Iowa Public Television

 

Governor Tom Vilsack

posted on July 28, 2006

Borg: POLITICAL MULTITASKING. GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK KEEPS A HAND ON THE THROTTLE OF IOWA'S GOVERNMENT WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY STEERING HIMSELF ONTO A NATIONAL TRACK. A DISCUSSION WITH IOWA GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION, BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, JULY 28 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: AS OF NOVEMBER 7, THERE WILL BE A NEW INCOMING GOVERNOR OF IOWA. GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK LEAVING THAT OFFICE NEXT JANUARY, BUT HE'S TAKING AN INCREASINGLY HIGHER NATIONAL PROFILE AS A CONTENDER FOR THE DEMOCRATS' PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION. IN VARIOUS APPEARANCES AROUND THE NATION, MR. VILSACK IS COMMENTING ON ISSUES RELATING TO THE NATION'S DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN POLICIES. GOVERNOR VILSACK, WELCOME BACK TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

Vilsack: NICE TO BE BACK, DEAN.

Borg: I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT THAT NATIONAL COMMENT HERE ON TODAY'S PROGRAM.

Vilsack: I LOOK FORWARD TO IT.

Borg: ALSO WITH US HERE AT THE TABLE: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'RADIO IOWA' NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON.

Henderson: GOVERNOR, THERE'S A GREAT DEBATE AMONG DEMOCRATS ABOUT THE SCHEDULE OF STATE CONTESTS IN THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATING CYCLE. WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT SCHEDULING NEVADA BETWEEN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE?

Vilsack: WELL, THE GOOD NEWS OF WHAT THE RULES COMMITTEE DID WAS IT CONTINUED TO HAVE IOWA AS THE FIRST CAUCUS IN THE NATION AND NEW HAMPSHIRE THE FIRST PRIMARY. AND I'M OBVIOUSLY PLEASED WITH THAT PORTION OF THE DECISION. I THINK WE COULD HAVE INJECTED DIVERSITY INTO THE SYSTEM WITHOUT NECESSARILY PUTTING NEVADA IN BETWEEN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE. WE COULD HAVE PUT IT AFTER NEW HAMPSHIRE AND STILL HAD THE SAME EFFECT. THIS PROCESS IS NOT OVER. NEW HAMPSHIRE STILL HAS OPTIONS AND, OF COURSE, THIS PROPOSAL HAS TO BE VOTED ON BY THE FULL COMMITTEE. SO WE'RE GOING TO SEE WHAT NEW HAMPSHIRE IS GOING TO DO. OUR SECRETARY OF STATE IS CURRENTLY LOOKING AT A VARIETY OF OPTIONS, AND WE WILL THEN PARTNER WITH NEW HAMPSHIRE IN THIS EFFORT.

Henderson: SO WHAT SHOULD YOUR PARTY DO? SHOULD NEW HAMPSHIRE BE BETWEEN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE?

Vilsack: NEVADA, YOU MEAN.

Henderson: I MEAN NEVADA RATHER.

Vilsack: I WOULD PREFER THAT IT WERE NOT.

Henderson: HOW DO YOU PLAY IT IF IT IS?

Vilsack: I'M NOT SURE WHAT YOU MEAN BY THAT.

Henderson: MR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, HOW DO YOU PLAY THE CONTEST IN NEVADA IF IT IS PART OF THE MIX BETWEEN IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE?

Vilsack: WELL, I'LL TELL YOU, YOU HAVE TO MAKE STRATEGIC DECISIONS OBVIOUSLY. AND SINCE I'M NOT A CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT TODAY, I'M NOT SURE HOW I WOULD MAKE THOSE STRATEGIC DECISIONS. I'LL TELL YOU THIS, WE'RE ALL GOING TO CAMPAIGN IN IOWA, THAT'S FOR SURE, BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE COMING TO IOWA AND THAT'S IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY. I DON'T THINK IT WILL DIMINISH IOWA'S IMPORTANCE AT ALL. SOME ARE SUGGESTING IT MIGHT EVEN ENHANCE IT, BUT CLEARLY THE FACTS ARE THESE: THERE WAS A TREMENDOUS EFFORT TO CHANGE IOWA'S POSITION IN THIS PROCESS, AND THERE WAS A TREMENDOUS EFFORT TO CHANGE NEW HAMPSHIRE'S POSITION. WE ARE STILL FIRST AND THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT. WHEN YOU LOOK AT WHAT WAS ALIGNED AGAINST THE STATE, THE FACT THAT WE'RE NUMBER ONE STILL IS PRETTY SIGNIFICANT.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, LET'S TALK ABOUT MOVING THE DATE OF THE IOWA CAUCUSES. YOUR SUCCESSOR, THE NEXT STATE DEMOCRATIC CHAIR, THE NEXT REPUBLICAN STATE CHAIR, AND THE TWO PARTY CENTRAL COMMITTEES ARE GOING TO HAVE A DECISION TO MAKE IN OCTOBER OF 2007 WHEN THE NEW HAMPSHIRE SECRETARY OF STATE DECIDES THAT HE'S GOING TO MOVE THE DATE OF THAT PRIMARY. SHOULD IOWA MOVE ITS CAUCUS DATE IN RESPONSE TO ANY MOVE HE MAKES?

