'This Week' Transcript: Saif al-Islam and Saadi Gadhafi
Transcript: Saif al-Islam and Saadi Gadhafi
Exclusive Interview With Gadhafi's Sons
Saif al-Islam and Saadi Gadhafi sit down with Christiane Amanpour.
Feb 27, 2011 — -- AMANPOUR: Colonel Gadhafi's last stand. This morning, we'll take you on a journey to the besieged Libyan capital. After a week of violence, we're live in the middle of a revolution. We'll go into the streets and inside Gadhafi's mind with my exclusive interviews with his two powerful sons. Do you think they'll get rid of you?
What is their father thinking right now? And how will he respond to President Obama's call for him to leave right away? And what will it all mean for your security? Your gas tank? Your life?
And closer to home, states of emergency. A crisis that hits all of us. Where have the jobs gone? We'll ask four cash-strapped governors. Do they have a plan to save your house? Your schools? And your pensions? A special edition of This Week live from Libya starts right now.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. From the heart of Gadhafi's strong hold, the Libyan capital, Tripoli. We're among a small group of journalists who have been invited in. As the Gadhafi regime tries to put its stamp now on the unfolding story here. And as we try to sort fact from fiction, sometimes fact is so much stranger. Who could possibly invent the rants and the ravings of a leader like Colonel Gadhafi? The defecting Libyan air force pilots? The Libyan diplomats bursting into tears at the United Nations as they take a stand against their leader of 41 years.
Now the tough new sanctions and Gadhafi's increasing isolation are based on allegations that he has ordered air strike, bombing of civilian protesters. We have seen no evidence of that yet and the Gadhafis strongly deny it. But journalists have been to hospitals and have seen gunshot victims. We have met people who are angry that protests have been met by live fire.
There are special army brigades and tanks ringing the entrances to this capital, also confirmation that a town 30 kilometers away is under opposition control. But there is a sense that Gadhafi can hold out here, at least in the short term as we found out in our journey that began 24 hours ago.
We're on one of the few commercial flights from London into Tripoli, the capital of Libya. It's Gadhafi's last major stronghold, a holdout. We don't know what we're going to find. We've been asked by the government to come and see their side of the story. They say all is calm. We'll see when we get there.
Our plane was mostly empty. And when we landed, so was a grand airport VIP lounge. We found a big portrait of Gadhafi still adorning the wall proof that for now, the colonel still controls his capital.
But just outside the lounge, a desperate scene as migrant workers from all over this region seek refuge and safe passage home.
Hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands, of people trying to get out just hanging out here. They don't have tickets, most of them, and there is garbage and clothes strewn all over the place. It seems they've just come here, because they are so unsure about what's happening in the city itself.
How many days have you been here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. Maybe four days, maybe five days.
AMANPOUR: With no money, no airline tickets, and little hope of making it on to a flight, these people have no idea how much longer they'll have to camp outside, as mounds of garbage pile up beside them.
We've left that sea of humanity behind at the airport. There were some soldiers guarding the entrance of the airport, but now we're driving into Tripoli itself. And so far, there is no sign of any violence or any conflict on this road.
After the eerie calm of the streets, a colorful neon welcome at the designated journalists hotel, a surreal scene since we've been told the city was now ringed with tans and pro-Gadhafi forces.
Earlier Saturday, reports that 500 miles to the east, cities along the Mediterranean coast had largely fallen. Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators celebrated there in Libya's second largest city Benghazi.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never been as happy as today in my whole life.
AMANPOUR: And they were not alone. All along the coast, they were firing guns into the air, taking control of radio station, even mocking and impersonating their leader of more than four decades. All this, as after a week of protests and violent reprisals, President Obama issued a statement and said that Gadhafi needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.
I sat down for exclusive interviews with Gadhafi's sons. First, I spoke to Saif al Islam who is also one of his chief advisers.
Thank you for joining us.
The president of the United States, President Obama, has called on your father to step down. What do you think of that?
SAIF GADHAFI, MOAMMAR GADHAFI'S SON: First of all, it's not an American business. That's number one. Second, do you think this is a solution? Of course not.
AMANPOUR: Says if a person can only keep control by using force, then legitimacy is gone.
SAIF GADHAFI: Right. But what happened? We didn't use force. Second, we still have people around us. So we are in Tripoli. In Tripoli, we have here half of the population of Libya -- half. That's more than 2 million, 2.5 million people living in the city. Do you think because of 10,000 or 5,000 people, even if you have the demands against my father or whatever, it means that the whole Libyan population is against Mr. Gadhafi?
AMANPOUR: You said you're not using violence. But there are many reports of helicopter gunships, of people being killed, and also air force pilots defecting, jettisoning their planes rather than carry out ordered to bomb citizens?
