KQED’s Belva Davis and San Francisco Chronicle political reporter Carla Marinucci talked to former California Governor Pete Wilson in advance of next week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. Wilson is heading up the state’s Republican delegation to the GOP convention.

Marinucci quizzed Wilson–a moderate, pro-choice Republican–about conservatism in the Republican party and in California. She asked, “Could a candidate like yourself today be nominated?”

“Yes,” Wilson said. “If I could be an absolute dictator for five minutes and make irrevocable changes, I would amend the U.S. Constitution to provide that so-called social issues are the province of the states, and not the federal government.”

Marinucci also asked Wilson about references to California on the campaign trail. Republican candidate Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin have compared California to Greece, criticizing Democrats for financial mismanagement.

“Is it fair to compare California to a place that has four times the unemployment and ten times the debt? Is it a fair Republican message to use California in this campaign?” Marinucci asked.

“Absolutely,” Wilson responded. “Because California, unfortunately, is suffering from self-inflicted wounds, much as are the countries of southern Europe. And as far as piling on debt–we haven’t been at it as long, but we’re doing our best it seems to catch up.”

Davis and Marinucci also talked to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, chairman of the Democratic national convention in Charlotte, N.C.

Video: Pete Wilson, Antonio Villaraigosa on ‘This Week in Northern California’ 20 August,2012Caitlin Esch

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