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NYTimes: McCain interview

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by basso, Jul 13, 2008.

  1. basso

    basso Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    May 20, 2002
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    [rquoter]The Times Interviews John McCain

    Following are excerpts of a transcript of an interview conducted by The New York Times's Adam Nagourney and Michael Cooper with Senator John McCain in Hudson, Wisconsin, on July 11. The answers are transcribed verbatim; some of the questions are paraphrased. The other people Mr. McCain refers to, who were in the room, are his wife, Cindy; Mark Salter, a senior adviser; Brook Buchanan, his press secretary; and John Taylor, an economic adviser.

    Q: How do you think of your self as a conservative. Do you think of yourself more as a Goldwater conservative or Reagan conservative or George W. Bush conservative.

    Senator John McCain: A Teddy Roosevelt conservative, I think. He’s probably my major role model, we could go back to Lincoln, of course. In the 20th century Teddy Roosevelt. I think Teddy Roosevelt he had a great vision of America’s role in the 20th Century. He was a great environmentalist. He loved the country. He is the person who brought the government into a more modern – into the 20th century as well. He was probably engaged more in national security slash international affairs that any president ever been. I understand that TR had failings. I understand that every one of my role models had failings. TR became embittered at the end, we all know that. If you look at his presidency, if you looked at his reformist agenda from the time he was the police commissioner in New York City…..

    Q: Would you consider Roosevelt a conservative? Didn’t the modern conservative movement began with Senator Goldwater?

    Mr. McCain: I think there’s always been tensions within the Republican Party. David Halberstam’s book was – The Coldest Winter– really gives a good demonstration of the tensions within the Republican Party long before Goldwater. ..

    “I think what Goldwater was able to do is he kind of wrenched the control of the party out of the hands of the quote Eastern establishment of the party and sort of moved it into a long-term more populist kind of and more – well Ronald Reagan was able to turn it into a majority, even though Barry turned it into one of the major landslide defeats in American history. Now those Barry Goldwater followers like me would say it was because the tragedy of Dallas. But still, you know.

    I think there’s always been tensions within the Republican Party. There’s a more isolationist wing, a more protectionist wing, there’s been the more internationalist.


    Q: Roosevelt wasn’t really a small government person. He saw an active role for government what thing in your record in your record would you say are in a similar vein of using government to do things that…

    Mr. McCain: Campaign Finance reform – obviously he was a great reformer -- is one of them. Climate change is another. He was a great environmentalist

    Q: You don’t believe in small government, the sort of classic conservative view of minimal government is not one you would necessarily share

    Mr. McCain: I guess my view is I believe less governance is best governance and that government should not do what the free enterprise and private enterprise and indidividual entrepreneurship and ¬¬ the states can do. But I also believe there is a role for government. If there is abuses, TR was the first guy to enforce the Sherman anti-trust act against the quote trusts that were controlling the economy of America. Because I believe his quote was unfettered capitalism leads to corruption. So there certainly is a role for government but I want to keep that role minimal. And I want to keep it in the areas where only governments can perform those functions.

    Government should take care of those in America who can’t care for themselves. That’s a role of government. It’s not that I’m for no government. It’s that I’m for government carrying out those responsibilities that otherwise can’t be exercised by individuals and the states -- that’s the founding principles of our country -- and at the same time recognizing there’s a role for our government and society to care for those who can’t care for themselves, to make sure there are not abuses of individual rights as well as the rights of groups of people and to defend our nation. And National Security is obviously No. 1.

    So I count myself as a conservative Republican, yet I view it to a large degree in the Theodore Roosevelt mold. Now there are some people who are Republicans who think that TR overreached. There certainly were in his time, that’s why they kept telling him to run for other offices. Still I think that history judges him extremely well because of his view that there is a role of government but it should be limited as much as possible

    Q: What is your view of the health of the conservative movement today?

