Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Arianna Huffington; Interview with Scott Walker

Aired August 30, 2011 - 21:00   ET


PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, one of the most powerful women in the world, media queen, Arianna Huffington. On politics, on the economy and on keeping America great.


ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, HUFFINGTON POST: We have a major crisis in this country. We have a growth crisis, which means that jobs crisis and a debt crisis.


MORGAN: And Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, his showdown with union workers. His take on the GOP field.


GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: If Romney and Perry were both on the ticket, it would be spectacular because they could focus on the economy. That's what matters.


MORGAN: And this former Eagle Scout's love for his HOG.


MORGAN: What does it make you feel like when on a Harley?

WALKER: It's total freedom. Total freedom.




MORGAN: When Arianna Huffington talks, people tend to listen. And here's the proof: she's number 31 of Forbes' list of the world's 100 most powerful women. She's also president and editor-in-chief of AOL/Huffington Post Media Group. And she's the author of "Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American Dream."

And Arianna joins me now. Arianna, knowing you, I would imagine you're a bit fed one only being 31 on this list, aren't you?

HUFFINGTON: I think it's a great list. And I'm very happy with my placement, Piers.

MORGAN: But quietly you're thinking, hang original I should be at least in the 20s here, aren't you?

HUFFINGTON: No, no. Would you ever be thinking that if you were in any number on that list? Would it matter what you're now?

MORGAN: Yes. Well -- I would be a bit concerned if I'll on the 100 most powerful women list. But on any list, I always think it doesn't matter who you are. You can be Bill Gates. If you're second to Warren Buffett, you're really annoyed, aren't you?

HUFFINGTON: No. That's terrible to think that way.

MORGAN: Tell me, this book of yours, Arianna, which is a fascinating read. It comes at a very timely period, I think, in American life. I love this quote from you about the American dream. "The core idea of the American Dream -- work hard and advance up the ladder -- has been gutted. Now, the American Dream is to try to not fall or to do all you can to slow your rate of decline."

A pretty devastating indictment of this great country. I mean, I would go along with it to a point. But still I think an entrepreneurial zeal is just -- it feels very depressed at the moment to me.

HUFFINGTON: Well, obviously, there's that entrepreneurial view and there are still many entrepreneurs doing great things. The point I'm making is that the essence of the American Dream. And as an immigrant in this country, I've experienced it. The sense that you can work hard and create a better life for yourself and for your family has now really become a game of chance.

And the statistics prove it. You know, we are number 10 in upward mobility. Now, for America to be number 10 in upward mobility, behind France, among other countries, is a little bit like France being ahead of us in croissants and afternoon sex.

You know, upward mobility, you know, is the essence of America. I mean, that's really the promise of America. And yet you have --

MORGAN: What has gone wrong, Arianna? What has gone wrong with America Incorporated?

HUFFINGTON: Well, what's happened is that for many, many years now, we've seen the life of the middle class being much more precarious. And then the financial crisis, since 2008, has really been a kind of mortal blow. And we have not been able to recover.

You know, with 25 million people either out of work or underemployed, people losing their homes, I have two daughters in college. They have so many friends who are graduating from college and cannot get jobs.

And yet I think really, Piers, what is the most disturbing thing is that the government, our leaders, are not bringing the required sense of urgency to this crisis. That is what is missing.

Remember in 2008 when weapon threatened with the collapse of Wall Street? Suddenly, all the establishment -- financial, political, media, came together and they basically threw everything against the wall to save Wall Street.

We never had that sense of urgency around jobs growth and the middle class. That's the point I'm making in the book.

MORGAN: Well, funny enough, when I saw all the attention given to Hurricane Irene, it was very interesting to me how you saw federal and state officials, all coming together in a very public, dramatic, fast-moving way and getting stuff done. And regardless of whether you think it was overhyped or not, the bottom line is I think that speed and efficiency and collective will certainly saved lives.

If they can all apply that same kind of dynamism and speed to getting a decision talking about the economy, you can't help thinking that America would be back on track.

HUFFINGTON: Exactly, Piers. That's exactly the column I wrote today. It's on the site right now, this plus in fact (ph). And the point I'm making is that if we had hurricane jobs, you know, we have the recognition that the jobs crisis has brought an enormous devastation in the lives of millions and we need to come together collectively, in our neighborhoods, in our communities, at the local, state and federal level, and really solve it, everything would be postponed.

I mean, let's start with the media. We in the media have a responsibility. The fact is the media gave it wall to wall attention.

