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CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript


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BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with the thirty-fourth governor of California who also happens to be the thirty-ninth governor of California, Jerry Brown, who in between time was also the California attorney general, and the mayor of Oakland. He also ran for President a couple of times in there, and someone I first interviewed back in 1979. Governor, a pleasure to see you.

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN (D-California): My pleasure.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Welcome. I want to ask you something. How much has politics changed since you were first governor?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: A hell of a lot. It's more polarized. The money is more centrally collected and distributed by the two major parties. There is particularly on the Republican side, there's an enforcement of discipline that's ideological and as was mentioned today in the Washington Post, takes on the quality of a cult. So we're in a much more adversarial environment. We've al-- always had it historically, but now it's ramped up several degrees as evidenced by the filibuster and holds on nominations, and a great power can't govern itself with this kind of dysfunction. It just won't work.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So do-- do you see a way out of it?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: We need some kind of decisive election, some kind of breakdown, leading to a breakthrough and that's not quite evident on the horizon yet.

BOB SCHIEFFER: How do you-- we just heard Haley Barbour and the L.A. Mayor-- how do you see this presidential race shaping up?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: I see it as a close election. I see it as unpredictable. If you ask me, there's no doubt I believe Obama should win, but between now and November, there's going to be a lot of back-and-forth. These big, secret Super PACs are going to just load the money in and it's going to be nasty, but I have to say this, I've never seen a-- a cooler, more reasoned, intelligent candidate, leader than Obama. This man under pressure shows a lot of grace and a lot of thoughtfulness, and that's going to serve him well because I've been in these races. And under pressure, you know, somebody can blow or make a mistake or say something stupid and that often is the race. So I'd say Obama has the-- has the strength to make it all the way, and I sure hope he does.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Will you be out campaigning for him?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Yeah, I will, although-- you know, in this world of national media, it's all on the President and on Romney's side. It's all-- mostly him, and then the money in these PACs that run around and-- and put the poison into the bloodstream of the body politic, but those two candidates, how they react, and how they set forth their vision for America. That's going to make the difference.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, now we should add that the Democrats have their own set of those PACs, too.


BOB SCHIEFFER: This is not just something that Republicans are doing. You heard Haley Barbour and-- and Mayor Villaraigosa talking about Marco Rubio. Do you see that helping? Would that help Mitt Romney in California, for example, which right now I would guess is looking pretty good for Barack Obama.

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: I-- I don't think Romney can win California. I don't think it would hurt. I think it would show a little diversity on the part of a party that is pretty monolithic. But the fact is the-- the Republicans just recently-- that it wasn't that true a few years ago, but they're so hostile to millions and millions of people that are in this country, and while they can't vote, they have millions and millions of-- of-- of people who they're related to or who identify with them, and you just can't ignore twelve million people, particularly, when they're picking our food, they're working in the hotels and the restaurants, and now they're increasingly in very important jobs. So I think the Republicans have to move out of that-- that-- that reactionary cul-de-sac that some of the more extreme members are pushing them.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What do you think-- we kind of know who the key demographic groups are going to be. It is going to be Hispanics, eleven percent of the population; it is going to be women, who are more than half the electorate now. We-- we know that it is going to be independents. Barack Obama won a lot of them the last time out. He doesn't seem to be doing as well with independent voters. Now what do you think the election will turn on? Will it be in the end the economy?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: I think it turns on if one of the candidates screws up first and makes a mistake. That's always how elections tend to move on-- on the other person making the mistake. Secondly, I think it-- it comes down to who do the-- who do the American people have the most confidence in? And generally incumbent has-- has an advantage. Not a big advantage, but in these close elections, I-- I think the fact that he's in power gives him an advantage, and then Romney's going to try to use the fact that there's a lot of discontent. People aren't very happy at the way things are going, and it's-- it's obvious because we're recovering very slowly, not because of-- of Mister Obama it's-- the fact is the mortgage meltdown was a financial recession, and the historic data shows this-- they take much longer to recover from. And that breakdown was due in large part because of the lack of regulation, not too much government but too little on Wall Street.

BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, you-- you've been around for a while.

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Al-- almost as long as you.

BOB SCHIEFFER: That's exactly right. I may have you by a year or so. But I-- I am just wondering, as you look back over your career, and your career is still very much in progress, what advice do you have for politicians? What-- what-- what do you think you've learned in-- in these years you spent in public life?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Well, I've learned you don't get things done overnight. It does take time. Things that I was talking about thirty years ago, pension reform, renewable energy, completing the California water plan, high speed rail, they're right at the top of the agenda today. So, what do I say? Hey, you're going to take thirty years to get it done because you can't get it over it-- done overnight. You can't get it in a term. But we're into instant gratification, get it done. If you don't do it in two years, you're a failure. Life doesn't work that way, at least from the point of view of somebody in their seventy-fourth year. It looks like things take longer, and now I'm-- I'm kind of glad they do because they still have something to do.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What was the hardest, being mayor of Oakland or being governor of California?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: Governor is more difficult. It's more removed. It's more abstract. You're dealing with bills. As mayor you're dealing-- you're dealing with cops and criminals and development. I like to say condos, cops, criminals, you want to the make the streets safer and you want to get people to live and make the city, you know, bloom and-- and prosper. So mayor is a hands-on thing. You're walking down the same streets, the same corners, the same high schools. You see them day after day. Governor, you're-- you're in the capitol, but the capitol really isn't anywhere. The state is so big that it's a very different experience than the hands-on, immediate encounter that a mayor has.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Going to run for reelection?

GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: I'm thinking about it.


GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: I am thinking about it. But now-- I have got enough right now to keep me busy for another couple of years--


GOVERNOR JERRY BROWN: --but I wouldn't rule it out.

BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Governor, it's a pleasure to have you.


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