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Sen. John McCain on Imus

Sen. John McCain joins Imus to discuss all things politics including President Bush's Supreme Court Justice nomination John Roberts, calling him an "outstanding pick."

DON IMUS, HOST:  Please welcome to the IMUS IN THE MORNING program the senior senator from the great state of Arizona, Senator John McCain. 

Good morning, Senator McCain. 

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ®, ARIZONA:  Good morning, Don.  How are you?

IMUS:  Fine, sir.  How are you?

MCCAIN:  Well, it’s been awful hot in Arizona, as you know.  I don’t know.  You’re at altitude; I guess it’s not so bad.  But we sure have had a lot of serious weather, hot weather out there.  Probably breaking some records for these days, and I hope it cools off soon. 


  Just in Phoenix or up in Sedona or both?

MCCAIN:  Everywhere.  Everywhere.  It’s even hot up—it’s even hot up north, believe it or not.  It’s the first time in all the years, 20-some years I’ve been going up there, that I’ve been uncomfortable at that altitude.  It has really been very, very hot. 

Maybe that hurricane that’s hitting the Texas coast will send some thunderstorms our way.  You know in Arizona, we have what we call the monsoons that usually come late in July and early August.  So maybe relief is on the way, but I don’t ever remember it being that hot. 

IMUS:  We’ve actually had too much—I don’t know about too much, but we’ve had an enormous amount of rain here in northern New Mexico. 

MCCAIN:  Well, we did in the spring.  I mean, we had wonderful—the desert wild flowers were marvelous.  I’ve never.  No one’s ever seen anything like it, and then of course, it all dried up and that’s why we get these brush fires.  So but anyway, it’s been pretty hot...


How is Lake Powell?

MCCAIN:  ... for a lot of our senior citizens, you know, that don’t have, perhaps, enough air conditioning and problems like that.  So anyway, but it will get better. 

IMUS:  How is Lake Powell?

MCCAIN:  It’s come up about 50 feet.

IMUS: Oh, yes?

MCCAIN:  Thanks to the rains that we’ve had, and also up in Colorado.  As you know, most of Lake Powell comes from what comes out of the Rockies, and from the snow melt.  So it’s improving.  First time in seven years that it’s moving up.  So things are better in that direction, and our reservoirs are full, or just about full north of Phoenix. 


  Did you get to meet Owen Wilson, who did “Wedding Crashers”?

MCCAIN:  I did not.  He was not there at that moment.  I met Christopher Walken and James Seymour and talked to Vince Vaughn on the phone, but no, I did not.  I’m sorry I missed it.  Because he’s the one that asked me to be on. 

IMUS:  I love him.  My son and I. 

MCCAIN:  He’s—they are incredibly funny, both of those guys.  You know, by the way, on that subject, it is a church scene.  It’s a scene outside of a church before a wedding, and I hope that it gets the nomination for Academy Award for best cameo appearance.  I don’t know, but I hope so. 

IMUS:  I’m kind of out of touch out here.  Is there some controversy about you being in it or no?

MCCAIN:  Oh, yes.  There has been.

IMUS:  Oh, there was?

MCCAIN:  Well, there are some people that said that I shouldn’t have been in the movie because it’s R-rated and that I had been critical of R-rated movies.  I’ve never been critical of the rating system or R-rated movies. 

A couple years ago, as I might remember, the—Hollywood was marketing R-rated movies to children, and, you know, that was a bad practice.  We had hearings.  They said they would stop, and as far as I know, they have stopped doing that. 

But look, you know, you can be attacked for most anything, and this is just another one. 


  Why did you want to be in this movie?

MCCAIN:  I thought it would be fun to do.  When they called, obviously the movie either didn’t have a rating or they thought it was going to be PG-13, but, you know, they don’t rate a movie until after it’s finished.  But I get a kick out of it.  I thought it would be fun to be—you go over to this church and you say hello and you get in the movies.  Nothing that I minded about that. 

IMUS:  You’re the last person in the world—let me clear my throat.  You’re the last person in the world who I or anyone on this program would be disrespectful to, but having said that, let me just say the following. 


