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Gov. Edward T. Schafer (R-N.D.) on the GOP Ticket and Campaign 2000

Free Media
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Profile: Gov. Schafer

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Campaign 2000
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Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2000; 12:30 p.m. EDT

Republicans are looking to achieve many objectives in this fall's elections -- winning back the White House, winning back control of the House of Representatives, and building their stronghold in the states with the 11 gubernatorial seats at stake. The strength and popularity of the Bush-Cheney ticket could mean long coattails Republican gubernatorial candidates, so a strong push by the Republican Governors Association stands to benefit both Texas Gov. George W. Bush and the governors seeking both election and reelection.

Schafer (File photo)

Edward T. Schafer (R-N.D.) is chairman of the RGA and the two-term governor of North Dakota. Schafer won reelection in 1996 with 67 percent of the vote -- the first Republican governor elected to a second term in state history. Schafer had a career in business and served as president of the Gold Seal Company before entering government, and during his tenure in North Dakota's top office, he has focused heavily on the state's economic development and welfare reform. Schafer was online on Thursday, Aug. 3. The transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Free Media: Good afternoon, Gov. Schafer, and welcome. What role are you the Republican Governors Association playing in the Bush campaign?

Gov. Edward T. Schafer: Hi! The RGA is playing a strong role in the Bush campaign. We have 30 Republican governors in the organization -- all of whom have good acceptance with the voters in their states (about two thirds of the people in the U.S.). We bring two things to the campaign. We governors are able to deliver the Bush message to the grass roots levels in the state. Also, we have good political organizations which have walked through walls to get us elected in our states, and those organizations can enhance the Bush campaign in states that carry 340 electoral votes (it takes 270 to be elected President).

Washington, D.C.: You're retiring this fall. What will you be doing next?

Gov. Edward T. Schafer: Hi Washington! We don't know what we are going to be doing. I'm concentrating on the job at hand and when it's done, we are going to see what our next assignment is going to be. Nancy reminds me that I still owe her a honeymoon! E

Philadelphia, Pa.: Would you take a position in a Bush-Cheney administration -- say, secretary of agriculture?

Gov. Edward T. Schafer: Hi Philly! A position in the administration is not something I am anticipating or expecting. I'm confident that my friend George W. is going to get elected, but we have never talked about this issue. I suppose if the President of the United States calls and asks you to go to work for the administration you have to seriously consider it, but Nancy and I aren't sure we want to live in the East Coast; so we would have to evaluate the situation if it were to happen. E

Palmdale, Calif.: Governor,
How can a State like North Dakota with a pretty conservative independent-minded population elect two Democratic Senators and a Representative. If the Republican party and its agenda do not appeal to people like your constituents, how can the party hope to appeal to Americans in general?

Gov. Edward T. Schafer: Hi Palmdale! This is a good question and one that we Republicans have been trying to figure out too!!! When I was elected in 1992 the Dems had been in control of our government since 1960! That means that they had developed a "farm" team of good up and coming group of candidates. When they ran for office and lost, they got jobs in the administration and were able to keep their names in front of the public. Our party was in shambles and we weren't very successful in getting the Rs elected. When I took office, there was a 10 seat majority of Republicans in the House, now there is a 43 seat majority. The Senate was in control of the Ds and now the Rs have an 11 seat majority. We have about half of the state wide offices in Republican hands now, when I was elected there was 1! I believe we have shown the people of North Dakota that Republican leadership is giving our citizens a Government that they want and eventually that will translate into the federal races too and we will knock off one of the incumbents one of these days. This is the same message the Republicans and George W. will be spreading too. Give the people a government that they ask for and NO more. Address the issues that people care about and get out of the partisan battles. People will respond to this message. E

Washington, D.C.: Until he picked Cheney, Gov. Bush was really under fire about his lack of foreign policy experience. But the fact is, that would be true of any governor, regardless of party. Does the RGA have a program or efforts to get more governors involved with foreign policy, in the interests of making stronger candidates?

Gov. Edward T. Schafer: Hi D.C. This is a good observation! Governors don't have the arena to get involved in foreign policy development. We all take trade excursions to various countries and develop relationships based on trade and understand the importance of foreign policy as it effects trade. I don't think a presidential candidate can come to the table with all the necessary background and experience for all the things that they have to be an "expert" on. Governor Bush is showing us that he will assemble a team of people who are experienced and dedicated to the issues and he and his team will be able to deliver a good government when he is elected. E

Oklahoma City, Okla.: Gov. Schafer, do you see a truly new and broader-spectrum Republican party emerging, as the RNC wants to project at this convention; or is this a temporary expansion for the sake of the upcoming election?

Gov. Edward T. Schafer: Hi Oklahoma! I think this is a true picture of our party. We for too long have let the opposition party define who we are and now is our chance for the people to see what we really stand for. We obviously have a ways to go for inclusion and opportunity for all, but I believe we are moving in the right direction. We get criticized for not including folks and they when we do, the criticism moves to "you are presenting tokenism." Can't win, but we will keep moving in the direction of George W. Bush: "We will leave NO ONE behind! E

St.Louis, Mo.: Many people grassroots people that I have spoken with are concerned that George W. Bush lacks the intellectual capacity to be president. Does this concern you or other leaders in the Republican Party?

Gov. Edward T. Schafer: Hi St. Louis! I think this is a silly argument. People said the same thing about Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan and they were great presidents. I don't think people want an egg head sitting around in a think tank dreaming up ways that government can "help you better." The presidency should carry someone who is committed to certain values and philosophy and will move Government in that direction. George W. Bush surrounds himself with the best people and the team he assembles will deliver good government to the good people of this country! I'd much rather have some in the White House who I can believe in and trust in the way they will react and move than some "professor" who is way above me. E

Washington, D.C.: Gov. Schafer, As a recent graduate of the University of North Dakota, now living in the Washington area, what is your administration and/or private industry doing to entice people like me back to the state?

Gov. Edward T. Schafer: Hi fellow Nodaker! We welcome you back to the state at anytime! We are in the process of eliminating the barriers for our folks to compete in the global marketplace. As society moves from the heavy, muscle bound manufacturing generated economy of the past to the maneuvering data and information to generate wealth, we are currently installing high speed, broadband capacity to every community in the state. That means you will be able to live in a place that is crime free, has clean air and water, friendly people, wide open spaces and SHORT COMMUTES, but compete in the global economy which is six tenths of a second away from anywhere in the world. Come home---It's great! E

Free Media: That was our last question today for Gov. Edward T. Schafer (R-N.D.), chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Thanks so much to Gov. Schafer, and to everyone who joined us.

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