Transcript: Sen. John McCain

MCCAIN: Yes, I talked to him on the phone, and of course, major topic was Afghanistan. President-elect Obama campaigned on the premise that we're going to have to address the issue in Afghanistan. The fact is, we need another surge-like strategy, and it's very different, so let's not say it's going to be exactly like Iraq, but I think the fact is that it's going to get worse before it gets better. And the American people need to know that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you and the president-elect are in agreement on Afghanistan now.

MCCAIN: Yes, yes. Depending on how this new strategy evolves, et cetera. The southern part of the country is not under control of the government or our coalition forces.

STEPHANOPOULOS: President Bush just landed in Iraq this morning. This is his fourth trip to Iraq. Basically, a farewell tour for President Bush. Secretary Gates was also in Iraq this week. Not a farewell tour for him, because of course, he's going to be standing -- staying on to work with President-elect Obama.

MCCAIN: And I'm glad he is.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And during that trip, over the course of that trip, he gave a speech where he called out many who had questioned the qualifications of President-elect Obama.


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT M. GATES: Anyone who thought that the upcoming months might present opportunities to test the new administration would be sorely mistaken. President Obama and his national security team, myself included, will be ready to defend the interests of the United States, and our friends and allies from the moment he takes office on January 20th.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Of course, during the campaign, you were one of those who questioned President-elect Obama's qualifications, said he would be tested...

MCCAIN: Actually, I said that because his running mate said that.


STEPHANOPOULOS: He did. You did (inaudible) statement, you did question his qualifications repeatedly. Are you prepared to revise that judgment now? Do you think he's ready?

MCCAIN: Look, it's not a matter of whether he's ready or -- he has been selected by the American people. We honor that decision. I work -- I want to work with him. These challenges are great. Afghanistan, Pakistan is in difficulties. There are still incredible tensions between India and Pakistan. The Afghan government is not the effective government that we had hoped that it would be. There's huge challenges out there, and that's just in that part of the overseas challenges that we face. So look, the president of the United States has been selected. It's time for us all to join behind him and help however we can. These are challenging times. You've got two countries right now, India and Pakistan, that heighten tensions, both of them nuclear- armed, and the Indians, at least from their point of view, just having experienced a 9/11, and their people are demanding that they bring these people to justice.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You think they're...

MCCAIN: Some of them (inaudible) reside in Pakistan, obviously.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Do you think the Indians should be allowed to take action?

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