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NBC Sunday Today - Transcript

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NBC News Transcripts

SHOW: Sunday Today (9:00 AM ET) - NBC

February 1, 2004 Sunday

LENGTH: 1034 words

HEADLINE: Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson discuss Democratic presidential race


LESTER HOLT, co-host:

Janet Napolitano is the governor of Arizona, Bill Richardson is the governor of New Mexico.

Good morning to both of you.

Governor JANET NAPOLITANO (Democrat, Arizona): Good morning.

Governor BILL RICHARDSON (Democrat, New Mexico): Good morning.

HOLT: Governor Richardson, let me start with you. There's new polling information out from the Albuquerque Journal. It's got Kerry at 31 percent, distant second for Dean and Clark in a virtual tie at 15 and 14 percent. What do you make of the race so far in your state?




Gov. RICHARDSON: Well, Senator Kerry has incredible momentum. I've been traveling with all the candidates, since I'm neutral, and you can feel it. What is significant there, Lester, is that 55 percent of the votes cast in New Mexico on caucus day will be Hispanic, and Senator Kerry has the lead among Hispanics over anybody else, two and a half to one. I do detect a surge by General Clark at the same time. And Howard Dean has a very strong absentee ballot organization here. But the surge of Senator Kerry is among all parts of New Mexico, the rural areas, the conservative areas, but principally in the Hispanic areas that are going to be pretty decisive.

HOLT: You know, and--and Governor Richardson, I mean, the caucus system is new to New Mexico. You have suggested your state will have a major impact on this race. How so? Because of the Hispanic vote?

Gov. RICHARDSON: Because of the Hispanic vote, the fact that New Mexico and Arizona are the first tests of two Western states, barometer states, battleground states with significant Hispanic populations. I think the fact that we are always courted by both parties election day, this is why. And--and this has been very good for our state, having an early caucus. But it's the Hispanic vote which I believe in states like Nevada and Arizona and California and Florida are going to be decisive in the general elections.

HOLT: And Governor Napolitano, let me ask you--in your state the Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby poll has Kerry now at 36 percent, Clark at 24, Dean at 14. A lot of money is being pumped into Arizona, $2.5 million on television ads there alone. Do you see Arizona as a serious and--and key political battleground?




Gov. NAPOLITANO: Yes. It's a battleground now, although Senator Kerry clearly has momentum coming into this Tuesday primary. And ours is a primary, not a caucus. But it will be a battleground in the fall. Republicans outnumber Democrats only by six percentage points, and 20 percent of the voters are Independent. So whoever gets the Independents in Arizona's going to take the electoral votes.

HOLT: Do you also see the Hispanic vote as being key here, to watch where that goes?

Gov. NAPOLITANO: Yeah, I--it will be very important to see where it goes, but the other important question is how much of it is there? In our state Hispanics do not have a--a great track record in voting in primaries. And so many of the candidates have targeted them for this primary. They've been advertising in Spanish-lang--language media among other things. It will be interesting to see who turns out.

HOLT: Do you agree that Howard Dean has to win Arizona and/or New Mexico in order to remain viable?

Gov. NAPOLITANO: I don't know about winning New Mexico or Arizona, but he needs a win pretty--pretty soon now, either Tuesday or during the week, at--in Michigan or whatever, to--to appear viable, to keep his funding up, and to regain some momentum. He--he basically stalled after Iowa, and you can see that in Arizona.

HOLT: And Governor Richardson, as you mentioned, you're neutral. You are the chairman of the Democratic Convention later this summer in Boston, but as you watch this race play out and look at the importance of Super Tuesday, could this be over for all intents and purposes Tuesday night?

Gov. RICHARDSON: Well, Senator Edwards has a strong possibility in South Carolina, so I don't think necessarily it will be over on Tuesday. I think it--Tuesday, this--this Super Tuesday, will send very strong signals about the viability of other candidates. The race will start dramatically whittling down. There will be calls by party leaders if Senator Kerry has a decisive Tuesday victory, to unite around the candidate, because we're going to be financially out-gunned, and the last thing we need is a divisive primary up until the Democratic Convention. So I think Tuesday is going to be very, very decisive day, not necessarily the race being technically over, but there will be an effort to rally around the stronger candidates.

HOLT: All right.

Gov. RICHARDSON: But again, in politics you never know, because something unexpected might happen.

HOLT: And let me briefly change gears, if I can. Governor Napoli--Napolitano, let me ask you about that stand-off in Buckeye, Arizona, at the prison. We're now entering the end--we've hit the end of the second week. Can you tell us when you think that situation might be resolved?

Gov. NAPOLITANO: I can't. My watchword to the director of the Department of Corrections here and to other is so long as our hostage is alive, and we know that to be true, patience is--and time are on our side, and just be patient. This is not a--this is not a television show, this is the real deal. And if we have to go in, it will be only when circumstances command it.

HOLT: All right. Well, Governor Janet Napolitano, thank you.

And Governor Bill Richardson, as well, my thanks to you for joining us.

And we'll be right back after these messages.

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