'This Week' Transcript: Tim Kaine

Transcript: Tim Kaine

ByABC News
October 24, 2010, 5:00 AM

October 24, 2010 — -- AMANPOUR: Hello again, everyone. It's nine days until the election. Early voting is under way in more than half the states and there's talk of waves and cultural shifts, but the fact is, many House and Senate races are simply too close to call. We're joined now by the head of the Democratic National Committee, Tim Kaine. Welcome to "This Week."

KAINE: Christiane, good to be back.

AMANPOUR: Do you think you will keep the House?

KAINE: I do. I do. I think it's going to be close, and as you point, these races are very close. But from this point forward, it's all about turnout and ground game, and we're seeing good early voting trends and we -- we've got work to do, but we think we can do it.

AMANPOUR: Are you saying that all the polling, the predictions are wrong? Because everywhere you look, it says that you're not going to keep the House.

KAINE: But the polling is moving. We really haven't seen since Labor Day polls moving against us. Almost all the polls have been moving for us. Now, we still have some work to do, but what Democrats tend to specialize in is the ground game, the turnout. The more people turn out, the better we do, and we are seeing strong trends at the presidential rallies and early voting.

AMANPOUR: Do you think if the House remains Democratic, Nancy Pelosi will remain speaker?

KAINE: Yes, I do. I do.

AMANPOUR: No question?

KAINE: I -- she's done a marvelous job in a town where it's hard to do heavy lifts, as you know, in doing heavy lifting in the House to work with the president, and I think she'll stay speaker.

AMANPOUR: What about the Senate? That seems to be more likely to stay Democratic, but is it? Do you think it will be?

KAINE: We're not taking a single race for granted, so let me start there, but I think, you know, four or five months ago, the Republicans thought they had a great chance at taking both houses. For a variety of reasons, the Senate has gotten much more difficult for them. And again, we're seeing this week strong moves in polling for our Senate candidates in California, in Washington. Pennsylvania has gone, Joe Sestak from behind to even. So we feel like we've got a very good ground game, but a lot more work to do. We're not taking it for granted.

AMANPOUR: But it's incredible that you are so behind in so many of these race, for instance in the House. Because the president and the Democratic administration talks about the accomplishments and legislation has been passed, but it seems that the selling of it, if you like, has really fallen behind. In fact, President Obama said something (ph) similar this week during a speech. Let's just listen to what he said.


OBAMA: One of the challenges we had two years ago was we had to move so fast, we were in such emergency mode, that it was very difficult for us to spend a lot of time doing victory laps and advertising exactly what we were doing. I take some responsibility for that. I mean, our attitude was, we just had to get the policy right, and we didn't always think about making sure we were advertising properly what was going on.


AMANPOUR: So why didn't you -- I mean, you are a seasoned pol. Why didn't the Democratic National Committee, the group...

KAINE: Right.

AMANPOUR: ... make sure to get the message out if it was so powerful?

KAINE: Now, Christiane, we have to do better as well. Now, I'm on TV all the time talking about the president's accomplishments, and I'm happy to say, as I campaign around the country, most Democrats are proud of their president, proud of their party, proud of the accomplishments.

AMANPOUR: But what could the party have done better so that the narrative could still be controlled?

KAINE: Well, we're going to have to figure out a way to spend more time -- as the president said, we plead guilty to focusing on substance. You know, we were in an economic freefall with two wars that were open-ended blank checks, and we have taken a shrinking economy -- it's now a growing economy -- nine months of private-sector job growth. We've got a lot to do. Finding that right balance between focusing on the substance and the explanation of the work is something that we wrestle with. The good news is that if you have to err on the side, I'm glad that we're focusing on the substance, because as you know in Washington, it's often pretty hard.

AMANPOUR: I can understand what you're saying, and obviously the substance is what you want to be measured by. But you also want to win elections.

KAINE: Right, right.

AMANPOUR: President Clinton -- former President Clinton has been out on the stump across the country.

KAINE: Doing a great job.

AMANPOUR: He has spoken to one of your predecessors, Terry McAuliffe, who he was with, and basically has said that he's baffled, he's mystified why the message hasn't gotten out better, why they haven't told the story in a better way of the economy, and why are Democrats, quote-unquote, "allowing themselves to be used as human pinatas."

KAINE: Well, you know, again, I don't see Democrats on the trail, many who are being "human pinatas." I see them out campaigning vigorously on accomplishments. Look, we saved the auto industry...

