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Transcript: Tim Kaine and Bill Ritter on 'FOX News Sunday'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published August 24, 2008 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript of the Aug. 24, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: Of course, the question now is how the choice of Joe Biden will play across the country. Joining us are the governors of two key swing states, Tim Kaine of Virginia, who looked for a while like he was going to be the running mate, and our host here in Colorado, Governor Bill Ritter.
And, governors, welcome to "Fox News Sunday."
TIM KAINE: Great to be with you, Chris.
BILL RITTER: Thanks, Chris.
WALLACE: Governor Kaine, we'll get to your near-miss in a moment, but first let's talk Virginia — 13 electoral votes, hasn't gone for a Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. But the polls right now say Virginia is dead even. What, if anything, can Joe Biden do for you in Virginia?
KAINE: Well, first, Joe comes from a state, Delaware, that borders Virginia. The eastern shore part of Virginia and Delaware are not only bordering but very, very similar. And I think there's a lot in common, and Joe understands that.
Virginia's a very military state, so one in 10 Virginians are veterans. We've got active duty, Reservists, Guardsmen and -women, military families. Joe's long track record on foreign relations matters, strong support for the military, but strong support for America being great at the diplomacy area, will go over very well in Virginia.
And I think he's a heart guy. I mean, as he campaigns, he's a great retail campaigner who really connects with people on a visceral level, and Virginians like that. And so I think the pick of Joe Biden will do very well in Virginia.
WALLACE: Governor Ritter, same question. Colorado has nine electoral votes. It hasn't gone for a Democratic candidate for president since Bill Clinton in 1992, also dead even this year. Can, and how can, Joe Biden help you win — or Obama win Colorado?
RITTER: I think Obama and Biden together can absolutely help us win Colorado. The west has changed. Since 1992, it's changed a great deal. Just the last six years, if you think about Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Arizona, Oklahoma, New Mexico — all Democratic governors. They all succeeded Republicans.
The independents in the west are really looking for leadership. They are independents, but they'll vote for the person if the message is the right message.
And we think we have previewed sort of this — the change that Obama speaks of. We've previewed it in the west and have a broader message to the country about how that change can be effected for people.
WALLACE: But, Governor Kaine, as Major Garrett mentioned, Obama is running as a change agent that is going to — who's going to shake things up in Washington.
On the other hand, you've got as a running mate somebody who has been on Capitol Hill, in the Senate, 36 years, literally more than half his life. Doesn't that damage or blunt the message of change?
KAINE: Well, you know, if you look at what Joe's done as a senator, he's done some things that I think will resonate well with Virginians and others.
He wrote and really helped push through the Violence Against Women Act back in the 1990s, which he says was really his proudest legislative accomplishment, and that was a great step forward, recognizing an important public safety issue in bringing out of the shadows the need to — tough prosecution against those who victimize women with crimes of violence.
And whether you look at that, or whether you look at his work on the Judiciary Committee, or Foreign Relations, he's got a solid record of accomplishment.
And I think they're a good — they're a good team personality- wise. They complement each other well. I think you're going to see them really enjoying being out on the trail together.
And in Virginia, look, we just want — we just want a better partner in Washington. And I think with Joe and Barack, we're going to see — have a lot of excitement about getting that better partner.
WALLACE: But, Governor Ritter, isn't it also, to be honest, a recognition of what we see in the polls, that voters have continuing doubts about Obama, especially on national security foreign policy issues? Does he have the experience to be president?
RITTER: I think it was a smart choice because Joe Biden does have the experience to, number one, be president. He could be president on day one, and secondly, really, because he has this national security and, really, foreign relations background.
We're in a challenging time, Chris. Everybody knows that. It's good to have a vice president that can complement the president, fill the ticket out and say, "We can rise to the challenge."
WALLACE: But, Governor Kaine, can Biden, at number two, make up for perceived weaknesses at the top of the ticket? And as you answer that, I also want you to take a look at what Biden has said about Obama, because he has sometimes not been too complimentary.
Let's put this up. "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. It's awful hard, with only a little bit of experience, to have a clear sense of what you would do on the most critical issues facing us today. It's not something that lends itself to on-the-job training."
Governor Kaine, not ready, little bit of experience, on-the-job training — the attack ad writes itself.
KAINE: They can run any attack ad they want, but here's the issue. Americans...
WALLACE: But that's Biden saying that about his running mate.
KAINE: Yes, sure. They can run any attack ad they want. But here's the issue. Americans want a change in the direction of this nation, and especially the economy has come into the fore. Bill's talked a little bit about Joe Biden's national security credential.
But, look. Joe is a guy who grew up in a working-class household in Scranton, really understands what it is to have to scrap. Barack is a guy who comes from no means and no connections, mother on food stamps when he was a kid.
They both understand the experience that Americans are going through now with rising energy costs, you know, deficit, job losses, food costs going up. This week we saw a sharp distinction as the — these two candidates understand the plight of normal Americans, and John McCain can't remember how many houses he owns.
I think that's going to create a pretty sharp difference between these two candidates.
WALLACE: But, Governor Kaine, respectfully, you haven't answered my question, which is if voters — and the polls indicate it — have concerns about Obama's weakness on national security and experience to be commander in chief, can Biden as the vice president solve his weaknesses, the person at the top of the ticket?
WALLACE: How come? How?
KAINE: Well, I'm just using a Joe Biden line. As you remember, you know, I'm going to answer a question with a "yes."
Look, Joe's got a great track record, and Barack's got a record of being right on the critical issues. I mean, we've got judgment. We've got experience. We fuse them together in one ticket.
But then we have two guys who really understand what we need to do to get this economy going again, which is absolutely critical to the next — you know, to the 80 days between now and election. Americans want to hear the economic plans.
