Transcript: Sens. Chris Dodd and Lindsey Graham

dodd graham

ABC'S "THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS"

JUNE 21, 2009

SPEAKERS: GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.

SEN. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, D-CONN.

[*] STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello and welcome to "This Week."

Iran on edge.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The world is watching.

(UNKNOWN): We are witnessing a Tiananmen in Tehran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: On Capitol Hill, health care stalls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(UNKNOWN): This is Hillary-care plus.

(UNKNOWN): We've come too far for our efforts to fail over disagreement on one single issue.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is Obama's top priority in peril? Should the U.S. take a harder line on Iran? Questions this morning for two key senators, Democrat Chris Dodd and Republican Lindsey Graham, a "This Week" debate.

Then...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This is when the criticism gets louder. This is where the pundits grow impatient.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: The president's polls fall to earth. Is he getting a free ride from the press? That and all the week's politics on our roundtable, with George Will, Sam Donaldson, Cokie Roberts, Robert Reich of the American Prospect, and just back from Tehran, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller.

And as always, the Sunday Funnies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: They're recounting the ballots cast in the Iranian election, and today they found 14 more votes for Norm Coleman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

It was a momentous week here in Washington, with major developments on health care and major tension with Iran, especially yesterday, when the president held several meetings on the violence there. Hard information was hard to come by, but Saturday was clearly the most deadly day yet. As many as 20 protesters killed in clashes with state security forces, and the opposition leader, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, reportedly told his supporters that he was prepared for martyrdom.

In response, President Obama issued his strongest condemnation yet. He called on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people, and he quoted Martin Luther King. "The arc of the moral universe is long and it bends towards justice. I believe that, the international community believes that, and right now we're bearing witness to the Iranian people's belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness."

For more on this debate, let me bring in two key senators. Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Also, Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut. Gentlemen, welcome to both of you.

And Senator Graham, let me begin with you. Your friend Senator John McCain and many other Republicans were pressuring the president all week long to take a harder line on Iran. Did he get it right with that statement yesterday?

GRAHAM: He's certainly moving in the right direction, but our point is that there is a monumental event going on in Iran, and you know, the president of the United States is supposed to lead the free world, not follow it. Other nations have been more outspoken, so I hope that we'll hear more of this, because the young men and women taking the streets in Tehran need our support. The signs are in English. They are basically asking for us to speak up on their behalf.

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