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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Massachusetts Governor Announces No Reelection Sought

Aired March 19, 2002 - 12:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: First, though, to Boston. The acting governor, Jane Swift, now ready to meet reporters on her imminent plans. We will take you there live.

JANE SWIFT, GOVERNOR, MASSACHUSETTS: Thank you very much. I am announcing this afternoon my decision to end my campaign for governor. I believe that this is in the best interest of our state, as it will allow the Republican Party's best chances of holding the governor's office in November.

For a woman from a small and distant city in North Adams, my motivation has always been to provide the people of Massachusetts with opportunity. Opportunity for an excellent education, opportunity to keep more of their hard-earned money, and opportunity to live in safe and secure neighborhoods.

I will continue to work hard in the coming months to keep those priorities at the forefront as we deal with this fiscal crisis. We should not and we must not place additional burdens on the families of Massachusetts at this challenging time. Serving as governor of this great Commonwealth has been an honor and a privilege, and one for which I will always be grateful.

No more clapping until I get through this. Apparently, the event (ph) staff has already left, because there is no water. I want to -- I want to thank the people of Massachusetts for their support, and for their goodwill, throughout my entire time over the last 12 years in public office, and this is the hardest part. I also want to express my greatest appreciation to the numerous supporters, staff, and family who have stood by me. Thank you.

HEMMER: Jane Swift, once again, announcing what we had widely anticipated for the past several hours. She will not seek the governor's position in her state of Massachusetts, but certainly she has left a mark there, taking over for the previous governor there, Paul Cellucci back in April when he became ambassador to China. Bill Delaney watching things in Boston along with us. Bill, certainly she has left a mark, first female governor in Massachusetts, first ever to give birth to twins when she gave birth to twin girls back in May.

Much of a surprise there in Massachusetts? It was just a few short weeks ago where she was saying she will take any challengers who may come her way. BILL DELANEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bill, it was a few short hours ago she was saying she would take any challengers who came her way. An absolutely stunning development here. I happen to be at Democratic Party headquarters this morning preparing a piece about the likely primary race between Jane Swift and Mitt Romney, and we wanted to talk to Democrats about how they were going to engage these two candidates in the primary season. Democratic operatives over there at party headquarters absolutely stunned by this announcement. They said, well, obviously enough, it sharpens their focus.

A very emotional Jane Swift here this morning, Bill. This is a 38-year-old woman who came to the governorship less than a year ago. She has had a rocky period as governor, her polls quite low in recent months, and very low as compared to Mitt Romney, the just retired chairman of the Salt Lake Winter Olympics, who is widely credited with saving those scandal-plagued Olympics, and widely credited in Republican circles here with running the credible race every against Democratic titan, Senator Ted Kennedy back in 1994.

He pulled even with Ted Kennedy back in 1994 in the polls. That alone, although he eventually lost handily, that alone is considered big stuff in this state in which one out of seven voters only are Republicans.

So, yes, this is a stunning development. Her -- Republican sources saying that -- what turned it around, personal reasons, she has two children to raise, but one will wonder, there will be wide speculation there may have been White House pressure involved in all this, certainly a Republican operative several weeks ago was known to have gone to the White House to try to get the White House to offer Jane Swift a job so that she could be pushed aside, moved aside for a Mitt Romney race.

We'll see what unfolds in the next several hours and days as to what really caused all of this, but an emotional Jane Swift, and the end of a political career, at least for now, although I will conclude by saying this will certainly make her very popular in Republican circles here, and, as I said, she is 38 years old -- back to you, Bill.

HEMMER: Bill, quickly here. If the polls show that Mitt Romney would easily, handily defeat Jane Swift in any runoff there, what are they indicating about Mitt Romney's ultimate objective here, of getting (ph) that governor's position there in Massachusetts?

DELANEY: Well, what the polls show now is also extremely interesting to Republicans. The most recent polling showed that Mitt Romney would defeat all five of the major Democratic contenders out there, but, of course, we have got many months before November, but he is a credible candidate in the heavily Democratic state.

The Republicans have held the governor's position up there on Beacon Hill for the past 12 years. They desperately want to hold onto it, and you can bet they desperately would like it to be held on on the national Republican scene, too, and in the White House. So, Mitt Romney a good candidate to run against the Democrats. HEMMER: And quickly here, we're out of time here, Mitt Romney will announce when, do you know?

DELANEY: Mitt Romney is expected to announce later today.

HEMMER: Okay. All right. We will watch it. Perhaps we will be back again later this afternoon. Thank you, Bill. Bill Delaney live at our bureau there in Boston, Massachusetts.

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