Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was my guest in the first hour today, reiterating his strong support for Governor Rick Perry despite disagreements over the HPV vaccination, the border fence and in-state tuition for illegal aliens.
The transcript of my conversation follows.
HH: I’m now joined by Governor Bobby Jindal, who I hope I’ll be able to hold over the break. Governor, good to talk to you, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
BJ: Hugh, it’s always great to be on your show. Thank you for having me back.
HH: Governor, I am defending Rick Perry on this HPV virus decision of his, and he said he was sorry for it, but my gosh, the outrage among people, what are you saying about this? [# More #]
BJ: Well, a couple of things. One, look, I think you’re right, he said it was a mistake. I mean, he did say there was a parental opt-out. Look, we wouldn’t have done that in Louisiana. We haven’t done that in Louisiana. I’m obviously, as a conservative, a strong believer in parental rights. But let’s be clear what this election is really about. This election’s about the economy. It’s about jobs. You’ve got a pretty clear choice here. You’ve got President Obama, who believes that, look, he just introduced Stimulus, Part 2. And he believes that more taxes, more borrowing, more spending are going to work. Remember with Stimulus, Part 1, he promised us unemployment wouldn’t be above 8%. Well, it didn’t work. But he wants to do more of the same. We’ve got a $14 trillion dollar debt. And Hugh, we learned something during the BP oil spill down here in Louisiana. We learned that when the federal government, or when President Obama’s administration tells you something’s going to come tomorrow, it doesn’t mean tomorrow. It just means it’s not going to happen today. And so we have to wait for tomorrow for his magical plan to balance the budget. He doesn’t have it, yet, but he’s still working on it. We have to wait for tomorrow for him to create jobs. The reason I’m supporting Governor Rick Perry is it really comes down to this. Rick Perry understands that we cannot tax our way into prosperity. He has shown as the governor of Texas he’s got a proven track record. The last couple of years, they’ve created over 40% of all the jobs created in America. He understands that when government creates jobs, it costs us money as taxpayers. When the private sector creates jobs, it benefits us as taxpayers. Here’s the fundamental…
HH: Governor, if you can hang on, I’ve got to go to commercial break.
BJ: Sure, sure.
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HH: So pleased to have Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana back on the program talking about last night’s debate and Governor Rick Perry. Governor, when we went to break, you were talking about the need to create jobs. That is Rick Perry’s number one agenda item in the campaign ahead. Expand a little bit on that.
BJ: Absolutely. You know, one of the biggest shortcomings, I think, of the current Obama administration, or the current administration, is that we’ve elected in this country a president who’s never run anything before he became president of the United States. Now think about that. I mean, he hasn’t run anything, and clearly it shows. He does not know, I mean, he is in over his head when it comes to trying to turn this economy around, trying to create jobs. You contrast that with Governor Perry. He’s actually been governor for nearly 11 years, and again, they’ve created hundreds of thousands of jobs. They passed up New York as the second largest economy. You’ve got a governor who’s shown through practice, not just talk, but he knows what it takes to cut spending. He’s the first governor since World War II to actually sign budgets that reduced general revenue spending, line item, $3 billion dollars in spending. You contrast that with President Obama. You’ve got a president who before he became president, didn’t make payroll, hadn’t balanced a budget, hadn’t made the tough choices, and I think you see that lack of executive experience. But not only that, this election, let’s be clear what this election’s really about. It’s about a fundamental choice about the division, of what the role government should be in this country. President Obama represents just a pure, modern day, liberal position that believes we need a larger government. He has grown government to 24% of GDP, and historically, government, post-World War II, has been closer to 18% of GDP. He makes no apologies for the fact that he wants more of your tax dollars, he wants to spend more government money. He thinks the way to create jobs is for more government spending. And whether it’s through his Department of Energy or his other departments, he thinks it’s more money going to Washington.
HH: All right, Governor, I want to get to the two controversies. We already talked about the HPV, but I want to talk also about illegal immigration, because a lot of the people listening last night are surprised that the Governor doesn’t believe in the efficacy of the fence. Putting that aside for a second, does Bobby Jindal believe a fence would cut down on illegal immigration?
BJ: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, look, I wrote about it in my book, and I’ve talked to you about it. And I just think, and when I say fence, I’m talking about an actual fence along with…absolutely use the technology. I mean, you know, people talk, well, there are certain parts of the border where you’ve got to use virtual technology. And look, there are folks in America, we are the strongest, the most powerful, the most successful country in the history of the world, the greatest nation in the history of the world. I’m pretty sure we can figure out how to build a fence and secure our borders.
HH: So have you suggested to Governor Perry that he modify that stance?
BJ: Well you know, look, what he said last night was that he understands the importance of securing our border. He wants additional boots on the ground. He wants a combination of National Guard troops, Border Security agents. And the most important thing is for us to all agree that we need to secure the border.
HH: Well, but that fence, Governor, with all due respect, the fence is the outer manifestation of an inward resolve to actually control the border. And I don’t think, I don’t think you can run successfully on the conservative side unless you embrace, you know, 800-900 miles of real fencing. Do you agree with that?
