Iowa Public Television

 

Sen. John McCain

posted on October 11, 2007

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Borg: PERSEVERING... AS A DOWNED NAVY PILOT DEFYING THE ODDS, JOHN MCCAIN SURVIVED MORE THAN FIVE YEARS IN A NORTH VIETNAMESE PRISON. TENACITY IS ALSO MARKING HIS SECOND RUN FOR THE PRESIDENCY. WE'LL DISCUSS CAMPAIGN STRATEGY AND ISSUES WITH U.S. SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12 EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.' HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: 'VETERAN' DESCRIBES JOHN MCCAIN IN MANY WAYS: HIS DISTINGUISHED MILITARY RECORD, CONGRESSIONAL CAREER, AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. AFTER TWO TERMS IN THE U.S. HOUSE, SENATOR MCCAIN WAS ELECTED TO THE SENATE IN NOVEMBER 1986, SUCCEEDING GOP ICON AND FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE SENATOR BARRY GOLDWATER. WELL, TODAY MCCAIN IS IN HIS FOURTH SIX-YEAR TERM, AND HE SERVES AS RANKING MEMBER OF THE SENATE'S ARMED FORCES COMMITTEE. IN 2000 SENATOR MCCAIN WENT AFTER THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION THAT EVENTUALLY WENT TO GEORGE W. BUSH. BUT WITH THE BUSH PRESIDENCY NOW IN ITS FINAL SIXTEEN MONTHS, SENATOR MCCAIN IS AGAIN SEEKING THE WHITE HOUSE. WELCOME TO 'IOWA PRESS.'

McCain: THANK YOU. GOOD TO BE WITH YOU.

Borg: THANK YOU. AND YOU KNOW THE TWO JOURNALISTS, I THINK, FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL. YOU'VE BEEN CAMPAIGNING HERE IN IOWA.

McCain: YEAH, JERKS. [ LAUGHTER ]

Borg: DID I HERE 'JERKS'? [ LAUGHTER ] 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'RADIO IOWA' NEWS DIRECTOR KAY HENDERSON.

Henderson: SENATOR, IN THE DEBATE THIS PAST WEEK IN DEARBORN, MICHIGAN, YOU WERE ASKED ABOUT IRAN AND YOU MADE SORT OF A CRYPTIC COMMENT THAT PERHAPS INTERVENTION THERE IS CLOSER TO REALITY THAN WE MIGHT THINK. COULD YOU EXPAND ON THAT AND EXPLAIN WHAT YOU MEANT?

McCain: WELL, THERE'S VARYING EXPERT OPINION ON WHERE THE IRANIANS ARE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF A NUCLEAR WEAPON. THERE ARE MANY EXPERTS THAT SAY WITHIN TWO YEARS THEY WOULD REACH A TIPPING POINT. IN OTHER WORDS, IT WOULD BE INEVITABLE IF THEY HAVE AMASSED SUFFICIENT FISSIBLE [ SIC ] MATERIAL AND ENOUGH TO MAKE IT INEVITABLE THAT THEY WOULD HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON OR MORE -- FISSILE MATERIAL -- I GET IT RIGHT -- PLUTONIUM. SO THE -- THOSE EXPERTS SAY THAT WITHIN TWO YEARS. AND IF THAT'S THE CASE, THEN THAT COULD TRIGGER SCENARIOS WHICH COULD BE VERY DANGEROUS. AND I'M NOT PREDICTING MILITARY ACTION ON THE PART OF THE ISRAELIS NOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, BUT I AM SAYING THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION'S POLICY -- AND I AGREE WITH IT -- THAT IT IS UNACCEPTABLE FOR THE IRANIANS TO HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON, AND THE ISRAELIS HAVE STATED BASICALLY THE SAME THING.

Henderson: SO THIS MAY HAPPEN DURING GEORGE BUSH'S WATCH?

McCain: IT COULD HAPPEN -- IT COULD HAPPEN UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH'S WATCH. THERE WAS A QUESTION IN THE DEBATE, AS YOU KNOW, IN DETROIT, WHERE THE QUESTION WAS RAISED AS TO WHETHER YOU WOULD CONSULT WITH CONGRESS OR NOT, AND I SAID IT DEPENDED ON THE SCENARIO. IF YOU IMMEDIATELY HAVE INFORMATION THAT REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ACTION, YOU HAVE TO ADHERE TO YOUR OATH OF OFFICE TO SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE NATION. IF YOU HAVE SUFFICIENT WARNING PERIOD AND SUFFICIENT -- ADVANCED INFORMATION ABOUT WHAT PROGRESS THEY'RE MAKING, THEN I THINK THAT YOU HAVE TO CONSULT WITH CONGRESS AND YOU MAY EVEN HAVE TO GO TO CONGRESS FOR THEIR APPROVAL.

Yepsen: SENATOR, YOU TALK A LOT ABOUT THE WAR IN IRAQ IN YOUR CAMPAIGN. IT'S PRETTY UNPOPULAR. WHAT SHOULD THE COUNTRY BE DOING?

