North Dakota Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Burgum joined us to discuss the Dakota Access Pipeline.
(Please note - this transcript was copied from an electronic captioning service. We apologize for any errors, spelling, grammatical, or otherwise.)
Chris Berg: I talk to people across the state, a lot of people of struggling to say, hey, I’ve seen great leadership from him, there was a scathing letter. Do you feel the governor has demonstrated leadership? And if so, cite specific examples.
Doug Burgum: Well, let me start with the first premise that you made, which is obviously my running mate Brent Sanford and I, we're campaigning very hard. We’re not making any assumptions because this is a crazy election year. We’ll be campaigning right up through November 8th and hope all our supporters will get out and vote. November 8th, the new governor gets sworn in on December 15th. The Dakota Access Pipeline, the situation is changing daily, and I don't think it's appropriate to try to be quarterbacking or critiquing the team that's on the field. Brent and I want to be, if we are the team that gets put on the field on December 15th, that we're ready to go that day.
CB: I appreciate where you're coming from, and I’m not asking you to down the governor, but if you think he's done a good, outstanding job, what can you cite as great leadership?
DB: I think you have to look at the whole element of different players that are here. We’ve got a sovereign nation, the tribe, the federal government, which has been involved legally and perhaps should be more involved from a law enforcement standpoint, with U.S. marshals and this activity happening on federal land, and the Morton County Sheriff, the state highway patrol, the North Dakota national guard. A lot of different players. And the governor doesn't control all of those things, but I think he's been clear that the no. 1 thing for himself is public safety.at least so far, we haven't had a tragedy. This thing could have blown up or still could blow up into a true tragedy, so I would give a shout out to everyone on the law enforcement side that somehow we have been able to stay calm, people have been professional.
CB: Do you think he misforecast the situation? Do you think it's much bigger than he forecast it could be?
DB: I don't think anyone could have expected this, including the Standing Rock Tribe, no one could know because there are organic things that happen, but it is also, I think, a reflection of the world we live in today, where a lot of this is kept alive by social media, and so I think we, as a state, we're saying this is what happens around the country, and whether -- if it's a tragedy like something in Ferguson or some other thing that happens in the country, it's bigger, stays longer because there's more than just the local reporting, and that's the new world we're living in.
CB: They are a sovereign nation. If you become governor, both of your opponents have been to Sacred Stone Camp. Have you?
DB: I haven't, but when I was campaigning, if I want to be an elected leader, I’m a business leader, and I want to be governor for everybody in the state. If you say, hey, we want low unemployment, or say we have unemployment, then you need to recognize we have places like standing rock that have 75 percent unemployment. Early in the campaign, before the whole Dakota access pipeline blew up, I met with the tribal council, I’ve done the tribal universities, united tribe college in Bismarck, even before this all blue up, and trying to talk about the issues. They’re facing graduation rates, super low, fetal alcohol syndrome, abuse, a lack of functioning court system because they're not in the North Dakota court system. There are a number of issues that are facing those tribes. When I’ve spoken with the tribe down there, I would like to have a dialogue that's broader than just about the pipeline but about all the issues that are facing --
CB: I'm going to get to that in a moment. Then why not go to Sacred Stone?
DB: Right now I’m a candidate, not a decision-maker.
CB: But both of your opponents have been there.
DB: People can go there and get press, but can they make things happen? I'm a guy who likes to drive results. I thought I could get a better, faster outcome, I would go there. I have spoken with the chairman on the phone and am happy to do that any day, any time, but I haven't seen it to be productive. But I’ve also talked to ranchers that live in that part of the world to understand their side of the situation, and because it's important that Brent and I stay close to this, we're paying attention to it every day, but that's different than interjecting yourself -- if you're a sub, you don't run out on the field when the other team's playing.
CB: I want to talk about the budget. People think this has put state and tribal relations back 50 years. If you're governor, what will you do to improve the lives for Native Americans?
DB: I don't know if that statement is true or not, but it's certainly created a level of tension between residents in Morton county and Bismarck with the tribe, and the tribal concerns, so we do have to have a mechanism of dialogue that starts to get people working toward the common good, in terms of solutions, because the -- they are facing a set of challenges, multi-generational poverty, historic trauma, they're facing a set of challenges that most of us wouldn't have a chance to fully empathize with or understand. We need to listen and understand that position and then start driving toward solutions. I would like to think that maybe, if there's any silver lining that comes from all this, maybe this will emerge as an opportunity to have a dialogue going forward, because we actually do have, with the seven council players, we do have for the first time the tribe is even talking amongst themselves, so maybe we can drive something, have some good outcomes.in the meantime, we have to be a country where we protect private property, enforce the rule of law, we have to have that.
CB: I agree.
We're going to hear part two of our interview on monday night. >
Stay with us. When we come back, we'll visit with Phelim McAleer who was at the main camp of the Dakota Access Pipeline campus. People say they were scared for their life. Head to our website, email us, text us, leave us a voicemail. We’ll be right back.