SAIF GADHAFI: Show me a single attack. Show me a single bomb. Show me a single casualties. The Libyan air force destroyed just the ammunition sites.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of your diplomats in New York, for instance, in Washington who are resigning because they say they can't abide this policy?
SAIF GADHAFI: I talk to them.
AMANPOUR: Why do you think people are deserting your father?
SAIF GADHAFI: Many of them -- they think the system will collapse. So the best thing is to jump from the ship. The ship is sinking, they think, so it's better to jump.
AMANPOUR: Will there be a new regime?
SAIF GADHAFI: If you are strong, they love you. If not, they say good-bye. That is good. We get rid of them. Hypocrites.
AMANPOUR: Do you think they'll get rid of you?
SAIF GADHAFI: No. They are the leaders. They have no future. They want to join the youth revolution.
AMANPOUR: What is the plan? What is your plan? Are you staying, are you going? What is your father's plan? Is he staying? Is he going?
SAIF GADHAFI: Listen, nobody is leaving this country. We live here. We die here. This is our country. The Libyans are our people. And for myself, I believe I'm doing the right thing.
AMANPOUR: Before all this happened, you were known, certainly in the west, for being a reformer, speaking the language of reform for Libya. But it didn't happen. Why did it take this kind of crisis for you to start talking about reform again? Wouldn't it have been better to have implemented what you're talking about now way before?
SAIF GADHAFI: Of course.
AMANPOUR: So why not?
SAIF GADHAFI: It was a big mistake not to move fast. I was -- I was -- like -- shouting every day. But I was -- I was crazy about going fast and implementing the reforms at the right time. I worked very hard to go to implement many ideas. But things went wrong. So now we are in a difficult situation.
And -- the people who were responsible for that, stopping me from going forward, they are the same people who I see them every day on the TV saying, bye-bye. We're going with the next group. The same faces. The same people.
AMANPOUR: Are you afraid at all?
SAIF GADHAFI: Afraid of what? The point that you're hearing rumors, false reports. Please, take your cameras tomorrow morning, even tonight go Libya. Everything is calm. Everything is peaceful.
The point is there's a big gap between reality and the media reports.
AMANPOUR: Saif, I'm going to ask you a question. You say there's a big, big gap between reality and media reports. Some might say there's a big, big gap between what you're thinking and saying to me and the reality around the rest of Libya.
SAIF GADHAFI: Why the south -- the whole south is calm. The west is calm. The middle is calm. Even part of the east.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of the international community's reaction? There are calls to have heavy sanctions, to freeze your assets, your father's assets, family assets.
SAIF GADHAFI: First of all, we don't have many outside. We are a very modest family and everybody knows that. And you a lot of people say, you have money in Europe or Switzerland. It's a -- it's a joke.
AMANPOUR: A few hours later, we went to talk to Gadhafi's son, Saadi who has lived many years outside this country, used to play football for an Italian team. We reached him just as news emerged of fresh U.N. sanctions against his family.
AMANPOUR: Overnight, Libya time, the United Nations slapped sanctions on this country and a travel ban. How is that going to affect you?
SAADI GADHAFI: Only about the -- only the travel issue. This bothers me so much, because I spent most of my life traveling.
AMANPOUR: So what's in your immediate plans if you can't travel?
SAADI GADHAFI: I'm going to hire a lawyer. I have some hobbies after I quit football. I have some hobbies like I do some hunting, I go to safari. So in Libya there is no safari, so I've got to safari, I have got to hire a lawyer.
AMANPOUR: You have got to get out of Libya.
SAADI GADHAFI: I mean, I have to be -- I would like to live normally.
AMANPOUR: The people here say they would like to live normally. They want normal freedoms. They want a normal life. And they haven't had it.
SAADI GADHAFI: They have. They have.
AMANPOUR: You think so?
SAADI GADHAFI: Yes, but the people -- everybody wants more. There is no limit. You give this, then you get asked for that, you know?
AMANPOUR: What do you think is happening to your region?
SAADI GADHAFI: An earthquake.
AMANPOUR: An earthquake?
SAADI GADHAFI: An earthquake. It's a fever. It's going to spread everywhere. No one can -- will stop it. This is my personal opinion. And the chaos will be everywhere.
AMANPOUR: You think it will be chaos? Or you think it will be a fever of freedom and democracy? SAADI GADHAFI: No, no, no, no. They think it's about freedom. Everybody loves freedom. I love freedom, you love freedom. But it's much more powerful, this earthquake. No one can control it.
AMANPOUR: Will your father leave?
SAADI GADHAFI: I think it's -- if he -- let's say if he has to leave today, if he leaves today, today, just one hour later, local war, civil war in Libya.