Now, you may have thought, as you said, it was too much. But the point is that it became like a hub around which we all gather to find out what was happening. And it was really a shared intense experience. At the end of which, we felt closer to each other.

MORGAN: That's certainly true. I mean, how much blame do you attach to President Obama personally here? Because, you know, he came in on this huge wave of hope and audacity and change.

And as many presidents discover when the economy is in a rough shape, it's very, very hard to give any hope, albeit audacious, or to change anything.

HUFFINGTON: Well, there's no question he and his administration underestimated the jobs crisis. And, you know, they passed a stimulus bill which was not sufficiently targeted, which was not large enough. And after that, they really expected the economy to recover. It didn't happen.

And now, ironically, we have Larry Summers, who was the president's chief economic adviser, saying again and again, that growth is a higher priority than the deficit. The president made a serious mistake in accepting that the deficit has to be prioritized over jobs. The truth is if we don't solve the jobs crisis, if we don't grow the economy, we'll never be able to solve the deficit crisis.

MORGAN: Yes, I like the line again from your book. You said, "We need to think bigger. We need to reorient our economy so it's more an engine for production and productivity. Not a vehicle for gambling and speculation."

That is really the heart of the problem because the great America that we're all used to, the number one super power for so long, was built around the basis of aspirational people building things and selling them to the world and domestically. But creating and building and driving, energizing.

Now, it just doesn't seem to be there as an ethos in America.

HUFFINGTON: Well, we really went from a country that makes thing to a country that makes things up. You know, CBOs, credit default swaps -- all these financial instruments which make it very easy to make a lot of money very quickly. And that is really the worst part.

If you failed, if you were too big too fail, then government, basically the taxpayer, will pick up the tab. I think that's really what has led to so much anger in this country, Piers. You know, in a way, the creation of the Tea Party for me stems from the bailout. Not that we should have bailed out the bank, but we should have done with it string attached so they would have turned around and actually lent to small businesses to create jobs. That's what didn't happen.

So, there is this fundamental unfairness which has led to an enormous amount of anger and mistrust at government at all levels.

MORGAN: Well, it does seem extraordinary that these bankers who are on the ropes, Lehman Brothers went under, Goldman who may have gone the same way, (INAUDIBLE). All these huge companies and banks all on perilous states. Many of them bailed out by the taxpayers, by the American public.

And the moment they're back on their feet, what do they do? They fill their troughs again, and get their (INAUDIBLE), and reengage in the same kind of greedy, bonus-grabbing behavior that got America into trouble in the first place.

HUFFINGTON: And that sentiment is not a right or left sentiment. What I'm finding, you know, as I travel around, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, there is that sense that there is something wrong with the system. And that if you taken risks that have not worked out, according to any kind of code of capitalism, you then pay the price.

Instead, the taxpayer, even now, despite all the financial reform, the taxpayer in the end would be on the hook for any big company, big bank that fails because of excessive risk. And that's what has to be changed, because in the end, if we lose trust in the ability to act collectively, the ability of government to act collectively, we will never be able to attempt anything really big -- you know, that spirit of barn raising, the spirit of coming together and sending a man to the man to moon, or doing any of the great things America has done is now really missing.

MORGAN: I think it has come to a pretty desperate state of affairs when the great aspiration of America right now is how to avoid being $15 trillion in debt, doesn't it? I mean, that's where we're faced. It's like if we don't hit $15 trillion, that's a great result.

What it needs, like you say, is the big ideas. That's what we need. Every one is waiting for the big idea.

What is it?

HUFFINGTON: And what is actually ironic is that the big ideas are now small ideas at the community level. That's why there is a call for optimism. The last section of my book is actually an optimistic section because I've seen an incredible amount of creativity, compassion and ingenuity at the local level.

And ever since the merger with AOL, I also oversee Patch, which is a local initiative where 857 towns of 30,000 to 40,000 people. We launched a whole project that we are calling Dispatches: The Changing American Dream. And it's quite amazing, Piers, to get all the stories every day from around the country of what people are doing in their own neighborhoods. People who have lost jobs, who are creating their own jobs, turning their hobbies into jobs, helping each other and make ends meet, supporting people in need.

And at the local level, there is trust. There is a sense of empowerment and a sense that we can overcome adversity. At the national level, that is really missing. That's where the failure is. And that's where my fear comes about us becoming a third world country if we don't course correct.

