The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Transcript: Post Live Election Daily with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson & Rep. Katie Porter

MR. COSTA: Welcome back to Post Live's Election Daily, our post-election conversation. I'm Bob Costa, national political reporter at The Washington Post, keeping busy this week as America's voted but there's still a raging debate in this country with the Republicans and President Trump contesting the result and President-Elect Biden trying to move forward with his own transition program.

Our guests today are on the forefront of the debates in Capitol Hill in both parties: Representative Katie Porter of California; Arkansas' Governor, Asa Hutchinson. So, really glad to have both of them in just a moment.

But first, just to open my notebook and share some headlines, there's a lot of stuff we're paying attention to. Number one, McConnell and President Trump united. You may have seen it yesterday; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went to the Senate floor and he set the tone. He said he's with President Trump as the president mounts these legal challenges.

Just a few minutes ago, McConnell told reporters, quote, no reason to alarm about--no reason for alarm about the election challenges. He said it's going to be fine in terms of a peaceful transition of power, but he said, it will be fine for a new administration, quote, "if there is a new one in January." So, this shows the GOP leadership in Congress in lockstep with President Trump, despite President-elect Biden moving forward.

Number two, Barr takes action. The Attorney General took action on Monday. He's now giving federal prosecutors approval to pursue allegations of elections' irregularities, to look into alleged election fraud, even though there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, even though reports that have come in have been anecdotal and lacking in evidence. The Attorney General is pursuing this. The Washington Post will keep a close eye on this story. But the Barr letter that he sent out on Monday is a reversal of longstanding Justice Department policy and it led to the resignation of a Justice Department official. So, high stakes right now in terms of the election integrity but also DOJ's handling.

And number three, the big picture, Biden's transition, a tough transition. The vice president, now president-elect, is going to give a speech today on health care as the Supreme Court considers the future of the Affordable Care Act; there's a focus on that. But the Government Services Administration, other parts of the government, are not recognize President-elect Biden. So, it's put him in a tough position to try and form a government. He is holding calls with world leaders. He talked to the head of the UK, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, earlier and they had a good conversation. So, the world is engaging with him, but the Trump administration's not.

Congress, its engagement with President Trump, is going to be a big story at the lame duck. So, let's bring in House Democrat Katie Porter of California, who won a very difficult race last week.

Representative Porter, good to have you here.

REP. PORTER: Thank you so much.

MR. COSTA: Representative, a majority of the Supreme Court just now, today, appeared ready on Tuesday to uphold most of the Affordable Care Act, even though it's being challenged by Republican-led states. If parts of it are eroded by the court in some way or challenged, what's the plan for House Democrats in the lame duck?

REP. PORTER: House Democrats are prepared to work hopefully across the aisle to try to restore any parts of the Affordable Care Act that would be overturned by the Supreme Court, as well as being open to understanding that we need to improve parts of the Affordable Care Act.

For instance, one of my big focuses is on enforcing the promise made in the Affordable Care Act that mental health coverage will be treated equally to physical health coverage.

So, there are areas where we could not only overturn--put back what the Supreme Court may dismantle, but also areas where we can step up and improve health care for the American people. Nothing is more important during this pandemic than people continue to have access to affordable, high-quality care.

MR. COSTA: You have a good sense of where your party is and what's possible. Is a public option possible in 2021 with House Democrats losing seats in the 2020 election and the Senate so narrowly divided? Should Democrats just put that hope on a shelf, at least for the next year?

REP. PORTER: Well, I think the Supreme Court decision is going to be part of how we move forward on this. But look, I don't think we as Democrats or we as representatives of any party can be afraid to debate ideas. I think we have a duty to continue to listen to our constituents about health care and to have debates, both within our respective party caucuses, but also across the aisle about what is the best way to move forward on health care.

We have big problems with prescription drug pricing. That remains un-tackled after four years after President Trump made that a centerpiece of his campaign. So, we clearly are going to have work to do on health care, even if the Supreme Court upholds the Affordable Care Act. American people still need help with things like drug prices and mental health care.

MR. COSTA: Why do you believe Republicans gained seats in the House?

REP. PORTER: Well, I think with a lot of the seats that we won in 2018 were places where President Trump was deeply popular. These were so-called "Trump districts," and so when the president appeared back at the top of the ticket, we saw some of those seats go back the other direction. We also won in parts and pockets of this country in 2018 that had not seen Democrats elected in decades.