AMANPOUR: You have traveled a lot. You've lived in other countries. When you see the kind of life, the kind of freedoms, the kind of democracy that other people have, did it make you think that people here should have it? How did you feel coming back here?
SAADI GADHAFI: Of course. This is the main thing. This is the main issue for bothering -- this thing is bothering me every day.
AMANPOUR: Is it hard being Gadhafi's son?
SAADI GADHAFI: I have to deal with it. I would like to be myself. I would like to be just Saadi.
AMANPOUR: My exclusive interviews with Colonel Gadhafi's two sons, Saadi and Saif. And you've heard them both dismiss the fact that lots of this country has fallen to the opposition.
We're now going to my colleague, Jeremy Bowen, of BBC, our partner station, who has just returned from Zawiyah, not far from this capital.
Jeremy, who is in control of Zawiyah?
JEREMY BOWEN, BBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christiane, the center of Zawiyah, as I would say, demonstrators there today, a couple of thousand who were in the main square. They've got a tank. They've got some heavy weapons there as well. And they're in control of that part of the town.
Now, bizarrely, the Libyans brought this to this particular place. We saw there that they were in control, having what they called a "revolution of honor." But now the Libyans taken us to see various counter-demonstrations. At this moment we're stuck in the middle of the highway, where there are people in pickups and waving green flags and portraits of Colonel Gadhafi, and expressing their great loyalty to him.
But Zawiyah, the center, is in the hands of rebels.
AMANPOUR: And does it look like they're preparing to push forth towards us here in Tripoli? Towards the capital?
BOWEN: Oh, no, they don't have that kind of capability. These are -- you know, I used the word rebels. What they are are local guys in the main, I would say. I spoke to lots of people there who -- police officers who changed sides. There were some doctors, just regular people from that particular town.
They've set up a little first aid station in the mosque. They've burned down the institute for the study of Colonel Gadhafi's Green Book. And they point out proudly that next to it, the bank, has been left untouched. They're all local people there. They have no plans to push, no ability to push forward towards Tripoli.
What they're trying to do is hang on to what they have.
AMANPOUR: Jeremy, thank you so much for joining us and giving us the latest news from there.
And when we return, we will have a roundtable on all of these sweeping historic movements and what it means to America and for the world. After a break.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to Tripoli. And as the world tries to make sense of these lightning movements that are sweeping this part of the world, the Arab and Muslim world, we're also trying to figure out what this means for the United States, for its strategic interests, and how new shaping order over here will shape the United States economy and all sorts of other strategic interests.
So joining me now from Washington to discuss this is author Reza Aslan, political strategist Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, and our own senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper.
Thank you all for joining me. Jake, I want to ask you first, so many Americans are trying to figure out what this all means, all the revolutions now sweeping from Tunisia to Egypt and whatever may unfold here, how should Americans make sense of this, Jake?
JAKE TAPPER, ABC SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously there are different levels to look at. There is the American ideals of democracy that have eluded much of that part of the world. But then there's also American strategic interests, which are -- it's a double-edged sword, what's going on in the Middle East right now, in North Africa.
There's obviously a great deal of oil and energy that we get from that region. And unrest will upset oil prices and cause Americans pain at the pump. There are other national security, counterterrorism issues. We have a lot of cooperative relationships with a lot of dictators in that region.
But ultimately, I think that the way that the American people have to look at this is in terms of the American ideals and how democracy needs to take hold throughout that part of the world.
AMANPOUR: Let me move to you, Bob Kagan, because you've been studying this a long time. We've talked about this many times before. Is this good for the United States in the end? Are U.S. strategic interests best served by a democratic region here or by leaders who they think they can count on? And obviously we're talking about oil, oil, oil in strategic interests.
ROBERT KAGAN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, it's an illusion to think that we have an option of supporting these dictators. I mean, we are now paying the price for supporting these dictators for three, in some cases, four decades. We have a foreign policy establishment in the United States, in both parties, that has been very cozy with these dictators. And this has all been in the name of an illusory stability.
There is no stability now. We're going to have to get used to the idea of change. There is a moment when you go from stability to change. We're not going to a new stability.
But I think that we should have more faith than we have shown in the basic values we believe are universal and which we have to understand that Muslims and Arabs share that. And I think if -- I mean, ultimately, yes, there are going to be some strategic setbacks. Yes, these governments may not agree with us as much as we like.
But in the long run, I do think, just as it was in our interest for Europe to be democratic, for Asia to be democratic, it's in our interest for this part of the world to be democratic as well.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me move to Reza Aslan. You have studied a lot about the people who make up this part of the world. Who are these young people? Are they hostile to the United States? Are they friendly to the United States? What is causing them to rise up when previous generations did not?
