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Fox News Sunday - Transcript


Location: Unknown

MR. WALLACE: And hello again, this time from our Fox News election headquarters in New York.

Well, after seven Republican primaries and caucuses, a frontrunner has emerged as we head into Super Tuesday. We continue our series "Choosing the President" with the Republican candidate who is now the man to beat in the GOP race, Senator John McCain, who joins us from our Washington studio.

And, Senator, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."

SEN. MCCAIN: Thank you, Chris. Good to be back with you.

MR. WALLACE: Senator, can you wrap up the race for the Republican nomination in two days?

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, I hope so. But you know, you don't know for sure. I think we got a lot of good momentum and a lot of endorsements and crowds who are enthusiastic, and we're working hard, but -- and I'm guardedly optimistic. But I can't predict it. There have been too many ups and downs so far in this primary for me to predict even 48 hours ahead of time.

MR. WALLACE: All right. There are 1,023 delegates at stake on Super Tuesday. And with so many of the races winner-take-all, how many delegates do your strategists tell you that you might be able to pick up then?

SEN. MCCAIN: They -- honestly, we haven't gotten down to that detail. We've just kind of been looking at it state by state, and we think we're doing well in most of the states. And there's still not real strong polling data in a couple. But honestly, Chris, I haven't gotten into that kind of detail. It's just -- we're too busy doing the rallies and the town hall meetings and the campaigning.

MR. WALLACE: Let me ask you about one strategic -- or perhaps it's a tactical move. I notice that you're going to be watching the Super Bowl tonight in Massachusetts, which coincidentally happens to be the home state of your top opponent, Mitt Romney. Is there some thought that if you can beat Mitt Romney in his home state, that would be a knockout blow that would force him out of the race?

SEN. MCCAIN: No, I think it's more that we're competitive, we think, in Massachusetts. We know that Governor Romney has a very strong advantage there, but we'd like to compete in every state. And so we'll be doing a rally there tomorrow morning in Boston and then moving on to some of the other states in the region and then ending up on Tuesday afternoon in Phoenix after a rally in San Diego.

So we're trying to criss-cross the country. As you know, we were in the south yesterday and we'll go north today. It's a lot of -- with that many states at stake, you've got a lot of ground to cover.

MR. WALLACE: Republican insiders, Senator, say that your big job going forward is to reach out to conservatives. Here's what one McCain insider said the other day.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

MR. : How much support do you think he has among the base of the Republican Party?

ROBERTA MCCAIN (Senator McCain's mother.): I don't think he has any. I don't know what the base of the Republican -- maybe I don't know enough about it, but I've not seen any help whatsoever.

MR. : So can he then go on and become the nominee of this party?

MS. MCCAIN: Yes, I think holding their nose they're going to have to take him.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. WALLACE: (Laughter.) Oh, boy, Senator. One, is your mother right? And two, how do you persuade conservatives to stop holding their nose?

SEN. MCCAIN: I love my mother dearly, more than anything in the world. But really, my mom is not -- (laughs) -- is not a complete expert on this issue, and I love her and I love her candor, and she's been a great, great asset, particularly whenever the age issue comes up.

But look, we're doing fine with the conservatives and the moderates and the liberals, if there are any. We're doing fine. In Florida we got, as you know, a majority of the Republican vote. It was a Republican-only primary. And we're doing well, as you mentioned, in all the polling across the board. The key is to unite the party. We have strong support from people like Jack Kemp and Phil Gramm. Steve Forbes signed up. We're getting a lot of that kind of good support from across the party.

But we've got a lot of work to do. Chris, you know, everybody knows, primaries are tough. Primaries are very tough, and there's a lot of strong feelings. But the job is -- when the primaries are over, is to unite the entire party, and I'm confident I can do that.

I have a strong conservative record and I'm proud of that record, and I also believe on the national security side, it's going to be a clear difference between me and Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, a clear difference on whether we're going to increase spending or decrease spending, increase taxes or decrease taxes, whether we're going to withdraw from Iraq or we're going to see this thing through to the success that I'm -- it's obvious to me we can achieve now.

