The following is a transcript of an interview with North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum that aired on “Face the Nation” on June 11, 2023.
JOHN DICKERSON: Three more Republicans jumped into the presidential primary race last week in North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum was one of them. He is campaigning in New Hampshire and joins us from Manchester. Good morning, Governor. Thank you for being with us. You’re trying to break through all candidates running with, against Donald Trump or–this indictment, whatever you may think about the, about the details of it creates an opportunity to talk about the responsibilities, obligations and character of the job. So is it an opportunity for you and what are you going to do with it?
GOV. DOUG BURGUM: Well, John, you’ve, you’ve written and written eloquently about the presidency being the hardest job in the world. And I think part of, part of your thesis was priorities. And this is something that we’ve been talking about. We’re on day four on the campaign trail, and talked about that and sort of, we made sure that people understand, you know, who we are, why we’re running and what we’ll do. And, you know, who we are.
I’m a small town kid from, in North Dakota. I’ve had jobs growing up where you shower at the end of the day, not at the beginning of the day, went from those small town roots. My dad died when I was a freshman in high school. I got a little bit of farmland. Mortgaged that. That became the seed capital for a startup software company, which grew into a billion dollar company, with small town kids from all over North Dakota working for that company. And we had 130,000 customers and 120 companies. It’s like one of these only-in-America type stories. And, reason why we’re running as we know that now, having been governor for the last six and a half years, I know when you’re in the top spot and executive role, how you pick your priorities, what you focus on, you have an opportunity to improve the life of every citizen. And that’s what we’re planning on doing is improving the life of every American and bringing out the best of America and how we’re going to do that? We’re going to focus on three things: the economy, it’s touching everybody right now, energy policy, that touches everybody right now and completely related to national security. Those three things are interrelated. And right now, we feel it’s not just a course correction, but the Biden administration is 180 degrees in the wrong direction, on the economy, on energy policy and on national security. And that’s what we’re gonna focus on and talk about in our campaign.
JOHN DICKERSON: And that’s, when you wake up every day as a chief executive who’s been handed the responsibility by the people of North Dakota, you have a certain obligation, the office, you feel you’ve talked about it. Would you do anything like what’s alleged in this indictment about former President Trump?
DOUG BURGUM: Well, I’ve only made one campaign promise so far. And that’s if, if elected, I will get down to the, to the southern border in the first two weeks, not take two years, like Biden did. And I can also tell you that when President and when we leave the office that we will follow every rule related to handling classified documents.
JOHN DICKERSON: Governor, Sununu was just on and he said he had a good breakfast with you, but he said, ‘this is a competition. There’s only one top spot You’re, you’re in the business world, you can’t just get a little bit of market share. You have to get the entire you have to get the most and biggest share. And his argument is that candidates like you have to make a clear distinction with the front runner. And this is a pretty big opportunity, particularly for somebody talking about the values they were imbued with by living in a small town to make a moral claim about the office and the attributes required for it, but you’re not.
GOV. BURGUM: Well, I think obviously, the way we’ve conducted ourselves when I was a CEO, when I’ve been governor, when you have the responsibility, the top spot, it’s important to make sure that you’re, that you’re not only doing a great job for the people you’re serving, but when you’re, you’re the office holder for a period of time, and there’s, you know, a dignity and a discipline that goes with being a governor and goes with being the president. And certainly we would, we would strive to uphold that going forward, because it’s a, it’s such a key institution going forward. But yeah, absolutely. That’s what we’d be focusing on,making sure we’re doing that. And like I said, You’ve written about the importance of that.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about a moment from, well, you, you had an interview with the Fargo, Fargo Forum in which you said that there’s a silent majority that’s been neglected. Quoting you, “all the engagement right now is occurring on the edge.” What did you mean?
GOV. BURGUM: Well, I think it’s not just silent, I, Governor Spencer Cox of Utah doesn’t call it the silent majority. It’s the exhausted majority. But, you know, the majority of Americans and the people that are touched everyday by these issues of inflation of, of government red tape, of high gas prices, of an open border, it’s affecting every American. They’re not on social media. They’re not watching the cable news programs. That’s the majority of Americans. And so I think, again, in the tech world, we always said, ‘hey, when you’re building a global world class company from nothing, you’ve got to separate what’s signal and what’s noise, and there’s a lot of noise and a lot of that noise is in the echo chambers on the edges,’ and that, that exhausted majority in the middle, they’re yearning for leadership that’s going to come and talk to them and listen to them about the issues that are affecting them in their everyday lives and just in the few short days we’ve been on the trail, we know that. In the two days in Iowa, yesterday here in New Hampshire, there are people that want to talk about the issues facing this country and how it affects them and their lives every day.
JOHN DICKERSON: During the COVID pandemic, in the toughest part of it, you talked about masks and you said that, that everybody needed to be empathetic towards those who might wear it. You said, ‘dial up your empathy and your understanding.’ Are there other issues in the world you see today in domestic politics where you would apply that same guidance for people?
GOV. BURGUM: Well, when we talk about the best of America, growing up in a small town, the best of America is when neighbors help neighbors, when, when, when a farmer in North Dakota falls ill, the neighbors rally around – whether it’s to get the crop planted or the crop harvested, you know, every spring in western North Dakota in the Badlands, when it’s time for spring branding and round up, the neighbors show up. They couldn’t get the work done if they weren’t neighbors helping neighbors. And we need to get back to that. And I think part of what, you know, our real enemies, you know, when we talk about China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, they love it when we’re fighting with each other. They love it when we’re just, you know, throwing insults back and forth at each other. But we have to approach and one of the bywords we have in our administration is curiosity, curiosity to understand where the other person is coming from. And with that, it also, I know, America has built its economy around innovation. And we have the Biden administration completely focused on regulating, you know, regulating our industries out of business, as opposed to focusing on innovation and the way you get to innovation is you get there through curiosity and understanding that everybody can contribute to the conversation.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Governor Doug Burgum, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it. Good luck out on the campaign trail, and we’ll be back in a moment with our panel.