Governor Phil Murphy Joins Andy For A Special Announcement

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Andy starts the show by making an announcement about what’s next for In The Bubble and a very big show we have coming up next week. Then New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy returns to discuss how the current situation in the Middle East is affecting things here stateside. The governor also talks about why he called for Sen. Bob Menendez to resign, and if Murphy’s wife, Tammy, might seek Menendez’s seat in 2024.

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Andy Slavitt, Phil Murphy

Andy Slavitt  00:18

It’s IN THE BUBBLE with Andy Slavitt. Welcome to the show. Special guest Governor Phil Murphy is with me today. We’ve got a lot of great topics to cover. Look, we’ve done over 400 in the bubble shows in the last three and a half years, beginning in the heart of the pandemic, April 1, 2020 was our first show. And after a lot of thought, I’ve decided to make November 15 of this year, the last episode of In the bubble. Give me a few minutes if you would mind to let me trace this journey with you. In the process explained the decision and how I came to it. Some of you may remember this show was a family love affair, from my family to yours. Back when no one knew what the heck to do. Some people chose baking. We chose a podcast. My youngest son Zack started the show with me. My older son Caleb, who by the way is the more outgoing one, graciously let this be Zack’s thing with me, and routed us on. Lana, who came up with the name of the show actually read some of the ads listened and provided loving support. She was out a few episodes with me including a virtual dinner party back when no one could have actual dinner parties that we had with Senator Sherrod Brown and his wife, Connie Schultz, which is really fun. And of course, my mom has been on the show a number of times, someone I talked about a lot. So I’ve thought a lot about your family through the lens of my own. As we put out our first episode, we realized that we could help people be less scared, more informed, and occasionally even amused. Our guests have ranged from Tony Fauci to Tina Fey, and also people with other initials. Laughing during that early time felt impossible to sum and it felt necessary to me. Plus, when you’re given the gift of humor that I have, people don’t recommend wasting it. Our slogan was 50% Fred Rogers 50% Winston Churchill 10% Dad jokes. By the way, Matthew McConaughey, when he was on the show, notice that the debt did not add up to 100%. And people think he’s just a dumb rom com guy. So time went on. And it was pretty horrible for all of us for a while and 2020 I think we forget how scared we were with all the uncertainty. People got sick, our lives were halted, people died. People we knew died. kids weren’t at school, people who could work from home did. But those in service jobs and small businesses and restaurants were either forced to be at risk or to close. Our country was reshaped by the pandemic. We dealt with massive deaths in nursing homes, the effects of long COVID including my own son, lives from the White House. Our favorite businesses closed epidemic levels of anxiety, learning loss, disproportionate impact impacts of inequality. Drug Shortages, hospitals overrun nurses and doctors burning out in droves. None of us will be the same work marriage, kids school technology, health care, privacy, politics, trust, all of those things are slightly reshaped by our experiences the pandemic, some for the better, some for the worse. And our sense of civility was lost. We were at each other’s throats. And every death became less and less meaningful to us as we each started to feel a little bit safer and our own plight. There have been some estimates that have said that with better policies, more compassion and more honesty out of the government 500,000 lives could have been saved. And I think that’s probably close to right. And that should haunt us. But you know what? Science began to work. Many people were able to recover while others were still sick. People were eager to get back to normal understandably, and even as we battled new variants. Many of those who felt safe became impatient. But you know what? Score a big one for science and scientists. We are Hear entirely because of incredible scientific developments that happen at a rapid pace. And with incredible learning. And there was a time in the pandemic, when heroes emerged, doctors and nurses, for sure, but also people who just pulled together who helped others. I choose to focus on a lot of those positives. And a lot of those positive actions are people who did things. In the words of Fred Rogers helpers. Now, there are people who will look back on this pandemic, and say, we went too far in shutting things down. And they had to be listened to. We had to listen to people who say we were too cautious. But remember, this is of course, something you can only say, If you survive. It’s kind of a convenient argument. Of course, if you feared you would die, and didn’t, and took all kinds of acts to prevent yourself from dying. Once you didn’t die, you might feel like you feared for no reason at all. And if you’ve suffered some deprivation, well, then you might be angry about it. So here’s what I say, Congratulations, congratulations on being able to be angry. You deserve it. It means you survived, you won. Enjoy whatever emotions you have. They’re real, they’re honest. But remember, there are millions and millions of people around the world who don’t get that pleasure. Many things are fixable. Loss, incomes can be rebuilt, the sick can heal, we can lick our wounds. But the dead can’t be brought back. At least as far as I know. At a time when we didn’t know if there would be a vaccine two years ago, last year, this year, even next year, it seemed smart to take precautions. So between two careful and not careful enough. Governments are going to end up making the only responsible choice. You’ve got to protect as many people as you can. And that’s going to mean by definition that hopefully, if you’ve done it right, you’ve done too much. So why did we make this decision? Why did I make this decision? Well, first off, I’m convinced that you don’t really need me here anymore. There was a time when I know this show brought you information you couldn’t get anywhere else. That’s not the case anymore. There are lots of good, terrific sources of information both on COVID. And on many of the other topics we cover.

