News & Election Videos

Interview with State Senator Randy Hopper

Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, Brian Kilmeade

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Date: March 10, 2011>

Time: 08:00>

Tran: 031006cb.261>

Type: Show>

Head: Interview with State Senator Randy Hopper>

Sect: News; International>

Byline: Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, Brian Kilmeade>

Guest: Randy Hopper>

Spec: Protest; Government; Budget>

GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Let's start now with a FOX News alert. A surprise move after a nearly month long stand-off in Wisconsin. Republicans vote to strip most public workers of collective bargaining rights while their Democratic colleagues are still AWOL in Illinois.Joining us now is Wisconsin state senator, Republican Randy Hopper who voted yes for the bill last night.

Good morning to you.


CARLSON: So I understand that this was a big huge move by the Republicans. What was the final reason why Republicans decided to do this?

HOPPER: Well, it was clear after a couple of weeks of negotiations with our Senate majority leader and even with the governor and the governor's team that our fugitive senators in Illinois were not willing to come back.

Even one of the senators took out an absentee ballot for April election, so even though we were willing to negotiate, they were unwilling to come back and so what we decided yesterday was that although we need three-fifths to pass the bill that appropriates funds, we don't need three-fifths to save the money for the state.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: How long did you had this card to play and do you think Democrats knew you had this card to play all along?

HOPPER: Well, you know what, we've been trying -- I've tried personally and our leadership tried repeatedly to reach the people in Illinois, to reach those AWOL senators and try to get them to come back and to do their job and they were unwilling to do it. And we need to move the state forward.

And I know that people in my caucus talked about -- this wasn't worth political posturing to risk 1500 and even thousands of jobs in the state.

STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Senator, who is pulling the strings? We had the Senate majority leader with us about an hour or so ago and he said that big labor was trying to keep the Democrats in Illinois and the White House may have somehow been trying to synchronize this recall effort to recall a number of Republican senators.

HOPPER: Well, I can tell you in my district the person that's heading up the recall effort in my district was doing some work on behalf of either the administration or big labor in Colorado prior to moving into my district to do my recall.

You know the recalls were something that they used to threaten members of my caucus to change their vote on this bill. They used intimidation in terms of physical threats to try to get us to change our votes.

DOOCY: Right.

HOPPER: And I just have so much respect for members of our colleagues that stood in front of that and said we're going to do what's right for the people of Wisconsin.

DOOCY: Sure. Well, if the White House is involved and big labor is involved, would that say to you that they're trying to make this an issue for 2012?

HOPPER: I think there is absolutely no question this is an issue for 2012. People from Organizing for America have been running the protest in Madison for quite some time now and I think that there is no question that the president has some involvement in this.

I don't know what, but listen, we need to do what's in the best interest of the working people of Wisconsin and that's what we've done.

CARLSON: I'm sure that you have heard some of the comments from some of those Democrats who are still AWOL in Illinois as a result of this vote last night. One specifically said that this was hijacking democracy in the state of Wisconsin.

How would you respond to that?

HOPPER: What's hijacking democracy is we had an election in November. My party, the Republican Party, became the majority and to be able to hijack democracy is saying, by the way, just because we didn't win, we're going to take our ball and go away. And that's what the Democrats who I have lost complete respect for, are doing in Illinois.

You know in November we had a contract bill and members that are protesting today called my office and called me at home and said, you better show up because you have a constitutional duty to show up and vote.

And members of my caucus did, but then all of a sudden when things changed, they're saying that these 14 AWOL senators are somehow heroes. I think they're the ones that are hijacking democracy.

KILMEADE: Senator, was this about breaking the union or balancing the budget?

HOPPER: This is about balancing the budget. I mean, everything about this bill is about fiscal components, whether it's the $159,000 bus driver in Madison, whether it's $68 million that We Act -- the teachers unions force the school districts to spend, their health care plans on We Act health plans. You know, it's entirely about fiscally balancing our budget.

KILMEADE: Right. But you had to strip the fiscal stuff out of it in order to be able to pass it?

HOPPER: Actually everything is fiscal. Everything that we passed last night still has fiscal components. What we did do is we can't allocate those funds. We can't appropriate the funds that we save. So even though those things are very fiscal, we can't spend the money until one of the Democrats decides to come back and do their job. But what we can start doing is we can start capturing those savings.

DOOCY: Sure. And speaking of the Democrats, we understand that some of them are thinking about coming back to Madison today. When they come back, what's your message to them?

HOPPER: You know where have you been? Time to debate this bill has come and gone. You should have been here, you should have done your jobs. You know, a lot of these protesters are pounding our windows and screaming shame on us, but really the shame is hijacking democracy and fleeing to a different state.

DOOCY: That's crazy.

CARLSON: Senator Hopper from Wisconsin, a Republican who voted yes last night, thank you so much for your time and your explanation. Appreciate it.

HOPPER: Thank you.


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