    Mr. McCain: My view of the Republican Party today – and the conservative movement, whether you are talking about social or economic or other movement I think have been very disappointed. They’ve been disappointed by the out-of-of-control spending. And it has dispirited them. And the tipping pint in our Republican, fiscally conservative base was the bridge to nowhere. In football games there’s the fumble or the field goal. In political campaigns it is the event, in the process of passing legislation or failing. In everything in life there is kind of an event you can point to and say see, that was it. The bridge to nowhere. The bridge to nowhere….

    …We let government grow by some 60 percent over the last seven years .We let spending get completely out of control. And our base said, enough. So our Republican base – we have to give them the confidence that we will carry on in the traditions of our party

    Q: Ideologically, do you think the conservative movement know where it should be going.

    Mr. McCain: I think we are in agreement on most basic issues. I don’t think the problem, the debate within the Republican Party is about our principles.. I think the debate within the Republican Party is how can we best enact those principles into government and policies. In other words, we can say we are for restrained spending but if we vote for an appropriations bill with 9000 pork-barrel projects on it, we’re not doing what we said. I don’t think the Republican Party’s problems is with its principles. I think the Republican Party is its adherences to its principles and beliefs .

    Q: Do you consider yourself an evangelical Christian?

    Mr. McCain: I consider myself a Christian. I attend church, my faith has sustained me in very difficult times. But I think it depends on what you call a quote evangelical Christian. Because there are some people who may not share my views on – I mean, that covers a lot of ground. But I certainly consider myself a Christian.

    Q: How often do you go to church?

    Mr. McCain: Um, not as often as I should. When Cindy and I are in Phoenix, we attend. We’ve been fortunate enough the last few weeks to be in Phoenix. During the primary before that we were not back in Phoenix much so – again, not as frequently as I would like. I do appreciate the pastor of the North Phoenix Baptist Church, his name is Dan Neary (SP), and I talk to him frequently on the phone and I appreciate his spiritual guidance. He’s a great believer in redemption

    Q: President Bush believes that gay couples should not be permitted to adopt children. Do you agree with that?

    Mr. McCain: I think that we’ve proven that both parents are important in the success of a family so, no I don’t believe in gay adoption.

    Q: Even if the alternative is the kid staying in an orphanage, or not having parents.

    Mr. McCain: I encourage adoption and I encourage the opportunities for people to adopt children I encourage the process being less complicated so they can adopt as quickly as possible. And Cindy and I are proud of being adoptive parents.

    Q: But your concern would be that the couple should a traditional couple

    Mr. McCain: Yes.

    Q: Do you think religious organizations that get federal funding to deliver social services – faith based organizations – should be permitted to take faith into account in deciding who to hire. You saw Obama’s proposal.

    Mr. McCain: I support faith-based organizations and I support a lot of the things that the president did. I was in New Orleans after Katrina and I went to their Resurrection Baptist Church and I saw volunteers from all over America working and helping in the clean-up, and the work that they did and talking with people like Governor Jindal, he said they did great work. I would continue along the model of what the president has done. And I certainly applaud Senator Obama’s, what I heard of his position basically the same.

    Q: I think the one difference is whether or not as a condition of getting these monies, that these organization say they will not take into account religion or other factors in hiring decisions.

    Mr. McCain: Obviously it’s very complicated because if this is an organization that says we want people in our organization that are Baptists or vegetarians or whatever it is, they should not be required to hire someone that they don’t want to hire in my view. Listen, this is the kind of the issue that goes on with the Boy Scouts, it goes on with a number of other issues. I think the president’s faith-based organization has been successful and I support what he has done

    Q: I guess the way opponents describe it means that these groups are allowed to discriminate in hiring.

    Mr. McCain: I can only answer it to say that I think faith-based organizations have been one of the more successful parts of the Bush Administration and I would continue it.

    Q: When do you think the United States has an obligation to intervene to prevent genocides.

