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Transcript: Bob McDonnell on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published November 08, 2009 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a rush transcript of the November 8, 2009, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace." This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: This week the result of the Virginia governor's race was striking. Last November Barack Obama became the first Democrat to carry the state for president in 44 years. But Tuesday Republican Bob McDonnell took back Virginia for the GOP in a landslide. The governor-elect joins us now from his alma mater of Notre Dame.
Congratulations on the election, if not on yesterday's football game, sir, and welcome back to "Fox News Sunday."
BOB MCDONNELL, VIRGINIA GOVERNOR-ELECT: Well, thanks, Chris. It was a great week for us. We're very honored, and nice to be back on with you.
WALLACE: After your landslide victory on Tuesday, a number of top Republicans across the country say that your election campaign is a model for how Republicans can and should run in 2010 and 2012.
What parts of your campaign do you think can be replicated across the country?
MCDONNELL: It's very flattering people would say that. We tried to focus on the issues we knew people cared about. It was jobs, the economy, economic development, transportation, the things that the citizens overwhelmingly said they wanted government to fix.
Secondly, we kept it overwhelmingly positive, giving people an uplifting alternative for the future. And thirdly, we, I think, tapped into some of the sentiment at the national level on the issues of card check, cap and trade, and some under-funded mandates and things like that that were not resonating well with Virginia businesses and families.
And together with a lot of hard work, I think it was a winning strategy.
WALLACE: So what do you think there is a message, if there is a larger message, for Republicans looking to get healthy again in 2010?
MCDONNELL: Stick to your conservative principles but focus on the quality-of-life issues that the citizens are most concerned about, and focus on getting results.
People see that there's this massive spending at the federal level, at the state level. They want a better bang for their buck out of government. And fiscal conservatism is the way to deliver that — is the way to deliver that message.
WALLACE: I want to run a clip from the news conference you held the day after your election. Let's take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCDONNELL: I just want everybody in Virginia to know that I intend to govern the same way I campaigned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor-elect McDonnell, experts say that while you obviously have a long record as a social conservative, you largely stayed away from that and, as you say, campaigned primarily on kitchen-table issues like education, like jobs, like transportation.
Is that what you mean when you say that you're going to govern the way you campaigned?
MCDONNELL: It's going to mean that I'm going to put the priorities that I outlined during the course of the campaign as the first order of business.
With our high unemployment rate and our budget deficits, the fiscal issues, Chris, have got to be the first order of business.
But I was completely clear during the campaign that I — I am pro- life, I am pro-family, and I'm going to support those issues in the general assembly. But I'm going to focus on getting results on those campaign promises. I think that's the way you keep trust with the people.
WALLACE: But one of the issues in other races, especially that congressional race in upstate New York, was conservative activists, especially social conservatives and tea party activists, saying they want attention paid to their issues.
How do you balance their concerns with the concerns of a lot more moderate voters who just want to focus on jobs?
MCDONNELL: Well, I ran very specifically on the fact that I'm going to make government work better. We're going to find ways to cut spending out of state agencies and retool government to find ways to keep taxes low, whether it's — and when the economy returns, find ways to reduce the tax burden on working families, use tax cuts as a way to promote economic development.
These are clearly things that my friends in the — my conservative friends and I are very interested in doing, and then to make sure that these important issues are protecting families, promoting fatherhood, looking for options in education, like charter schools and merit pay.
These are things that I ran on as part of the overwhelming — the overarching theme of the campaign, and I intend to pursue those as well. So I think that the overwhelming conservative message with a focus on practical results is exactly what people have elected me to do.
WALLACE: But let me ask you about some of the issues that some of the right-wing activists are now saying they want you to focus on. One, will you move to make Planned Parenthood ineligible for state funds?
MCDONNELL: I've said that state policy ought to be the same as the Hyde Amendment. In fact, in the federal health care bill last night, as you see, both Democrats and Republicans joined to make sure that there was not federal funding for abortion services in the health care bill.
I think that's the right policy. Across the board, people don't want taxpayer funding to go for those kinds of services. And so I think that ought to be the state policy as well.
WALLACE: Will you work to expand Virginia's death penalty to not only the person who pulls the trigger but also to anyone involved in a murder?
MCDONNELL: Yes. I've supported that from my early days as a prosecutor through the general assembly. Those bills have gotten to the governor's desk the last couple of years and been vetoed, and I'll sign that bill.
WALLACE: Let's talk about a few national issues. As you well know, the U.S. House late last night passed a major overhaul of health care reform.
WALLACE: If that bill as it was passed by the House should become law, what do you think that would do to the nation's economy and to the nation's health care?
MCDONNELL: I'm very concerned about the bill — 1,900 pages, 3,400 uses of the word "shall." There are clearly great mandates on businesses, families and the states.
Now, I have not read all 1,900 pages of it, but I think that with about a $1.2 trillion price tag, tax increases, $400 billion or so taken from Medicare, that it will ultimately increase costs and reduce choices for families.
Across Virginia, Chris, I heard people's concern about that. And we're obviously going to have to see the way it passes, what the Senate does with it, before I can give you a final opinion. But I'm very concerned about what I — what I saw in that bill.
WALLACE: There's been quite a debate about what Tuesday's elections, not only in Virginia but across the country, meant. Do you think that voters were sending President Obama, if only directly, a message?
MCDONNELL: I'm going to leave that up to a lot of other experts to decide. I will say this. I ran on Virginia issues, the kitchen- table issues that were based on our conservative principles, and I think that's largely what got people to support our campaign.
A lot of independent voters, though, and Republicans as well, clearly told me that they were very concerned about the direction of the country, the spending, the taxes, card check, cap and trade, unfunded mandates, intrusions into the free enterprise system.
And I think that's, in part, why some of the folks came back and voted for me this time. I made cap and trade in particular an issue.
So the answer is yes, I think, in part, Virginians said, "We're concerned about what's going on at the federal level, we like your fiscal conservative message in Virginia on taxes and spending, and that's why we're voting for you."
WALLACE: I'm going to turn subjects on you now. It sounds silly to bring up less than a week after your election, but some political junkies here in Washington, some very powerful ones, are already saying that you will be on the short list of vice presidential candidates come 2012 for the Republican Party.
Do you harbor any national ambitions, sir?
MCDONNELL: No, I really don't. I mean, I love Virginia. I've served in the state government now for 18 years. I've got a very ambitious set of policy initiatives, Chris, that I'd like to get accomplished.
It's very flattering to hear people talk in those terms, but I really — I'm going to focus 100 percent of my time on Virginia. We have a great state, but we've got some challenges. I've committed to fixing some of those problems, and I'm going to get right to work on that this week.
WALLACE: Well, Governor-elect, you can put all of that chatter to rest right here, so let me be the very first one to ask you. Will you promise to serve a whole full four-year term into 2014?
MCDONNELL: Yeah. I've said that I would. I mean, other governors have looked at those kinds of things in the future. But I don't have any aspirations beyond being governor of Virginia at this point.
WALLACE: So four full years.
MCDONNELL: That's my pledge.
WALLACE: Governor-elect McDonnell, we want to thank you so much. Congratulations again. Thanks for joining us, and good luck in your new job.
MCDONNELL: Thank you, Chris. Great to be back on with you. I appreciate it.
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