AMANPOUR: But you are being battered around.

KAINE: The other side is always going to do that. We saved the auto industry. We saved the financial sector. We passed a bill enabling women to get equal pay for equal work, and done historic health care reform, among many other bills.

So we feel very good about the accomplishments. And that's why I think you see the polls closing. People understand that. They also understand what choice they have with the Republicans who have stood in the way in all of these accomplishments.

And people don't want to go backward, they want to go forward.

AMANPOUR: You mentioned health care. I want to say something that you, yourself, said about this issue when it comes to elections.

KAINE: OK, great.


KAINE: When make this happen, and people immediately see the benefits that are going to come their way, I think this is going to be a great thing politically for the Dems. And we're trying to show members that they've got their constituents behind them if they vote with the president.


AMANPOUR: Well, right now the country seems to be really split on that. And many Democrats are doing their best not to vote -- and not to campaign, rather, on health reform.

KAINE: Christiane, I've been in 40-plus states as DNC chair. The number of Dems I am with who are distancing themselves from health care is very small. The overwhelming majority are very proud of ending the abuses of insurance companies and providing paths to affordable coverage for families and small business.

AMANPOUR: But you know it's one of those bashing points of the Republican side. And there are ads by Democratic candidates...

KAINE: Sure.

AMANPOUR: ... running away from the president and the reforms.

KAINE: A couple of them. And it is -- you know, of course it's a talking point for Republicans. They want to roll it back. They are taking...

AMANPOUR: But Democrats...

KAINE: They are taking...

AMANPOUR: Democrats are running away...

KAINE: ... huge money from Republican interests that are not disclosing who they are to run ads, because they want to roll back health care. The vast majority of Democrats I campaign with are very proud of the health care accomplishments.

You know, young kids in this country -- and I've got three, age 15 to 20, can now stay on their family insurance policies until age 26, not 21. That is a huge advance for the youth of this nation. And whether it's youth or seniors or small businesses, there are significant benefits here.

AMANPOUR: You mentioned money.


AMANPOUR: Obviously money has been the topic of conversation, certainly on the campaign trail for the Democrats...

KAINE: Right.

AMANPOUR: ... and we see it all over the newspapers. You are complaining that there is a lot of money and a lot of undisclosed money.

KAINE: It's the disclosure, right. There will always be money in politics, and that's going to continue to ramp up. But I think the issue that I'm focusing on is, there is a concerted Republican effort, I believe, to shift campaign financing to entities that don't have to disclose who their donors are.

You're going to have one of the architects of that effort, Ed Gillespie, on later. And I hope you'll ask him why he is against disclosure and why the Republicans continually vote against disclosure bills in Congress.

AMANPOUR: But the question is, you could do that too. It's a level playing field. Why haven't the Democrats played on the same field?

KAINE: Because we believe in disclosure. I mean, at the DNC, every dollar I raise we disclose where it comes from and how it gets spent. Every Democrat in Congress has supported the Disclose Act that would require anyone supporting any candidate to disclose.

The American public has a right to know who is funding political campaigns. And that is a bedrock principle of ours that we're going to uphold.

AMANPOUR: And let me ask you again about some of the policies. Despite the crises that you inherited, the financial crisis, despite some of the legislation, the economy has stayed pretty stuck...

KAINE: Right.

AMANPOUR: ... it's not growing fast enough, the unemployment is pretty stuck at 9.6 percent. Things haven't sort of moved.

In an interview with the National Journal, and in previous interviews, the president has said the following: "It's going to important for Democrats to have a proper and appropriate sense of humility about what we can accomplish in the absence of Republican cooperation." What does he mean by humility?

KAINE: I think it's trying to find the balance between telling a story of accomplishment and change and improvement, while acknowledging that we still have a long way to go. So when the president came in, as you know, Christiane, the economy of the United States was actually shrinking for the first time in about 70 years. We had come through a decade where we lost jobs, income declined, poverty gap's widened. Now the economy is growing again. Now, instead of 22 months of private-sector job losses in a row, we've had nine months of private-sector job gains, but we know we are not where we want to be yet. We are climbing the ladder. We're getting out of the canyon we were in. We've got to keep climbing and not go backward, but you have to have that humility because a lot of people are still suffering and we've got more work to do.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that, as you have more work to do, that there will be a better chance of bipartisanship after this election or not?