I'm a good example of this. When I won in 2018, I became the first Democrat to represent this part of Orange County since 1940. So, we won in a lot of tough places. When we had a reelection, we lost in some of those. We retained our majority, and I'm excited about the kind of campaign that many of us ran. And so, I think we all need to take a lesson from this to make sure we are doing the work of reaching out to voters on both sides of the aisle: independent voters, younger voters, older voters, not taking any election for granted. We certainly didn't do that in my race in Orange County. I wanted to earn every vote I could.

MR. COSTA: Are you backing your fellow Californian, Nancy Pelosi, for Speaker once again?

REP. PORTER: We're having a discussion about all of the House leadership positions, which I think is really, really important. So, we're talking right now. We just had a big announcement that we're going to have a new DCCC chair and that Cheri Bustos is not going to run for another term.

Vice chair of the caucus is a contested race. I'm focusing on continuing my work in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. But I've had conversations with everybody who's seeking leadership positions, and I want to push each one of them to think about how we can make our Congress more effective for the American people.

One of the things that I think has been lost in this era of Donald Trump and so much partisanship is the fact that the American people don't have a whole heck of a lot of confidence in Congress as an institution, and that's true of Democrats and Republicans; that's true when Democrats hold the majority and when Republicans hold the majority.

So, I'm focused on things like making sure that we have a calendar that lets us do more work in Washington, as well as more work here at home; a calendar that makes us more effective and productive. I'm working on making sure we can continue to have proxy voting so that Congress is keeping and reducing the public health risk to people. And I'm working on making sure that we're going to put forward a strong agenda that has bipartisan support, including priorities like reducing drug prices, mental health, and infrastructure.

So, I'm having conversations with all of those members of leadership, whether I intend to support them or not. This is an important time to make my voice heard, and I hope all of my colleagues across the ideological spectrum are doing the same.

MR. COSTA: Understood, Representative, but do you believe the speaker race will be contested?

REP. PORTER: At this time, I do not think the speaker race will be contested. I think Nancy Pelosi is very likely to be reelected speaker. And what I really appreciate about our caucus is that the opportunity to have a conversation with the speaker about what she wants to do, what I want her to do, what my constituents need her to do, regardless of the fact that she's running unopposed. She's reaching out and having those conversations. That's the mark of a good leader, and we're going to need that kind of leadership in every one of these positions as we work across the aisle with our colleagues going forward.

MR. COSTA: But those colleagues you reach across the aisle to greet or to work with on issues, that's now an emboldened House GOP. It's a House GOP led by Minority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, a close ally of President Trump. Do you believe the House GOP is still infused with Trumpism?

REP. PORTER: Well, I think that remains to be seen. They have a big decision to make, as well about how they're going to move forward in terms of electing a minority leader and what priorities they're going to set. I don't know that we're far enough out from President-elect Biden's winning the election to know where the House Republican caucus is going to find itself.

But I will tell you, I have a number of bipartisan bills, and we've seen bipartisan support for a number of issues, things like reducing drug prices, things like background checks. I think there will be some areas where we can move forward together.

I think it's up to the House GOP to make clear what its substantive priorities are going to be. Separate and apart from supporting President Trump, they need to have a separate agenda now that we have President-elect Biden.

MR. COSTA: What about you, Representative? You've become a high-profile Democrat in your short time in Congress. Are you considering a leadership bid of any sort?

REP. PORTER: I'm running to be more involved in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. I think I have a really unique perspective as somebody who represents a Republican district, a frontline district that was really hard fought in 2018. A lot of these seats were hard to hang onto. We lost some of them in Orange County, but also being someone who's not afraid to talk to and work with progressives.

One of the things that I'm most proud of in my short two years in Congress so far is the fact that I worked with Republicans, like Jaime Herrera Beutler on childcare and protecting newborns. I worked with moderates like Elissa Slotkin. I worked with progressives like Ayanna Pressley.

So, we think--I think I have a unique ability to kind of bridge some of that ideological divide, and I think that's incredibly important that we as Democrats support having a robust debate on ideas and continue to see how we're going to work together to have that dialogue and to bring the American people into that dialogue.

MR. COSTA: You have an immediate challenge before you get to policy: It's President Trump. He refuses to concede. He is not recognizing President-elect Biden as president-elect.

