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From left: Margi Casey (sister of Sen. Bob Casey), Gov. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) and Wendell W. Young, IV, President, UFCW Local 1776.

 In Their Own Words

Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sebelius and Jennifer Granholm
The Female Democratic Governors speak out in support of Senator Barack Obama.
After the National Governors Association met downtown in Philadelphia and installed Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell as the new Chairman of the NGA, three prominent women governors met at the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Hall in Plymouth Meeting to express their support for Senator Barack Obama's campaign: Jennifer Granholm, governor of Michigan; Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas; and Janet Napolitano, governor of Arizona. Jennifer Sebelius is considered one of the leading candidates for Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee with 15.1% odds according to inTrade. Margey Casey (Senator Robert Casey’s sister) opened the meeting.

Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan: 

It is great to be in a union hall. I'm from Michigan, so this is a familiar place. I come to speak to you as a former Hillary Clinton supporter, and I'll be talking about that in just a second, but I am also coming to speak to you as somebody who cares deeply about getting a president that will work with the state, and particularly to get help for the pocketbook issues for all our citizens. Michigan has been the proud automotive capital of the world, but our domestic automakers are in just a bit of challenging mode because of the price of gasoline and the need to create fuel-efficient vehicles on the dime.

Consequently, Michigan is supporting a different perspective and I will give you a reason why this is so important for states that do I lot of manufacturing and obviously, Pennsylvania's in there too. Michigan's lost 400,000 jobs since George Bush became President. When you think about that, every job represents a family, and there's a ripple effect: if a factory closes down, all those businesses that serve the factory also go out of business. It is like that all across Michigan. It isn't just the automakers hurting. It's the corner restaurants,  and the suppliers and the warehouses in the small towns nearby  that have shut down. You know you've seen this, and the question is, how do you replace the lost manufacturing jobs? How do you assure that the nation has a level playing field with respect to keeping jobs in this country? And so, for me as Governor of a state which is really hurting, where people rightfully, are extremely angry and very much in pain. The question is, could we get a President in the White House that will negotiate trade agreements that are fair? Or where we're not giving away the store? Or insisting that the barriers that are put up for our products in other countries are torn down so that we can build the products here and ship them over there, instead of always importing products from somewhere else?

Can we level that playing field? For me, in Michigan (and my guess is that there are pockets in Pennsylvania that really feel this too), it is important to have somebody who is a fighter for jobs in this country, in the White House. So, number one, for me, having somebody there who is going to fight to make sure that there's a level playing field is critical. And Barack Obama is a fighter and I want you to really hear that because as somebody who supported Senator Clinton, it is really important for me to have somebody who is going to take this message and not be a pussycat at the World Trade Organization, but a tiger, someone who really will fight and he has demonstrated that through methods of Ricky Carlson, but the way he has visited Michigan, going to our families and our citizens and I know he's done the same thing here.

Govs. Janet Napolitano (D-AZ), Jennifer Granholm (D-MI), Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS)  endorse Sen. Barack Obama at UFCW Union Hall in Plymouth Meeting. (Photo: Bonnie Squires)

Jobs are a Women's Issue

Number two, I want a president that will understand the importance of replacing those lost manufacturing jobs. I know that this audience was supposed to be directed at women, but I see we've got a lot of guys here too. But, you know what? Creating jobs are women's issues too.

Obviously you want to have families that have jobs so they can put food on the table. But for us, we're facing those jobs, those lost manufacturing jobs with growing sectors. So here we are at the National Governor's Association, we're all focused on renewable and clean energy and I have seen this sector as being huge for job creation. We can replace lost manufacturing jobs, for example, those tool and die shops those used to manufacture components for the auto industry, or the steel industry, they can be converted to winterize components. If we have a strong national energy policy that creates jobs and has a commitment to putting people to work in this sector, that is an opportunity for states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, all Midwest states, all of the industrial states but with all of these, it is all about jobs.

The last thing I would say quickly, to briefly say in a couple of minutes, is what our perspective is on this conversation and why we are supporting, enthusiastically, Senator Obama. But one thing I would say is that, last year, for the first time in Michigan's history, more cars were built in Ontario, Canada than in Michigan. Now how can that be? I tell you, now some on the far right would say well, that jobs move because of labor, organized labor, or they move because of taxes or they move because of regulations. Canada's got very similar regulations, higher taxes, labor, certainly left labor organizations.