REZA ASLAN, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, ultimately this can be described as a youth revolution. This is a region some three-quarters of which is under the age of 35. And they're not isolated from the rest of the world the way their parents were. They have satellite television. They have Internet. They have social media.
And the monopoly that these authoritarian regimes used to have over the levers of communication simply does not exist any longer.
ASLAN: But this is a wonderful opportunity I think for a president who came to office saying he wants to reshape the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. He's been given a gift on a platter. So the days in which we could waffle about whether we felt good about supporting the dictators or whether stability was more important than democracy, those days are over. The decision has been made for us. And it's now time to fully support the people of the region and to change the relationship, change the very narrative of the relations between the U.S. and the Muslim world.
AMANPOUR: OK, so one thing that certainly in the United States and in this region everybody is looking at is the is net beneficiary? And many are saying that without lifting a finger, it is Iran. Bob Kagan, is Iran going to come out the winner?
KAGAN: Well, if you mean the Iranian regime, I think the answer is no. I find it very hard to believe that this ferment, this desire for freedom and democracy that's sweeping the entire region is going to bypass Iran. I think that quite honestly, the Iranian leadership is right now living on borrowed time. And I hope that one thing that the Obama administration, President Obama personally recognizes is that when we didn't really come out in full-throated support of the Green Revolution after that fraudulent election we made a mistake and now it's time to get on the side of the Iranian people just as we are trying to get on the side of the Libyans and Egyptians and others in the region.
So I'm not worried that this is strengthening the Iranian regime. I think it in fact is putting it in some peril.
AMANPOUR: Jake, what do you think the White House is telling allies like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain? I mean, Saudi Arabia seems to be one of the last major allies that hasn't yet fallen? And of course the huge strategic interests of oil there and terrorism -- al Qaeda.
TAPPER: That's exactly right, Christiane. And the Obama administration has been sending out messages, not just to allies in the region but to all countries in the region that they need to get ahead of this movement. You have seen the king of Jordan try to initiate, try to get ahead of it try to talk about pro-democracy reforms. You've seen other steps taken by the leadership in Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria in which they're trying to take some steps to at least try to convince their people they're on the side of reform and it has not always been convincing. But that's been the message they've been telling the Saudis for example to support reform efforts in Bahrain which is so close to Saudi Arabia of course, reform efforts that would include power sharing with the Shia majority in that country, even though the kingdom is run by Sunnis.
And this has not been an easy process. It is going to take a long time. But that's been the message coming from President Obama and the administration.
AMANPOUR: And Reza, just a last final word. Do you think, as everybody asks about Iran, that there is a tipping point coming to Iran as well, or not?
ASLAN: Look, the economic situation that led to the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and elsewhere are far worse in Iran. I mean, the inflation rate in Egypt is 12% in Iran, it's twice that. A higher unemployment rates. Higher property rates in Iran. And certainly let's not forget, the paradigm set about how to go about organizing in these authoritarian regimes began with the Green movement.
So everybody is waiting to see if what started in Iran in 2009 will end in Iran. That's hard to say. The regime has learned a lesson from what happened in 2009. But Bob's right, it's an untenable situation. The economy is on the verge of collapse, it's becoming increasingly isolated, its nuclear program is in shambles. And I think change is coming to Iran though it may not be the sort of profound revolutionary regime change that everyone is waiting for. I think that change is inevitable.
AMANPOUR: And many people -- we've talked briefly on al Qaeda. Bob Kagen, is this an opportunity for al Qaeda, these democratic revolutions that are sweeping around here, or democracy sweeping here, is it an opportunity for al Qaeda or is it a blow to al Qaeda?
KAGAN: I think it's a blow to al Qaeda. I think that the more you see the people who are taking part in the revolutions, the desire for democracy and freedom that they express, they have no interest in al Qaeda's message. Al Qaeda's message is one of hatred, it's one of really a kind of theocratic tyranny. It's not a message of democracy. They consider -- al Qaeda considers democracy an enemy. And there's just very little sign, in fact there's no sign that I have seen that there's any enthusiasm for al Qaeda.
The only danger we face right now, with regard to al Qaeda or any kind of terrorist group is if Libya completely implodes and becomes a failed state then they able to take up residence in Libya and operate from there. And that's the United States has a very profound interest in how Libya turns out and I think will need to get involved, I hope not to a great extent, but possibly more than I think people are imagining now.
AMANPOUR: Bob Kagan, Reza Aslan and Jake Tapper, thank you very much.
And I'll be back from Tripoli with a note at the end of the program.
