I was joined by the Buckeye State’s new governor Mike DeWine this AM:
HH: So pleased to welcome back for the first time as the duly elected governor of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. Last time we talked, he was Attorney General Mike DeWine, and it was Election Day. Governor DeWine, congratulations. It’s great to have you in office.
MD: Well, Hugh, great to be back. We’ve got a rainy day in Columbus this morning. So it’s at least no snow. There’s still snow on the ground, but rain coming down today.
HH: My hometown of Warren got buried in the lake effect this weekend. So I know…
HH: Our listeners…
MD: Oh, you guys did. My son’s up in Rocky River. He said they had 17 inches.
HH: Yeah, it was a big weekend.
MD: That’s a lot of snow.
HH: That’s a lot of snow. Governor, let me start by asking you have you got parade planning underway for the Browns Super Bowl and the Indians World Series winning?
MD: Oh, yeah.
HH: I think this is probably the Ohio…
MD: Oh, yeah, we’re set. No, no, we’re set. We’re set. We’re also set for the All Star game. We’re ready.
HH: All right. Good. Good.
MD: Ready to go. So speaking of sports, you’ll love this. You know, I worked hard on my inaugural speech. And I think at the very moment I was giving my inaugural speech, the Browns made their announcement about the new coach, Coach Kitchens. So who do you think got the most attention?
HH: I think Freddie did.
HH: But I also saw a picture that you had more Bibles, you swore on a stack of Bibles.
MD: Well, that’s the old expression, isn’t it, swear on a stack of Bibles? So I’ll tell you how this has happened. We, I was getting sworn in, actually, at our home, a farmhouse out in Cedarville, and out in the rural part of Ohio, and did that at Midnight. And, but my wife was thinking a couple of days before, Fran thought you know, I’d like to have a Bible that you were sworn in on for each one of our kids, because we have 8 kids.
HH: Yeah, yeah.
MD: So she started going around the house, and you know, literally found, there was the Bible, a little Bible, if you can believe this, that was issued by the U.S. government in World War I that my grandfather, who was in the Navy, A.W. Little was his name, and has his initials stamped on there, his name stamped on there. So that was one of them. We had a Bible our late daughter Becky had when she was a child, children’s Bible, and on and on. But each one, literally, was some family, you know, connection. So if you see the picture, you see Fran balancing 9 Bibles.
HH: It’s a terrific picture.
MD: I had the easy part. I just put my hand on top. She had to balance them.
HH: Let me ask you about A.W. Little for a moment. My wife’s grandfather was also in the Navy as Commander Taussig in World War I. What did A.W. Little do? Do you have any idea?
MD: Well, you know, it’s a funny thing. I’m not really sure. You know, when you’re a kid, you listen to stories and you don’t, you know, sometimes you don’t pay a lot of attention. But the only thing I remember my grandfather telling me is that they, on the ship, they would sleep in hammocks. And he said one of his fun things to do in the middle of the night was to sneak over and tip over someone’s hammock and then run back and get in his as quickly as he could.
HH: Sailors don’t change.
MD: And he said it was a chain reaction. The guy would get the next guy next to him. Well, you did it. And he said by the time you were done, he says everybody was on the floor. Anyway, that’s what I remember.
HH: Well, I will look it up at some point. Let me get to two serious subjects. Lordstown – now G.M. took the money. They took the $50 billion dollars. They took the bond relief. They took the jam down deal. And now, they announced they are closing Lordstown. You know, it’s near and dear to my heart. I went to high school with a lot of kids whose parents were on that line.
MD: I know. No, I know.
HH: What is going on with Lordstown?
MD: Well, first of all, it breaks your heart. You know, these are hard workers. You know who they are. They’re people who get up in the morning and they go to work, and they build a good car. You know, I went up and, to the auto show, one of the first things I did, I guess the third day in office to meet with General Motors officials, meet with their CEO. I also met with Ford. And you know, auto, as you know, is huge in Ohio, not just the manufacturers, but the auto parts that supply them. And you know, I had a candid discussion with them, and you know, really didn’t come away from that with any indication at all that they’re going to put a new product, as they say, back in there. That’s our request. We, you know, it’s a great facility. It’s a good line, good workers. You know, we would love for them to put a new line back in there. The Cruze is not selling, and so they’re, you know, they’ve cut them back, cut that off as far as Lordstown. But I got no indication that they really were going to do that. They didn’t say no, but I got no indication. What I did get an indication was that they were actively, you know, talking with companies trying to sell the facility. And you know, from our point of view, we would obviously prefer to have them go back in there with a new line. If they’re not going to do that, you know, frankly, the sooner this can move on and we get somebody else in there who can employ people, you know, obviously what we want is another auto company and, or, you know, so they are, but it’s clear to me that they’re in some discussions.
