CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript: 2016 Presidential Election


Date: Jan. 26, 2015
Issues: Taxes


BOLDUAN: Let's get to this. The race for 2016, it got a jump-start over the weekend as possible GOP hopefuls tried to win favor at a conservative gathering in Iowa.

BERMAN: All of the big names were there except the biggest. Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, they were no-shows. But Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, they all made a splash, as did a fast-rising Midwestern governor, Wisconsin Scott Walker. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SCOTT WALKER, (R ) WISCONSIN: I think that sends a powerful message to Republicans in Washington and around the country. If you're not afraid to go big and go bold, you can actually get results. And if you get the job done, the voters will actually stand up with you.


BOLDUAN: Joining us to discuss this and much more, another Republican governor with 2016 chatter surrounding him, that's for sure, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. Governor, it's great to see you. Thanks for coming in.

GOV. RICK SNYDER, (R) MICHIGAN: Great to be with you today.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much. We want to talk about the 2016 political landscape definitely in one second. But first, I want to ask you about today. About taxes. Republicans all over the country are running -- when they're running, they say we're not raising taxes. We heard that again even last night from John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, your Republican leaders in Congress, speaking to 60 Minutes. Listen to this.


SCOTT PELLEY, CBS: From the president's State of the Union address, let me ask you, dead or alive? Raise taxes on the wealthy.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER, (R) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Why would we want to raise taxes on people?

PELLEY: I'll take that as a dead.

BOEHNER: Dead. Real dead.


BOLDUAN: I don't think you can get much more clear than that, Governor. But you are pushing for a tax increase in your state to increase the sales tax. Why?

SNYDER: It's not about person ship, but it's about good judgment and making things to help people. During the course of my term in office, we have done some major tax decreases. We got rid of the Michigan business tax, the job killing tax, the personal property tax. But there's a case with roads. We need to invest more in our infrastructure. We have crumbling infrastructure, we're a northern state, we've had a lot of rough weather. You are talking about weather issues on the show today in the northeast. Sometimes you need to make an investment. This is about a smart investment for public safety to actually create more jobs long-term and to make a better place to live.

BOLDUAN: Governor, when you know - And I know you're going to tell me you don't want to make an announcement about 2016 right now, but there's a lot of chatter about you potentially running for president in 2016. With that in mind, how do you make the pitch and what do you say to other Republicans, especially Republicans in Congress? Are they being too stubborn?

SNYDER: I would say, again, I don't make decisions based on 2016 at all. In fact, I don't believe in making decisions based on partisan politics. This is about what's best for the people of the state of Michigan and making good sound decisions, and so you really have to step back from politics --

BOLDUAN: John Boehner and Mitch McConnell will say that's not partisan politics either. They think it's smart governance on their part to not raise taxes.

SNYDER: Well, I've give you a good illustration. In terms of the big picture, Washington has gridlock and they have major issues. In the state of Michigan, the first year I was in office, we did the important things. We balanced our budget, we put in a plan to pay our long-term debt, and we did tax reform. Now that we have got those in place, Michigan's economy has been doing very well. We're down five percentage points and our unemployment rate over 300,000 private sector jobs. And at some point, you have to say what's the next series of issues? And in Michigan it's infrastructure. We have crumbling roads and bridges that we've underinvested in and we have to make them safer.

BERMAN: Governor, you said that the willingness to raise taxes, to do these things, is just good judgment. That's the words you used. So therefore, would a no new taxes pledge -- the kind that candidates sign every time they're running for office, particularly for president -- Are you saying a no new taxes pledge is bad judgment, is foolish?

SNYDER: I'm not going to use those words, but I've never signed a pledge and one of the reasons I haven't is is because you have changing circumstances, you have major issues you need to address. You need to be thoughtful about having your options open for the long- term. And this is, again, a fundamental public safety issue where we have crumbling bridges, we have concrete that was falling off them, potentially on cars, so we had to put a plywood. We had big potholes that people are having to avoid. These are important things that need to be resolved. And in fact, they can help save money. We pay over $100 more on average than Indiana does for vehicle repairs due to road conditions. If you think about it, that can be a huge offset to help our consumers be more successful.

BERMAN: Governor, in 2012, you endorsed Michigan-native Mitt Romney in his race for president. You endorsed him prior to the Michigan primary. He's considering running for president now. Are you prepared to endorse him again?

SNYDER: That would be premature. Again, we're still figuring out who is actually running. We haven't had formal announcements from people. I think you could see a long list of candidates. What I said in the past, and I do believe this, is the best answer is likely to come from the core of governors. Governors have the experience and background to be most successful at potentially taking on the role of president.

BERMAN: But the fact that you endorsed him once and not ready to do it again, does that indicate some kind of wariness? Because someone could look at that and say you don't like him as much as you did then.

SNYDER: I wouldn't draw those conclusions. In fact, he hasn't formally announced he is running. It's premature at this point. And again, it's great to see people talking about it. What would I say from my perspective is I'm staying focused on making Michigan the very best state. It's tremendous, our improvement, over the last few years. We're at the bottom during the last decade, now we're a top- tier state.

BOLDUAN: On 2016, you're not tamping down speculation about your future, are you?

SNYDER: Well, again, I'm just staying out of the issue, generally, in the sense that there's so many good things coming on that Michigan's track record -- You were hearing from Scott Walker talking about achievement. In Michigan, our achievement is outstanding in terms of what we've done over the last four years and where we're looking towards the future. I think there's a great vision that I was excited to announce last week at our State of the State.

BERMAN: Governor Rick Snyder, thank you so much for being with us. I know you'll be cheering for Michigan's own quarterback Tom Brady in the Super Bowl next week. Great to have you with us.

BOLDUAN: Let's just focus on the Michigan football program and improving that.

SNYDER: They're coming back, too.

BERMAN: Thanks, Governor.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Governor.