brussels, on February 11, 2020. (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP) (Photo by JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images)

“Sometimes he thought I was maybe not doing as much in the way that he would like, and he told me that. So I said, ‘you know what, I really believe that this is such an important thing for America. I think we’re going in the right direction’.”

When asked if there were ever days she felt she should leave, Hutchison said, “Oh sure. Of course. I mean, if something was particularly hard, I thought about, well, maybe leaving.”

Hutchison said she’s glad she stayed.

During her time, she said our European allies increased their defense spending by $140 billion.

Hutchison said going forward, the NATO alliance will be crucial in facing threats by what she calls a very menacing Russia and China.

“I think that we’ve made NATO stronger. I think everyone acknowledges that America is essential in NATO, and so we need to just keep strengthening those bonds. Our best defense is deterrence, our best defense is to be prepared so that any country that would mess with the United States being Russia, China, would know that the price would be too high for them.”

WATCH FULL INTERVIEW HERE

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