The following is a transcript of an interview with Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey that aired on “Face the Nation” on Sunday, March 12, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re joined now by New Jersey’s Democratic Governor Phil Murphy. Governor Murphy, good to have you here. In-person.
NJ GOVERNOR PHIL MURPHY: Nice to be here. Margaret. First time in-person.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, it and you’re here in Washington to speak at that event. We just mentioned the Gridiron Dinner, you represented Democrats in your remarks. So you’re here for that there’s a New York Times profile of you that’s out with the headline saying “A trip to Ukraine, a jab at Ron DeSantis. What is Phil Murphy up to?” What’s the answer to that question?
GOV. MURPHY: It’s a very good question. First of all, it’s good to be here. And I would prefer to say I stapled the Gridiron speech to my appearance on Face The Nation. So listen, I’m incredibly honored to serve as the governor of New Jersey, we inherited a state that was basically a train wreck, and we got elected to fix it and and got reelected to continue to fix it. That is job number one, period full stop. I’m a former U.S. ambassador, which in my case was the Federal Republic of Germany. And therefore the international stuff is- continues to be important to us. New Jersey is one of the most international American states. So direct investment relations abroad matter a lot. I’m honored to chair the National Governors Association, as well as the Democratic Governors Association. So we have a few balls in the air, but New Jersey is- is job number one.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, the suggestion is that you might have political ambitions here in this town when your term is up, 2026. Have you considered running for president?
GOV. MURPHY: I will say this, I have 1,000%, behind President Biden. And I haven’t really looked beyond that he certainly is going to run. He deserves to run. He’s earned that right. I think he’s had a great run here. And I’m gonna be 1,000% behind him.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why does the announcement for his reelection keep sliding, it was going to be February now it’s April, when is he going to announce? If you’re certain he’s doing it, why not make it official?
GOV. MURPHY: I’m not sure I’ve got any insight information on that. I don’t think historically that he’s necessarily out of line when other incumbents have announced reelection. I know, we’re all sort of expecting it’s next week, next month, whatever it might be. My guess is it’s sooner than later. But that’s- that’s something that the President himself will decide.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to get to some of the issues that Democrats want to run on and get your insight. But I want to quickly ask you about Silicon Valley Bank, because New Jersey is, of course, adjacent to the financial hub of the country in New York City. And so there is concern about the overall banking sector. How concerned are you here?
GOV. MURPHY: Concerned but not panicked. And I think that’s the place we need to be. Depositors and workers in the companies whose deposits are in that bank need to be job number one. We’ve got a big innovation economy in New Jersey, so we’ve spent the weekend trying to make sure we’re out ahead of this. We don’t have a whole lot of exposure to SVB, per se, but we do have a lot of tech companies. So our Economic Development Authority is preparing a package largely focused on liquidity to be there in case we need to be there. So concerned is you have to be when you have a bank of this size go down. But I don’t think there’s any need to panic. And I’m certain that the authorities at the federal level are working feverishly to come up with some sort of a solution sooner than later.
MARGARET BRENNAN: When you say liquidity in this, you’re talking with the state stepping in to help some of the businesses that operate in New Jersey?
GOV. MURPHY: The startup culture, the startup tech firms in particular, we want to make sure that as we did during the COVID pandemic that we are there for them, whether it’s loans or whatever the case may be. We want to make sure we’re not dragged by this. We want to- we’re trying to stay out ahead of it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I also want to ask you about education in your state. You’ve taken aim, as we just mentioned at Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who is widely expected to be running for president. You’ve said he’s prioritizing political culture wars ahead of academic success. You faulted him for his dismissal of the College Board’s AP African American studies course. He wouldn’t be doing that if he didn’t think it resonated for him politically. Why do you think it resonates for Democrats to- to engage in these culture war back and forth?
GOV. MURPHY: Listen, I- we ask ourselves always the question in substance. Do we believe in teaching our whole history? The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, nothing but the truth? The answer affirmatively is yes. So in this case, AP African American Studies, New Jersey has one high school teaching it this year, we’re expanding it to 26 next year. He’s just trying to divide us. He’s trying to change the subject. He’s doing it for political reasons, I assume. We want to come back and say listen, what is the substance? What- what- what do we owe our residents and we believe strongly that we owe them the ability to read the books that talk about our history again, whether we like it or not, let’s make sure we teach our country’s history, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well on the substance, when it comes to this particular college board AP class, initially there were criticisms of the program. And you said, they got “rolled” by DeSantis because you think he convinced them to delete parts of black history. So if it’s a flawed academics, why are you expanding it to 26 schools?
GOV. MURPHY: First of all, they did get rolled. They claim they were not rolled, but let’s let’s call that for what it is, they got rolled, Florida weighed in heavily–
MARGARET BRENNAN: The College Board disputes.
GOV. MURPHY: Yes. The good news is you have a fair amount of latitude in terms of what you actually- the curriculum looks like at the district level. And I’ve been asked before well, does this mean that everything is 100% the way you teach it? I’m not sure it is, or it isn’t. But the fact of the matter is, it must be taught. And you do have latitude in terms of constructing that curriculum at the district level. And that’s what we’re going to do in New Jersey. And that’s the way it should be.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There are reports in the Washington Post that Wednesday is the day that a Texas judge who could undo- you’re following this story in regard to the abortion pill. He could undo government approval of this drug, which is the one of the most common ways to- to obtain an abortion these days. Out in the state of California, their governor has taken the stance of refusing to do business with pharmacies that say they won’t sell the drug in certain states. Are you ready to take a stand like that against Walgreens or other pharmacies?
GOV. MURPHY: I don’t expect that we will take a stand like that. But we are- we want Walgreens and CVS and others to do the right thing, which is to be there for, especially, women to uphold their reproductive freedoms and not take them away. The villain here isn’t the governor of California for sure. The villain here are the attorney- attorneys general, and governors, in many, sadly, many states right now in this country that are taking freedoms away from Americans, particularly women, particularly reproductive freedom, that those- those are the villains of this drama.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Why- are you uncomfortable putting that kind of pressure on companies to craft social policy?
GOV. MURPHY: No, we’re not uncomfortable about that at all, but we want to do the thing that gets the best result. In- our teams we’re on for instance, on Friday at very senior levels, with Walgreens and CVS, making sure they heard loud and clear that we expect them to do their part to uphold women’s reproductive freedoms.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Governor, good to have you here in person. Nice to be with you. We’ll be right back.