MORGAN: I totally agree. I mean, we saw with again with the storm, the hurricane -- the way local people came together, helping each other to deal with what happened, to rebuild afterwards. That is the real American way. That's the American spirit of work and they need inspiration.

We'll have a little break, Arianna. When we come back, I want to talk to you about the battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party. Who or what kind of person is going to take on Barack Obama?



REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Barack Obama is a one-term president. And it's important for me to come and bring my positive message for my candidacy. My focus is to turn the economy around -- I know how to do that as a former federal tax lawyer -- and to create millions of high-paying jobs in the private sector. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was Michele Bachmann blasting Barack Obama and talking jobs. Back with me now is Arianna Huffington.

Arianna, I don't want to ruin your day, but she is number 22 on the Forbes list. So she is nine places more powerful than you.


MORGAN: What do you think about that?

HUFFINGTON: At least. She can create millions of good-paying jobs, too.

MORGAN: Do you think she has in her to do that?

HUFFINGTON: To create the jobs. You know, that's really the paradox, that every serious contender for the Republican nomination is promising to create jobs. And yet they're not telling us how they're going to create jobs. And that's the supreme irony.

Everybody recognizes that the Achilles heel for Barack Obama is the fact that we're probably going to go into the election in 2012 with around 8.5 percent, 9 percent, maybe even 9.5 percent unemployment. That's really where he is most vulnerable.

So, everybody is talking about jobs. But I would love to know how they're going to create jobs without some big infrastructure projects, without a payroll tax holiday, without all the things they're now rejecting.

MORGAN: Yes. I mean, is there anyway that any of these Republicans can creditably create a business model for America driving forward that doesn't involve some kind of increased revenue from extra taxation?

HUFFINGTON: Well, both that, both the increased revenue from extra taxation and also, how can we do that? How can we create jobs without generating demand?

If at the moment private demand has basically evaporated because consumers don't have the resources to go out and spend in a way that would create jobs. If corporations are sitting on billions of dollars and not investing it, if banks are not lending, how are we going to break this vicious cycle without government stepping in to do things that we actually need.

Even with full employment, Piers, we would need some really substantial infrastructure projects, because our bridges, our roads, are crumbling. I mean, we are literally a third world country when it come to many areas of our infrastructure. So this is a huge opportunity to create the kind of private-public partnership to rebuild the country. And in the process to create jobs.

There are so many people in construction industries who can't get a job at the moment.

MORGAN: Also, I mean, in your book, you rightly focus on other countries like China and India. I went to Shanghai and spent a couple weeks there, saw a bit of the rest of China, too, there is no doubt there -- whatever it is, 1.3 billion people, at least half of whom are going to be entering the millionaire world within the next five to 10 years. You're going to have an explosion of very, very wealthy people who will want to travel, who will want to be aggressive in business, who will want to come after American business interests.

What the Chinese love to do is dominate in business. They're not interested in militarily invading countries or any kind of imperialism in that sense. They want to be top dogs in business. And they're going to come.

And I don't really see that America is ready for that challenge, businesswise, economically.

HUFFINGTON: And yet, you know, are we still have some huge advantages. First of all, as Tom Friedman has said, I would not really bet ultimately on any country that censors Google. They have to come to terms with the fact that they cannot try to prevent these explosions that's happening online and the connectivity that brings people together around the world.

And also, you know, we are still the country where Apple came to life. And, you know, you go abroad. You go to China, you go anywhere. They still look at America as the country that brought them Apple and the iPhone and the iPad. They may not be manufactured in this country but they were created in this country. So, we still have --

MORGAN: Is Apple -- Isn't Apple a perfect example of what more American entrepreneurs and businessmen should be doing? There's Steve Jobs. He's a genius. He has these amazing ideas. He gets a brilliant design team around him.

He has as Jack Welch I think points out on this show, a brilliant system of delivery for his products. He gets it out there, fast and efficiently. And he sells it around the world. You go to China, or you go to India, or you go to Europe, there are Apples products, piled high. Beautiful quality, incredibly reliable and they're available to all, selling like hot cakes, and he is a brilliant marketeer, too.

That kind of thing that America needs so much more of, isn't it? Identifying products to the whole world is going to clamor for.

HUFFINGTON: And it is happening, you know, in small ways. I mean, I've met so many start-up entrepreneurs all around the country. It's much harder for them to make it work now. But it's still happening. That's for me, the hope for the future, because, you know, as a Greek, as a naturalized American, has a double dose of optimism. So, I don't want to leave our viewers depressed.

