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Joe Piscopo, New Jersey governor?

Actor pondering idea in wake of McGreevey announcement


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(CNN) -- He played a number of notables -- David Letterman, Frank Sinatra -- on "Saturday Night Live" in the 1980s, but Joe Piscopo is now thinking of a completely different kind of role: governor.

The actor and comedian has been asked by some people to consider a run in his home state, New Jersey.

CNN "American Morning" anchor Bill Hemmer talked to Piscopo about the possibilities.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: He considers himself a lifelong Democrat, self-described Jersey guy, but is comedian Joe Piscopo serious about trying to replace Jim McGreevey as governor in that state? He often paid homage to the Garden State while on "Saturday Night Live" back in the 1980s.

And Jersey Joe our guest today not in New Jersey, but in Orlando, Florida, to talk about the "Draft Piscopo" movement.

And, Joe, good morning to you, and thanks for your time.

Is this serious, by the way?

JOE PISCOPO, ACTOR, COMEDIAN: Well, you know, I had some serious people talk to me, Bill. We're very concerned about the state, and the -- you know, I wrote the jokes 20 years ago, but now it's almost not funny the way Jersey's getting hit. I'm reading The Wall Street Journal and ... these national publications, USA Today, saying the problems we have in Jersey.

So the people that came to me and asked me to run, they're serious.

HEMMER: Joe, what can you tell us about the people that approached you? Who are they? How strong backing do they have?

PISCOPO: You know what, [they're] young businessmen, and I talked to them yesterday. It was so funny, I said, come on, guys, you got to let everybody know who you are. And they say, like, no, we stay in the background, Joe, you know, we believe in you, and we're friends enough where I'm not beholden to anybody.

So they're like young, very concerned New Jersey citizens.

Because, see, in Jersey, we are so proud of the state. I've got to tell you, not just because the great Bruce Springsteen is from there, and Frank Sinatra, and Bruce Willis, and Jack Nicholson, and Danny DeVito, and Shaquille O'Neal born in Newark. I mean, we have so much to offer in this state, that as we're citizens and we go through our everyday lives back in Jersey, and then we see this ... stuff that's happening now.

These guys [who] came to me, they really want to make a change.

HEMMER: Let's talk about the stuff happening now. What was your reaction a week ago with Jim McGreevey's announcement?

PISCOPO: Well, you know, I'm a friend of Jim and Dina. [My wife] Kimberly and I are friends of the governor and first lady, and just have great affection for them, and our hearts go out to them. So that was our immediate response.

And I must say, I think most of the citizens in the great state of New Jersey said, you know, it's an unfortunate situation, what happened, but you feel such sympathy, and you just wish them the best.

HEMMER: Do you think he should resign now, or wait until the date of November 15th, as she stated?

PISCOPO: Yes, that's the question, Bill. You know, it's hard for me to say, to be objective, because I'm friends with the man, so ...

HEMMER: Let me try and cut through it for you then.

PISCOPO: Thank you.

HEMMER: Do you want this job?

PISCOPO: You know what, I love the state enough to do it, I'll tell you that right now.

HEMMER: If that's the case the, you would support him getting out now, because that increasing your chances immediately of taking the office, right?

PISCOPO: I don't mind him on a personal level hanging in until November, because he's got to do what he's got to do; his family's got to be -- you know, adjusting to this whole crisis. That's what I think.

But maybe, in the political landscape, to leave now -- ah, listen, we deal with adversity every day in New Jersey. We're second-class citizens. We're sandwiched between the great cities of New York and Philadelphia. So we can deal with any adversity, and we'll make it through this one, I think, whether I'm there or not.

HEMMER: You're a lifelong Democrat, right? And you talk about the highest property taxes in the country in your home state. Sounds a bit conservative.

PISCOPO: I know. I know. I could tell. As I go through the different items and my agenda in my head, you know, as people talk to me, of what I stand for, I am very, very conservative, but I'm a lifelong Democrat. I believe -- a proud Democrat.

It's the working man's party, and New Jersey has its roots in working class. Immigrants came from all over the country and they settled in New Jersey. Like my grandparents, they couldn't even speak English when they first came here.

So yes, I'm a Democrat, very conservative, but highest property tax in the country, highest insurance, car insurance rates in the country, and I can't understand how a great state like the one I'm in now, Florida, Texas, Nevada, they have no state income tax. How do they do it and why can't Jersey do it?

HEMMER: We'll follow your story. By the way, Schwarzenegger went on the Leno show to announce his candidacy. Do you want do to that here?

PISCOPO: Oh, man, I'll have to keep that in mind. But I don't know, Arnold is like -- Arnold's a mega-gazillion, you know, dollar superstar. I'm just a Jersey guy. I think I'll go on the New Jersey network.

HEMMER: Thank you, Joe.


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