MCCAIN: So what does – what does that lead to? Doesn't that lead to a possibility, at least opens the door to a possibility of rationing and decisions made such are made in other countries?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, every single independent group that looked at it said it just wasn't true.
MCCAIN: Well, then why did the Democrats turn down our amendments that clarified that none of the decisions that would be made by this board would in any way affect depriving of needed treatments for patients? I don't know why they did that then.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think Sarah Palin was right?
MCCAIN: Look, I don't think they were called death panels, don't get me wrong. I don't think – but on the best treatment procedures part of the bill, it does open it up to decisions being made as far – that should be left – those choices left to the patient and the individual. That's what I think is pretty clear, which was a different section of the bill.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You worked, have worked a lot with Senator Kennedy, on legislation in other matters. How much of a difference has it made that he hasn't been part of this debate?
MCCAIN: Huge, huge difference. No person in that institution is indispensable, but Ted Kennedy comes as close to being indispensable as any individual I've ever known in the Senate because he had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions, which really are the essence of successful negotiations.
So it's huge that he's absent, not only because of my personal affection for him, but because I think the health care reform might be in a very different place today.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You talked about working with the president now on health care. On election night you promised to work with the president, called on all your supporters to work with the president for the good of the country.
Yet I was struck – this week Congressional Quarterly came out with a study of your voting record and it said your voting record this year is the most partisan of your entire Senate career.
MCCAIN: Well, I think it's probably been some of the issues. I did work with the president on reform of defense weapons acquisition. I've worked with him on other defense issues. I have supported him on Iraq and Afghanistan. I have – on a number of other national security issues, we have worked together and there are other areas where we have simply disagreed.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On just about every major domestic issue and Guantanamo, even though you say it should be closed, you've been quite critical of the president.
MCCAIN: Well, let just say, on spending in the stimulus, I think the major reason why the administration is having difficulty today is because of the out-of-control, unheard of deficit that we're running, which then gives people pause about another trillion dollars that would have to be spent to reform health care in America.
On Guantanamo, I share the same goal, but I wouldn't – again, they have not had an overall policy developed which should have come first, and that, I think, has caused some difficulties.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think you've walked the walk on bipartisanship? I talked to people in the administration and they say wait a second, John McCain even voted against Secretary Sebelius for Health and Human Services Secretary, Justice Sotamayor.