    Mr. McCain: When it goes on and we can find an effective way to stop it – or even, if we can, if have the prescience we can try to stop it before it happens. That’s not very easy, obviously. We have to have effective ways of addressing genocide. I know what you are leading to and that is Darfur, where Colin Powell, a man who I admire as much as any man in the world, person in the world, declared genocide in Darfur several years ago. I think our challenge has been – and I think from my conversations with Secretary Powell – that this is accurate, that because of the complexities of the situations and the inabilities to identify exactly what courses of action need to be taken, coupled with the other problems – either the inability or unwillingness of other African states to be as involved as we’d like them to be in this very complex situation. But I think we should not give up our efforts to stop the genocides that is going on in Darfur. And I would exercise every possibility and consult with whoever it is and try to address the issue of genocide.

    Finally, let me add one other aspect to this. You’ve got to have the support of the American people in whatever you do as well. I think Americans would support action – I know Americans would support action – but it would have to be explained to them and tell them exactly how we’re going to succeed in stopping genocide and that is a plague not only the United States but our European friends allies and the world: How do you effectively address the situation in Darfur.

    Q: Part of your view of government would be that if it sees an ongoing genocidal situation and believes there is a way to end it and it has the support of the American people, you believe it is part of our obligation to do something about it.

    Mr. McCain: If you can address it effectively. In other words, the unfortunate – the downside could be that you send in a force, they don’t succeed in stopping the genocide, Americans than say look, it’s not working get out, than the ultimate situation is worse than if went in. That is what I have concern about in the scenario. Look, Republican, Democrats, Liberal, Conservatives have all announced unequivocally that we will never allow a second Holocaust. That has been a public statement of every president since Harry Truman.

    Q: Was it a good idea for the federal government to intervene in Bear Stearns?

    Mr. McCain: I think we had to. American is in extremely difficult economic times. I agree with literally every expert on the economy. If Bear Stearns had collapsed it would have had a ripple effect in the market. And that’s why this latest mortgage crisis with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, are, excuse me, with the home loan mortgage people, is that we worry of the ripple effect of their collapse. And so, we’re going to have to contemplate what needs to be done now, We have a worsening economy. And I agree with Paulson, I agree with literally every economist in America that said that Bear Stearns, if they had collapsed, would have had a ripple effect, would have been very harmful to the American economy.

    Q: Do you think the government is ultimately on the hook for Fannie and Freddie? If the worst-case scenario materializes.

    Mr. McCain: I don’t think the question is so much, is it on the hook, as much as it is, could we afford to have a collapse. And I keep being asked about a quote, government bailout. I don’t know if a government, quote, bailout is necessary now. Because there are other courses of action that are being explored in order to ensure their survival. But I don’t believe we can afford to have them fail – because of their impact on the overall economy, and the housing situation which we already know is in dire straits, and I’ve head that there is various options. I also note with sorrow that their stock continues to go down, and the situation becomes more and more severe.”

    Q: So whether the government is legally responsible is not so important because ultimately the nation can’t afford to let it collapse?

    Mr. McCain: Yeah. I’m not so sure that the government’s legal obligation is that clear. I would leave that up to people who are more expert than I am. But I do know that if they collapse, that the effects would be of enormous consequences. So we have to try to find ways to shore up their stability and stop this slide that is going on now.

    Q: One of the things I heard a lot covering the Hillary Clinton campaign against Obama is that it is difficult to run against an African-American because every charge, every use of a word was fly-specked, for signs of potential prejudice. It just made things very complicated and constraining. I guess they felt vaguely there was some double-standard there .Have you found that?

    Mr. McCain: I’d like to make a joke, but I won’t. I think that Senator Obama has run an effective and admirable campaign. He has literally come from people who didn’t believe that he had much of a chance for the nomination to, with his eloquence and his effective campaigning, has not only secured the nomination of his party but he’s gotten the interest and the involvement of millions of people who otherwise might not have. So I think in any campaign, that you have to stay on your message, my message, rather than worry about the message of the campaign of the opponent.