Andy Slavitt  07:47

And we’re going to do a whole episode next week, which is going to give you a set of resources, as part of that show that I think will be important. And while this isn’t a prediction, by any means about what’s gonna happen in the future, we’re in about a study a status we can possibly be given the COVID will never disappear entirely. And we have really good public figures. Now, you can listen to like Mandy Cohen at the CDC. So when I looked at the next year, and at the most important way that I could be spending my time ended up reaching the conclusion of no matter how much I enjoyed doing the show, and I really do love it. There are some things I really need to spend my time on. I want to work on increasing access to health care and equity in this country. And I want to keep your agenda front and center in the halls of power. I want to make sure that I do what I can to make the next election, one that keeps us on the path to continuing to be a better country. I have to say, I’ve loved talking to you have loved hearing from you when you’ve contacted me. And I appreciate you more than I can say. I guess I what I really love about you is that when we have a conversation, I can talk and you can’t answer. It’s like a kind of a dream come true. I don’t have to even pretend to listen. It’s the perfect conversation. It’s just 100% mean nonstop. No look, in all seriousness, when I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, you listen to the show. As I learned how to do the show better. You listen to the show. Want to get good gas. You listen to the show. When I had interesting topics you listened. Thank you. You made me better. And you’ve given me so much. There are a lot of people to think about the show, including and perhaps especially Kyle Shealy, the best producer in the business. And by the way, that’s not just my opinion. That’s also Kyle’s opinion. I We’ll get to those thank yous in subsequent shows. Because we have three great episodes left this one with Phil Murphy, and two really special ones that we’ve put together for you for the next couple of weeks. As always, I look forward to bringing them to you. And I’ll have a bunch more to say then.

Andy Slavitt  10:18

But let’s bring in Phil Murphy right now.

Andy Slavitt  10:31

Governor Phil Murphy, of New Jersey, welcome back to the bubble.

Phil Murphy  10:35

Nice to be back. Andy, I miss you, good to be here.

Andy Slavitt  10:38

One of my very first guests of this show way back one, that’s correct. I want to talk to you about a few things today. Without spending too much time during the day. It’s really around as a political leader, this idea of how you talk straight to people in very difficult situations. You we had a little bit of this conversation when you were out last time because it was the pandemic. And you were saying a lot of the right important things that people needed to hear, you know, to trigger off of all the turmoil in the Middle East right now. We’re seeing a lot of people with a lot of reactions, and a lot of people not quite sure and clear how to talk about it. And some are even getting themselves a little bit of trouble around college campuses and academics and so forth, because they’re finding it difficult time. I’m curious if you could help us think about how you should have so many people in the state affected by what’s going on there are talking about this with folks.