You know, that sense of ingenuity, that entrepreneurial spirit is very much alive. What we need to do is to overcome the dysfunctional nature of our government at the moment that's really getting in the way of acknowledging that at this moment, we need help to actually make the private sector work. It doesn't mean the government is going to do it, but just to be the catalyst during a difficult time as it has been during other difficult times -- other times of hurricanes and earthquakes, or wars, or economic crisis. And then, you know, that's the boost that we need.

MORGAN: Do you know Steve jobs personally?

HUFFINGTON: No, I don't. I mean, I've met him, but I don't really know him. I've seen him speak and met him at conferences, like all things recently, when he had a conversation with Bill Gates. It was quite iconic to see the two of them coming together in joint appearance.

But I'm full of admiration, not just for everything he's done, but for the way he handled that dreadful moment in his own life, the moment of stepping down.

MORGAN: Yes. As you, someone who has laid this incredible business yourself, the "Huffington Post" -- could you ever imagine that moment of giving up the reins to it?

HUFFINGTON: Well, I can imagine the moment is much harder to contemplate that moment because of premature reasons. You know, like ill health that he has unfortunately had to suffer. But it was all done with so much grace and so much dignity. And I felt sort of really coming together and support him during that moment.

MORGAN: Let's take a short break, Arianna. When we come back, we'll talk about your family. What it was like for you when you first came to America and how it is all going AOL. I suspect very well for you.



BILL MAHER, COMEDIAN: I have to say I agree with Arianna. I think it's actually quite harmful.

BRIAN THE FAMILY DOG: Oh, when did you say that?

HUFFINGTON: I just did.

BRIAN THE FAMILY DOG: Oh, gosh, I'm sorry. Maybe it sounds like you're talking with a mouthful of syrup. I just didn't get it.



MORGAN: Nobody mixes with it Arianna Huffington. That was FOX "Family Guy" episode featuring my tough talking guest. You don't take any nonsense, do you?

HUFFINGTON: Not from dogs.


MORGAN: Arianna, take me back to when you first came to America from Greece. What was your first impression?

HUFFINGTON: You know, I came to American when I was 16 as part of a program called The Experiment in International Living. I don't know if you've heard about that.


HUFFINGTON: And I went to New York, Pennsylvania, and you stay with different families. I stayed with four different families. That was my first experience with America.

It was definitely love at first sight. But then I took this detour and went to England and studied at Cambridge and fell in love and spent seven years with an amazing man who wouldn't marry me, Piers.

MORGAN: Bernard Levin. What was he thinking?

HUFFINGTON: Bernard Levin. Yes, I know. He was twice my age and half my size. And I was --


MORGAN: So, you said that he was -- you said he was the great love of your life. I mea, he was a completely brilliant man.


MORGAN: Do you wish things had been different? Do you wish that he had wanted to get married and had children and stuff?

HUFFINGTON: Well, I was -- not anymore, because my whole life would have been entirely different. I wouldn't have my two daughters whom I adore. And I wouldn't have created "The Huffington Post." I think the "Levin Post" or the "Stasinopoulos Post," which is my maiden name, would not have been as successful. So everything happens for a reason.

Ever since I was a little girl, and actually I write in the book about that, walking to school and passing by President Truman's statue, which is a statue that grateful Greeks had erected for the president because of the Marshall Plan that had really saved Europe. And there was a sense around me that America was the country where your dreams would come true. There was nobody who didn't have a family member or a friend who had moved to America in search of a better life.

And so, that was really my dream, you know, when in 1980, I moved here. And I could never imagine after that, living anywhere else.

MORGAN: It's an amazing -- it is an amazing country, America. And I think the frustration that so many of us who are not Americans but have this great love and affection for America and Americans, is that, right now, you're just - -you're willing for something to happen which reenergizes and re-instills the confidence in this great country. That's what I feel, is that everybody is there, ready to be led.

And the problem is, they're not getting the right kind of leadership from anybody.

HUFFINGTON: And, you know, again, I have a feeling that maybe when we look back, you know, a few years from now, we'll realize that there was something else that needed to happen. And this was for us to stop waiting to be led. That's the thing what's needed right now, not wait for someone else to do it, but to really do it ourselves.

MORGAN: You did this amazing deal. Last time you came on the show, we talked about the AOL deal. And just got (ph) a very neat, little $350 million, I think -- Arianna, congratulations again. Since then, AOL has been struggling. I think the stock price has fallen about 40 percent.

So, what's going on there?

