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Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf Hopes Democrats Rally Behind Clinton At DNC


With the Democratic convention kicking off in two days in Philadelphia, we wanted to spend a few minutes looking at the next steps for the Democratic Party. In a few minutes, we'll head to a special Philadelphia edition of the Barbershop.

But first, we wanted to hear from Pennsylvania's highest-ranking Democrat, Governor Tom Wolf. Pennsylvania is often described as a battleground state in presidential elections. At the moment, it's also one of the places that mirrors the national government with a Republican-controlled General Assembly and a Democrat in the executive's chair. So we thought this was a good time to check in with him.

Governor Wolf took office in 2015 after a long career running a family-owned business, and he won his seat by defeating the Republican incumbent, Tom Corbett. He will be speaking at the upcoming Democratic convention. I started by asking him, as I asked Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio last week, if Philadelphia is ready to host this convention.

TOM WOLF: Yeah, I think it is. I mean, we'll know as we go through the process for sure. But I have done everything and my administration's done everything to make sure people have an enjoyable, safe experience in Philadelphia. And the city of Philadelphia has done the same thing, and I know the feds have done the same thing.

So we are as prepared as I think we can be. But time will tell, and the proof is in the pudding.

MARTIN: We just got back from Philadelphia, and we are hearing from activists there that they are planning marches and protests in Philadelphia. Are you concerned about that, given that there are a lot of strong feelings in this election?

WOLF: Yeah, there are a lot of strong feelings. I don't want confrontations, but I think demonstrations - that's what a democracy is about, an open and free interchange of ideas. Philadelphia was the start of one of the great protests when the American War of Independence started and the United States was founded. So what better place than in Philadelphia to express all these divergent opinions at a time of a national convention?

But I'm hoping that we do that in a civil fashion, and that everybody gets heard in a fair way.

MARTIN: What are you hoping will come out of this convention?

WOLF: Well, I'm hoping we come out with a number of things - first of all, strong support for for our nominee, Hillary Clinton, and that we do everything we can to make sure she's our president. And I'm hoping that we come out of this convention with those same Americans who are frustrated and fed up. They look at the party and our nominee and say, this is the best chance we have to get that fair society we really want.

MARTIN: What does Hillary Clinton have to do to win? I mean - and I ask this as a - I ask this of you because you are, first of all, one of the few Democrats to beat a statewide Republican over the last eight years. I mean, it is no secret that she does not have the biography that you have as a business person in a year in which she's facing a business person for whom that is his credential.

His credential - he has no public sector experience, so his credential is that he is, A, a business person, and, B, as he says, a consummate dealmaker. How does she challenge that narrative without your biography? What's your secret sauce? I mean, is there something that you can...

WOLF: Well...

MARTIN: ...share that would be relevant?

WOLF: I don't know if it's secret sauce, but my biography is good if business is the key. But you also need a good public policy experience, and she's had that. So she can take advice from people like me, she can - as she does - and she can understand, as she does, that fairness is actually a good thing for an economy. So you don't have to be a business person to get that. What you have to be is a good person in terms of translating the good ideas into real, physical, hard-core public policies. That's what she's had experience doing and that's why I think she would make such a great president.

MARTIN: Before we let you go, what are you going to say? Are you ready? Do you know what you're going to say?

WOLF: Yeah. I'm going to talk about my experience in business is profit-sharing. And just what I said to you, I'm going to say that in my speech that we ought to be proud of the values we espouse because they work. They're smart. They're right, and they work.

MARTIN: Well, thank you for that preview.

WOLF: Thank you (laughter).

MARTIN: I feel very privileged that - it's not a secret, though. It's not between you and me. I just want to let you make sure you know that we're going to be broadcasting this preview, so that others will get a sneak peek, so we thank you for that.

That's the governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf. He was speaking to us from Washington County, Pa. Governor, thank you so much for speaking with us.

WOLF: Thank you very much for having me on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.