So there's going to be real strong differences, and I think that our party will unite, and I've got some work to do. But it's all parts of the party.

MR. WALLACE: Senator, let's talk about some of the issues that worry conservatives the most. You were one of only two Republicans who voted against the 2001 Bush tax cut, and since then, you've been saying, "Well, the reason was because they didn't have spending cuts along with it."

Senator, we checked your speech before the final vote in the 2001 tax cut, the Bush tax cut, and here's what you had to say; let's put it up on the screen: "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of middle-class Americans who most need tax relief."

Senator, we checked the speech. You never once mentioned the fact that there weren't spending cuts.

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, I mentioned it many, many times and, more importantly, perhaps, is that I had a tax cut package of my own which was very significant, but it also included restraints in spending.

Look, Phil Gramm, one of my strongest supporters, and our other economic conservatives -- Jack Kemp -- even the so-called supply- siders -- will tell you that if you let spending get out of control, you're going to have the problems we have today.

I predicted that if we didn't get restraint of spending, we were going to lose elections, and it led to corruption. And if we'd have done what I wanted to do, we'd be talking about more tax cuts now, not less. And I'm proud of that record, and, unfortunately, I was right.

MR. WALLACE: But, Senator, let me just clear this up.


MR. WALLACE: In fact, in 2001, you voted for a tax cut, but one that was targeted more at the middle class, and you voted against the tax cut when it was favored or tilted more toward the wealthy.

Don't you sound a little bit like Obama or Clinton on that?

SEN. MCCAIN: I don't think so, Chris. I have -- back in 1983 and '84, when I first came to the Congress as a foot soldier in the Reagan revolution, I was one of those who fought hard for tax cuts, and we were able to get them. And after that we had one of the greatest periods of economic prosperity in history. I voted for spending restraints along with my friend Phil Gramm and Jack Kemp and many others.

My record is very clear of support for tax cuts but also fighting against waste and pork barrel spending, which has not enhanced my popularity sometimes in the United States Senate. And I went after Abramoff, and I went after a Boeing deal that was going to cost the taxpayers an additional $6 billion. I've been after them and I'll stay after them. And as president, I can understand why it might make a few of them nervous that depend on pork barrel and earmark spending.

MR. WALLACE: Senator, let's do a lightning round, if you will --

SEN. MCCAIN: Okay, sure.

MR. WALLACE: -- on these hot-button issues involving quick questions, quick answers. As president, will you veto any tax increase passed by a Democratic Congress?


MR. WALLACE: That's quick, but -- and in fact, I think --

SEN. MCCAIN: (Laughs.) Well, I think the worst thing we can do right now, Chris, is -- we've got some shaky economic times -- is to increase people's taxes. And I think that what we need is more tax cuts. We need to make Bush tax cuts permanent. We need to get rid of the ATM. We need -- corporate taxes in America are the second highest in the world. We need to cut corporate taxes. We need to give people reasons to write off and depreciation their business investments and equipment investments.

We need to stop the pork barrel spending. Look, the president signed into law two major spending bills that had $35 billion worth of earmark projects. And if we had taken that money, we could have given a $1,000 tax credit for every child in America.

This is big money. Everybody says, "Oh, it really isn't that much." It's a lot. And even more importantly than that, it has totally eroded the confidence of the American people about what we do with their tax dollars.

MR. WALLACE: New question. Will you appoint conservative Supreme Court justices even if you have reason to believe that they might vote to overturn McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform?

SEN. MCCAIN: I was very aware of the opinion of Justices Roberts and Alito, and I was one who fought hard for the confirmation of both of them.

First of all, I wouldn't impose any litmus test. That would be totally inappropriate. But second of all, I will appoint justices such as the ones I've strongly supported and gotten through the Senate, with the help of many others or help along with others, only those who strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench. And I have a clear record of that, too.

