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ABC "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript


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ABC "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" - Transcript

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Hello, again. For Hillary Clinton, the campaign that began with a web video declaring she's in it to win it, and such high hopes, came to an end yesterday. Before hundreds of supporters here in Washington, Clinton endorsed Barack Obama with a plea for party unity and a promise to stay on what she called the front lines of democracy.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY): (From tape.) The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States. (Applause, cheers.)

We all know this has been a tough fight, but the Democratic Party is a family, and now it's time to restore the ties that bind us together and to come together around the ideals we share, the values we cherish, and the country we love.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And we begin this morning with one of Hillary Clinton's closest friends and supporters, Senator Dianne Feinstein. Welcome back to "This Week."

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Thank you, George.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So you saw Senator Clinton there and heard just a few boos when she endorsed Barack Obama. Kate Snow of ABC was also there yesterday, and she talked to some supporters, including Rosemary Storaska -- let's show her -- who say they just can't follow her to endorse Obama.

ROSEMARY STORASKA: (From tape.) I worked on her campaign since Thanksgiving. I spent hours -- I spent hours in her national office. No. No. That is one place we won't follow her.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So Senator Clinton gives the speech yesterday. What does Senator Obama now need to do to bring those Clinton supporters along?

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Well, I think using Senator Clinton's help, he needs to reach out to the Clinton supporters, and he needs to reassure them as to what he would do in the agenda for change, because the comparisons with McCain are very stark, certainly with respect to the economy, extending unemployment insurance, building infrastructure. For every $1 billion of transportation funds, you put 40,000 people to work -- things like that in this recession. A new tactical and strategic strategy with respect to Iraq. You're not going to get major healthcare reform out of John McCain. He voted against the children's health bill, for starters, which was a bill that virtually everybody that wants reform knows that you should start with children. And it goes on and on like that.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: You hosted this meeting between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama Thursday night.


MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: I know you left them a couple of glasses of water and left the room. But when it was done, did this seem like a team that could work together? We all know the feelings were rubbed so raw during this campaign. Did you get a sense that some chemistry was developing?

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Well, I had a chance to talk to Senator Clinton. She got to the house about 8:00 p.m. and the meeting was supposed to be at 8:30 p.m. and Senator Obama was delayed, so we got there about 9:00 p.m., so we sat in the living room and we talked a little bit. And she expressed to me the depth of her concern and caring, the fact that she had 18 million people who put their hopes and dreams in her ability to create new opportunities for people. She wants to continue that. She recognizes that it's over, and I think every instinct in Hillary Clinton is to help. I don't see a single negative instinct anywhere. She knows the differences between Barack Obama and John McCain and those differences she has to help make clear to the American people, and I believe she's committed to do that.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: You've been a strong advocate of having Senator Clinton and Senator Obama run together, having Senator Obama pick Hillary Clinton. As you know, not everyone shares that view, and I wanted to show our viewers President Jimmy Carter, because he said just the other day that he thinks this would be the worst mistake Barack Obama could make.

PRES. JIMMY CARTER: (From tape.) If you take that 50 percent who just don't want to vote for a Clinton and add it to whatever element there might be that don't think Obama is white enough or old enough or experienced enough or because he's got a middle name that sounds Arab, you could have the worst of both worlds.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to that argument?

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Well, I respond to it this way. I've looked at every other possible candidate. No one brings to a ticket what Hillary brings -- 18 million people committed to where she's going.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think she has a movement? You think this is her movement?

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Oh, I think she has a movement. Trust me. From the e-mails I've been getting and people in California have been sending me, trust me, there is a movement. And it's formed from a number of different perspectives. I would have to say the head of the movement are women. Women were really invested in this candidacy, and they believe she got treated poorly. And I don't want to go into that now.


SEN. FEINSTEIN: I think to a great extent, by press, yes. I think she did. I read column after column. It was personal and malevolent, and to some extent even venal. And I don't understand why that was necessary. Maybe one column, but column after column after column. And I think that played a role in developing this strength among women that saw this kind of thing for her candidacy.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So you think it's the best, but all the signals we're getting from the Obama campaign is, first of all, he wants to take his time, but even beyond that, that they just don't think it's a good idea -- that they think that he would be buying in to the baggage, undercutting his argument of change.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Well, look. Everybody has some baggage. Hillary Clinton is well known. Certainly, she had the popular vote in this election. That is something, and that is something tremendous.