Will House Democrats do anything in the coming weeks to try to force a reckoning on the president's part to recognize Biden, or to force the Government Services Administration, the GSA, to allow the transition to begin in a formal way?

REP. PORTER: I think with regard to President Trump, I think we're all hopeful that in the upcoming days, as we get more detail and more information from these close-count states, I think the Biden gap continues to grow in places like Georgia and Arizona and Pennsylvania. I think I'm very hopeful that President Trump will accept the results and do his best to have a peaceful transition.

With regard to GSA, there could be a role for Congress, there. Nobody, no American, regardless of their political views, is helped by having a disorderly or disruptive transition. We're in the middle of a pandemic. We're in the middle of a serious economic recession. Families are needing help. A lot of our work lives and personal lives are very disruptive. We need an orderly transition to fight his virus and put our economy back on a path. And so, I hope that the GSA will recognize that. I hope that Congress does not have to act, but we have important work to do in the upcoming weeks.

MR. COSTA: But what happens if President Trump simply refuses to concede?

REP. PORTER: Well, I think there are a number of potential options. There's obviously the potential for Congress to pass some kind of resolution. It isn't clear what kind of force that would really have over the president. There's options for states to certify their election results, which is a process they do every year, often in early December. That's about a month after the election, you see those states certify those results. And obviously, President Trump has chosen to go to the courts where I think we're going to see judges uphold the core principle of our democracy.

And so, I think this is probably more sound than fury, and when all's said and done, the--President Trump is going to accept the result.

MR. COSTA: You are close, Representative, with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a favorite of progressives. Many progressives are telling me they would like to see Senator Warren in the cabinet in a big role, Secretary of Treasury. Are you confident that President-elect Biden will try to enlist her or other high-profile progressives for those kinds of positions?

REP. PORTER: I'm very heartened that President Biden has had really good conversations across the ideological spectrum, and I think we saws that with some of the committees that he set up in his campaign: the committee on climate, the committee on labor and workforce. These had wide variety of voices within our Democratic Party, and I obviously think that Senator Warren has a lot to bring on the table in terms of economic policy, particularly in a time when we're in a recession and families are struggling to make ends meet.

But I'm heartened that there's a whole team of thoughtful voices stepping up, wanting to serve in the Biden administration.

MR. COSTA: But how will you measure success for progressives in the cabinet? What does it mean for you to see a successful inclusion of progressives in a Biden administration?

REP. PORTER: It means for me getting commitments from any nominee to, one, not shut down debate on ideas. So, I want to hear from people that they want to debate these ideas. They will do whatever is best after hearing the facts and studying the things. I want people with open minds who are willing to debate solutions. And I think it's important that we build a diverse, multigenerational cabinet.

I think one of the things that I'm focused on as much as ideology is making sure that this isn't the cabinet of Obama, this isn't the cabinet of Bill Clinton. This is the cabinet of President-elect Biden, and this cabinet should reflect a mix of voices from different generations and different life experiences. And I think that is as important as any particular ideological identification in making sure that we have that robust debate, making sure that progressives, moderates all feel like they have a voice.

MR. COSTA: Could you offer a name or two you'd like to see beyond Senator Warren?

REP. PORTER: No, I don't think so, but I will tell you this: I can name some agencies that I'm really, really enthusiastic about. One is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This agency was gutted. To a large extent morale is very low, there. And as someone who ran on a platform of protecting consumers, how I got elected in 2018, standing up to corporate special interests and powerful CEOs in Washington was a big part of how I got elected, I'm going to be watching to make sure that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau returns to a robust role of enforcing the law, making sure that consumers get a fair shake.

The Federal Trade Commission has a really important role to play in antitrust enforcement as well as consumer protection. I'm hoping that we'll see our Federal Election Commission be restored. We have a shortage of members right now; it's not in a quorum.

And I'm also watching, of course, to see what happens in our Environmental Protection Agency, making sure that we're putting voices in there that are ready, on day one, to repeal and restore--repeal some of the things that Trump did and restore some of our longstanding environmental policies.

MR. COSTA: It was a quite a moment on Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening when not only the race was called for President-Elect Biden, but for Vice President-elect Senator Kamala Harris, a California--your colleague in Congress from the State of California.

