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McCain: 'I've always put my country first'

<em>Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined Joe Scarborough earlier this morning on "Morning Joe." McCain spoke about the failure of the $700 billon bailout bill that Congress refused to pass and about his leadership regarding the economy.</em></p>

Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined Joe Scarborough earlier this morning on "Morning Joe." McCain spoke about the failure of the $700 billon bailout bill that Congress refused to pass and about his leadership regarding the economy.

A rush transcript of the interview is below. 

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC CO-HOST OF “MORNING JOE”: Let’s bring in right now Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain.

Senator, what in the Hell happened yesterday?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, I think what happened was we didn’t convince enough Republicans and Democrats. I think there was 95 Democrats who voted against it, too. This was a rescue package and not a bail-out package.

Joe, you’ve been there, and they were receiving very negative responses from their constituents and we’ve got to do a better job of convincing them of the effect that this is going to have on Main Street, the ability to buy a car, the ability of small businesses to get credit to continue working. The whole spectrum of Main Street America’s economy is going to be jeopardized unless we pass this legislation.

And we didn’t do a good enough job selling it. I came back. I’ll come back again. I’ll do whatever—I’ll come back again if necessary. I’ll do whatever is necessary to try and get this done because I believe that it’s in the best interests of the country, to say the least.

We lost, you know, we lost $1.2 trillion yesterday. And those are 401(k)s, those are IRAs, those are investments, retirements.  It’s  a tough situation, one of the toughest I’ve ever seen—the toughest.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI, CO-HOST OF “MORNING JOE”:  Sen. McCain, difficult, I think, to separate politics completely from this, and both candidates have been accused of injecting politics into this crisis. 

You’ve criticized the Obama campaign for only monitoring the situation. And we had Robert Gibbs on earlier who said that your behavior throughout this crisis has been erratic.

Would you like to respond to that?  He says you’ve kind of gone back and forth and then parachuted in and tried to save the day and did it, really, more for the campaign than for the country. Your response?

MCCAIN:  Look, the time right now is for us to work together in a bipartisan fashion.  I’ll give everybody plenty of time to examine what I did.  I’ve always put my country first.

I said we needed 30,000 additional troops over there when it was the most unpopular thing to say in Iraq.  And I came back because I thought I could make a difference.  I did with a number of Republicans.  And I worked together with the House-Republican House members were not even at the table-and I’ll do whatever is necessary, and I’ll let others be the judge.

But we’ve got to-I talked to the president this morning.  We have to increase, as Senator Obama suggested, from $100,000 to $250,000 insured deposits.  We have to have the stabilization fund-exchange stabilization fund be used.  That’s $250 billion to shore up these institutions.  And the treasury has the ability to use a billion dollars more, on their own authority, to start buying up these-these mortgages.

So we’ve got to act and we’ve got to act—and I’m confident we will—we will pass legislation because we have to do it.  And that’s the important thing now is bipartisanship.  Sit down and work together.  That’s what I want to do, and that’s what I’m committed to do.

SCARBOROUGH: Senator, we have Peggy Noonan with the Wall Street Journal with us.  She has a quick question for you.

PEGGY NOONAN, “THE WALL STREET JOURNAL”: Good morning, Senator. I’ve got a question for you...

MCCAIN:  Good morning.

NOONAN:  John Shadegg, Congressman John Shadegg, the Republican leader was just on with us. And he said that he felt the Republicans in the House had given Hank Paulson a civics lesson. He said that Paulson had been arrogant. Do you think that? How do you read that?

MCCAIN: Look, I think Hank Paulson has worked and labored incredibly hard.  He has great credibility in America. But, you know, that’s kind of beside the point, in all due respect.  The key is we’ve got to sit down together, Republicans and Democrats, and convince the American people that we’ve got the right recipe to rescue. Americans out there are very frightened about their ability to maintain their homes, their jobs, their futures.

The jobs report is bad. We all know what kind of a problem this is. Now, we have to provide the American people a confidence that we’re going to move forward. So I’m not going to get into, frankly, whether Hank Paulson is arrogant or not, in all due respect, with the problems we’re facing today.

SCARBOROUGH: Let’s talk about, though, the Republicans. Obviously, you’re following the president, who ran as a conservative. We’ve got a $10 trillion debt when we were paying down the debt when he came in. We’ve got a $500 billion deficit this year. Now, we have a $700 billion bail-out proposed.

There are a lot of Americans out there scratching their heads saying why should I vote for another Republican when they’re getting is us deeper in debt than Democrats.

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, Joe, you know very well that a lot of this was crafted by Democrats, their leadership, in a bipartisan fashion. I think that the point that Americans have yet to fully understand that this is not in the interest of Wall Street or Washington insiders.  And they don’t want the excess and greed rewarded.

And they, right now, have to understand and many of them are because we’re hearing from a lot of them as to whether they’re going to be able to stay in the their homes, keep their small businesses going, get the lines of credit that are being dried up as we speak.

And so I’m convinced that we can do it. I’m confident of it. I’ll do whatever is necessary. I’ll put my country first, and that’s been my record, and I have a long-term plan on cutting spending and I’ve fought excess and out-of-control spending, as you well know, Joe.

I’ve been against all this pork barrel and earmark spending and excessive programs that are not paid for. I’m going to have-I have a plan for keeping people in their homes and energy independence and providing health care. So in the short term, we’ve got to stop this bleeding.  And in the long term, we’ve got to have a proposal that’s good for America.

SCARBOROUGH:  All right.

BRZEZINSKI: Sen. John McCain, thank you so much for coming on the show today.

SCARBOROUGH: Thank you so much, Senator.