Now, I believe the nomination is up to him. I can't tell him what to do. Nobody else can tell him what to do. All I can say is I agree with Ed Rendell that if you really want a winning ticket, this is it.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: You talk about the women supporters. I saw some comments from Hillary Clinton supporters that say if Senator Obama picked another woman, that would be somehow the final insult that smacks of tokenism. Do you agree with that?

SEN. FEINSTEIN: I have not thought of that, because -- and I really haven't given it any thought because she is so much the apparent choice to me that I don't -- in terms of women -- I don't go any further.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: And you still think she's got a chance of getting it?

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Oh, I do think she has a chance, but that's up to him. And I think it's going to take some time, the nerve endings have to be healed. They're being healed. She did a lot to begin that process, but I know from the times I've been invested in the campaign, it's very hard to go on. I was very active in Bobby Kennedy's campaign in California. When he was assassinated, my hopes fell. It was very hard to go on, and go immediately into another campaign. I didn't do it.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: One final question. You said you spoke with Hillary Thursday night. On just a human level, what kind of advice did you give her on how to move on, how to get over it?

SEN. FEINSTEIN: Well, I didn't have to give her any advice. She knows what to do. We talked friend to friend about where she would go. She wanted to have that meeting. She didn't want to have to go out and make a press statement. She didn't want to be followed to the meeting. She wanted one opportunity to sit down with Senator Obama, just the two of them, and I think establish a sense of rapport between them, I think put aside what had happened on the campaign trail, and I think be able to see if -- I used the word nerve endings for such, that they could forge some kind of a positive bond and working relationship. And I think that came of it. They were both very relaxed at the end of the meeting. And when they said good night, and I felt good about it and I think they did too.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, thanks for sharing your time with us this morning, Senator Feinstein.

SEN. FEINSTEIN: You're very welcome.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: We're now going to turn to the general election debate. I'm joined by Senator John Kerry for Barack Obama, Senator Lindsey Graham for John McCain. Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Good morning.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Good to be with you.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me begin with the economy because that is going to be the number one issue, both sides agree, in this campaign. I want to show something that Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Senator McCain's top economic adviser said just the other day about President Bush.

DOUGLAS HOLTZ-EAKIN: (From tape.) The only thing that he shares in common with President Bush is the understanding of good tax policy. Sadly, it seems that's all President Bush understood of the economy.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That was one of the toughest shots by a McCain official yet against President Bush and his economy policy. So setting aside climate change, which we've heard about, how will Senator McCain be different from President Bush on the economy in a way that makes a difference?

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I think the main thing is he's going to be different than Senator Obama, because those are your two choices. This is not the Wharton Business School against the London School of Economics. You've got a liberal in Senator Obama who will repeal the Bush tax cuts that expire in 2011. The capital gains rates will go up, dividend tax reductions will go down, the marginal rates will all go up. John will say keep the tax rates in place. He will be talking about energy independence.

One way to help our economy is stop sending $450 billion overseas with oil prices this high, look for oil and gas in our backyard, find alternative energies to get away from fossil fuel consumption. And at the end of the day, stop spending. There's been nobody -- President Bush's biggest failure is not vetoing pork barrel spending. That is one of the big disappointments of President Bush. One of the big differences between Senator Obama, President Bush, and anybody else in Washington is that John McCain is going to bring a sense of fiscal discipline and energy to controlling spending you haven't seen in a while.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Kerry, you heard it right there. It's taxes and spending.

SEN. KERRY: Well, if the wish were the father to the fact, Lindsey Graham would be a happy person right now, but that's all he's offered is a wish. The fact is that John McCain voted 95 percent of the time with George Bush last year, and 90 percent of the time with George Bush over the entire presidency. That's not a change. That's not reform. That's not a difference.

And on the economy, it's profound for the American worker and people who are struggling today. Barack Obama wants to give every worker $1,000 reduction in their taxes. So he's going to give a tax cut to the middle class and to people struggling to get into it. For people earning $50,000 or less who are retired, he's going to do no taxes for them and he's going to pay for all of this and be fiscally responsible by not continuing the irresponsible Bush tax cuts that this nation, at the high level, cannot afford, George.

