This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," August 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, if you think town halls are only relevant to health care, think again. Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty says this battle is good for the GOP. Good? How? He's going to tell you himself. He joins us live. Good evening, Governor. And why are these town hall meetings good for your party?
GOV. TIM PAWLENTY, R - MINN.: Well, those are the sights and sounds of democracy that you just played in action, Greta, so any time we can have the battle of ideas, I think the Republicans have the better ideas. And President Obama has put a flag in the ground, saying this is a seminal moment for him, and he has put a proposal on the table that I think Americans are figuring out is bad for the country and bad for them. And so we're seeing the pendulum start to swing back towards Republicans as a result. And it's like I say, he's making great promise on climate change. He's changing the political climate back to Republican.
VAN SUSTEREN: So what is the strategy for your Republican Party, as these town halls continue to unfold across the country during this recess?
PAWLENTY: Well, I think it's fair to say that this is a grass roots groundswell of grass roots of people who are ticked off, concerned. They have questions and they're expressing themselves, and that's why we have a democracy. So I'm not sure it's so much as part of a grand strategy as an awakening or a reawakening of the country and people saying, Enough is enough with the federal government trying to take everything to Washington, D.C.
We know the president was a former community organizer, but our definition of a community isn't the federal government in Washington, D.C. We have other notions about free enterprise, individual responsibility, freedom, liberty, and the like, and he's headed in a very different direction.
VAN SUSTEREN: I suppose, Governor, right now, being in charge of Democrats is a little bit like herding cats they've got -- you know, they've got the conservative Democrats and they've got the more liberal ones. But as a practical matter, the president and Speaker Pelosi and the Senate majority leader, they don't even need a Republican vote to get this passed. So why don't they just go ahead, they get their own Democrats, and forget about you Republicans and pass it? Then what?
PAWLENTY: Well, they have the votes to do that, but I think they've figured out that they would be ticking off the country. And so you have a situation where President Obama ran as a -- at least in his words, in many cases, as somebody who was trying to present himself as a centrist. He's now leading the nation as a left -- a hard-left leader. And this is another example of that. And I think they could do it. They have the power to do it. But I think they've taken pause and put the clutch in because they realize the country is in revolt over it.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I can't -- I got to ask you this question. You were quoted a saying that one member of the media has a "man crush" on the president. Who's that? And do you want to explain it?
PAWLENTY: Well, I jokingly said that the only thing rising faster than the debt and deficit of the government is Chris Matthews's man crush on Barack Obama. I was going to use the term, Greta, "bro-mance," but I thought that was a little too nuanced.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So at least now we know who has the man crush. All right, now, you've also been quoted as saying that Medicare is going bankrupt, or almost bankrupt. So what would you do? Or Medicaid.
PAWLENTY: Well, it's not just Medicaid, Greta. If you look at all of the federal entitlement programs, they are essentially broke or going broke, and that includes Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and others. So when every program that they're running of an entitlement nature is basically on a pathway to bankruptcy, why would we give them power and authority over another one? They can't even manage the ones that they have.
And so we have a different view of health care reform in this country. It needs to get done. Health care is too expensive for hard-working American families and small businesses and others, but having this go to Washington, D.C., is not the answer. We need to bring it back to the consumer, empower individuals, give them resources if they need help, but let them be in the driver's seat.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so two questions -- a two-part question. How do you do it? And why didn't you do it the last eight years, if it's such a serious problem?
PAWLENTY: Well, I think President Bush and others tried. But I think here's the list that I think Republicans and Democrats could come together on. I'll try not to go through it all, but certainly, we could do medical malpractice reform and get rid of junk lawsuits. We certainly should have more electronic prescriptions, electronic medical records. We certainly should allow people to buy insurance over state lines and pool risks over state lines, maybe even internationally with consumer protections. We need to start paying for performance on health care outcomes, rather than paying for volumes of procedures. And much more. But there's a lot of things we could do on a bipartisan basis that keep the consumers in charge, that would bring down costs.
And the Democrats, by the way, are worried just about expanding access. We all -- we need to be equally worried, really more worried about -- and focused on bringing down costs.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you very much.
PAWLENTY: You're welcome. Brett Favre may still come to Minnesota, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, I was going to ask that question, but I thought I'd get trouble if I did. I'm watching from afar. Don't worry. You and I -- you and I need to talk about that. Nice to see you, Governor.
PAWLENTY: (INAUDIBLE) report out today. OK, bye-bye.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have some inside information, Governor, on that?
PAWLENTY: Well, there was a little news out of, I think, the KansasCityStar.com today that says that there's still a little activity there, so keep an eye on it.
VAN SUSTEREN: I will keep an eye on it. He'll be maybe wearing a purple 4. Thank you, Governor.
PAWLENTY: All right. Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you viewers, you've got mail. Well, or you might. Check your e-mail box. You might have some mail from the White House. But what if you didn't ask for it? Our own Major Garrett grilled press secretary Robert Gibbs about a mass e-mail sent out by the White House. Some got the e-mail without ever asking to be on the mailing list. So how did that happen? The White House has a response, and Major Garrett joins us live here in Washington -- Major.
