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CNN "Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees" - Transcript


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BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Senator McCain suggests that somehow, you know, I'm green behind the others and same spouting off and he's sombre and responsible.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Senator McCain, this is the guy who sang bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, who called for the annihilation of North Korea. That I don't think is an example of speaking softly. This is the person who after we hadn't even finished Afghanistan where he said next up Baghdad.

MCCAIN: If we are going to go back and forth, I would like to have equal time to respond. Not true. I have obviously supported those efforts that the United States had to go in and I have opposed those that I didn't think so. I understand what it is like to send young Americans in harm's way.


COOPER: Well, that was from four years ago, Senator McCain was watching last night's debate closely. He joins me now for the 360 interview.

Senator McCain, we heard that heated exchange from four years ago and you know what it's like to be on that stage in the midst of the rough and tumble.

I heard from a lot of voters today. Some said they liked the sparring last night and others who were turned off by it. You have been involved in sparring and not. Do you think more people are turned off by it than are pleased by it?

MCCAIN: I think more people are turned off by it, Anderson, because when people start talking over each other, and really exchanging bashes, I don't think viewers get a lot out of it. It is what it is.

We saw the vice president basically being very disrespectful in my view to Paul Ryan and there was a lot of back and forth last night. But I think most people that I talked to that come up to me say they wish they'd be a little more respectful, not a lot, but a little more.

COOPER: On Benghazi, last night, there are certainly big questions to be asked and still they need to be answered. Why wasn't there more security for the ambassador? Why the administration's narrative change so many times and still what -- what really happened there.

The direct question last night didn't actually directly answered, but by focusing on that Rose Garden statement and the use of the word "terror," do you think Governor Romney missed an opportunity?

MCCAIN: I think so in a way he did because I think that when you look at the president's Rose Garden statement that it really wasn't talking about that act.

And the reason why I don't think he was because he later went on "The View" and went on "Letterman" and others and kept repeating what they have sent his U.N. ambassador out to say and say this was a hateful video that triggered this demonstration or we don't know what caused it.

But we knew within hours, Anderson, that this was a coordinated attack with heavy weapons and we now know that one of the leaders of the one of the al Qaeda related groups was even there. It was obvious, there was no demonstration whatsoever.

And when they keep saying wait until we have a complete and full investigation some facts are obvious now. I'd like to mention one other aspect of this if I could.

Back in April and June, there were attacks on the U.S. Embassy, one an IED very serious. The British ambassador was attacked. The British closed their consulate. The Red Cross left.

Was the president briefed about the danger there? I don't expect him to know whether 16 people stayed or went. Shouldn't he have been briefed about the deteriorating situation in Benghazi where it was obvious that al Qaeda were coming in across the border?

That's what we need. The question should be what did the president know, when he did know it and what did he do about it, obviously, not much.

COOPER: I want to ask you also about Syria tonight. The "New York Times" was reporting Sunday that most of the weapons flowing to Syrian rebels from Saudi Arabia and from Qatar are actually going to Islamic Jihadists.

Why is it that we've not been able to identify more moderate groups or I mean, have we been able to identify just -- because the folks sending the weapons are, you know, have sympathies maybe with Jihadists. They are sending them to these groups that they are?

MCCAIN: It makes me so sad.

COOPER: You were talking about this before anyone else.

MCCAIN: Yes, and it is so sad because there are legitimate elements that you and I have inside and just outside of Syria. And there has been a flood of these Jihadists into Syria as this thing has dragged out for over 18 months and over 30,000.

And it's a failure of American leadership. Let me just say that it is well-known that over the years that the Saudis have supported extreme groups. So, it is not surprising, but where is American leadership to say to them by the way, stop that and we'll do the job.

We will make sure that those weapons get in. That's what American leadership is about and I could go on and on, the tensions on the border as you know of all of those countries have dramatically increased.

The slaughter goes on and the Russians continue to step up their armed supplies and the Iranians are over flying Iraq with supplies of arms and the tragedy goes on and it cries out for American leadership and it is just not there.

I don't know what the Turks are going to do, but I know that the Turks are crying out for our leadership.

COOPER: Governor Romney has been critical of the Obama administration for not acting sooner for calling Assad a reformer early on. But recently he called for arming the rebels, but he stopped short of saying the U.S. should provide weapons.

His staff said that the governor would rely on allies to do that, which is unnamed allies, but it's exactly basically what the Obama administration is already doing, isn't it?

MCCAIN: I don't think they are doing it. They say they are, but we know the facts are that they are not doing it because the arms are going into the wrong people as we said at the beginning of our conversation. Obviously, I support strongly providing them with weapons. I hope that Governor Romney will agree with that position, but --

COOPER: Do you think the U.S. should directly supply them with weapons?

MCCAIN: You know, I have always said that and I think that Mitt Romney is right. We should play a much greater and stronger role in making sure that those weapons go to the right people, which is obviously not the case now because of the lack of American leadership.

COOPER: Senator McCain, I appreciate your time. Thank you very much tonight.

MCCAIN: Thank you.


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