HUFFINGTON: Well, we are actually doing amazing things on the content side. As you probably know, "The Huffington Post" traffic has grown dramatically. We've expanded both domestically and internationally. We've launched "Huff-Post" U.K., we've launched "Huff-Post" Canada, and we are going to be launching "Huff-Post" Brazil and "Huff-Post" France. We've launched multiple sites about women. We're about to launch high school, and weddings.

So, basically the idea is to be able to offer our readers a bit of everything, from politics, to books to entertainment, style, divorce, everything. And the merger with AOL has given me and my team at the "Huffington Post" the opportunity to really have the resources to expand along all the different paths, you know, video, international, domestic, Patch, which is this amazing hyper-local content that I mentioned earlier.

MORGAN: Are you paying any of these journalists yet, Arianna? Because your very cunning master plan was to get most people to write for you for nothing, if I seem to remember.

HUFFINGTON: No, Piers, we have over 1,300 journalists at the moment on pay roll. And we still have other --


HUFFINGTON: Over 1,300.

MORGAN: How do you feel about that? Do you feel uneasy actually paying people?

HUFFINGTON: I'm loving it. Because at the same time, we have this great platform. We're a journalistic enterprise and a platform. And the platform has over 9,000 bloggers with their own passwords, plus thousands of people from all walks of life who send us posts on everything that they care about.

MORGAN: Do you ever look in the mirror, Arianna, and think I haven't done badly for a young lady from Greece?

HUFFINGTON: I haven't look in the mirror and think, I'm always in the end going to be a Greek peasant girl at heart. And I like to keep that. The thing that gives me the greatest joy -- and I'm so glad you're going to be a father again, Piers -- is looking at my two daughters whom I took back to college yesterday. And that, above all, is the greatest joy of my life.

MORGAN: Well, you're a remarkable woman. If I had my way, you would be way further up this list, Arianna. I'm going to have a word with Forbes, get you up there, get you into the top ten next year.

Keep of the great work. I'm a big fan of yours and your sites, as you know. And it has been a pleasure talking to you.

HUFFINGTON: Thank you so much, Piers.

MORGAN: Take care.

Coming up next, the first time governor who turned the political world upside down, Wisconsin's Scott Walker.


MORGAN: Scott Walker took office as governor of Wisconsin in January of this year. He's lost no time making a splash. His budget showdown with union workers after just five weeks in office led to headlines across the country, not all of them entirely favorable.

Governor Walker, welcome. So you don't believe in doing things by half, do you? You get in to power as the new governor. Were you, even though you knew it would be provocative, taken aback by the scale of protests that came your way?

GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: Absolutely, and by the national attention. I knew -- for eight years before I was the governor. I was a county executive in a county that has never elected a Republican before. We pushed the status quo there.

But I had no idea the kind of national attention, the national focus, the national money that came in early on. That's probably more than anything the part that surprised me.

MORGAN: Knowing what you know now, would you have played things differently?

WALKER: Yes. I think in January and February, in particular, I would have spent more time building the case for specifically what we were going to do. I talked about it in the campaign. Heck, I talked about it for eight years when I was a county official, about the need to change things, to make sure we could avoid layoffs.

In the end, I had no idea. In about a month's time, that first month, they brought -- dropped four or five million dollars worth of TV ads, not on a candidate but specifically against me and against this issue. I would have better prepared for that had I 20/20 vision.

MORGAN: The reputation you built up, because of all the fury, is that you hate unions.

WALKER: That's not true at all. For me, it's one of those where I tried to work with the public unions. I worked for years with the public unions. More so, I work with private sector unions. Many of them have been partners of mine in terms of creating more jobs in our state, will continue to be.

But I just looked at the fact -- with eight years of experience, I looked at a number of our core unions, and said, if we don't make a change, if we don't empower local governments as well as the state, we're going to be stuck with the kind of mess we see in Washington, D.C.

And I don't want to hand that off to my two kids and the next generation of voters out there.

MORGAN: Be honest. Was there ever a moment in all that when you looked in the mirror and thought, Scott, I could be the shortest term governor in the history of Wisconsin here?

WALKER: You know, throughout the mix of it, I didn't ever think about that. Since then, you know, I take very seriously the claims -- you look at the 20, 30, 40 million dollars that were spent on these nine state senate recalls. I think a recall for me or for anybody else after January could be very real.

In the midst of it all, no, I just thought -- I came in, more or less, with the mind set of a small business owner. Identify a problem, identify a solution and then do something about it.