BJ: Look, you’re preaching to the choir when you’re trying…I believe in the fence. I have written that we need to do it when I was in Congress. I certainly voted to try to get it done. I certainly have supported every effort. To me, there are a lot of excuses for folks who want open borders. To me, we need to build the fence. We need to do more than that, but we certainly need to build the fence, and back it up with drones and boots on the ground. The good thing with Governor Perry is you’ve got a governor who’s actually lived with the effects of illegal immigration in his state. For him, it’s not theory. He’s actually seen it firsthand. And I thought it was pretty powerful when he called President Obama to be held accountable, to say President Obama went down there, did a media, did a photo op, tried to say this was the safest the border’s been. And Governor Perry pointed out that clearly, President Obama either had bad information or wasn’t being honest with the American people.
HH: Let me ask you about the second part of the immigration issue that raises issues for Governor Perry, which is in-state tuition for illegal immigrants living in the state. Now if a, if someone got confused and left the great state of Ohio to go down to Louisiana and attend LSU because they like Tiger football, you would charge them out of state tuition, wouldn’t you?
BJ: We would, and we don’t call that confusion. We call that enlightenment and progress. We think that if somebody wants to come down here and join the best college football team in a great learning environment on a beautiful campus, absolutely, we charge out of state tuition. And absolutely, that’s appropriate.
HH: So why would we not, why would we disadvantage Americans moving to Texas over illegal aliens moving to Texas? I just don’t understand it.
BJ: No, look, I also…that’s another area I don’t agree necessarily with Governor Perry on 100% of his policy opinions. I agree with that, too. Look, I don’t believe…there have been a number of governors that have stood up and said they want to give driver licenses to illegal immigrants, or in-state tuition. I don’t believe in any of that. I think the reality is we need to be a nation of laws. And the reality is I couldn’t, I wouldn’t go to Louisiana taxpayers and try to subsidize folks that are from out of the state or even shouldn’t be here legally. I just wouldn’t do that. I don’t agree with that. I do think that Governor Perry is right to focus on securing the borders. I think he’s right to say that we’ve got to stop the flow of illegal immigration. We’ve got to do that before we talk about anything else. I don’t agree with him on everything. I believe in the fence. We’re not giving in-state, we’re not giving tuition for folks that shouldn’t be here legally. And I don’t agree with those governor, by the way, that believe in giving legal ID’s or driver licenses. You can call them whatever you want, to people that are here illegally.
HH: Then you’re actually voicing the Ronald Reagan rule, which is if someone agrees with you 70% of the time, they’re your ally. And it sounds like we’re going to have some disagreements among Republicans, but whoever the nominee is, we’re going to have to support them against this president.
BJ: That’s exactly right. Look, I also said this on TV. I said look, listen to every one of those candidates on the platform. Any one of them would be better than President Obama.
HH: Not Ron Paul. No, I cannot agree. Honestly, I cannot agree with that. His…what did you make of his statement about al Qaeda and the attack on America?
BJ: That was unfortunate and bizarre, and offensive. Look, I obviously disagree with that. I make no apologies for America, and I certainly don’t think that we need to start looking at ourselves. And I wrote about this in my book as well that President Obama and the left have started to try and say, they’ve made excuses for those that attacked us. They’ve tried to say well, America, you know, we should try to understand their motivations. Let’s be clear. They hate our way of life. You can’t negotiate with terrorists. You can’t compromise. You can’t say well, if we hadn’t done this to offend them, and certainly, you know, we are, if you look back to President Reagan, can you imagine him ever saying well, you know, we don’t mean to cause offense.
BJ: We stand as a beacon of freedom and liberty in the entire world. And that is the reason that al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and the rest of these evil terrorists, that’s the reason they hate us. And it’s not a manmade disaster. Put aside the politically correct language. It’s not because they are disadvantaged, poor people who didn’t have education. That’s another common liberal excuse. I mean, these are, first of all, it doesn’t fit the facts. You look at the attackers on 9/11, disproportionately middle class, educated, from privileged backgrounds. They didn’t attack us because they couldn’t afford, you know, color TVs or a car. They are motivated by a hateful ideology. How are you going to understand an ideology that motivates people to go kill innocent women and children?
HH: Can’t be done. 30 seconds, Governor, will Governor Perry end the permitorium in the Gulf?
BJ: Absolutely. Look, I think he is right on domestic energy production. The most important reason that I’m supporting him is I think he understands what it will take to get Americans back working again. He understands what it will take to grow this economy. He has done it in Texas, unlike President Obama. He doesn’t think the answer is more taxes, more government spending, more borrowing. He’s not just talking the talk. He’s walked the walk. He’s done it in Texas.
HH: Governor, thank you. We’re going to send you an OIIOHH T-shirt – Obama Is In Over His Head. Thank you, Governor.
End of interview.
UPDATE: For two interesting commentaries on the HPV issue, see Jonah Goldberg’s in NationalReview.com and Ryan Lizza’s at NewYorker.com. Lizza concludes that “[i]f Perry does not take control of the issue, it could threaten his candidacy.”
I think the fence and in-state tuition are far more significant issues for Perry, but the governor’s schedule and statements over the next few days will tell us what he and his team think about all three controversies and about the status of the Social Security debate.