Phil Murphy  11:39

First of all, it’s good to be back. And a lot of the smart things I said about leading in the pandemic came from your lips to my ears, you gave me great advice. I’ll never forget that. So thank you. Some of this is tricky. And some of it is black and white, that folks are trying to muddle through and play both sides. Some of it is legitimately tricky. So I say this as a former diplomat of my cases, that US Ambassador to Germany, someone who has been to Israel eight times, and have been all over that country. I’m in love with that part of the world every single time I might add not only Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, by the way, in at least one of the kibbutz is in the South that was attacked so savagely before I was governor, but also either East Jerusalem or Ramallah, or both on our visits. I’m also the governor of a state with the third or fourth largest Jewish population, one of the top couple Israeli population, as in Israelis living in America, and the top state, top two Arab state and in the biggest Palestinian population. So we have everybody represented in our incredibly diverse state. And for the most part, I’m happy to report as angry as frustrated. As for Lauren, as folks might be folks are behaving responsibly. Even in their rage and anger. We have a lot of nexus to people who have been killed, held hostage trapped in Gaza, a combination of all the above. So I think the stuff that needs to be said black and white, is Hamas executed a barbaric savagery on innocent Israelis, and by the way, innocent others, including Americans, and we need to be crystal clear about that. There’s no equivocation. I said to somebody, and by the way, crystal clear that Israel has every single right to defend itself. This is a little bit like on September 12 2001, somebody said, Wait a minute. Yeah. But it was because of your behavior America around the world that led to this and therefore you can’t respond. It’s It’s

Andy Slavitt  14:03

ludicrous. That’s true. There was that sediment? Yep.

Phil Murphy  14:06

And there was. and there is this sentiment in terms of how the State of Israel, not the people of Israel, but the state of Israel has been behaving with settlements of the West Bank, et cetera, all of which, listen, I’m a huge two state solution, comprehensive, in other words, supported by the, by the responsible neighbors, that everybody gets their shot at equality, including the Palestinians I’ve been that way I’ll probably die being that way. So that stuff is is just that’s black and white. Hamas needs to be called out they these bad guys need to be eliminated. And there’s no doubt in my mind about that. On the other hand, there are innocent individuals getting killed and lives destroyed on all sides of this, not just the Israelis on October 7. But now Palestinians who are trapped Didn’t Gaza and, and it just it that part is you just have to come down on the side that war is hell. This is another reminder that war is hell. So to me, there’s nothing but sympathy for innocent victims and their families and loved ones, please God, I speak to a lot of the relatives of both Israeli and Palestinians who are sucked up into this vortex, again responsible behavior so far in New Jersey, although we’re watching it, the tensions are very, very high. And let’s be crystal clear that Hamas is a terrorist organization and committed a barbaric act of terrorism.

Andy Slavitt  15:42

Okay, let’s take a very quick break, come back and talk more with Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey. Governor that is, I wouldn’t maybe I should reflect on one other piece of this. You happen to have an Ivy League university, as well as a great university, Rutgers University inside the state. There’s been some reaction to how colleges and universities are handling this situation, and how different they may be handling it than other types of situations. A lot of conversation, do you have guidance that do connect with you think that universities university presidents are doing the kind of soul searching around what their job is in a situation like this?

Phil Murphy  16:49

It’s hard. I don’t think being a university president has ever been harder. We’ve had less, I’ll probably say this and find out that I’m wrong. But we’ve had less kinetic either verbiage or action at Princeton than I think than you’ve seen at some of the other IVs like Columbian UPenn that have come in Harvard that have come up of late. We have had a lot of activity at Rutgers. In fact, a short couple of hours ago, I had a virtual call with the president of Rutgers and his senior team, with myself, the Attorney General, the superintendent of state police, the Office of Homeland Security, and my Chief of Staff, just to compare notes, and getting this balance right between First Amendment freedom of speech, which is a hallmark of American democracy, and steering clear, forget physical activity for second. But bias activity, verbal or otherwise, getting that right is hard. So I think it’s really hard to be university president, that’s a little bit of a texture of some of the conversations we were having.

