This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 4, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The breaking
news about the failed terror attack has us all asking is our nation
getting stronger or weaker? Just a few hours ago House Minority Whip
Eric Cantor gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation, and he's pulling
In his speech Congressman Cantor calls President Obama's foreign policy naive. Why? Congressman Cantor "On the Record."
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, nice to see you, sir.
REP. ERIC CANTOR, R - HOUSE REPUBLICAN WHIP: Good to be with you, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: I read your speech you gave
this morning. Reading is different than hearing it be delivered, but
what I took away from it is thank you are saying the Obama
administration is weak on national security and making us weak -- wrong
CANTOR: I'm concerned about the direction of
our national security strategy. And the point of my speech was really
that American success in foreign policy and our strength comes from the
notion we do promote peace through strength.
And secondly that we stand by our allies. And we treat friends as
friends and enemies as enemies. If we get the latter confused we'll
have less friends.
VAN SUSTEREN: I take it you wouldn't have
given the speech if you thought we weren't standing by our allies and
if we did have peace through strength. I don't have the sense you would
have spontaneously give the speech, but something provoked it.
CANTOR: And there's clearly a question if you
look at the level of defense spending the core function of the Pentagon
and the descent of that in terms of percentage of GDP.
If you look at the commitment this administration has or lack
thereof for missile defense systems, which I think is the ultimate
deterrent for the forces of evil that are going against what we as
Americans stand for.
And frankly, I'm concerned about this administration's penchant for
going out to the world and apologizing for America. We've done nothing
wrong. We should stand by our allies in the defense of freedom.
VAN SUSTEREN: You talk about apology and
mentioned the speech in Cairo which we were there in person watching.
How do you see that as the apology speech? What was it about it to you?
CANTOR: What the president said in that
speech was that he hoped to return to the days when we had a
partnership with the Muslim world. That America 20-30 years ago enjoyed
some type of good relationship that now has gone awry.
I don't see it that way. I don't see that somehow we need apologize
for anything that America has done. Are we a perfect nation? By no
means. Are we better than anyone else because of the exceptional nature
of who we are? Yes.
We don't go out seeking territory, seeking to conquer people. We
are about freedom, human progress, human rights. That's what America
has given to the world. And I for the life of me don't understand how
this administration can apologize for that, can treat our allies to
pick bogus fights with countries like Israel when we know that country
stands with us.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is interesting you give the
speech today because we are in the midst of this terrorism
investigation. It appears, and I realize it is an ongoing
investigation, but Pakistan is being very cooperative and actually
making some arrests.
Is that a sign that at least some of president's policies are
working, that at least we are engaging a country that while an ally of
ours doesn't always like us?
CANTOR: There's no question that we all owe a
debt of gratitude to law enforcement officials, the administration,
civilians that were involve surrounding this failed terrorist attack in
Times Square. It is a difficult job that our law enforcement, public
safety officials have.
If you think about it, terrorists can get it right one time. We've
got to get it right 100 percent of the time. And that's the equation.
That's why we really need to have the vigilance that I talked about
And somehow it seems that the White House, others perhaps in this
town, can focus on terrorism and the threat as long as perhaps you and
your colleagues in the media want to cover it, and then return to some
type of other priority.
Obviously, we have a lot of priorities, but first and foremost
should be our national security as well as then allow this country to
return to its economic leadership that we're having so much difficulty
VAN SUSTEREN: A topic that everyone sort of
dances around is political correctness. You mentioned it today. You say
we can't be politically correct. How do you see the administration
being politically correct? And where is that a danger?
CANTOR: The administration the president
himself has -- they've indicated we don't want to use the words
"terrorism," or "war on terror," we don't want to use the words
Let's face it, the United States and our allies are in an
ideological struggle against the spread of radical Islam. Terrorists
operate with the support of countries that believe in a radical
ideology that is antithetical to our own. And that's just the way it
And I believe somehow the political correctness can take over,
which we have seen in the words of this administration that somehow
will cause us to miss the point here, which is to try and do everything
we can to keep Americans safe.
VAN SUSTEREN: We sure got lucky on Christmas
day and we got lucky on Saturday night in Times Square which is a
relief to all of us but serves as a wake-up call that we need to be
CANTOR: There's no question. There were a lot
of critics who said that perhaps the federal government didn't do its
job in connecting the dots prior to 9/11.
I'm fearful we are doing the same, repeating the same mistakes now,
and that's why the call for renewed vigilance and focus on the fact
that we do have a very real threat out there with these terrorist
organizations and their state sponsors.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are we getting stronger or weaker?
CANTOR: I'm worried. Obviously I wouldn't
have given the speech today that I gave if I were not concerned that
the current trend line would indicate that we would get weaker.
That's why it is imperative we re-instill our commitment to make
sure we are strong. We have to demonstrate that through our policies in
missile defense, through the renewed commitment of the core defense
operations in the Pentagon. We have to make sure intelligence officials
and law enforcement have the tools they need.
And we need to set political correctness aside in the pursuit of that end.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think President
Obama would sigh if you told him that? If he were standing here, would
he say you are flat-out wrong?
CANTOR: I think knowing the president in a
limited way as I do I think he would probably say we all want peace.
And Eric, the way that the prior administration conducted itself didn't
work so we're going to try another way.
And that seems to be a response that echoes not only in this arena,
but certainly in the domestic arena as the policies this administration
is pushing somehow are deemed correct, accurate, or valid just because
they are different than what the prior administration's were.
It is just not that black and white. There were certainly a lot of
good that was done. Our nation did not incur a terrorist attack while
the Bush administration was in office post-9/11. We should learn from
some of those experiences and remember the lessons that we were taught.
VAN SUSTEREN: Congressman, thank you, sir.
CANTOR: Thank you.