In Their Own Words: GOP Governors on Bush

By: - September 3, 2004 12:00 am

What do Republican governors want from a second-term Bush administration? How have the president’s policies affected the states? asked those questions of GOP governors attending the Republican National Convention in New York, and here’s a sampling of their responses:

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, vice chairman of the National Governors Association, said he’d like to see Medicaid financing addressed in a second term. “(Bush) has been a governor, he does know what it’s like. I think the President is on the right track.”

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.: “I’m not going to get into swift boat veterans, tax cuts and education policy, and America’s standing in the world, and bi-lateral relations and unilateral relations. We choose W’ because we choose strength, we choose consistency and we choose compassionate conservatism as practiced by this administration.”

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney: “Education is in my opinion the civil rights issue of this decade, if not this century. We have a huge achievement gap and the president is intent on making sure that all of our schools measure up and our kids have the opportunity to get the education we need in the next century.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty: “Bush is a stronger leader (than Democratic opponent John Kerry) and his policies are more likely to sustain economic growth, and that’s the engine, that’s the horse that states and the nation ride and allow us to generate revenue so we can do more things. That’s oversimplified, but the bottom line is President Bush is more likely to deliver economic vitality and economic growth, and that will benefit that states most directly and most dramatically.”

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former two-time RNC chairman: “The governors feel very close to (Bush). It’s people like HHS (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) that have been real overly giving to states for flexibility in policy, which the governors of both parties want. We feel very comfortable policy wise.”

Montana Gov. Judy Martz: “In our state we have a lot of natural resources, so (Bush) realizes that we can’t import everything that we use for fossil fuels and biomass. We should be using those things that are in our ground and on top of our ground environmentally safely, and he understands that.”

North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven: “We should allow imports of prescriptions from Canada. There’s legislation pending on Capitol Hill. … The way I put it is that we need to get it done.”

New York Gov. George Pataki: “This president put in place the right economic policies at a critical time. The tax cuts of 2001 prevented what could have been an economic catastrophe, given all of the conditions that he incurred in the attacks of Sept. 11. The tax cuts of 2003 helped our financial markets, which matter so much to this state and this city.”

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, chairman of the Republican Governors Association: “The president recognizes that most of the new jobs in this country are coming from small, growing business. His tax cuts focused on helping small businesses to invest and create jobs, and I’ve been with the president all across Ohio as he highlights the success of small businessmen and small businesswomen.”

New Jersey’s former Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said she supports Bush’s policy to give states regulatory control over the nation’s forests. “I do believe that the states deserve to have a role here, as long as the overall and over-arching environmental standards are met.”

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford: “I think my Democratic colleagues at the gubernatorial level have obviously said that (the federal government) should do more to help carry the weight for the states. The problem is that the states have got to handle themselves in regard to spending. We shot a lot of ourselves in our own feet at the state level. … I disagree with this notion that the federal government has to bail us out of self-inflicted wounds on spending problems.”

Wisconsin’s former governor and U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson: “Medicare has not been overhauled in almost 40 years, and it took this president, after 12 years of trying by the other side, to get it done. It was a monumental feat, but there are many more to come.”

Wyoming’s former Gov. Jim Geringer: “Under No Child Left Behind, we looked at schools that were not meeting all the standards, not as failing schools, but as the schools of highest priority. There are no unfunded mandates under No Child Left Behind. … I think what most states are chafing at is when their states don’t meet the overall goals, they feel the pressure of public opinion more than anything else. It is not written as a punitive law.” Staff Writer Eric Kelderman contributed to this report.

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