Why are they moving there? One reason. What is it?

Audience member: Medical care!

Governor Granholm: Health care! Hello? I mean, if we had health care in this country that leveled the playing field against competitor nations that are providing health care to their job providers, then we've got the ability to make a competitive playing field, then we can create jobs in this country. It's a moral issue, it's an economic issue as well. So for us in Michigan and for you in Pennsylvania and all across this country, maybe we'll have a president who cares about how to do universal health care as a way to make our nation competitive, and who knows how people feel, is very, very important.

So, I'm going to hopefully be able to come back one of these days and tell you about the urgency in our communities, but I do want to introduce you to the Governor of Kansas. Now, her take here is different from mine and somewhat different from what's happening here in Pennsylvania is that, my guess is that as Governor, she cares and has supported, has been a supporter of Barack Obama for a lot of reasons, one of which is a focus on issues that we all care about. It is my privilege to be able to introduce to you a phenomenal leader, a tremendous person and a great friend: Kathleen Sebelius.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius at the Jewish Community Relations Bureau Annual Dinner. (Photo: Bruce Matthews, October 28, 2007)

Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas:

Let me start with just a couple of things. I come from Kansas, I represent them, we are working our way across the country, here in Michigan and Minnesota and Baton Rouge, the dead center of the country. Well, Barack Obama's bound from Kansas, his grandparents came from Kansas. I know the kind of values he was raised with. Midwestern values, they talk about rolling up your sleeves and the transformational values of education and the fact that every child should have an opportunity and with some hope and hard work, you can achieve your dreams. And that's exactly the light he's lifted and those are exactly the kind of values he was raised with. We have struggling families all throughout the heartland and I'm sure like here in Pennsylvania, folks are worried about putting gas in your car, the high price of groceries, whether your kids are going to be able to go to college when knowing full well that going on past the twelfth grade is essential in the job market we have today, you have to have different skills for 21st Century jobs. And are we going to have enough good jobs in Pennsylvania so that you can watch your grandchildren be raised, and have folks who stay in our home communities --- to stop not only exporting jobs but exporting our children! Those are the kinds of issues, I think, that Barack talks about day in and day out. Plans for health care and preventative medicine, one of the critical issues of families across America, which would not only provide health care to every American who wants it but lower the prices for every American who has health care right now. About a $2500 per family decrease in health care costs, as those of you now who have health care benefits are worried, can you afford it next month or the month after that? So we've got to get a handle on this across this country and it is an absolute mandate for this country to move forward. In terms of women's issues and work and pay equity, Barack, both in the Illinois State Senate and the United States Senate, has been a fighter and leader on everything from family medical leave issues, understanding of women are often caught in a juggling game. When welfare reform came to Illinois in the State Senate, he understood there wasn't nearly enough money in the Welfare Reform Act for child care. You can't really go to work if you're a working parent unless your children are in a safe and secure place. Illinois has six times the level of child care money that the Federal Government has mandated. That's a work issue and that's a family issue, we have pushed issues like that as we move along. He knows how important it is for anyone to go on past high school and get the secondary training, whether it's vocational school or community college or four-year degree or post-graduate degree. And understand that wages in any family now ensure that they can afford college for their kid, so if their kid starts college, they're often so overwhelmed by debt that they drop out and that's not going to be effective.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS) and Wendell W. Young, IV, President, UFCW Local 1776.

So $4000 a year is a plan to put on the table. You want to go to college, you work hard and you get $4000 and you don't get it free. This is the deal, that America will make with the students of tomorrow. $4000 a year to help you go beyond high school to help you get the training,and the skills that you're going to need. And in return, we're going to ask for some service. Working in a veteran's home, working community service project, teach in a lower income school, provide healthcare services for elderly or poor, help us by stepping up to be leaders of America. To me, that's a great bargain to make. We end up with the best-educated workforce in the world and we end up with young citizens who have embraced a piece of democracy and who take part in the government.

Something is happening across America which I think is very exciting. We have, I do not know about the rest of you, but I have a 24-year-old son and a 27-year-old son --- they could not drive; they were not in college when because I ran for office the first time --- they were three and five, going door-to-door and putting up yard signs and volunteering activities (laughter, cheering) a I watched their friends tune off and check out and not participate in voting across America and not participate in making a real difference. What I've seen going on in state after state across America is very exciting. The registration numbers are going through the roof and these kids are involved and engaged and that is not only good for this election, it's good for this democracy. I was really worried we were losing a generation of young people who said it really didn't matter. There is no more "It doesn't matter." This is the most important election that I have ever participated in my lifetime and I am thrilled to see folks getting engaged in it.