And if you look -- John McCain said himself that he doesn't know anything about the economy. He said he's going to have a vice president who knows something about the economy in order to help him on it. And if you look at almost every issue, healthcare, John McCain doesn't have a policy to be able to try to reform healthcare and reduce costs. That is a business issue, because businesses are drowning under the weight of healthcare costs, and you have to have a comprehensive reform. Barack Obama has one. John McCain doesn't. I could go down a long list. Yes.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: But let me bring Senator Graham back in on this, because you brought up two. So the tax policy and healthcare policy were essentially, Senator Graham, John McCain is calling for an extension or maybe even enhancement of the Bush policies. So that is --

SEN. GRAHAM: Absolutely. He wants to lower corporate tax rates. We have the second highest corporate tax rate in the world, second only to Japan. John understands we live in a global economy.

SEN. KERRY: Not the effective rate, Lindsey.

SEN. GRAHAM: Redistributing wealth.

SEN. KERRY: Not the effective rate.

SEN. GRAHAM: Excuse me. There are good Americans under the Obama world who deserve a tax cut, and there are bad Americans who don't need a tax cut. If you want to keep jobs in America, John Kerry, you need to cut taxes, control regulation, and deal with litigation. If you want to get your kids out of debt, somebody needs to go to Washington and start vetoing these bills like the supplemental that had $75 billion of spending unrelated to the war, a cultural learning center. John McCain has tried to be a champion of earmark reform. Finally, people are catching up to him. Senator Obama hasn't shaken Washington very much at all when it comes to spending, and he's got one message on taxes -- repeal the tax cuts and let the good Americans have some, and the bad Americans get nothing.

SEN. KERRY: You know, that's just not accurate on every level. First of all, John McCain had an opportunity to be a reformer and to help people with respect to the economy by voting for a windfall profit tax on gas and oil and help the American worker. He declined to do that. He also had an opportunity, Lindsey, if you want to create jobs in America to vote for an amendment that would have not rewarded companies that take jobs overseas. John McCain voted against stopping companies and taking away an incentive in our tax code where American taxpayers are actually paying to reward somebody to take a job overseas. John McCain refused to vote against that. John McCain also refused to vote for a jobs tax credit for companies that create jobs in the United States.

On housing; he recently gave a housing speech. He blamed the homeowner for the housing crisis. He has a campaign filled with lobbyists, run by lobbyists --


SEN. KERRY: But let me just finish this point -- some of whom were actually lobbying for the worst offenders of the predatory practices of the housing crisis. That's not reform.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Graham, answer that last point, and then I want to move on.

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, the whole idea about -- this is going to be a good, honest debate to have. You've got one candidate out there who's going to repeal tax cuts that help millions of Americans, he's going to increase the marginal rates. We're trying to compete in a global economy. You've got another candidate out there who's not going to allows us to explore for energy here in America. John McCain would allow offshore explorations if the states consent. You've got two different views of how to grow the economy in a global world.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: So a clear debate --

SEN. GRAHAM: You've got a high-tax guy, and you've got a cut- the-tax guy, and that will be a simple choice and I look forward to that.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: That is a clear debate. Let me move on, because we did cover this. I want to get on to a separate issue, and this is, you're also both fighting over the issue of who's the true bipartisan reformer. And both Senators Obama and McCain addressed that the other night. Take a look.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): (From tape.) While John McCain can legitimate tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): (From tape.) For all his fine words and all his promise, he has never taken the hard but right course of risking his own interests for yours, of standing up against the partisan rancor on his side to stand up for our country.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Kerry, what is the example of where Senator Obama has stood up to the party orthodoxy, taken on his party in the interest of bipartisan reform?

SEN. KERRY: He led the fight on ethics reform in the United States Senate. And a lot of people fought back against that. Believe me, he was not popular in the quarters of the Senate. In fact, John McCain, who's been in the Senate for years, never did that. It was waiting and in comes Barack Obama, and he leads that fight, and we have the strongest ethics reform that we've ever had in the Senate.

Barack Obama does not take money in this presidential campaign from political action committees or from lobbyists. If John McCain is such a reformer, how did all these lobbyists start running his campaign? How do you have lobbyists who lobby for the Burma junta? How do you have lobbyists who represent the predatory practitioners that brought us the housing crisis? These are the people running his campaign. He still has lobbyists running his campaign.

