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MSNBC Interview - Transcript


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MSNBC Interview - Transcript

MS. O'DONNELL: Republican governors are meeting in Miami right now for their annual conference. This afternoon, they're discussing the 2008 election, not a particularly bright spot for the Grand Old Party, but the focus for Republicans now to determine who will be the new leaders and where to take the party from here.

Mark Sanford is the governor of South Carolina and joins me now from Miami.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us.

GOV. SANFORD: My pleasure.

MS. O'DONNELL: John McCain, you know, was on the "Tonight" show last night with Jay Leno and he said that the party had been taken to the woodshed. So what are you guys doing to make sure that doesn't happen again?

GOV. SANFORD: I think we're having a conversation after, indeed, being taken to that woodshed about where we go from here, and I think the good thing about any loss, whether personally or whether in the business world, or for that matter in the world of politics, is that it allows you to stop and pause and say, wait a minute, what did we get right and what did we get wrong? And the problem with Republicans is, in many cases, they ran as conservatives, but governed in a very different way and we're having a conversation today and tomorrow about what we do as governors on that very front.

MS. O'DONNELL: You know, it's interesting, our political director here, Chuck Todd, actually ran through all of the exit poll numbers and found that other than the State of Missouri, every state that George W. Bush had an approval rating below 35 percent, Obama won and in every state where President Bush had an approval rating above 35 percent, John McCain won that state.

So just how much was the president, George W. Bush, the albatross around the Republican Party's neck?

GOV. SANFORD: I would say that what went on last Tuesday is a lot bigger, ultimately, than George Bush or John McCain or even the presidential race. I think it has a larger backdrop if you will of the last couple of elections because we had losses in 2006, losses in 2008 and they were, again, tied to conservatives, Republicans rather, excuse me, Republicans not walking the walk with regard to what they say they're about. It's telling. We saw a poll earlier this morning where in only 17 percent of the American public trusted Republicans to actually cut their taxes. Part of that was a product of Obama spending $250 million in the last two weeks of the campaign, but a good part of it was the very actions of Republican office holders over the last couple of years not walking the walk.

And so the question is: How do we get out of the woodshed? Where do we go from here? And I think that Republican governors are going to have a big hand in the rebuilding of the party and I say that because as a minority in Congress, you can't impact policy that much, governors can, and ultimately, good policies that make good politics, both in our respective states and the country as a whole.

MS. O'DONNELL: Finally, I know there's a lot of guys down there at the Republican Governors Association meeting, but there is one gal and that's Governor Sarah Palin, of course, the former vice presidential nominee and she said today that she thought when asked whether it would be good to have a woman on the ticket in 2012, she said, it would be good for the ticket, it would be good for the party.

So do you think there should be a woman on the ticket in 2012, governor?

GOV. SANFORD: I'm going to leave 2012 to others to figure. You can figure it. Sarah can figure it. Others can figure it. What I think the bulk of the governors are focused on is 2010 because if you don't get the party turned around between now and 2010, 2012 is the least of our worries. Redistricting occurs in 2010. I think the immediate focus needs to be not just on the composition of the party in terms of male-female, but on getting the principles right between now and 2010.

MS. O'DONNELL: Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina, who will likely be voted in as the new head of the Republican Governors Association. You're great to join us. Thanks so much.

GOV. SANFORD: My pleasure. Thanks.

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