Interview with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

Interview with Arizona Governor Jan Brewer

By John King, USA - April 25, 2011

JOHN KING: The birther movement took a hit recently when the Arizona Jan Brewer vetoed a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove they were born in the United States before they would be allowed in her state's ballot.

Governor Brewer joins now us live from Phoenix.

Governor, it's good to see you.

I want to get to your vetoes. But I want to start with, when you hear people like Mr. Trump repeatedly saying -- despite all the documentary evidence that the president was born in Hawaii in 1961 -- should they just drop this and debate him on whether it's taxes or immigration or some other issue?

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: Well, you know, it seems to me that we have talked about this issue now going on probably two years, and that I believe that most people have reached out and they did their investigations and it's become such a huge distraction, I for one -- I believe that from what I have seen and after speaking with governor -- or the prior governor of Hawaii that indeed he was born in Hawaii. It's just something that I think is leading our country down a path of destruction and it just is not serving any good purpose.

KING: Is it -- is it a vehicle for some people, some people, to hide maybe racism, to say that they don't want to come out and say they don't want to have a black president, an African-American president, so they are trying to find some other reason to disqualify him or to delegitimize him?

BREWER: Well, you know, John. You know, I can't speculate on that. You know, I think there was a point in time when people didn't really understand how birth certificates were kept in the state of Hawaii, and now, I think that it's been pretty much disclosed that they used to have a long form and now they don't have a long form. Arizona used to have a long form, we now have a short form.

But, you know, in regards to the bill that was passed and the one that I vetoed, it was such a huge distraction. It was a bridge way too far to give one person in the state of Arizona, a partisan person at that, the ability to keep a person off the ballot. And it wasn't just the president of the United States. It was all the way down the path of all elected officials.

So, it was something that I felt very uncomfortable with signing, having been a prior secretary of state. And I think we just really need to move on. Everybody has had two years to prove if they wanted to that he was not born in Hawaii. They haven't come up with any of that kind of proof. So, it just seems to me that it's more political rhetoric and that it takes the ball off the kinds of subjects that we all ought to be discussing and that would be jobs and the economy.

KING: I want to move to other subjects in just a minute. But I want to ask you one more on this one. You just mentioned that the bill in Arizona would not have just covered president of the United States, it would have covered all candidates for federal office. But do you have any doubt in your mind that the bill in Arizona, similar bills around the country, and this entire conversation around the country is directed at one man, the current president of the United States?

BREWER: Well, yes, I would agree that it is, of course, discussed in a different manner. But I think it has always been directed to the president of the United States. And in Arizona, you know -- I mean, it was pretty well known it was directed, I believe, at the president of the United States.

And in our bill, you know, when I say it's a bridge too far, when you're asking people to show their birth certificate or in addition some type of other certificate like that of baptism or circumcision, I don't know how many people have a circumcision certificate or how many people still have their baptism certificate. And we certainly all know that it doesn't prove citizenship.

So, in Arizona our bill was crafted poorly and it would not serve the people of Arizona. It was a distraction. I don't feel any regrets in vetoing the bill.

KING: Well, I appreciate your candor on that point tonight. You also vetoed a bill that would allow some guns on university campuses. And "The New York Times" -- "The New York Times," which during the immigration debate was not a fan of Governor Jan Brewer says that a ray of sunshine emanating from a most unlikely source.

Is this a new Jan Brewer? There are some saying that last year, you know, you had to win an election in a conservative primary, in a more conservative year. Now that you've won the election, you are happy to be maybe a more moderate voice in Arizona. Is that fair?

BREWER: No. I don't think that's fair. I think that I'm the same Jan Brewer I was when I first ran for office way back in 1982, which is a few years ago. I always tried to do what I believed is right and I've always voted the way that I believe was the right way for my constituency, and that's what I'm doing when I govern. So, I'm the same Jan Brewer. But in regards to the so-called "guns on campus" bill, again, it was a poorly crafted bill. It said that, you know, you could carry guns on the right away, whereas right away was never described. And it also said it was an education facilities which went all of the way down to kindergarten, first grade, our grade schools. It was just overly broad, poorly written, undefined and probably unenforceable.

I don't think anybody would have really understood what it was that they were trying to enforce. It wasn't clear whatsoever at all. So, I felt very, very uncomfortable with it and vetoed it because I didn't think it that it served the people of Arizona well.

KING: Most of the country got to know Jan Brewer for the first time when you signed the controversial Arizona immigration bill. And the federal courts have struck down most of the major provisions and you have been appealing. But the ninth U.S. circuit essentially agreed with the lower court.

Your choice now is you can appeal to the full ninth circuit, a panel of judges deciding to keep those restrictions in place. You can appeal to full ninth circuit. You can appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. Or, Governor, you could say, enough, I'm going to drop this legal challenge and just forget about SB-1070 and go back to working -- trying to work with the president, try to work this out. What will do you?

BREWER: Well, I certainly will not drop our lawsuit. I feel very, very strongly about moving forward and I intend to get it all of the way to the Supreme Court. I'm currently deliberating if I should go back to the ninth circuit and re-appeal there or if I should just take it now directly to the Supreme Court. And I have to make that decision in the next couple few days. And I will make that decision.

But I have to figure out what is the best way that Arizona can get its story out to the court because I believe that the ninth circuit in San Francisco brought up issues that were never discussed at the federal level here with Judge Bolton.

So, I've got to decide where and how is the best way that we can address this issue to make sure that our case has all of the precedence before it gets to the Supreme Court. And I -- you know, I have to take into consideration the cost because Arizona doesn't have a whole lot of money to spend on these kinds of things.

However, we have overwhelming support here in the state of Arizona and throughout America to continue this fight. But it is being paid by private dollars. No taxpayer dollars are being paid for it. People have been very responsive to

And given that, I believe we can continue the suit and just take it all of the way to the Supreme Court. I am not backing down in regards to this issue. I have a responsibility as an elected governor to govern and when I say govern, that means to make sure that our citizens are safe and we need the federal government to step up and do their job. They need to secure our borders.

KING: Governor Brewer, as always, appreciate your time tonight. BREWER: Thank you.

KING: Take care, Governor.


John King, USA

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