'This Week' Transcript: Sen. John McCain

MCCAIN: I caution my friends, both here in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, that we don't want to do anything or pass legislation which would encourage Gadhafi to remain in power. And I would say to my Republican friends: If this were a Republican president, would you be trying to impose these same conditions?


AMANPOUR: So that was pretty stark. Were you saying that they're at risk of putting politics over national security and over policy?

MCCAIN: I think that's a great risk, coupled with war weariness, coupled with the lack of complete success in -- or apparent to some success in Libya, although I believe that Gadhafi is crumbling. But I think it's a combination of things. And it certainly is also a bit of partisanship. But the president of the United States, I believe, should have gone in with our air power and not given it to, quote, "NATO" because...

AMANPOUR: Not "leading from behind," so to speak.

MCCAIN: ... exactly, not leading from behind. But the point is that if we do not continue this effort in Libya, if Gadhafi remains in power, it could have profound consequences.

So the War Powers Act, every president has said that they don't agree with its constitutionality, but they have adhered to it. So the Congress of the United States should pass a resolution -- and Senator John Kerry and I have the resolution that's ready to go -- that would comply with the War Powers Act.

AMANPOUR: You said that you think Gadhafi is crumbling. We've heard the Europeans say that they might have to continue the bombing to the fall. I've heard American top military officials say the same thing. Are you prepared for it to take that long?

MCCAIN: I'm prepared, whether our European allies that -- 7 nations of the 28 that are actually in the fight have the assets is a legitimate question. We are providing all the logistical support, the intelligence, refueling, literally everything but combat aircraft, including Predators. Predators are in the fight. But it's an enormous strain on our allies.

AMANPOUR: Are you concerned, though, about the message we're hearing? You've talked about the partisan share, what's going on in Congress. Are you concerned, for instance, about what Speaker Boehner is saying about this?

MCCAIN: Well, I was more concerned about what the candidates in New Hampshire the other night said. This is isolationism. There's always been an isolation strain -- isolation strain in the Republican Party, the Pat Buchanan wing of our party. But now it seems to have moved more center stage, so to speak.


BACHMANN: Defense Secretary Gates, when he came before the United States Congress, he could not identify a vital national American interest in Libya. We were not attacked. We were not threatened with attack. There was no vital national interest.

CAIN: They are not simple situations. It's a mess. It's this absolute mess.

GINGRICH: We have got to have a totally new strategy for the region, because we don't today have the kind of intelligence we need to know even what we're doing.


MCCAIN: If we had not intervened, Gadhafi was at the gates of Benghazi. He said he was going to go house to house to kill everybody. That's a city of 700,000 people. What would be saying now if we had allowed for that to happen?

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