Now that opens a seat in the United States Senate. Are you interested in being appointed to that seat or running for that seat in the coming year?

REP. PORTER: Well, I'm going to be honest with you--

MR. COSTA: Please be.

REP. PORTER: I am always asking myself, how can I help? What can I do? That's how I got into Congress, is I asked myself in the wake of Donald Trump winning. What is my path? How can I make a difference? That's why I ran for Congress. I got added to the Oversight Committee in January because I felt like I could be a powerful voice on that Committee fighting for working families.

So, there's no position that I'm going to exclude, but I will also tell you that I absolutely love my congressional district, the vibrancy, the diversity, both ideologically and in terms of who I represent. It is a blessing to get to represent the 45th Congressional District and I am ready to get back to work in Washington, on both the Financial Services Committee and the Oversight Committee. Both have huge roles to play in making sure that we recover from this pandemic and from the recession.

MR. COSTA: Have you spoken to Governor Newsom about this vacancy?

REP. PORTER: My last correspondence with Governor Newsom was about Halloween and what our kids were dressing up as.

MR. COSTA: How much appetite is there in California for House Democrats to try to change the presidential election system and move away from the Electoral College, especially after Vice President Biden had a seemingly potentially narrow win in the Electoral College--we're still counting, of course, but he's been named the winner. But there's a lot of anger. I know when I go to California as a reporter, I just wonder if you detect that, as well, and is it rising to the point of actual action on Capitol Hill?

REP. PORTER: I think this is something that is a good example of where we can't be afraid of ideas. There's nothing magical, for instance, about 100 Senators. There's nothing magical about the Electoral College. These are parts of our democracy, but you can have a very stable, vital, functional democracy with other kinds of systems and constructs.

So, I think it's very natural for people in California to question whether or not their voices are getting their fair due in Washington given the Electoral College and given our system of Senators, but I think this is a debate we need to have. This is not something that I should be deciding in a flash moment. This is something that I should be listening to my constituents about, sharing information that I have, and then coming to that joint decision, creating that energy on the ground to move forward.

And I think we've seen Democrats do this successfully with issues like preventing gun violence, with issues like standing up to corruption, refusing to take corporate PAC money, campaign finance reform, lowering prescription drug prices. But we need to have this conversation about democracy and not be afraid of it but, instead, lean into it as an opportunity to listen to our constituents and more deeply engage them. And I think that's something we should be doing on both sides of the aisle.

MR. COSTA: Final question here, Representative, we just have a minute left: What's the number one issue the Progressive Caucus will pressure President Biden on come February 2021?

REP. PORTER: I don't know that I have a number one. I will tell you that racial justice issues are very, very important to the caucus. I think there's a need for us to put forth again the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act or some kinds of policies similar to that, in part to stake out for people that we understand that law enforcement has a difficult job, that we respect the work that they do, and we want them to be able to meet their standard of "Protect and Serve," including keeping people safe who are in their custody. And so, I think that's going to be a big, big issue that we're going to be ready to raise with the president, and I think there's a lot of need for to reset the dialogue on and bring people together and say that we all benefit from communities that are safe, including safe for those who are too-often victims of police violence.

MR. COSTA: Representative Katie Porter, California, I really appreciate your time. And when this pandemic is over, I'll get to John Wayne Airport. Is it still called John Wayne Airport?

REP. PORTER: Currently, it is still called John Wayne Airport, but that too is a controversy. There is very little left that isn't controversial at this point, including the name of our airport. So, you can look for it on the Orange County--

MR. COSTA: Well, hope to visit you and cover you, there.

REP. PORTER: --[unclear] or John Wayne.

MR. COSTA: Sounds good. Thank you, Representative Porter, for your time.

REP. PORTER: Thank you.

MR. COSTA: We are now joined by our Republican guest this afternoon, Asa Hutchinson, the Governor of Arkansas, a return guest to Washington Post Live. So, we appreciate you being here, Governor Hutchinson, at this busy moment. Thank you so much.

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, thank you. And I just want to vote and express my approval of John Wayne Airport staying John Wayne Airport.

MR. COSTA: That's probably the right answer in Arkansas. Probably a little bit more complicated in Orange County and California.

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Always.

MR. COSTA: But, Governor Hutchinson, I was struck by your statement in recent days about the election, as the question of whether President Trump should concede or not takes Washington by--holds Washington's attention.