McCain: I HOPE THE COUNTRY WOULD BE DOING WHAT THEY'RE DOING NOW, DAVID. THANKS TO GENERAL PETRAEUS, WHOSE PERFORMANCE BEFORE CONGRESS AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE -- AMERICANS ARE FRUSTRATED AND ANGRY AND THEY'RE SADDENED BY THE SACRIFICE THAT HAS BEEN MADE. IT WAS MISMANAGED FOR NEARLY FOUR YEARS, AND NOW WE HAVE A STRATEGY THAT IS I BELIEVE IS SUCCEEDING -- I KNOW IS SUCCEEDING. THE QUESTION IS WHETHER THE POLITICAL AND OTHER ASPECTS OF A SUCCESSFUL COUNTERINSURGENCY WILL ALSO COME TO FRUITION. SO I THINK WHAT GENERAL PETRAEUS'S APPEARANCE DID WAS BASICALLY AMERICAN PEOPLE SAID HE MAKES A GOOD ARGUMENT, HE AND AMBASSADOR CROCKER, AND MAYBE WE'LL GIVE IT SOME MORE TIME. I DON'T THINK THEY'RE SATISFIED. I THINK THEY'RE STILL UPSET AND HAVE EVERY REASON TO BE, BUT I THINK THEY ARE BEGINNING ALSO TO RECOGNIZE THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILURE AND A WITHDRAWAL.

Yepsen: HOW BAD DOES THIS ISSUE HURT YOUR CANDIDACY?

McCain: PROBABLY -- PROBABLY HAS HURT ME IN STATES LIKE NEW HAMPSHIRE WHERE -- WHERE THE PEOPLE FEEL VERY STRONGLY ANTIWAR. AND I DON'T LIKE TO GET EITHER MAUDLIN OR SENTIMENTAL, BUT EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE SOMETHING HAPPENS THAT REMINDS YOU OF WHAT YOUR PRIORITIES ARE. AND THAT WAS WHEN A WOMAN AT A TOWN HALL MEETING IN WOLFEBORO, NEW HAMPSHIRE, STOOD UP AND SAID, 'SENATOR MCCAIN, WE WEAR A BRACELET WITH MY SON'S NAME ON IT. HE WAS NINETEEN. HE WAS KILLED OUTSIDE OF BAGHDAD BEFORE CHRISTMAS LAST YEAR.' AND THEN SHE SAID TO ME, SHE SAID, 'I WANT YOU TO DO EVERYTHING THAT YOU CAN TO MAKE SURE THAT HIS DEATH WAS NOT IN VAIN.'

Yepsen: ONE THING WE DO ON THIS PROGRAM, SENATOR, IS GIVE CANDIDATES AN OPPORTUNITY JUST TO HAVE THEIR SAY. GIVE US YOUR COMMERCIAL. WHY SHOULD AN IOWA REPUBLICAN STAND UP FOR YOU ON CAUCUS NIGHT?

McCain: I THINK THAT I CAN RESTORE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE ON THE PART OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND THEIR GOVERNMENT. IT IS LOST NOW. I BELIEVE THE TRANSCENDENT CHALLENGE OF THE 21ST CENTURY IS THE ENORMOUS THREAT OF RADICAL ISLAMIC EXTREMISM. IT WAS NOT AN ISSUE IN 2000, OBVIOUSLY. AND I BELIEVE THAT MY EXPERIENCE, MY KNOWLEDGE, MY BACKGROUND, QUALIFIES ME OR GIVES ME THE QUALIFICATION FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE PEOPLE OF IOWA. AND FINALLY, ONE OF THE MAJOR REASONS WHY IOWANS AND ARIZONANS AND OTHERS HAVE LOST CONFIDENCE AND TRUST IN GOVERNMENT IS BECAUSE OF OUR EXCESSIVE, OUTRAGEOUS, DISGRACEFUL SPENDING HABITS, WHICH HAS LED TO CORRUPTION IN WASHINGTON. I'VE BEEN FIGHTING IT FOR TWENTY YEARS, LONG BEFORE MOST OF THESE GUYS WERE IN OFFICE. SO I THINK THAT I CAN ADEQUATELY ADDRESS THAT ISSUE AS WELL.

Henderson: LET'S VEER BACK TO IRAQ. THERE ARE CONCERNS BEING RAISED ABOUT BLACKWATER, A PRIVATE FIRM THAT'S PROVIDING SECURITY IN IRAQ. DO YOU SHARE THE CONCERNS THAT IRAQI GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS HAVE RAISED?

McCain: I SHARE THE CONCERN AND I THINK IT NEEDS TO BE REVIEWED AS TO WHAT THEIR RULES OF ENGAGEMENT ARE, WHAT THEIR BEHAVIOR IS, WHO CONTROLS THEM, ET CETERA. BUT I WOULD THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO POINT OUT THAT THE REASON WHY THEY ARE THERE IS BECAUSE WE NEVER HAD ENOUGH TROOPS. WE NEVER HAD ENOUGH BOOTS ON THE GROUND, SO THEY'RE CARRYING OUT RESPONSIBILITIES THAT NORMALLY AMERICAN MILITARY WOULD BE CARRYING OUT. SO I HAVE TO LAY PART OF THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE SITUATION, OR SIGNIFICANT PART OF IT, BACK ON THE PREVIOUS FAILED STRATEGY OF THE PRESIDENT'S AND RUMSFELD'S.