MORGAN: What's your message to the unions now? They'll be watching this with interest. And they'll still be under the assumption that you have it in for them, really. What is your message to them to allay that concern?

WALKER: Well, my message would be more for the workers of our state. You look at what happened. Mitch Daniels did something like this six years ago in Indiana. In the end, not only did the state get better and more effective for great workers, they're actually able to earn more.

You are going to see it in our schools. You can see it in our local government, certainly in our state government that our best and our brightest are going to be the first ones in keeping the classroom, the first ones we keep on the job.

That hasn't happened in the past. A lot of times, seniority and tenure forced out some of the best and the bright when there were changes in staffing. We're able to change that now. We're able to pay for performance, do things that happen all the time in the private sector. And it just hasn't happened, up until now, with these reforms.

MORGAN: We followed you around a bit. We went with to a school with you in Wisconsin. And I want to show you a bit of footage of what happened, because it summed up the tenure.

This is basically on your way to a local school. The calm before the storm, I will call this, because when we got there, there were the obligatory protesters which sort of dog you everywhere you go like this.

When you turn up and you see this kind of thing, what goes through your mind?

WALKER: In this case, it was one of the extremes. These folks were so adamant about it that they literally went and glued the doors -- the locks on the doors of the school shut, causing obviously great damage to the school itself.

To me, I'm a big boy. I can handle protesters. That's what's great about America. People can protest. But in the end, causing damage -- I had something like this earlier this past month, where they shouted us down at the opening of the state fair.

I said, again, protest me. You can boo me. You can do whatever you want. But for all those young people who came to be a part of the fair or came for other functions like that, I think there is a place for civil discourse. People can express their displeasure with something.

Although, I got to tell you, moments like we saw there and earlier this year were prevalent. I think more than anything they come at certain hot spots, when we come to certain areas like the city of Milwaukee or like Madison. Elsewhere around state the state of Wisconsin there are fewer and fewer.

MORGAN: Have you had death threats?

WALKER: Oh, absolutely, stacks of them.

MORGAN: Any of them taken seriously?

WALKER: We took them all seriously. We have the state patrol for me and my family. I had threats against me, against my wife, against my kids, against my parents, against my father-in-law. We took all those very seriously.

MORGAN: Pretty unsettling for the family.

WALKER: Yeah, the part -- again, I can handle those things. But when it crosses the line and starts involving families and people's homes -- you know, I had a lawmaker I talked to from Jansville, who used to be a part of the UAW, the employees union down at GM. He made an interesting point in all this when people were coming to lawmakers' homes, as well as mine.

He said, when they used to have strikes or they would have protests, they would do it at the plant. They would never dream of going to the manager's house. Yet that has kind of crossed the line here.

I think it largely happened as the number of protesters increased in the Spring, as people came from other states, from Illinois and Nevada and New Jersey, Washington, D.C.

MORGAN: Have you had them actually turn up at any of the houses?

WALKER: Sure. You've had protesters -- there were thousands of people in front of my home in Wawatosa (ph).

MORGAN: Anyone making proper threats?

WALKER: No, in those cases most of the threats were without names or numbers of that attached. You did have at the end, in the height of the debate, someone who made a threat about putting a bullet in the head of some of the state senators. They eventually found that person and, as you might expect, the individual was mentally unstable.

MORGAN: Is what you've been through indicative of public discourse in America now? Is that a great shame, do you think? Has it just become too visceral, too personal?


MORGAN: Too unsavory?

WALKER: I think it has. I think it is -- one of the things I prided myself when I served in the state legislature was that I didn't personalize my differences. Someone who was may opponent one day on a party line issue, a week later on some other issue might be my ally, because I didn't personalize the difference.

You don't see that at least with some of these protesters. Now, I hope that is not indicative, at least in Wisconsin, of the Wisconsin way, that you can still be passionate, have a disagreement and move on. For years, we've been a very politically divided state. We were the closest blue state in 2000 and 2004.

So there are very different demographics ad pockets out there. But we haven't had this kind of discourse before, and I hope we can get past that. I think much of it came when the money and influence came from outside Wisconsin.

MORGAN: We're going to come back after the break, governor, and talk to you about the White House, who you think should be the next occupant, and whether that list would include Scott Walker?



WALKER: When I applied to be governor, I talked about helping the private sector create 250,000 jobs by 2015. The idea being we think we can lead the country. We did it a generation ago, when Tommy Thompson was the governor of this state. We can do it again.

