OTR Interviews

Was Kathleen Sebelius set up for failure?

Former HHS secretary Tommy Thompson sounds off on Kathleen Sebelius' resignation, whether she was really doing the job or following orders with ObamaCare


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 11, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: So, how much of a disastrous ObamaCare rollout was actually Secretary Sebelius responsibility. Did she have control over the launch or was it clutch tight by the White House. Former HHS Secretary and I might add the former governor of the great State of Wisconsin Tommy Thompson joins us. Nice to see you, governor or Mr. Secretary.

TOMMY THOMPSON, FORMER HHS SECRETARY/FORMER GOVERNOR STATE OF WISCONSIN: It's great to see, Greta. And thank you very much for having me on your program.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So, tell me -- I mean, behind the scenes, when you used to be in that hot seat, is it fair to give her.


VAN SUSTEREN: All the criticisms or not?

THOMPSON: No, it's not fair. Because under Obama -- under President Obama, there was no question that the White House had a lot to do with the rollout, had a lot to do with the passage of ObamaCare. And did a lot to try and implement it.

Kathleen Sebelius sort of was, you know, in the back side, even though she was the face of ObamaCare, and when we rolled out part D, President George W. Bush says, Tommy, it's your responsibility, don't screw it up, get it out there and do it right, and left me alone to do it. Completely different kinds of presidencies, completely different ways in which we executed part D versus the rollout of ObamaCare.

VAN SUSTEREN: Should she leave Washington head held high or get out and dodge and just quickly move as fast as she can to the next stage of her career?

THOMPSON: Well, I think, you know, there is no question because she was there, she is going to be criticized and blamed for it and I don't think that's really fair because, you know, they gave her the responsibility, she really didn't have a chance to pass the law the way it was necessary. They had to pass a special law in order to implement it and give all that power to the secretary to roll out the rules over 1,000 shelves were rolled out.

And so, it's almost an impossible task. She had to defend something that's indefensible and she is going to get blamed for it, but truly, the blame is President Obama, and the fact that ObamaCare itself is flawed. And when a law is flawed, you really can't implement it to perfection. And so, she is going to get blamed for it but it's truly, the way the law was passed, the way it was set up, and the way it was implemented.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is your advice for the incoming secretary? I assume the incoming woman I assume she will get confirmed.

THOMPSON: Sure, she will. I think, you know, she has got a lot of goodwill built up in the Congress. So, I think she is going to have an opportunity to explain what took place, what went wrong, and how she is going to change it, but the truth of the matter is, President Obama cannot have that many changes to Obama left because there have been 37 changes already by executive orders.

So, he's going to have to stand by. And even though Kathleen Sebelius has left, the question is going to be in the fall when a voter goes into the pool did, my rates go up, and am I covered? Do I have poorer insurance and do I have my doctor? And those are the ones that are going to really determine how the voter is going to vote.

I think that ObamaCare is going to go down as something that's going to cause a lot of Democrats to lose their seats in the United States Senate.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ok. Do you have any inside scoop on whether your current governor, Governor Scott Walker, is going to run for president?

THOMPSON: Well, I think that he first has to run for governor and I think he is going to do well there. And once that is behind him, I think Scott Walker is looking forward to running for President of the United States. I don't know. I haven't talked to him about it. But you have to realize that all governors believe they should be president.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Mr. Secretary, Governor, thank you very much for joining us.

THOMPSON: Thank you.