Henderson: SO WHAT SHOULD BE DONE? DO YOU THINK MORE TROOPS?

McCain: WE'RE NOT GOING TO HAVE MORE TROOPS. I'D LOVE TO SEE -- I WISH WE HAD THE SIZE OF ARMY AND MARINE CORPS AND GUARD THAT WE COULD SEND MORE TROOPS, ALTHOUGH I RELY ON GENERAL PETRAEUS'S ESTIMATE AND JUDGMENT THAT WE NOW NOT ONLY HAVE ENOUGH BUT WE'RE ABLE TO GET BACK DOWN TO PREVIOUS NUMBERS. HE'S MUCH MORE EXPERT TO MAKE THAT JUDGMENT THAN I AM. BUT I THINK THAT WE HAVE TO NOW TIGHTEN UP ON THE RULES, REGULATIONS, ACCOUNTABILITY, ET CETERA. YOU KNOW, MANY OF THESE 'BLACKWATER' -- THERE ARE MANY CONTRACTORS -- ARE GUARDING IRAQI GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS. IF YOU WANT TO REMOVE THEM, WHO'S GOING TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR SECURITY? BUT IT'S SAD AND IT'S TRAGIC THAT THESE THINGS ARE HAPPENING.

Borg: I WANT TO GO BACK AND PICK UP SOMETHING YOU JUST SAID: I WISH WE HAD ENOUGH ARMY, MARINES, AIR FORCE AND SO ON, NAVY, TO DO WHAT WE NEED TO DO; I THINK THAT'S TO FINISH WITHOUT YOUR WORDS. YOU SAID YOU WANT TO REBUILD TRUST. WHETHER OR NOT YOU GET THE NOMINATION AND MOVE ON TO THE PRESIDENCY OR WHETHER YOU'RE ON THE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, DO YOU THINK THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAVE THE TRUST NOW THAT WILL BE NECESSARY THAT YOU'VE ALLUDED TO, TO REBUILD THE MILITARY?

McCain: YEAH, AND I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO APPRECIATE. THIS IS THE BEST, MOST PROFESSIONAL, BEST TRAINED, BRAVEST MILITARY, IN MY VIEW, WE'VE EVER HAD IN HISTORY. THEY'RE DOING THINGS THAT ARE REMARKABLE. A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO AND EVEN NOW, THEY'RE GOING OUT IN 130-, 135-DEGREE HEAT, PUTTING ON 40 POUNDS OF BODY ARMOR, ANOTHER 40 POUNDS OF EQUIPMENT, AND THEY'RE DOING MAGNIFICENTLY. THE PROBLEM IS THERE'S NOT ENOUGH OF THEM.

Borg: HOW WILL YOU GET MORE?

McCain: RECRUIT THEM. THE MARINE CORPS AND ARMY IS ONE-THIRD SMALLER THAN THEY WERE AT THE TIME OF THE FIRST GULF WAR, AND IT WAS AN ALL-VOLUNTEER FORCE. AND IF YOU ACCEPT THE MILITARY'S ESTIMATE AND MY ESTIMATE THAT THEY'RE THE BEST MOST PROFESSIONAL, BEST EQUIPPED, ET CETERA, THEN YOU DON'T WANT TO DESTROY THAT. YOU JUST WANT TO EXPAND IT.

Borg: BUT THE AIR FORCE IS CUTTING 40,000 NOW JUST TO SAVE PAYROLL TO BUY NEW TANKERS. THEY'RE GOING THE OTHER WAY.

McCain: WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO SPEND MORE MONEY. AND BY THE WAY, I FOUGHT AGAINST THOSE TANKERS AND SAVED THE TAXPAYERS TWO BILLION DOLLARS WHEN WE EXPOSED THE CORRUPTION THAT WAS GOING ON BETWEEN THE AIR FORCE AND THE PENTAGON AND BOEING ON THAT. WE NEED A LOT BETTER OVERSIGHT, AND WE CAN SAVE A WHOLE LOT OF MONEY BY PROCUREMENT REFORM. WE JUST HAD A SMALL SHIP THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO COST $160 MILLION. THEY SPENT $400 MILLION ON IT AND THEN SCRAPPED IT. AND THAT'S A, GUESS WHAT, A COST PLUS CONTRACT. IN THE DAYS OF RONALD REAGAN, WE HAD FIXED COST CONTRACTS. NOW IT'S COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL. BUT IN FINAL ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION, IT'S A MARKETPLACE OUT THERE. WE CAN RECRUIT ENOUGH YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN WHO WILL SERVE IN AN ALL-VOLUNTEER FORCE, AND WE DON'T NEED TO GO BACK TO A DRAFT, IN MY VIEW.

Henderson: DO YOU THINK THAT TROOP LEVELS SHOULD BE PRE-GULF WAR I AGAIN?

