The following is a transcript of Gov. Greg Abbott’s interview which aired on WFAA-TV’s Inside Texas Politics this morning. Host Jason Whitely interviewed Abbott at the National Harbor on the weekend of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Q: Governor, good to see you.
A: Good to see you too thanks.
Q: Healthcare is a priority in this new administration. How do you want that to look in Texas?
A: One thing we are working on – we are working on getting processes implemented. We’re at the beginning processes of implementing the president wants to see accomplished. One, of course, is the repealing of Obamacare and the replacement of it. I met with the Senate finance leaders to talk about the ways we can go about changing the healthcare system, so it will be the states who will be in charge of providing this.
Q: A million Texans got coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Do you expect at any point those million Texans will lose coverage?
A: Our hope is no one will lose coverage. Our hope is people will actually have better access to healthcare. Remember this Jason. There’s this falsehood about the Obamacare promise. There are certainly people who are no covered under Obamacare but really don’t have access to healthcare because they have deductibles of $5,000 or $10,000 which they can’t afford. And I’ve heard so many stories about people who have paid money to get the Obamacare healthcare but have to go to the doctor and pay money out of their own pocket to pay for that healthcare. So they may have “insurance” under Obamacare, but they don’t have access any better than what they had before.
Q: Let’s switch gears and talk about state politics. Less money for the next budget, as you know. Trump is now in office. Should Texas lawmakers spend another billion dollars on state troopers down at the border?
A: Our goal in Texas and, hopefully, the American goal is to ensure we secure the border and retain our sovereignty and prevent illegal immigration. What Texas has been focused on is staunching the flow of cross-border cartel activity and criminal activity – trying to do the federal government’s job. Finally, we think and hope that we’re going to have a federal administration to take care of that problem. Until they get that job done, it’s our responsibility to keep Texans safe, and this state secure by continuing to maintain our presence on the border.
Q: So is that another billion dollars down there?
A: We will be allocating the funds necessary to secure the border. Hopefully, we will see quick measures by the administration in Washington that will begin to change that.
Q: Do you really want to see a wall built between Texas and our largest trading partner to the south?
A: We want to see the border secure and…
Q: Is that a wall?
A: In certain areas it could be a wall. In others, it could be other things. We will leave it up to the Trump administration and their leadership and their experience to figure out what is the best way to secure the border. What we do know is what they have right now is not working. What we do know is that we can do better than what we have now. What we do know is there are certain areas where a wall could be effective but we are counting on the Trump administration to provide the assets and tools so that we are able to gain control and sovereignty of our border and gain control of a broken immigration system.
Q: [Lt. Gov.] Dan Patrick had a news conference a couple weeks ago saying he would never run against you for governor. You have $34 million dollars in the bank. A lot of money – more than I think you had the first time. Do you plan on running again?
A: I will be running again for governor. Let’s just say, it’s my thought and intention to run again. I’ll be prepared to run again.
Q: And the announcement is coming after the session? Or this summer?
A: After the session.
Q: Let’s talk about the bathroom bill. It’s finally in writing. If that comes to your desk, is that something you will sign? SB6?
A: We need to understand a couple things. One is this is alarming what has happened. People are very concerned because the bathrooms have operated the same way for a century and suddenly all of this changed because of an edict by Barack Obama, and so we are thrust into a new paradigm because of what I consider to be an illegal executive order. And so it has forced Texans to have to respond to this paradigm shift by the president. What we have to do is quickly adjust to figure out what the new rules are, whether or not the new rules by Barack Obama can be redesigned or peeled back. But Jason, what we really need to do is listen to the concerns of the people of the State of Texas and find the ways to best address those concerns.
Q: There seems to be tepid support in the House. The senate is obviously for it. Where do you stand on it?
A: This is the kind of thing – because it is new – this is what you call Democracy. We’re going to have the opportunity to get to sit down and listen to the concerns that are brand new because of the new paradigm because of the new edict that was issued by Barack Obama so that we can figure out both what those concerns are. Two, what the challenges are to the extent there are problems and three, what are the best solutions to address these concerns for our fellow citizens. That is the beauty of the legislative process. We’re going to be able to have hearings and opportunities to get to listen to those people coming in and let us know what the challenges are and the best ways to craft solutions for those challenges.
Q: Sounds like you want the legislature does with it. Am I reading that right?
A: That is my approach to this always. It is important for – most importantly we represent the people of the state of Texas and so the most important thing for us to be able to do is know the concerns of our fellow Texans and then to listen to the representatives of their constituents. We shouldn’t block the representatives of the people who were elected. So I want to hear what the representatives have to say. I want to hear what the constituents have to say but most importantly be strategic to find the best solutions to address these very valid concerns that our fellow Texans have.
Q: Governor, you just mentioned you intend to run for re-election. If President Trump though gives you a phone call and says he wants you to join the administration. I presume you would take the phone call. Is that something you would consider?
A: I would say ‘Thank you very much. I enjoy being governor of Texas.'
Q: Not interested?
A: Not interested.
Q: Good to see you again.
A: You too. Thank you.