Vilsack: DAVID, I'M NOT GOING TO GET INTO TALKING ABOUT HYPOTHETICALS BECAUSE I'M NOT SURE WHAT DECISION THE SECRETARY OF STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE WILL MAKE. I DON'T KNOW THAT AND I DON'T KNOW THAT ANYONE DOES OTHER THAN PERHAPS THE SECRETARY OF THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE. HAVING SAID THAT, I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR IOWA TO MAINTAIN ITS NUMBER ONE STATUS IN TERMS OF BEING THE NUMBER ONE CAUCUS, AND I'M SURE THAT WE WILL CONTINUE TO ADVOCATE FOR THAT AND CONTINUE TO PRESS FOR THAT.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, ITS COME UP HERE TANGENTIALLY ABOUT YOU BEING A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. WHERE ARE YOU IN THE THOUGHT PROCESS ABOUT RUNNING? YOU'VE BEEN TRAVELING AROUND THE COUNTRY. WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR THINKING?

Vilsack: WELL, I'M FOCUSING OBVIOUSLY ON TWO CRITICAL JOBS THAT I HAVE TODAY. ONE IS OBVIOUSLY THE JOB I CURRENTLY HAVE AS GOVERNOR OF THE STATE AND, SECONDLY, I'M WORKING VERY HARD TO MAKE SURE THAT WE AS A DEMOCRATIC PARTY WIN AS MANY OF THE 36 GOVERNORS RACES AS WE CAN IN 2006. AFTER THE 2006 ELECTION IS OVER, THEN WE CAN FOCUS ON THE NEXT ELECTION IN 2008. BUT UNTIL THAT TIME, THE FOCUS HAS BEEN ON MAKING SURE THAT WE DO A GOOD JOB OF ELECTING DEMOCRATS. AND I WILL TELL YOU, I'M VERY OPTIMISTIC AT THIS POINT. AS I LOOK AROUND THE COUNTRY, THE DEMOCRATS IN TERMS OF GOVERNORS RACES, ARE GOING TO HAVE A VERY SUCCESSFUL ELECTION DAY.

Yepsen: WHEN DO YOU MAKE A DECISION ABOUT YOUR OWN FUTURE?

Vilsack: WELL, IN TERMS OF PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS, I'M SURE IT WILL BE AFTER THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS, AS IT SHOULD BE.

Henderson: IF INDEED YOU DO DECIDE TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT, YOU'LL HAVE TO ANSWER A VERY SIMPLE QUESTION: WHY SHOULD YOU BE PRESIDENT?

Vilsack: I HAPPEN TO BE THE ONLY TWO-TERM GOVERNOR ELECTED IN THE HEARTLAND WHO OVERCAME IMPOSSIBLE ODDS TO BREAK A THIRTY-YEAR STREAK BY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN THIS JOB WITH A COMPELLING PERSONAL STORY WHO, DURING A WAR AND RECESSION, HAS GOVERNED, I'M IN VIEW, COMPETITIVELY AND COMPETENTLY AND CREATIVELY WITH A LEGISLATURE THAT WAS NEVER CONTROLLED BY MY PARTY. THERE IS NO ONE WHO CAN SAY THAT WHO IS CURRENTLY CONSIDERING RUNNING FOR THIS OFFICE ON OUR TEAM.

Borg: THERE'S'S ANOTHER SIDE OF THAT QUESTION: WHY DO YOU WANT TO BE PRESIDENT?

Vilsack: WELL, YOU'RE ASSUMING THAT I DO.

Borg: YES.

Vilsack: SO -- I HAVEN'T MADE THAT DECISION YET. LET ME JUST SAY THIS: THIS COUNTRY IS FACED WITH TWO ENORMOUS CHALLENGES. THE FIRST CHALLENGE I THINK MOST AMERICANS APPRECIATE, AND THAT IS THAT THIS NATIONAL GOVERNMENT MUST DO A BETTER, MORE COMPETENT, AND MORE COMPREHENSIVE JOB OF PROTECTING THE SECURITY OF AMERICAN PEOPLE HERE AND ABROAD. I BELIEVE THERE ARE A LOT OF REASONS WHY DEMOCRATS CAN DO A BETTER JOB OF THAT. SECONDLY, WE FACE A SIGNIFICANT COMPETITIVE CHALLENGE AND A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR THIS COUNTRY TO TRANSFORM ITS ECONOMY TO A MORE CREATIVE AND MORE INNOVATIVE ECONOMY. THAT IS GOING TO REQUIRE US TO TACKLE THE BIG CHALLENGES OF OUR TIME THAT HAVE BEEN IGNORED BY THOSE IN WASHINGTON, D.C. THE HEALTH CARE CHALLENGE, THE EDUCATION CHALLENGE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGE, THE ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGE, THE ENERGY CHALLENGE, ALL OF THOSE CHALLENGES HAVE BEEN IGNORED BY THOSE IN WASHINGTON AND HAVE BEEN ADDRESSED BY THOSE IN STATE CAPITALS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

Borg: ARE YOU LOSING ANY SLEEP, THOUGH, OVER THE FACT THAT YOU'RE RUNNING FOURTH IN IOWA IN EARLY POLLS AMONG LIKELY CANDIDATES?

Vilsack: NO, NOT AT ALL. I MEAN I HAVEN'T CAMPAIGNED. I HAVEN'T SPENT ANY MONEY. I HAVEN'T ASKED ANYBODY FOR THEIR VOTE. YOU KNOW, IOWANS DESERVE -- DESERVE A CAMPAIGN WHERE PEOPLE GO OUT AND ASK FOR THEIR VOTE AND JUSTIFY THEIR SUPPORT. I HAVE NOT YET DONE THAT. I BELIEVE IF I DO THAT, I WILL HAVE SUCCESS IN IOWA. I HAVE GREAT CONFIDENCE IN THE VOTERS IN THIS STATE. YOU KNOW, DEAN, YOU'RE TALKING TO THE WRONG GUY WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT POLLS BECAUSE I'VE STARTED A LOT OF ELECTIONS WAY, WAY BEHIND, AND I'VE NEVER LOST.