    We are in a situation today where all words are parsed, all comments are diagnosed, and looked for whatever effect they might have. We have to feed the beast, the hourly cable shows, the instant news in the blogs, and all that. That is just the situation that we’re in, and I’m not complaining about it, because that would be both foolish and a waste of time. But I believe that it’s not anything to do with Senator Obama, per se, or my campaign, per se, I just think we are in an hourly news cycle. There’s the spokespersons’ back and forth, there’s the phrase taken out, there’s the – you know, I mean, it’s just the nature of campaigns today. And I was in the 2000 campaign, as you well know, and the difference I think between 2008 and 2000 is that everything is just accelerated. It used to be: What’s the story of the day? Now it’s: What’s the story of the hour? It’ll be: what’s the story of the next five minutes? But I don’t think it has anything to do with the candidates as much as it does with the dramatic increase in telecommunications.

    Q: That would be true even if you were against Senator Clinton?

    Mr. McCain: I think no matter who I was running against.

    Q: Do you ever sit there and think, pull back a word?

    Mr. McCain: No, no, because I have to base my approach to Senator Obama as one of respect. As long as I do that, then I don’t have to worry about any language I might use, because Senator Obama deserves respect, number one, but people want a respectful campaign. I know we get into the back and forth, our spokespersons and all that, but I think they still want respectful campaigning. And I respect him.

    Q: Remember when Biden got

    Mr. McCain: Yeah, yeah. I’ve never had that happen. I’ve been asked about him a million times, and I’ve always said basically the same thing. I admire him and respect him, because he’s waged an incredibly successful campaign. You know, I also admire and respect Senator Clinton. You might say, as I said earlier today, she’s motivated, she’s proven, particularly, that a woman is capable of qualifying in a very effective fashion for the highest job in the land. I think she’s a role model to lots of young Americans – all Americans. Oops. All Americans.

    Q: Do you think Obama has drawn unfairly favorable media coverage?

    Mr. McCain: Easiest thing for me to do in my life is to complain about the media. That’s the easiest thing to do, I enjoy it, it makes me feel so much better, and I feel persecuted, and picked on – No! Look, this isn’t beanbag, this is a tough business. I’ve just got to go on with my campaign and put one foot ahead of the other. The media in America, I think, at the end of the day, is going to judge all of us as fairly as possible because I think most of the media – of course not all, look, not all politicians are honest, not all mayors are good mayors, OK, but I think at the end of the day most journalists, particularly those are involved in national campaigns, are interested in journalistic standards and reporting the facts to the American people.’’

    Q: What I used to hear from the Clinton people and your own supporters now that there is sense of, not bias, but the sense of excitement resulting in more positive stories about him and more negative stories about her and now about you.

    Mr. McCain: No, we’ve got 116 days I believe it is, and I’ve got to spend my time in those 116 days, how can I better communicate with these people, how can I learn more about what’s going on in the stock market today, what can I – John Taylor’s an economist – how can I better shape my economic message. It’s just a waste of time to worry about whether Michael Cooper is a jerk or not. We all know that he’s a jerk. Everybody knows that. Ask the other journalists on the bus. Ask anybody. So I just don’t, not only don’t do it, I’ve learned long ago that you’ve got to, you’ve just got to keep working and do the best you can, and at the end of the day rely on the good judgment of the American people.’

    Q: What websites if any do you look at regularly?

    Mr. McCain: Brooke and Mark show me Drudge, obviously, everybody watches, for better or for worse, Drudge. Sometimes I look at Politico. Sometimes RealPolitics, sometimes.

    (Mrs. McCain and Ms. Buchanan both interject: “Meagan’s blog!”)

    Mr. McCain: Excuse me, Meagan’s blog. And we also look at the blogs from Michael and from you that may not be in the newspaper, that are just part of your blog.

    Q: But do you go on line for yourself?

    Mr. McCain: They go on for me. I am learning to get online myself, and I will have that down fairly soon, getting on myself. I don’t expect to be a great communicator, I don’t expect to set up my own blog, but I am becoming computer literate to the point where I can get the information that I need – including going to my daughter’s blog first, before anything else.

    Q: Do you use a blackberry or email?

    Mr. McCain: No

    Mark Salter: He uses a BlackBerry, just ours.

