Transcript: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on “Face the Nation,” March 5, 2023
The following is a transcript of an interview with Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker that aired on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, March 5, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We want to go now to Democratic governor J.B. Pritzker of Illinois. Good morning to you, Governor.
GOVERNOR J.B. PRITZKER: Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I have a lot to get to with you. But I want to get something out of the way. New York Times has a big feature on you calling you the Democrats’ SOS candidate, saying you’re keeping your options open for a presidential run in 2024. In case Biden doesn’t run, is that true?
GOV. PRITZKER: No, I’m supporting Joe Biden. He’s running for reelection, and he’s going to get re-elected. I’m just, you know, happy that people think of me in that way. That’s certainly very flattering, but I intend to serve out my term as Governor of Illinois.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Because you are, according to CBS reporting, potentially serving on an advisory board to the President, if he does run for reelection. You might have heard Joe Manchin, who just told us that it was kind of an open question as to who would be running, he said, let’s see who all the players are. He didn’t endorse the president. That surprised you?
GOV. PRITZKER: Well, I’m sorry to hear that. It does surprise me a bit. I will say that Joe Biden has an awful lot that he gets to run on here. He’s gotten a tremendous amount done for the country, saved literally hundreds of thousands of lives by making sure that vaccines were distributed. He passed legislation in a bipartisan fashion, you know, we got the IRA, which is going to help us fight climate change, infrastructure, which is helping everybody across the country. The CHIPS and Science Act, which is going to help us bring manufacturing back to the United States. And what is Joe Biden’s superpower? And that is he demonstrates empathy in everything that he does, he truly cares about the American people.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So do you think he needs to make it official and say he’s running so that there isn’t more speculation or people considering other options?
GOV. PRITZKER: I don’t think there’s anybody that’s serious, that’s actually considering running against Joe Biden, because he’s done such a great job.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you on the issue set that Democrats are running on, your office told- told us you’re very focused on school board races in Illinois to make sure extreme right wing candidates aren’t dominating them. I’m wondering how strong the Republican ground operation is on things like school boards. Is parents’ rights really something you think Democrats need to be concerned about on a national scale?
GOV. PRITZKER: Well, what Republicans are trying to do is, of course, ban books in libraries, they’re trying to keep our schools from teaching black history. They make up things about CRT in schools that just don’t exist. And so they’ve got a lot of extreme right wing candidates, frankly, on the crazy end of things that are running and we just want to make sure that people know who they are and know not to vote for them.
MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Governor, there’s a lot I want to get to with you on the other side of this commercial breaks up, please stay with us. And we’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION. We want to continue our conversation now with Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. Governor, thank you for staying with us through the break. I’m going to follow up on something you said right before we took that break. You said you want to make sure people know who they are and not to vote for them. You were talking about Republicans, you said trying to do things like ban teaching Black history, banned books and banned CRT? Are you talking about people in Illinois who you’re talking about? Where’s that happening?
GOV. PRITZKER: Well, you asked- you asked me about school boards. And I’m telling you, we’ve got people running at the local level who believe that but of course, the Republicans are carrying this as a national message. And honestly, it’s something that’s offensive to most Americans. This idea of banning Black history. It’s important for people to understand the history of slavery in the United States, you know, in our- our entire US history, warts and all.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, in Florida, who, where I think you’re gesturing to they are not blan- banning black history, it was specifically that AP college course that’s what you’re referring to there? That version of it.
GOV. PRITZKER: Well, when they’re trying to dive in and take over a an AP History exam, and edit it and edit out parts that they don’t like, that’s banning history. That’s what they’re doing in Florida. That’s what Ron DeSantis is doing.
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MARGARET BRENNAN: Okay, a potential 2024 candidate. I want to ask you about the issue of abortion. Because I know you are one of 20 Democratic governors very much deeply involved in-in trying to build a firewall here against restrictions. There’s a Texas judge who may soon decide a case that could revoke the approval of the abortion pill which is the most common kind of abortion in this country. If there is a ruling to restrict it, how will governors respond? What will you do?
GOV. PRITZKER: Well, in Illinois, we protect the other abortion drugs that are available, and we protect women’s right to express their reproductive freedom. And so we’re helping our clinics in Illinois, we’re making sure that all the refugees from the states around us that have banned abortion, know that there’s an oasis here in the Midwest here in the state of Illinois to protect their health and their reproductive rights.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, Walgreens is an Illinois based pharmacy. I know you called in their CEO Roz Brewer for a meeting on Friday, they had announced they won’t sell abortion pills in states in which Republican attorneys general have threatened legal action. Can you get them to change the policy? And that they’re still waiting, I guess, on certification to sell the pill in Illinois itself. Can you get them approval?
GOV. PRITZKER: Well, that’s something that happens at the federal level. But I offered to them to work with the federal government to try to speed up the process of certification. They want to certify it in Illinois, and they want to be able to sell it here. So we’re going to help in any way that they ask us to. But look on a broader scale, we should just recognize that these pharmacies need to protect women’s health. That is the business that they should be in. And so in states where it’s legal to have an abortion and legal to sell an abortion pill, they should still be doing it and I’ve told them that we need to make sure that the other pharmacies do the same.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, we’ll be following that. I want to ask you as well about crime as an issue for Democrats. In the city of Chicago, the mayor Lori Lightfoot just failed to make the runoff in the Democratic primary. She was challenged by a former school CEO backed by a police union and the Cook County Commissioner who was endorsed by the Chicago Teachers Union. So I’m wondering what the takeaway message is here for Democrats? Is it don’t take on the teachers unions as she did or is it to focus more on violent crime?