MR. WALLACE: And even if they might vote to overturn Roe vs. Wade and also McCain-Feingold.

SEN. MCCAIN: Look, you cannot impose litmus tests. If you have justices that have a clear conservative -- a clear, strict interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, then you don't have to worry about what their decisions will be, because it's pretty obvious that people who strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States are worthy of our confidence.

And by the way, I think the voters ought to consider that when they decide who they want to be president of the United States.

MR. WALLACE: Hillary Clinton, speaking of that, is going to be joining us in a moment; she'll be our next guest. And I wonder, as we prepare for what could be a Clinton -- well, actually, she's right there right now.

SEN. MCCAIN: (Laughs.)

MR. WALLACE: Senators, do you want to say anything to each other?

SEN. MCCAIN: Hello. (Laughs.)

SEN. CLINTON: Hi, John. (Laughs.)

SEN. MCCAIN: How are you?

MR. WALLACE: Are you two looking forward --

SEN. CLINTON: I'm good. Hope you're well.

SEN. MCCAIN: Thank you.

MR. WALLACE: Are you two looking forward to possibly facing each other in November?

SEN. MCCAIN: I think we will have a very spirited --

SEN. CLINTON: Well, I think we both have our hands full.

SEN. MCCAIN: (Chuckles.) Yeah.

MR. WALLACE: What were going to say, Senator McCain?

SEN. MCCAIN: No, I just said I think we'll have very respectful but very spirited debate. I think that Senator Clinton would be the first to acknowledge, as she's already mentioned in several appearances and debates with the Democrats, that we'll have very significant differences. And I think the American people will see those differences and make a judgment.

MR. WALLACE: Senator Clinton, we're going to talk to you in a moment. But do you have a response to that?

SEN. CLINTON: No, I agree with that. I think that, you know, John and I will have a respectful debate, but we do have serious differences about the direction of the country and what we think should be done. But that's exactly the kind of election that our country needs right now, and I'm looking forward to it.

MR. WALLACE: Well, we'll get to you in a second after the break, Senator Clinton.

But, Senator McCain, it's your time. Let me ask you --

SEN. MCCAIN: Do you want to start that debate now?

MR. WALLACE: I'm ready if you're ready. (Laughter.)

But let me ask you, Senator McCain, on a couple of issues -- first of all, the war. Senator Clinton says, look, she'll get us out in 60 days. You're going to have us there 100 years.

SEN. MCCAIN: Well, the key is success, and the key is American casualties. We are succeeding. But as I've said many times, al Qaeda is on the run, they are not defeated. But this strategy is succeeding.

And I believe that if we had set a date for withdrawal or if we do set a date for withdrawal, al Qaeda will then win and we'll see chaos and genocide in the region. That's another significant difference that Senator Clinton and I have, and I look forward to discussing it.

It's not a matter of how long Americans stay. It's a matter of American casualties. And those casualties are coming down, and we can eliminate them.

Look, we're in Kuwait, right next door to Iraq. We're in Turkey. We're in Bosnia. We're all over the world. One of the obligations, unfortunately, of being a great superpower is that we have to take care of the world's security. But we don't have to have casualties because we can succeed in the strategy called the surge which is now, I think, experiencing significant success.

But let me just finally add, what we saw -- what we saw with these evil people putting bombs on women with mental disabilities and detonating them remotely shows you how evil this enemy we are facing and how implacable they are and how we've got to defeat them, and we will.

MR. WALLACE: Senator, we've got about a minute left. I want to ask you --


MR. WALLACE: -- also about the economy. We saw the first loss of jobs in almost five years in this last month. Why would you be better fit than Senator Clinton to turn the economy around?

SEN. MCCAIN: Look, I haven't won this primary yet, Chris, so I'm not focusing on Senator Clinton yet. I've got good people who are running. This is going to be a spirited election on Tuesday. So let's put it in the right perspective.