    Mr. McCain: I use the Blackberry, but I don’t e-mail, I’ve never felt the particular need to e-mail. I read e-mails all the time, but the communications that I have with my friends and staff are oral and done with my cell phone. I have the luxury of being in contact with them literally all the time. We now have a phone on the plane that is usable on the plane, so I just never really felt a need to do it. But I do – could I just say, really – I understand the impact of blogs on American politics today and political campaigns. I understand that. And I understand that something appears on one blog, can ricochet all around and get into the evening news, the front page of The New York Times. So, I do pay attention to the blogs. And I am not in any way unappreciative of the impact that they have on entire campaigns and world opinion.

    Q: You read newspapers then.

    Mr. McCain: I read them most all every day.

    Q: You and Obama are both newspaper and book readers. Do you read them in the old paper version or do you read them online?

    Mr. McCain: I love to read them in the print form, and the reason why I do is because so much, the prominence of the story matters. If I read a story and say, Oh my God, did you see this? But it’s back on A26, it doesn’t have the impact of what are still – even though it’s declining – what are still, what are hundreds of millions of American picking up an looking at today. And that’s why I really think that reading it is, it helps me more than, now, because I don’t read all the newspapers – I don’t see, for example, the L.A. Times every day, or the San Francisco Chronicle, or the Arizona Republic when I’m away. So we go then, of course, online, and look at them.’

    Q: If California wants to legalize gay marriage, should it be permitted to do so?

    Mr. McCain: I respect the rights of the states to make those decisions. I obviously am personally in favor of preserving the unique status of marriage between man and woman. And I also would point out that we passed a thing called the Defense of Marriage Act, which I know you’re familiar with, where we said that states were not required to recognize in their states the decision that other states made. In other words, if the state of Massachusetts recognized marriage between man and --- had allowed same-sex marriage, that does not mean that that decision can be imposed on the state of Arizona. The state of Arizona will make that decision. “

    Q: But if the state wanted to do it on the own, you would not support taking action to stop it?

    Mr. McCain: If the people wanted to amend the constitution in order to support the unique status, affirm the unique status, I certainly would support that. But if they decide not to, that’s a state decision that’s made by the state.’

    Q: How do you feel about teaching evolution in schools?

    Mr. McCain: I think, first of all, it’s up to the school boards. That’s why we have local control over education. So my personal view is that children should be exposed to as much as they possibly can so that they can make their decisions and be the best informed. But I really believe that school boards are elected in order to make a lot of those decisions, and I respect their decisions unless they are unconstitutional in some way or, you know.

    Q: If you were on a school board, how would you vote?

    Mr. McCain: I don’t know, Adam. I’d have to see the proposal, I’d have to see where it lies in the curriculum, I’d have to – I can’t. I’m not running for school board.

    Q: Do you think the economic policies of the last 8 years have led to an accumulation, a concentration of wealth in too few hands?

    Mr. McCain: I think that because of our spending practices we have mortgaged all of our children’s futures. And I believe that every American should have the chance to become wealthy, and I want to provide them with that opportunity. And I want to keep their taxes low, and I want to provide them with a lower price for a gallon of gas, because it’s lowest income Americans who are suffering the most. So, as you know, I had my own proposal for tax cuts, and those tax cuts, I think, were important. But they also were associated with spending. I think spending – out of control spending – has harmed all Americans but I think it’s harmed low income Americans and our failure over 30 years to address the energy issue. Who is paying the most today? It’s the lower income Americans driving older automobiles. That’s who is bearing the majority of the burden of our failure to act to become independent of foreign oil and address the energy issue.

    Q: To what extent do you think your campaign has been hurt by infighting?

    Mr. McCain: Well, I go to town hall meetings all the time and I have them all the time and I love them. And I’ve yet to have a town hall meeting where someone stood up and said, who’s managing your campaign, who’s doing this, or what role someone played. They obviously want to know what I’m going to do about energy, about taxes, about healthcare, about education, etc. So I just will continue to focus on their concerns, and with respect, I say, I have not had them voice their concerns about how the individuals in my campaign, what role they play. Except I will continue to say that we are a collective leadership. We don’t always agree. I’m proud of my friends, I’m proud of Mark and Rick and Steve and, and Charlie and all of the people that are part of our campaign, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to do, I’m proud of where we are, and I’m confident we’re in a position to win this election.