Yepsen: WELL, BUT, GOVERNOR, JOHN EDWARDS AND HILLARY CLINTON ARE NOT JIM LIGHTFOOT EITHER. I MEAN THEY ARE CONSIDERABLY MORE FORMIDABLE AS CANDIDATES.

Vilsack: WELL --

Yepsen: WELL, WHAT DO YOU SAY, GOVERNOR, TO THIS WHOLE NOTION THAT THE POLITICAL BIND THAT YOU'RE IN, IN THAT THE RACE FOR PRESIDENT STARTS IN YOUR OWN HOME STATE? AREN'T YOU IN AN IMPOSSIBLE SITUATION WHERE YOU CAN'T REALLY WIN ANYTHING? IF YOU GET MORE VOTES THAN ANYBODY ELSE, ALL THE MEDIA PEOPLE ARE GOING TO SAY, WELL, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT. I MEAN YOU COULD SURE LOSE A LOT IF YOU COME IN FOURTH IN YOUR OWN HOME STATE.

Vilsack: WELL, I WOULD CERTAINLY EXPECT THAT YOU, AS THE POLITICAL PUNDIT THAT ARE, DAVID, WOULD GIVE ME CREDIT FOR WINNING THE IOWA CAUCUS, ESPECIALLY IN LIGHT OF DEAN'S QUESTION, WHERE I'M NOW FOURTH. IF I COME IN FIRST, THAT MEANS I'VE MADE THE CASE TO IOWANS. LOOK, IT'S REALLY ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT YOU HAVE A COMPELLING VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY. THIS COUNTRY IS FACED WITH SERIOUS, SERIOUS CHALLENGES AND GREAT OPPORTUNITIES. IT NEEDS LEADERSHIP AND THE REALITY IS WE HAVE SEEN VERY LITTLE LEADERSHIP FROM WASHINGTON, D.C. INSIDE THE BELTWAY HAS NOT DEALT WITH OUR ENERGY ISSUES, NOT DEALT WITH EDUCATION REFORM, NOT DEALT WITH HEALTH CARE, AND CERTAINLY, TO PARAPHRASE RONALD REAGAN'S FAMOUS QUESTION, 'DO YOU REALLY FEEL SAFER TODAY THAN YOU WERE SIX YEARS AGO? DO YOU THINK THE WORLD IS SAFER TODAY THAN IT WAS SIX YEARS AGO?' IF THE ANSWERS TO THOSE QUESTIONS ARE, NO, I DON'T FEEL SAFER AND THE WORLD CERTAINLY ISN'T SAFER, THEN IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE.

Henderson: WHEN YOU WERE REVIEWING YOUR POLITICAL RESUME EARLIER, THOUGH, THERE WAS NOT A BREATH OF FOREIGN POLICY EXPERIENCE ON IT. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU'LL HAVE TO OVERCOME, OR WILL IT DAMAGE YOUR CANDIDACY?

Vilsack: WELL, I'VE VISITED 20 COUNTRIES AND I GAVE A SPEECH RECENTLY AT JOHNS HOPKINS ABOUT WHERE GOVERNORS TODAY INTERSECT WITH FOREIGN POLICY IN ISSUES INVOLVING TRADE AND IN OUR POSITION AS COMMANDERS IN CHIEF OF THE NATIONAL GUARD. I HAVE NO DOUBT THAT WE'LL BE ABLE TO OUTLINE A VERY COMPELLING VIEW ABOUT HOW THE NATIONAL SECURITY OF THIS COUNTRY AND THE FOREIGN POLICY OF THIS COUNTRY NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. LET ME JUST GIVE YOU A SENSE OF THAT. WE NEED TO BUILD STRATEGIC ALLIANCES. WE NEED TO REBUILD THE ALLIANCES WE ONCE HAD. WE NEED TO BE A FORCE IN INTERNATIONAL DISCUSSIONS. WE NEED TO WORK WITH INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE UNITED NATIONS TO REDEFINE THE WHOLE NOTION OF SOVEREIGNTY AS TO WHEN WE ARE, AS AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, WHEN IT'S APPROPRIATE TO INTERVENE IN THE AFFAIRS OF A SOVEREIGN NATION TO PREVENT GENOCIDE. IT'S FAIRLY CLEAR THAT WE SEEM TO BE HAND-TIED IN CONNECTION WITH THE MIDDLE EAST BECAUSE WE DO NOT HAVE THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT WE NEED TO HAVE TO BE ABLE TO BROKER PEACE IN THAT AREA. THERE IS A LOT OF WORK TO DO, AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I'VE DONE IN MY TRAVELS IS TRY TO CREATE RELATIONSHIPS WITH LEADERS. AND I THINK WE HAVE RELATIONSHIPS, AND I WOULD SAY THAT OTHER GOVERNORS DO AS WELL.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, DOES THAT -- DO YOUR TRAVELS ABROAD REALLY SUBSTITUTE FOR THE YEARS OF EXPERIENCE OTHER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES WILL HAVE? I MEAN YOU'VE NOT SERVED IN THE MILITARY. YOU HAVE NO BACKGROUND IN NATIONAL DEFENSE. WHY ISN'T THAT GOING TO BE AN IMPEDIMENT TO YOU?

