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NPR News Special - Transcript

Location: Unknown

National Public Radio (NPR)

SHOW: NPR News Special (10:00 PM ET) - NPR

February 3, 2004 Tuesday

HEADLINE: Governor Janet Napolitano discusses the Democratic race in Arizona



From NPR News, this is special coverage of today's primaries and caucuses. I'm Robert Siegel.

Today's contests took the Democratic presidential campaign to the South and to the West. Oklahoma is still too close to call. John Edwards and Wesley Clark are running neck and neck there. Each man has about 30 percent of the vote, and John Kerry not too far behind with 26 percent; still about 10 percent of the vote left to be counted there. And we have very incomplete returns from New Mexico. Only absentee ballots have been counted so far. They were filed a while ago, and they were split evenly among Clark, John Kerry and Howard Dean. Senator John Edwards has won decisively in South Carolina. But the big winner overall is John Kerry. He'll come away with most of the 269 delegates at stake today with victories in Missouri and Delaware, in North Dakota and in Arizona.

And joining us now from Phoenix is Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.

Welcome, Governor Napolitano.

Governor JANET NAPOLITANO (Democrat, Arizona): Thank you.

SIEGEL: Can you now endorse John Kerry as the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination now that he's won in your state?

Gov. NAPOLITANO: Well, I'll announce my endorsement in the near future, but I'm not prepared to announce this evening. This evening I'm visiting with all of the candidates' camps and celebrating with them and urging all of us to unite and stay together as we confront the fall.

SIEGEL: What must a Democrat do in the fall to have a chance at carrying Arizona?

Gov. NAPOLITANO: Well, Arizona's going to be a battleground state. The registration numbers get closer every day. And I think Arizona, they're very pragmatic. They want to know what is this president going to do for me, and how is my life going to be better? And so they're going to be listening very attentively to economic plans and what you want to do with the budget and the deficit. Health care is going to be, I think, a huge issue in this presidential race in Arizona.

SIEGEL: You haven't mentioned Iraq. Do you think it's going to be a major factor for voters there?

Gov. NAPOLITANO: Under the current circumstances, I think it will be something of a factor, but I don't think it will be the motivating factor for those voters who are undecided and in the middle. I think in Arizona, they will be focused on the domestic policy side.

SIEGEL: One of the few issues of real contention among the candidates who are still in the race for the Democratic nomination is how much of the Bush tax cut to roll back. Candidates Dean and Kerry differ on that score, for example. Do you want a candidate for--Can a candidate carry Arizona saying, 'Let's face it. We've all got to have our taxes increased'?

Gov. NAPOLITANO: Well, I don't think that's the message. I think the message is if we're going to have a permanent tax cut, let's make it a tax cut for the working and particularly the middle class. But it's the upper 2 percent where the major revenue loss is being created, and you couple that with some of the spending that's been going on in the Bush administration, and all of a sudden we've got a deficit problem five or six years from now that we will spend the next generation trying to cure.

SIEGEL: You sound like you're talking about what John Kerry has to say or what Senator Edwards has to say about the nation's finances, not what Howard Dean has to say.

Gov. NAPOLITANO: I think that's right. I think in this campaign when there's talk about taxes, usually in Arizona, you talk about taxes and all of a sudden you're getting a no vote. But even in Arizona, people are quite concerned about the deficit, and really are we spending beyond our means and have we a fiscal policy that makes long-term sense and that will mean that when we retire--and this state is filled with baby boomers--Medicare will be there, Social Security will be there and so forth.

SIEGEL: Thank you, Governor Napolitano.

Gov. NAPOLITANO: Thank you.

SIEGEL: We've been talking with Governor Napolitano of Arizona, Janet Napolitano.

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