    Q: Is if fair to say that if you look at the way your campaign goes, and you look at the difficulties that it had just management-wise, that that gives us some insight into what a McCain White House would be, for better and for worse?

    Mr. McCain: Well, I think the proof is in the pudding. The one thing I have noted, and I read all the books, “The Making of the President,” from going all the way back – every book I’ve read about a campaign is that the one that won, it was a perfect and beautifully run campaign with geniuses running it and incredible messaging, etc. And always the one that lost, oh, completely screwed up, too much infighting, bad people, etc. So if I win, I believe that historians will say, way to go. He fine-tuned that campaign, and he got the right people in the right place and as the campaign grew, he gave them more responsibility. If I lose – that campaign, always in disarray. Well it’s already happened, a year or so ago, when we were done. We were finished. We were toast. And history. So you know, I’m sorry we didn’t stick to their script. I apologize for that, because too many of them predicted that we were finished. But I am confident that we have the team, and the message, and the organization. And as we have expanded from me, last summer I believe it was, flying group C on Southwest carrying my own bags, to a staff of 300 people, I’m confident that we will be just fine over time. And I love these people that are with me, I am grateful for them, they’ve given up on lives with their families, and with their friends, and their normal lives, and I will always be very grateful to them, and what they’ve done for me and our campaign.

    Q: Do you like organizations with competing circles of influence. What did they used to call it at the Washington Post? Competitive tension?

    Mr. McCain: I think that when Jack Kennedy went to see President Eisenhower, president Eisenhower kind of rattled him a little bit, because he said, you know, none of the easy decisions will reach your desk. Only the hard ones. Those are the ones that you’re going to have to make the decision. All the easy ones will have been, decisions will have been made before it gets to your desk. And so you’ve got to have competing views. You’ve got to have a circle of people who you know and trust. John Taylor’s future is not dependent on my campaign. But he is a noted economist in this nation, and if he thinks that I’m wrong, he’s going to tell me I’m wrong. If Henry Kissinger thinks that I’m wrong, he’ll pick up the phone – and he has, several times. And say ‘You’re wrong on this, you shouldn’t be so hard on the Russians, OK?’ You’ve got to get competing opinions, and you’ve got to do that in campaigns as well, in my view. So I think a certain amount of tension is very healthy. And a certain amount of differing views. Because the bubble that a president is in, and the bubble that a candidate is in, sometimes you find out afterwards, Oh boy, I wish I had heard thus and such and so and so. So I appreciate and want some of the tension, I don’t want too much of it, obviously, because we have to have certain efficiencies. But I think there is a balance there. I hope that that explains it. When I was commanding officer of a squadron in the Navy, I would call in other people and I would say, OK, what’s your opinion.? How do we best do this?

    Q: Buckley v. Valeo: How do you square views on campaign finance with wanting to appoint conservative jurists who don’t have a history of backing up that view?

    Mr. McCain: I think the important thing is that you trust their overall approach to being the ones who enforce the Constitution of the United States of America. And one of the reasons why I think we don’t ask nominees or perspective nominees for their specific views on specific cases is because I don’t think that we should. I think we should look at their overall philosophy, and their overall record. And I really believe, and it’s one reason I guess why I’m a conservative, I think that the role of the Supreme Court is to strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States of America. And I think Roberts and Alito are individuals I’m glad supported, even if they may take contrary opinions. Their position is Supreme Court justices; mine is a legislator. So I don’t expect them to agree on every issue.

    Q: Is Buckley Valeo correctly decided?

    Mr. McCain: I think their decision upholding McCain-Feingold – which was a decision obviously I supported, that decision – that was our legislation. [/rquoter]
  2. Apollo Creed

    Apollo Creed Contributing Member

    Aug 25, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Great interview, thanks for posting. He comes off SO much better in written form, being interviewed, than he does trying to "rally" a large group of people.

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