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Public Statements

GOP Primary Debate

Location: Durham, NH

MCCAIN: There's a number of reasons why we are experiencing this almost unprecedented prosperity. Among them are a lack of regulation, free trade, and most importantly, we are going through a revolution the likes of which the world has seldom seen. You could compare it to either the invention of the printing press or the industrial revolution.

This information technology period that we're going through is incredible, it's exciting, and it's wonderful to be an American and it's wonderful that America leads. That all is not necessarily permanent.

We have an opportunity now. We're wiring every school and library in America to the Internet. The kids on the Navajo reservation at Chinle and Window Rock are going to have the same access to information and knowledge as the kids in Phoenix and Paradise Valley.

This is a wonderful opportunity. We must make the most of it. It requires an education that's worthwhile, requires good teachers. It requires choice and competition in education. And it also requires equipment necessary for these young people to have this opportunity.

The bad news is we are experiencing a growing gap between rich and poor in America, those who have taken part in this and those who can't. Here in New Hampshire, the highest percentage in all of New England, the high-tech workers, is here in New Hampshire. The people and the leaders of New Hampshire should be very proud of that fact. And I intend to make sure that this information technology reaches its fullest capability.

MCCAIN: There are 11 million of these children also who are without health care and that's a disgrace in America and we ought to change that and we ought to change it very quickly.

MCCAIN: But I also get back to education. Education in America has become a civil rights issue. The very wealthy in our society get the best education in the world. The very poor in our society obviously are getting the worst. The conditions in our schools are still deplorable. We need choice and competition in education. We need a national test voucher program in the poorest school districts in America.

We can get the money for that by eliminating the sugar subsidies, and the gas and oil subsidies and the ethanol subsidies which are seven—ethanol subsidies are $700 million a year which goes to Archer Daniels Midland.

And we also need to reward good teachers. We need merit for teachers...

MCCAIN: Washington is gridlocked by special interests. Gary, why do you think it is that we couldn't give patients some fundamental rights?

There was a movie a long time ago called "As Good as It Gets." One of the characters said: I think I ought to have the right to choose my own doctor. Everybody in the audience applauded.

The Democrats are in the grip of the trial lawyers who want everybody to sue everybody for anything. The Republicans are in the grip of the HMOs and the insurance company and their huge...

MCCAIN: ... six- and seven-figure donations...

MCCAIN: ... which have kept us from coming together, which has kept us from coming up with a reasonable bill of rights which most doctors in America agree with and that we could come together.

MCCAIN: Instead, we are gridlocked and we will not move as long as the special interests rule in Washington over the public interests.

MCCAIN: We've gone during the Cold War from a very, very dangerous but a very predictable world to one that is much less predictable and slightly less dangerous, because we no longer face the threat of massive nuclear exchange. But it's complicated, it's difficult, and it requires attention.

This administration has conducted a feckless photo-op foreign policy which may cost us in American blood and treasure in the next century. This administration has failed to understand that we have to have a concept of what we want the world to look like, where our threats and our interests and our values lie.

MCCAIN: If there's a problem, send troops to Haiti. If there's a problem, send them to Somalia. Our military men and women are more over-taxed, and more over-worked, and more deployed than at any time—peace-time period in the history of this country. Our men and women need help. Our men and women need their morale restored. They need the equipment and the housing and the pay that they deserve.

There are 12,000 enlisted families in America on food stamps; I'm going to change that, and I'm going to change it. And it's the Congress' fault, as well as that of the president of the United States, because of massive pork-barrel spending that goes on and on. And I identified $6.4 billion worth of pork-barrel spending on the last bill; that's a shame.

MCCAIN: It's not. And the fact is we need to break down barriers to trade for our agricultural products. That's one of best remedies for many of the agricultural problems we have in America today.

I want to go back just one second to the veterans. I just wrote a book and I've been on a book tour—book-signing tour.

MCCAIN: Yes. Hold it up. "Faith of My Fathers"—Random House, number three on the "New York Times" best-sellers list.

