Christine Todd Whitman is an American Republican politician and author who served as the 50th Governor of New Jersey from 1994 to 2001. Gov. Whitman was the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the administration of President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. Currently, Gov. Whitman is the President of The Whitman Strategy Group (WSG), a consulting firm that specializes in energy and environmental issues.
Gov. Whitman discusses the upcoming presidential election, her thoughts on the current political climate, and which issues are most important to her in this exclusive Q&A with Andrea Losey from Doctors For A Healthy US, LLC.
Please provide any thoughts that you have on the current political climate.
What worries you? What excites you? What surprises you?
The political climate is poisonous and divisive, and unfortunately, it's driving people further and further to the extremes. What worries me is people who think it's alright to threaten others because they disagree with their opinion, or because of where they're from or how they worship. What's been most surprising to me is that even though Trump habitually lies, his supporters believe him or excuse him every time. I'm most excited at the prospect of seeing Trump defeated this November.
What political issue is most important to you for the upcoming year 2021?
The most important issue is restoring respect for the rule of law and our constitution. Even though the Republican Party has traditionally stood up for these values, Trump is the one destroying the foundational principles of our democracy. Biden is a fervent patriot who believes in the constitution and the rule of law.
At what point did you decide that you could not vote for Donald Trump?
Having worked with Donald Trump as governor of New Jersey, I never believed he had the character or capabilities to be president, so I was never going to vote for him. I was one of the first Republicans to announce that I wouldn’t support him.
Have you or do you plan to work to bring other Republicans and/or swing voters over to the “Biden side”?
Yes, I am the Chair of Republicans and Independents for Biden, an initiative of the Lincoln Project.
We're organizing on the national and local level to get out a message that will appeal to dissatisfied Republican and Independent voters. We want to show these voters that they're not alone in their concerns about Trump and that there's another way forward.
What, in your opinion, is the most important issue to bring up when discussing voting with Republicans and/or swing voters?
I think we need to focus on the kind of man Biden is - decent, honorable, and strong. He's demonstrated a willingness to work across the aisle to get things done. Even though Trump tries to paint him as such, he's not an extremist, and neither is Kamala Harris.
Do you have any advice on how Democrats could have meaningful conversations with Republicans and/or swing voters regarding their vote in the upcoming presidential election?
Keep reaffirming the importance of science and listening to the voices of experts on the pandemic. The president's mixed messages on COVID-19 are making it harder and harder to contain the virus, so we need to present a strong, united voice on how to solve this crisis.
Our organization does focus on health equality and social determinants of health. Do you have any personal stories of the healthcare industry that you wish to share? Are there any issues with the healthcare system that worry/interest you?
America is grappling with the disparate availability and quality of health care for poor and minority communities. It's an issue that's become very evident during the pandemic, as we're seeing staggering numbers of deaths from COVID in marginalized communities. Frankly, Trump doesn't seem to care about this issue, but Biden has already put out a plan to address these disparities.
What, in your opinion, is the connection between environmental health and the health of the population, specifically in the U.S.?
We are part of the environment, and we all need clean air and water to survive. As our environment is degraded, our health will also be damaged.
If we don’t work to combat climate issues, what specific effect(s) will that have on our health?
If we don't reduce our carbon emissions, we'll continue to see the impact of carbon and methane, which are endocrine disrupters and carcinogens. Our air and water will get dirtier, which will cause numerous health problems. We'll also see hotter days where the air quality is too poor to breathe. And of course, our mental health will be impacted as our climate changes.