IMUS:  We want you to be president.  Stop doing this stupid stuff, OK?


IMUS: It’s not helping us. 

MCCAIN:  All right.  All right.  Well, if it hurts the effort out there in New Mexico, I’ll be more careful. 

IMUS:  It hurts it all over the country.  We don’t need you doing this stuff. 

John Roberts—we’re talking with Senator John McCain here on the IMUS IN THE MORNING program.  Is John Roberts somebody you can support?

MCCAIN:  Oh, absolutely.  I think is really an outstanding pick that the president has made.  His credentials are remarkable.  Thirty-nine times, he’s argued a case before the United States Supreme Court.  He has intellect, and he has maturity.

And I don’t know if you saw him when he made his brief statement after the president announced him last night.  It was—it was quite a nice job he did there. 

And so I don’t pretend to speak for my other members of the gang of 14, but it’s hard for me to believe that he would meet an extraordinary circumstances criteria. 

Now, obviously he is conservative.  Just as Justice Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg were liberal.  I don’t—and I think that’s exactly what the president said he would appoint when he ran for re-election.  Elections have consequences.  And so—but I think his qualifications are quite remarkable when you look at the credentials he has.  I mean, it’s right out of—it’s right out of central casting, this guy is. 


  He seems charming and affable.  Like a decent fellow, you know?

MCCAIN:  And he’s Harvard Law, Harvard College, clerked for Rehnquist.  You know, Pete Williams gave you all of his credentials earlier in the program.  And I don’t—as Pete mentioned, there’s an elite group of lawyers here in Washington that get to argue cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, and he’s one of them.  And he did already have confirmation from the United States Senate for his appellate job. 

So will there be people who oppose him?  I’m sure.  Look, this is a money-making proposition for some of these fringe groups, but I find it hard to...

IMUS:What do you mean?

MCCAIN:  Well, I mean, you know, you send out the letter, “Help us stop Judge Roberts because he is (UNINTELLIGIBLE)”—you know, or “help him confirm him because he’s going to be attacked from the right and, by the way, send money.” 

IMUS:  Oh, I see. 

MCCAIN:  And you know, it’s pretty much of a money-maker for some of these groups, but it’s hard for me to imagine that the great middle of America wouldn’t find Judge Roberts to be a pretty remarkable pick. 

IMUS:  What will Senator Kennedy and Senator Clinton and that awful Senator Reid and so some of these people, what will they say about him?  What do you anticipate?

MCCAIN:  Well, already they’re beginning to question his, quote, “special interest connections,” his commitment to the environment.  Look, I’m sure they’ll find something, but what I hope is that—is that they are free to disagree with him. 

Philosophically, I would imagine that Senator Schumer and Senator Kennedy are in opposition to him, and that’s fine, and vote against him.  But to not allow an up or down vote, it seems to me, would be—would be—certainly not meet any criteria that I know of. 

IMUS:  That gang of 14, elegantly referred to that you’re apparently—aren’t you kind of running things in the Senate there now?  So you can pretty much do what you want, can’t you?

MCCAIN:  No, we in no way feel that we have any standing that would affect the functions of the judiciary committee.  The judiciary committee has those responsibilities.  They’ll hold the hearings.  They will bring out Judge Roberts’ record, and they will report out his nomination, I am confident, favorably. 

The gang of 14 was there to prevent a—to bring the Senate back from a precipice which would have brought the Senate to a halt, which would have, I believe, eroded the rights of the minority in the United States Senate.  And we still function, but certainly not in any way that would interfere with the work of the judiciary committee.  I’m confident they’ll do their job very well. 

IMUS:  And then they’ll do what you want, won’t they?

MCCAIN:  No.  No.

IMUS:  Yes, they will.  Come on, Senator McCain. 

MCCAIN:  No, no.  Not at all, not at all.  We’ve got some very good people in the, quote, “gang of 14,” and we’re going to have breakfast tomorrow morning. 

IMUS:  And you were on Jay Leno’s show the other night. 

MCCAIN:  Yes. 

