Transcript: Sen. John McCain

MCCAIN: Oh, no. Listen, I have the greatest appreciation for Governor Palin and her family, and it was a great joy to know them. She invigorated our campaign. She was just down in Georgia and invigorated their campaign. But I can't say something like that. We've got some great other young governors. I think you're going to see the governors assume a greater leadership role in our Republican Party. Pawlenty, Huntsman...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But why not? (inaudible) she was the best person...

MCCAIN: Sure. Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... to succeed you if something had happened to you?

MCCAIN: But now we're in a whole election cycle. Have no doubt of my admiration and respect for her and my view of her viability, but at this stage, again...

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: ... my corpse is still warm, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

STEPHANOPOULOS: And you're laughing about it right now, but when you do look back, and you know, we now know that the country was in recession throughout all of 2008, job loss every month. Do you think this was a winnable race for you?

MCCAIN: You know, I'd leave that to others to make that kind of judgment. I do know that when the Dow went down 700 points, there's no doubt, you can track that in the -- in our polling data. But in a way, that would sound like I am detracting from President-elect Obama's campaign. I don't want to do that. There's no -- nobody likes a sore loser.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Your friend Lindsey Graham says the Republican Party has to analyze the fundamentals of the party. Do you agree with that, and what's your analysis of what's going on?

MCCAIN: My analysis is, we've got to get back to doing business the way Republicans say they used to. We've got to restrain spending. We have to be conservative in the best way. We have to concentrate on the national security issues. And very frankly, one of the issues that we're going to address very seriously is Hispanic participation in the Republican Party. President Bush got 43 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2004. I got 31 percent. Now, we're going to -- we Republicans are going to have to recruit and elect Hispanic candidates to offices, and that -- and do a lot of other things, because that's a growing part of our population. We also have to reach out to the African-American community. We have to be -- broaden our base, and yet stick to the principles of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. We can do that. In 2004, as you might recall, Republicans had 55 votes in the Senate and we were going for 60. Things can change. We'll come back. We'll come back.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You're smiling. You've gotten right back to work. But everybody knows that running for president is a searing experience. I think of the story of Walter Mondale, after he lost in 1984. He turned to George McGovern, and said, "George, when do you get over it? How do you get over it?" McGovern says, "I'll let you know when I do." How do you get over it?

MCCAIN: Get busy. Get busy. Get busy and move on. That's the best cure for it. I spent a period of time felling sorry for myself. It's wonderful. It's one of the most enjoyable experiences that you can have. But the point is, you've got to move on. You've got to move on. Get busy. I'm still a senator from the state of Arizona. I still have the privilege and honor of serving this country, which I've done all my life, and it's a great honor to do so.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, Senator McCain, thank you very much for taking some time with us this morning.

MCCAIN: Thanks, George.

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