Vilsack: WELL, I'LL TELL YOU WHAT, DAVID, WE HAD SUPPOSEDLY GREAT EXPERTS IN FOREIGN POLICY AND DEFENSE RUNNING OUR COUNTRY, AND WE HAVE A CIRCUMSTANCE AND SITUATION IN IRAQ WHICH CLEARLY IS A SERIES OF COLOSSAL MISTAKES MADE BY THESE 'EXPERTS.' OUR MILITARY IS NOT ADEQUATELY SUPPORTED. OUR NATIONAL GUARD IS NOT BEING ADEQUATELY SUPPORTED IN TERMS OF PERSONNEL LEVELS AND IN TERMS OF EQUIPMENT. GOVERNORS ARE AWARE OF THAT BECAUSE WE DEAL WITH THIS EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Yepsen: WELL, BUT PRESIDENT BUSH WAS A GOVERNOR BEFORE HE BECAME PRESIDENT. DOESN'T THAT PROVE THE POINT THAT HE HAS NO PARTICULAR PORTFOLIO ON THESE SUBJECTS?

Vilsack: PRESIDENT BUSH NEVER TRAVELED OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES. HE SHOULD HAVE.

Yepsen: YOUR CRITICS HERE IN IOWA ARE SAYING YOU'RE AWOL, THAT IN YOUR PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNING AROUND THE STATE, YOU'RE NOT HERE IN THE STATE DOING THE JOB. HOW DO YOU RESPOND?

Vilsack: WELL, I AM DOING THE JOB. I'M ON THE JOB 24/7. THE REALITY IS THAT WITH COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS BEING WHAT THEY ARE, I'M NEVER A PHONE CALL OR, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, AN E-MAIL AWAY FROM MAKING DECISIONS AND BEING AWARE OF WHAT'S GOING ON. LET'S TALK ABOUT ISSUES. WHAT ISSUE DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT? DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE EXTENSION OF THE IOWA CARES PROGRAM AND HOW WE ARE BEGINNING TO WORK ON REFORMS IN OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM? DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE WATER QUALITY INITIATIVE THAT'S NOW BEING PREPARED TO GIVE OUT GRANTS TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF OUR WATER? HOW ABOUT THE IOWA VALUES FUND AND THE 2,000 JOBS THAT WE ARE ABOUT READY TO CREATE AS A RESULT OF BOARD ACTION IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS? DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT EDUCATION REFORM, OUR BATTLES WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION OVER NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND AS THEY'VE CHANGE THE RULES ON US, OR NEW SWEEPING REFORMS THAT WE'RE TRYING TO INTEGRATE WITH THE INSTITUTE FOR TOMORROW'S WORK FORCE. WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT PUBLIC SAFETY AND THE NEW FUSION CENTER? WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT?

Henderson: LET'S TALK ABOUT MESSAGE. YOU WERE IN DENVER TALKING ABOUT YOUR PARTY'S MESSAGE AS A LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP COUNCIL. WHAT MESSAGE DOES YOUR PARTY HAVE TO PRESENT TO VOTERS TO WIN IN 2006?

Vilsack: WE CAN DO A BETTER JOB KEEPING PEOPLE SAFE AND SECURE AND WE CAN REINSERT AMERICA'S POSITION IN THE WORLD AS A WORLD LEADER AND WE CAN CLEARLY DO A BETTER JOB OF ADDRESSING THE COMPETITIVE CHALLENGES THAT WE FACE IN AMERICA TODAY SO THAT PEOPLE FEEL LESS ANXIOUS ABOUT THE FUTURE. WE CAN TALK ABOUT A NEW SOCIAL COMPACT WITH WORKERS. WE CAN TALK ABOUT A CREATIVE CLIMATE FOR OUR SCHOOLS. WE CAN TALK ABOUT TACKLING HEALTH CARE. WE LAID ALL OF THIS OUT IN THE WINNING AMERICA'S FUTURE AND THE AMERICAN DREAM INITIATIVE THAT SENATOR CLINTON ANNOUNCED.

Henderson: CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS HAVE COME UP WITH SORT OF THEIR OWN CONTRACT WITH AMERICA. THEY'RE CALLING IT SIX IN '06. DO YOU THINK THAT IS THE PRESCRIPTION FOR WINNING IN NOVEMBER?

Vilsack: IN NOVEMBER OF '06?

Henderson: '06.

Vilsack: YOU KNOW, MY FOCUS HAS BEEN PRIMARILY ON GOVERNORS' RACES, AND SO I'VE BEEN TALKING TO CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR ABOUT HOW YOU CAN HELP CREATE JOBS, HOW YOU IMPROVE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM, HOW YOU TALK ABOUT HEALTH CARE, HOW YOU CAN HAVE MORE ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT. SO MY FOCUS HAS BEEN ON THOSE AREAS AND THOSE ASPECTS. AS WE LOOK AT THE AMERICAN DREAM INITIATIVE, THIS IS A LONGER TERM INITIATIVE THAN JUST SIMPLY '06. THERE ARE COMPONENTS OF IT THAT I THINK ARE POTENTIALLY GOOD CAMPAIGN ISSUES FOR US. THERE IS A LOT OF ANGST AND CONCERN ABOUT THE COST OF COLLEGE EDUCATION IN AMERICA TODAY IN OUR STATE AS WELL. TUITIONS HAVE GONE UP. WELL, WE NOW HAVE A PLAN THAT WOULD REDUCE TUITIONS AND PROVIDE FOR GREATER OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNGSTERS TO COMPLETE THEIR COLLEGE EDUCATION, ALL OF WHICH IS VERY IMPORTANT. AND WE CHALLENGE THE NATION AS DEMOCRATS TO HAVE A MILLION MORE COLLEGE GRADUATES SO THAT WE'RE NO LONGER SEVENTH IN THE WORLD IN COLLEGE GRADUATES BUT THAT WE RETAIN OUR NUMBER ONE POSITION THAT WE HELD JUST A FEW YEARS AGO.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, WE WANT TO TALK MORE ABOUT THOSE, BUT I WANT TO PUT AN IOWA SPIN ON THE QUESTION KAY JUST ASKED YOU. YOU'VE NEVER LOST AN ELECTION IN IOWA. SO WHAT DO YOU TELL DEMOCRATS IN THIS STATE ABOUT WHAT THEIR MESSAGE OUGHT TO BE? YOUR NOT ON THE BALLOT HERE IN '06, BUT WHAT SHOULD AN IOWA DEMOCRAT BE SAYING AND CAMPAIGNING FOR TO WIN?