HH: Now Governor, Virginia just signed a deal with Amazon. They’re going to subsidize jobs to the tune of $22,000 grand per new job. But they’re all $150,000 dollar jobs. It’s controversial, but it’s supported. You know, it’s going to be about 35,000 jobs when they’re done. Would Ohio step up if, say, Tesla bought the facility to subsidize the cost of opening?
MD: We have said, number one, that if General Motors wants to go back in there and they’ve got to retrofit, do all the things they would have to do with a separate line, you know, we will play a part in that.
MD: You know, we will be part of that. We have also said that if they don’t and there’s another company come in, that we will play a part in that. You know, Hugh, you’ve got to look at each situation. But we understand the importance of these jobs. And as anybody who works in the auto industry knows, or really anybody who works in manufacturing, you know, the multiplier effect for each one of those jobs is huge. So this is not right…
HH: No, that’s the backbone of the Valley. Lordstown is the backbone of the Valley.
MD: It’s the backbone of the Valley. It is.
MD: And so we’ve got to get somebody back in there who’s making cars, and that’s our goal.
HH: Let me ask you about a second project. Again, I’m doing hometown stuff here. Camp Ravenna, Camp James Garfield and Ravenna, they have been waiting and waiting and waiting on the feds to declare where the missile defense site is going to go in the middle of the country. It should go to Ravenna. It just makes all the military sense. I’ve talked to the experts.
MD: Absolutely. We think it should go there. We think we’ve got a good shot at this. For some reason, this decision is just not coming down. And we can’t quite figure out what is going on. But this is, you’re absolutely right. You’ve hit two points with Lordstown and Ravenna. These are both very, very important to that part of the state.
HH: And I’m sure you’ve got both Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman with you, right? This is a bipartisan effort on both Lordstown and the East Coast missile defense site.
MD: Absolutely. Yeah, and Congressman Ryan. I mean, you know, this is, Tim Ryan in Congress, and Senator Portman, Sherrod Brown, absolutely.
HH: You’re not…
MD: This is not a partisan issue. We’re all on the same team here. We’ve got to get it where we…
HH: You know, Tim is a friend of mine, but he’s a quarterback, so you’re going to have to slow down when you talk to him, all right? So just make sure he understands.
MD: I’m not going to, should I tell him you said that?
HH: Oh, absolutely. He listens every morning. He knows that. He’s a Kennedy High School grad. He and I are buddies.
HH: All right, let me close by the question about the Heartbeat Bill. My friend, John Kasich, for whom I have a great deal of admiration, genuinely disappointed me when he vetoed this bill. He has a good pro-life record. You have a great pro-life record. You are a friend of the unborn. Will you sign such a bill if it is passed again?
MD: Yes, absolutely. I stopped by, my wife, Fran, and I stopped by a Right to Life meeting yesterday in the Statehouse, and absolutely. When Fran and I, when I was in the U.S. Senate, one of the things that we really enjoyed doing is hosting everyone who came out for the March, you know, that was every single year. We had people who rode buses all night, got out there from Ohio, and you know, went through the March, then they would come to our office, and Fran would, you know, make peanut butter, literally peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and stuff to send with them as they headed back on the bus. So no, we will do this. I saw, I just saw the headline, a court struck down another heartbeat bill for another state. But ultimately, Hugh, you and I both know that this thing once it’s passed in Ohio, once we sign it, once it becomes law. Planned Parenthood is going to be in the next day, or that day, filing a lawsuit. But ultimately, this will work its way up to the United States Supreme Court. And they’ll make that decision.
HH: Yeah, let’s have that fight. Let’s get to the 6th Circuit. Let’s get it done.
HH: I want to close by asking you, you were sworn in by your son, a justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. That’s got to be neat.
MD: Oh, it’s just really neat. I can’t tell you how neat it is. I’m very proud of him. But you know, we’re proud of all our kids. We have one farmer, we have a teacher, we have an assistant prosecutor. We’ve got a stay at home mom. We’ve got one son who runs the Ashville Tourist baseball team. You know, so it’s a great, diverse group of kids, and we’re just very, very, you know, proud, proud of all of them.
HH: Governor, come back early and often. Good luck on Lordstown. Good luck on the Ravenna missile defense site. Good luck on the heartbeat bill. And good luck in just leading the best state in the Union ever farther, forward, and up. Ohio, no Wright Brothers, no John Glenn, no Neil Armstrong, no progress without Ohio. People need to understand that. That’s why we pay particular attention to the Buckeye State. Thank you, Governor DeWine.
End of interview.