McCain: I DO. I THINK THAT WE ARE FACING A LONG WAR IN AFGHANISTAN. I THINK IRAQ WILL REQUIRE OUR ATTENTION FOR QUITE SOME PERIOD OF TIME. WHEN I LOOK AT THE FLASHPOINTS AROUND THE WORLD, WHETHER IT BE IN OUR OWN HEMISPHERE OR OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD, I THINK WE NEED AN ARMY, MARINE CORPS ROUGHLY THAT SIZE. BUT NOW, IS EXACTLY THAT MISSION? NO. WE'VE GOT TO HAVE THE KIND OF PEOPLE WHO ARE TRAINED IN CIVIL AFFAIRS, INTELLIGENCE, SPECIAL FORCES, THOSE KINDS OF THINGS. WE HAVE TO REFOCUS THE ARMY AND REORGANIZE IT AND THE MARINE CORPS TO MEET THE NEW KINDS OF WARFARE WE'RE IN.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I WANT TO COME BACK TO IOWA AND THE CAUCUSES.

McCain: GOOD.

Yepsen: IN THE LAST POLL, YOUR NUMBERS WENT DOWN. ANY THOUGHTS ABOUT WHY THAT HAPPENED?

McCain: I WAS WONDERING WHEN YOU WERE GOING TO BRING THAT UP.

Yepsen: OKAY. WHAT'S YOUR ANSWER? HOW DO YOU -- MY QUESTION IS HOW DO YOU GET THE CAMPAIGN GOING? WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO JUMP-START THIS?

McCain: WELL, NATIONALLY WE'RE DOING BETTER. WE ALL KNOW THAT. IN NEW HAMPSHIRE WE'RE DOING BETTER. WE'VE GOT A LOT OF WORK TO DO, DAVID. I WAS NOT HERE IN 2000. I KNOW THAT. I HAVE -- I HAVE TO DO A LOT BETTER JOB THAN I'M DOING TODAY, AND THAT'S -- IT'S JUST A FACT AND I INTEND TO WORK. I'VE BEEN HERE A LOT. I'LL BE BACK. AND, NO, I'M NOT GOING TO GIVE UP IOWA. NO, I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE MATCHING FUNDS. NO, I'M HAPPY WITH OUR CAMPAIGN AND -- ANY OTHER PROCESS QUESTION.

Yepsen: A LARGER PROCESS QUESTION, THOUGH, -- AND I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS -- IS THE CONDITION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, LOST ELECTIONS IN 2006. WHAT DO YOU ADVISE THE PARTY TO BE DOING TO STAVE OFF ANOTHER DEFEAT IN THE 2008 CAMPAIGN?

McCain: CLEAN UP OUR ACT. WE'VE GOT TO CLEAN UP OUR ACT. YOU WANT TO MENTION HOW THE WAR IN IRAQ MAY HAVE HURT ME. I THINK THE BIGGEST BLOW TO OUR BASE WASN'T THE WAR IN IRAQ. IT WAS SPENDING GOING COMPLETING OUT OF CONTROL AND THE CORRUPTION. I DON'T USE THE WORD CORRUPTION LIGHTLY. WE HAVE FORMER MEMBERS -- REPUBLICAN MEMBERS OF CONGRESS IN FEDERAL PRISON, AND UNFORTUNATELY THERE'S MORE TO COME. SO WE'VE GOT TO GET BACK TO THE PRINCIPLES AND PHILOSOPHIES OF BEING CAREFUL STEWARDS OF PEOPLE'S TAX DOLLARS AND DO IT IN THE MOST ETHICAL FASHION. I MEAN IT'S JUST TERRIBLE WHAT WE'VE DONE. AND WE'VE LET SPENDING GO COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROL. YOU KNOW, WE CAME TO POWER IN '94 TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT AND GOVERNMENT CHANGED US. AND BY THE WAY, THE SYSTEM IS NOT FIXED YET. IT IS STILL BROKEN. IT HAS NOT BEEN FIXED.

Henderson: SOCIAL CONSERVATIVES IN YOUR PARTY HAVE STARTED TALKING ABOUT VOTING FOR SOMEONE OTHER THAN A REPUBLICAN IN 2008. EVEN AMONG THE CANDIDATES STANDING ON THE STAGE IN DEARBORN, MICHIGAN, THIS WEEK, THERE WERE THOSE WHO SAID, HEY, I MAY NOT SUPPORT THE NOMINEE OF THE GOP. HOW DO YOU FIX THAT?

McCain: YOU NOTICED I HAD A CLEVER LINE. I SAID OF COURSE I WOULD SUPPORT MYSELF. PRETTY FUNNY? PRETTY CORNY. [ LAUGHTER ] I BELIEVE IN THE PROCESS. THAT WAS, I BELIEVE, OUR FIFTH DEBATE. MAYBE VOTERS ARE SATISFIED WITH THE SELECTION. MAYBE THEY'RE NOT. WE'LL KNOW IN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS AS MORE AND MORE PEOPLE FOCUS --

Henderson: SO YOU THINK ITS MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING?

