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Public Statements

CNN "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" - Transcript

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GOV. BOB MCDONNELL (R), VIRGINIA: Anderson, that's not the way we heard it in Virginia. I mean, this is the home of the United States Navy, the great Norfolk Naval Base, home of the Pentagon. And what I heard him say is that shipbuilding and the use of ships is sort of going the way of horses and bayonets is the way we understood it. And that's just flat not the case.

We're down to 287 ships or so, Anderson, right now. The "Quadrennial Defense Review" and the Department of the Defense says we need 346 ships. And so we're already way under the number of ships and the president didn't seem to indicate that was very important. And so from a readiness standpoint and I think equally important for Virginia, especially Hampton Roads, Virginia, and swing states like Florida, New Hampshire and Virginia, to lose what's estimated to be 200,000 jobs in Hampton Roads and around the state because of these defense cuts, $1 trillion over the next 10 years, with sequestration.

That's how that comment is being received in Virginia and obviously we're not very happy about it.

COOPER: Just factually speaking, though, Governor Romney's comments that the Navy is at its lowest point since 1916 is also just factually false. I mean, you're well aware that under President Bush the Navy was actually smaller and that surface warships under President Obama have gone up 10 percent.

MCDONNELL: The broader point is -- I don't know how many times we dip below 1916 but there is a broader point, Anderson, and that is if the Defense Department says in their "Quadrennial Review" which is the bible that we need 346 ships and today we've only got 287, and the president at least infers that whether it's technology or anything else, that we still don't need any more, that's factually incorrect.

COOPER: But we're actually building more ships.

MCDONNELL: And protecting American strength around the world that we do need more ships and that's the point.

COOPER: Right. But we're actually building more ships and again, I mean, just factually, under President Bush, in 2007 there were 278 ships. Right now there's 285 ships. And we already are projected to build -- I think get over 300 in the next seven years. So just factually just not correct.

MCDONNELL: Well, here's the most important fact that came out last night, is that we have the sequestration defense cuts that the president said was not his idea. Bob Woodward discredited that. It did come from the -- from the White House. And that 10 -- I mean, $1 trillion in defense cuts, Anderson, over 10 years, Leon Panetta, his own secretary of defense, says is devastating. Mitt Romney made that point last night. And so we need a cut in defense, we need a cut in all areas, but in a time of war, to have half of the cuts fall on the defense part -- department is crippling to the U.S. Navy and it's really bad for Virginia as well as for Florida and New Hampshire.

So I think there's a lot of concern about the president's approach which frankly seems a little callous towards the need to have a strong military project defense power around the world.

COOPER: But didn't Paul Ryan vote for those cuts, though?

MCDONNELL: Well, listen, a lot of people did because you know what the alternative was? Default of the greatest nation on earth and not paying our obligations and at the eve of default, people said that's a better alternative but, Anderson, it was supposed to be a hammer, not a policy. And the -- the super committee was supposed to fix the problem, as you remember. They failed and my point is, the president should have led and listened to Secretary Panetta and said we can't have $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years at a time of war.

He didn't do it. So I do blame him for not leading and the biggest issue besides jobs really is the readiness of the military and this isn't going to do it.

COOPER: But I guess I just didn't hear a lot of Republicans complaining about the size of the Navy under President Bush when it was actually lower than it is now and actually lower than it was in 1916, to the point of Governor Romney.

MCDONNELL: Well, I don't think we had sequestration piled on top of that which was $1 trillion on top of that. So while there may be some ships that are in the pipeline now, Anderson, there's no way to be able to get to the needs that the Department of Defense said another 62 ships to be able to meet the missions of the United States.

I mean, it's an increasingly dangerous world. We're recovering from the Arab Spring with uncertainty in the Mideast. We've got -- we're closer to a nuclear Iran. I think we've got strained relations with Israel. There's a lot of things right now I think that are of great concern and I agree with you, listen, President Obama didn't inherit some of the problems that he's got -- inherited some of the problems that he's got. Inherited some of the problem he's got. He didn't create them.

But he's made it worse, whether it's job creation, whether it's the debt or whether it's the strain on the U.S. military. I haven't seen progress in the last four years and that's why I think we'll have a new president.

COOPER: Governor Bob McDonnell, appreciate your perspective. Thanks for being on.

MCDONNELL: OK. Thanks, Anderson. COOPER: Let's "Dig Deeper" now.

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