Andy Slavitt  17:59

Well said, let’s turn to US politics. Speaking of moral clarity, many people listen to this know that you have a US senator from New Jersey, Robert Menendez, who’s under investigation, you when you look at the details of this pretty troubling things, you know, within 24 hours, you came out with a statement that I think, at least here’s the first one that I saw. Maybe it was the very first ad but it was followed, I think, eventually, by a lot of other people coming out with a statement. Now, you know, sometimes it’s very hard to come out with something quickly, before all the facts are out. Yet. Again, I looked at it that is a moment of moral clarity. Can you just talk about your decision to come out with a position at that time and what you felt like the right thing to do and say was?

Phil Murphy  18:54

I appreciate the good words. And by the way, in my statement, and I would repeat here today that everybody just like first amendment rights are a hallmark of our democracy, the notion that you’re innocent until proven guilty as as well and I said that publicly and privately. But when you take in the tote, I was actually at a conference in Jersey City. I got back to the office at around two o’clock 230 That afternoon, and sat with my team and some other folks I respect and it was a pretty easy, sadly, a pretty easy decision to get to, again, innocent until proven guilty. But when you take in the broader interests here, the ability to represent the residents of our state, I believe is impaired beyond repair, and I felt like that was the right place to be and I continue to think that I’ve not changed my mind for one second. I called Bob before I went public and told him I was gonna do what he clearly wasn’t pleased. Needless to say that I felt I had to give him that heads up, but it As the right I continue to believe it’s the right place to be. And I hope Bob heeds the words of dow of many who have said strongly that he should step back and in the in the greater interest.

Andy Slavitt  20:14

And so far it looks like he’s he’s taking it. And if he’s not resigning, I want to talk a little bit about that, right? When does the seat come up if he manages to hang in there.

Phil Murphy  20:25

So his seat is up in 2024. Pretty soon if if he were to step down, the governor, in this case, yours truly would appoint someone who would serve until the stub just the balance of the stub period. So there’s a primary in June, and there’s a general election in November, both in 2024.

Andy Slavitt  20:47

But so I happen to know somebody who I think would make an outstanding senator from New Jersey. I don’t know if you’ve got any thoughts about whether this person is going to run you actually know her quite well. Her name is First Lady Tammy Murphy. And I will say to Nadia to someone that I’ve, I’ve known for God since the late 80s, blogger that I care to, to recall, but a phenomenal, phenomenal person. Any chance we can introduce her?

Phil Murphy  21:14

I love that, by the way you to go back a lot longer than than you and I go back. That’s a fair point. Right? We do. Listen, she is. First of all, if Bob were to step down, I’ve said publicly and I know she feels strongly about this. I would not appoint her under any circumstances that I could see. But would she run? I’d say three things. Number one, she’s fielding an enormous groundswell of incoming from around New Jersey, most importantly, and from around the country, indeed, because we’ve served internationally around the world. So she’s this is not a position she ever thought she would be considering taking a lot of positive incomings. Secondly, we’ve got some really important legislative races Tuesday, November 7, and she’s been a workhorse in both raising money for those races and campaigning. So that’s her laser focus for the next number of days. And that’s been the case, even before the whole Senator Menendez realities. And thirdly, I think if there’s news to make, at some point, I think she’ll be the one that makes sense.

Andy Slavitt  22:26

Yeah, yeah, she would appreciate, appreciate you coming on and doing that, I would appreciate it. And I think I could get her to understand it, but like she, she’s gonna have, I think, I think those calls are gonna grow. That’s obviously a very personal decision and a huge commitment. But I think for anybody who’s worked with her, and who knows her, I can’t imagine that those calls aren’t gonna get stronger.

