This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", April 14, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Arizona Republican Senator John McCain is here. He's the author of the new book, destined to be a big best-seller, "Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life."
Senator, I couldn't put this book down. I'm going to get to that in a second.
How is your wife, Senator? I know you've been with her all day?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: She's just fine. Thank you for asking, and thank all the people who have extended their best wishes and thoughts and prayers on her behalf.
Briefly, it was a spike in her blood pressure. She's had high blood pressure problems, as many do. And it was a spike and it caused some bleeding. And that's under control. She's out of intensive care. She'll be home in two or three days and we're very happy. And she's doing fine.
HANNITY: That is so scary. And you know, so many Americans do have high blood pressure, Senator. And it is the silent killer, as they call it. A lot of people have the condition.
A doctor friend who's very close to me said you cannot believe it has nothing to do with weight or height or anything else. But it's very common.
And she's really struggled with that for a lot of years?
MCCAIN: Yes. She's had high blood pressure for a long period of time. Always under control through medication. There's numerous medication. But this just happened.
But she's had wonderful care here in Phoenix at the neurological institute and people at St. Joseph's Hospital have been wonderful. And so she's going to be home in a couple of days, and we're very grateful.
HANNITY: And I understand everything is turning around. Her speech is coming back and she's out of ICU.
HANNITY: We're very glad to hear that, Senator. And I know that's a very scary thing to hear.
Were you with her when it happened? Or did you get a call?
MCCAIN: Actually, I was in New York and getting ready to come on your show. And so I got on a plane right away and got home. And -- but it's fine and now I'm going to be here until she's home over the weekend.
HANNITY: Senator, I've got to tell you something. There's few books that I pick up, really, and I love to read, that I cannot put down. This is such a book: "Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life."
And it fits, it dove tails into a lot of the news we had today. Because you spent 5 1/2 years as a hostage. And I know you don't like to talk about it, and over the years, I try and pull it out of you as much as I can, because we're friends.
And you know, I thought about these hostages today. And you know, one Italian hostage was killed. You spent 5 1/2 years as a hostage. That -- there's a lot of courage involved there in surviving and not leaving when you had an opportunity to leave.
MCCAIN: Yes, Sean. But you know, I failed on a number of occasions also. But the great experience of my life was to be associated and be in the company of heroes. I was not, but I was privileged to witness 1,000 acts of courage and compassion and love.
And I will until the day I die, I will be grateful for the strength that was given to me by these men who were stronger and brave than me. They were stories within themselves. Go ahead.
HANNITY: I know that. But you had an opportunity to leave when you were being held hostage, and you weren't going to leave until your mates, your fellow fighting men were to leave with you. I don't know many people who would do that. That's an act of courage.
And I think we can learn from acts of courage, which is the whole point of the book.
MCCAIN: But could I also point out that we have a code of conduct that was developed after the Korean War (search), because the term brainwashing was employed in Korea by the communists.
The communist tactic was to try to use prisoners as a weapon on the battlefield in the propaganda war. And so by releasing me, and my father was a high-ranking admiral at the time, and it would have been a great propaganda coup.
But the thing that held me to refuse that offer was that I didn't want to leave these other people behind. Many of them, like my beloved friend Edward Alvarez, had been there almost three years before I had been there. And that was really the primary reason.
And very frankly, I've been grateful every day of my life that I made that decision, because I know I couldn't have lived with myself when I returned home, because of my upbringing. And being -- I was raised by heroes. I was in the company of heroes. Courage was everything that I stood for and what my comrades believed in.
And so I'm grateful, but most of all, I'm grateful for those that gave me the strength later on when things really got tough.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Senator, it's Alan. Thank you for doing the show tonight.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Alan.
COLMES: And I'm going to join with Sean in extending our best wishes to your wife, Senator. I hope she is home and well, and very, very soon.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Alan.
COLMES: Thanks so much for being here tonight. You talk about -- I think what you experienced is a combination of physical courage in being a soldier and moral courage. Are they two different kinds of courage or is it really the same thing?
MCCAIN: I think the ingredients are roughly the same. But some of them are -- we write about a guy named Roy Benavidez, who was a Mexican- American who was raised poor, and he was in the Special Forces in Vietnam.
And his comrades were surrounded in Cambodia (search). And he just leaped to their defense. He was wounded. He carried out the helicopter guys.
Ronald Reagan (search), when he gave him the Congressional Medal of Honor, said, "If they made a movie, nobody would believe it." They put him in a body bag, because they thought he was dead, and he spit in the face of the guy that was putting him in the body bag.
And at that moment he, because of his love of his comrades and his belief in his country, he acted.
Then you have people like John Lewis, a great civil rights leader who is now a member of Congress. John Lewis willingly sank to his knees, knowing that he was fighting for a cause of social justice that he believed in while he knew he was going to be physically mistreated. They smashed him in the head with a club and fractured his skull.
So -- but then there's other kinds of courage that causes you to stand up for what you believe in.
For example, Aung San Suu Kyi (search), who is the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has fought for the people of Myanmar, Burma actually, had undergone house arrest and fought for what she believes in to the point where her husband -- her husband was dying in England and she wanted to go be with him. They told her she could go but she could never come back. So her husband died while she was alone in Burma.
These are the kinds of things that inspire us all. And physical and moral courage sometimes are intertwined.
COLMES: Courage is something -- and you talk about this gentleman Benavidez. Is courage something within you that you're born with? Or is it something you develop? Or do times in a sense make the man?
