Glenn Youngkin: There Are Real Kitchen-Table Concerns Every Night

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Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Governor of Virginia (R) Glenn Youngkin and CNBC’s Senior Congressional Correspondent Ylan Mui live during the CNBC Delivering Alpha conference today, Wednesday, September 28th.

Interview With Governor Glenn Youngkin From The Delivering Alpha Conference

GOV. YOUNGKIN: Well, hello, everybody. Can’t just sit there. Hello. Nice to see everybody. It is so much fun to be back in this environment, so thank you for inviting me.

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YLAN MUI: Thank you so much for being here. I'm so glad you're bringing the energy. You don't need a cup of coffee, they can just listen to our conversation. I want to get started with, first, a disclosure, which is, like Tyler, I live in Virginia. I'm a Virginia resident. I'm a Virginia voter.

GOV. YOUNGKIN: There is a trend here, by the way.

YLAN MUI: There is a trend here. Virginia produces great journalists, that's number one. But that means I have a lot of questions for you. So the first thing I want to ask you about, of course, is the political landscape and what your expectation is for what happens in November.

Because you've been on the campaign trail, not just in the state of Virginia. You've been in Georgia, you've been in Maine, you've been in Nevada, you're going to go to Arizona. So what is the vibe like?


YLAN MUI: Oregon. I missed a couple. You've been busy.


YLAN MUI: What's the vibe? What's the vibe out there?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: So what I learned last year -- by the way, I want to reiterate, thank you again for having me. It is so much fun to be here. This is old home for me, and to get a chance to come back and be with all of you and talk about Alpha, that's pretty cool.

But what I learned last year, I think is something that's repeating itself this year. What I learned last year was that there are real kitchen-table concerns every night, in Virginia families, in American families, concerns about inflation and what's going to happen to their job and can they make ends meet and to see grocery prices going through the roof and to see utility bills and college tuition and all the things that families worry about. That is such a big deal.

Second of all is what's happened in the safety of my community. Violent crime's been on the rise across the country. And then third is what is happening in my school, and is my child getting the education that I want them to get that they need in order to be prepared for life. These kitchen table issues have common-sense solutions.

And, in fact, what we learned last year was it wasn't about Republicans versus Democrats; it was about these common-sense solutions to these issues that really are concerning Virginians. I believe that that package of common-sense solutions is the same set of solutions that need to be delivered this year in the election, and, oh, by the way, after people are elected into office.

And so by the way, how are we dealing with inflation? Are we printing more money? Are we, in fact, pretending it's not there? Are we putting brakes on the economy that make us feel like we're in the car with a 16-year-old driver?

Or are we, in fact, trying to manage those in a way that does the best we can to in fact have a soft landing, maybe even a touch-and-go? Are we going to make sure that folks feel confident about the fact that their job will be there and not go away; that, in fact, their neighborhoods are safer than they were last year and that their schools are schools they can trust?

I see these issues, and I hear it when I travel around the Commonwealth of Virginia. And I've had a chance to help governors campaign around the country. The same issues are on the ballot this year, and I expect that nationally they are going to react the same way they did in Virginia last year.

YLAN MUI: Which is vote Republican, as -- that's where I think you are headed here.

GOV. YOUNGKIN: I believe they will.

YLAN MUI: Do you think Republicans are going to capture control of the House, the Senate or both?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: Let's just begin with governors. That's where I've been spending so much of my time. Then I'll get to the House. Because in Virginia we have specific House races at play, we don't have any Senate races this year. First of all, governors.

What states have seen and America has seen over the course of managing through the pandemic and coming out of the pandemic is that states that were led by Republican governors have substantially outperformed states that were run by Democrat governors.

The data is so clear. Out of the top 12 states in unemployment, 10 of them have Republican governors. Job recovery has been faster in Republican-led states than Democrat-led states. Learning loss has been higher in states that were closed longer.

And the states that were closed longer were run by states with -- were run by Democrat governors. And so the performance of states with Republican governors has just been better. And so I believe that every state should have a Republican Governor.