I think that lower taxes, less spending -- I think -- more tax changes so that we can stimulate investment and savings, and fixing our tax code -- I think there's a whole lot of things we can do economically.

And the first thing I'd like to see is the stimulus package -- which I don't agree with everything -- get that through, make the tax cuts permanent, get rid of the AMT. Let's have some depreciation, reduce write-offs for depreciation, reduce the wasteful and unnecessary spending, and reduce the corporate taxes which are driving businesses and jobs out of America.

There's a lot of significant steps we need to take. America's hurting right now in a lot of areas, and we've got to act, and act effectively, but it isn't through tax increases.

MR. WALLACE: And finally, the big question we've saved for last, Senator -- Patriots or Giants?

SEN. MCCAIN: As I've said before, I hate to say. We welcome them to Arizona and we hope they spend lots and lots of money, and we know they will. And I hope they'll come back soon. But somebody's got to show me how you beat the Patriots.

MR. WALLACE: Well -- (chuckles) -- you're there in Massachusetts, so you're in the right place to make that prediction.

Senator McCain, we want to thank you so much for talking with us. And good luck on Super Tuesday, sir.

SEN. MCCAIN: Thanks again, Chris.


MR. WALLACE: And we're back live from Fox News election headquarters in New York. Joining us now, the Democratic frontrunner as we head into Super Tuesday, Senator Hillary Clinton, who comes to us from the campaign trail in St. Louis.

And, Senator, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."

SEN. CLINTON: It's good to talk to you, Chris. Thanks for having me back.

MR. WALLACE: Well, as Senator McCain rightly pointed out, you've both got tough nomination fights before you even face the possibility of facing each other, but there are some sharp issues there, so let's talk about them.

First of all, the economy. Why would you be better fit than Senator McCain to turn this economy around as we seem to be headed for a downturn, if not a recession?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, it is the case that the economy is becoming a greater and greater concern because, obviously, it's not working for the vast majority of Americans.

I've been out there since March talking about this mortgage crisis and urging much more aggressive action to stem the foreclosures that are beginning to cascade around the country.

That's why I've called for a moratorium of 90 days to try to stop foreclosures and help people work out being able to stay in their homes, and freezing interest rates for five years, looking for ways to try to get the housing market stabilized, because I think that we've -- you know, we have had the monetary side. The Fed has reduced interest. They may do some more, we don't know.

But at some point you've got to have government action to really tackle these problems. And the stimulus package is a start, but it's not nearly enough. What we have to do is have an economic policy that once again creates jobs with rising incomes.

We need to look at clean green energy. We need to have a much greater balance in our federal government spending.

Obviously, I disagree with Senator McCain and the Republicans about the tax cuts for people making more than $250,000 a year. I think we should let those expire and use that money on universal health care and other needs that people have that are really directly related to the state of the economy.

MR. WALLACE: Let's talk about the other big issue that the two of you have identified as a difference. And that, of course, is the war in Iraq.

At a recent debate, you had an interesting exchange about the war. Let's take a look at that, Senator.

(Begin videotaped segment.)

DOLYE MCMANUS (Bureau chief, Los Angeles Times): In light of the new military and political progress on the ground there in Iraq, are you looking to end this war or win it?

SEN. CLINTON: I'm looking to bring our troops home starting within 60 days of my becoming president.

(End videotaped segment.)

MR. WALLACE: Senator, you started calling for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq in November of 2005. If we had followed your policy, wouldn't Al Qaeda by now be able to say that they had driven the U.S. out of Iraq?

SEN. CLINTON: You know, Chris, I think we have to look at this in the context in which it's taking place. The so-called surge was designed to give the Iraqi government the space and time to make the tough decisions that only the Iraqis can make for themselves.

It's my assessment that only now is the Iraqi government starting to grapple with problems that many of us have been pushing them to resolve for five years. And the problem is that they have up until now believed that they didn't really have to take any tough action, that President Bush had given them basically a blank check, that the American military would be there to protect them and protect other parts of the country. And I think that putting forward a very clear objective of beginning to withdraw our troops is the best way to get the Iraqis to take responsibility.