So there's just a world of difference between the perception. Much of the money that John McCain is raising today comes from all of these special kinds of interests that have fought against real reform in Washington. Where Lindsey says we have a high tax or a low tax, we just pointed out that Barack Obama has a tax cut for middle-class Americans. He simply wants to make the tax code fair again and work for everybody in a nation that can't afford to just give away, give away, give away all the money facing all the crisis -- (inaudible).

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Graham, your response.

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, Charlie Black helped run Ronald Reagan's campaign. He is not lobbying now. Rick Davis ran John's campaign in 2000. Mark Salter is his alter ego. Phil Gramm is a great friend. John McCain didn't borrow money from a guy going to jail to build his house. So if we're going to start talking about associations, that's fine. We'll do that. But let's talk about the question of bipartisanship. I can't tell you how many phone calls I got about the ethics vote. I got beat up -- not. Nobody called me. I can tell you I got my brains got beat out helping John on immigration. I can tell you it was tough on campaign finance reform. I can tell you it was tough to go back to South Carolina and support Senator McCain's efforts to reform interrogation policy.

I can tell you that I've been in a lot of bipartisan fights with John McCain where the Republican Party really didn't like what John was doing. And when it comes to Senator Obama, it's all talk. He's never done anything the left didn't want to hear, whether it's Iraq policy or anything else, and John has been his been his own man for a long time. And that's why he's going to win this election, because he will put the country ahead of his own interests, and that means sending more troops into Iraq when nobody else wanted to hear because he thought it was the right thing. That's why we're going to win, George.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Kerry, one of the other points, and Senator Graham hit on it there, is that on a lot of these bipartisan issues, Senator Obama just did take a walk, especially I've heard him talk about it many times, they believe he did on immigration reform, simply refused to stand up and take the tough vote and be part of a bipartisan process.

SEN. KERRY: On the contrary, look. I give John McCain credit for those instances that get him out of the 95 percent voting with George Bush and 90 percent over the entire Bush presidency. But 90 percent has a profound impact on a lot of Americans. It deprives people of adequate healthcare. It deprives us of the kinds of training for jobs for people who are in transition because of work gone overseas. It deprives us of an opportunity to have fair trade practices where we're actually negotiating a trade agreement that has labor and environment standards in it, so everybody is rising. There are countless places where John McCain has just not been there, and he's selected a few key things where he's made a difference, and I applaud him for it.

But being right 5 percent of the time doesn't excuse you for the 95 percent of the time when there's a problem. And the fact is that American faces an unbelievable crisis. Even on what Lindsey just talked about about Iraq and policy there, John McCain has been the biggest cheerleader for an approach to foreign policy that has actually weakened America, made us less safe, created greater turmoil in our relations with more countries. And if you look at what's happened in the Middle East, Israel is more fragile and threatened, Hamas is stronger, Hezbollah is stronger, Iran is stronger, and every country in the region believes we ought to be trying to deal with Syria and Iran, and John McCain doesn't want to do it. So the line here is very clear.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Graham, you get the last word on this.

SEN. GRAHAM: Well, yes. Senator Obama in my opinion is 100 percent calculating. The reason he wasn't in the gang of 14 is because John McCain and Democrats and Republicans averted the Senate blowing up in a historic way. It took a lot of guts to come out of the shadows and say, let's don't blow up the Senate. Let's don't destroy the judiciary. Senator Obama took 130 present votes in the general assembly in Illinois, so there is a record among one candidate who has taken a beating for what he believes, and the other candidate just talks. When it comes to Iraq, John McCain went to Iraq early on and understood we had the wrong strategy, got in an argument, a fight with Secretary Rumsfeld asking for more troops.

And if we had listened to John early on, things would have been better quicker, but thank God we did listen to Senator McCain and not Senator Obama. By adding more troops, by creating the surge, things are enormously better politically, militarily, and economically in Iraq. The biggest loser of the surge is al Qaeda. Muslims have joined with us to take up arms against bin Laden forces in Iraq. That's a wonderful day for the world. And Iran is not going to dominate Iraq because we're going to create a stable Iraq that can defend itself. The biggest loser of the surge has been Iran and Iraq.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It seems like we've got an awful lot to debate over the next five months.

SEN. KERRY: George, that's mythology.

SEN. GRAHAM: To be continued.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: This will have to be continued.

SEN. KERRY: Mythology.

SEN. GRAHAM: To be continued.

MR. STEPHANOPOULOS: It's clear that we have so much to debate over the last five months. Thank you both very much.

SEN. GRAHAM: God bless.


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