February 22, 2024
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Participates in Politico’s 2024 Governors Summit Fireside Chat

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Participates in Politico’s 2024 Governors Summit Fireside Chat

Governor Hochul: “They're told by Donald Trump to unravel a package that was put together with the voices of a Conservative Senator, Democrats, and the Biden administration to deal with the border, and Donald Trump whispers in their ear and all of a sudden, they're terrified and immediately stop. That has an effect on my state.”

Hochul: “Our state needs the help. Our state needs the relief, we need the financial support, we need more protections at the border.”

Earlier today, Governor Hochul participated in POLITICO’s 2024 Governors Summit Fireside Chat.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript is available below:

Governor Hochul:  Hi, everyone.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: Hello there. I'm Nick Reisman. I cover New York state government and politics and for the last 12 years I've been covering Governor Kathy Hochul first with her upset election back in 2011 for a special house race and then during her time as Lieutenant Governor as well. She is the state's number one Bills fan, and she is so far never held against me the fact that I'm a Jets fan. But you know, it's still early.

Governor Hochul: Yeah. Let's talk about that.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: Well, let's actually— let's talk about the role that New York is playing in the battle for control of the House of Representatives. As you probably are aware, House Speaker Mike Johnson's actually in New York today. I believe he's going to be in Binghamton and Utica meeting with some incumbent House Republicans. I'm very curious though just about the role that you are playing in the battle for control of the House of Representatives – you've taken kind of an increasingly aggressive approach I think it's fair to say when it comes to how House Republicans you know, have not been able to pass, say, for instance, a border security legislation.

Governor Hochul: Right. I never thought I'd say this, Nick, because you covered me when I went to Congress right after the Tea Party was elected in November of 2010. I was elected in a special, took office the following June. I miss the Tea Party. I miss John Boehner. I miss people that you could actually work with and get things done. I never thought I'd say that, but you heard it here because Nick, I have to step up because even back a further generation, when I was an attorney for Senator Moynihan, I worked on the last major immigration bill that passed in 1986, and we were able to work with Republicans, Democrats, Tip O'Neill, Ronald Reagan, and came up with a comprehensive plan that held for a long time. So, I still believe that the possibility lies there to solve our most difficult problems, but it comes down to the personalities and the people who are in charge. So, let's get back to the current Speaker. When they're told by Donald Trump to unravel a package that was put together with the voices of a Conservative Senator, Democrats, and the Biden administration to deal with the border, and Donald Trump whispers in their ear and all of a sudden, they're terrified and immediately stop. That has an effect on my state. So, I am involved in these house races. The path for Hakeem Jeffries to become the Speaker goes right through the State of New York.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: Right. There are six house seats I think altogether that are implied.

Governor Hochul: Six house. We just picked up Tom Suozzi’s – restoring him back to what had been a Republican seat. So that was a big win for us. And you know the story of how that all played out. But I’m committed to use all my resources as the Leader of the Party. I'm raising into the State Party. I have a coordinated campaign with Kirsten, Gillibrand, Hakeem Jeffries. I'm leaning hard in this because not just the fate of America lies in the balance but also my own state is affected and that's why I'm so engaged in this.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: Should Democrats be recruiting more candidates like Tom Suozzi after he won that special election? Did Suozzi's campaign give like kind of a blueprint as it were for Democrats?

Governor Hochul: The blueprint came down to the issues he ran on. Clearly, he had been an opponent of mine, we ran a very contentious primary election.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: Usually people say spirited, but you said contentious.

Governor Hochul: I'm a little more honest than most, but that's all right. You know, that's all fair and love and war and in politics. So that happened, we made up, we talked, and I said, you need to talk about abortion in this election. I can tell you I feel it in my bones, that despite the fact that New York State is a blue state, and we think our rights are protected, even now when you have someone like Donald Trump saying that he would support a national ban on abortion – it comes down to the issues. So, I agree with you it's about the candidates, but it's also the issues you're running around and the failure of the Speaker and the 10 Republicans who represent the State of New York to do anything about immigration and the migration problem, which is creating enormous challenges for us – those were issues that Tom could run on and say, this is why Republicans are incapable of leading and we need to start winning these House races back starting with him. And that begins the trend. So, I feel very optimistic with that as the bellwether of what'll happen in other seats in the State of New York and perhaps across the Nation.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: You mentioned border security, you mentioned the migrant crisis that's facing New York right now. President Biden, Politico reported actually just yesterday, is considering executive orders to potentially limit the flow of people who are seeking asylum into the United States. Is that something he should pursue?