Phil Murphy  22:46

That’s very kind of you. By the way, New Jersey has never had a woman Center, which is extraordinary to me given

Andy Slavitt  22:52

That’s got to change. Talk about you for a second. And then as we as we start to wrap up here. You and I are both it’s safe to say big supporters of President Biden and his reelection? Absolutely. And you can, you’re welcome to say a few words about about that. And about him. You know, if he hadn’t chosen to run for reelection, which he was debating for some time. There’s an awful lot of people, I’d say myself included, that have been would have been leaving, I knew pretty hard to consider whether you wanted to do it. That doesn’t appear to be the case. But I’m wondering if you confess that it’s something you would have considered or would have thought about or, or 2028. It’s something you think you can be tucked into thinking about?

Phil Murphy  23:39

Yeah, I mean, I, first of all, I’m flattered and humbled particularly coming from you. President Biden is running with 1,000% certainty, and he deserves to run, regardless of what I ultimately do. And I it’s far too early for me to even think about 2028 I’m running through the tape in New Jersey, I’ve got um, term limited. So I’ve got two years and basically two or three months to go. And we’ve still got a lot of work to, to chop through. But I think Andy, his track record has, it’s not been perfect. I know the Afghanistan withdrawal is something that we all he and all Americans bemoaned the way that it was so tragic at the end. But this is a guy who’s been historic look at the domestic just the three big acts, the inflation Reduction Act, the chips and Technology Act, and the bipartisan infrastructure law are three monumental game changers. And then, as a foreign policy matter, he’s been dealt in an incredibly difficult hand in Europe in the Middle East. And I think he’s played that hand brilliantly keeping coalition’s together, his instincts on being in Israel. The whole notion of that potential which I know has been nicked up Saudi Israel, Israel, US combination, right, the way he pulled the Koreans we just got back from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan the way and I met with the heads of state both Prime Minister casita and President Yoon and then President side, but the fact he got with all the history between Japan, and Korea, the fact that he got the three of them together in Camp David, and it’s it’s not just a one off photo op, but it’s meaningful. For all those reasons. This guy absolutely deserves to run and get reelected. I continue to be mystified somewhat by the polling, because the body of work is so strong, I continue to think there’s a lead lag here, that ultimately this will seep into the voters consciousness and he’ll begin to get the credit. I think it’s a lot different. When you look at the battleground map and the Electoral College map than just sort of a a gross top line, US electorate poll. But I think the world of what this guy’s done.

Andy Slavitt  26:07

Let’s take one more final break, and come back and finish up with Governor Phil Murphy. Yeah, it’s no question. It’s tight by any measure. And I happen to agree with you that it’s hard to imagine why that many people would consider that we should have Donald Trump back in the White House. What do you say to people? And they might say it to you as much as they say to me that say, yeah, like him. He’s put he’s done his job, but he’s kind of old and worried about electing someone who’s that old. It may be their point of references, people they know, that are that age, and maybe their point of reference is worrying. I’m not sure what it is. But you must get that a lot. Particularly because I imagine there’s a lot of people encouraging you. And I should say other. There’s other great governors, as well, that probably there’s a hugely deep democratic bench, I’d say, and I’m sure you’d agree with that. Whether you chose to run or not, there would be a lot of great people. And so there are folks who I think are still going through that stage and seem to be going through that stage where they’re saying, you know, I don’t think they know what you know, which is that he’s 1,000% going to run. And they think, Boy, isn’t he a little bit on the older side?

Phil Murphy  27:34

Yeah. Listen, you do hear there’s no question about it. I’ve counseled his team. We’ll see him in a couple of weeks. We see him quite often. I would own it. I would say yeah, I am 80. But guess what you get with 80 you get 50 something years of experience in Washington, you know how to reach across the aisle, you know how to keep a coalition together in a war in Europe that we never thought we’d see. Or in the Middle East. When you’re when you’ve got this amount of experience. You get stuff done like those three bills I mentioned and a lot more in Congress, I would own it. I wouldn’t be bashful about I’d Ronald Reagan that. And and God willing, that’s what he’ll do.

Andy Slavitt  28:14

What was his great line?

