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Arizona's new governor Katie Hobbs reflects on her campaign, inauguration and vision

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KATIE HOBBS: I'm an optimist.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

That's Arizona's Governor Katie Hobbs speaking at her inauguration on Thursday.

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HOBBS: I believe that now is the perfect time to move past division and partisanship and return to a path of cooperation and progress.

SIMON: But how hard or easy is that following a bruising campaign? Governor Hobbs...

HOBBS: Well...

SIMON: Oh, Governor Hobbs, thank you for joining us. OK. You anticipate my question. How hard or easy is that?

HOBBS: Well, it's not going to be easy. I think we are in the most polarized times that many of us have seen. And there's just a lot of animosity. And - but I think I see that as a time of opportunity that the voters elected us to tackle issues that we're facing. And we have to work together to do that.

SIMON: As I don't have to remind you, you won by 17,000 votes out of more than 2 million cast.

HOBBS: Yes.

SIMON: So what do you say to people who not just voted for your Republican opponent, Kari Lake, but agree with her that they don't see the election as - even though it's been, of course, legally ruled valid beyond dispute, they just don't accept that.

HOBBS: It is really unfortunate that so-called political leaders, like my former opponent, Kari Lake, continue to beat this drum and mislead people. I don't know whether she believes the lies that she's telling or not, but the problem is that people do, and that makes it hard to govern. And I think that's probably part of the objective.

SIMON: President Biden announced a - new border security measures this week and says he's going to visit the border next week. Are your resources in Arizona stretched thin to receive and care for migrants?

HOBBS: They are.

SIMON: What do you need?

HOBBS: Well, for the mayors that I've talked to and their law enforcement, it's the potential lifting of Title 42 and what that means for the way migrants will come into their communities, and...

SIMON: Well, forgive me, Governor, are you talking about lifting Title 42, or are you in favor of expanding it, in a sense, as President Biden did this week?

HOBBS: Oh. Well, I - I mean, right now it's not an issue, and it looks like it's going to be in place. But these conversations were in preparation for the possibility that that was going to happen.

SIMON: President Biden announced plans to expand Title 42, and under this, U.S. will deny people from Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela and Haiti the chance to apply for asylum if they cross the border with Mexico without authorization. Do you agree with that?

HOBBS: Well, I think that what the communities in our state were concerned about was lifting Title 42 without a real plan in place. What we really need - because Title 42 is not immigration policy. It is health care policy. It was enacted...

SIMON: Occasioned by the COVID...

HOBBS: Yes. Yes. And so what we need to really address this problem in a comprehensive way is comprehensive immigration reform.

SIMON: I have to tell you, Governor, I have been blessed enough to cover political campaigns in Arizona over 20 years ago. I have always heard people calling for comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform. And I don't think it's a news flash to tell you it's not going to happen by next week.

HOBBS: Yeah.

SIMON: What are you going to do with the situation that is occurring right on your border?

HOBBS: I think that working to provide meaningful relief is going to go much further than political stunts like flying migrants to Martha's Vineyard or dropping them off on the vice president's doorstep. And I'll continue to be a voice for what Arizona needs with our federal government and continue to work with local leaders in how the state can address the needs that they have.

SIMON: Removing it from the category of stunt, should other states step up to receive the large number of people who are arriving at the border? New York, Illinois, Massachusetts? I'll throw a few examples out.

HOBBS: Arizona has been busing folks as well, not to the degree of a political stunt that we saw that - the two instances I mentioned. But they are getting on buses with resources, going to Washington, D.C. I think that a better solution is giving them resources and getting them to their final destination. And that would eliminate a lot of headache. And working with other states that want to take them, I think is one way we can look at how we can do that.

SIMON: Governor Katie Hobbs of Arizona. Thanks so much.

HOBBS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.