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?
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: Well, it's something you know that you have to expect from the media. Even though his daughters are not elected, they're going to go in the media spotlight. The media is going to put them under a great deal of scrutiny and they're going to get it far more than the average teenager ever would.
I mean, I don't think you'll see national coverage if the teenager down the street happens to try to use a fake ID to buy alcohol. You know, it probably goes on quite frequently throughout the world. I'm not condoning it. There's an age for drinking alcoholic beverages and, you know, you should follow the rules.
But to me that's an internal family problem and the president and the first lady will deal with it, and it doesn't concern me overall because I have problems here dealing with the state of Minnesota and so...
Terry Moran: All right, last question for you.
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: Well, let me finish...
Terry Moran: All right.
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: So, you know, the president and his personal life is their personal life and should be left as such.
Terry Moran: OK. Last question I've got to ask you while you're here, the XFL — I watched, like a lot of people, a little bit; decided I didn't want to watch anymore, what'd you learn from that experience?
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: Well, I learned that it's too bad for the players, that you've got a tremendous amount of football players out there that want to play football and they have nowhere to play.
Terry Moran: Yes. It ended up not being very good football, though, I think is the bottom line there.
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: Not being very good football?
Terry Moran: Yes.
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: Well, obviously, you didn't watch.
Terry Moran: I watched a little.
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: Because I did every game and I found it to be excellent football.
Terry Moran: Really?
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: So maybe you and I will have a difference of opinion. I mean, triple overtimes and things like that aren't good football?
Terry Moran: Alright.
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: I found our games as exciting as any NFL game I ever watched.
Terry Moran: Alright. Well, sticking to your guns as usual. Jesse Ventura, thanks very much for joining us.
Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura: You're welcome.