Vilsack: WELL, WE'VE CHANGED THE LANDSCAPE OF THIS STATE OVER THE LAST EIGHT YEARS. WE'RE BUILT A STRONG FOUNDATION. AND THE QUESTION IS WHERE DO WE TAKE IT FROM HERE, HOW DO WE TAKE IOWA TO THE NEXT LEVEL. I THINK SECRETARY CULVER'S IOWA POWER PROGRAM IS A GREAT EXTENSION OF WHAT WE'VE DONE IN RENEWABLE ENERGY. WE ARE NOW, WITHOUT A DOUBT, THE RECOGNIZED RENEWABLE FUEL AND ENERGY LEADER OF THE COUNTRY. AS I TRAVEL AROUND THE UNITED STATES TALKING ABOUT RENEWABLE ENERGY AND WIND ENERGY, ETHANOL AND SOY DIESEL, EVERYONE ACKNOWLEDGES IOWA'S POSITION. WE NEED TO BUILD ON THAT. WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO FIND NEW AND CREATIVE WAYS TO PRODUCE ETHANOL, NEW AND CREATIVE WAYS TO USE BYPRODUCTS FROM ETHANOL, NEW AND CREATIVE WAYS TO FIND A WAY IN WHICH IOWA CAN BE LESS DEPENDENT ON FOREIGN OIL SO THAT WE CAN PROVIDE A PATHWAY FOR THE REST OF THE NATION. HEALTH CARE IS STILL AN ISSUE, AND CLEARLY THERE NEEDS TO BE A DISCUSSION ABOUT HOW WE CAN HELP SMALL BUSINESSES POOL THEIR RESOURCES AND BECOME MORE EFFECTIVE PURCHASERS OF HEALTH CARE. EDUCATION, WE'RE NOT DONE IN EDUCATION. WE MADE A PROMISE TO IOWA'S TEACHERS AND, FRANKLY, WE MADE A PROMISE TO IOWA'S CHILDREN. THE QUESTION IS WHO IS IN THE BEST POSITION TO KEEP THAT PROMISE. I BELIEVE DEMOCRATS CAN MAKE THAT CASE, BUT I THINK WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO LOOK AT WAYS TO IMPROVE THE EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE IN THIS STATE, CONTINUE TO CHALLENGE OUR YOUNG PEOPLE TO DO MORE WITH THEIR SUMMERS, SPENDING MORE TIME LEARNING BECAUSE CLEARLY THE COMPETITORS IN OTHER COUNTRIES ARE. NOW, WE CAN TALK ABOUT THE CONTINUATION OF PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT AND BUILDING ON THE WATER QUALITY INITIATIVE THAT'S JUST GOTTEN STARTED. SO THERE ARE A NUMBER OF ISSUES.

Yepsen: IS THE FACT THAT YOU'VE GOT THIS LIST OF THINGS YET TO BE DONE SOME ADMISSION ON YOUR PART THAT YOU DIDN'T GET ALL THE THINGS DONE?

Vilsack: NOT AT ALL, DAVID. MY LORD, WE'VE COME A LONG WAY. WE HAVE A RECORD NUMBER OF EMPLOYED PEOPLE IN THE STATE TODAY. WE ARE THE RENEWABLE FUEL LEADER. WE'VE INCREASED DRAMATICALLY THE NUMBER OF ETHANOL PRODUCTION FACILITIES AND DIESEL FACILITIES. WE'VE PRODUCED NEW POWER PLANTS. WE'RE NOW ONE OF THE WIND LEADERS. WE'VE EXPANDED ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE. WHEN I GO TO OTHER STATES AND PEOPLE FIND OUT THAT WE HAVE OVER 90 PERCENT OF OUR POPULATION AND, BY SOME SURVEYS, 95 PERCENT OF OUR CHILDREN COVERED, PEOPLE ARE AMAZED AT THAT. WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WHAT WE'VE DONE IN TERMS OF ACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT, PEOPLE ARE NOW BASICALLY EMULATING WHAT'S BEING DONE IN THE STATE OF IOWA. SO THERE'S -- THE JOB IS NEVER DONE. THAT'S THE GREAT THING ABOUT THIS; IT'S NEVER DONE. BUT WE HAVE MADE GREAT STRIDES. WE BUILT A STRONG FOUNDATION. WE'VE CHANGED -- LITERALLY CHANGED THE LANDSCAPE. AS YOU TRAVEL IN RURAL IOWA TODAY, YOU SEE WINDMILLS, YOU SEE ETHANOL PLANTS. WHEN YOU GO INTO URBAN CENTERS, YOU SEE VISION IOWA PROJECTS; YOU SEE VALUES FUND BUILDINGS AND FACTORIES AND CONSTRUCTION. SO WE'RE HEADED IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. THE BALL IS ROLLING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. WHY WOULD WE WANT TO TAKE A STEP BACK?