IMUS:  Bernard tells me he took you to show you his car collection.  Is that something that you asked him to do?

MCCAIN:  No.  No, he offered to show me his car collection.  I think Jay Leno is one of the great guys in America. 

IMUS:  Nice man.  His wife does great work. 

MCCAIN:  Really wonderful guy.  And he offered to show me his car collection, which is near the studio there.  And Cindy and I went over, and we spent about an hour.  It’s remarkable.  I am confident it’s probably one of the most unique collections in America.  Bugatti, Stanley Steamers.  It’s remarkable. 

And then he somehow knew that when I graduated from the naval academy, went down to pilot training in Pensacola, I had a Corvette.  And so we had a Corvette there, and he and I took that out for a spin.  That was fun. 

You know, it had six gears in it, and I said, “How fast do you go to have to get into six years?”

He said, “About 200.” 

And I said, “You’ve ever done that?”

He said, “Oh, sure.”

It’s a remarkable collection of cars that he has.  And he usually drives one of them to work every day. 

IMUS:  I just can’t imagine that that would be something that you and Cindy would really want to do, but apparently it is.  I know he’s a lovely guy, and his wife is terrific. 

MCCAIN:  Listen, if you saw those cars—if you saw those cars, you’d be intrigued by it.  Some of them are one—some of them are one of a kind cars.  Automobiles.  Stanley Steamers.  He’s got a motorcycle that’s got a jet engine in it.  It is a remarkable collection that he has. 

IMUS:  I would go to prison before I’d go look at his cars. 

MCCAIN:  Oh, come on.  Come on.

IMUS:  I would—well, I wouldn’t do what you did. 

MCCAIN:  I guarantee if you saw these automobiles—Americans grew up with love of an automobile, and these automobiles are unique. 

IMUS:  It’s 18 until the hour.  We’re talking with Senator John McCain here on the IMUS IN THE MORNING program. 

I talked to another guy yesterday who wants to be president, Senator Joe Biden, who I like a lot.  Do you like him?

MCCAIN:  He’s a wonderful guy. 


  Yes, isn’t he?

MCCAIN:  He’s one of the most good-hearted, very decent guys that I know, Joe is.  He’s a wonderful man. 


  He says the president’s not telling the truth about Iraq.  Is Senator Biden right about that?

MCCAIN:  No.  I think that mistakes were made and they were not corrected by the secretary of defense, and I feel—I’m not happy about that, to say the least.  We didn’t have enough troops there, and you can ask any retired military guy now, and they’ll tell you that.  Unfortunately, not enough on active duty.  But mistakes were made, mistakes are made in wars. 

But we are making progress.  We have to continue to make progress.  The key to it, as you and I have discussed before, is for the Iraqis to be able to take over more and more of their responsibilities, and the American troops eventually withdraw into enclaves and then get out of there.  And we are making progress there. 

I am worried about this framing of the constitution.  They’ve got to move forward with it.  The president, very appropriately, insists on keeping these dates in August, October and December.  And it’s tough and long and hard.  But we can and must win, and we’re making progress in that direction.

And by the way, we have some very fine generals there.  General Petraeus, that’s training the Iraqis, and General Abizaid, who’s over there, as well as General Casey.  We’ve got some really outstanding leaders as well as wonderful young men and women who are doing the fighting. 

IMUS:  And I talked to—I did want to mention, though, that every time I talk to a reporter there like Richard Engel or Tom Aspell.

MCCAIN:  Yes.  Yes.

IMUS:  Who’s the guy, Charles, who packs all the stuff in his suitcase?  What’s his name?


IMUS:  Yes, Jim Maceda and those people.  And when I tell them what the vice president said or what the president said or what the secretary of defense said about how things are going there, and they think I’m crazy.  And I guess they think they’re crazy.  They don’t say that, but it doesn’t—I mean, I guess that’s what Senator Biden means.  Talking about...

MCCAIN:  Well, look, it is very tough.  It is very difficult.  Here you’ve got—you may have seen the picture the other day, American soldier is giving out toys and candy, and a suicide bomber comes along and kills children in order to inflict damage on the United States.  This is an evil, evil group of people that we’re fighting. 