McCain: NO. I UNDERSTAND WHY SOME PEOPLE WHO VIEW SOME OF THE SOCIALIST ISSUES AS THEIR TOP PRIORITY. I JUST SUPPORT THE PROCESS, AND I AM A LOYAL REPUBLICAN. NOW, WOULD I BE HAPPY IF WE CHOSE A NOMINEE WHO DOESN'T HAVE -- DOESN'T HAVE THE PILLARS? AND, FRANKLY, ONE OF THE PILLARS OF OUR REPUBLICAN PARTY PHILOSOPHY IS THE RIGHTS OF THE UNBORN. NO. BUT I WOULD RESPECT THE PROCESS, AND I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT THAT WE DO SO.

Henderson: THE OTHER INTERESTING THING WHEN YOU LISTEN TO REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES IS HOW OFTEN THEY MENTION HILLARY CLINTON. IS IT HEALTHY FOR YOUR PARTY TO BE THE ANTI-HILLARY CLINTON PARTY IN 2008?

McCain: I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT FOR US TO DRAW THE DISTINCTIONS. I REALLY DO. I THINK THAT, FOR EXAMPLE, I'M A FREE TRADER, AND I TRIED TO MAKE THAT VERY CLEAR THE OTHER NIGHT IN DEARBORN. AND SENATOR CLINTON JUST CAME OUT, IN CONTRADICTION TO HER HUSBAND'S POLICIES, AGAINST FREE TRADE. I THINK THAT'S A LEGITIMATE AREA OF DEEP CONCERN THAT WE SHOULD HAVE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY. THOSE ISSUES ARE FINE. BUT GRATUITOUS BASHING OF ANYBODY, I'M NOT SURE THAT CONTRIBUTES MUCH TO THE DEBATE AND I DON'T DO IT.

Yepsen: SENATOR, TALK ABOUT -- LET'S TALK ABOUT SOME ISSUES HERE. TALK ABOUT THIS TRADE QUESTION. EVEN POLLS NOW SHOWING A LOT OF REPUBLICANS ARE NOT SURE THAT FREE TRADE IS WORKING FOR AMERICA. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO THOSE WHO SAY IT'S BEEN A ONE-WAY STREET?

McCain: I TRY TO PRESENT SOME OF THE FACTS TO THEM ABOUT THE MILLIONS OF JOBS THAT WERE CREATED, ET CETERA, ET CETERA. BUT THAT'S OF NO COMFORT TO THE WORKER IN DEARBORN, WHERE WE WERE JUST LAST NIGHT, WHO LOST THEIR JOB, WHO CAN'T AFFORD THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE, AND HAS NO PENSION, BECAUSE THIS IS -- THIS IS A REVOLUTION OF MONUMENTAL PROPOSITIONS. IT'S UNMATCHED ANYTHING SINCE THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, AND THERE ARE PEOPLE LEFT BEHIND. FIFTY THOUSAND PEOPLE TODAY MAKE THEIR LIVING OFF E-BAY. THAT'S NO CONSOLATION TO THE UNITED AUTO WORKERS EMPLOYEE WHO LOST HIS JOB AND IS NOT GOING TO HAVE THEIR HEALTH CARE, ET CETERA. WE'VE GOT TO TAKE CARE OF THOSE WHO ARE LEFT BEHIND. THEN THEY WILL BE FOR FREE TRADE, INCLUDING -- AND I'M NO BIG-GOVERNMENT PERSON. BUT IF SOMEONE HAD A HIGH PAYING JOB AND THEY'RE AN OLDER PERSON, 50, 55, ABOUT YOUR AGE, THEN -- THEN -- AND THEY HAD TO TAKE A MUCH LOWER PAYING JOB, A MUCH LOWER PAYING JOB, THEN WHY NOT COMPENSATE THEM FOR A WHILE SO THAT THEY CANNOT EXPERIENCE THIS TRAUMATIC CHANGE IN LIFESTYLE. JOB TRAINING PROGRAMS AND EDUCATION: NONE OF THE FEDERAL PROGRAMS WORK TODAY. OUR COMMUNITY COLLEGES: HERE IN IOWA, WHERE'S THE STRONGEST PART OF EDUCATION? THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES. GO TO THE COMMUNITY COLLEGES. HAVE THEM DESIGN EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAMS AND LET THEM GIVE THESE PEOPLE ANOTHER CHANCE. MAKE HEALTH INSURANCE AFFORDABLE AND AVAILABLE. RIGHT NOW THAT IS THE BIGGEST CONCERN IN ANY TOWN HALL MEETING THAT I HAVE. AND MAKE SURE THAT THE NEXT GENERATION HAS SOCIAL SECURITY, WHICH RIGHT NOW THEY WILL NOT.

Henderson: WELL, LET'S TALK IN DEPTH ABOUT HEALTH CARE.

McCain: YES.

Henderson: DO YOU HAVE A SOLUTION FOR WHAT AILS THE COUNTRY WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH CARE AND THE RISING COST OF INSURANCE?

