Transcript: Swing State Govs. on 'Fox News Sunday'

The following is a transcribed excerpt from 'FOX News Sunday,' October 3, 2004:

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: We've been focusing on key swing states that are likely to decide this election. We continue today with two more battle grounds. First, Colorado, whose nine electoral votes went to George W. Bush in 2000 by an 8 percent margin.

We welcome Governor Bill Owens.

And Michigan, with 17 electoral votes, was carried by Al Gore in 2000 by 5 percent.

We're joined now by Governor Jennifer Granholm.

And welcome to both of you. Thanks for talking with us today.


WALLACE: Governor Granholm, let's look at the latest polls in Michigan from before the debate. According to one poll, the president was up two. According to another, Senator Kerry was leading by two points.

Now, Michigan has lost almost a quarter of a million jobs under President Bush. Why is he doing so well in Michigan?

GRANHOLM: Well, actually, most of the polling has shown Kerry ahead by between two and eight points.

So here in Michigan, it is just so important that the next few debates talk about what people are going to do, what the next president is going to do, to keep jobs in this country. This has been a huge issue for us as a manufacturing state. Same issues as have been in Ohio.

And I think on Thursday night, the debate last week, Michigan saw John Kerry as a president. They saw him with a steady, controlled command of the facts. In fact, I would say he was the commander in chief of the debate.

And I heard the two before you, and I think that it's pretty universally felt that Kerry won the debate. Now he has to and has an opportunity to show Michiganians, as well as all of the Midwesterners who are battleground states, that command extends to domestic issues as well.

WALLACE: All right. Let me bring in Governor Owens.

And let's look at the polls before the debate from your state in Colorado. Before the debate, the president was leading in one poll by eight points. But in another poll, he was only up one.

Same question to you: Why is John Kerry running so well in a state that has only gone to a Democrat once, Bill Clinton in 1992, in the last nine presidential elections?

GOVERNOR BILL OWENS. R-CO: Well, Chris, this has actually always been a battleground state. We had Democratic governors before me. This is the state of Senator Gary Hart and Congresswoman Pat Schroeder. So this is a state that has always been right on the edge between the two parties.

I think that President Bush has, in fact, been ahead by a greater margin than the two points you reflected, probably closer to the eight.

But we've not taken Colorado for granted. We've assumed that it's going to be close in Colorado, just as we've always assumed it's going to be close across this country.

WALLACE: Let's talk about some of the domestic issues which the campaign, it looks like, is going to start to focus on.

And let's pick up, Governor Granholm, on precisely that issue of unemployment, because your state has the third-highest unemployment rate in the country.

What specifically would John Kerry do — and don't go through his whole program, but give me one key idea of what he could do that President Bush is not now doing that would mean more jobs for people in your state.

GRANHOLM: He is going to end the loophole right now which gives breaks to companies which locate their jobs offshore.

For us, manufacturing is key. It's part of our heritage, and we want it to be part of our future. But if there are incentives in the international tax structure for companies to locate offshore, then companies will choose to do that.

We need a tiger who will stand up for jobs, and that's what John Kerry has said he will do.

WALLACE: Governor Owens, do you think that tax breaks are going to make that big a difference in the decision of a big corporation as to whether to send jobs overseas when they're looking at much lower wages overseas, looking at much smaller health and other benefits? Is that going to make that much of a difference?

OWENS: You know, Chris, I don't. I don't think that that has been a driving force in terms of what an international economy, the changes we've seen in this country and other countries.

I don't think that these nominal tax issues really, really equate to the much larger issues, in terms of, here in the United States, we have a very expensive tort system. It's very expensive here because of our civil justice system. We have high rates of taxes compared to some other countries.

In terms of unemployment, it is important to remember, Chris, that this year, our national unemployment rate is actually below the average rate of the 1970s, it's below the average rate of the 1980s, and it's below the average rate of the 1990s.

So while one person unemployed is one person too many, we're still, relatively speaking, doing very well compared to the 1970s, '80s and even the 1990s.

WALLACE: Governor Owens, let me pick up on another economic issue and that's the price of oil, which this week was up over $50 a barrel.

Now, your guy, the president, when he ran for election in 2000, said he was going to be able to jawbone OPEC, he was going to be able to get them to keep prices down. Hasn't worked.

OWENS: Well, it hasn't worked, but I think there's more of a reason than just OPEC. Here in the United States, he's had an energy plan that has been tied up in the United States Senate based on a Democratic filibuster.

