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MS. O'DONNELL: Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, went every mile with John McCain, and since that was my assignment, I went many of those miles with you.
SEN. GRAHAM: Yes, you did.
MS. O'DONNELL: But today is a new day, and I want to ask you a couple of things: a little bit about the mood and a little bit about the politics to come. As you heard this speech from the new president, was there anything that really spoke to you as a Republican going forward?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, you know, the history spoke for itself. As a historical moment, it's kind of a sign of where we've come as a country, but the speech was a reality-based speech. We've got a long ways to go. This is how we'll get there, being true Americans. And as to setting aside childish politics, count me in. He's going to need a partner to reform Social Security and deal with immigration. Well, I stand ready. I know John McCain does. There are plenty of Republicans that I think will meet this guy in the middle. The question is, what will the Congress do with the stimulus package? I don't mind spending money to create jobs, if you allow me to cut taxes. I do believe in trade-offs. I think tax cuts will stimulate the economy; other people have spending programs they think will stimulate the economy. Let's do both, but let's make sure that whatever we do, it stimulates the economy now, not three years from now.
MS. O'DONNELL: And that stimulus package that is intended to try to jolt the economy, create jobs -- the price tag's been going up and up and up.
SEN. GRAHAM: Yes.
MS. O'DONNELL: Is there a sense among Republicans that this president, brand-new president, needs some time to try to get that through, or do you feel that there's really a role to try to rein things in? What's the political mood?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I think the House version is not a very good -- not a good way to approach this. Nineteen billion of the 825 billion (dollars) is spent in the first year. We're talking about stimulating the economy now. The tax cuts are very small compared to what the president said he wanted to do on tax cuts, coming out of the House. So the version in the House needs to change. And it's going to be a big number. But the people paying for this won't be you or I; it's going to be the next generation and the ones to follow. So let's stimulate the economy now, so we can collect revenues in a way to get a trillion-dollar deficit off the books. If we miss this opportunity to jump-start the economy and start collecting more revenue in Washington to reduce the budget deficit, we've made a huge mistake. I don't want to stimulate people's re-election, I want to stimulate the economy.
MS. O'DONNELL: And did you get a sense that today turning the page for many Americans that also for Republicans, who have at times had problems with President Bush, now also have an opportunity to interact in a different way? Do you sense that this president will have maybe more time, a longer honeymoon than others in the past?
SEN. GRAHAM: I think the Republican Party needs to reach out in a serious way to our Democratic colleagues. We will gain nothing by saying no just blindly. Our party took a beating. And people are right of center ideologically; they're closer to us than to President Obama, but they saw in him something they did not see in us. So when people look at Lindsey Graham and other Republicans, I hope they will see a partner, finding common ground on the big-ticket items like Social Security, immigration reform, budget reform, where no one party can do this by themselves. If the Republican Party would genuinely reach across the aisle, define common ground on the big issues that face our nation, all boats rise. If we just blindly say no -- and you know, Senator Clinton -- I respect Senator Cornyn, but I'm ready to vote on her; let's get on with it.
MS. O'DONNELL: To get her through as the next secretary of State.
Were you moved today?
SEN. GRAHAM: Yeah. How could you not be? I was moved by 2 million who were happy as a clam. I walked from my house to the Capitol, and people came up to me that I know none of them were Republicans -- (laughs) -- but just saying things. The mood out there, you couldn't feel it through your TV screen, but it was real. So yes, I mean, look how far our country has come in the last 30, 40 years, but look how far we have to go. That's why I like the speech. It was a sobering speech, and that's what we need.
MS. O'DONNELL: Well, thank you for sharing your really up-close perceptions, not only the experiencing this day but looking forward.
SEN. GRAHAM: I had a great seat. (Laughs.)
MS. O'DONNELL: Senator Lindsey Graham, thank you so much.
SEN. GRAHAM: Thank you.