So I think that it's clear there is no military solution. We can stay for a day, a month, a year, 10 or 100 years, as Senator McCain has said would be fine with him, but I don't think that's the answer. I think we've got to bring our troops home and really require and put the pressure on the Iraqis to make the tough decisions that they have to make.

MR. WALLACE: Well, let me follow up on that, if I can. Last September, when General Petraeus testified before Congress about the surge working, here was your reaction. Let's take a look.

SEN. CLINTON: (From tape.) I think that I -- the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.

MR. WALLACE: Senator, since then, the violence is clearly dropping, has continued to drop. The -- Baghdad is sharing oil revenue with the provinces. They have passed a law to allow at least some Sunnis back into the government.

Clearly, there are a lot of problems, but why are you so determined to declare defeat?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, that's not at all what I'm doing. I think there's a difference between tactical success on the ground -- and I've been, you know, very positive about what our young men and women in uniform can accomplish, especially if we put them in in sufficient numbers -- and strategic success.

And I think you're overstating what is happening in Iraq. There's a lot of problems getting money from the central government into the Sunni areas. The oil bill hasn't been resolved yet. De- Baathification is tied up in their Parliament because there is such a reaction to it by so many of the Shiite factions. You know, this is, obviously, a fractious and often contentious government.

And I think we would not even see the small signs of progress unless they knew that there was an election going on in the United States, and one of the biggest issues was whether we would stay for up to 100 years or whether we would start bringing our troops home.

I personally believe there is no American military solution. And it is imperative that we focus our attention on the political and diplomatic side of this equation. So beginning to withdraw our troops is not only the right thing to do for our troops, but it is also the right political strategy for us to pursue.

MR. WALLACE: Let's turn to the issue immediately at hand, and you've got an election or a series of elections in a couple of days, Senator. None of the contests, Democratic contests, on Super Tuesday are winner-take-all, so the result is that in most states, both you and Senator Obama are going to win a lot of delegates. Doesn't that mean that this contest is going to go on for some period of time, even months after Super Tuesday?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, we'll see after Tuesday, Chris. But you're right that the rules in our party really are much more challenging.

This whole Super Tuesday national primary is something nobody's ever gone through before. We're kind of making it up as we go. So it's hard to sit here and predict what will happen on Tuesday or what happens the next day, but I'm very excited and encouraged by the response I'm getting across the country.

You know, I've had huge crowds. I've had a lot of people coming forward to support me. There seems to be a lot of great activity going on on the ground in all of these states. So we'll see what happens on Tuesday. But obviously, this is a very contested race for the Democratic nomination, and as I've said many times in the last few days, I think for the country, looking at the debate the other night, seeing the two of us there was such a thrill, because we represent -- we have lived the progress that has been made in America. Each of us has broken barriers.

So whoever wins the nomination will change American history. The question is who has the strength and experience to change America for the better, to put us on the right path. And I'm going to keep making that case as many times as I can between now and Tuesday.

MR. WALLACE: Senator, let me ask you about the horse race, though. Most of the national polls indicate you're still leading but that Obama has closed the gap, has reduced your margin by a significant amount in the last couple of weeks. How do you explain that?

SEN. CLINTON: Oh, this is always going to be a close election, Chris. You know, we have two people left. Both of us have passionate supporters. It is -- I think it's exciting. You know, we're out here making our case.

Obviously, I think I have the better case to go up against the Republican nominee, particularly if it is Senator McCain. But I believe this has revitalized the Democratic Party. Each of us is bringing hundreds of thousands of new people into politics. We've had six contests. I've won four of them. We're in a very good position. But you know, we don't count the votes until Tuesday. And I think all of us have learned that these polls are maybe snapshots in a very limited period of time, so what's most important is who decides to vote. And I hope a lot of people watching will turn out and do exactly that.