And, therefore, part of what I've been, I think, trying to do is help candidates in states that look a lot like Virginia and help them win. The reality, of course, is that the Governor ends up being the top of the ticket in most elections, and the Governor's outcome tends to influence over 85 percent of the time what happens down ballot.

So I do believe that in a lot of these states that are viewed as swing states for the House and for the Senate, we have really strong gubernatorial candidates. So I feel pretty good about what's going to happen in Georgia, for example.

And Governor Kemp is an extraordinary governor. He's done a great job. I feel very confident about what's going to happen in Nevada because I do believe that Sheriff Lombardo is an extraordinary candidate.

YLAN MUI: What about Arizona?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: I think Arizona is breaking right now towards a Republican win. Governor Ducey did an extraordinary job. When you look back at what Arizona has accomplished with reducing tax rates and accomplishing real choice in public schools, I think what people in Arizona are seeing is they want a Republican governor because they want to continue those policies. And so people see that coming.

YLAN MUI: But Governor Ducey is not the nominee who is running now to head the state, it's Kari Lake, and there's been some concern that she represents a different wing of the Republican party. You said that you think every state should have a Republican governor, but I think there's a lot of question right now about what is a Republican.

Is a Republican someone who, as you have said, believes that Joe Biden won the election, or can a Republican also be someone like Kari Lake who you're going to campaign with, who believes the election was rigged?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: I believe that, in fact, they're all Republicans. And what we learned last year in my race was that bringing Republicans together is really important to win a race. And we were able to bring together forever Trumpers and never Trumpers, and we were able to bring together Libertarians and Tea Party members, independent voters.

We won the independent moderate vote in Virginia. Democrats. And this is to recognize that all Republicans don't all believe the same thing. And, in fact, I do think that there's a desire on behalf of -- let's call them political analysts, to put people into buckets, and to force that.

And the reality, of course, is that it's not about buckets competing with one another; it's about bringing people together. That's what we did in Virginia last year, something that pundits thought was never possible, that a Republican could actually win in Virginia.

Virginia was too blue. I think the pundits forgot to do one thing, which is ask voters. And what voters expressed clearly was a desire to see common-sense solutions brought to bear against these most important issues.

And when we were able to reduce taxes by $4 billion, something that's never been done in the Commonwealth of Virginia, by a factor of 4, and yet have a record investment in education, raise teacher salaries, invest in school facilities.

Oh, by the way, introduce lab schools for choice in the Virginia public school system, invest $400 million more into law enforcement, to raise starting salaries by 20 percent to try to get at this depletion of manpower in our law enforcement community.

We were able to accomplish a ton around doing things that people understood were moving Virginia forward. I think that's the future of the Republican party, is how do we bring people together around these common-sense solutions to these most challenging problems.

YLAN MUI: But even GOP leader Mitch McConnell has said that one of the things that he's concerned about in November is candidate quality when it comes to some of the Republican contenders that we're seeing. Are you worried about that? Do you think that the playing field is level when you look at some of the other folks who are running?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: All candidates have strengths and weaknesses. I mean, one of my weaknesses was I had never done this before. I was sitting where you are back in 2020, and I stepped into a field that I really didn't have any experience with. And oh, by the way, for those of you that are having a mid-life crisis, get into state politics.

It's a great place to be. You can make a huge difference. But, of course, what we're seeing, and I would just specifically say in Virginia, the Congressional races in Virginia, we have extraordinary candidates, and we have three races that I think will be real bellwethers for whether the House of Representatives shifts or not.

Jen Kiggans is running in our 2nd Congressional District down at the beach; Yesli Vega running in our 7th Congressional District which runs up into Northern Virginia; and Hung Cao running in what is Loudoun County. And, by the way, these are women and diverse candidates.

They represent, I think, the Republican party of the future. They represent what we saw in Virginia last year, which was the most diverse ticket that Republicans or Democrats have ever put up in Virginia with a Lieutenant Governor who's the first black woman elected to statewide office and oh, by the way, an immigrant from Jamaica.

And, of course, Jason Miyares, who is our Attorney General, who is a first-generation Latino American, where his mother fled Cuba to get away from Castro. I believe this is the Republican party of the future, and I'm excited to be part of it.