You said, quote, "While we wait for the outcome of various court challenges, it's important that we recognize the likelihood that former Vice President Biden and Senator Harris have won 270 electoral votes."

And you go on to say the media--you criticize the media for declaring the winner and the process is not yet constitutionally concluded, but you did say at the top of that statement, "We should recognize the likelihood."

Why did you do that?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, first of all, it's important that the people put this in perspective. If you look back in 2000, I was actually in the recount in Florida for Bush versus Gore that went on for, what, 50 days. And so, you know, our elections, Bob, are a series of state elections that have different processes, timelines, and procedures, and they all have to follow those processes to get the result. And sometimes, it's called on election night, and it's fair for the media to call that, and it's a clear winner. In 2000, that was not the case.

Now, you know, like I said, I think it was important to acknowledge that it is likely that Joe Biden was going to get to 270, but you have to let the process work out. And the reason it's important to understand that process is because, first of all, the people need to be patient. They need to understand how this is going to play out.

Secondly, they need to give Vice President Biden a chance to be prepared. While he has not been declared the winner in all circles and by the government because the appeals are continuing to happen, he still has to look at the eventuality that he's likely to be the president. And so, he's got to be prepared. I don't fault him for creating the taskforce for coronavirus. I don't criticize he's got to look at his cabinet. Those steps are things that anybody would do during a transition. And so, he's got to be prepared, the process has got to work out, and the people of America need to be patient. That's where we are right now and we need to see this play out.

MR. COSTA: Governor Hutchinson, you just said President-elect Biden should, quote, "be prepared." You understand government not only at a state level as an executive, but you've served in high-ranking federal positions. You've run the Drug Enforcement Administration; you've been a top official in the Department of Homeland Security. With all of that experience, you understand the function of government and of the transition process.

The Government Services Administration has so far held back on allowing Biden to start a formal transition process. Is that a mistake?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: No, I think that's a signal that you've got to wait until the legitimate appeals are resolved, until the accounting is finished. And so, I don't judge that as a mistake; I judge that as being prudent. And you know, there's--you know, Vice President Biden has the resources and the capability to go ahead and start his transition planning, to be prepared for that.

The General Services Administration can make that declaration at the right time and add into it the funding mix to broaden the transition teams and to provide some federal funding for that. So, there's time to work with. This is going to be resolved probably in December, I would suspect. But you know, if you look at while Pennsylvania has increased the lead for Biden--has a lead right now, but there are some very interesting legal appeals that come out of there. And then, you contrast that to Arizona where the counting has actually gotten closer and Trump has picked up votes, these are interesting developments in the last few days. And so, I think you have to be patient, and I think the General Services Administration is being patient that they need to wait to make the call until the dust settles.

MR. COSTA: When you say in your statement, "We should recognize the likelihood," I wondered immediately have you called President-elect Biden?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: I have not. I am the Vice Chair of the National Governors Association and at the right time I'll be working with our Chairman, Andrew Cuomo, to make a statement on that. But I have not called him. I will certainly be happy to call him at the right time if a congratulations is in order and whenever the final vote is clear.

MR. COSTA: Has Governor Cuomo been asking you to issue a joint statement in recent days?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: No, we've talked back-and-forth as to the right time and working with our NGA team on that. So, I think we'll both come together at the right time when the dust settles to make an appropriate statement on behalf of the National Governors Association. But in my judgment, whenever the General Service Administration is not making that call, I think it's premature for us to do it, as well. And we just need to settle back and wait until the process works in each of these states.

MR. COSTA: We saw Democratic gains across the Sun Belt and the South, maybe not at the level Democrats would have wanted earlier in the year, but certainly some gains. They made Georgia competitive, that's to be sure.

Are you seeing demographic changes in your state, in Arkansas, that reflect what we're seeing across the South, more younger White liberals moving into the South, a revived electorate of traditional Democratic voters, including Black voters, maybe increased population of Latino Americans and Asian Americans? Is that transformation of the South touching Arkansas in any way?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, we have a changing demographic in Arkansas. We have a lot of people that move here for tech jobs for supporting our leading industries from Walmart to Tysons, a very diverse workforce.

We have a high percent of Hispanics that come here, that work, and are contributing greatly to our economy and our quality of life. And so, and that has a way of having more diversity in the vote, as well.