KAINE: Well, there's always in an election cycle I think the parties tend to go in their corners. So for example, you saw the Democrats work very hard on the small business lending bill, that from all the Republican rhetoric, you would have thought that they would have supported. Instead, they filibustered that bill for months because they really did not want it to pass in an election cycle.

But I do think there are matters like that, small business lending and other economic advances that there well could be some accord on as we go forward, once you get past all the sturm and drung of the election cycle.

AMANPOUR: And finally, what will happen after the election? Will you remain DNC chairman?

KAINE: Well, I am doing what the president wants me to do. I have not had any conversation with him or the White House to suggest they want me to do anything different, so it's full speed ahead. It's been a tremendous honor to serve this president in this way.

AMANPOUR: Tim Kaine, chairman of the DNC, thank you so much indeed for joining us.

KAINE: You bet, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Thank you very much.

AMANPOUR: And joining me now, General Hugh Shelton. Welcome to "This Week."

SHELTON: Thanks, Christiane. Great to be with you.

AMANPOUR: It was prescient, what President Clinton said, that you could survive just about anything. Tell me how you survived that fall.

SHELTON: Well, I was very fortunate. After falling off the ladder and being evacuated quickly to a local hospital and told I would never walk again, Walter Reed came to the emergency -- it -- and Dr. Jim Eckland (ph) immediately evacuated me out to Walter Reed. They did kind of an advanced technique on me to raise my blood pressure, force the blood in around the cells, and miraculously I walked out after 83 days at Walter Reed.

AMANPOUR: And they said once in a million cure, in that regard.

SHELTON: Well, at Walter Reed, they said they'd never seen one recover from that type of an injury. And now I can serve as an inspiration to others that suffered the same type of injury.

AMANPOUR: Well, let me ask you to put your analyst cap on now, based on your war experience. In Iraq, drawdown of combat forces, and yet troubling reports that the linchpin to success, bringing the Sunni groups on, the Sunni awakening may be crumbling. Reports that the Sunni awakening cells are being recruited or defecting or being kicked out by the Iraqi government back to Al Qaida.

SHELTON: Very, very disturbing but I would say not unexpected. I think that, you know, all along, we've said we were going to provide an environment that the Iraqi people could form a government, but that's up to them to really come to the...

AMANPOUR: Right, but if those people go back to Al Qaida, doesn't that imply that there could be more violence, that you will continue to have that division between Sunni and Shiite?

SHELTON: Without a doubt, Christiane. And I think all along, you know, if you listen to the leaders in the Middle East, like King Abdullah, a great friend, who would say what -- what it will take to rule Iraq will be a strong government, a strong man. Hopefully not like Saddam, but someone that can keep those three factions apart.

AMANPOUR: And in Afghanistan, again, one of the things that they are trying to emulate is to bring the Taliban in, like they tried to do with the Sunnis in Iraq. What do you think of bringing the Taliban in? Do you think negotiations will work?

SHELTON: I think that we've got to be very careful. I believe that the Afghanistan people will be very, very concerned -- and we see reports now, the warlords are even starting to get concerned about how much control the Taliban will have. Trying to strike some type of an agreement with them I think is a reasonable course of action, but Karzai's government has got to remain in charge and governing that country.

AMANPOUR: And how long do you think it will take? Obviously much publicity and much attention about President Obama's summertime 2011 withdrawal or rather drawdown. Do you think that that's possible?

SHELTON: I am very, very concerned. We couldn't ask for better military leadership. Our men and women are doing a great job, but we're dealing with a 14th century culture, the second most corrupt nation in the world. And now we've got to have Karzai be in position by 2011 to really maintain control as we start to pull our combat forces out, and I'm not too -- I am not sure we haven't given our military a goal that is a bridge too far.

AMANPOUR: A bridge too far. What do you think about -- Wikileaks obviously has come out with another huge amount of documentation about the Iraq war this time, and they focused quite heavily on subcontractors. I've seen them in the field. They are quite controversial in many instances. Is American war fighting changing? Is it being outsourced too much?

SHELTON: I don't believe it's being outsourced too much, and I do believe that we need better controls over the contractors that are out in the field. But certainly when you look at the nation building aspect of the mission that we have in Afghanistan, as an example, those requirements far exceed what the military has the capability to do. And so, if you want those things done, you have to either go to contractors or the other elements of our government -- Commerce, Justice Department et cetera. They have to be able to come in and work those issues, because the military can't get there from here. So (inaudible) controls.