Henderson: LET'S TALK ABOUT THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE AND SOME OF THE ISSUES THAT ARE OUT THERE IN IOWA NATIONALLY. WHAT'S YOUR POSITION ON IMMIGRATION? YOU HAVE CONGRESSMAN STEVE KING, WHO IS A GREAT ADVOCATE FOR BUILDING A FENCE ALONG THE U.S./MEXICAN BORDER, AND YOU HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN BEING PUSHED BY REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH. ON WHICH SIDE DO YOU FALL?

Vilsack: I THINK THERE ARE FOUR STEPS THAT NEED TO BE TAKEN. FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE NEED TO SECURE THE BORDER, WHICH IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY IOWA IS HELPING OTHER STATES HELP CALIFORNIA, NEW MEXICO, AND ARIZONA DO A BETTER JOB OF SECURING THE BORDER. WE SHOULD HAVE HAD MORE BORDER PATROL PEOPLE THERE ON THE BORDER YEARS AGO. THE PRESIDENT WAS ASLEEP AT THE SWITCH IN CONNECTION WITH THIS. BUT HE IS A JOHNNY-COME-LATELY, AND HIS SUPPORT IS IMPORTANT AND NECESSARY NOW. WE'RE GOING TO TRY TO PROVIDE NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS SO WE CAN TRAIN AND GET BORDER PATROL FOLKS UP AND RUNNING. SECONDLY, I DON'T THINK IT MAKES A GREAT DEAL OF PRACTICAL SENSE TO ESSENTIALLY ASSUME WE CAN ROUND UP 13 MILLION PEOPLE THAT ARE CURRENTLY IN THIS COUNTRY TODAY AND HAVE THEM LEAVE THIS COUNTRY. I THINK FRANKLY WHAT WE HAVE IS A PROCESS IN WHICH THEY SHOULD TRAVEL A LONG AND DIFFICULT ROAD TO GAIN LEGITIMACY AND TO BECOME AUTHORIZED AND TO BECOME CITIZENS. LEARNING THE LANGUAGE, PAYING THE TAXES, PAYING A FINE, GETTING IN THE BACK OF THE LINE, ALL OF THAT MAKES SENSE TO ME. BUT THERE ARE TWO OTHER ISSUES -- THREE OTHER ISSUES THAT NEED TO BE TALKED ABOUT IN TERMS OF IMMIGRATION. ONE IS CRACKING DOWN ON COMPANIES THAT USE IMMIGRANT LABOR AND KNOW THAT THESE FOLKS ARE UNAUTHORIZED. THERE SHOULD BE SERIOUS -- SERIOUS PENALTIES THAT ARE ENFORCED. WE ALSO NEED TO TALK ABOUT HOW WE CAN MAKE IT EASIER FOR STUDENTS FROM ABROAD TO COME BACK TO OUR UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES, BECAUSE ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT AMERICA IS ITS HIGHER EDUCATION SYSTEM, AND IN PART IT IS BECAUSE WE HAVE A GREAT DIVERSITY OF MINDS IN THOSE UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES. AND FINALLY AS I'VE TRAVELED ABROAD TALKING TO BUSINESS LEADERS FROM ABROAD, THEY ARE EXPRESSING REAL CONCERN ABOUT DOING BUSINESS IN THE UNITED STATES BECAUSE IT'S TOO DIFFICULT TO PHYSICALLY GET HERE. SO CLEARLY WE NEED A MUCH BETTER SYSTEM, A STREAMLINED SYSTEM, TO ENSURE THAT THOSE LEGITIMATE BUSINESS PEOPLE WHO WANT TO COME TO AMERICA TO DO BUSINESS, TO CREATE JOB OPPORTUNITIES CAN DO SO.

Borg: CAN YOU -- LET'S SWITCH BACK TO ENERGY JUST FOR A SECOND. I WANT TO TALK ABOUT ENERGY POLICY, AND MANY SAY WE DON'T HAVE AN ENERGY POLICY IN THIS. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN AND WHAT WOULD TOM VILSACK AS A NATIONAL LEADER PUT INTO AN ENERGY POLICY?