McCain: CHOICE AND COMPETITION, AFFORDABILITY AND AVAILABILITY, AND NOT A BIG-GOVERNMENT SOLUTION. WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE INCENTIVES. WE HAVE TO HAVE MALPRACTICE REFORM. WE HAVE TO HAVE PORTABILITY OF HEALTH INSURANCE THAT PEOPLE CAN KEEP. WE HAVE TO HAVE RESULT ORIENTED HEALTH CARE. NOW WE PAY PRACTITIONERS FOR EVERY PROCEDURE. IF SOMEONE HAS A CHRONIC DISEASE, WE SHOULD -- WE SHOULD, WHICH IS 75 PERCENT OF HEALTH CARE COSTS, WE SHOULD PAY THEM BY THE YEAR AND BY THE RESULT OF THEIR CARE AS OPPOSED TO EACH PROCEDURE THAT THEY WENT THROUGH. I PICK UP 'THE DES MOINES REGISTER' THIS MORNING AND SEE ACROSS THE HEADLINE ABOUT THE BREWING SCANDAL CONCERNING THE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES. THAT'S BECAUSE THERE'S NO TRANSPARENCY. WHY DIDN'T WE KNOW? WHY DIDN'T WE KNOW IT? BECAUSE THIS INFORMATION IS NOT AVAILABLE. THERE'S A LONG LIST OF THINGS THAT WE NEED TO -- STEPS THAT WE NEED TO TAKE. BUT I'M AGAINST A SINGLE-PAYER, BIG-GOVERNMENT SOLUTION. TAKE A TRIP UP TO CANADA OR ENGLAND IF YOU THINK THAT THAT WORKS.

Borg: WHAT WOULD YOU DO FIRST IN HEALTH CARE? OR IT WOULD BE ONE BIG, COMPREHENSIVE PACKAGE. BUT WHAT NEEDS DOING FIRST?

McCain: I'M NOT -- IT'S A SERIES OF STEPS BUT IF I HAD TO SAY ONE THING FIRST, I WOULD SAY HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES HAVE TO BE ABLE TO REWARD WELLNESS AND FITNESS. IF YOU LOOK AT 75 PERCENT OF THE HEALTH CARE COSTS IN AMERICA ARE TO FIVE CHRONIC DISEASES, WELLNESS AND FITNESS IS A VERY IMPORTANT ITEM. I WOULD ALSO SAY MALPRACTICE OR REFORM IS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE, AND I WOULD ALSO WOULD STRESS THIS PORTABILITY OF HEALTH INSURANCE. TODAY PEOPLE ARE SCARED TO DO DEATH ABOUT LOSING THEIR JOB, WHICH IS COMPOUNDED BY THEIR ABILITY TO KEEP THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE. THEY LOSE THAT EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTION, AS YOU KNOW, AND HAVE TO MAKE IT UP FOR THEMSELVES. THEY'RE OUT OF A JOB. SO WE OUGHT TO GIVE THEM A MINIMUM HEALTH CARE INSURANCE POLICY SO THAT AT LEAST THEY'RE PROTECTED FROM CATASTROPHIC OR SERIOUS MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS AS THEY ARE MOVING FROM ONE JOB TO ANOTHER. THE CHANGE IN THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY REVOLUTION IS THE MOVEMENT OF JOBS. PEOPLE IN MICHIGAN -- THOSE FOLKS IN MICHIGAN LAST NIGHT, THEIR PARENTS WENT TO WORK FOR THE AUTOMOBILE COMPANY, THEY STAYED THERE FOR THIRTY YEARS, THEY GOT A RETIREMENT, A PENSION, AND HEALTH INSURANCE. NOW, OBVIOUSLY, WE KNOW OF THE CHURNING. SEVENTY-THREE WORKERS -- 73,000 WORKERS WENT ON STRIKE FOR A DAY OR TWO FOR GENERAL MOTORS. DO YOU KNOW THAT THAT WORK FORCE WAS 400,000 NOT THAT MANY YEARS AGO? THIS IS A PERIOD OF MONUMENTAL CHANGE. WE'VE GOT TO GIVE PEOPLE CONFIDENCE, AND WE'VE GOT TO GIVE THEM SOME BELIEF THAT THEIR FUTURE WILL BE SECURE.

Yepsen: SENATOR, I WANT TO ASK ABOUT YOU NATIONAL DEBT. IT'S RELATED TO HEALTH CARE. COMPTROLLER GENERAL SAYS IT'S HEADED THROUGH THE ROOF. WHAT SPECIFIC STEPS WOULD YOU TAKE TO CURB THE NATIONAL DEBT?

McCain: THE REASON WHY WE HAVE THE NATIONAL DEBT AT THE LEVEL WE HAVE IS BECAUSE OF SPENDING, AND ALSO THE DRAMATIC EXPANSION OF ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS WITHOUT PAYING FOR THEM. NOW, I'M A GUY THAT VOTED AGAINST THE MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BILL. WHY? BECAUSE IT WAS EIGHT HUNDRED TO A TRILLION DOLLARS OF UNFUNDED LIABILITY THAT OUR KIDS ARE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY FOR. AND BY THE WAY, YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU'RE PAYING FOR MY DRUGS. DO YOU KNOW THAT? DON'T YOU THINK I'VE VOTED ENOUGH PAY RAISES FOR MYSELF THAT I CAN PAY FOR MY OWN? I MEAN EVERY TIME WE HAVE AN ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM, EVEN IF IT'S WORTHY, WE EXPAND IT AND WE'RE NOT GOING TO PAY FOR IT. ON THE S-CHIP; I KNOW WHAT PUBLIC OPINION IS ABOUT THE S-CHIP. DO YOU KNOW HOW WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BE PAYING FOR THE S-CHIP PROGRAM, THE ADDITIONAL $35 BILLION THAT THEY WANT? PROBABLY A LOT OF AMERICANS DON'T KNOW. A DOLLAR INCREASE IN THE TAX ON A PACK OF CIGARETTES. NOW, SO WE'RE GOING TO TAKE CARE OF CHILDREN'S HEALTH, BUT WE'RE ENCOURAGING EVERYBODY TO SMOKE! I MEAN 22 MILLION NEW SMOKERS WE NEED TO PAY FOR THIS PROGRAM?