Meantime, after break, Jake will be back with exclusive interviews with four governors from around the United States. Jake? TAPPER: Thanks, Christiane. Coming up, we bring together four governors with very different ideas about how to attack the painful economic realities the country and the states are facing: two republicans, newly elected South Carolina governor Nikki Haley in her first Sunday interview and Arizona governor Jan Brewer; plus two Democratic governors: Deval Patrick of Massachusetts and Colorado governor John Hickenlooper. We'll talk about the radical decisions each of them is going to have to make, after this.
TAPPER: Welcome back. We'll have more from Christiane Amanpour live from Libya later in the broadcast. But for now, states across the country are in fiscal crises, facing difficult cuts to make ends meet. This morning, in our studio we've brought together four of the top governors to discuss some of the excruciating choices they are facing back home.
How are the latest rounds of cuts in federal and state spending going to have an impact on things like your children's education, your health care, your jobs? Massachusetts Democrat Deval Patrick, a close friend of President Obama, has just begun his second term in office. South Carolina Republican Nikki Haley at 39, the youngest governor in the nation, was championed by Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper, a former Denver mayor and entrepreneur was just sworn into office last month. And Arizona governor, Republican Jan Brewer has taken some controversial stands on immigration and also made some tough budget cuts to narrow her state's massive budget gap.
Governors, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.
Let's start with the other upraising, the one in Wisconsin that we've seen. The nation has watched as Governor Scott Walker has sought to not only cut the benefits of state employees, but also restrict their collective bargaining rights. Is this the right move Governor Haley?
GOV. NIKKI HALEY, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Absolutely. You know, what we have to remember is we appreciate our public employees. But our job as governors is to look after the tax payers. And he's doing exactly what he promised to do, he is trying to trim his budget. He is trying to make the tough decisions that the people of Wisconsin wanted him to do.
What I think the shame is the fact that you have got Democrat senators who represent the people of Wisconsin that have so cowardly that they left their own state. I think that's an absolute slate on who should be thrown out of office as soon as they get back. It's absolutely unfortunate.
TAPPER: Governor Hickenlooper, want to weigh in?
GOV. JOHN HICKENHOOPER, (D) COLORADO: Well, you know, I spent a number of years in the restaurant business and sometimes we took over failing restaurants.
HICKENLOOPER: The first thing we did was reach out to the work force, the workers, and say, all right, if we have got to cut costs and try to find new ways of making difficult decisions and delivering services with less, you can -- you're the ones who have to help us.
And I think it's a challenge to have that kind of division and adversarial relationship. It makes it very tough for them to get to the point where they can make their government smaller and yet more effective.
PATRICK: Yes, we made our -- if I may, Jake...
PATRICK: ... just on this point. We have made greater accountability in the public schools. We have reformed the pension system. We have rebalanced public employee benefits, health benefits in particular. We have had concessions from labor to wage concessions to help us close the budget. We reformed transportation.
All of this with labor at the table. So there's another way to approach that. And we bring a different way. And it has been a successful way.
TAPPER: But speaking of being a...
TAPPER: Go ahead, Governor.
BREWER: Well, it's kind of interesting, because during these very, very difficult times that all governors are facing, throughout the United States, is the fact that you have to make some really tough decisions.
And employees need to have a personal relationship with their employer. And if we're not able to go in there as governors and to be able to make these adjustments during these difficult, difficult times, we will never get our states turned around.
PATRICK: I agree with that. I agree with that. My point is simply that we can do this with labor at the table, instead of doing it to labor. And we've shown that in Massachusetts. TAPPER: Well, speaking of being at the table, don't you think it's a little cowardly for the legislators -- Democratic legislators in Indiana and Wisconsin just to have fled? I mean, that's not...
PATRICK: You know what, I try to make a practice of just governing Massachusetts and not trying to govern other states. My...
TAPPER: But how would you do it if -- you have a Republican house in Colorado. What would happen if the Republicans in the house just decided they didn't like what you were doing and they were going to Nevada for the week?
HICKENLOOPER: I think that the key, and, again, this is the restaurant background, where, you know, you learn real early there is no margin of having enemies. That, you know, we have been trying to reach out to the Republicans from before the inauguration.
All right. How can we work together? We need your ideas. We've all got -- I mean, this country, we shouldn't be talking about, you know, these polarized topics. We should be talking about jobs and how do we all make the investments in education, and infrastructure, and technology, and innovation. To move this -- I mean, all 50 states, we should be competing against each other to see who can drive our economies the fastest.
And, you know, the budget is tough. It's difficult. But if everyone is at the table, we'll get through it.
HALEY: But let's be clear, this was cowardly. This was irresponsible. They left their state at a time when their state needed them the most because they don't want to take a vote. Whether they are for it or against it, you come back and you represent the people of your state.