But in this last--in the last election, we actually increased our numbers in both our state house and in our state senate. So, in Arkansas, it was a very strong Republican vote. And I know that Georgia, which my wife is from Georgia, I follow that closely, there is a changing demographic there that's obviously a very close state.

The Senate race is going to be critical as we watch the outcome of that. But overall, I was very pleased. I think the Republicans have to be pleased that we didn't lose seats in the House. We actually gained a couple seats in the Congress.

The Senate is still up in the air, but we're holding our own there. Hopefully, we'll be able to maintain that. So, I think this year, overall, is certainly not a referendum on Republican philosophy. President Trump was on the ballot and it was a referendum on him at the presidential level, but they separated that race out in many instances to the lower ballot races. And so, the Republican philosophy, I think had a good election year that will put them in better shape as we go forward and very pleased with that.

We are having a changing demographic in Arkansas, but we are still red. We went overwhelmingly for President Trump, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

MR. COSTA: To go back to your work at DEA for a moment, we saw across the map last week different initiatives to legalize marijuana. What's your view on that campaign which has often been pretty successful now in many states?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, actually, I'd love for you to inform me as to whether those initiatives passed in the different states.

MR. COSTA: It had some success in--I don't know all the details, so I don't want to start stating things, but I know at least it's been put on the ballot in many places.

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, then, the answer is that whenever there's not a clear federal position on legalization of marijuana, legalization of drugs, if there's not a clear federal position, then there's going to be a continued erosion and movement toward legalization of marijuana at the state level.

We've seen this-- and in Arkansas, we had--it was four years ago, I believe it was--the medical marijuana that was adopted in Arkansas. This year, they tried to get recreational use of marijuana on the ballot. They were not successful but we know that they will come back. And as long as the federal government is saying, "We're just going to turn a blind eye to whatever the states say," then it's going to continue that pressure to--because there's so many dollars that go with that, that they're going to continue to have those initiatives. They're going to be huge advertising dollars that go with it, and if the federal government does not take a clear position, they'll probably continue to pass. It's a bigger jump from medical marijuana to recreational use. Part of that will depend on the history that we see with recreational use of marijuana initiatives in Colorado and I believe it's Washington or Oregon. As we learn more from those, it might be instructive as to the voters and how they will approach that in the different states.

MR. COSTA: And I had spoken with last week here at Washington Post Live New Jersey's Governor, Phil Murphy, and they did have a successful referendum in New Jersey on legalizing marijuana, but interesting point you just made.

If you look back at the election, though, Governor Hutchinson, President Trump continues to attack the integrity of the election system and erode trust in many respects of that system.

In Arkansas, do people see this election on the ground when you're talking to them as an illegitimate election in any way? Does that worry you about the fabric of democracy and its ability to be stitched together every four years?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, in Arkansas, we had a very successful election. There's no indication of fraud. You know, the key is, you have--candidates have their ballot watchers in there, the poll watchers where you have the checks and balances in the system. If that falls down, then you've got things to worry about. In every election, you have isolated incidents of fraud or questionable conduct that--but it only impacts a small number of votes. It's not orchestrated in a broader fashion. What you've got to watch is that broader fashion of fraud, and I don't believe we should make those accusations at the current time.

What we're seeing is, again, isolated incidences of fraudulent conduct in various states, but I have not seen anything that makes it rise to the level yet of orchestration or something that we should draw greater attention to.

To me, when I say the process, it's really the process of counting the votes, the legal votes; and then, secondly, giving the recounts an opportunity, because in many states, there's an automatic recount that's required. And then, there are some not fraudulent conduct type of appeals but there are legal questions, and I believe Pennsylvania is an example of that, that is just a law question as to whether the Pennsylvania Secretary of State and Election Commission handled it in the right way by allowing votes that came in later. And so, those are all very appropriate questions to ask but I have not seen yet any broad indications of fraud.

MR. COSTA: In the last few minutes, Governor Hutchinson, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that he's looking forward to the transition to a second Trump administration. What does that statement tell you about the Trump White House and their position amid all these election debates after the race has been called on Saturday for the Secretary of State to come out on Tuesday and say, "I look forward to the transition to a second Trump administration"? What does that tell you and what's your response?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, I don't think it'd had been very wise for him to say, "I'm looking forward to a transition to the Biden administration." I think that's, you know, a reflection of his careful words. I think it's a reflection of his loyalty and I think it's a reflection of his hope.