Yepsen: YOU DESCRIBE THE PROBLEM WITH MEDICARE AS AN ENTITLEMENT THAT'S -- BUT WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? I MEAN IT'S GROWING. ARE YOU GOING TO RAISE SOME TAXES? ARE YOU GOING TO CUT THE BENEFIT? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT?

McCain: WITH COMPETITION IN THESE AREAS AND TO MAKE SURE THAT WE CAN IMPLEMENT THESE REFORMS, IT WILL BRING DOWN COSTS. AND PART OF THAT WILL BE COMPETITION, WHETHER IT BE FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES COMPETING FOR DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF PEOPLE, WHETHER IT BE PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES COMPETING, WHETHER IT BE -- REALLY ONE OF THE IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF THIS IS TO PUT MORE RESPONSIBILITY ON THE PERSON WHO IS INSURED. RIGHT NOW, AS YOU KNOW, WHEN IT'S PAID FOR AND TAKEN CARE OF, THEN PEOPLE ARE NOT AS RESPONSIBLE AS THEY WILL BE AND PART OF THAT IS A HIGHER COPAY BUT IT'S ALSO MORE OF AN INVESTMENT ON THE PART OF THE PERSON WHO IS THE RECIPIENT. AND ONE OTHER THING: WITH LOW INCOME PEOPLE RIGHT NOW WHO CANNOT AFFORD HEALTH INSURANCE, I'M FOR GIVING EACH INDIVIDUAL $2,500, FAMILY $5,000 IN TAX CREDITS. THEN THEY CAN GO OUT AND PURCHASE THE HEALTH INSURANCE OF THEIR CHOICE, AND THAT I THINK IS IMPORTANT. THEN THEY'LL BE VERY CAREFUL HOW THEY INVEST THAT $2,500 OR $5,000.

Borg: QUICK QUESTION ON ENERGY. HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT THE USE OF ETHANOL TO STRETCH THE GASOLINE SUPPLY?

McCain: I'M ALL FOR ETHANOL. I STRONGLY SUPPORT IT. I DON'T SUPPORT THE SUBSIDIES. I DON'T SUPPORT COTTON SUBSIDIES IN MY OWN STATE WHERE WE GROW COTTON. I DON'T SUPPORT SUGAR SUBSIDIES, WHICH I THINK MAKES FOREIGN COUNTRIES' FARM PRODUCTS THAT ARE DEPENDENT ON SUGAR FAR LESS COMPETITIVE AND HURTS THEIR ECONOMY. I'M NOT A SUBSIDIES PERSON. BUT OBVIOUSLY ETHANOL AND THE TECHNOLOGY THAT IT BRINGS -- WE LOOK AT THE BRAZILIAN EXAMPLE OF A WHOLE AUTOMOBILE FLEET THAT'S FLEX FUELS. ETHANOL IS GOING TO PLAY A BIG ROLE IN ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, WHICH I THINK IS A NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE, AS WELL AS A CLIMATE CHANGE ISSUE.

Henderson: THERE'S A GROUP OF PEOPLE --

McCain: AND COULD I JUST SAY I BELIEVE THAT THE ETHANOL PRODUCERS IN IOWA CAN COMPETE WITH ANYBODY IN THE WORLD. AND I'LL OPEN UP THOSE MARKETS TO THEIR ETHANOL, AND I'LL MAKE SURE THAT THERE'S NO PROTECTIONIST BARRIERS TO THE GREAT PRODUCTS THAT'S MADE HERE -- THAT ARE MADE HERE IN IOWA. AND I'M OBVIOUSLY TALKING A LITTLE TOO FAST. [ LAUGHTER ]

Henderson: THERE'S AT LEAST ONE CONGRESSMAN IN IOWA AND SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE IOWA REPUBLICAN PARTY WHO FAVOR A FAIR TAX, WHICH WOULD BE A CONSUMPTION TAX, A SALES TAX TO REPLACE THE INCOME TAX. THERE ARE OTHERS WHO HAVE ADVOCATED, IN THE PAST, A FLAT TAX. WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO FIX THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX CODE?

