'This Week' Transcript: McCain

TAPPER: Senator, just one last question on Afghanistan, and then I want to move on to Iraq. This week, a key House subcommittee blocked $4 billion in non-military and non-humanitarian aid for Afghanistan because of concerns of rampant corruption in Afghanistan, including Karzai allies having investigations into their behavior -- into their activities being blocked. General Petraeus met with Karzai yesterday, and Karzai called these concerns "baseless."

Do you support blocking these funds until the U.S. is more confident the money is not being stolen?

MCCAIN: I think we need to go ahead and spend the money, but corruption is a problem here in Afghanistan, and it's a serious one, and it begins with the policemen on the beat, and that's why we're beginning to have our military police partner with the police in places like Kandahar. And there has to be a lot of work to be done.

There has been some small progress, but a lot more has to be done, but I do not believe that it would -- we would succeed in motivating the government to crack down on corruption if we cut off the funds. But I also acknowledge it's a serious problem.

TAPPER: You were also in Iraq over the last few days where you met with local officials. The inconclusive election there has increased tensions and raised questions about President Obama's plan to end combat operations at the end of August. Is that deadline still wise, given the lack of a government right now?

MCCAIN: The deadline is still wise. And thanks to the security situation, it can be met. We will be withdrawing an additional 28,000 troops between now and the end of August.

We had an inconclusive election in the year 2000, as well, and it took us some time to sort it out. I think maybe we could look at the glass being half-full in that it was a competitive election and one that there was wide participation, something that doesn't happen a lot in this part of the world.

TAPPER: I want to turn to...

MCCAIN: And I think they'll work it out.

TAPPER: I want to turn to some domestic issues, as long as I have you. President Obama delivered a speech on immigration reform this week. He mentioned you at one point. Here's part of that speech.


OBAMA: Under the leadership of Senator Kennedy and Senator John McCain, we worked across the aisle to help pass a bipartisan bill through the Senate. And now, under the pressures of partisanship and election year politics, many of the 11 Republican senators who voted for reform in the past have now backed away from their previous support.


TAPPER: Senator, that's you he's talking about. Why have you backed away from comprehensive immigration reform, which you spoke so passionately about in 2006 and 2007?

MCCAIN: First of all, let me -- and I -- I don't enjoy bringing this up, but the fact is, then-Senator Obama supported amendments which would have gutted the proposal that we had before the United States Senate, which he said he would propose, an amendment that basically gutted the temporary -- legal temporary worker program.

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