WALLACE: Governor Kaine, when did you find out that Obama was not going to pick you as...
KAINE: You know, I'm not going to talk about my conversations with the campaign about this. I will say, Chris, it was really flattering to be mentioned. It always seemed like kind of a longshot to me, but it was really, really nice to be mentioned.
WALLACE: Now, it has been reported that he called you personally on Thursday. Is that true?
KAINE: I'm just going to leave it at that. But again, it was a — I really think it was a good choice. I think Joe Biden, with the state of the race and the state of the world, was a great choice for Senator Obama.
And Joe and I — we had a good visit yesterday. I'm really anxious to do all I can to help the ticket.
WALLACE: Honestly, are you disappointed?
KAINE: Well, you know, I told you, my wife said after I found out, "Remember, you've been elected to the highest office in the land. You're my husband." And so, you know, that was good. That put it in perspective.
So I know who hail to the chief is, too.
WALLACE: Yes, exactly.
Let's turn to another subject, Governor Ritter. There was a remarkable poll in the Wall Street Journal this week. It found that of those people who voted for Hillary Clinton during the primaries, only 52 percent favor Obama. Twenty-one percent support McCain. twenty-seven percent are undecided.
We now learn that Senator Clinton was never interviewed about being a running mate. She was never consulted about the choice. Don't her supporters here at the convention who are still angry, and a lot of them are — don't they have a right to be even angrier?
RITTER: Well, I think that's going to be the role of the convention, is to really be a unifying time for the ticket.
If you think about the allowance of putting Hillary Clinton's name into play, have her name placed on the floor, that's really a concession in many respects, but it's an acknowledgment of her historic campaign. And I think it will have a unifying effect.
These are polls looking at, you know, these issues. And at the end of the day after this convention, I think we walk out of here a united ticket, which Governor Kaine alluded to before. People want more than anything that we have change in this country.
WALLACE: But, Governor Kaine, Obama and Clinton have been — you know, the primary battle has been over now for almost three months. They've been campaigning together or separately about their common stand on issues for a long time.
And yet there are, as we see in the polls, a lot of Clinton supporters who are still upset, still bitter. Do you think those people who are still so upset are going to be won over or bought off by the fact that her name is placed in nomination here on the floor, if she gets a roll call?
KAINE: You know what? I think they're going to be won over not by that but they're going to be won over by the Clintons' appearance this week and what they say.
I just have a feeling this week's going to be very good, and both Senator Clinton and President Clinton are going to say, "Let's do all we can to make change in this nation."
Senator Clinton's done a great job since that first weekend in June of campaigning in different states that are really important to Senator Obama. And, look, my anecdotal evidence, Chris, is, just hanging around with the Virginians who are strong Hillary Clinton supporters, they're getting on board.
You know, I was visiting the hotel restaurant last night, you know, having soft drinks with them, and you know, they're getting on board. And I think people are very, very excited about this week and coming together to win this fall.
WALLACE: Was she disrespected in not even being interviewed to be a running mate?
KAINE: I don't — no, I couldn't say that. Look, this is such a personal choice. However the — however the Obama campaign kind of determines that they need to run the process, who they need to look at, it's got to be something that is just that fit that only the candidate can know.
So, yeah, nobody who's not picked is disrespected. You know, it's fine. And Joe Biden's a good pick, and it's going to be a great ticket.
WALLACE: Finally, this — and let me start with you on this, Governor Ritter, but I want to get both of you to give me a relatively brief answer.
This looks to be a strong Democratic year. You've got an unpopular president, an unpopular war, an economy that's struggling, and yet Obama in horse races against McCain runs 10 points at least behind the generic horse-race poll, "Would you like a Democrat or a Republican in the White House?"
If you could give Senator Obama, Governor, one piece of advice, how he needs to connect with voters and frame the choice for voters at the convention and in the next couple of months, what would it be?
RITTER: Just to keep hammering this notion of change, but change around developing a different energy future, developing a different energy future that's about creating jobs so that we have the leading energy economy in the world going forward in the 21st century.
I think it's the most important thing, really, to people in the west and, I suspect, to people in the country as well over time.
WALLACE: Are you troubled by the fact that he seems to have waffled on drilling?
RITTER: Well, I don't know, because his energy policy, if you look at the entire energy policy, fits perfectly with the things we've been able to do here in the west and in Colorado that have been successful. So no, I'm not.
WALLACE: Governor Kaine, if you could give Obama one piece of advice, how to connect with voters, how to frame the election, what would it be?
KAINE: Chris, you know what I would say to him is don't let the August doubters get you off a plan that's been working.
You know, I was national co-chair of the campaign since February of '07. I remember a year ago, the summer, month after month after month, the polls with him and Senator Clinton had him 20 or 30 points down.
They didn't vary from the plan they had, which was methodically and persistently go out and explain to this nation why we need change and what the important issues were — the economy, energy policy, better judgment in foreign policy. Don't get off what's got you here.
He's run a great campaign. He's ahead in the polls. We don't need to feel defensive about that. We always knew it would be close. We always knew it would be close. He's trying to do something that, you know, hadn't been done before.
But with this pick yesterday and with a great unity event here in Denver, I think we're going to come out of here with great passion, and I think we'll get there.
WALLACE: Governor Kaine, Governor Ritter, I want to thank you both so much for joining us today, talking with us in what is a very busy period of time.
And as the host, Governor Ritter, congratulations.
RITTER: Thank you.
WALLACE: This setup here is outstanding.
RITTER: It's pretty remarkable. Thank you.
WALLACE: It really is.
KAINE: Thank you, Chris.