Interview with John McCain

The 2008 GOP nominee on the Republican race and tensions overseas.
9:51 | 02/19/12

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Transcript for Interview with John McCain
He Romney backer and the Republican nominee from four years ago John McCain joined us just a few moments ago from Afghanistan. Senator I'm going to get to international relations and foreign policy in a second but the news this week has been dominated by politics and in fact you become. Part of the conversation. I want to play Rick Santorum in Columbus, Ohio yesterday talking about Mitt Romney's leadership of the Salt Lake City Olympic. He wrote. Solved let's see. Ultimately eighties I wrote likely going to congress and there are tens of millions and got that now. -- -- -- -- The worst. All. Your markets through the word hypocrisy comes. Does the word hypocrisy come to mind ask senator -- formal does the does that word come to mind because senator Santorum is. Right he did request that money as head of the Olympics you did criticize it -- now Mitt Romney is criticizing. Rick Santorum for earmark spending what's your reaction. Well my reaction has that I have -- -- He opposed earmarks and -- -- -- of all kinds all I want them to do was go to congress and go through the normal process of what. Of authorizing and then appropriating I certainly wanted to save the Salt Lake. Olympics as did most other Americans did. Mr. Santorum. Voted for things like the bridge to nowhere. As Jews in Philadelphia and was one of the more blatant and defender of earmarks which my friend senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma says. He is a -- way to -- gateway drug to corruption and he engaged in it he defended it. He was in this K street project which led to corruption more corruption and -- and eventually members of congress sending up in jail. Of course I opposed an earmark. But if they had gone and authorized it -- I would've supported it because I believe that the Olympics was in very important to the United States of America. You endorsed Mitt Romney but a friend of yours former Ohio senator Mike the -- who endorsed. You in both of your presidential runs this weekend -- endorsed Mitt Romney and endorsed Rick Santorum to wind said quote. He's just not connecting about Romney. I don't know what it is but I can tell you from real people I'm talking to it ain't getting. Any better isn't senator dewine touching on a real problem for Mitt Romney isn't -- having problems connecting to voters. I think it's a very tough campaign and I understand that but the fact is that these debates and these kinds of negative campaigns have driven. The -- of disapproval ratings of all of the members I am still confident that and Mitt Romney will succeed I was declared dead by pundits such as yourself but. Back -- 2007. And 2008. But like I respect my -- opinion. -- I am confident that Mitt Romney will succeed in both Michigan and Arizona but it's tough and it's not been -- Are you worried. At. Tenor of the campaign. Being such that President Obama will have a much easier time being reelected I've talked to a lot of Republicans who two or three months ago were very bullish on defeating. President Obama and now are very very worried. The because this race has gotten so nasty and as you. Suggest the -- negative ratings of the candidates have gone so high he may in fact be reelected. I am concerned about that Jake and I think there's reason to be concerned about it. I've been -- very tough campaigns. I don't think I've seen one. That was his personal and has characterized by so many attacks. As sees art and frankly one of the reasons -- the super pacs and why we have the super pacs because see it. Ignorance and I have a -- in the United States supreme -- Court in the Citizens United campaign we now have have hey casino mogul. That's for what -- about twenty million dollars -- and a lot of that money come from his proceeds. From he is casinos overseas including China. So. I think it has to do with the unlimited money and I do not believe I've ever seen. Campaign -- characterized overwhelmingly by negative attacks. Let's turn -- to Afghanistan where -- sitting right now the big news is. That Hamid Karzai the Afghan president has confirmed that that the United States the Afghan government. RR in three way talks with the Taliban. Are those talks a mistake. No I think it's important to have talks where every can but I also think that it's important to remember that. We have to have an outcome on the battlefield that would. Motivate a successful conclusion. To those talks and there's also the perception here. That we are leaving which then of course is say. Disincentive to successful conclusion. Of the of the talks I think it's very important that we have a strategic agreement. With Afghanistan for -- long term US presence here I think that's the best way to bring about a peaceful solution. Is to make sure that we are here to stay to support the Afghan government and people. And we will supply that assistance for as long as is necessary. The reason I ask -- is because Mitt Romney says it should be absolutely no negotiation with the Taliban. Whereas I've heard you say in the past. You make peace with your enemies and that's -- need to negotiate with so on this. Issue not not the withdrawal date I understand you guys are. In congress on that but on this issue of whether or not there should be any negotiating with the Taliban -- that -- disagree. Well I haven't had a conversation them better but I'm sure that Mitt Romney would like to have peaceful solution. But he has a realistic approach when the -- United States keeps withdraw announcing withdrawal dates. Then. As so one of the -- -- -- once said to a his captor and American said. You've got the -- we've got the time so by the president declaring the withdrawal dates before our. Military commanders. Recommended an increasing the risk in their view lessens the chances for success of any negotiations. Let's go to neighboring Iran -- the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff this weekend said in an interview that an Israeli military strike on Iran would be quote destabilizing. And would not achieve their long term objectives I wouldn't suggest sitting here today. That we persuaded the Israelis that our view is the correct -- and that they are acting in an ill advised fashion. We are of the opinion that Iran is a rational actor we also know -- we believe we know that the Iranian regime has not decided. To make a nuclear weapon. Do you agree with what the Obama administration in the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- -- the Israelis. I think Israelis face an existential threat to -- Iran has a nuclear weapon. I agree with the -- -- United States who said such a eventuality. Of Iranians having nuclear weapons is quote unacceptable. I think the Israelis are pretty good at assessing the threats to their vital national security interest. They are surrounded by countries some of whom are dedicated to -- extinction. And there's no doubt about the Iranian intention concerning the existence of the State of Israel. So I hope that working together with the Israelis. That sanctions would work and they have not changed the deterred the Iranians so far that we can bring about a peaceful resolution but there may come a time. Where -- they reach an unacceptable place which the president of the United States as stated would be an unacceptable situation. You're heading to Egypt where the government has. Many American citizens who were active and democracy work. It's not letting them leave the country your chairman of one of these groups the International Republican Institute. If the Egyptian government refuses to release these Americans. Should the United States threatened to cut off aid to Egypt. Jake I think this is very difficult situation. I am going teach your -- are poorly planned trip. I am not a negotiator. But I think it's important that I and the other senators and the delegation explained to the Egyptian leadership. And by the way this is so Mubarak law that they are enforcing this is not the Muslim Brotherhood. We are talking about. That this is a serious situation had a serious implications for our relationship. But for me to go to the Egyptian shall make threats I think could be non productive. Before you go senator I have to ask you -- your most memorable campaign ads from 2008 involved you. And -- sheriff walking along the border talking about completing the damn fence and that's sheriff. Over the weekend had to step down from his position in the Romney campaign after being accused of threatening. To deport his ex boyfriend who was an illegal immigrants. As uncomfortable as this story might. Make you I'm wondering if you have any reaction. To this he was in. -- your most memorable campaign -- was an important supporter. Yours well of course share that view is a friend of mine and I do not know the details except what has been published in the media. And I'm sure there will be a thorough and complete investigation. If there is any allegations of of wrongdoing. Well I can say is that he also deserve some benefit. As every citizen's does sort of innocence until proven guilty. But I appreciate the support that he gave me in my campaign always will. All right Senator McCain thanks so much for joining us and be safe on your -- Thanks for having me on.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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