MCCAIN: Alan, I think all of us are born with the capacity to love. And if you exercise that capacity, then you will then embrace the ideals of truth, honor, justice. And that has to be nurtured. It has to be -- it's like a muscle in a way. It has to be exercised to grow stronger. But I believe that we're all capable of it.
Winston Churchill (search) said courage is the first of all human qualities, because all the rest are dependent on it.
And so -- but we also look to examples. And we also look to our parents and our teaching. And it's easy for our parents to say, you know, you shouldn't do such thing but then set another example by not doing the things they teach us to do.
And all of us have heroes. All of us have heroes. Mine, Ted Williams (search). Ted Williams took three years, he fought in World War II, as you know, three years of his life, of his prime years in baseball, he flew in Korea, as a pilot in Korea.
And he did so willingly and never complained. Can you imagine a professional -- a lot of professional athletes today, told they might have to do something like that?
HANNITY: None of those guys.
MCCAIN: With all due respect. With all due respect, yes.
COLMES: I guess the backdrop of what's happening now in the world there's not a better time for this book to appear. I was at a John Kerry speech today. And he said...
MCCAIN: Sorry to hear that.
COLMES: As you can tell, Hannity was not there.
But I was there to observe. And he said a lot of things that are not that different than what President Bush is saying. He's not talking about cutting and running. He's saying we need to stay there. We need to stay the course. We can't leave the Iraqis high and dry.
But he's also talking about working in a different way, he said a smarter way with the international community. Does he have a point?
MCCAIN: I think he has a point. And I'm very glad that there's unity between the president and Senator Kerry.
But -- And we want as much in a national involvement. The president said so last night, including the United Nations' involvement in helping with us this transition.
But Alan, the fact of the matter is it's the United States of America that leads. It's the United States of America that sacrifices. And that's a terrible tragedy associated with being the world's super power. We led in Bosnia. We led in Kosovo. We led in Afghanistan, and we have to lead here.
HANNITY: What John Kerry said, I thought made sense with me, of course. We are on different sides of the plate politically. You have not said, though, he's soft on defense as some other Republicans have said, correct? You don't feel that way about John Kerry?
MCCAIN: Well, I think he has to defend his own record, but for me to categorically state that he is weak on defense is something that I do not agree with.
But he -- I didn't agree with a number of his votes. I didn't agree with the -- voting against the $87 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq. But he can defend his own record.
And again, I go back to something that I have to keep saying. He is a friend of mine. And I can differ with him philosophically, and I can differ with him specifically on issues, but that doesn't mean we can't be friends. And I know that's hard to say in this very poisoned atmosphere that we have today.
HANNITY: And you'd never accept his invitation to be on the ticket? Just for the record?
HANNITY: Never. All right.
MCCAIN: Can I mention to you something I said on "Meet the Press"?
MCCAIN: My wife, when my kids were younger, used to wear a T-shirt said, "What part of no don't you understand."
HANNITY: I understood it.
MCCAIN: I want to wear that -- I want to wear that T-shirt around.
HANNITY: Look, I do make a different case than you.
I mean, when Reagan was confronting the Soviet Union, he was supporting a nuclear freeze. In the mid-1990s, he wanted a cut and opposed the Kerry amendment, $6 billion out of our intelligence community.
He voted against every major weapon systems we pretty much use now over the years, and culminating with nine different positions on Iraq. And "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
I don't dislike John Kerry personally. This isn't personal. I just think he's not solid enough in this post-9/11 world, based on very legitimate votes. That's a fair criticism, right?
MCCAIN: I think that anybody's voting record is a fair criticism.
I would add that there are times when we voted for omnibus bills or, for example, there have been defense and appropriations bills that I voted against, because they were loaded down with pork barrel spending, and it makes me mad when I think about it.
We just managed -- I think we're about to save the taxpayers $5.7 billion because of a deal -- that was a line was put into an appropriations bill by the senator from Alaska, Senator Stephens, that would have called for leasing of Boeing aircraft as tankers, which according to the Office of Management and Budget and the General Accounting Office would have cost $5.7 billion more.
I can't vote for something like that.
HANNITY: No, I understand that.
MCCAIN: See my point?
HANNITY: NO, I get your point on that. Let me move on. You have been ... one of the president's strongest supporters in the situation in Iraq.
MCCAIN: And I remain so.
HANNITY: And I know you do. Two-part question. Did he make his case strong enough last night? And secondly, you have been somewhat critical about troop strength. Why don't you expand on that?
MCCAIN: Sure. I think the president made a strong, passionate case last night, and he needed to. And he described, I believe, the benefits of success and the consequences of failure.
Democracy in the Middle East will have a profound change throughout the Middle East in a part of the world that's never known true democracy.
The consequences of failure are so profound I would -- could take the rest of the program describing them. But -- And he made the case that we have to stay the course.
Now, I was there in August. And when I was there in Iraq in August, I talked to British. I talked to sergeant majors. I talked to colonels and captains. And I came back absolutely convinced that we needed more boots on the ground.
These people warned me. They said, "Look, if you don't have more soldiers here, you're going to lose control of this situation and you're going to face an insurgency some months from now."
I begged and pleaded that we send more troops. Secretary Rumsfeld said, "Well, our commanders on the ground haven't asked for them." It's not up to the commanders on the ground. It's up to the leadership of the country to make these decisions. That's why we elect them and have civilian supremacy.
We're now facing a terrible insurgency. We can prevail, but we've got to have more people over there to get the job done.
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