Vilsack: WELL, FIRST AND FOREMOST, WE NEED TO SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF RESEARCH ON ALTERNATIVE FUELS. THE REALITY IS THAT WHILE CORN-BASED ETHANOL IS TERRIFIC FOR OUR STATE, IT IS NOT -- IT IS NOT SOMETHING THAT CAN BE USED TO SUPPLY ALL OF THE NATION'S NEEDS. WE'RE GOING TO NEED ADDITIONAL SOURCES, ADDITIONAL MATERIALS TO CREATE ETHANOL IN OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY. SECONDLY, THERE NEEDS TO BE ACCELERATED RESEARCH ON ALTERNATIVE FUELS BEYOND ETHANOL: WHAT IS THE NEXT GENERATION OF FUELS, HYDROGEN CELLS, WHATEVER IT MIGHT BE. THERE ALSO NEEDS TO BE A DISCUSSION OF HOW WE BUILD A TRANSMISSION SYSTEM THAT WILL GET THE ELECTRICITY THAT WE'RE CURRENTLY PRODUCING TO AREAS IN NEED. WE NEED TO LOOK AT HOW WE CAN EXPAND DRAMATICALLY WIND AND SOLAR AND HYDRO POWER. WE NEED A DISCUSSION OF HOW WE CAN MAKE IT EASIER FOR STATES ACTING AS REGIONS OF THE COUNTRY TO HAVE A COORDINATED REGULATORY STRUCTURE SO THAT IT DOESN'T TAKE DECADES TO GET NEW POWER FACILITIES BUILT. THE FACT IS THIS: THE STATE OF IOWA HAD NOT HAD A NEW POWER FACILITY BUILT IN TWENTY YEARS BEFORE I BECAME GOVERNOR. TODAY WE HAVE A HALF DOZEN FACILITIES UNDER CONSTRUCTION OR ARE BEING COMPLETED. WE'VE ADDED ALMOST 3,000 MEGAWATTS OF POWER IN IOWA, AND WE'VE ADDED BILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY. THERE NEEDS TO BE AN INFRASTRUCTURE DISCUSSION IN THIS COUNTRY, NOT JUST ENERGY BUT A 21ST-CENTURY INFRASTRUCTURE DISCUSSION, AND IT INVOLVES EXPANDING ACCESS TO THE INTERNET. A LITTLE KNOWN FACT ABOUT OUR STATE: 93 PERCENT OF OUR COMMUNITIES TODAY NOW HAVE ACCESS TO HIGH SPEED INTERNET. THAT'S NOT TRUE IN OTHER STATES. IT NEEDS TO BE TRUE.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, I WANT TO GO BACK TO IRAQ. YOU OUTLINED SOME THINGS YOU THOUGHT WE SHOULD BE DOING. JUST TO PUT A POINT ON IT, HOW DO WE -- WHAT WOULD YOU DO -- WHAT SHOULD WE DO DIFFERENTLY TO EXTRICATE OURSELVES FROM IRAQ? IT STRIKES ME THAT SOME OF THE THINGS YOU'VE MENTIONED, THE ADMINISTRATION IS ALREADY TRYING TO DO.

Vilsack: WELL, I'M NOT SURE THAT THE ADMINISTRATION HAS HAD SPECIFIC CONVERSATIONS WITH THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT IN TERMS OF ACKNOWLEDGING THAT IT IS THE IRAQIS' RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDE PRIMARY SAFETY AND SECURITY FOR ITS PEOPLE. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE COULD DO IS BEGIN CHANGING THE MISSION OF THOSE WHO ARE OVER IN IRAQ AND PLACING GREATER EMPHASIS ON THE IRAQIS TO PROVIDE PRIMARY SECURITY. WHEN I WAS OVER THERE VISITING THE TROOPS, I HAD A VERY INTERESTING CONVERSATION WITH A MEMBER OF THEIR SPECIAL POLICE FORCE IN WHICH HE WAS GOING ON ABOUT HOW AMERICA HAD NOT KEPT HIS FAMILY SAFE AND NOT KEPT HIS COUNTRY SAFE. AND IT IMPRESSED UPON ME THAT THEY DO NOT APPRECIATE TODAY THAT IT IS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO MAINTAIN SAFETY AND SECURITY, NOT THE UNITED STATES. THE SECOND THING THAT NEEDS TO BE DOING -- AND THERE'S VERY LITTLE EMPHASIS ON THIS -- IS THAT THE ECONOMY OF THAT COUNTRY NEEDS TO BE PROTECTED AND STABILIZED. NOT JUST SIMPLY PRODUCING OIL, WHICH THEY CAN DO, BUT ACTUALLY REFINING IT. IT IS ABSOLUTELY ABSURD THAT THE COUNTRY THAT HAS THE SECOND LARGEST OIL RESERVE HAS TO SHIP ITS OIL OUTSIDE OF ITS BORDERS IN ORDER TO HAVE IT REFINED. AND THERE'S ALSO TREMENDOUSLY FERTILE SOIL AND FRESH WATER IN THAT COUNTRY, AND THOSE ASSETS NEED TO BE UTILIZED. AND FINALLY, THERE NEEDS TO BE A MUCH MORE ACCELERATED EMPHASIS ON BUILDING A POLICE FORCE. YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET BY WITH 50,000 MEMBERS ON THE POLICE FORCE. YOU NEED 150,000.

Yepsen: AND WHAT ABOUT LEBANON? PEOPLE LOOK AT THAT AND YOU HAVE PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT THE WORLD SORT OF THE SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL. NEWT GINGRICH IS TALKING ABOUT WE'RE ON THE EVE OF WORLD WAR III. ARE YOU AFRAID ABOUT THAT? ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT THAT?

Yepsen: WELL, WHAT I'M CONCERNED ABOUT IS THAT THE UNITED STATES DOES NOT SEEM TO BE ABLE AND IS NOT IN A POSITION TO BROKER PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST AT THIS POINT IN TIME. IT DOES NOT SEEM TO HAVE THE POWER. WHAT WE HAVE DONE BY FOCUSING ON IRAQ AND IGNORING IRAN AND IGNORING THE MIDDLE EAST IS WE HAVE BASICALLY EMBOLDENED IRAN, AND WE'VE PUT IRAN AND POTENTIALLY SYRIA IN A POSITION TO BE THE PEACEMAKERS, WHICH WILL FURTHER ENHANCE THEIR CREDIBILITY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD. RIGHT NOW THERE IS A CIVIL WAR TAKING PLACE INSIDE THE MUSLIM WORLD BETWEEN MODERATES WHO SEE THE NEED TO BE PART OF THIS GLOBALIZATION THAT'S TAKING PLACE AND EXTREMISTS WHO ARE DEADLY AGAINST IT. WHAT WE HAVE DONE WITH OUR ACTIONS IS WE'VE EMBOLDENED THE EXTREMISTS AND WE HAVE MARGINALIZED THE MODERATES, WHICH IS WHY IT'S VERY DIFFICULT TODAY FOR US TO BE ABLE TO TALK TO ANYONE TO BE ABLE TO CONVINCE THE SYRIANS AND IRANIANS TO TELL HEZBOLLAH TO BACK OFF, TO TELL HAMAS TO BACK OFF.