I know this is an area where Michigan and Colorado have a lot in common. We both want to see more energy, Michigan's automobile industry. Out here in Colorado, we're a large tourist state, as well as an oil-producing state.

OWENS: But if Congress won't pass an energy plan — and, again, while the Congress is Republican, the filibuster has been led by our friends in the Democratic Party — then it's hard for us to jawbone the rest of the world about us being serious on energy when the U.S. Senate, the Democrats in it, aren't serious right here at home.

WALLACE: Governor Granholm, let me ask you about energy policy, because one of the things that John Kerry talks about is conservation, and he has talked about raising the fuel-efficiency standards, the so- called miles-per-gallon standards, to 36 miles per gallon for entire fleets. Wouldn't that cost Michigan jobs?

GRANHOLM: No, because, in fact, that's a goal, and I think that with the price of oil being so high, that citizens across the country, consumers of automobiles, would very much like to see more fuel- efficient vehicles. And John Kerry has a plan specifically to invest in the automotive industry to help them achieve those kind of fuel- efficient vehicles.

So I think that his plan — I know that his plan is much healthier for Michigan's economy than the current plan of the president, who controls both houses of Congress, his party does.

And it's very clear that his inability to work both sides of the aisle to achieve consensus, his inability to be a uniter and not a divider, as he initially campaigned on, has really, I think, caused huge gridlock in Washington. And it is curious because he does control the houses of both sides.

WALLACE: Governor Owens, let's talk about an initiative that's on the ballot in your state this November, Amendment 36, that would change the electoral vote in Colorado from winner-take-all, as it is in most states, to a proportional representation.

So instead, for instance, of the winner in Colorado in November getting all nine electoral votes, chances are the winner would get five and the loser would get four.

It's leading in the polls in your state, but you're against it. Why?

OWENS: Well, I'm against it for a couple of reasons.

First of all, I'm against it as Colorado's governor because it would simply reduce our ability to have an impact nationally, in terms of water policy, in terms of highway spending, in terms of base closings. If we have, in essence, one electoral vote, because proportionally most of our elections would be five votes for the winner, four votes for the loser, we wouldn't have any national impact, and we wouldn't be able to compete with our friends in other states.

But second, I'm against it because this is a brazen attempt by the Kerry campaign to cost George Bush eight votes in Colorado. The guy who's funded it, a millionaire out of Brazil, has funded the campaign here in Colorado trying to change this state's electoral votes for this election. Why? Because he knows this state's going to go for George Bush, give us nine votes on the Bush side. And under proportional, it would be a 5-4 vote.

This gentleman...

WALLACE: But let me ask you...

OWENS: ... he's already maxed out to John Kerry, and we're concerned about it.

Go ahead, Chris.

WALLACE: But, Governor, let me just ask you, as a matter of public policy, let's say that the state of Colorado goes to the president 52 percent to 48 percent. Should that 48 percent of voters, should their votes count for nothing?

OWENS: Well, I'd like to see the same thing, for example, in Michigan. If Michigan — if every state did it, then it wouldn't be seen as partisan or as brazenly political as picking one state. So, if Michigan wants to do it and give George Bush 45 percent should he lose Michigan, 45 percent of its votes — how about California?

You know, let's do this in other states at the same time. Let's not pick a red state and try and swipe some votes from President Bush. And that's what this John Kerry supporter named Jorge de Alva, who's from Brazil, is trying to do.

WALLACE: Well, Governor Granholm, that does seem like a fair point. What do you think about reforming the Electoral College or just doing away with it entirely?

GRANHOLM: I think that I would certainly be in favor of looking at it. I do think that people should be elected by the popular vote. That makes perfect sense.

Unfortunately, in a campaign season, we see a lot of manipulation on the ballot. I mean, in Michigan, for example, Ralph Nader was put on the ballot by the GOP and accepted the signatures that were turned in very openly by the Republican Party.

So if we were able to do things just based on a popular vote, I think we'd have a different president right now, and we wouldn't see a situation where we're going to have four — we're faced with four more years of the same.

GRANHOLM: And for Michigan that means job losses, that means more people uninsured, that means more people falling into poverty.

If we have four more years of this presidency, it is not a good thing for Michigan or for any state in this country.

WALLACE: Governors, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you, both, so much for joining us today and giving us the perspective from two key swing states. We'll talk to you again soon.

OWENS: Thanks, Chris.

GRANHOLM: Thank you.