I think what Governor Walker is doing is showing that he is standing his ground. I talked to him this past week. He is holding strong. I told him the people of this country want him to hold strong. I think what is absolutely shameful is those senators left their state.
TAPPER: But, Governor Haley, if I could just follow up for one second. There is no correlation, according to statistics, between a state's ability to collectively bargain with its public employees and whether or not they have a budget deficit.
There is -- you know this firsthand. Your state is a "right to work" state.
HALEY: That's right.
TAPPER: And, in fact, in the New Republic, Joseph McCartin argues, quote: "There is no direct correlation between public sector collective bargaining and yawning state budget deficits, according to data gathered by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, while Wisconsin projects a state budget deficit of 12.8 percent for 2012, North Carolina, which does not allow government workers to bargain, faces a significantly higher deficit, 20 percent. Ohio, whose Republican Governor John Kasich has also made clear his desire to roll back collective bargaining, has a deficit that's only about half the size of non-union North Carolina."
Isn't this just a power grab by those who oppose unions?
HALEY: Absolutely not. Because what you're looking at is, these employees oppose the health care cuts. They have opposed the benefit cuts. So they're saying no to everything. So collective bargaining is a combination of all of that.
What he's saying is, now more than ever, we have got to get control of our states. We've got to get control of our budgets. This is the time where he has got to make decisions. He's trying to do that. And I think the people elected him to do that.
PATRICK: I think -- excuse me, Nikki. I'm sorry. I just -- all of us, as you said, and as we would all acknowledge, are dealing with these kinds of challenges, trying to get benefits rebalanced, trying to our gaps -- our budget gaps closed. All I'm saying is, there's another way. And we've shown that there is another way. And the leadership I've tried to bring in Massachusetts is about turning to each other, instead of on each other. And so we have had labor at the table to move these very issues and had -- and moved them successfully.
BREWER: I think it's despicable, Jake, that you have elected officials in the legislature, and I served in the legislature for 14 years, in part of leadership, that they would leave their job. No one should walk out. They are doing exactly what we ask public employees not to do, and that is to strike. And it is wrong.
They need to get back to Wisconsin, they need to go in there, and they need to vote. And it is just so irresponsible. I can't imagine them, any of them, getting re-elected. The only thing you go to the legislature with is your vote.
TAPPER: OK. We're going to take a quick break. And we'll be back with the governors and the roundtable.
And later, of course, Christiane Amanpour live from Libya. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to a special THIS WEEK governors roundtable. Christiane Amanpour will be back later in the show, live from Libya.
Governor Brewer, I want to ask you a question about the Republicans' effort here in Washington to cut the budget for spending cuts. Their budget allocates $350 million less for border security, fencing, infrastructure, and technology than Congress approved last year, and cuts an estimated $159 million over last year for customs and border protection, modernization and construction programs, and potentially 685 fewer Border patrol agents than President Obama's budget called for.
Does the House Republicans' budget make Arizona less safe?
BREWER: I believe that we need as much resources that are necessary to get our borders secured. The bottom line is, is that the budget has not been completed. I'm hopeful that it will be reinstated, the dollars. And I hope that those dollars end up in Arizona, and in Texas, and in California.
But we all know that Arizona is the gateway for illegal immigration, and the drug smuggling, and the drug cartels. And Arizona is paying a hefty price. Just cumulatively, in incarceration, the feds owe us almost $800 million, and over a billion dollars a year just in education and health care.
And it's out of control, out of control and we are going to continue fighting the battle against what's taking place between our border and Mexico.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about President Obama's proposed budget which would add $7.2 trillion in debt over the next 10 years. At no point in his 10 point -- 10 year projection would the federal government spend less than it's taking in. Would you ever support a budget like that? What would happen if you brought a budget like that to the legislature and the people of Colorado?
HICKENLOOPER: I think there would be a healthy debate which I think is what the president is expecting as well.
TAPPER: A healthy debate, is that what they're calling it?
HICKENLOOPER: The bottom line -- I mean, you know, the dirty four letter word in all this is math. In the end, it does have to add up. The federal government is ultimately is going to have to balance their budgets and get back onto a fiscal track. But where you start out is not where you're going to end up. And I think what the president is trying to stress is that we need to invest in our infrastructure. We need to be the best innovation country on Earth. We have to make the appropriate investments.
So he's laying out a broad array of I think largely really constructive investments -- education, mobility and transportation, health care, defense. Trying to make sure we're ready to compete. To win this game. It's a worldwide competition now.
TAPPER: You have proposed $300 million in cuts to the public education system in Colorado, k-12. It's about $500 less per student. President Obama, when talking about his budget cuts recently said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We can't win the future if we lose the race to educate our children, can't do it. In today's economy, the quality of a nation's education is one of the biggest predictors of a nation's success.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Are you going to lose the future in Colorado?
