Nightly News   |  October 16, 2013

McCain: Republicans’ attempt to defund Obamacare ‘a fool’s errand’

In an interview with Brian Williams, Sen. John McCain said lawmakers have eroded the confidence of the American people and “damaged our credibility very badly.” And although many of the members of the House elected in 2010 had promised to repeal or defund Obamacare, McCain said trying to do it in this way – during the government shutdown -- was “a fool’s errand.” The pain inflicted on the American people “was totally unnecessary and we cannot do this again,” he said.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> we are joined here tonight by one of the republican veterans in the u.s. senate , a man who has expressed deep regret and anger over the damage this has done. senator john mccain of arizona. senator, let's talk about the damage in order to the country, to your party, your profession and how much of this do you lay at the feet of senator cruz from texas?

>> it's not -- we have damaged our credibility very badly. all of us. the president's numbers have gone down. democrats' numbers have gone down. republicans' numbers have gone down, only greater. it has eroded the confidence. you just showed it eroded the confidence on the part of the american people . remember that many of the members of the house were elected in 2010 promising to repeal or defund obama care. the problem with their strategy was that it was a fool's errand. we were not going to defund obama care. that's why we had an election in 2012 . that's part of what that was all about. so it was a terrific mistake. we inflicted pain on the american people that was totally unnecessary. we cannot do this again. we republicans have a hole that we've got to come out of. obviously we're going to have to do the a lot of work.

>> what about mr. cruz ? that one member of the u.s. senate getting so much of the attention.

>> mm-hmm. well, he's entitled to his views. he's entitled to what he wants to do. he's responsible to the voters of the state of texas , but it wasn't senator cruz alone. part of it was selling the american people by a lot of organizations that somehow if we held out long enough that we would be able to do away with obama care. that's not how the american government works when you only have a majority in the house of representatives and democrats governing the senate and a democratic president. so it was a fool's errand. that's why some of us became so angry. i will do everything i can to fix obama care and defund it. i campaigned on that. you can't do it with the situation is as it was. you deceive americans and that adds to the cynicism.

>> senator, more broadly, is this the way we do business now in washington? is consensus dead? is compromise dead? how about decorum? you have nicely passed it off but recently congressman gomert of texas called you an al qaeda supporter and it hardly made a blip in all the talk.

>> on that particular issue, sometimes those are comment s made of malice. if someone has no intelligence i don't view it as a malicious statement. you can't respond to that kind of thing. yes, there is polarization here and a lack of civility. i intend to maintain civility and respect the views of others. i also a intend to make it clear that we cannot do this kind of thing to the american people . you gave the numbers on billions of dollars. our system of government has to perform better. now some of us, 14 of us work together on a bipartisan basis. we came up with a solution. so i think the lesson from this is there is a lot of us in the senate and i believe in the house that know the best way to address these issues is not what we just put the american people through.

>> what about the fact, senator, that the solution now kicks the can down the road, puts off this crisis to create a possible other crisis after the first of the year?

>> i hope we have learned a lesson not to do it again and sit down together and work out compromises. we can do it. i have seen it. i have done it. that's what the american people want from us. i'm not giving up. i have faith in the american people and faith in these institutions. i enjoy the good fight but the time comes when you have to do what's right for the american people .

>> on that note, our thanks to senator john mccain , republican