And we have significant problems with foreigners coming through Syria and into Iraq.  Most of these suicide bombers now are not Iraqis.  They’re from other countries in the Middle East. 

Look, it’s a very tough problem.  Just as the war on terror is tough.  Just as in England, we’re finding out that terrorists are now home-grown.  That puts a whole new dimension on our—on the challenge that we face. 

And by the way, one of the answers is to have the Muslim leadership all over the world issue a fatwa that condemns this kind of behavior as not being appropriate for a Muslim.  It’s outside of the Muslim religion. 

But so it’s tough.  And I don’t think anybody should say that it’s easy.  But we are making progress, and we’ve got to win.  We cannot afford to lose this conflict, and if we win, it’s going to have a very beneficial effect throughout the region. 

IMUS:  It’s a quarter ‘til the hour here on the IMUS IN THE MORNING program.  We’re talking with Senator John McCain.  Excuse me.  Senator John McCain from Arizona. 

How’s Senator Kerry doing?  You ever seen him?

MCCAIN:  Yes.  We’re supposed to—we’re going to get—we were supposed to get together for breakfast this morning.  I think I’m going to get together with him probably next week.  But sure, I see him.  You know, we haven’t had any long conversations.

IMUS:  Well, we haven’t had him on lately.  He—is he still moping around or—he’ll probably never get over that.

MCCAIN:  I think he’ll get over it.  I think he’ll move on.  I think he is working in the Senate, and working on issues, and, you know, I wish him luck.  Wish him well. 

IMUS:  He says Karl—I think you said Karl Rove ought to resign over this whole CIA leak thing.  What’s your view of what’s going on over there at the White House?

MCCAIN:  Well, I think one thing is obvious and that was that Karl Rove were—and others were attempting to set the record straight with reporters that Vice President Cheney did not send Mr. Wilson, that it was done by the CIA and at the recommendation of Mr. Wilson’s wife, that there were several other factual errors in Mr. Wilson’s depiction of events. 

Now, what happened after that, I don’t know.  I don’t understand it, and I don’t think you do either, that a journalist who didn’t write a word is now in jail.  So I don’t...

IMUS:  Judith Miller of “The New York Times.”

MCCAIN:  Yes.  So I don’t know.  And I think that this guy, Fitzgerald, that’s the special prosecutor, is very highly regarded.  I hope he gets this investigation to an end quickly and that we can move on.  It’s not—it’s not good for the country. 

IMUS:  Well, as you know firsthand, Karl Rove and the Bush people will play dirty, and certainly play hardball, and you may not characterize it as dirty, but it sounds to a lot of people, or like me, that they were trying to get even with Wilson by outing his wife.  That’s what it sounds like to me.  And cover their ass on, you know, the yellow cake uranium jive or so. 

MCCAIN:  Well, Karl Rove and—has said that he did not—his lawyer says that he did not—I believe that everybody has the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and we’ll wait and see. 

Is politics bean-bagging America?  No, it’s not.  And unfortunately, it’s more and more partisan in America.  And I regret that.  I wish that there was less of this kind of confrontational politics. 

But it doesn’t mean, therefore, that Rove did it.  And I think that he deserves a presumption of innocence, and I hope that Fitzgerald finishes up as soon as possible, so we can move on.  We’ve got a lot of challenges we need to face. 

IMUS:  Hope it cools off in Arizona for you. 


  How hot is it there?  Not bad?

IMUS: Well, here we’re—it’s over 6,000 feet, so it can get up around—oh, it can get up in the high 90’s, but it doesn’t seem that hot because there’s no humidity, and there’s always a breeze.  So we have no complaints here in northern Arizona—northern New Mexico.  At least I don’t. 

MCCAIN:  Well—well, I’m glad the kids are having a great time. 

IMUS:  Wonderful kids. 

MCCAIN:  Yes. 

IMUS:  Thanks, Senator McCain.  Good to have you on.

MCCAIN:  Thanks for having me on.  See you.  Bye.