Governor Hochul: Let me tell you why that's so sad that he has to resort to executive orders. Again, two weeks ago, there was a grand bargain on the table that all it took for even just from the State of New York – well, we have 175,000 migrants and counting. I count them. I literally get a graph every day and see the trajectory of people. How many are in shelters, how many are getting work authorization? We had 10 Republicans who could have walked into the Speaker's office and said, we're going to form our own little Freedom type caucus and we expect you to listen to us because between the 10 of us, we have a lot of clout. Our state needs the help. Our state needs the relief, we need the financial support, we need more protections at the border. So, the fact that they're incapable of doing that – malpractice of governance meant that Biden had to step up. And I'm glad he is doing it. I don't know the details yet. But yes, we have to look at the conditions that were being used for asylum now because they're more expansive than had been in the past they are, and yes, people who are fleeing political persecution have a right to seek asylum in other States, in other countries, yes, that’s how it's been. But then there's also economic circumstances. There are 8 billion people on this planet. Sadly, the majority are living in poverty. New York is a very kind and generous State, but to think that a State like New York or even the United States of America can house everybody who wants to come because of economic circumstances really creates a problem for us.

So, without compromising our values, and we're proud to have the Statue of Liberty in harbor but we also have to have some common sense regulations at the border on who's able to come and also more border security for those who are going to breach the border and come illegally. The people who are here now are here legally.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: Are Democrats moving closer to Republicans on this issue of immigration? I mean, and I don't necessarily mean the Trump brand of immigration policy, but it certainly seems like with that Senate negotiated package, there were a number of concessions that Democrats gave up to Republicans on that issue. Has the Party shifted in how it talks about this and is it because of the migrant crisis?

Governor Hochul: No, let me tell you the difference. But the art of compromise is so lost that people don't even know what it looks like when it happens anymore. But that's— I go back to that 1986 immigration bill, the Simpson-Mazzoli bill. That was a grand bargain where Republicans wanted more interdiction at the border. They wanted more money for border protection. They wanted employer sanctions. They're the ones who initiated that. Democrats wanted the 4 million people who are here already to become legal citizens, a path— that's what government is supposed to do. So, it's not moving closer to one Party or another. It's just saying we are all elected, we have a job to do, and why don't we roll up our sleeves and do it and stop weaponizing every single issue and using it for political gain. And I'm not just saying that they're saying that Republicans have said we don't want to solve the immigration crisis, my God, that might actually help Joe Biden stay President – that should not be the litmus test. Is it right for your country or not? And I want to get back to that.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: 10 of the House Republicans who represent New York, have actually asked you for a meeting to discuss this issue. Why not meet with these House Republicans to kind of hash out your differences on this?

Governor Hochul: I said, the second you walk into the Speaker's office and demand a vote on that bill, I'll meet you the next five minutes. Do something first. Don't just come into my office and grandstand. I know what you're up to. Okay? Do your jobs. Do your jobs represent your state? Help us solve this.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: Some Republicans back home in New York have also suggested that, you know, one of the current issues facing New York is the fact that there are some policies in the state that limit the coordination that local law enforcement can have with federal immigration authorities, these are the, so-called, “sanctuary policies.” Should those be revisited?

Governor Hochul: That narrative is false. There's no barriers to law enforcement, state or local, to work with federal government when it comes to immigration laws. There are 100 crimes that if migrants or anyone here commits that there's a close connection and a desire from local go government to hand them over.

When we had an attack on police officers in Times Square that – first of all should have been held on bail, and that's a different topic, but absolutely there was a right for those people to be deported from this country, but I want to make sure they go through a trial and incarceration first because you don't do that in the State of New York. You don't lay a hand on a police officer doing their job. So, so I think they're misrepresenting that issue that, oh, we can't do anything. Yes, they're over 100 laws on the books, that if they're violated, the local authorities have the right, and truly the obligation, to work with the federal authorities and remove these people.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: If I can switch gears for a second to talk Israel, obviously this is a major issue in New York, it has one of the highest Jewish populations in the world outside of the state of Israel. But one thing that we are seeing kind of open up here is a disagreement within the Democratic Party over whether there should be a ceasefire.

What do you make of that disagreement right now that we're seeing among Democrats and does that hurt Israel in the long term, potentially?

Governor Hochul: No. And let's just – now we're talking about Congress, it is a dereliction of duty that they refuse to give support to Ukraine on the two-year anniversary of them trying to hold the line against the dictator from moving into Ukraine and beyond, and the fact that they will refuse to do their job and provide support to Israel as we have since the birth of that nation in 1948.