YLAN MUI: You said before we walked on the stage here that the November election could be a time for investors to reset. How would you advise playing that?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: Well, let me begin --

YLAN MUI: Put your financial hat back on.

GOV. YOUNGKIN: Yes. Let me begin with, you know, recessions are not determined by a computer; they're determined by sentiment. And when consumers get concerned, when boardrooms all of a sudden hesitate and pull back from investment or hiring, that's what causes recessions. And we're in a moment where everybody is talking about a recession.

And if we remember, go back to 2016, where it was clear that we were going to head into a recession, and it was also broadly thought that Hillary Clinton was going to win. And what happened, of course, was there was a switch, a change.

When Donald Trump won, all of a sudden optimism went back into the market and we avoided a recession. And so when you look back to what can happen on November 8th, and I do believe that there's a broad view that Republicans will take back the House, and I think there's a big question about what's going to happen in the Senate.

I am cautiously optimistic that I think Republicans will take the Senate as well, and I think that will be a calming influence. It will be a calming influence that now, instead of having single-party government, we have divided government.

And that we could end up with, I think, a little bit more rational spending, because I do believe that what's come out of the Biden White House has, in fact, been disconnected from supply and demand of money, and, in fact, has driven a lot of our challenges right now.

Not to mention the fact that we gave up energy independence and we should have kept it. And the combination of that has driven a lot of this inflationary pressure. So I do think that, somewhat of a surprise with a Republican win in the Senate, as well, I think will change the overall footing.

And I am expecting that if that can happen, we can see, yes, a slowdown, but we won't see a hard landing. That's -- as Governor, I'm spending a lot of time working with industry across Virginia to understand are you still moving forward with your investment plans?

And I hear consistently, yes, we are. We're building that new factory, we're putting down that new distribution center. Are you still moving forward with your hiring? What I hear over and over again is, yes, we are. In fact, our biggest challenge is filling the open positions.

By the way, that's a really good thing when you're thinking about keeping people fully employed and confident about their future.

So I think there is a moment here where, yes, demand is feeling the real pressure from the rise in interest rates, but I do think that we can manage through this with an election outcome that I think restores balance, but on top of that, companies maintaining confidence, moving forward with their long-term investment plans and maintaining their hiring plans.

YLAN MUI: So you talked a lot about the economy. And you ran for Governor focused on the economy. But right now there is a big divide over social issues in this country. It's happening across the country, it's happening in Virginia, as well.

Yesterday there were hundreds of students who walked out of their classrooms to protest the policies that they say are unfair to transgender students that the Virginia State Department of Education is putting forward. What is your response to those students who say, our rights are being taken away?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: First, I applaud the exercising of our First Amendment rights. I think that's --

YLAN MUI: So you support the protest?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: It's a really important moment for us. As long as people are not violent, as long as they're not destructing things, I actually think that that's part of America, is to be able to exercise your First Amendment rights. I want to step back, however, and explain a bit about the context of this.

And the context of this is that we had existing policy frameworks that specifically did not include parents in these decisions that are extremely important in children's lives, and, in fact, enabled schools to say that parents would specifically not be informed by decisions that children are making.

And voters spoke loudly in Virginia last year that parents matter, and I believe that parents should be fundamentally engaged in this. And, in fact, Virginia law states that parents have a fundamental right to be engaged in the education, the upbringing and the care of their child.

So in this case what we have done with draft policies is reestablish parents' fundamental role in making this decision with their child, by the way, not at the exclusion of a trusted teacher or a trusted counselor, but at the end of the day, it's a parent and a child.

It's about families. You know, I think it's really clear that children don't belong to the state; they belong to families. And children have a right to, in fact, have parents engaged in these most important decisions, and, oh, by the way, parents have a right to be engaged in their children's lives.

The key for these policies is that if parents make a decision that, in fact, they would like for their child to have accommodations, then they will have them. So I've asked people who have spoken out quickly to please read the policies.

I'm constantly reminded that people don't read anything anymore. They read headlines, not actually the body of the document. In this case, I think that what people will find is that these policies are very much drafted with a fundamental belief in the necessity to protect all children, to protect their dignity, their confidentiality and their safety.

