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CNN "Piers Morgan Tonight" - Transcript


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PIERS MORGAN, CNN HOST: Tonight, Republican rising.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions.

MORGAN: Scott Walker fought the Wisconsin recall and won. Could he be the shot in the arm the GOP needs? And is he destined to be Mitt Romney's running mate. I'll ask him.

Also, 41. The man who founded an American dynasty. President George H.W. Bush, his life story in his own words, the White House days, his family and the shocking wartime attack that nearly cost him his life.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wasn't afraid to die. Maybe I was scared when all this was taking place.

MORGAN: Plus politics gets personal. Chaz Bono on a cause that's close to his hot and his new life as a single man.

CHAZ BONO: I'm not the most outgoing fella. You know, I'm not one of those guys who can't just walk up and start chatting up a girl that I find attractive.

MORGAN: And "Only in America," a steaming best seller goes mainstream. The real life "Fifty Shades of Grey."


Good evening, our big story tonight, the man of the hour, Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker. He says his victory is a triumph for the middle class in his state. Whether he likes it or not, it also puts him firmly at the national spotlight. And now the guessing game begins in earnest. Should the GOP start printing out Romney- Walker bumper stickers? He'll tell me in a moment.

And later a man who gives Scott Walker some pointers on the ups and downs of American politics. George Herbert Walker Bush. This is the 41st president of the United States as you've really never seen him before. He talks openly in a new movie about how his life has changed since leaving the White House.

But we begin with our big story, Governor Scott Walker's dramatic rise in the Republican Party. And the governor joins me now.

Welcome, Governor, and congratulations.

WALKER: Hey, Piers, good to be with you. Sorry my voice is a little hoarse but my spirits are high and it's great to be with you.


MORGAN: I bet they are. You've probably been partying well into the night, and why shouldn't you?

Last time I spoke to you it was all pretty tense and you talked quite honestly about receiving death threats and how nasty the whole thing had got. How do you feel now it's all over? I mean you're still getting threats, apparently. It's obviously been a pretty brutal campaign.

WALKER: Well, it was. And you know the thing when I walked out on the stage and saw those supporters the first thing I thought of was thank god it's over for my wife, Tonette, my two boys, Matt and Alex, because they more than anybody felt the blunt of all that.

I asked for the job. They didn't ask for it. And it was just a big relief that it was done for them. And in our case yes, there's a few outliers out there. But I think most people in our state are definitely ready to move on. They're ready to move forward. I spent the last two -- two days, excuse me, criss-crossing the state. And the sentiment is pretty strong there. People are ready to move and we're going to work together to make that happen.

MORGAN: Let's take another listen to your victory speech last night, a little clip from this.


WALKER: Tonight, tonight, we tell Wisconsin, we tell our country, and we tell people all across the globe that voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions.



MORGAN: I think I know now why you've lost your voice. You were in full battle cry mode last night. But what does this really mean in the context of the national election, do you think?

WALKER: Well, I think it has an impact both on what's going to happen in the fall and more important what happens after that. I think the message that we sent in the election on Tuesday because I got not just Republican and conservative votes, I had independents and even some discerning Democrats who said they like the fact that somebody had the courage to take on the tough challenges.

And I think for Governor Romney here in Wisconsin and for any other swing states across the country, if he's going to succeed I think voters want to hear not just what's wrong with the current occupant in the White House, I think they want to hear, what are you going to do? What dramatic steps, bold steps will you take to move our country forward, to tackle both the economic and fiscal crisis that our country faces just like we did here in Wisconsin?

I think if he does, I think he has the capacity to do that. He certainly did that with the Olympics. He did that in the private sector. I think he has a capacity to do that for the nation. If he makes those kind of bold statements and has the ability to follow up on them I think people will turn in his regard.

MORGAN: Quite obviously there's been lots of speculation about whether you may join Mitt Romney on a ticket. Mark A. Tyson on Monday in "The Washington Post" column wrote that, "Putting you on the ticket would make Mitt Romney instantly competitive in Wisconsin. It would force President Obama to spend time and resources defending a state he expected to be an easy win. And even if he has succeeded in narrowly holding Wisconsin, the fight for the Badger State would divert precious resource from other battleground. And if the Republican ticket did pull an upset in Wisconsin, Obama's chances for a second term would be slim to none."

So you can see why a lot of Republicans are getting very excited by this. You've been propelled into the superstar stratosphere with this well-fought campaign. And then there is a logic and a common sense to putting you on the ticket. How do you feel about it?

WALKER: Well, I think the benefit of what happened on Tuesday was the power of ideas. You know, we ran not just an election but we ran for the last year and a half on powerful ideas that were not about R for Republican but R for reform, and if Governor Romney embraces that, and no matter he puts on the ticket, will be strong. And if you were to ask me about what to do with Wisconsin I'd say one of the most powerful reformers in the country grew up just down away from me, Paul Ryan.

