Monitor Breakfast: Jane Swift

Selected quotations from the Monitor breakfast with Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift

On how September 11 has changed politics:

"I think we are all trying to figure that out. My personal perspective is that it changed my job every day dramatically. I spend at least a quarter of my time on security and safety issues that was not the case before."

On her support for federalizing airport security:

"Let me be clear that my call for federalization is an attempt to get unity of command. ...The temporary head of security at Logan has told me it is the single biggest challenge they face.

"Right now you have many different entities who report to different levels of government who are responsible for security at every one of our nation's airports. The airports themselves are responsible for perimeter security, our state police are responsible for in the terminal security, the FAA is responsible for some security, and then the airlines themselves are responsible for the terminal at the checkpoint. You cannot have four or five different entities responsible for one mission and expect it to run seamlessly.

"We favor federalization but if the federal government doesn't establish unity of command then I will act to allow state government to have authority in some way over the different entities so that one person can be in charge of security at Logan. I think it is better to do it at a federal level."

On balancing civil liberties and security:

"The important thing is going to be notification. The face-recognition technology we will employ at Logan Airport will be employed with the knowledge of those who come through. ... I believe the public will be comfortable with new technologies that in fact are being utilized to protect them.

"I think we all have changed our understanding of the degree of risk to ourselves and our families in the aftermath of Sept 11 and that makes us very willing to accept with notification some infringements on our privacy.

"I think many of the security precautions we take will be permanent."

On managing the governorship, and three young children:

"Unlike the jobs that many women have, although I have many responsibilities I can arrange my day in a way that fits those responsibilities better. I have found an efficient way to do a lot of the reading and preparation and telephone calls when the cell signals hold out for me in the car (on the 2 1/2 hour drive from Boston to her home in Williamstown). I live four miles from my mother and my parents are very helpful.

"It is mind-boggling in the challenges of it but it also is a constant reminder to me of how fortunate I am. I have three healthy happy children who just bring me enormous joy and at the same time I have a job I love that is meaningful. While it is difficult to ever spend time away from your children, the fact that you are doing something you think makes a difference in their lives and in the lives of many other people, makes it a little easier. And they sleep through the night!"

On repealing a recent tax cut to address a $1.1 billion projected Massachusetts budget shortfall:

"I think now would be the worst time to cancel the tax cut. Our economy is hurting and that is what is driving our fiscal problems. So job number one has to be to protect our economy. Massachusetts has been in this position before - in the late 80s we responded miserably as a state and state leaders to the advent of a fiscal problem brought on by national and state economic problems and I am determined not to make those mistakes again.

"The first mistake made in the late 80s was there was deep denial in the governor's office that there was a problem. The $1.1 billion is not an actual deficit - it is a projection if we don't curtail spending. That is dramatically different from 1991 when I came into office as a new state senator and there was an actual billion-dollar deficit - so if we act early, we can mitigate the pain that we felt in those cuts."

On how Republicans can be more competitive in the Northeast:

"To the degree the national party focus moves away from the social issues that provide great disagreement within my party - and certainly were part of the dissatisfaction independent or unenrolled voters had with the leadership of the Republican party at times - that will help to make it a climate in which more Republicans can get elected and secure votes on a national level.

"Where the focus of the agenda is on things like our approach to improving education or certainly national security - I think that focus is one where the voters in the Northeast are more aligned with my national party then when we are arguing over social policy, including abortion. Gay rights did not become as much of a national issue. We look at social policy a little differently in the Northeast. It is not lost on me that I would be unelectable as a Republican in many states in this country."

On what's next:

"I am going to run for governor in 2002 and then I will be trying to figure out where to send my daughters to kindergarten."

On national ambitions:

"I'm a pretty pragmatic person and I don't think that is a realistic for a Republican from the Northeast right now. Focusing on being governor is a very good goal."

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