The word "bullying" is used 36 times in the document to reassure that we are doubling down on the fact there can be no harassment and no discrimination and that parents must be at the center of these decisions that are made as a family.

I think this is going to be an important moment for folks to recognize that we can have an "and" moment. This isn't an "or" moment, this is an "and" moment, where we can bring families into an important decision that can be made that is in the child's best interest.

YLAN MUI: What happens when it's not just the students who are protesting, but also companies that might be upset with your decision? We've heard from the Salesforce CEO, for example, who has said that, in his words, there are crazy governors in states across the country who are rolling back rights for LGBTQ people, rolling back rights for women when it comes to abortion.

And Salesforce has threatened to leave states that they feel are enacting policies that they don't agree with. What do you think about that? What would you do if they said, hey, we're out of here if you move forward?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: Companies make decisions just like families do, and that is part of, I think, leading a company, is deciding what is in that company's best interest, and, oh, by the way, reflecting the desires and wants of shareholders and customers and a board and a management team, and, oh, by the way, employees.

I do believe that what companies have been saying very loudly over the course of the last many years is that when they assess the totality of where they want to be, there's been a very clear migration, and that migration has been to Virginia. That migration's been to Texas, it's been to Florida, it's been to Georgia. This is where companies are going.

YLAN MUI: So you're saying they're bluffing when they put forth a certain rhetoric or say a certain message, but they're voting with their feet?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: I wouldn't say they're bluffing. I would just say it's not universal that all companies are saying the same thing. And, of course, what we're seeing is companies are making these decisions based on a totality of inputs, and those inputs seem to be predominantly resulting in companies moving to Virginia and Texas and North Carolina and Georgia and South Carolina and Florida.

What we've seen in Virginia is we've had corporate relocations just in the last six months, where Boeing left Chicago and came to Virginia, and Raytheon left Massachusetts and came to Virginia. We've had Lego assess the entire U.S. footprint and choose to put their only U.S. manufacturing in Chesterfield County in Virginia.

We've watched companies that are in Virginia double down and expand within Virginia, like Hilton. And we've watched new industries come to Virginia.

And just in the last month, we've been able to announce the real epicenter in Virginia of the indoor growing or vertical farming industry, where we will have the two largest indoor farms in the world in Virginia.

So I think that what corporations constantly have to assess is the totality of where they're going to be and the environment they're going to be in. As a governor, my job, I think, is to be very transparent about where I believe Virginia is going.

On day one, I announced Virginia is open for business. We are open for business. It had been shut, locked tight. We were ranked 47th in the nation in job recovery, 47th in the nation in job recovery, and now we're in the top 20.

We, in fact, said we're going to get taxes down so that people can have a better lifestyle. We're going to invest in schools, we're going to invest in law enforcement. We put forth a regulatory management department to cut back the regulations that I thought were really damaging business.

And we've watched job growth come back, we watched companies move, we watched them expand. And I think it's my job to be very transparent about what we're trying to get done in order to make Virginia the best state in America to do business.

And so for those of you that are looking, please come look in Virginia because we have a lot to offer.

YLAN MUI: Well, if folks looked in Virginia and if Boeing and Raytheon and Lego called you up and said, hey, we don't really like this policy, we don't like this transgender policy, we're not happy with where you stand on abortion bans, what would you say to them?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: Well, I would begin with "Read the policy and see where we stand," because neither one of those statements is actually very correct. What we've done in Virginia, particularly on abortion, is recognize that Virginia elected a pro-life governor, and I'm very cognizant of where Virginia is today.

We have a House that is controlled by Republicans and a Senate that is controlled by Democrats. Literally, just 20 months ago, there was debates on the House floor to expand abortion rights all the way up through and including childbirth, paid for with taxpayer money, and Virginians said that's too extreme.

And I think that is way too extreme. So I've asked for our leading legislators to work on a compromise bill to bring to my desk for a 15-week pain threshold bill, where a child can feel pain, and we're working on trying to land that. And I think that's a good place for Virginia to land.

