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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript

Interview

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BALDWIN: Now with me live from Washington is the first female governor of the state of North Carolina, Democrat Bev Perdue. She is finishing up her first and only term.

She has opted out of seeking re-election. She is one of the Democratic governors met with the president this morning. So Governor Perdue, welcome to you. Thanks for coming on.

GOVERNOR BEV PERDUE (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Thanks, Brooke. It's good to be here.

BALDWIN: Let's just begin with your morning, this closed-door meeting with the president. Obviously, it was closed door. We don't have any pictures to show our viewers, but just quickly, what did the president say?

PERDUE: A great meeting. We met with several of his advisers and then he came in and sat with us. We talked about what's going on in the country, the fact that this is the 23rd month of economic recovery, and the fact that he's put about 3.5 million people back to work.

The fact that we all feel optimistic about this recovery that's beginning and the hope that we continue to focus on, growing jobs throughout the country, educating our people, and obviously bringing home the troops.

BALDWIN: You're state, a key state for him in 2008, big year for him, big year for you but in a different way. Let's get to your news. You announced just last month, Governor, that you will not be seeking a second term.

I just want to read your announcement here. Quote, "We live in highly partisan times where some people seem more worried about scoring political points than working together to address the real challenges our state faces."

With all due respect, though, partisan politics goes way, way back in North Carolina and Washington. I mean, it's all over the country. I'm sure you knew that when you first took the job.

PERDUE: Brooke, I've been in this business for 22 years. I've fought a lot of battles. I've won every race. I've always won. I've always had several opponents not just one. It's not just partisan politics.

It's a ton of partisan politics in this country these days. You know, I'm passionate about education. My parents didn't have a high school diploma. I got the politics trying to make sure every kid in my state had a shot at the future.

Wrapped around the opportunity that education affords, and I simply decided I couldn't continue to do the work that I cared about in this kind of rapidly partisan environment.

BALDWIN: But if it's the partisan politics, and specifically you say, the tone then what was it that surprised you? Was it one single incident that prompted you to say enough is enough?

PERDUE: No, I think it's what's happening in the country. It's happening in Washington, it's happening in Raleigh, it's happening in every capital in the country, every state capital.

There are those folks who are elected right now who care much more about firing shots and fighting and winning elections than they do about solving the big problems for the country or the state.

And in a globally connected world where we are fighting against China and India and other countries, we all really have to get serious about solving America's problems and North Carolina's problems.

And you get frustrated at that and I believe taking it out of the partisan guide, I believe I can be more effective taking up the challenges that North Carolina and this country faces about how we're going to educate our kids to be globally effective.

BALDWIN: But it's such a strong position of power being the governor. You describe the frustration. Are you giving up the fight?

PERDUE: No. I'll never give up the fight. Everybody who knows me knows I'll fight to the last inch. I'm going to fight in a different way. I'm going to fight in a way that I can be free. That any of the partisan politics, I can be free to say what I want to say and be very, very direct what we need to do in this country, not just in my state.

To make sure we have great pre-k programs, make sure we have highly achievable teachers that produce great learners, that we have carrier pathways and college pathways, that we accelerate community college and university and that again, we continue the learning opportunities of people in the work force as technology changes in the work force.

That's the glue that holds our economy together, Brooke, you have to get beyond partisan politics and fight who is a Republican and who is a Democrat and how you score points. I would advise Congress to do it, too.

BALDWIN: Let me take this, though, beyond that, and I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't point this out as well. Your disapproval rating is at 59 percent among independents and we have this poll from last month showing you trailing in your race for re-election to Republican Pat McCrory.

How much, Governor, how much did these numbers, did the disapproval ratings factor in your decision not to run again in a state that, once again, could be crucial in the president's re- election?

PERDUE: I plan to spend a whole lot of my time and energy making sure this president wins and Democrats win in North Carolina. I've said it all along, approval ratings don't matter. A hill of beans to me, they never mattered.

The only thing that mattered is when the campaign starts and we show how they've torn down public schools, torn down education and focused not on jobs which are what people care about, but on social issues.

Right, now my state has a horrible constitution amendment before it on marriage. We have the second heinous choice bill in America, second to Virginia now. Thank goodness Virginia did something and we're going backwards.

These are issues, Brooke, that I thought were put away years ago. And to have them resurface when at the same time America and the country and my state faces tremendous challenges. No, polls don't matter. People matter.

I'm proud of my record, let me tell you that. Twenty years where AAA bond rates stayed. I put people back to work, 87,000 jobs, $19 billion. Folks around my state appreciate the work we're doing and so like I have helped bring the state forward in the worst time since the great depression.

BALDWIN: I understand. We'll see what happens when it comes to who ends up at the helm of your state, be it governor or whichever way your state goes come November, Governor Perdue. Thank you so much from the state of North Carolina.

PERDUE: Delighted to be here. Thank you.

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