AMANPOUR: Let's go back to when you were chairman of the Joint Chiefs and even slightly afterwards, when President Bush decided to go to war in Iraq. You talk about it was based on faulty intelligence and indeed on lies and deceit, but you also say something about insubordination. You say, for instance, during meetings, "some people were kept on after Bush had tendered his opinion and issued an instruction based on that opinion. Yet certain strong-willed individuals seemed to disregard him and forge ahead with their own agendas, almost to the point of insubordination." That's a very strong indictment.

SHELTON: Well, there was a very strong push in those days for us to go into Iraq, and there was absolutely no intelligence, zero, that pointed toward -- pointed toward the Iraqis. It was all Al Qaida, Osama bin Laden. And yet there was an element there that was -- that was pushing to go into Iraq at the same time.

AMANPOUR: But what do you mean by insubordination?

SHELTON: The fact that the president says himself, we're not going to do that right now, let's focus on Afghanistan, the Taliban and Al Qaida. Yet below the surface, we still had the sentiment (ph) that said, let's keep planning for Iraq just in case we can convince him that we can go.

AMANPOUR: And you think they could have convinced him?

SHELTON: Not at that time. I think that, as President Bush told me at Camp David, you know, I just don't see it. You know, we may go get Saddam and take him out, but it will be at a time and place of our choosing. It won't be as a part of the Afghanistan operation. He got it from day one...


AMANPOUR: So you're saying he was pushed into it?

SHELTON: I think eventually that that same drumbeat continued, and Afghanistan, remember, was going very, very well. The drumbeat back here in Washington was still pushing, coming out of the Pentagon, let's go to Iraq, let's get -- take him out. And he finally said, let's go. We walked out on the limb before we could build a coalition of the -- either the United Nations or NATO, one of the two.

AMANPOUR: You're very -- you have some harsh words about then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Is he part of the group that you are targeting here?

SHELTON: Well, I personally like Secretary Rumsfeld, but he was part of the group, he and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz, that continued to push to go into Iraq. And I think that's been documented on a number of occasions.

AMANPOUR: But you also say that in terms of dealing with defense secretaries that Secretary Rumsfeld was more in the (INAUDIBLE) mold, which you said was, you know, based more on sort of heavy pushing and on those kinds of relationships.

SHELTON: And those were my observations. I've had the opportunity to work for a number of secretaries of defense while I was in Pentagon. And, for example, Secretary Bill Cohen, great team-builders, tremendous leader, (INAUDIBLE), made you want to do things because they were the right things to do and because we all pulled together to get it done.

But the leadership that Secretary Rumsfeld brought was totally different.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you about "Don't Ask/Don't Tell," and I want to put up what a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs told THIS WEEK, this program several months ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today we've changed. The country has changed. I am personally of the view now that attitudes have changed. And I think it is perfectly acceptable to get rid of the law and the policy.


AMANPOUR: Is it time, General Shelton, to get rid of that policy?

SHELTON: Christiane, I think it's time to let's see what the men and women that are at the basic combat unit, particularly men in the Marines and the Army have to say when the survey comes in on the first of December.

AMANPOUR: Will you support it if the Pentagon review says that it's time to get rid of it?

SHELTON: If the men and women in uniform at the fighting level, particularly, Marines and Army, say, you know, it doesn't make any different to us, and therefore it won't break the readiness of our great armed forces, then I think that's...


AMANPOUR: Why do you it would? I mean, look, some of the great allies of the United States have -- whether it's Canada, whether it's Britain, France, Australian, even Israel allows openly gay men and women to serve in the military. And they have great armies, great militaries.

SHELTON: They have great militaries, great armies. But if you check the historical records, Christiane, as you know, we've never lost to any of them. We are the top of the pile. We are the best in the world. And we want to stay that way.

And if this policy is related to combat readiness -- see, these guys -- these individuals don't go home at night. It's not the corporate world. You and I can go home at night, we live our own lives, et cetera. These individuals are intense. They're in barracks. They fight for one another. Who's on the left, who's on the right.

I think it's extremely important that we find out from them whether or not this is going to change why they fight. If it does, we've got a problem. If it doesn't, then we will proceed.

AMANPOUR: On that note, this is obviously a current issue that is being debated...


AMANPOUR: ... and it will be finalized, we think, in a couple of months at least. General Shelton, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

And when we come back, "In Memoriam," and later, a "Reporter's Notebook" from Iran.

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