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Transcript: Governors Rick Perry of Texas and Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania
Written by Chris Wallace / Published February 25, 2007 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the Feb. 25, 2007, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: While official Washington is preoccupied with the Iraq war, state governments are working on problems closer to our everyday lives. Joining us now, the governors from two of our biggest states, Republican Rick Perry of Texas and Democrat Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania.
And, Governors, thanks for coming in today.
Gov. Perry, you are in the middle of a storm of controversy right now in Texas after ordering that all school girls entering the sixth grade must be vaccinated against the virus that causes cervical cancer. Question: Why make it mandatory?
PERRY: Well, there's two reasons. One's a compassionate reason. I can't look a young lady in the eye and tell her that I had the ability to prevent a cancer that's going to kill her and I didn't do it. I didn't have the courage to do that.
The second reason's a good Republican fiscal reason. We spend about $350 million every two years, our buy-in and budgets, on Medicaid costs to deal with cervical cancer. This vaccine will cost us $35 million every two years. So there's a real fiscal reason. There's a real compassionate reason.
WALLACE: But parents say — and I don't have to tell you this; you're hearing a lot about it — that one, you're taking away their rights, and two, you are promoting in an indirect way sexual activity.
Here's what one parent had to say. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNE MARKHAM: I'm appalled. I can't even believe this is happening, quite frankly, that these children — and these are children; these are being forced by the government...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor, how do you respond to that?
PERRY: Well, first and foremost, that is the reason that we put the opt-out in. We gave every parent, whether they had a scientific reason, a philosophical reason, a religious reason, to opt out. That makes great and good common sense. We gave them a choice.
But the bottom line is if we had a vaccine that would do away with lung cancer, I don't think that would tell people that — you know, go out and start smoking, no more than this vaccine is going to deal with the sexual side of this.
WALLACE: Quickly, before I bring in Gov. Rendell, the legislature is considering a measure that would basically just take away the connection and say that kids can go into the sixth grade without having had the vaccine at all. If they pass that, will you veto it or not?
PERRY: Well, I was a member of the legislature, so I'm a big believer in respecting that process, and I also have a good background in civics and realize that a governor has some say in that. So until it shows up on my desk, let's just wait and see.
WALLACE: Governor, where are your state of Pennsylvania and you on the issue of the HPV vaccine?
RENDELL: Well, first of all, Perry some real credit for taking this issue head on. He never shies away from any issue and he deserves some credit.
I believe, as in your first question, this is a good idea. We should inform parents about the risk factor, but it shouldn't be mandatory. And if he has an opt-out, the real issue boils down to should it be the parents' responsibility to opt out or should we give them the choice to opt in. That's really the narrow issue.
But look. It does save money, but even more important than that, it saves lives. But I don't think we can make it mandatory. I think that's a role that the parents still have to play.
WALLACE: Let me turn slightly here, Gov. Rendell. You have just proposed a new plan that would extend health care coverage to 800,000 uninsured Pennsylvanians, in large part through new taxes.
Have you given up on the federal government solving this problem?
RENDELL: Well, Chris, the answer is, right now, yes. I don't think we can wait — the states can wait anymore. We're the fifth state, the third big state — Massachusetts, California and Pennsylvania — and if we want to save employer-based health care in America — and that's a big question. But if we want to save it, it has to be buttressed by the states.
We can save it in a cost-effective way. By covering all people in Pennsylvania, we save ratepayers almost $2 billion a year, because the cost of the uninsured isn't free. It gets passed on to all of us.
We also want to drive down the cost of medical errors — hospital acquired infections, too many people going to emergency rooms that don't need emergency services. They go to the most expensive venue. We've got to redirect them to venues that are much cheaper.
We think we can do it. We think we can save money. We think we can extend coverage. Pennsylvania just passed a bill to cover all of our children and the federal government is cooperating in that effort.
WALLACE: Gov. Perry, briefly, your reaction to the idea of state government getting much more involved in insuring the uninsured.
PERRY: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, one of the ideas that I laid out was selling our state lottery, taking part of those proceeds and creating an insurance trust fund to do just that.