HICKENLOOPER: No. But for one year, we're going to have to retrench and say all right with less money how do we still figure out how to raise our kids up. And, you know, often times in business, when you struggle for a year, you come up with ideas or innovations that make you better. And we've been working with the teachers union, we're working with the entire educational community and say all right, we don't have a choice, all right, 42 percent of our budget is k-12 education. We have got to make some serious cuts there. How do we do it in way that we don't hurt our kids?
PATRICK: You know, Jake, we were talking how the fiscal crisis has given you us the opportunity to think in new ways and to ask ourselves what is it we want government to do and not to? In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, just like everywhere else, we have had huge budget gaps we've had to deal with -- $13 billion of accumulated gaps over the last couple of years. We have closed those gaps now, but at the same time, made record-level investments in K-12 support for our public schools because that's our investment in the future. And in that respect, the president and I completely agree.
TAPPER: Let's talk for a second -- I want to turn to 2012 -- we only have a couple of minutes left. And I want to ask you about 2012.
PATRICK: I am not running, no.
TAPPER: You took over your state from Mitt Romney who is almost certainly going to run for president. Did he do a good job at governor of Massachusetts?
PATRICK: You know, I think one of the best things he did was to be the co-author of our health care reform, which has been a model for national health care reform. We have 98% of the residents insured today...
TAPPER: But you haven't gotten costs under control at all, have you?
PATRICK: It's very, very interesting. Actually it's added about 1% to our state budget, which is not what is generally reported on out there, but that is the truth. And what these folks did in Massachusetts is frankly the same thing that congress did which was take on access first, and come to cost control next. And that's what we're doing right now. We have some exciting strategies.
And just as we have shown the nation how to provide universal care through a public-private model I think we can crack the code on health care costs as well.
TAPPER: So it sounds like you think he Governor Romney did a pretty good job.
PATRICK: On that one issue, I think he deserves a lot of credit.
TAPPER: Governor Haley, I want you to look at this ad.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Nikki Haley supporter, Governor Sarah Palin.
SARAH PALIN: A strong pro-family, pro-life, pro-second amendment, pro-development, conservative reformer, your next governor, Nikki Haley.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: That was a pretty important endorsement for you. If she runs for president, will you return the favor?
HALEY: You know, the one thing I think that the environment is going to dictate who our next president is. I have not in any way endorsed, plan on endorsing at this point in time at all. I want all the candidates to come to South Carolina. I want the people of South Carolina to get to see them the way I know them. I want them to campaign hard. And then when right time comes, I will endorse. But there's is no one that I feel like I owe at this time.
TAPPER: All right thanks. We're going to take a quick break.
Still to come, Christiane Amanpour live from Libya
And coming up next, is both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue work to avert a government shutdown over spending cuts some Tea Party freshmen say a shutdown may be the wakeup call we need. We'll hear from one when we come back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: Welcome back. After passing a $61 billion budget cut, congress recessed with talk of a government shutdown still in the air. The members have been in their districts this week and preparing to come back to Washington to do battle over calls for even deeper cuts in federal spending. Republican leaders know a government shutdown could be playing with political fire, but David Kerley caught up with a Tea Party freshman who doesn't seem worried about getting burned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lindenhurst, baby!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, guys.
DAVID KERLEY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: This is what a Tea Party victory lap looks like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to a cup of Joe with Joe.
KERLEY: In a barber shop about an hour outside of Chicago new Republican congressman Joe Walsh...
REP. JOE WALSH, (R) ILLINOIS: I called myself a Tea Party conservative first and a Republican second, not everybody liked that.
KERLEY: Is back with the faithful for the first time since the big victory.
WALSH: I believe this country that we love and adore needs a little bit of shock therapy.
KERLEY: But should he stand firm with the government poised to run out of money and shut down this week?
WALSH: How many people would like me to vote against that even risking the government shutdown?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut it down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shut it down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call the democrats out on the taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we ran our households as irresponsibly as the government has been running itself for the last 20 years, we would be in prison.
KERLEY: For two days, we followed the new congressman crisscrossing his district from a steel plant to classrooms and conference rooms, as he canvassed his constituents, asking if he's on the right track.
What has been the number one message you received since you have come home after passing that budget
WALSH: Keep cutting, baby. I know you're going to take some hot hits, but you're doing this for the bigger picture.
KERLEY: Emboldened, Walsh is one of the few Republicans who wonders out loud, would a government shutdown be that bad?
WALSH: I don't want a government shutdown. But if we have to have one, it might be good for us.
KERLEY: But not everyone is happy with the new congressman and all those cuts. He's challenged at many stops.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're talking about deficits and then you guys went the first thing, give a tax break to the richest people in the nation.
