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NBC "Meet the Press" - Transcript

Interview

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MR. GREGORY: Joining me now, the Democratic Governor of California, my home state, Jerry Brown and the Republican Governor of Arizona Jan Brewer. Welcome to both of you. I--we were talking about my ties to Arizona, as well. It's nice to have both of you here in studio.

I do want to begin talking about a little bit of politics. Tuesday's a big day Arizona with your primary.

GOV. JAN BREWER (R-AZ): Big day.

MR. GREGORY: Are you paired--prepared to endorse a candidate in the field?

GOV. BREWER: Well, I am, David. I have had my debate there in Arizona and I have looked over all the wonderful people that have put themselves up for nomination, and I have decided that I am going to publicly endorse Mitt Romney. I think he's the man that can carry the day, and I'm going to get out there and work as hard as I know how to make sure that he wins Arizona and work in other places of our country to see that he wins those places, too.

MR. GREGORY: What was, what was decisive for you hearing the debate?

GOV. BREWER: Well, you know, I, I think that he handles himself very, very well. But more than that, I think that he has that pro-business background and he has that political history that I think that he would serve America the best of, of the, of all the candidates. And so it was a difficult decision, but I think Mitt is by far the person that can go in and win. And...

MR. GREGORY: Are you worried about how this race is going, that it looks like he's going to really have to grind it out if he can be the nominee? There's so much anxiety within the party about tone and about the fact that there's so much dissatisfaction with the field.

GOV. BREWER: It's been an interesting campaign, one of which I have never ever was party to in the years that I've been in politics. And--but I think that things will settle down. And I think that after Super Tuesday we'll have our candidate and I think then all Republicans will get behind that candidate and we'll go to Tampa and we'll knock them down.

MR. GREGORY: You really think after Super Tuesday we're going to have it, because Rick Santorum says he's in it for a lot longer than that.

GOV. BREWER: Well, he might be in it, but I think that, I think that overwhelmingly that it'll be pretty much decided by, by Super Tuesday.

MR. GREGORY: By Super Tuesday.

GOV. BREWER: I know the pundits don't agree with me. Maybe I'm wishful thinking, but I, I'm going to be out there working hard for Mitt.

MR. GREGORY: Governor Brown, you, you, this is not your first rodeo or campaign. You've run for the presidency, of course, as well. A couple of questions about this. You know, you were one who kept the fight going against Bill Clinton all the way to the convention. Do you see that happening on the Republican side this year?

GOV. JERRY BROWN (D-CA): Well, I certainly think Ron Paul's going to keep going.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

GOV. BROWN: And why not? The campaign is there to illuminate the issues and give voters a real insight into the character of the candidate. So yeah, I say keep going all the way.

MR. GREGORY: You, you talked to my colleague Tom Brokaw recently, and you thought the other side, the Republicans, were on a, "a suicide mission." What were you referring to?

GOV. BROWN: Well, the extreme move to the right, they want to take away contraceptives from American women, the recklessness with regard to Iran. I mean, have there been no lessons learned? Obama took over the country after it was in a gigantic mess. We were losing 700,000 jobs a month and now we're on the road to recovery. And I think what we're looked at--what we're looking at is a reasonable man vs. reckless men. And that's really becoming very evident through the Republican primaries.

MR. GREGORY: You--education, of course, a big issue in both of your states. How do you react to Senator Santorum's view about Obama and higher education?

GOV. BROWN: Well, it's not the way I would frame it. Everyone should have a right and an opportunity to go to college and yes, we should have technical training like they do in Germany. I'd also emphasize, which Mr. Santorum doesn't, that joint labor management apprentice programs for pipe fitters and electricians and sheet metal workers and carpenters, I'd like to see a lot more of that and that takes union and management cooperation, something that the Republican candidates seem very hostile to.

MR. GREGORY: Let me, let me move to a really important issue in Arizona and in this fall campaign and that's the issue of immigration. As I mentioned, Governor Brown, 34 years ago to the day, you were on
MEET THE PRESS and we couldn't actually find the tape for it, but we have something that you said about immigration which I want to put up on the screen. You said, "I do believe that the Mexican-American has been too invisible in California and throughout the Southwest. It is imperative that we in this country, and particularly in the Southwest, open our hearts and our minds to this culture and that we try to accelerate the melting pot and the assimilation process so that we can live together in harmony." Here's Time magazine this week and on the cover it is "yo decidito"--"yo decido," which is that I'm going to decide. Hispanic-Americans are going to decide who the next president is if you look at the percentage that they occupy the voting bloc. And they are certainly not very happy with the Republican Party. Do you believe even more strongly today what you said 34 years ago?

GOV. BROWN: Very much so. And I was willing--I think--I may be the only governor, but I know I'm the one who signed the Dream, Dream Act in California...

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

GOV. BROWN: ...that will enable undocumented students who do well in high school to go to college, pay in-state tuition and even get a scholarship. So I know there's a lot of controversy in that, but you can't round up 12 million people and ship them back across the border. That's a disaster. We have to certainly secure the border, but we need comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship. And I think Obama would--supports that and I certainly do.

MR. GREGORY: Governor Brewer, the view within the Republican Party is that demographically, these candidates don't get the fact that what they say about immigration and also the policy positions toward immigration, where your state is really the flash point of it because of your very tough immigration law, is a big part of the problem.

GOV. BREWER: Well, let me remind you, David, that you're talk about Arizona's very tough immigration law. It mirrors federal law. And we, of course, all know that we are a nation of laws and we believe in rule of law. And Arizona...