MR. WALLACE: Senator, the high profile your husband has had on the campaign trail has raised, as you no doubt know, new questions about the issue of a co-presidency. Have you thought if you were to win how you would set up the White House to make it clear who was the boss?

SEN. CLINTON: Oh, I don't think there'll be any doubt about that, Chris, you know, just as there wasn't any doubt that he was the president and the commander in chief. And all of us, including everyone in the White House, and that was me as well, were there to support his efforts.

That's what it will be when I'm in the White House. I will be the decision-maker. Obviously, I'm going to seek advice from a wide range of people who have expertise and experience that will be helpful in making decisions, and that certainly includes him, because I think he'll play a very important role in representing our country around the world.

But at the end of the day, I know very well, having been there for eight years, that the weight of decision-making falls on the president. I'm ready to accept that responsibility. I don't believe in government by advisers.

I believe we need a president who is a hands-on manager of the government. I think that's what I offer, and that's what I intend to do.

MR. WALLACE: Let me ask you about another aspect of your husband's role. There was a front page story this week in the New York Times reporting that in 2005, your husband flew to Kazakhstan with a Canadian businessman who -- and he helped the businessman, according to the report, get a huge uranium deal by praising the dictator, Nazarbayev, who runs the country there, and then a few months later, that businessman, the Canadian businessman, made a $31 million donation to the Clinton Foundation.

Now, whether it was a quid pro quo or not, are you going to tell your husband if you become president to cool it, to knock off those kinds of dealings?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, Chris, that is a very one-sided and inaccurate description of what actually occurred.

MR. WALLACE: Well, it's basically what the New York Times said.

SEN. CLINTON: He went to -- well, let me set the record straight. He went to Kazakhstan to sign an agreement with the government to provide low-cost drugs for HIV/AIDS, a growing problem in central Asia. While he was there, he met with opposition leaders and certainly spoke out about, you know, the hopes that we have to have a good relationship with that country.

I have been on record for many years against the anti-democratic regime, calling for changes, standing against efforts that would bring them into positions of leadership in the global community without their making changes.

So I think it is clear that I will stand on my own two feet. I will say what I believe. And I will be a president who pursues policies that I think are in the best interests of our country.

MR. WALLACE: Well, if I may just briefly follow up, that's exactly the case. You have spoken out against Nazarbayev's policies, but President Clinton, former President Clinton, attended a dinner at which he, in fact, said he thought that Nazarbayev could lead an organization involved with regulating democracy around the world.

And the question is raised if you're president and he's the former president, and he's conducting and making statements that are out of step with your policy, isn't that going to be awfully confusing?

SEN. CLINTON: Well, Dick Cheney also went to Kazakhstan and praised the current regime. You know, you sometimes have to use both carrots and sticks to move these regimes to do what they should be doing. But I don't think there's any doubt about where I stand and what I intend to do.

Obviously, these are difficult problems that require seasoned leadership. We have a lot of interests in that part of the world with natural resources and trying to make sure there's a bulwark against spreading extremism.

So it is important that you walk the line to try to be very firm about our support for democracy, to do everything possible to change these regimes, but recognize that these are not, you know, often easy calls, because the last thing we want is to see instability, perhaps the rise of an extremist regime, alliances with bad actors.

So you know, I think that it's something that I understand and I'll be able to navigate through as president.

MR. WALLACE: And finally, Senator, we've got about 30 seconds left for you to give your answer to the big question -- Patriots or Giants?

SEN. CLINTON: (Chuckles.) Well, Chris, we have a Super Bowl Sunday night and we have a Super Tuesday on Tuesday, and I'm hoping that the New York team wins both and wins big.

MR. WALLACE: (Chuckles.) All right. Thank you, Senator. We want to thank you so much for talking with us, giving those double predictions, political and sports, and safe travels on the campaign trail, Senator.

SEN. CLINTON: Thanks a lot, Chris.


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