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Public Statements

CBS "Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer" - Transcript

Interview

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BOB SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with Indiana Republican Senator Richard Lugar. Senator Lugar, thanks for being--

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR (R-Indiana/Foreign Relations Committee): Thank you, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: --with us this morning. You, I must say compiled a remarkable record in the years that you spent in the Senate, the legislation that just you and Democrat Sam Nunn authored to help the Soviet Union destroy nuclear weapons that could easily have fallen in the hands of terrorists, may well have changed the course of history. And, yet, here you were beaten in a primary by an opponent who said what the country needs is not more compromise, but fewer compromises. On reflection, do you think you could have done something to turn this around? How did this happen, Senator?

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: Well, it happened in large part because we had a Republican primary, large portion of the Republican Party of Indiana believed apparently in the idea of individualism as opposed to community. A sense of compromise or a sense of talking across the aisle in the past most Hoosiers and I think that's still true of a majority of them has supported me in our efforts both in foreign policy, farm policy, their situations to forge things that worked, and so I intend to continue to do that. We have opportunities in the weeks and months ahead while I am still in the Senate to try to make a difference as our country really heads toward the rocks and the economy, and we have foreign policy problems and even while the campaign's going on with the President, we have got potential for war, for conflict, for real difficulty.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think that perhaps it was something other than ideolo-- ideology? I mean, some said that you-- you were kind of out of touch with your state and--

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: Yeah. Some said I was eighty years of age which is correct.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Uh-Huh.

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: That I had served far too long for thirty-five or thirty-six years, far more than you want to. And furthermore, some county chairman said, "We haven't seen you Dick at our Lincoln Day dinners for a while. You've been so busy touring over in Russia or Ukraine or Belarus or in Asia or what have you, during your recesses we wanted to see mo more of you" and I understand that and they make a point. I am just saying that in terms of service to the country as I saw it I think our priorities were right--

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: We have been very much involved in Indiana throughout this period of time with all sorts of programs, but this was just not a year in which that--

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, it does say something about the Republican Party, do you think, or is this something unique?

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: Well, I think Indiana was unique in the sense that the outside groups, whether it was FreedomWorks or Club for Growth or Grover Norquist Group or the NRA or what have you had no other playground, Indiana was it because this was a place where there was an incumbent Republican senator, not many of us running this time as a matter of fact and so they were able to come in early on with hundreds of thousands and finally millions of dollars with negative ads which turned around what usually was an approval that I had from sixty to seventy percent for all these years, and it went down real fast in the last two or three weeks under that barrage.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So do you see that as the reason you got beat, these outside groups that came in, these Super PACs? I guess what I am driving at, and because we are seeing what appears to be a very negative campaign shaping up for the presidency right now, do you think it is possible to be re-elected running or to be elected running a positive campaign anymore?

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: I think it is very difficult as my example is any solace to anybody. Obviously, I think it is still possible and still lot to be done. In other words, the country really is looking for answers, whether it'd be the taxation problem, the budget problem, our problems with allies, our enemies abroad, there-- there really have to be people who are putting it together, who bring about a sense of community in addition to individualism. Now this was the beauty I thought of the Ronald Reagan administration. And I compliment Dana Milbank in the Washington Post today for sort of outlining all the ways in which Reagan, not only was able to compromise, but bring about extraordinary results by bringing people together.

Now that's clearly true of the time when Sam Nunn and I came together and we were sent by Ro-- Reagan to Geneva and began our talks with the Russians. That has been a twenty-year period and still goes on.

BOB SCHIEFFER: The situation in Syria right now, what are your thoughts on that?

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: Essentially that the United Nations situation is not working out very well. It appears that our country is attempting to suggest to the Russians that they ought to get with us and try to work out something, such as happened in Yemen or other countries in which the Assad regime would decide to resign but at the same time would not be murdered in the process that there would be some potential evolution.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Has the President done enough? Has he shown enough leadership on this situation?

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: I think that he has been very cautious. And I think he is cautious because he is in the process of withdrawing our troops along with NATO from Afghanistan, pivoting our policy toward the China and-- and the East, toward-- toward a ti-- situation of using robots and the-- and the-- the ability not to have to send in troops. It's-- it's a difficult situation. So when you talk about Syria and talk about troops or intervention, President has been very cautious. I think properly so.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Are you going to campaign for the man that beat you in the primary, Richard Mourdock? Are you even going to vote for him?

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: Well, I indicated that I hope that Republicans in Indiana will support him because I support my leader Mitch McConnell in getting Republican majority. I would say that I have offered advice to my former opponent and now the candidate as to the kind of way he might be a constructive senator, how he can make any difference whatsoever. I hope that he will in fact begin to adopt some of those ideas but for the time being I don't plan an active campaign.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, thank you so much. And we want to wish you the very best.

SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR: Thank you very much, Bob.

BOB SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in a moment with some thoughts about Memorial Day.

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