Terry Moran, of ABCNEWS' Good Morning America, interviewed Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura today. Following is a complete transcript of the exchange.
Terry Moran: Governor Jesse Ventura of Minnesota is wrestling with what may be the biggest crisis of his political career; he's preparing for a possible total shutdown of the government in Minnesota. Governor Ventura joins us from St. Paul.
Welcome, governor. Let me ask you first, what is happening in Minnesota? I understand you've got a gridlock problem with both houses of the legislature being controlled by different parties. Sounds familiar, but what's going on?
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: Well, they couldn't get their work done in the five-month period that they're in session. They couldn't reach agreement on even spending targets. They got nowhere, and so now we're faced with — yesterday I called a special session because the clock is running.
Of course, the fiscal year runs out on June 30, which essentially means that even though the state of Minnesota has money, we can't get at it to provide for the needs that state government do because you can't do that without the right legislature enacted to do so, and so they're in special session right now. I called them back yesterday and we already had to send preliminary notices out for massive layoffs and come this following Monday, if they haven't reached agreement, then we will mail those layoff notices out to over 51,000 employees.
Terry Moran: Well, calling a special session is a special power that governors have. Presidents don't. What do you think of the way President Bush, so far, is handling his job?
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: Well, I think he's doing fairly good. He's passing the major initiatives that he's put on the table. That's being successful. He seems to be getting bipartisan support on them and so at this early point of his four-year tenure, I think he's doing OK.
Terry Moran: You know, he lost the Senate recently with Senator Jeffords of Vermont, switching from being a Republican to being an independent. As an independent yourself, what do you make of Jeffords' switch? Is it a good thing for the kind of politics that you espouse?
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: Well, no, I don't particularly like it that much because of the fact that he was elected as a Republican so I don't view him as a true independent. He's just a person who fell out of grace with his party. When he runs and gets elected as an independent, then I'll classify him truly as an independent, but he's just a man without a party right now who doesn't know which one of the two he'd rather be part of and probably puts him in a good position where he can jockey back and forth with either one and, you know, gives him a position of power, but I don't view him as a true independent.
Terry Moran: Let me switch subjects. Governor, you're a man with a lot of experience handling the press. President Bush has an interesting and difficult press problem right now and it has to do with his daughters. They have landed in trouble with the law a couple of times for underaged drinking. What do you think of this whole controversy?