MR. GREGORY: But there was a federal injunction into a portion of the law which allowed reasonable--a question of whether there was reasonable suspicion that somebody was illegal and they could ask for their papers. Supreme Court's got to decide that piece of it.

GOV. BREWER: Absolutely and that'll be decided in April.

MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.

GOV. BREWER: And we're looking forward to that, that determination because--but the bottom line is we do need our border secured because we understand that Mexico is in terrible unrest and they're--that the whole state of Mexico is being controlled by drug cartels and all of that crime is coming across our border and Arizona is the gateway. Texas has done a very good job of securing their borders with the help of the federal government. California has done a good job. But we are the gateway and we are the recipients of our citizens being threatened by the drug cartels, living in fear, having to protect their property and their families, drop houses being in normally stable neighborhoods, prostitution, and the extortion of those illegal people that are coming that maybe possibly are coming to work, their families are being extorted.

MR. GREGORY: But you talk about...

GOV. BREWER: And they're being tortured. Why we can secure borders, David, everywhere, why can't we secure our border?

MR. GREGORY: But how do you deal--you talk about securing the border, is this is an area where you think the president has fallen down, Governor?

GOV. BROWN: No. Every president has tried to secure the border. The fact is these drugs generate billions of dollars in profit, guns from America go down to Mexico, the dope comes up, the billions of dollars go down. It takes a collaborative work, Mexico and the U.S., we've got to invest in Mexico, we've got to give them all the tools that we can and work together to get rid of the cartels but build up Mexico so the employment can be there instead of forcing people across the border.

MR. GREGORY: Why not--but Governor, why not testify on Capitol Hill? Senator Schumer's committee asked you to testify about the...(unintelligible). You decided against it.

GOV. BREWER: You took me in a different direction, there. Well, I think that it's ridiculous that he would invite me to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bottom line is is why didn't he ask me two years ago when all of this was on the forefront? Wait until the day before...

MR. GREGORY: You don't think its on the forefront now?

GOV. BREWER: Well, but I mean, the day before that it's heard by the Supreme Court? I mean, they are ultimately going to make that decision, whether Senate Bill 1070 is going to be upheld or not. I believe that it will be. But let me tell you when we talk about the Obama administration and securing our borders. No, they don't want to secure our borders or they would secure our borders. They secure borders everywhere else, they could secure them on the Arizona border. And instead what do they do? They send guns, fast and furious, they're sending guns down there to the cartel and then they don't track them. And then noble people like border patrol agent Brian Terry gets murdered. People--47,000 Mexican citizens have been killed south of the border and we just ignore that? Mexico is Arizona's largest trading partner. Why doesn't the administration step up and do something to help Mexico? We help all these other countries. They do nothing. They don't secure our borders, they send guns down there, they sue the state of Arizona and me personally for doing the job that they should do. It's frustrating, David.

MR. GREGORY: I want you--and the frustration has obviously bubbled over in your interactions with President Obama, too. This picture now well known during his last visit to Arizona when you met him on the tarmac and appeared to have a confrontation with him over some things that were in your book that he didn't quite like. You've been invited, as part of the National Governors Conference, to have a dinner at the White House. You've declined to go.

GOV. BREWER: I have.

MR. GREGORY: Are you showing disrespect for the office of the president?

GOV. BREWER: Well, I, I hope that it isn't disrespect. I would not disrespect the president of the United States. I have other commitments and I'm going to be at the White House on Monday morning. I said that, you know, this event was a social thing. You know, I am a governor, I've got priorities and I will be there Monday when we all meet and, and discuss policy.

MR. GREGORY: Governor, I want to ask you before I let you go about the economy and about gas prices. We look at the average prices and they are going up and Republicans are talking about, and I don't have to tell you, in California how high they are. This is an average, of course, over the course of the Obama presidency and now we're at February where it's over 3.50. In, in some areas it's higher. What should be done at this point and how much of an effect is it having on your state's economy?

GOV. BROWN: Well, look, we've been there before. I've been there. When I was governor the last time, we had gas lines and the price shot up and then the price shot down. We took steps, fuel efficiency, mandating electric cars. California's in the forefront and now President Obama adopted the California regulations and we have to go beyond that and you have to support mass transit, unlike the congressional Republican bill that guts mass transit. We have to get real here. The instability in the Middle East is driving up that price. In fact, if the Republicans get their way and stimulate a war over there in Iran, the gas price will go to $2--rather not $2, it'll go up $2 a gallon. So we have a real problem here. We're not going to solve it in the short term, but long term, fuel efficient cars, electric cars. California will have a million of them in the next eight years and mass transit and land-use policies that minimize reliance on fossil fuel.

MR. GREGORY: Quickly, this is your third term as California governor, is it less governable now than it used to be?

GOV. BROWN: No. It's different, but I think it actually will be more, more governable. And one thing we have in California that we don't have in the United States government, we can appeal to the people through the initiative process. So when we have a breakdown in the two parties, we can go directly to the people as the tie-breaker, and I think that's the way we're going to break the logjam.

MR. GREGORY: I want to leave it there. I want to underscore, Governor Brewer, you're endorsing Governor Romney for the presidency, for the nomination.

GOV. BREWER: Yeah.

MR. GREGORY: And you think he will wrap up this nomination after Super Tuesday. He won't have all the delegates by then, but you think effectively it'll be over.

GOV. BREWER: We'll be working hard for him. He's our man.

MR. GREGORY: Two big pieces of news. All right.

GOV. BREWER: He's our man.

MR. GREGORY: Governor Brewer, Governor Brown, thank you both very much. So nice to have you here.

GOV. BREWER: Thank you.

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