Transcript: Sens. Chris Dodd and Lindsey Graham

And I appreciate what the president said yesterday, but he's been timid and passive more than I would like, and I hope he will continue to speak truth to power.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But Senator, you know what the White House has said in response. They say that they don't want to become the players in this fight and actually make the protesters seem like they're tools of the United States. Henry Kissinger agrees with the White House.

GRAHAM: Well, these people are not tools of anyone. They're the ones getting killed. No one in America is getting killed over there.

Any time America stands up for freedom, we're better off. When we try to prop up dictators or remain silent, it comes back to bite us.

You know, Ronald Reagan spoke in front of the Berlin wall, he said tear it down, he's ready to negotiate. When he was silent on the 1986 election in the Philippines, said there was fraud on both sides, that hurt the cause, so I would -- I would hope that the president would speak truth to power.

This regime is corrupt. It has blood on its hands in Iran. They've killed Americans in Iraq, innocent Iraqi people; now they're killing their own people. Stand up with the protesters. That's not meddling. That's doing the right thing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Dodd, has the president been timid and passive, as Senator Graham says?

DODD: No, not at all. He's the president of the United States. He's not a member of the Senate or a columnist. He's got a very delicate path to walk here. I think he's been strong. You don't want to become -- you don't want to take ownership of this. The worst thing we could do at this moment for these reformers, these protesters, these courageous people in Tehran, is allow the government there to claim that this is a U.S.-led opposition, a U.S.-led demonstration.

This is 1979 in many ways all over again, and these are remarkable people doing remarkable things. The president has spoken out strongly. We adopted unanimously I think the other day, Lindsey, a resolution on the floor of the Senate in support of what the protesters are trying to achieve. I think it's clear to them that we stand as a nation behind their efforts. And the president I think is handling this job as well as any president could, and that is speaking out against the unjust activities that are occurring, the violence that's being brought against these protesters, the deaths that are occurring. That's exactly the right message for an American president, but not taking ownership of this.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But, Senator Dodd, going forward, how does the president pursue his policy of engagement after we've seen what this regime is willing to do to its own people? You have some suggesting, like the House Republican leader, John Boehner, that we should go straight to tougher sanctions, stop all gasoline sales to the Iranians now?

DODD: Well, obviously this is a -- as someone pointed out the other day, this government is very fragile in Iran right now, and obviously we're deeply concerned about the security of our country and our allies with the possibility of, of course, developing and having a nuclear arsenal.

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