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Transcript: Missouri Senate Candidate Claire McCaskill on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published November 06, 2006 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript from the Nov. 5, 2006, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: With the remaining campaign time now measured in hours, we want to look at two key Senate races — first of all, Missouri, where state auditor Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, holds a slim lead, as you can see there, over the incumbent Republican Senator Jim Talent, 1.4 points. It's been within the margin of error the whole time.
Mrs. McCaskill joins us now live from St. Louis, Missouri. Again, we invited Senator Jim Talent, but he was not available.
Mrs. McCaskill, good morning.
MISSOURI AUDITOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL: Good morning.
WALLACE: Senator Talent says that you are soft on fighting the War on Terror, and one point he makes is that you have been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq.
For all the problems there, we have the news today that Saddam Hussein is no longer oppressing his people, that he faces a sentence of death. Doesn't that count for something?
MCCASKILL: Oh, of course. And I think we're all pleased that justice has been done. I'm a former prosecutor, a big supporter of the death penalty, and I'm glad Saddam Hussein is facing death.
But the government of Iraq has not turned out to be the ally we need it to be against terror. They've supported Hezbollah. They've refused to disarm some of the militia that are killing our men and women.
This is a failed policy, and the president and Senator Talent are becoming more and more isolated from the American people for their failure to recognize that, Chris.
WALLACE: But, Mrs. McCaskill, President Bush says for all of your criticism, the Democrats don't have a plan for Iraq at all. Your idea is to redeploy U.S. troops out of Iraq over the next two years.
What happens if, as we begin to pull the troops out, the terrorists step up their campaign of violence?
MCCASKILL: Well, first of all, it is chaos right now. And the problem is the Taliban in Afghanistan really faces — really presents more of a threat to our country than the Sunni shooting the Shia and the Shia shooting each other.
We really do need to respond to the problem in Afghanistan and the Taliban. We took our eye off that ball. We put all of our eggs in the Iraqi basket. And the security of our country has suffered.
And by the way, it's not just Democrats that are now saying we need a change in policy. Some of the most highly respected Republicans on Capitol Hill and in the military with experience, even retired generals with boots on the ground in Iraq have been speaking out now for months, saying we need to change policy, what we're doing there now is not working, and it's costing our country dearly.
WALLACE: But are you prepared — you talk about chaos now. It could be a lot worse. We could be in outright civil war. We could have a staging ground for terrorists in Iraq, which they do not have at this point, to launch international strikes like they had in Afghanistan pre-9/11.
Are you prepared to leave Iraq in two years in even a worse situation and a more threatening situation to the U.S.?
MCCASKILL: Well, I believe that if we begin now to inform the Iraqi government that we're not going to stay forever — President Bush and Jim Talent continue to say we're going to stay forever, 10, 20 years, as long as it takes.
The bottom line is until we let the Iraqi government know that they're going to have to find the political solutions — we know we're not going to build democracy at the barrel of a gun. This is going to have to be done by the Iraqi people and their government.
Until we put them on notice we're leaving, we have no shot of really changing the policy in a way that will ultimately make us safer.
WALLACE: Let's turn to domestic issues. Stem cell research is a big issue in your campaign as it is in several around the country, and it's particularly true in Missouri because there's a constitutional amendment on the ballot that your opponent points out would allow some forms of human cloning. You support that measure.
MCCASKILL: I do, but I disagree with Senator Talent's analysis. As a lawyer looking and reading the measure, it is very clear that it strictly prohibits human cloning.
In fact, it provides a legal framework with sound ethical guidelines for this kind of research, which, frankly, we don't have in Missouri right now. So not only would it make sure the research could go forward in Missouri as long as it was legal at the federal level, it also will provide a much-needed ethical and legal framework for this research that all of us want in Missouri and, frankly, all of us want in America.
WALLACE: But, Mrs. McCaskill, if I may disagree, the ballot measure provides for something — this gets very technical, but provides for something called — and let me get it right here — somatic cell nuclear transfer, which is a form of therapeutic cloning.
Isn't that a slippery slope if you get into any kind of cloning at all?
MCCASKILL: Well, the bottom line is you are not going to get a baby out of a petri dish. This measure, which we don't have right now, strictly prohibits any kind of implantation of any cells in order for a human being to be created. So there is this bright line contained in this measure which we need, all of us want.
On the other hand, we know that this kind of research provides great hope for cures for millions of Missourians and Americans. This is very important that we do not leave this work to other countries, that Americans have the opportunity to participate in these cures like they will in other nations if we try to turn our back on this important medical research.
WALLACE: As we've said, your race is a toss-up, and you know all too well about close races. You lost the election for governor two years ago by less than three points.
It's been well-established by now that the Republicans have a vaunted get-out-the-vote operation, the 72-hour program. Can Democrats measure up in Missouri in the next two days?
MCCASKILL: You know, ultimately, turnout is a function of enthusiasm and commitment and who's motivated. There's not some magic machine in the back room that you put a key in that comes to light and smokes and all of a sudden people are turning out to vote.
We have the infrastructure in place to make sure people know about this election, but ultimately which people vote on Tuesday is all about who wants change or do you want the status quo.
I think, Chris, in Missouri this year, the people that are going to be the most motivated, the people that are going to show up on Tuesday are the people who understand our country is going in the wrong direction and they want change.
WALLACE: Mrs. McCaskill, we're going to have to leave it there. We want to thank you so much for sharing part of your Sunday with us.
MCCASKILL: Thank you. It was great to be with you.
Sunday—we’ll get the latest on the battle over Trump’s cabinet picks and a preview the first orders of business for the 115th Congress from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It’s a Fox News Sunday exclusive.