• With: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty

    This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," Nov. 11, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

     

    GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty lands a punch! Who got hit? The president and his national health care bill. Governor Pawlenty joins us live. Good evening, Governor. And Governor, what have you done in the last 24 hours having to do with health care?

    GOV. TIM PAWLENTY, R-MINN.: Well, Happy Veterans Day to you, Greta. And thanks for having me on.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Happy Veterans Day to you.

    PAWLENTY: Yes, and to all of our men and women who serve. We appreciate them. But in terms of the health care issue, we requested with the Florida federal district court that myself and Governor Carcieri from Rhode Island be allowed to enter into that lawsuit as amicus to not just make the claim that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, which argues you can't regulate under the commerce clause inactivity, which is people not buying insurance, but we're bringing a new argument forward and highlighting this argument, Greta, which is you can't have under the spending clause of the Constitution such coercion that you're either forcing the states to do it and also such a vague and poorly worded and open-ended piece of legislation that that violates the constitutional principles of the spending responsibilities of the United States Congress to make the programs clear and specific and to give the states at least some reasonable options. This goes into the area of coercion. That's why we think it's unconstitutional, as well.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you wanted to join this in April and your state attorney general said that she didn't think it was appropriate. She thought the commerce clause authorized the federal government to do this. What happened between April and now, that you're doing this?

    PAWLENTY: Well, the federal district court in Florida said they're not going to entertain these kinds of friends of the court briefs until after the parties filed certain motions in the case. That recently happened. The window to file these kinds of briefs, or at least attempt to, is now open. And that accounts for the delay.

    VAN SUSTEREN: So why not, though, be in with both feet, instead of as sort of friends of the court? Why -- you know, were you unable under Minnesota law to be in there with the other 20 -- well, actually, I think it's 20 states now that are in it, in the beginning -- why not be in with both feet with the other states?

    PAWLENTY: Great question. And under Minnesota law, unfortunately, the attorney general is the only one who can bring lawsuits or defend lawsuits. So I had to do this in my own capacity, my individual capacity. I couldn't do it on behalf of the state of Minnesota. And other states had a different situation. Certain governors in other states could do it differently.

    VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Have you had a conversation with your attorney general since you've done this, since you've become -- filed a motion to become, quote, "a friend of the court"?

    PAWLENTY: I have not. And I hope the court's a friend back, by the way. But I have not. She knows I was going to do this. We had requested her assistance some months ago. She said she wasn't going to do it. In fact, she's on the other side of the case. But she said, Hey, look, if you want to do it, go ahead in your individual capacity, and that's what I did.

    I feel strongly about this, Greta. I think if we allow the federal government to do this, it's basically the end of the understanding that we've had throughout the history of this country in federalism. And that's why we're pushing back so hard.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Have you heard from any of the other governors or anybody else who are among the 20 that are already in it, not counting, of course, Virginia and Missouri, which have different cases?

    PAWLENTY: Well, we're all working together on this, trying to do what we can. And next week, we're going to be in California with the Republican Governors Association. I'm sure there'll be a lot of talk to it there. But Republican governors support the idea of fighting back against "Obamacare." And we're fighting as hard as we can here in Minnesota, not just this lawsuit, in other ways, as well.

    VAN SUSTEREN: You know, you say you're fighting as hard as you can -- you're running a little out of time. You've got until January 3rd.

    PAWLENTY: Well, you know, I signed an executive order to say we're not participating. But this lawsuit is going to transcend my term and it's going to be decided -- at least the initial decision about the summary judgment motion is probably going to be decided within the next six months, Greta. So the work we're doing now could very well bear fruit perhaps even after I'm out of office. But I think it's an important statement to make.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Which raises two questions. I mean, after January 3rd, what happens to the case? I mean, you have -- right now, you have a governor's race in Minnesota that has not been called. And so it's sort of interesting because January 3 could come, and while you expect to be not the governor on January 4th, you could still be holding the job as governor until that's resolved, is that right, that race?

    PAWLENTY: Yes. Under the Minnesota constitution, if the recount continues -- and I hope it doesn't. I think people want to see their new governor take the seat at the right time, the normal time. But in the case that it doesn't and it drags on, under the constitution, I'm required and obligated to continue to serve, and I'll fulfill those duties after January 3rd. I hope that doesn't happen, but that couldn't happen.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, it's sort of -- you know, we've also been watching Minnesota with great interest in recent years in terms of how you attempt to recount ballots and all the challenges. I mean, it took you forever to seat your last addition as United States Senator. So in theory, you could be governor next summer in Minnesota, you could be holding those powers.

    PAWLENTY: Well, I hope not, Greta. That's not in anybody's best interests. We had an election. The person should take their seat. But election integrity is really important. And in the event something untoward is discovered in the recount process, then we have to get to the bottom of it. That's most important. I sure hope that can get resolved before January 3rd. It's not in anybody's best interests to have hold-over politicians.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it may not be anyone's desire because you -- you got 2.1 million votes cast in Minnesota at election time. And right now, the two -- two who want to be -- to succeed you as governor are separated by less than one half a percentage point, and your state has this incredible history of taking forever to seat a United States senator. So you could actually be governor a lot longer than you anticipated. I don't mean -- as much as people want to see people elected and to move on, this could be quite an interesting political drama that's unraveling in your state.

    PAWLENTY: It could. But again, I think that is premised upon the notion that they uncover something that is -- needs further litigation or further investigation. And also, by the way, the Minnesota legislature, for the first time since party designation in our legislature, went both houses Republican, Greta. So it's a very new day in what's historically been a pretty blue state.

    VAN SUSTEREN: And it could be very confusing if one hypothetically on January 4th expects not be the governor but to be running for president of the United States suddenly finds himself or herself still holding onto having some responsibilities back home. I mean, makes it sort of -- sort of difficult, does it not, sir?

    PAWLENTY: No, I've been doing this for eight years. I don't want to say the job is easy, but I think we've got a handle on it pretty well. So if that were to come to pass, I think we could easily fulfill the duties. But you know, I was intrigued by that tease before the break. You said you were going to show this awkward video of Kanye West. Do tell, Greta. What does it show?

    VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, how great the teases are! We caught at least one! We caught -- the governor of Minnesota's going to stick around, see the rest of the show. Now I know that because we're not showing that until the end of the show. So Governor...

    (CROSSTALK)

    VAN SUSTEREN: ... Green Room and watch it. Anyway, thank you, sir.

    PAWLENTY: All right. Well...

    VAN SUSTEREN: And we'll looking forward to seeing what happens in the vote count, as well as what goes on in Florida in the health care lawsuits. Thank you, sir.

    PAWLENTY: You're welcome. And Randy Moss would say, That's it, homey.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, Randy Moss is gone. He's out of -- he's out of Minnesota.

    (LAUGHTER)

    PAWLENTY: All right. We'll see you.