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Transcript: Govs. Pawlenty, Kaine on 'FNS,' Part 2
Written by Chris Wallace / Published June 08, 2008 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the June 8, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
FOX NEWS SUNDAY HOST CHRIS WALLACE: And we're back now with Republican governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Democratic governor Tim Kaine of Virginia. All right.
Before we turn to other issues, let's discuss the possibility that one or both of you will end up as the vice presidential nominee.
Governor Kaine, if Senator Obama comes to you after this process and says, "I want you," what will you say?
VIRGINIA GOV. TIM KAINE: Well, first, this isn't about me. I'm not here about me. I'm here about the senator and his vision for changing America.
And what I've done for him so far is get out on the campaign trail, and I'm part of his economics adviser team, and I think my best feature in terms of helping him is do just exactly what I'm doing and help him in Virginia, which is very much in play.
WALLACE: Now answer my question.
KAINE: You know, I think probably it would be hard for anybody to say no under a situation like that. But I'm not expecting it, not counting on it, certainly didn't endorse the senator with any plan to get anything out of it. I just want to help him win, because I think our nation needs change.
WALLACE: But if he asks you?
KAINE: Again, what I can say is I'm not expecting it, don't spend a lot of time thinking about it. Of course, it would be difficult for anybody in those circumstances to say no.
But he's got a lot of great people to pick from, and his campaign has shown a great ability to make, you know, tough strategic calls and make them right. I trust that they will. I'm going to try to be a great governor and nights and weekends help the senator on the campaign trail.
WALLACE: As just a smart politician, how would you assess your pluses and minuses if you were — as somebody was saying, "Hey, what about Tim Kaine," especially your ability to reach out to those white working-class voters where he's definitely shown a weakness?
KAINE: You know, I don't want to make the case for myself. I mean, I'm a governor in a state that's doing a lot of things well. And it's not about me. It's about my state.
We're the most business friendly state in America according to Forbes. We're the top performing state government in America according to Governing Magazine. I just want to have strong educational outcomes and a strong economy, or high income and low unemployment.
And it's not about me. It's about my state. And so I'm just going to do everything I can to keep Virginia in a good place. And we've got challenges. I want to try to work to solve those.
But my role with the campaign, again, has been helping the senator implement his vision of change in this country, be helpful in Virginia, give him some economics advice as a governor. And that's what I'm going to keep doing.
WALLACE: Is Hillary Clinton automatically the frontrunner for the number two spot?
KAINE: Well, I would say that the campaign has very — from very early days — I've been a co-chair, you know, talked a lot about Senator Clinton and Senator Clinton's supporters and the notion of party unity.
We needed to get the primary done. We need to let the dust settle. Again, Senator Clinton just did an absolutely remarkable job yesterday, knocked it out of the park in reflecting on her candidacy and in encouraging us all to come together.
And that will be hugely helpful in getting us involved. But party unity is obviously one of the very top features that the Obama team will be weighing as they make the decision about the V.P., but also other decisions.
WALLACE: Governor Pawlenty, if Senator McCain comes to you and says, "You're the guy," what will you say?
MINNESOTA GOV. TIM PAWLENTY: I would say the same thing that Governor Kaine just mentioned a minute ago. I could go through that again.
But I have a fond and deep respect for Senator McCain and his leadership. I want to help him become the president because I think he'd be a great president. But I don't have any designs on being vice president.
If somebody came to me and said that, of course, it would be an honor to be mentioned, honor to be asked. It would be difficult to turn that down. But I don't have any designs, and it's not why I'm such a great and strong promoter of Senator McCain.
WALLACE: But both of you saying, in effect, if you were asked, the answer would be yes.
PAWLENTY: Well, I think that's all just speculation, Chris. And I've said repeatedly we're not going to get involved in speculation.
WALLACE: OK. Let's turn to something that isn't speculation, the war in Iraq and U.S. policy.
McCain and Obama talked about both Tuesday night. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: It's not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: Americans ought to be concerned about the judgment of a presidential candidate who says he's ready to talk in person and without conditions with tyrants from Havana to Pyongyang, but hasn't traveled to Iraq to meet with General Petraeus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor Pawlenty, you've actually been to Iraq more often and more recently than Senator Obama has. But won't it be hard for McCain to convince the American voters to keep supporting an American presence in an unpopular war?
PAWLENTY: Senator McCain said he'd much rather lose a campaign than lose a war. He understands the importance of winning this war in terms of American prestige and power around the world, and he's committed to making sure that this war is a success.
And he is the architect and certainly one of the earliest and strongest supporters of changing the strategy. And it's working, Chris. And as people continue to see the progress in Iraq because of the McCain surge strategy, I think they're going to be willing to support that strategy as it continues to reflect progress.
And if you're going to be running for president of the United States, it seems like it would be a good idea to have visited Iraq some time in the last 900 or so days. Senator Obama has not done that. He's not asked for direct meetings with General Petraeus, unfortunately.
He is somebody who has first said the Iranian revolutionary guard isn't a terrorist group, and now he's changed his views on that and several other foreign policy issues. It reflects an uncertainty in his judgment and perhaps even his knowledge.
But at the very least, he should go visit Iraq with Senator McCain. The two of them together, I think, could learn a lot or continue to learn a lot. Senator McCain has already been there, I think, over eight times since 2003.
WALLACE: Governor Kaine, I want you to obviously respond to that, but doesn't Obama have an experience problem? He keeps changing the parameters for these meetings with foreign adversaries, what constitutes conditions.
