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MSNBC Interview- Transcript


Location: Unknown

MSNBC Interview

MR. GREGORY: Congressman, Chris (Matthews) and I earlier in the evening were talking about what McCain does tonight to create a blueprint for the rest of this campaign, the blueprint that he actually runs on. How does he make a pivot off of all of the energizing of the base here over the last couple of nights to target swing independent voters? Those are the people he wants to reach.

REP. CANTOR: Well, you know, I think obviously he's going to have the unique opportunity, David, to talk directly to the American people tonight. I think he goes into this opportunity with a certain comfort level out there with most American people in that they know who John McCain is. They know John McCain. He's a war hero. They know his dedication to the country. And I think there's a comfort level on the part of most that he is befitting of being a commander in chief of this country. So I think --

MR. GREGORY: But why should he win the change argument, which is so crucial, after spending the last four years getting closer to President Bush to set him for a run in his party to be the steward of his party?

REP. CANTOR: I think you and I can disagree a little bit about how close he's been to President Bush. I mean, there are any host of a number of issues that we can talk about, from environmental security, from torture, to some of these spending and tax issues that John McCain is different from with our president.

I think also John McCain has developed a relationship for being a challenger of the status quo in Washington. He is in the forefront of the debate about ending earmarks and the pork-barrel spending that's gotten out of control. I think you'll hear a lot about that. I think you'll hear a lot about his goal of trying to make sure that we have accountability returned to Washington so that the federal government can start working for the people again.

MR. GREGORY: Again, a political question to look at issues like Iran, the threat from Iran, and the war in Iraq. For the swing voters, for independent voters, not necessarily the Republicans in this hall, how does John McCain address those two issues, the case of Iraq, an unpopular conflict to a lot of voters?

REP. CANTOR: You know, again, I think, again, most of America, if they're watching tonight, will see a John McCain that is both pensive, deliberate and strong in his convictions. And obviously he was the big proponent of the surge. And we've seen now evidence that the surge has had some success. I think the public understands that. John McCain will continue to talk about the grave threat that this country still faces in terms of radical Islam and the spread of that movement and what we need to do to make sure that we do everything possible to secure this country.

MR. GREGORY: Sarah Palin rocked the house last night. But what does she do for the second act now? Because the questions will continue. She's going to have to get now in more of the national spotlight because she's new on the scene, new in the campaign.

REP. CANTOR: Well, you know, I find some of the criticism kind of interesting directed towards Governor Palin, especially, I think, when Senator Biden talked about the fact that in her speech she didn't talk about the economic issues; she didn't talk about the middle class.

You know, she doesn't need to talk about the middle class. She is the middle class. You know, she will serve and is an inspiration to so many people across this country, to married couples such as my own, when both spouses are working, trying to balance the needs of raising children, managing a household and pursuing a career.

MR. GREGORY: She still needs to talk about a prescription for dealing with the economy, even if she is from the middle class, doesn't she?

REP. CANTOR: Well, I think that John McCain obviously will talk about that tonight, will talk about trying to relieve some of the burdens that families have now due to high inflation caused by the energy crisis. I think that Governor Palin brings a tremendous amount of expertise to that question as well, having served as the governor of an energy-producing state.

MR. GREGORY: Congressman Cantor, thanks very much. Good talking to you.

REP. CANTOR: Thanks, David.

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