'This Week' Transcript: Sen. John McCain

AMANPOUR: Well, you were one of the key supporters. And what you're talking is all the Republicans on the stage of that debate on Monday seeming to waver from what's a traditional Republican position on national security.

MCCAIN: I wonder what Ronald Reagan would be saying today.

AMANPOUR: What would he be saying today, if he had heard, for instance, Michele Bachmann or Mitt Romney?

MCCAIN: He would be saying that's not the Republican Party of the 20th century and now the 21st century. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people for all over the world, whether it be in Grenada, that Ronald Reagan had a quick operation about, or whether it be in our enduring commitment to countering the Soviet Union.

AMANPOUR: So what do you say, then, to a Michele Bachmann who said that there was no vital interest in Libya?

MCCAIN: I strongly disagree with her and others. The fact is, our interests are our values. And our values are that we don't want people needlessly slaughtered by the thousands if we can prevent such activity.

Second of all, Gadhafi has the blood of 90 Americans on his hands. He is a person who has been involved in acts of terror against the United States of America, bombing of our embassies, et cetera. So...

AMANPOUR: Pan Am 103?

MCCAIN: Pan Am 103, the 90-some Americans that were killed in the blowing up of Pan Am 103, the bombing of the disco in Germany. So if Gadhafi remains in power, it's clear that you will see him engage in an escalated effort, of course, to harm the United States of America, obviously.

AMANPOUR: So let's turn then, for instance, to Afghanistan, where, quite amazingly, many of the candidates, if not all, were talking about a swift withdrawal from Afghanistan. For instance, Mitt Romney was one of those who said so, and let's listen to what he said at that debate.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

ROMNEY: It's time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, consistent with the word that comes from our generals that we can hand the country over. I think we've learned some important lessons in our experience in Afghanistan.

Our troops shouldn't go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: So there are several questions raised there. Number one, is this a war of independence that the United States is fighting in Afghanistan?

MCCAIN: I had never heard it described that way. He talked about the lessons of history. We abandoned Afghanistan once, and we paid a very heavy price for it in the attacks of 9/11. So that is an important lesson that we must learn.

Second of all, we are succeeding in Afghanistan. We have now gained significant control of the southern part of the country. We now have the challenge in the eastern side. And so we are succeeding.

By the way, it reminds me of the summer of 2007, when we were all ready to pull out of Iraq, and we had to stay the course, and we were able to -- the surge was able to succeed. That surge is succeeding again under the same general.

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