Henderson: WHAT ABOUT THAT OTHER HOT SPOT, NORTH KOREA?

Vilsack: WELL, YOU KNOW, THERE'S ANOTHER INTERESTING DISCUSSION. BY NOT BEING WILLING TO NEGOTIATE, BY NOT BEING WILLING TO ESTABLISH LINES OF COMMUNICATION, WE ARE NOW DEPENDENT ON OTHER STATES TO BASICALLY CARRY THE DIPLOMACY FOR US. ONE OF THOSE STATES HAPPENS TO BE CHINA. IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE CHINA NOW OWNS SOMEWHERE BETWEEN 50 PERCENT OF ALL OF THE NATIONAL DEBT THAT'S RECENTLY BEEN ACCRUED BY THIS COUNTRY. I WILL TELL YOU, YOU WANT TO DEAL WITH NORTH KOREA, YOU WANT TO DEAL AND BE A STRONGER, MORE SECURE AMERICA, YOU BETTER GET YOUR FISCAL HOUSE IN ORDER. YOU CAN'T CONTINUE TO SUSTAIN THESE HUGE DEFICITS AT A TIME WHEN IT'S BEING DEPENDENT ON FOREIGN DOLLARS. THAT'S -- THAT PUTS US IN A VERY DIFFICULT POSITION TO PUT PRESSURE ON CHINA TO IN TURN PUT PRESSURE ON NORTH KOREA.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, WE'VE ONLY GOT A MINUTE LEFT. WHEN DO WE DO ABOUT THE FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICITS? WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?

Yepsen: WELL, I THINK WE HAVE TO HAVE AN EDUCATED, DIFFICULT DISCUSSION WITH AMERICANS ABOUT A BROAD ARRAY OF ISSUES, FROM ENTITLEMENTS TO REINSTATING BUDGET REFORM, THE PAYGO RULES, TO LOOKING AT HOW MANY CONSULTANTS THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS AND USES, TO HOW MANY MIDDLE LEVEL MANAGERS IT HAS, TO RESTRUCTURING AND REPRIORITIZING WHERE WE PUT OUR DOLLARS.

Henderson: SO YOU'RE WILLING TO SAY TO SOCIAL SECURITY RECIPIENTS AND THOSE PEOPLE WHO MAY BE GETTING IT IN A LITTLE WHILE THAT THE RULES MAY CHANGE?

Vilsack: I'M WILLING TO TALK TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ABOUT THE CHALLENGES THAT WE FACE AND THE NEED FOR US TO -- ALL US TO UNDERSTAND WHAT WE'RE UP AGAINST AND TO ENCOURAGE AMERICANS TO PARTICIPATE IN BUILDING THIS COUNTRY INTO A STRONG AND INNOVATIVE AND CREATIVE ECONOMY THAT CAN SUSTAIN A BETTER FUTURE FOR OUR CHILDREN. THAT'S GOING TO REQUIRE US TO TAKE HEAVY LIFTING. THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS THAT CAN BE DONE IN SOCIAL SECURITY THAT WE NEED TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT. AND I SUSPECT, IF YOU WANT, YOU CAN INVITE ME BACK LATER TO HAVE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THAT.

Yepsen: GOVERNOR, WE'VE ONLY GOT 20 SECONDS LEFT. THERE'S ALSO SOME CIVIL WAR GOING ON IN THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY. IS THAT ANYTHING NEW? IS THAT ANYTHING THAT'S TROUBLED YOU AS --

Vilsack: HAVEN'T YOU BEEN WRITING ABOUT THAT FOR TWENTY YEARS?

Yepsen: WELL, THAT'S WHY I SAY WILL THIS IMPEDE THE PARTY IN '06 AND '08.

Vilsack: I DON'T THINK SO. I THINK WE'RE GOING TO EMERGE AS A UNITED PARTY BECAUSE WE APPRECIATE AND UNDERSTAND THIS COUNTRY HAS TO HAVE A DIFFERENT AND BETTER DIRECTION.

Borg: WE WILL HAVE YOU BACK, I PROMISE.

Vilsack: THANK YOU.

Borg: THANKS FOR BEING WITH US TODAY.

Vilsack: THANK YOU.

Borg: THIS WEEK'S EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS' IS THE FINAL PROGRAM IN THIS BROADCAST SEASON FOR US. AFTER A FOUR-WEEKEND HIATUS, WE PLAN TO BE BACK ON LABOR DAY WEEKEND. THAT'S FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1. AND WE'LL BE BEGINNING OUR 35TH SEASON AT THAT TIME ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. ON THAT INITIAL PROGRAM OF THE NEW SEASON, IOWA STATEHOUSE REPORTERS WILL DISCUSS THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE, SUMMER CAMPAIGN SEASON, AND PREVIEW NOVEMBER'S GENERAL ELECTION. I HOPE THAT YOU WILL CONTINUE TO BE A PART OF OUR CONTINUING SERVICE TO IOWA HERE ON IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION, FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.


Tags: governors Iowa Tom Vilsack