This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," August 31, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Meanwhile, also at the White House, where President Obama is struggling to regain control of the health care debate.
If he wants his agenda to pass, former Republican Senator Bob Dole says he needs to take a cue from the Gipper, start from scratch, and write his own bill.
The former Republican presidential nominee giving us his first interview just moments ago.
BOB DOLE, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Ronald Reagan is president, or — or Bush or — well, any president, they would send their bill up to the leadership.
• Video: Watch Neil's interview
In my case, Reagan would sent it to me, and I would introduce it for the president. It was the president's bill, the president's language. He is the top dog.
And this is probably about the most important domestic legislation that Obama will deal with in the first four years. He is hoping for four more, but in the first four. And he ought to be proud of it. And it ought to be the Obama bill.
And I believe it would really be beneficial to him. I didn't write this to be critical. I think it’s just a matter of fact we should not be debating some congressman's bill, in accord with a congressman, but he is not the president.
And when I tell my aunt Minnie that President — this is President Obama's bill, that is going to make a difference. I think it helps his credibility. I think people, you know, will pay more attention to it. I think it is a win-win for him.
CAVUTO: Still, only a few moments ago, Robert Gibbs at the White House responded to your view that the president might not be that engaged.
This is from earlier, Senator.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He's talked with many members of the Finance Committee and members of Congress in the House and the Senate. I — I — I think to characterize the role that the president is playing as inactive would be inaccurate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: What do you make of that?
DOLE: Well, I don't think I said he wasn't engaged. I just said he was — he has become a cheerleader or a commentator. Yes, he has certainly talked to people, but he hadn't talked about the Obama bill. He has talked about to them some amorphous, some this, this, this.
And I don't know. When you're the president of the United States, you take responsibility. And I know you don’t to be — have your name on a bill if you're the president that may go south, but that is the chance you take.
And I think it's just a tactical error that could be corrected. I said in my piece I think the president would jump 10 points in the poll. I didn't mean it to be in any way critical of the president, but I just think it's time to change course, make a fresh start, drop some of these poison pills that are not going anywhere anyway, pull the bill in, start the debate. Republicans, I think, will then start amendments and maybe a substitute, which is an entire bill of their own, and they will become players. And you would be surprised what happens in the end. You may get a bipartisan bill of sorts. And that is what the American people, I believe, would have more confidence in it.
CAVUTO: You know, recently, Senator, Maria Shriver has said, since her uncle's passing, Ted Kennedy, who you were very good friends with...
CAVUTO: ... that this could actually aid the health care push. What do you make of it?
DOLE: I don't think so.
And I don't — Ted Kennedy was a good friend of mine. We worked on a lot of things together. But naming the bill after Kennedy, if they want to do that, that's fine, but I don't think it changes a single vote.
Had Ted been there and been active and been involved in the process, but the poor guy has been, you know, ill for the past year, and just could not participate. So, I think the best way to remember Ted Kennedy is to — to get on with this bill and try to make it a bipartisan bill. But I'm not certain — it is only guesswork on Maria's part or my part — but I don't think it makes that much difference.
CAVUTO: You had said that this parliamentarian move that the Democrats are considering, where you don’t need a supermajority or a filibuster-proof 60 votes, you think that is a prescription for disaster.
Could you explain why?
DOLE: Well, there are two reasons. First of all, it was never intended to be used for that purpose. And the originator of that provision, the reconciliation provision...
DOLE: ... Senator Byrd, is opposed to it.
But I think, more importantly, the American people want to see us working together. And they're going to — they may not understand everything in the bill, but if you got, say, 20 Republicans voting in the Senate for this bill, it's going to have a lot more credibility and the American people are going to be more willing to accept it.
CAVUTO: But do you think we will ever get that, Senator? I mean, it seems like the Republicans are now going to just be blocking this every step of the way...
CAVUTO: ... for whatever reason.
DOLE: Well, I...
CAVUTO: And then that that is where they realize that many of these town hall forums are. So, they are going to be there as well.
DOLE: Well, I have just talked to a leading — I said, don't get in this mode where you are just going to be against everything. Have a substitute — and have something to offer, you know, language right down the line, different title, same — and offered.