So, that's fine that he makes that comment. You know, I'm sure that in his heart of hearts there's some realism that this election might not turn out the way that he hopes and that I hope. Let me make it clear, I voted for President Trump. I support him fully. I hope that he can prevail in this through the legitimate processes. But I'm first of all an American and I'm going to support whoever the people of America have elected their next president.

That's where we are right now. Nothing's going to change other than finishing the counting of votes. And so, whatever we say is not going to make a difference, other than it's going to maybe erode some of the confidence that we have, and we need to be careful of that.

MR. COSTA: The last time you visited us here at Washington Post Live, Governor, Arkansas was doing relatively well in dealing with the pandemic, scattered cases compared to the rest of the country. But you've seen some spikes, some case increases. Are you alarmed about your state and especially as Thanksgiving nears and the winter nears?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: I'm very concerned, very concerned. I'm glad we have the hope of a vaccine, but just like other states, our cases have gone up; our hospitalizations are tight.

We're blessed to have such a high level of coordination among hospital administrators; they share resources. But you know, it's--we're having a bump simply from Halloween.

And then, if you look at Thanksgiving--and it is so hard for people to say we're not going to bring all of the different households together. We're not going to bring our grandmother from the nursing home home for Thanksgiving, but those are the tough things we have to actually say and to think through.

I mean, who wants to wear a mask in your own home? But if you're going to have other households there, we need to take those steps; otherwise, our hospitals will be overrun. We have to be very, very careful. And it's just about our own individual responsibilities. Of all the epidemiologists, all the medical doctors that President Trump or Vice President Biden might pull together, all of their collective advice is simple: Wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands. And that's what we have and that's where we are.

MR. COSTA: Final question, Governor, I know you need to get going. There's a vaccine on the horizon after Pfizer's announcement on Monday. A lot of optimism out in this country, I'm sure in Arkansas, but is Arkansas ready to distribute a vaccine should it be ready in the coming months. And if not, what are the things that need to be done to put you in a position as governor to be ready to fully distribute a vaccine?

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Well, the key thing that we needed is to know exactly the type of vaccine that has to be distributed, because each of the vaccines under trials have different temperature requirements, storage requirements. Some--you know, one administration; some double administration. And so, that's the key thing to finalize the plan. We have submitted our state plan. It's being reviewed, it's being fine-tuned. It is very important that we not just focus on the major pharmaceutical distribution companies, but that we also utilize either our local pharmacies or some in the local rural communities that everybody has access.

The vaccine was very, very good news for us, and the reason is we all needed hope, and this gives us greater hope. It gives us greater patience to endure the coming months. But we can't just simply say the vaccine is coming; we still have to take the action that's needed.

So, we've got more planning to do on that distribution side, but we're getting closer, and I assure you that if that vaccine gets emergency use authorization quickly, we will be prepared to get that out to our medical providers and our high-priority individuals very quickly.

MR. COSTA: Well, best of luck with the coronavirus response, Governor. I appreciate you stopping by Post Live Election Daily, our post-election conversation here this afternoon. Thank you very much.

GOV. HUTCHINSON: Thank you. Good to be with you.

MR. COSTA: And thank you all for joining us here for our post-election discussion. It's fascinating to hear from Katie Porter, a rising progressive in the House; Governors Hutchinson dealing with the pandemic, but also a Republican Party that's still standing firmly with President Trump and we got him on the breaking news just now by colleague, John Hudson, about Secretary Pompeo's comments. So much news, such a turbulent moment. So, I hope you stick with us here at Washington Post Live.

Later today, at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, my colleague, Eugene Scott, will speak with the CEO of Humu, Laszlo Bock, to discuss "The Future of Work." That's an economic discussion.

And then, tomorrow, I'm really looking forward to this, 1:00 here at Washington Post Live for Election Daily, our post-election discussion continues with both of Pennsylvania's Senators, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey, who's announced he's retiring in 2022. Toomey and Casey with me tomorrow, really in-depth on Pennsylvania, a deep dive, as they say here at The Post. So, join us for that tomorrow at 1:00; Eugene Scott at 4:00 p.m. today, and hope you're staying steady and well in the meantime. I'm Bob Costa, and we'll see you soon.

[End recorded session]

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