OTR Interviews

AWOL Wis. Democrat: Governor Has 'Gone From a War on Workers to a War on the People'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, one of the "Wisconsin 14" is here. She has been on the run for two weeks. Wisconsin's Democratic State Senator Lena Taylor joins us live from somewhere in Illinois, where she is hiding out.

Good evening, Senator. Senator, Dick Morris thinks that there's a possibility of a compromise in the works and that maybe the Democrats are going home. Is Dick right or wrong on that?

STATE SEN. LENA TAYLOR, D-WIS.: Good evening, Greta, and thanks for having me. You know, what Dick is saying is basically what we've been tying to do since the beginning, and it's really sad that our governor has not been willing to lead and come to the table and do, frankly, what he asked to do in December when he asked to do those contracts.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it -- but I -- is -- right now, at this moment, is there a negotiation going on and there's a possibility that you 14 are going home?

TAYLOR: You know, of course we're going to go home. The question is when.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what I mean. You know what I mean.

TAYLOR: Well, come on. We're not going home today, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right...

TAYLOR: We're not going home today and we're not going home, you know, tomorrow that I'm aware of. But what I will tell you is this. We need to go home because the governor has gone from his budget repair bill to -- you know, from a war on workers to a war on the people. When you look at his budget, he takes nearly a billion dollars out of education. How can we compete, how can we be open for business if our citizens cannot even get an adequate education?

VAN SUSTEREN: Here are -- here's what I see is your problem. As I understand it, the Democrats left because they didn't have sufficient time to take a look at the budget repair bill to study it and to vote. Now you've had more than 14 days, so you've lost that argument.

TAYLOR: That's not quite...

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, well...

TAYLOR: That's not quite it.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, why specifically did the 14 Democrats initially leave?

TAYLOR: Because the bill literally was going to be rammed through in three days, and the citizens of Wisconsin had not had a chance to not only know what was in the bill but a chance to be heard. And when the Republicans literally prevented them from exercising their 1st Amendment right, and you know, disregarding the Constitution by not letting them sign up, that was an issue.

But then also, when they refused to listen to the half million individuals who came to the capitol, that was a problem. So really, this was about slowing the bill down. And I'm glad that we were able to do that so that people could see what was in the bill, but also see Governor Walker's agenda and how the legislature is, frankly, rubber stamping what he does.

VAN SUSTEREN: OK, here's the problem, is that, OK, if I accept your argument that you had to leave because it was being rammed down your throat and the citizens', that has now passed. You've had plenty of time to look at it, and so have the citizens. In fact, we outside of the state of Wisconsin know an awful lot about the bill, more about this bill than any other bill I think that's pending in any state legislature. So you've lost that argument. Now you're got the argument that your job is to vote...

TAYLOR: Actually, not...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let me finish. You've lost the argument...

TAYLOR: Actually...

(CROSSTALK)

TAYLOR: I was just going to say not lost it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I mean, it's over. The time has run. You've had a chance to look at it. Now the second thing is say learn about the governor's agenda. He won in November! There's just -- you know, there's no doubt about it! You lost that! And your job is to vote! So I don't -- I don't know how you justify being gone now, except for the fact you don't like the bill! And that's just a lousy argument at this point!

TAYLOR: I'd like to address that, if you'd let me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Go ahead.

TAYLOR: First of all, being gone -- as I said before, we needed to slow this down so Wisconsinites can know. And as you stated, we've been able to do that successfully, so much so that even the nation is aware.

But you also mentioned the issue of, Well, he was elected in November. That's the other thing. We were able to show his character and the fact that he's liar and the fact that on more than one occasion, The Journal Sentinel, Politifact, others have shown that he's not been honest about this bill. He wasn't honest about, in campaigning, he said he told people this. He didn't tell individuals he wanted to take their rights.

So it was important, I think, that citizens...

VAN SUSTEREN: I think...

TAYLOR: ... get to see that also.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, I...

TAYLOR: And in his budget bill that -- if I could? In the budget bill that he's done also, now people are able to see that it's not just a war on workers or unions as he wanted to suggest. But it literally is about rights and it literally now goes as a war on Wisconsin and the people of Wisconsin. So I think that that's an important piece. And ultimately - - Greta, I voted on finance for this bill. I voted against it, should I say, during finance. And we will vote for the bill.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, all right, let me respond...

TAYLOR: And we will have an opportunity to vote for the bill, but it just won't be at this moment because we needed to do what we did.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think you might be one of the few that's surprised by his agenda. When I was following the election -- I always follow these elections because I love Wisconsin. I followed this election. I'm not surprised by his agenda, so I find it a little bit hard that you're surprised when he's elected, what his agenda was. I think it was pretty plain right from the get-go. If you say...

TAYLOR: I don't...

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of campaign -- let me just tell you -- in terms of the campaign, I have yet to hear one candidate for office who doesn't say, I'm going to Washington and I'm going to handle waste and fraud. They get here to Washington, they do none of that! So I mean, it's, like, I'm a little bit perplexed, you know, as to why -- you know, why you're using that now as a reason not to go back because you were elected to do your job, which was to vote!

TAYLOR: Well, actually, my job is to represent my constituents, which I'm doing by making sure that they have an opportunity to know what's in the bill, understand their governor, understand the agenda, understand that the legislature is not exercising their authority over the executive power, and making sure that they're not a rubber stamp legislature. I'm going to exercise what my citizens sent me to do, which is to hold our governor accountable.

But the other piece, when you say that, you know, it was in his campaign -- let me be clear. I'm from Milwaukee County, and I ran against the governor for county executive. So I'm very clear about the kind of individual he is, and you know, what some of his policies are. But he was not honest with the people about the fact that he wanted to take workers' rights.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I'm giving you the...

TAYLOR: And this isn't about -- but...

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: ... last word on it. I got the music going. I'm giving you the last word. I hope you'll come back, but you got the last word on that. Thank you, Senator.