So, as Janet says, we'll hopefully have the chance to do some dialogue after we put out our little pitch, but we're thrilled to be here with you and thrilled to talk about Pennsylvania. This is a critical state. Barack Obama needs to win Pennsylvania in order to be the next President of the United States. If you all were critical to get the vote out in terms of winning Pennsylvania to make sure that he is the next President of the United States, the challenge is underway.

With us today is a third great Governor, Janet and Jennifer and I actually were all elected together in 2002, all re-elected in 2006, Napolitano is the former Attorney General of the great state of Arizona and now serves in her second term as Governor of Arizona and knows just a little something about John McCain!

Governor Janet Napolitano (D-AZ)

Governor Janet Napoitano of Arizona:

Thank you. Thank you, let me add my thanks to all of you for being here on a Sunday afternoon to UFCW, I feel quite at home. When I ran for Governor for the first time, our campaign meetings were in Local 99, Paul and downtown Phoenix. (Applause) We have an unusual campaign finance system in Arizona, where anybody can be publicly financed if the gubernatorial candidate can collect 4000 five-dollar contributions. And I'm proud to say the UFCW collected their fair share.

I learned how to read in Pennsylvania; we lived here when I was in kindergarten and first grade, and so I am glad to be back. It has changed a little bit.

But I'm also here to support Barack Obama. I'd like to help share with you the sense of (produce?) about this, that we are not that far off from the general election and Kathleen was exactly right. The roads to this election all cross through Pennsylvania. And so, no pressure or anything (laughter, applause).

I'm happy to talk about what Obama will do as President. What I think is also important is for people to know his opponent, somewhat. I think it is fair to say that Senator McCain's views about what the Federal government can do are very different and it appears about what the Senator and Barack would like to do are very different. Now, "What are those differences?", you might ask me.

Well, you know President Bush? (Murmurings "Yeah")

You know that guy? Well, Senator McCain voted with President Bush 95% of the time. So if you like President Bush, you are going to love Senator McCain (bitter laughter).

You want some more of that, just go right ahead.

He has worked very hard; he has been to Pennsylvania seven times since he was the nominee. But it is going to be very important to focus on what he will do as President. Now the greatest message I can leave with you is that it will be the same-old, same-old. You know the Bush tax cuts? Enough to bury the people of the top of the graph and it's squeezed the middle class unmercifully? That continues under a McCain Administration.

Home foreclosures are a growing problem in the state of Arizona. We're one of the top four or five states in home foreclosures. No plan, no relief. How do you get the housing market started again? Barack Obama has a plan. Senator McCain would leave it to the market. Well, the market led us into this. We need to help kick-start the market, stat!

A very different view on America's place in the world and the resources that we should be committing at home and in Iraq are lacking. And quite frankly, one of the things we really need to be evaluating now that Senator Obama has illustrated excellent judgment on this from the outset is the war in Iraq.

Energy Policy

 Where else do we need to be investing our resources? Energy policy.

The Governors are down in Philadelphia talking about energy all morning. Senator Obama has a very well-rounded program, a major keystone of it is a huge investment in the development of alternative energy technology, renewable energy sources. So that we have finally cut back the umbilical cord that has so tied us to the Middle East in a very unhealthy way and in fact has tied us to Iraq in a very unhealthy way. Senator McCain does not have such policies. His policy would be to abstain except to have offshore drilling.

So, you get the sense that there's a real difference. Not only is Pennsylvania the crossroads of this presidential election, but voters of America, you are not being asked to choose between two similar situations and candidates, what they would do as President. For the road really matters, for the leadership that we get from Washington D.C.

Now, we have a lot of very proud traditions in Arizona. I'm very proud of our state, but in my lifetime, in Arizona, Barry Goldwater has run for president, and lost [1964]. And Mo Udall has run for president, and lost [1976]. And Bruce Babbitt  ran for president, and he lost [2004]. I think this is a tradition we should get rid of. (laughter, applause)

Thank you all very much!

Previous Interviews

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