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Interview With Minn. Gov Pawlenty

Hannity & Colmes


HANNITY: And welcome back to "Hannity & Colmes." I'm Sean Hannity.

As we continue our coverage of the Minneapolis bridge tragedy, we are now joined by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is with us.

Governor, I know I speak for the entire country, and our thoughts and our prayers are with you and the families that have lost loved ones and those that are injured here. And we wish you all the best in this recovery effort. Our own Shep Smith was just reporting that there's a possibility that the loss of life may be less than what we had thought earlier in the day. Do you have any information about that?

GOV. TIM PAWLENTY (R), MINNESOTA: Well, there's some hope and speculation about that. We can't be for sure. These numbers are shifting around a little bit, Sean. We do know that they're finding some vehicles without people in them. That could mean a number of things. But there is some indication that it perhaps isn't quite as high as people speculated earlier, but I think it's important to minimize the speculation, just wait for the actual results.

HANNITY: OK, Governor, I know the recovery efforts had to stop because of the conditions fairly early this afternoon. I know the plan is to resume them sometime tomorrow. Do you anticipate that you'll be facing those same types of conditions? And is it possible that this recovery goes on for days and days?

PAWLENTY: Sean, that was a missed report earlier. I personally talked to the Hennepin County sheriff who is responsible for the search or for the rescue underneath the water, or the recovery underneath the water, and he said the divers have been in the water essentially all day, so that is not an accurate report to say that they've been or have been out of the water for any significant amount of time. The recovery effort, however, will continue, including having to get the bridge off of some cars presumed to be underneath the bridge.

HANNITY: All right, but you had heard those reports yourself that, in fact, it had periodically stopped for a part of the day here, because conditions are pretty tough, as I understand, in the Mississippi.

PAWLENTY: Yes, there was a report to that effect, and there was some concern about currents, but the sheriff assures me, with a few minor exceptions, they've been doing the recovery, diving all day.

HANNITY: Governor, I know a lot has been made of the fact of the status of this bridge, what we talk about, structural deficiency of the bridge, the last time that it was inspected we see is, what, June of 2006. That report showed that it, in fact, had fatigue cracks, one as long as four feet. As we try and get answers to how this happened, and you go back now, and you're discovering this, what are your thoughts on that?

PAWLENTY: Well, there was inspections in 2005, 2006, plus a report in 2007. They all indicated some yellow and red flags, but nobody indicated the bridge had to be immediately closed or immediately redone. They were talking about replacing the bridge in 2020, but clearly some yellow flags, Sean.

And so we're going to have to go back and ask and answer those tough questions. But it's also clear that there are a number of potential variables here. We're going to have to wait for the investigation and conclusion. There are, for example, trains in the area, construction on the bridge, and other things. So we're just going to have to wait and see.

COLMES: Governor, it's Alan Colmes. Thank you for coming on with us tonight. We certainly appreciate it, especially your time on a day like today.

PAWLENTY: Thanks, Alan.

COLMES: Reports that officials are saying it's a one- to two-year project rebuilding the bridge and a one-year federal investigation. Is that what you're expecting, as well?

PAWLENTY: Give or take, yes, Alan, that there's a range, but we want to be as aggressive as possible, get this bridge rebuilt as soon as possible, but the range for getting the bridge back up is somewhere between eight months and a year and a half or so, give or take.

COLMES: Interesting, also, it's being reported that they have to kind of take pieces of the bridge and, almost like a jigsaw puzzle, put it together again to see exactly what happened. Is that the process?

PAWLENTY: Yes, that's the way it's been described, that essentially they will recreate, not the whole bridge, by putting it back up, but at least keep pieces of it. There's also video, as you probably know, that will be helpful. They're going to interview witnesses, do a full-blown extensive investigation by the NTSB. I've also authorized a separate investigation and a number of other emergency actions. But your summary is correct.

HANNITY: All right, Governor, thank you for being with us tonight. And, once again, our thoughts and prayers are with you and the families that had a loss of life in the entire community that you serve. And thank you for being with us tonight.

PAWLENTY: We appreciate that. Thank you very much.

HANNITY: We're going to continue our coverage of the Minneapolis bridge tragedy right after the break. Don't forget, by the way, you can send us your photos at

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