This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 3, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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CROWLEY: Thank you for staying with us. I'm Monica Crowley, in tonight for Bill O'Reilly. And in the "Personal Story" segment tonight, what does it take to make a run for the White House. What kind of inner strength, stamina and fortitude. And what kind of toll does a tough campaign take on a candidate's personal life.
In an extraordinarily candid interview with Bill, John McCain lays bare the highlights and hardships of reaching for the highest office in the land.
BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: So, Senator, what was the most difficult thing personally about you running for president four years ago.
JOHN MCCAIN, ARIZONA SENATOR AND FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (R): Well, I think, probably, the most difficult is the pace. You know, it's 24/7. And even when you lie down to try to go to sleep, you're thinking about things, but the pace of things.
But, at the same time, Bill, I was always cognizant of the fact that here is a guy that stood fifth from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy, crashed four airplanes at taxpayers' expense that could run for president of the United States and get the nomination of the republican party. Most of it was exhilaration to tell you the truth.
O'REILLY: OK, but you do have to sleep at night and when you hit the hotel room, you're jacked up because the adrenaline is going all day long and I can imagine, you got more than four or five hours of sleep per night. Would that be about right.
MCCAIN: That would be about right. And the thing you have to guard against, too, you know, is every mistake I've ever made, and I bet you, it's same with you, is when you're tired.
So you try not to get too tired because that's when mistakes are made. And, I think, that's true with other politicians, you know, we can name those incidents in history.
So, you try to get as much sleep as possible, which is four or five hours. But, at the same time, don't get so fatigued that you lose your temper or you say something stupid. I'm probably going to say something stupid anyway.
O'REILLY: Sure. Absolutely. When people get tired, they get rundown, the thought process isn't as sharp.
Now, when you are out on the road, you have a schedule, a schedule, all right. Now, President Clinton, notorious for being late. President Obama is late a lot.
But you were punctual pretty much on that schedule. Is that your military bearing or did you insist on it.
MCCAIN: Bill, look, I admire and respect Bill Clinton as one of the great politicians and he could get away with it. I know that. The same thing with President Obama.
But the rudest thing you can do is keep people waiting. They're there to see you. Sometimes, they already have to get to their way early anyway because of the Secret Service.
And, in all due respect, I do not respect politicians that keep people waiting that are there to see them.
O'REILLY: All right. So, that was something that you personally insisted upon, "I'm going to be punctual. Don't load me up, so I can make A to Z.
O'REILLY: Psychologically, you're barraged with a lot of press. Did you read and listen to the press while you were campaigning.
MCCAIN: Some. But, you know, your schedule doesn't allow it because it's a jammed schedule. So you don't -- you're a little bit in a bubble in that respect.
I knew -- look, when the stock market crashed 700 points in one day and we went down seven points, I knew that we had a very difficult struggle. And so, I kind of avoided some of the media just for my own morale sake.
O'REILLY: All right. So, you selectively look at -- I assume, in the morning, they give you polling, they give you a folder, an overnight folder of what your handlers think you should know, right. You get a briefing, right.
MCCAIN: Yes. And, also, you know, when I get up in the morning, I watch the early shows and, of course, have to tune in on "FOX & FRIENDS" and all that, you know.
O'REILLY: Well, if you want a good laugh, you go with Doocy and Kilmeade and Carlton. Now, in the movie that portrayed you and Sarah Palin -- I know you didn't think much about that HBO movie, Ed Harris played you.
And he played you as a guy who was in-charge of the campaign but did defer to some of your advisors. They would come in and they would say, "Listen, Senator, you got to do X, Y, and Z."
Woody Harrelson was playing the lead in that. Was that true. Did you run at all or did you defer to some advisors.
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, about the movie -- and I didn't see it, but I'm told that I'm portrayed as someone who uses the "F" word every other word.
O'REILLY: Yes. Harris cursed a lot, yes.
MCCAIN: I'm an old Navy man but I don't do that. Because, I think, it's a sign, frankly, of the lack of vocabulary and the lack of intellect.
But, putting that aside, I pretty much ran my own campaign.
O'REILLY: Now, there was a time when Michigan was a bone of contention in your campaign. This is true. We know this because Sarah Palin works for Fox.
She wanted to campaign in Michigan. You wanted to use resources elsewhere. So, I'm assuming, that was your decision, that you saw the polling and you deployed the resources that you had where you wanted them. It's like a chess game and you are the guy moving the pieces. Is that correct.
MCCAIN: Well, I think, that's correct. The polling, unfortunately, showed that we had no chance in Michigan.
I talked to Sarah about it she wanted to go there because Sarah felt that she could turn it around. And we had a long conversation about it. But there was never any space between me and Sarah Palin. I love her and I cherish her and her family.
And I'm grateful for her running with me. And I still regret -- the only thing I regret is I had no idea that she would be attacked as viciously as she still is today --
O'REILLY: Oh, absolutely.
MCCAIN: -- by the liberal press.