Why Has It Been Difficult to Get Information on the White House-Sestak 'Job Offer'?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 4, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The White House is taking heat for offering Congressman Joe Sestak a non-paying job to drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate race. And tonight, Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell has new information about the story. Governor Rendell says he had conversations with the White House months ago about Congressman Sestak. Governor Ed Rendell joins us. Good evening, sir.

GOV. ED RENDELL, D-PENN.: Hi Greta. Hey, before I get into Sestak, I just have to answer your last guest. I don't know what state he's looking at, but in Pennsylvania, the stimulus has worked big-time. We gained in March and April 55,000 jobs. Our April job gain was the greatest in 10 years, and a significant portion of that is attributable to the stimulus. And that's not counting the 20,000 to 25,000 jobs, state workers, teachers, that I would have to lay off if we didn't have stimulus funds in our budget. Stimulus has retained a ton of jobs and it's created construction and manufacturing jobs, the ones we need the most.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's good news for Pennsylvania. That's great news. All right, Governor, let me ask you -- we want -- we came here to talk about Mr. Sestak, or Congressman Sestak.


VAN SUSTEREN: And here's what I don't understand. You were here on May 26th, and I did not ask you the specific question, Did you ever talk to the White House about Sestak? But you and I were talking about that specific story, and you never volunteered that you had been part of this -- you had been part of a discussion about Sestak with the White House, too. Why not?

RENDELL: Oh, no, no. Early on -- because it didn't have anything to do with jobs, and I thought you were focusing on whether he was offered a job. My discussions were with chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, and we both agreed it was very, very important to try to persuade Joe to stay in the Congress and run for his House seat because we thought his House seat, if he ran for it, would be a slam-dunk. He would win reelection easily. Without him, we could lose it.

So I tried on my own to convince Joe to stay in the House and wait his turn for the Senate, but the discussion had nothing to do with jobs at all. And this was in...

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess...

RENDELL: ... the previous year. It was in '09, when we were -- Arlen had switched over to Democrat and we wanted Joe to stay where he was because it was so important to hold that House seat, and without him, it's going to be a struggle.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess the thing that sort of has caught my curiosity is that, you know, the -- it's been really hard to sort of pull the facts out on this case. It's, like -- it's like pulling teeth. You know, it started in February...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... and the White House wasn't forthcoming. He wasn't forthcoming. Then you come on our show to explain it, and then you don't tell me that you were also part of some conversations with the White House and you even talked about how important it is to be transparent. It's, like -- it's like we're trying to pull teeth just to get the information out, and so you can't help but be a little suspicious!

RENDELL: If I had anything to do with offering Joe a job or being a conduit, I would have told you. But my discussion was just to try to convince him that he couldn't win the primary, that Arlen would raise a whole lot more money than he was going to raise, that Arlen would have support of the president and myself and others and the vice president, and to try to convince him to stay in the House seat as a political matter.

So I talked to Joe on a couple of occasions about the political wisdom of staying, but I had nothing to do with any job offer or anything like that. I didn't know there was a job offer until Joe went public earlier this year. So that's why I didn't bring it up.

Believe me, I agree with you. I think we all need, particularly the White House and even Joe, to be a little bit more clear and a little bit more transparent about what occurred. I don't think anything wrong occurred. And I think you've got Michael Mukasey, the former -- the last attorney general, under President Bush, saying that this type of activity was not what the statute was meant to define as criminal.

So I don't think there's any wrongdoing here, but I think you're right everyone should be a little bit more forthcoming. And I'm sorry, the only reason I didn't disclose that to you is it had nothing to do with jobs.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, what's your theory on why it took so long for Joe Sestak to say anything -- Congressman Sestak to say anything or the White House to say anything? I mean, like, why do we have to keep -- you know, what's the sort of the -- why should we feel comfortable that they're not hiding something when it was -- literally took pounding them for months?

RENDELL: Yes. It's a hard question to answer, Greta. I don't believe they did anything wrong, and they should have been -- came out and said it. This practice -- and it's a well-parsed practice, but this practice has been going on for presidential administrations for years and years, for governors's administration.

I know I talked to you on the night I was on that I did the same type of thing when I talked to former council -- congressman Joe Hoeffel out of running against Bob Casey in the Democratic primary. I showed him the polls, et cetera, et cetera, and I said, Look, Joe, I know you're interested in public service still. You've got the bug, just like I do. If you decide not to run, come back and talk to me. I've got some interesting things in Harrisburg that you might like. He decided not to run. He came back and talked to me. I appointed him deputy secretary of commerce for foreign export. He did a great job. We doubled our exports from $16 billion to $34 billion. And there's nothing long with that. And I think, essentially, that's what occurred here. But I'm mystified why we haven't been more clear about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you. Always nice to see you. Thank you, sir. And congratulations to Pennsylvania on those jobs.

RENDELL: Thanks, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, sir.

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