MAJOR GARRETT, FOX WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, the White House response is this is not a big deal because the people that didn't want it, they can unsubscribe and they (INAUDIBLE) inconvenience. Well, OK, you're inconvenienced. But this is not an enormous deal from the White House perspective.
And yet, Greta, the White House today implemented some significant changes to its own Web site. What the White House says is they believe third parties came into the Web site, downloaded en mass a lot of e-mail lists from their old organizations' mailing lists, or e-mailing lists, put them on the White House Web site and that's how they got out (ph).
So what did the White House do today? Well, first of all...
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that possible?
GARRETT: It is possible.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. All right.
GARRETT: I talked to an Internet specialist about this today. You can write a short software program to drop your entire organization's e-mail list in at once. It can be done. And it actually is something that happens with some frequency on government and private enterprise Web sites, more commonly on private enterprise Web sites.
So we've got the Telestrator here. I'm terrified, Greta, but here I'm going to plunge in. All right. If you go to the White House Web site and you want to find out what's different, go here to get updates and contact us. If you want to contact the Web site and White House for any reason, you go to "Contact us." That will take you to this page, where you submit your e-mail address and your comment.
Now, here are the two things that are different today that were not present yesterday. First of all, sign up to get e-mail updates. Now, that's pre-signed up. So if you go there, the White House is assuming you want to hear back. But if you don't, click off there and won't receive e- mail updates. But to verify whatever you've done, you go to this place right down here. You see those squiggly letters, Greta?
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes (INAUDIBLE) none of us can ever read.
GARRETT: Right. That's called a "captcha." This is an Internet lingo device. What does "captcha" stand for? Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I'm going to take your notes away and see if you can repeat that.
GARRETT: What does this do? All right, this device here that I just circled, Greta, is the way the White House Web site now knows that someone, a human, is inputting the information themselves and a software program is not being dropped in. They're telling a human apart from a computer by using this device called a "captcha."
Now, the other thing that happened today is Flag@Whitehouse.gov, which was a component the White House set up to receive fishy information or questionable information about the health care debate. Well, it was disabled today. And if you sent an e-mail to Flag@Whitehouse.com -- .gov, you received this today. "Your message cannot be delivered to the following recipients." Many Internet service providers send a message. It's been disabled.
Why? Well, the White House put a blog post up on the Web site late tonight. The key graph at the very bottom -- we can't get to it now because I can't scroll up on this. It says, "To consolidate the process, the e-mail address set up last week" -- meaning Flag@Whitehouse.gov -- "is now closed and all feedback should be sent through Whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/contact."
VAN SUSTEREN: Where are the lists of people that they had, though? Where is that list?
GARRETT: It is internal. The White House...
VAN SUSTEREN: No, no, the ones that they say third parties imported to them. Where is -- where are those?
GARRETT: The e-mails?
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, no, the -- they got -- they say that (INAUDIBLE) some false list that some third party post (ph) that gave them (ph). Where is that list?
GARRETT: It's in the White House Web site.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are they going to shred it, get rid of it? I mean, a lot of people (ph) privacy interests.
GARRETT: The Presidential Record Act requires the White House to keep and retain all e-mail addresses put into the system. So the Presidential Record Act does not give the White House authority...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, they can send it out...
GARRETT: ... to cancel...
VAN SUSTEREN: ... to the archives and not use it, though.
GARRETT: Right, but that -- that's a process that begins after the presidency is over and a new presidency begins.
VAN SUSTEREN: So they're...
GARRETT: So they're -- they're in the press -- they're -- they're -- what -- the White House chief information officer is the one who has to be the custodian of this until the Obama presidency ends. Then it goes and becomes the custodial responsibility of the National Archives.
VAN SUSTEREN: But in the meantime, they, I mean, theoretically, could access it.
GARRETT: Now, people I've talked to say the one other step the White House probably could take, and in the minds of some should take, is anyone who's on their e-mail list now, send out something that says "opt in." No content, nothing at all, just say, You're on our list. If you wish to receive things, opt in yourself. If you don't, opt out. The White House is at this moment unprepared to do that. They may think about it. Internet folks I've talked to say that would be one way to completely seal this off and end any potential controversy or any potential privacy concerns whatsoever.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have any idea how much your question got everyone so busy over at the White House?
GARRETT: Well, and on the Internet. It was a tremendous topic of conversation all over this weekend, and the White House is responding to this because they track the Internet very carefully. This is Internet- savvy campaign, Internet-savvy White House. They saw a public relations problem building and they've taken steps to address it.
VAN SUSTEREN: My guess (INAUDIBLE) if they're so Internet-savvy, they probably could have seen it coming, but anyway, now it's at least fixed.
GARRETT: That's what happened today, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. Well, thank you, Major. Never dull!
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