Part of it is for employers like this, to get government out of the way. Stop being a barrier. Make the regulatory process (INAUDIBLE) climate lower. Overall, the tax burden less. Things like that help put people to work.


MORGAN: Governor Walker, you have seen all the runners and riders now for the Republican nomination. It is gripping the nation. Where do you think the clever money should be going now?

WALKER: As you can imagine, I have a bias toward governors. I think chief executive, whether it's a mayor, a county executive, a governor, all the way up the line to president, I think that has been a pretty proven theory over time. Certainly that gives me a bias towards both Governor Romney and Governor Perry.

MORGAN: That's interesting now, because they are both governors. They are also very, very different.

WALKER: Very different. I think the issue -- remember James Carville in '92 said it's the economy, stupid. I think that's so true again going into 2012. Governor Romney's -- I think his experience when it come to jobs is more in the private sector, whether it is turning businesses around, Olympics around.

Governor Perry, it's more as the governor. And I think I know Rick the best, just having served with him, worked with him. In fact, he, Mitch Daniels, Chris Christie were the guys back after the election who said don't blink. You're going to be at the height of your time to get things done. We obviously took that to heart.

But I look at what Rick has done in Texas and what they've done with the economy. If I was him -- if I'm running for president and I'm Rick Perry from Texas, I talk about the economy every -- you asked me my mother's maiden name is? I would say look at what we did in Texas with Jobs, because that's the issue in this election.

MORGAN: The argument back at that is that it is easier in a state like Texas than it is in many other states. Would you accept that?

WALKER: Yes, except even part -- out of curiosity, I looked over the last ten years, the oil industry, as an example, is a smaller percentage of the economy than it was a decade ago. So it has not just been because of natural resources and things like that.

In every case, there is exceptions and nuances. But I think overall, if you look at even in the last couple years, Texas having led the way, in many ways almost greater than the rest of us combined, and say, if we can apply that towards putting more people to work in our country -- I know in Wisconsin, you know, we're much better off than the national unemployment rate.

But certainly at 7.6, 7.8 percent unemployment, that is unacceptably high.

MORGAN: And at a time when the national figure is slightly dropped, yours went up. So that gives you an illustration of how tough this is. Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. It is all very well for people to repeat that mantra. The key question is how do you get Americans back to work?

What do you think the answer is? Clearly you're struggling a little bit in Wisconsin.

WALKER: To me, the best answer is something I learned 30 years ago watching President Reagan. You put more money back in the hands of the American people, back into consumers, restore consumer confidence, more money back in the hands of entrepreneurs, job creators.

MORGAN: Tax cuts even?

WALKER: Absolutely. We have the second largest corporate tax rate in the free world right now. I think there's a reason. In the last couple of years, we put too much money into so-called stimulus that was really about bailing out state and local governments.

I saw in our state all that did was defer the deadline to come back and make tough decisions. I think that's been one of the catastrophic failures we've seen in the federal government, is the fact that it -- they spent all that money. They put us further into debt. They created uncertainty.

That's the number one issue I hear from employers is uncertainty. They want stability. It's the uncertainty of the healthcare plan and now the economy.

MORGAN: I guess what you're really saying is forget the details, for a moment, you're trying to work out a plan to stimulate confidence in the economy.

WALKER: Absolutely.

MORGAN: What is gone is confidence. Without the confidence, people don't do anything. They don't spend. They don't invest. They don't build. Nothing happens.

So the debate becomes, how do you get America in business terms confident again?

WALKER: Right. Because I believe more fundamental than just the debt is the economy. And if you don't fix that, everything else will continue to unravel. We have a demand problem. We have not enough consumer confidence. We have not enough people in buying and purchasing and seeking us to make things.

And if we don't correct that, you can cut all you want. You can raise taxes all you want. But you just continue down that spiral, at least from my belief. And I think over time, whether it was President Kennedy back in the '60s, President Reagan in the '80s, or whoever the next great leader is going to be here in this generation and beyond, we've got to change the demand hand and improve the economy.

MORGAN: When it comes to the selection of the Republican nominee, you've cited Romney and Perry. Could you see a situation where they come as a double header, regardless of which way around? In other words, a moderate and a Tea Party candidate coming together may well be the best force the Republicans have against President Obama.

WALKER: I absolutely think you're right about that. I think if you look, the strengths that each of them have, both in the private sector and in public service, is their focus on the economy. To me, the best advice I could give either of them and together, if they were on a ticket, is make that your sole focus.