And just this week he had to backtrack when he told a pro-Israel group that he supported keeping Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and then had to, as I say, backtrack from that. Doesn't he have an issue there?
KAINE: Well, let me talk about the Jerusalem issue. He says he believes personally that Jerusalem should be undivided, but this is a matter of negotiation that's ongoing between Israel and Palestinian leaders right now, and he says he respects the process.
They're negotiating that. They're going to decide what the right framework is. He expressed a personal preference and a belief.
The issue of experience is fundamentally — and Senator McCain's clip said it so well. It's about judgment. And this is a stark difference between these candidates.
Senator Obama said in '02 this war would be a big mistake. It's not about whether we win the war. It's about whether we were in the right war.
We need to win the war against terrorism. We have taken our eye off the ball in that fundamental fight in Afghanistan and elsewhere by the huge deployment of resources into Iraq. And the American public understands that now.
And so this is a clear differentiator between these campaigns. Do we continue to wage a quixotic war that we got into carelessly that takes our eye off the ball in terms of defeating terrorism, or do we focus our energies and strategy to defeating terrorism?
Senator McCain says very plainly, "I want to be in Iraq. We'll be there for a very long time."
Senator Obama says very differently, "No, we won't. We'll start to withdraw. We'll withdraw carefully, as carefully withdrawing as we carelessly went in, but we've got to refocus the effort and make it purely a war on terrorism," and that's what he'll do as president.
WALLACE: Governor Pawlenty?
PAWLENTY: Well, I think we agree on this. It is about judgment. But judgment is a derivative of a number of things, including experience and wisdom. Senator McCain has got actual national security and military experience.
And this isn't limited to a slip on Jerusalem in the case of Senator Obama. First he was going to meet with tyrants without precondition. Now he's modified that.
He was in favor of lifting the embargo against Cuba. Now he's modified his comments on that.
He first said the Iranian revolution guard wasn't a terrorist organization. Now he says maybe it is.
WALLACE: All right. I want to give Governor Kaine a quick rebuttal, and then I want to get to health care.
KAINE: How does the experience help? How does Washington experience help when you then make blunder after blunder in the decisions you make?
We've seen Washington make blunder after blunder in this decision about to go to war in Iraq and in the course that they have pursued. And Senator McCain has said that we're going to keep pursuing that course.
We are not in a stay-the-course mode right now. We need fundamental change of this war effort. Senator McCain won't bring it. Obama will.
WALLACE: All right. I want to get to one last issue — I know we're not going to solve that issue here today — health care.
There are an estimated 47 million Americans who are still uninsured.
Governor Pawlenty, independent estimates are that the McCain plan would cover only seven million of those Americans.
PAWLENTY: Chris, there's three things we're after in terms of health care reform — expanding access, improving quality and lowering cost. You have to do all three.
As to expanding access, Senator McCain's plan does that in a significant step. It doesn't solve all the problems, but it's a major step forward. But it does it by empowering individuals with tax credits, $5,000 a family, to allow them to make the choices in a marketplace.
Senator Obama sets up a whole new federal bureaucracy with a federal oversight and regulatory board of health care, a new national health care plan and benefit.
I think most people realize that the federalization or the government taking over the health care delivery system is not a wise idea as compared to Senator McCain's plan.
WALLACE: Governor Kaine, the Obama plan would cover more than two-thirds of that 47 million Americans, but it's a big government solution that Obama acknowledges, once it's up and running, would cost $65 billion a year.
KAINE: Senator Obama's plan, I think, is kind of the reasonable middle. There are those plans that were going to be purely top-down government solutions.
There were the plans, as Senator McCain's, that relies on the private marketplace. Private marketplace is tough. I mean, that's why 47 million are uninsured.
Ask any self-employed individual or small business person who has to go into that marketplace to buy insurance and they're going to tell you it is extremely difficult to do so.
And so that is why a more active approach is necessary if we're going to improve quality and reduce cost and take a bite out of that 47 million, as Senator Obama says we need to on moral grounds. On productivity and competitiveness grounds we have to. We've got to be more active, and that's what his plan would do.
WALLACE: Governor Pawlenty?
PAWLENTY: Well, if you look at the three things I mentioned, expanding access is an important one. But if you have the federal government take over the health care system in whole or in part...
KAINE: It's not a federal government takeover. That's not the plan.
PAWLENTY: Well, it's certainly not a takeover in one step, but it moves toward a board that's going to have this oversight and regulatory power. It also then says the federal government's going to have a plan that's going to be the main plan for subsidizing access to people who can't afford insurance.
KAINE: It would be a federal government saying that they're not indifferent to this problem. It's not a federal government takeover. But it's active role in trying to solve it. Forty-seven million people — you know, I love being governor.
Only one thing ever makes me feel ashamed — citizens who pay taxes buy me and Tim and U.S. senators health insurance, and they can't pay for health insurance for their own families.
If the government can buy me insurance, we ought to be able to be active in trying to help solve this huge problem of access for 47 million largely working people.
PAWLENTY: We agree. It's just a different approach, Chris.
WALLACE: Well, it is a different approach, and we're going to obviously explore it more.
And I want to thank you both so much for coming in today. I think it's an interesting way to explore the differences. And I must say, as far as I'm concerned, you both did great in your "American Idol" audition. It's on to Hollywood.
PAWLENTY: Thank you.
KAINE: Thanks, Chris. Good to be with you.
WALLACE: Maybe we'll see you at the vice presidential debates this fault. Thanks again.
Coming up, Hillary Clinton finally endorses Barack Obama. Did she do it right this time? Our Sunday regulars brings some answers to the table when we come back.