So, the politics now are interesting. And I went to Israel within 10 days of the attack. I was the first American, first elected official to go down to the kibbutz and see what happened there, and I'm forever changed by that experience. When I saw the capability of man's cruelty and inhumanity to other human beings – how depraved it was, how brutal it was to be in rooms where you could still smell the blood, and you saw I stepped on pools of blood on the floor, the blood was all over the walls, women were in rooms that were mutilated, their body parts were still there. It is forever seared in my mind of what happened on that day. I also said to leadership there, I said, you need to take out Hamas, you have a right to do that, but you have to watch out for the civilians. I said that and coming back home, this has been a very divisive issue.

First of all, people are questioning Israel's right to defend itself. I will never question that, right? Never. No one would ever question our right after 9/11 to go in and find the attackers and take them out. But also, we are deeply concerned about civilian casualties, humanitarian relief – I said that first week – has to flow into Gaza before we got even into the situation we are now.

But what's lost in all this conversation, which is so maddening to me as someone who is a young person just arriving in Washington for law school back when the Iranian hostage crisis was unfolding: every single night on the news, we heard about how many hostages there were and how many days they've been gone. Walter Cronkite, I don't even know if you know who he is, Nick?

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: I know who Walter Cronkite is, a little bit before my time, but I know who is.

Governor Hochul: Walter Cronkite would sit there and say, you know, “day 50, the American hostages are still being held, day 175, day 300,” and it wasn't good for President Carter, that constant reminder, but that wasn't the issue. The issue was, don't forget these people. We still have an American hostage, Omer Neutra who lives on Long Island, who's a hostage. So, I want the hostages brought back.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: I do want to move on, but just quickly just, the way some Democrats, especially, quite frankly, on the left flank of the party, have been talking about this conflict, this war, is it detrimental in the long term?

Governor Hochul: I want more people left, right or middle to understand what each population has been through. I think there's a fundamental lack of understanding. The fact that the Holocaust deniers used to be some vestige from the far-right extremist-crazy wing, and now there's people in our party who are questioning whether or not the Holocaust happened when I have met 10 survivors in one meeting not long ago, and they told me that they're seeing the signs, and this is before October 7. This is what's so scary.

They're seeing the signs that they saw that their parents saw in Germany with all the hate crimes and the anti-Semitism on the rise in our own country. I had a forum on anti-Semitism in our state in September to talk about what was happening already. So I want people to understand, and I understand feelings are deeply felt. And our young people, they're energized, they're activists.

I was out there with my parents fighting the Vietnam war, and I was against Apartheid in college, I understand the passion, but can it be based on something that is not divisive among citizens? When you take on something like you fight the Vietnam war, you're fighting government. Apartheid, we were going against the regime in South Africa.

All the conflicts that I've been involved in, it has never been American citizen against American citizen. And I want to have a healing there and understand. I've gathered people and I've brought people together in our own state, clergy from all faiths. How can we deal with this at a human level so people are not divided politically over this?

I want my party to be strong on this issue and support our president on this issue.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: Very quickly and very lastly, unfortunately, AI. We have seen a – actually just in New York a couple of weeks ago – an incident in which a former state lawmaker had his voice impersonated and it was kind of part of a disinformation campaign.

Are you concerned about the role that artificial intelligence is going to be playing in the, in the political discourse and the ability to kind of just put out bunk information?

Governor Hochul: Every politician is worried about it. Every politician can see this playing a major role in the next election. And my question is, after someone takes your image and adds a voice and saying something that's horrible and puts it out broad-based, whether it's on television cable, whether it's on social media, how do you unring the bell with the truth?

Once people see that and it gets into the psychology and say, “Oh my gosh, I didn't know that about her. I didn't know she beat her children every single day.” And you know, all of us are so vulnerable. So that is out there. I mean Taylor Swift, it happens to everybody. That has to be a side that is dealt with at the federal level with controls.

In the state of New York I'm proposing laws against this, by the way. Because if it doesn't happen at the federal level, I'll deal with it. But lastly, we are embracing the good side of AI. We are, the state of New York will be the leader in AI innovation. And we are going to have the largest super computer built in the nation in New York. I'm proposing that as well.

So there's the dark side and then there's a side that we are going to embrace.

Nick Reisman, POLITICO: Okay. Before we get the hook, we will have to leave it there. Governor Kathy Hochul, thank you very much for your time.

Governor Hochul: All right, thank you very much. Good to see you. Thank you.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

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Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
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