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North Dakota governor and GOP presidential candidate on UAW strikes

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The United Auto Workers strike is becoming a campaign issue. President Biden touts his strong relationships with labor unions as he hits the trail. And Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is skipping next week's primary debate to go to Detroit to meet with autoworkers. Meanwhile, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, who's also running for the Republican nomination, spoke to NPR's Asma Khalid and Susan Davis about this and other topics. Here's part of their conversation from the NPR Politics Podcast.

DOUG BURGUM: Well, I feel that the markets actually work, in the sense that people can choose who they want to work for today. I mean, if you're an autoworker and you don't like your wage and you can - and you've got a skill set, you can probably pick your city in America and decide, I'm going to go work there, and I'm going to live there. I'm going to do whatever I want to do. I mean, the amount of availability for people who want to work is just through the roof. So right now, labor in this battle between, you know - that's creating pressure on wage rates going up, they've got a huge advantage. So I think they're going to - they're in a great negotiating position just because we've got a lot of people that aren't working in America right now.

So I - but I think markets work. I mean, we've got auto companies in this country that are non-unionized, and they're not on strike and their workers are happy. So it's not like we can just take three of our auto companies, the oldest ones and maybe the ones that are most entrenched in history, but we can - you can look all over America at new auto plants where there are non-union workers. They're happy. They've got great work. They got great benefits. They love their communities. So it can work both ways in our country.

ASMA KHALID, BYLINE: Governor, you signed a near-total ban on abortions in your state. If Congress sends any legislation to you that would enact federal restrictions on abortion, would you sign those restrictions into law?

BURGUM: No.

KHALID: Care to expound?

BURGUM: No, I'm happy to. On the first day we announced, I got asked this question in my very first interview. And the answer is no. I mean, this goes back to the 10th Amendment. Republicans fought for 50 years to overturn Roe v. Wade. The Dobbs decision did that and returned the power to the states. And then the very next day, we had Republicans saying, oh, no, we've got - the federal government's got to get involved.

I know this is a super important issue for people on both sides, but the idea that somehow, we would say that in this one exception, we can violate the Constitution and the federal government can step in and take a power that belongs to the states - because the original 13 states created the federal government, not the other way around. Those states delegated powers to the federal government. The rest remains to the people or to the state.

KHALID: Governor, on immigration, do you feel that the United States should expand legal pathways to citizenship? Do you think that there are any other alternative ideas about what to do with the situation at the border? I mean, what are your broad ideas for immigration reform?

BURGUM: Well, unfortunately, today, we need to secure the border before at least the Republican Party is willing to have a discussion about immigration reform. But it has to be on the top of the list. I've been down to the border multiple times. We have to fix it. But we are still fortunate. We have an opportunity. When the best and the brightest in the world want to get to our country, we have an opportunity.

And right now, even Canada, Canada is - picked off a million people from our - that came to the U.S. to study. We educated them in our best universities. They got advanced degrees. Their student visas run out. We're going to try to send them home, and Canada puts up a welcome sign. And a million people moved north across the border that are high-skilled to go help juice their economy. So we've got it wrong on every aspect on immigration. And it has to be fixed. And it has to be a top priority.

CHANG: And you can hear that whole conversation on the NPR Politics Podcast, which is available wherever you get your podcasts.

(SOUNDBITE OF FUGEES SONG, "READY OR NOT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.
Asma Khalid is a White House correspondent for NPR. She also co-hosts The NPR Politics Podcast.