Outgoing Governor Ed Rendell is starting to contemplate life out of politics, a career that has spanned more than three decades.
“I don’t kid myself for a minute that I will not miss it, because for 33 years, I have been paid to make peoples’ lives better and nothing compares to that.” said Rendell.
Rock The Capital’s 30 minute, one on one interview with Rendell, covered everything from the deeply personal to what it will take for the president to win a second term.
(RTC) What is your greatest accomplishment as governor?
(ER) “Oh, gosh its always hard to single one out.”
“In healthcare we did three things that were very important. We added 70,000 kids to our CHIP program and created cover all kids, which allows every adult to access our CHIP program for kids.”
“Doubled the number in our pace and pace-net programs, which is, the best prescription drug program in the country.”
“Growing greener was a huge help in addressing clean air issues and brownfield issues. We also got sronger rules for coal burning and we invested over a billion and a quarter dollars to incentivize renewable and alternative energy. We have the third highest number of clean energy jobs in the country produced over the last eight years.”
“Our stimulus plan and infrastructure investments have caused us to have a lower unemployment rate than the national average for 93 of the 96 months I have been governor.”
“We have probably upped the overall education expense by about $4 billion annually, but we have targeted the things that work. Like early childhood education, like tutoring, teacher training, technology in the high schools, and as a result, the product is exceptional.”
Of those accomplishments, Rendell says education tops his list.
(RTC) Why do you think your successor (Gov-elect Tom Corbett) has no interest in taxing natural gas from the Marcellus Shale?
(ER) “He got locked into this no tax pledge and he’s an honorable man, and he probably understands we should have a shale tax, but he can’t get out of the pledge he made.”
What are Rendell’s concerns now that Republicans are in charge in Pennsylvania and Washington?
(ER) “I know General Corbett said in the campaign he actually wanted to increase funding for early childhood education], but he is going to have a difficult time doing that given the stimulus money leaving us and mandated costs going up, and of course given his no new revenue [tax] pledge.”
And his concern on the national side of politics.
“Government will stop investing in things that are necessary like our physical infrastructure, our roads, highways, airports and our intellectual structure, our children and their education. It is incumbent upon all citizens to understand that there is good government spending that is really necessary and vital, and there is bad government spending that is wasteful and is not making a difference; we have to discern the difference.”
(RTC) What does President Obama have to do to win a second term?
(ER) “He has to govern effectively as he did in the lame-duck session. He has to show the people of America he can be a leader that gets things done.”
Rendell says Obama must work for real deficit reduction that will include reductions in military and discretionary spending, devise a workable plan for energy independence, and hold people accountable for educating kids. Rendell believes Obama can find bipartisan support in that, and it will give him the formula to get re-elected.
(RTC) Why position yourself for a career in TV, why not create a foundation, such as President Clinton did when he left office.
(ER) “In my role as a private citizen, a role I have not played in 33 years, I want to continue to be able to participate in the public debate.”
“I don’t kid myself, starting a foundation is great, but I don’t think I am President Clinton by a long shot and I don’t think I could get the necessary money, and President Clinton can weigh in on the debate anytime he wants without any of the vehicles I need.”
(RTC) Will you mellow out after you leave public office?
(ER) “I don’t think I will change, and although it looks like I am going to have a very financially rewarding after-life, it looks like I am going to have a pretty entertaining life. I don’t kid myself for a minute that I will not miss it.”
(RTC) As of you late you have made multiple appearances on shows such as Comedy Central and 6o Minutes. You have been quoted as saying we are “becoming a nation of wussies,” and your tirade during an interview with Leslie Stahl. Is this showmanship, orchestrated histronics, or something else, as you angle to get a job with a cable outlet?
(ER) “If its showmanship, it is consisent with what I have done for the last 30 years, and certainly losing my temper was not a good idea if I wanted a career in the media. Look it is, what it is. I have always had the ability to say things that were interesting, honest and frank. I have always said things that are controversial at times, but that is because I never hold back, and say what I think. I think overall, it has been an asset of mine, and over the course of 33 years, I have lost my temper a number of times.”
“None of it is an orchestrated effort, and let the record show that all the TV shows I have been doing, we have never asked to be on any of them, they asked me.”
Governor Rendell’s roving eye has long been the talk of the state from banter in the barrooms, locker rooms, to mixed tongues wagging at celebratory balls. We asked him what kind of toll those rumors took for him and wife Midge and if the pain still lingers.
(ER) “What was the most stunning thing about it was there never was one scintilla of evidence to support anything, and yet it was written. I have a hard time forgiving, understanding, and I know it was intended for only one purpose, to make news, and that is pretty low. I live with it.”
(RTC) Will national gun control legislation gain support, with the horrible rampage in Arizona?
(ER) “If there was ever cause for reinstating he assault weapons ban and its limitations of the type of magazines you can buy, this is the case. If we don’t use this, if we don’t pivot off of this to get reasonable, common sense control, we never are.”
And with that Governor Rendell was off to meet with folks from the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C.
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