'This Week' Transcript: Sen. John McCain


We have got to get our budget balanced. And that's -- that's vital to the future. And by the way, it has to include Social Security reform, Medicare, and Medicaid reform. Anybody who thinks we can do that with 12 percent to 15 percent of the budget or make those kinds of changes on that small a percentage of the budget is just wrong.

AMANPOUR: And we're going to be debating this afterwards. But, obviously, a big element of the recovery here is linked, to an extent, to the Middle East, where you've just been, the rising gas prices. And of course, there, so many of the revolutions are about jobs as well.

Let's go first to Libya. You have called for some kind of intervention, a no-fly zone. Do you still maintain that position, to have a no-fly zone over Libya?

MCCAIN: Yes, I do. Senator Kerry and Senator Lieberman and I, and others, have called for that.

I would like to point out their air assets are not large. Their air defenses are somewhat antiquated. And this would send a signal to Gadhafi that the president is serious when he says we need for Gadhafi to go. And also, it would be encouraging to the resistance, who are certainly outgunned from the air.

But these air assets that the Libyan -- that Gadhafi has are not overwhelming. They're not -- you know, not saying they aren't a challenge, but...

AMANPOUR: So how do you respond, then, to what Secretary Gates said?

We're going to play what he said about this idea of a no-fly zone.


SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT M. GATES: There's a lot of frankly loose talk about some of these military options. And let's just call a spade a spade. A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That's the way you do a no-fly zone.


AMANPOUR: Do you think that it is, as he says too difficult, that it's loose talk, when it comes to talk about a no-fly zone?

MCCAIN: I have great respect for Secretary Gates and the outstanding job that he has done. We can't risk allowing Gadhafi to massacre people from the air, both by helicopter and...

AMANPOUR: What he's really doing is attacking military installations, ammunition depots and potentially a rebel army. If the U.S. does get involved, is that taking sides?

MCCAIN: Well, clearly, we are on the side of the rebels. We have called for Gadhafi's removal. That's the president of the United States' policy.

But, again, I want to emphasize. Ground intervention would not be appropriate, certainly not at this time. A ground intervention by the part of the United States could be very counterproductive. But we can assist in a lot of ways, humanitarian, intelligence, providing them with some training and other things that we could do as they form up a provisional government in Benghazi.

AMANPOUR: You mentioned what the president said, calling for Colonel Gadhafi to step aside. I mean, when the president says he's got to go, presumably he has to go. How does that happen? How does one get him to go?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, I hope that Gadhafi understands the inevitability of...

AMANPOUR: But he hasn't shown...

MCCAIN: Oh, I agree...

AMANPOUR: ... much indication to us.

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