Everything else is a side show. In the end, if you don't fix the economy, I said, it doesn't matter Wall Street, it doesn't matter Main Street. It matters you or my street in any community across the United States. If you don't fix that with the economy, it doesn't work.

MORGAN: If I held a metaphorical gun to your head and said, who should be top dog and who's the running mate?

WALKER: You know, right now, it's just too early. I'll tell you again, I want to see --

MORGAN: My guess would be Rick Perry for you.

WALKER: I like him a lot. But I think Mitt Romney's got a lot to the table as well. But I've worked probably the closest with Rick Perry. I think part of it, time will tell if he can give live up to the challenge. He's only been in it for a couple of weeks.

MORGAN: He has. But he's certainly energized the whole debate. He's certainly way ahead in the polls now. People like his style.

WALKER: It's the real deal. The only alternative to me would have been -- and I've been a homer on this -- Paul Ryan, if he had gotten in. Obviously he's not. But I think Paul brings that same sort of passion, that same sort of focus, that same sort of intensity.

In Rick's case, even more so on the economy. But I think you're right. If Romney and Perry were both on the ticket, it would be spectacular because they could focus on the economy. That's what matters.

MORGAN: Come back after the break and find out who your wife thinks should be the next president and also about your love of Harley Davidsons. Quite a little boy racer, aren't you, governor?

WALKER: I love them.


WALKER: Nothing like the sound of a Harley. >



TONETTE WALKER, WIFE OF GOVERNOR SCOTT WALKER: I called him and two weeks later we had our first date. And he joked about the fact that I called him immediately right after the next day. But really, I did wait a couple of days to call him.

Scott wrote me a note and proposed to me at the bar. We were sitting right there at the bar.

He'd be a great president.


MORGAN: So there we have it from the -- I won't say the horse's mouth. That's no way to describe your wife. Your wife saying that you would make a great president. What were your thoughts when you heard her say that?

WALKER: Well, I was amazed. I mean, obviously she's been very supportive of me. I think there's a lot of other people. She was a big advocate for Paul Ryan to get in, too. But who knows? God only knows what the future holds. But for right now, it's certainly not going to happen in 2012.

MORGAN: Right. But that's not a no, then. You're clearly flirting with the idea.

WALKER: I got a lot to do in Wisconsin. Believe me, we have a goal 250,000 jobs. If I don't hit that, nothing else matters really for right now.

MORGAN: You're a big fan of Harley Davidson.

WALKER: I am indeed.

MORGAN: What does it make you feel like when you're on a Harley?

WALKER: Total freedom.

MORGAN: You cover thousands of miles a year on these things.

WALKER: Yes, I go out for the last seven years. After that, I've done a ride. Every summer, we go out about 2,000 miles at one time over a period of a couple days. Beautiful scenery. You get away from it all. You see this -- in our case, God's country in Wisconsin.

MORGAN: You're the son of a preacher man.

WALKER: Yes. It's a good song.

MORGAN: It does. There was one, wasn't there? I could start singing but I won't. Your father, tell me the kind of values that he instilled in you. WALKER: Really from both my parents. My dad was a minister, but certainly not only in terms of faith was passed on from him and my mother. It was small town values, very much being involved in the community, supporting your neighbors. My mother, as much as anything, is a saint and taught us to be selfless about our interest of helping others as well. So I learned a lot of things from them.

MORGAN: When you're getting a good kicking from the protestors, does your mother worry about you? Does she ring you up and say, come on, Scott, you've got to calm things down a bit.

WALKER: Even after the episode you showed earlier, when she heard about that -- she's now got -- my kids have now taught her how to use the Internet and texting and all that. My parents' names are Lou and Pat. So she loves to send these little notes and texting that saying L and P from L and P. Love and prayers from Lou and Pat.

It's a kind of nice little code in that. Still a mother even today in her 70s. She feels probably -- she and Tonette, clearly both of them get more worked up about the stuff that you saw earlier than I do. I just figure it's part of the job. But they take it to heart.

MORGAN: Pretty good preparation for the White House, anyway, isn't it, if you ever do decide to run? You need to have a pretty thick skin these days.

WALKER: IN any job in politics. You're right. As you mentioned before, sadly, you know, it's gone beyond just having a passionate debate about things. In the end, people make it so polarizing and intense. And we just try to get things done. You need to have a thick skin.

MORGAN: Governor, it's been a pleasure. Thank you very much.

WALKER: It's great to talk with you.

MORGAN: Nice to meet you. That was Governor Scott Walker. That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.