I've had a most unusual experience. Veterans, particularly of World War II, come and they show me the pictures of themselves and their units and where they served. Some of them cry. Some of them—it's a really emotional experience. And, as Gary just said, they are not getting the health care that we promised. They're not getting the treatment that they promised them. They need long-term and geriatric care.

We need to work together with the VFW and the DAV and the American Legion and provide them with what we promised them when the greatest generation went out to fight and defend democracy.

MCCAIN: And we need to do that not only for them but for future generations we may have to call upon.

MCCAIN: Very, very briefly, everybody's entitled to their opinions; not everybody's entitled to their facts, is an old saying. The day that NAFTA was signed we had $300 million a day trade with Canada. Today there's $1 billion worth of trade. There have been several hundred thousand jobs created just because of NAFTA.

Think of the potential if we expanded that free trade. One of the reasons why New Hampshire's economy is so good is because of the trade between this state and Canada. In Mexico, the most prosperous part of Mexico—guess what? -- is the northern-most part, where we have these free trades zones. And it's working, and it will continue to work.

MCCAIN: In the world there's a direct correlation between poverty in those countries and the institutions of democracy. Where democracy grows, economies improve.

The United States of America is a beacon of hope and freedom and liberty for every nation in the world wherever there are oppressed people, wherever there's poverty, wherever there's inequity, wherever there's injustice. The people of those countries look to the United States of America.

We can help in a broad variety of ways, including programs such as the Peace Corps. And as president of the United States I want to inspire young Americans to commit themselves to causes greater than their self-interest. Wherever there's a hungry child, there's a great cause. Wherever there's people killing each other for ethnic or tribal reason, there's a great cause. And that's really what being president of the United States is all about.

MCCAIN: Indeed, if we're going to take full advantage of this incredible information technology revolution that we're experiencing, we have to, we must improve education. It has become an equal rights issue in America. It really has. It's become a civil rights issue. Because the poorest students in America are suffering and the wealthiest, obviously, have the kind of choice and competition that every school child in America should have.

MCCAIN: First, let's start paying teachers more. Let's put in merit pay. Let's help those teachers who are not good teachers find another line of work. There's no reason why a good teacher should be paid less money than a bad senator. Let's try vouchers.

I have a proposal: Take away the ethanol subsidies; take away the sugar subsidies; take away the gas and oil subsidies. You can have a test voucher program in every poor school district in every state in America. Let's try it.

Charter schools work in my state. They're a resounding success. We have a wonderful superintendent of education, Lisa Graham Keegan (ph), who has done a marvelous job.

We can, through choice and competition, improve the level of education in America, to put it to the same level as our colleges and universities, which are the best in the world, but we're going to have do a lot of work, and we're going to have break the grip of the teachers' unions if we're going to be able to achieve that.

MCCAIN: Just a brief comment. Special education is an unfunded mandate. The federal government has that obligation, to pay for special education programs. But the problem is compounded because local schools take discipline problems and put them into special education programs. We've got to tighten that up. But we also have to take care of our children that have special problems.

MCCAIN: I would have said that Roe v.—I would have voted for the abolishment of Roe v. Wade.

MCCAIN: I just wanted to get back to something that Gary was saying. I went to a charter school with Bill Bennett, our former secretary of education. I walked into the classroom, third grade, the teacher had on the table "The Children's Book of Virtues." The teacher was teaching the virtue of the month, why we need to tell the truth. She was asking the class: Why is it important the tell the truth, what happens when you don't tell the truth? You wouldn't find that kind of dialogue in any public school in America.

It has nothing to do with religion; it has to do Judeo-Christian principles. We need to put that back in our schools as well.

MCCAIN: I'm pro-life. I have a 17-year pro-life voting record. I'm proud of that. We need to start a dialogue and discussion in this country how we can improve adoption. I'm proud to be an adoptive father. That has enriched our lives. We need to talk about foster care. We need to talk about many ways that we can work together—both pro-life and pro-choice people who share the goal of eliminating abortion.

There's too much polarization. There's too much bitterness and hatred and anger. We need to sit down and have a dialogue. I hold my views and my party hold our views of pro-life, but we cannot be exclusionary, we must be inclusionary.

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