And I believe that when it comes to policies with regards to our children, I believe that people universally understand that parents have a right to be engaged in their children's life.

I've always asked folks, if you don't think that parents should be engaged in their children's life, like many of the progressive Democrats said last year during my election, and my opponent said it very clearly, Virginians stood up and said, no, that's not what we believe.

We think parents should be. And so, again, I don't think this is an either/or moment. I think that's what people try to do today, is put you in either this far box or that far box. And there is an "and" moment here, which is there is a path forward that respects parents' rights to be engaged in their children's lives and, in fact, fully respects the child as well.

YLAN MUI: So you want to run as a unifier, it sounds like, you know, operating as a unifier in a political environment that is extremely divided. Where do you see the Republican party going? Do you see the Republican party coming together? Or there are some in the party who say it's splintering.

GOV. YOUNGKIN: Let me begin with the fact that I'm an outsider, so I'm new to this. My training, in a 30-year business career, was that you set a path and you bring people around that path in order to try to get folks where, collectively, they're better than they were when they started.

That's what corporate strategy is about, that's what execution is about when you try to execute against your corporate strategy, and I think that's what we're doing in Virginia. And what that translates to is maybe a different way of thinking through this, which is, the fact is, we don't have to agree on everything. Because guess what? We don't. But we sure agree on a lot.

As I said earlier, we were able to bring together Republicans in a unique way last year. We had forever Trumpers and never Trumpers in the same room together, talking about what the best answer is; not debating one another. And we, in fact, found that we could bring Republicans and Democrats together and independents and moderates all in the same place around a shared vision.

I think that's the future of the Republican party, and I do believe that that's where America is right now. And I think it all gets back to focusing on issues that really are at the heart of people's lives.

YLAN MUI: So another fun fact for the crowd about Virginia. Virginia is term-limited when it comes to how long the Governor can serve. So you can only serve one term, right? You can only serve four years. Are you committed to serving out all four years of your term?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: Yes. So, first, let me just give a little background on that. So Virginia, of course, its founders were the founders of our nation. And if you think back to folks like Thomas Jefferson, they weren't big fans of the Executive Branch. And so Virginia's own Constitution has been constructed to limit the term of a Governor.

So I have a four-year term, and what my whole goal is, is to be the best Governor that I can be. I think we can accomplish a lot in four years. I had a really interesting moment when I was inaugurated. A FedEx package arrived. I zipped it open and I read the letter. It was from Jeb Bush. It said: Governor, get moving, you only have four years. And inside --

YLAN MUI: Exclamation point.

GOV. YOUNGKIN: And inside was a clock counting down on four years. And I have that clock in my office. I look at it every morning. And I recognize that we have a big agenda, and that big agenda, we only have four years to accomplish.

I'm committed to completing our agenda. And I think we can. One of our cabinet members said to me, I've never experienced such a sense of urgency every day. I said, we only have four years, and we have a lot to get done.

YLAN MUI: What happens after this four years?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: I think I'm going to first celebrate my 30th wedding anniversary with my lovely wife and really reflect on the fact that we've been given a great gift to serve the way we have. And then we'll see what happens.

I didn't plan to run for governor. I saw a moment where there was a real need in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in my view, and I stepped out of my dream job. I mean, I had a chance to lead a company that I'd grown up in.

And that moment was a big one for my family, where we committed ourselves to do something very different, to put ourselves in the public spotlight in a way that we never had been. So I'll have a chance to discuss things with my wife and kids again and decide what's next.

YLAN MUI: Would that discussion include a potential run for the White House?

GOV. YOUNGKIN: That discussion will be whatever is available at the time. I have to say, there is a long way between here and there. I had somebody describe it as various ages. An archeologist will have to decide what happens between here and there.

It's 2022, and my big focus right now is being the best Governor that I can possibly be in Virginia to get our agenda moving, which I'm very pleased with how much we've accomplished, and to help our Congressional representatives win in Virginia and to help a few governors.

YLAN MUI: Governor Youngkin, thank you so much for your time. If you come to a conclusion of your decision, please let us know.

GOV. YOUNGKIN: Thank you very much. And thank you all very, very much.