McCain Takes Swipe at GOP on Blago Scandal

In Stephanopoulos interview, defeated nominee rejects RNC attacks on Obama.

December 14, 2008, 12:54 PM

Dec. 14, 2008 -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took on his own party this morning for continuing to criticize the way President-elect Barack Obama has handled the scandal surrounding Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"In all due respect to the Republican National Committee... I think we should try to be working constructively together, not only on an issue such as this, but on the economy stimulus package, reforms that are necessary," McCain said in an exclusive "This Week" interview with George Stephanopoulos.

RNC Chairman Mike Duncan has released a statement every day since news broke of the Blagojevich corruption investigation calling on the Obama team to reveal all contact that they've had with the governor.

However, McCain also called on the Obama transition team to publicly release all information relating to Blagojevich.

"I think that the Obama campaign should and will give all information necessary... I don't know all the details of the relationship between President-elect Obama's campaign or his people and the governor of Illinois, but I have some confidence that all the information will come out. It always does, it seems to me," he said.

McCain argued that the disgraced governor should resign.

"He should," he said. "You know, there's a lot of corruption amongst Republicans and Democrats, and this kind of thing doesn't help in these kinds of difficult economic times. So I would hope that he would resign, but we also ought to look at systems that breed this kind of corruption, and unfortunately, it isn't confined to one city or one state."

In his first Sunday interview since the election, McCain explained his role in the Republican Party going forward.

"I think my job is, of course, to be a part of and hopefully exert some leadership in the loyal opposition... Will there be areas of disagreement? Of course. We are different parties and different philosophy. But the nation wants us to unite and work together."

When asked where he foresees coordinating with his former rival, McCain suggested he is willing to sign onto a stimulus plan in January.

"I'm willing to sign on to a package that will help our economy get fixed," he said. On Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, McCain explained, "I want to see the details of it... We also have to enact some fundamental reforms about the way we do business."

He also weighed in on the ongoing fight on Capitol Hill over a bailout for the Big Three auto companies.

While McCain argued during the campaign that "we've got to keep the auto industry alive," he joined the effort to kill the auto bailout this week in the Senate. When asked why, McCain said the package under discussion did not remedy the situation.

"I didn't believe that this fix would keep the auto industry alive. I think it just put them on some life-support system for two or three months, because they didn't make the fundamental changes, i.e. more changes in their costs and salaries and wages and benefits, which would put them in line and make them competitive with foreign manufacturers in the United States -- not foreign manufacturers overseas," he said.

Vice President Dick Cheney warned Senate Republicans this week that if they don't bail out the auto industry, the Republican Party will forever be known as the party of Herbert Hoover.

In response McCain asked, "what is the point if you just kept at least two of the three alive for another two or three or four months? You end up in the same position, only you've spent an additional $15 billion."

When pressed further by Stephanopoulos about whether the auto companies need to go into bankruptcy, McCain said "I think that if not bankruptcy, certainly a bankruptcy-like solution, which forces everybody to sit down at the table and redo all these agreements."

McCain also addressed the Obama transition so far, admitting that "absolutely" Obama's national security team could have been one that he would have picked himself.

When asked what that tells him about the president-elect, McCain responded, "[It] tells me that the president-elect is going to address national security issues with people who he thinks the American people can trust, and that he can place trust and confidence in."

On the campaign trail McCain repeatedly voiced his belief that Obama "isn't ready" to be commander in chief, but this morning he said "It's not a matter of whether he's ready... He has been selected by the American people. We honor that decision."

Of his campaign remark that the nation will be tested if Obama were elected, McCain laughed, "I said that because his running mate said that!"

Finally on the future of his running mate, McCain refused to say whether he would support Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska if she runs for president in 2012.

"Oh, no. Listen, I have the greatest appreciation for Gov. Palin and her family, and it was a great joy to know them. She invigorated our campaign.

"But I can't say something like that," McCain said. "We've got some great other young governors."

When asked why not, given that he selected her to succeed him as president if anything were to happen to him, McCain explained, "Now we're in a whole election cycle. Have no doubt of my admiration and respect for her and my view of her viability."

He went on to joke, "My corpse is still warm, you know?"

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