Transcript: Sen. John McCain Interview

MCCAIN: Primarily his conduct after Sept. 11th. Rallying the nation in a very uncertain, in fact, frightened time, in the case of many Americans. Going to Afghanistan I think was exactly the right thing. I sill believe that the invasion of Iraq was appropriate. And I believe that if Saddam Hussein were in power today, he would still be trying to acquire those weapons. So that is the overriding issue. Now have we disagreed on tax cuts for the rich? Yes. Do I believe that there should be more emphasis on some environmental issues? Yes. But I also believe in free trade. I believe in building alliances. I believe in immigration reform, which the president has made a good proposal, I think. There's a number of other issues in which I've worked very well with him.

JENNINGS: Do you think the president has been the uniter, which he promised to be at the convention four years ago?

MCCAIN: No. But I'm not sure how much of it is his fault. And I'm sure that some of it's his fault, okay? But we have this bitterness from the Clinton impeachment, from the Florida election. He didn't have anything to do with the chads. We have a more bitterly partisan Congress and nation than I've ever seen, and it's regrettable. And I believe that the president, after he's reelected, will try to fix that.

JENNINGS: Do you think he's responsible for some of the bitterness, and the extreme partisanship in the country?

MCCAIN: I'm sure that some of the agenda that the Republicans have pursued from time to time have contributed to that. I think the Democrats have been very, very partisan. But I think there's an underlying unhealthiness here in American politics today. A degree of partisanship which is not at all helpful to resolving issues such a Social Security, Medicare, immigration reform, et cetera, that require bipartisanship.

JENNINGS: George Bush's political party, as we'll call it, is, among other things, is not well disposed to Senator McCain. And it is argued by some that your embrace of President Bush, in this campaign, is really a recalculation of your own political self-interest.

MCCAIN: You know, I hope that most of the people who have known me for the last 22 years that I've been in public office wouldn't believe that. Because I think most Americans that know me, and my constituents in Arizona do, that I try to do what's right. And many times that has not been popular, particularly at first. But my goal right now is to be reelected to the Senate. Am I confident of reelection? Yes. Do the people of Arizona expect me to seek their support and campaign for it? Yes.

JENNINGS: Is it a fair comment to make, that you need to make an impression upon the delegates at this convention if you wish to have a future as a leader of the party?

MCCAIN: First of all, I believe that most of these delegates know me already.

JENNINGS: They're not particularly disposed to you in many respects.

MCCAIN: In many respects they are not. And that's something that I have to live with. But I will continue to stand up and fight for the things that I believe in. I will be emphasizing national security and the war on terror, for one reason, being that it's the most transcendent issue of our time.

JENNINGS: Why are you not the heir apparent of the Republican Party? Or why are you heir apparent?

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