McCain: AMERICANS PAID $140 BILLION LAST YEAR FOR PREPARATION IN THEIR TAX RETURNS. SIX OUT OF EVERY TEN AMERICANS HAD TO HAVE SOMEBODY ELSE DO IT. IT'S REMARKABLE WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT. I DON'T -- I WOULD SIGN EITHER ONE IF IT CAME ACROSS MY DESK, BUT I DON'T THINK EITHER ONE OF THEM ARE THE ENTIRE SOLUTION. HERE'S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO. YOU NEED TO GET A COMMISSION AND YOU NEED TO DO IT HEADED BY SOMEBODY LIKE GREENSPAN OR SOMEBODY LIKE THAT WHO IS VERY CREDIBLE. AND ALL THE CREDIBLE ECONOMISTS, THEY REPORT OUT THEIR COMMISSION REPORT, AND CONGRESS IS REQUIRED TO VOTE YES OR NO. THAT'S THE ONLY WAY WE EVER CLOSED THE BASE IN AMERICA WAS TO HAVE A COMMISSION REPORT; BY LAW, THEY VOTE YES OR NO. EVERY TIME YOU SEND IT THROUGH ONE OF THESE COMMITTEES IN CONGRESS, THE SPECIAL INTERESTS PREVAIL. THE CODE IS THAT HIGH AND AMERICANS ARE SICK AND TIRED OF IT. I UNDERSTAND WHY THEY WANT THE FAIR TAX. I UNDERSTAND WHY THEY WANT THE FLAT TAXES. WE COULD DEVELOP A SIMPLER, FAIRER TAX CODE, I THINK USING THE BEST MINDS IN AMERICA.

Yepsen: SENATOR, WE'VE ONLY GOT A COUPLE MINUTES LEFT, AND I WANT TO SWITCH GEARS HERE TO TALK ABOUT YOU PERSONALLY. YOU SPENT FIVE AND A HALF YEARS IN A NORTH VIETNAMESE PRISON CAMP. IT'S A VERY COMPELLING STORY. I'M CURIOUS WHAT LESSONS YOU LEARNED DURING THAT TIME THAT WOULD BE HELPFUL TO YOU AS PRESIDENT.

McCain: OH, I THINK I LEARNED THAT IF YOU'RE EVER GOING TO SUCCEED IN LIFE, YOU SHOULD HAVE FAITH IN GOD, FAITH IN YOUR COUNTRY, AND FAITH IN YOUR FELLOW INDIVIDUALS. AND I WILL ALWAYS LOOK BACK ON THAT AS THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITY OF MY LIFE TO OBSERVE A THOUSAND ACTS OF COURAGE AND COMPASSION AND LOVE. AND THE FACT THAT I WAS ABLE TO BE TESTED AND, GENERALLY SPEAKING, DO WELL WAS BECAUSE OF THE ENCOURAGEMENT AND LOVE AND EXAMPLE OF PEOPLE WHO STILL TO THIS DAY ARE MY ENDURING HEROS, AND I'M NOT GOING TO LET THEM DOWN.

Yepsen: YOU HAD A RELATIONSHIP WITH AN IOWAN, BUD DAY.

McCain: TOUGHEST GUY I EVER KNEW.

Yepsen: HOW SO?

McCain: BUD DAY IS THE TOUGHEST MAN I'VE EVER KNOWN. HE HAS A CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR. BUD DAY UNDERSTANDS IT. HE KNOWS WHAT'S RIGHT AND WRONG AND HE NEVER GAVE IN TO THE VIETNAMESE AND HE SUFFERED SEVERE BEATINGS AND HE ALMOST ESCAPED. IT'S A STORY YOU CAN'T MAKE UP, AND I LOVE BUD DAY AS MUCH AS ANY MAN I'VE EVER KNOWN IN MY LIFE.

Yepsen: SO YOU THINK THOSE LESSONS ARE GOING TO BE USEFUL TO YOU IN THE WHITE HOUSE?

McCain: SURE. IT PUTS EVERYTHING IN PERSPECTIVE THAT YOU NEED ABOUT LIFE AND ABOUT WHAT'S IMPORTANT AND WHAT ISN'T. IT GIVES YOU AN APPRECIATION FOR EVERY SINGLE DAY IN THIS MAGNIFICENT NATION. EVERY SINGLE DAY I'M SO GRATEFUL TO GOD GROW UP IN THIS COUNTRY.

Borg: SENATOR MCCAIN, THANK YOU.

McCain: THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON.

Borg: THANKS FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US TODAY. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE'RE MOVING TO THE DEMOCRATS' CAMPAIGN. NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR BILL RICHARDSON WILL BE HERE DISCUSSING THE ISSUES THAT ARE KEEPING HIM A CONTENDER IN THAT CROWDED FIELD. DEMOCRATIC BILL RICHARDSON NEXT WEEK AT OUR REGULAR 'IOWA PRESS' TIMES: 7:30'30 FRIDAY NIGHT AND 11:30 SUNDAY MORNING. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

ARCHIVE EDITIONS OF 'IOWA PRESS' CAN BE ACCESSED ON THE WORLDWIDE WEB. AUDIO AND VIDEO STREAMING IS AVAILABLE, AS ARE TRANSCRIPTS, AT WWW.IPTV.ORG.

FUNDING FOR 'IOWA PRESS' WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; AND BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.


Tags: campaign 2008 Iowa John McCain politics presidential candidates Republicans