Transcript: John McCain

MCCAIN: Not now, but it's very obvious that for at least three years we conducted the war in Iraq in the wrong fashion. And we paid a very heavy price in American blood and treasure. And we developed a strategy that worked. That strategy is adopted to the different conditions in Afghanistan.

And what has emerged, George, which I think we haven't appreciated maybe as much as we should, is that we have a group of leaders, both at the officer and non-commission officer level that is unbelievably good.

I ran into a Colonel in Iraq that was there for his sixth tour, his sixth tour of duty, because he wanted to be back there. I mean, it's amazing.

STEPHANOPOULOS: That's a huge strain on so many families.

MCCAIN: It's put tremendous strain on families. It has caused tragedies and loss that grieves us and brings tears to our eyes, but they have succeeded and they are so good. They are incredibly good professional skilled and they believe in what they're doing

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you believe that President Obama is giving those troops the support they need?

MCCAIN: I think the decision on resources which is coming up will determine that. I know that President Obama made those statements about how important this conflict was during the campaign and I do have confidence that he'll make the right decisions.

STEPHANOPOULOS: One more foreign policy question. You were in Libya last week with Colonel Gaddafi. You tweeted and said it was an interesting meeting at his ranch with an interesting man, yet we see today the Lockerbie bomber returns to a hero's welcome. Did you talk to the Colonel about that?

MCCAIN: Yes, we said that we thought it would be a grave mistake to give this individual a hero's welcome and I think most Americans condemn this decision of the Scottish judiciary to let him loose.

I would point out that Colonel Gaddafi and his regime, which is very dictatorial and totalitarian in every way and very cruel, did reverse their position on weapons of mass destruction. Now there's still further steps that need to be taken, but he's basically agreed to dismantle his nuclear efforts.

If Ahmadinejad did that tomorrow, I'd be glad to sit down and talk with Ahmadinejad. So he has at least reversed the path that they were on, which was that they were going to acquire nuclear weapons.

STEPHANOPOULOS: While you were gone, the health care debate has erupted here at home. This week President Obama placed the blame for the gridlock on health care squarely on your party.

Here's what he said exactly, he said, "Early on a decision was made by the Republican leadership that said look, let's not give them a victory and maybe we can have a replay of 1993-94 when Clinton came in. He failed on health care and then we won the midterm election and we got the majority." Is that what's going on here?

MCCAIN: No, I hope not. It may be with some but I don't think so with the majority of the Republican Party. I look at this as an opportunity right now. The president's numbers are falling about their – American's confidence in his ability to address this issue and how he's addressing it.

Now wouldn't it be a good idea for us Republicans and Democrats to sit down with the president. The president has not come forward with a plan of his own, as you know. He's got plans in the House and the Senate, but not from the administration.

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