WALSH: This is great time to be alive, you know why? Because there's a lot of stuff going on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you can't determine it's great time to be alive for everybody. You don't know that. You don't know everybody's story.
WALSH: This country right now is arguing about and debating, and it's a good thing, big issues.
KERLEY: This week the big bank, Goldman Sachs, said that the Republican budget cuts could cut our already slow economic growth this year by more than half.
Don't you risk running the country back into a recession? WALSH: Not at all. Not at all.
WALSH: Every dollar we take out of the public sector will go into the private sector, and it will go to grow the economy.
This is one of those rare moments when the American people are asking us to be bold.
KERLEY: Walsh has taken an unusual path to Congress.
WALSH: Leadership is every bit as conservative as this freshman class is.
KERLEY: After a career in education reform, he failed at raising capital for startup ventures. Financially strained, his house was foreclosed, and the libertarian ran for Congress.
WALSH: Look. I don't hide anything. I don't like what the president's been doing the last two years. Duh. That's why I ran. I think we're spending too much money. I want to stop it.
KERLEY: To high school students and CEOs, the message is the same.
WALSH: This country that we love, feel it, we're going through a revolution right now. It is wonderful!
KERLEY: Walsh joined that revolution by just a couple hundred votes.
WALSH: I'm Joe Walsh from Illinois.
KERLEY: He sleeps in his Washington office. He refused the federal health care plan. Now he's the subject of "Time" magazine photo shoots and tells reporters he's truly surprised with the freshmen's power.
WALSH: Based on what I have seen, in general, we have held together very, very strongly.
KERLEY: Walsh's energetic --
WALSH: You rock!
KERLEY: And impatient style --
WALSH: So let's be mobile. Give me quick answers. What do you want your government doing right now to address this problem? Go! KERLEY: Only seems to endear him to his base, Tea Party members and small business.
WALSH: Should your congressman and other freshmen, at some point, compromise with the other side to keep the government running?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole point --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's why you were voted in.
WALSH: If everybody else has to cut and live within our means, why shouldn't the government?
KERLEY: Walsh says he may sign on to that compromise to fund the government for just two weeks. A short reprieve, he says, from the bigger battle, which he won't shrink from.
Are you going to be a one-hit wonder? One term?
WALSH: Possibly. And here's why I say that. Every decision I make these next two years is going to be to do what I think is right to help save this country, fiscally. And if that doesn't get me reelected, so be it.
KERLEY: For "This Week" I'm David Kerley, in Fox Lake, Illinois.
TAPPER: So you heard the congressman, Governor Brewer, say that he was willing to shut down the government over this fight, this showdown with the White House and with Democrats over spending cuts. The White House says they will not abide $61 billion in spending cuts in the House Republican bill. Should Republicans be willing to shut down the government?
BREWER: No, I don't believe so. I think that government is a necessary evil, but we need to continue.
TAPPER: You don't mean evil.
BREWER: I do. Well -- it's necessary. Government is necessary to provide certain services. And they should be able to come to some solution. Bottom line is, they need to trim the budget. They need to move on and they need to get out of our lives as governors in our states. They need to take care of the federal government's responsibilities and let us -- and give us the flexibility that we need so that we can take care of the people within our states.
TAPPER: Should they risk a shutdown?
HALEY: I'm proud of those congressional Republicans for making those cuts. We have a leader of this country that has got to make some decisions. The people have spoken. No, I don't think government should shut down, but it's up to the president to go and negotiate with the Republicans, not for the Republicans to go and negotiate with the president. They are doing what the people asked. This last election said, less dollars, no deficits. Let's start living within our means. I think those Republican congressmen did that. I think the president needs to respond.
TAPPER: Very quickly, Governor.
PATRICK: I think it took 10 years to grow this deficit. A lot of those folks who are saying shut the government down didn't have a word to say when the deficits were being run up through the roof by President Obama's predecessor. I think the president has shown he will and can work with Republicans, but when he reaches out a hand, they need to not slap it, they need to reach back and act like the adults we sent and we expect in that building over there.
TAPPER: All right. I'm afraid that's all the time we have. When we return, Christiane Amanpour has more live from Libya. Stay with us.
AMANPOUR: Hello again from Tripoli. You just heard Joe Walsh of Chicago talk about the battle over big ideas and revolution in the air in the United States. Well, the same is most definitely true here in Libya and in the rest of this region. And we're covering it all. So stay with us, watch for breaking news, including how long the Gadhafis hold out here in Tripoli. ABCnews.com, and ABC News will be following this, and you can follow me on Twitter and FaceBook. So for Jake Tapper, and me, Christiane Amanpour, thank you for watching and I'll see you again next week.