Transcript: Gov. Jim Justice on "Face the Nation," January 17, 2021

West Virginia governor on state's successful vaccine distribution
West Virginia governor on state's successful ... 04:27

The following is a transcript of an interview with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice that aired Sunday, January 17, 2021, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: And we want to go now to the Republican governor of West Virginia, Jim Justice. He joins us from Charleston. Good morning to you, sir. I want to talk about--

GOVERNOR JIM JUSTICE: Good morning.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to talk about your work on COVID-19 and distributing the vaccine. But first, I have to ask you about politics. Do you believe that your party, the Republican Party, remains the party of President Trump after he leaves office January 20th?

GOV. JUSTICE: Well, I don't know, MARGARET, you know, because to be perfectly honest, you know, there's division all across our country right now. There's no question if we just step back and just look at it, you know, are we doing stuff the right way? I mean, at the end of the day, we've got the division. We know where we're at and we've got all kinds of problems. We need to absolutely lay down our arms as far as Republicans and Democrats--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

GOV. JUSTICE: --and quit pivoting ourselves against one another like that. At some point in time, we've got to realize we're Americans and I don't say that lightly. I just don't say that as gobbledy-gook because I'm not a politician. I've never been that. And I speak the truth. And- and so--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well--

GOV. JUSTICE: --first and foremost, Americans need to be united, not divided.

MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, not a politician. Then you're going to give me a straight answer on the question then of whether you think the president should continue to be leading the Republican Party, given that he continues to not clearly say Joe Biden is the fairly elected president of the United States?

GOV. JUSTICE: Well, I would say this--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is that disqualifying?

GOV. JUSTICE: --there's no question that all the experts and judges- all the judges, you know, all the courts, everybody has said that we had an election and Joe Biden is our president. We should respect that--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

GOV. JUSTICE: --in every- in every way. I would- I would say first and foremost, no question that our president has gotten out over his skis many, many different times. But really, it's the people's decision. It's not my decision to weigh in. All I'm doing is just stirring the pot when I weigh in.  I want us to be together.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

GOV. JUSTICE: Forget Republican and Democrat.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Sir, I want to ask you about your ability to distribute almost 70% of the vaccine doses that you have received from the federal government. You've used the National Guard to do it, something Joe Biden wants other states to consider doing. What can they do that your general workforce cannot?

GOV. JUSTICE: Well, MARGARET, just think about this, for the last week or so, we've been running not at 70% , we're running it right at 100%. Right now, we're at 98.1%, as far as vaccines in people's arms or names tied to it, you know, that are going to be put into people's arms immediately. We're saving all kinds of lives. We're putting our- our kids back in school. West Virginia has been the diamond in the rough that a lot of people have missed. You know, we're first in the nation on being able to test all the people in our nursing homes--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

GOV. JUSTICE: --and on and on and on. Absolutely. That's why we're leading the nation, because we are practical thinking people--

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well,--

GOV. JUSTICE: --with a lot of really smart people here that are getting it done.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, I want to ask about the specifics of that, because a lot of governors are trying to figure this out. You decided not to go with the federal program to use CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate in nursing homes. So you decided not to follow the Trump administration's plan. Why did you go that route?

GOV. JUSTICE: Because really and truly, there are so many people that depend on their local health departments, their local pharmacies. Absolutely. Our ability to bring in the National Guard, you know, just think about it just for a second. You know, what we did is a lot of governors sat on their hands trying to- to come up with a system or a formula of what they were going to do. We didn't sit on our hands. I mean, we acted. We brought our local- our local pharmacies in. We brought our local, you know, health departments in. We brought our National Guard in, and we started putting shots in people's arms- arms, because this thing is all about age, age, age.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So would you--

GOV. JUSTICE: That is all there is to it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So would you tell other governors to throw out the federal government's guidelines?

GOV. JUSTICE: Well, if- if what we're going to do is create a bureaucracy with federal government guidelines and everything, when we know this is about age, age and age. We've got to get shots in people's arms, and every day we put a shot in somebody's arm we're saving a life.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Yeah.

GOV. JUSTICE: You know, we need to get at it. I mean, that's all there is to it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: All right, Governor Justice. Thank you for your insight and your time today. We'll be right back.