And we're big believers that the states are where innovation is going to occur. I can promise you Ed knows Pennsylvania better than the folks in Washington, D.C., just as our people in Texas know Texas better than Washington.
We'd love for them just to block grant us with innovative ideas and implement them to insure and take care of our folks.
WALLACE: It's interesting, because a number of states have also given up on Washington when it comes to global warming.
Gov. Rendell, you just announced a new initiative in this area. Can a single state really do anything meaningful when it comes to an issue that's going to cross state borders like global warming?
RENDELL: Well, sure we can. Pennsylvania is the 19th largest economy in the world. Think of what that means for California. We can have an impact far greater than most countries in the world by taking steps in that direction.
And it's states that are leading the drive for alternative energy — Gov. Schweitzer, Gov. Manchin, myself. Others are doing things to develop real alternative energy for us. Twenty-two states have passed advanced energy portfolio standards in the absence of a federal standard.
So yes, I agree with Gov. Perry. Domestic policy, almost from the Gingrich Congress on down, has been devolved to the states, and we're now stepping up and taking that responsibility.
WALLACE: But, Gov. Perry, you are more skeptical, are you not, about the idea of a state doing something about global warming?
PERRY: Well, I don't know I know that alternative fuels and all the alternative energy sources — there's some great opportunity for innovation and wealth and job creation out of those, and we're really focused on that.
Texas is the number one wind generating state in the nation now. We've got a big future gen project that we hope to be able to bring in on the coal gasification side. You can bet Texas is going to be right at the epicenter of all of the work on alternative energy sources.
WALLACE: I'm not going to let the two of you go without talking some politics, because, among other things, you're the governors of two of the biggest prizes in the whole 2008 presidential contest.
Gov. Perry, Texas is considering moving your primary up, I think to Feb. 5, Super Tuesday. One, how do you feel about it? And two, do you worry at all that the process is going to get so front-loaded that we're going to end up with a nominee in both parties before most of the country even knows who these people are?
PERRY: Well, certainly, our legislature is moving toward the concept of moving that primary to February the 5th. And yes, I think people do have concerns that, you know, we're going to be two years out and primaries are going to be happening.
But the fact of the matter is states are more than an ATM for candidates that show up. They don't care about your votes. They care about your money. And I think that's what's driving the process in Texas, and the legislature is debating whether we move it up.
WALLACE: So would you support that, moving it up?
PERRY: It's an interesting concept and I certainly want to see the legislation, but it's something that I think the legislature is full well behind.
WALLACE: Now, Gov. Rendell, any thought about moving up Pennsylvania? And how do you feel about this front-loading process?
RENDELL: Well, I've talked to the legislature, and there's no appetite for doing that. The process is a mess. It is broken. It is badly broken.
Pennsylvania, which is one of the two or three most important states in the general election — we have no input at all into who the nominee is. Our primary is in late April. It's a mess.
And the only way to fix it is to go back to the plan that the secretaries of state, a pretty non-partisan organization, proposed in 2000.
Let Iowa and New Hampshire go first because of tradition, and then have four regional primaries, 12 states each, a month apart so we don't get the front-loading, so we get to know the candidates a little better, so we get — smaller candidate names have a little bit of chance. They don't just get knocked out in the first two primaries.
I think it makes sense. It's insanity what's out there now. It is not calculated to produce the best candidates for either side, and we've got to change it.
WALLACE: We've got about a minute left. I'm going to ask you each to take 30 seconds — both of you have been talked about as possible vice presidential candidates, whoever wins.
Gov. Rendell, interested?
RENDELL: You know, I've never worked for anybody since I was 30. I think I enjoy governor more than vice president.
WALLACE: But that's not a no.
RENDELL: Well, pretty much so, yes.
RENDELL: I like to be my own boss.
WALLACE: And Gov. Perry?
PERRY: Yes, absolutely no. I got the best job in the world. Ask President Bush.
WALLACE: We're going to have to leave it there. Gov. Perry, Gov. Rendell, thanks so much for coming in and sharing part of your Sunday with us.
Chris will sit down with Green Party Presidential Nominee Dr Jill Stein, to discuss her controversial push for a presidential election recount in several states.