Phil Murphy  28:16

I’m not gonna use your youth experience against you exactly. Against Mondale, which is one of the great wines of all time, Mondale himself went to his grave, saying was one of the funniest political lines he ever heard. It was great, but I would own it. And I think you’re starting to see it. I saw this in North Carolina, I was down there. I’m the chair of the Democratic Governors Association. I couldn’t agree more with your statement about our bench. So the good news is we’ve got a very successful president. Let’s get him reelected. By the time 2028 comes around, we’re going to have superstars who are not just young on the bench, but still young and seasoned. And we’ve got, I think, in a lot of places, but I’m biased toward governors. But one last comment, Andy, I was in North Carolina a couple of weeks ago for a Democratic Governors Association event. And they were walking me through a recent visit that the Vice President had made there, and that she had really begun to connect. I think it was a historically black college and university toward North Carolina, as I recall, has the most HBCUs in the country. I think that’s right. And also it was a trip that had a bias toward youth. And I think you’re starting to see some evidence that and I don’t know, I don’t understand why she’s not more popular. I’m a huge fan, but it is what it is. But you’re starting to see evidence that that needle is moving. And that to me, is a first cousin of hey, this guy’s old. And if you can only age and say that experience and wisdom come with that age, and you see the needle movie with the Vice President, I think That’s a very good combo that hopefully we’ll see more of.

Andy Slavitt  30:03

Well, we’re gonna have a lot of rain. We have a very interesting year ahead. Governor Murphy, thank you for coming out. Thank you for your friendship, I will tell you that you don’t know this. But at the very beginning of this episode, I had out to the audience that this is going to be my third to last show that we’re going to we’re going to wrap up the show effective in a couple of weeks. And you were one of my very first guests. It really was a very meaningful show, because we were right in the middle of trying to understand what was even happening with COVID, what we could expect from Washington, what needed to happen at the state level, we were going through a lot in this country that we many people hadn’t experienced before. And, you know, you came on, and I think very much like Churchill stood up and was it were counted for and was President. And I think it’s only fitting that you’re also one of our very last shows that I just very grateful to you.

Phil Murphy  31:02

I’m incredibly humbled by those words, Andy, and you’ve had a great run, have enjoyed watching you enjoyed our friendship and, and I’m a better Governor leader, because of very good, tough, clear eyed advice. You’ve given me every step of the way. So whenever the next moves on the chessboard, I know you and Lana and Tammy and I will stay close, but best of luck, and congratulations on a great run.

Andy Slavitt  31:27

Thank you, man. Look forward to it. Godspeed. Thank you.

Andy Slavitt  31:44

Thank you, Governor Murphy, as always, just so great to have someone like him on the show really appreciated his nice remarks, I guess does remind me what I said at the beginning of the show, which is we got a couple more shows left. They’re going to be great shows next week. Let me tell you, we have Bob Walker, as she’s Jha. Caitlin, generally, Lina and Eric Topol and I all have in a conversation about these last couple of years of COVID. And what would come next, and also to point you to the resources that you’re going to need and you’re gonna want to have, should you need them in the future. By the way, I’d love to get an email from you. If you have a minute, just telling me some of your favorite moments in the show, or some of your thoughts on the show. We’d certainly love to look at those. Or tell me what you hate about the show. And why not? Now’s a good time as any. All right. Have a great week. We’ll be talking again next week.

CREDITS  32:51

Thank you for listening IN THE BUBBLE. If you like what you heard, rate and review and most importantly, tell a friend about the show. tell anyone about the show. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kyle Shiely is the Senior Producer of our show. He’s the main guy, and he rocks it with me every week. The mix is by Noah Smith. He’s a wizard. He does all the technical stuff and he’s a cool guy. Steve Nelson is the vice president of weekly content. He’s well above average. And of course, the ultimate big bosses are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. They are wonderful, inspiring, and they put the sugar in the lemonade. They executive produced the show along with me. Our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, and additional music is by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadMedia where you can also get a transcript of the show and buy some in the bubble gear. Email me directly at You can find my Twitter feed at @Slavitt and you can download in the bubble wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music. It’s a prime membership. Thank you for listening.

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