I probably would suggest he put him on the ticket. After a year and a half worth of all this I want to stay focus to helping Wisconsin move forward. But I do think in Wisconsin and I think a lot of other swing states across the country if he's got -- if goes big and he goes bold in terms of saying what he'll do to turn our country around he can be successful. And I'm just thrilled we brought that -- that attention to the national level as well as what we do in Wisconsin.

MORGAN: But if Romney called you and said, right, I've thought about this, you are my man, I presume you wouldn't turn him down?

WALKER: Well, again, I would probably eagerly persuade him that the best person in Wisconsin to put on the ticket is indeed Paul Ryan. I --

MORGAN: Right. But what if hypothetically --


MORGAN: He decides not Paul Ryan, it's going to be Scott Walker? WALKER: I think he'd have a pretty tough person to convince in terms of my wife, Tonette, after all this campaigning, all this focus in Wisconsin. I think it'd be pretty hard for me to turn around and do anything else except for the next couple of years. Stay focused on Wisconsin. And that's why I'd push Paul. I -- there is a lot of other great candidates out there.

MORGAN: No, I get -- I get that. But you wouldn't --


MORGAN: You wouldn't say no, would you? I mean you're a man of --

WALKER: Well --

MORGAN: You'd want to help him.

WALKER: It's pretty -- it's pretty overwhelming just to think about getting through this last election and, you know, for me, I appreciate the attention but I think it's really because of not my personality as much as it is because of the bold ideas we ran on and the fact that we didn't just win, we won with more votes than we did two years ago, and -- a year and a half ago, really, in one of the key swing states across the country.

And I hope that sends a message not just about winning but more importantly about governing, not just in a presidential election but in any other election for governor, for mayor, for other executive positions across the country. You can make tough decisions that I believe voters for years have asked us to do.

I've often heard the complaint from both Democrat and Republican voters alike that they hate the fact that politicians get into office and they -- and they're fearful, they're fearful to make tough decisions because they think more about the next election than they do about the next-generation. We turned that around. We thought more about the next generation than the next election and I hope there's more leaders who'll join us in doing that.

MORGAN: What do you make about this furor over President Clinton's comments, which have been, it appears, completely at odds with President Obama's positions in relation to Mitt Romney in particular and to the Bush tax cuts?

WALKER: Well, I think it -- you know, it's interesting. I think the president has been hanging around -- President Clinton, that is, he's been hanging around with a number of people in the private sector, people who actually put people to work, whether they're small business or big business or anywhere in between. That's how our nation thrives. And I think he's seen that reality and I think it was a good wakeup call for the rest of the country.

You know President Obama may be a good and decent person but in the end his view of government is that government is successful if more people are dependent on government programs. I don't think that's successful. I don't think that's what the majority of people in my state or my country believe. I think most people believe success in government is how many fewer people are in government, not because you kick them off of benefits like unemployment but they've been able to control their own destiny because private sector employers have created more jobs. That's the way we move our country forward. That's certainly the way we're trying to move Wisconsin forward.

MORGAN: I mean you talked about being conciliatory now towards the unions. Presumably you don't want to go down as just this sort of ferocious union basher, the great slayer of all things union. Because a lot of these people are decent people who work hard for a living. It's not a mantle that any politician should be overly proud of.

WALKER: No. No. Well, and I think it was something largely created by some of our national opponents. For us, we've always had a good working relationship. In fact if you look more than a third of all the union households in the state actually voted for me, and I think that's because over the last year and a half private sector unions have seen that they're my partner in economic development.

I work with them on reinvesting in the infrastructure, my predecessor raided out of the transportation fund. I've worked with them in terms of rebuilding our infrastructure when it comes to energy and power in the state. We'd like to even streamline the process for safe and environmentally sound mining in our state, to put more of our workers, both union and non-union alike, back to work.

I think in the private sector they understand that. The thing to remember with private sector unions is not only are we helping them put people back to work, they're taxpayers. They don't want to see their taxes go up anymore than anybody else does. And so the idea that we can operate a government that's more efficient, more effective, more accountable to the taxpayers is good for everyone particularly middle class taxpayers who overwhelmingly in the past had had to pay the brunt of the cost for expansive and out-of-control government.

We reined that in and if anything I'd like my legacy to be that we controlled the budget without massive (INAUDIBLE), without tax increases, without cuts in things like Medicaid, and did so in a way that helped create more jobs in the private sector which means more freedom and prosperity for all of our people. And I think that's the important message here in Wisconsin and across the country.

MORGAN: Well, Governor, I got to wrap things up now before I achieve what no Democrat has achieved against you, that is to silence Scott Walker because I fear your voice is about to pack up on me. But it's been a great week for you, good week for your party. I congratulate you. Thanks for joining me.

WALKER: Well, thanks, Piers. And the best thing you've talked to me about this before but Sunday, after my son graduates from high school on Saturday, Sunday I get to take that Harley-Davidson road king out and get it back on the road, I'm just riding wherever it takes me all across Wisconsin. Good to be with you, Piers.

MORGAN: I'm seeing a remake of "Easy Rider" coming up before me.


Enjoy your ride, Governor.

WALKER: Thank you.


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