The following is a transcribed excerpt from 'Fox News Sunday,' May 23, 2004.
CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: First up this morning, an interview on a wide range of topics that we taped at the end of the week with two key members of Congress, including one who doesn't stop by too often.
WALLACE: Joining us now, two key members of the Senate Armed Services Committee: Hillary Clinton, Democrat from New York, and Lindsey Graham, Republican from South Carolina.
Senators, good to have you both with us.
And, Senator Clinton, welcome to "Fox News Sunday."
U.S. SENATOR HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, D-NY: Thank you, Chris. Glad to be with you.
WALLACE: Good to have you here.
Senator Clinton, let me start with you. How much trouble is the U.S. effort in Iraq in now?
And what about this June 30th deadline, should we hold to it? I know you have suggested that perhaps it's being driven more by politics in the U.S. than it is by the situation on the ground in Iraq.
CLINTON: Well, Chris, we're way past that issue now. We're holding to the June 30th deadline, and we're hoping that out of the negotiations that Brahimi is doing on behalf of the U.N., in conjunction with our government, we'll be able to have some kind of entity with people on July 1st who can begin the business of trying to assume sovereignty in Iraq.
You asked what kind of trouble we're in. We have a lot of trouble. Everybody knows that. And, you know, my hope is that we can work our way out of the trouble we're in, and much of it depends upon the choices that are made starting on June 30th.
WALLACE: Senator Graham, let me ask you about a couple of specific points that some people are raising: one, send in more troops; two, hold the elections sooner, so that we can get out sooner. Good ideas?
U.S. SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-SC: Well, send in more troops, absolutely.
I think we need more people in the military. When I went to Iraq last year, you could see that there was a lot of ammo dumps that needed to be guarded. Forty percent of the people, by the end of the year, are going to be Guard and Reserve members. And we're moving people out of Korea.
So I thought for a long time that we needed more people, but when your combat commanders tell the secretary of defense we have enough, then, you know, what's the secretary of defense to do?
But it's clear to me, not just Iraq, but when you look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea and all of the obligations of this country, we're putting too much pressure on the men and women in uniform. We need more of them, sooner rather than later.
CLINTON: And I agree with that 100 percent. And, you know, I reached the same conclusions when I was there last year. And a number of us on the Armed Services Committee have been sounding this alarm, not only asking that we get more troops in Iraq, and in Afghanistan I would add, but that we have to face the fact we need a larger active- duty military. We cannot continue to stretch our troops, both active- duty, Guard and Reserve, to the breaking point, which is what we're doing now.
WALLACE: I know you're not sitting in the defense secretary's chair in the Pentagon, but 25,000 more troops, 50,000? Give me a scale of order.
CLINTON: Well, Chris, the way I would talk about this is that, at this point, General Abizaid has asked for additional troops, and we're going to see those troops brought in, some from Korea. We're going to end up with what the last number was, 140,000. That's fine, but it's still late, and it's been a little slow.
I'm supporting an effort to increase the end strength of the Army, increase the size of the military. This is a big decision for our country to make. It is expensive, but I don't think we have any alternatives.
We talk a lot about the global war on terrorism. We have faced some very difficult times in Iraq. We did not go in with enough troops, in my opinion. I might have a slight disagreement with my colleague that I think that there was such a clear message from the top of the Pentagon, "Don't ask for more troops," that our commanders are very resourceful, they're incredibly professional, they did the best they could with what they had.
CLINTON: But many people with a lot of experience, like John McCain and others, from the very beginning have been saying we can't do this mission with the numbers we have.
WALLACE: I want to show you both something that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said this week and get your reaction. Take a look, if you will.
Here's what she said: "Bush is an incompetent leader. In fact, he is not a leader. He has on his shoulders the deaths of many more troops because he would not heed the advice of his own State Department of what to expect after the end of major combat."
Senator Graham, your reaction?
GRAHAM: Just, it doesn't help. It's not going to do us any good to say that. We're in the middle of a war. I think that's what she's trying to say. We have made some mistakes.
This prison scandal, part of the things that we can learn from this scandal is that you have poorly trained, not enough people running this prison. That's a good example of the fact that we have certain aspects of the Iraqi occupation where we didn't have enough people.
But at the end of the day, we're all in it together. If we lose Iraq, if it fails to go from a dictatorship to a democracy, then we've had a great setback in the Mideast. So I would ask both sides to kind of knock it down a notch, work together to find more troops. If we can work together, that's a good sign.
WALLACE: Senator Clinton, you have said some of the same things about the president. In fact, just last past week you said, and let's put it up on the screen, you accused him of "a pattern and practice of misjudgments that add up to incompetence and lack of credibility."
Is that going too far to say about a commander in chief in wartime?
CLINTON: Chris, I think I said that about the administration, and...
WALLACE: But you included the president.
CLINTON: Well, of course. He is the leader of the administration.
And I think that we have to do two things at the same time. On the one hand, we all have to work as hard as possible to figure out what we're going to do with the situation we find ourselves in. But it would be a mistake not to ask ourselves, how did we end up here?
And it's obvious, we have an election that we're all going to face in November. People are going to have to make choices.
It really grieves me that we're in the that situation we're in. You know, I voted for the resolution, and I did so to give the president authority. But I have to say, I have been very disappointed at many of the decisions that have been made along the way, implementing the judgment of the administration.
And so here we are. And my highest concern is for the young men and women who we have put into harm's way. You know, this prison scandal is tragic on many fronts, but in particular because we don't want it to reflect in any way on the vast majority of these young men and women who are serving with honor and courage.
And so my commitment is to figure out what we do now to get out of it. But at the same time, I don't think we can make the same kind of decisions over and over again and have a better resolve.
WALLACE: What do you think of Congresswoman Pelosi saying that the president has on his shoulders the death of our troops because of his misjudgments?
CLINTON: Well, I'm both a friend and a colleague and an admirer of Leader Pelosi. Any commander in chief bears that responsibility. It's an awesome, unbelievably overwhelming responsibility. I know a little bit about that.
And, you know, what everyone thinks about the decisions that were made, you know, the buck does stop in the Oval Office. The president knows that, any president does.
But I think that the more important issue right now is, what we are we going to do as Americans? How are we going to reach across the divides that all too often, I think, separate us from one another and interfere with making good judgments about what's in our interest?
You know, we can't forget that we face some very determined and dangerous enemies. You know, I don't for a minute forget that. I represent New York. I know what they did to New York and to Washington and what they would want to keep doing to us.
So, how do we do the smartest possible strategy in the global war on terrorism? That's my overriding concern.
WALLACE: Let's pivot, if we can, Senator Graham, to the prison abuse scandal, which you brought up.
Two weeks ago you said you don't want a bunch of privates and sargeants to end up as the scapegoats in this scandal. You've had three hearings. You've met with all of the top uniformed and civilian leaders. Have you been able to trace wrongdoing up the chain of command?
GRAHAM: I think we're going to find, as the reports come in, that it's more than privates and sargeants. I think we're going to find that we had MPs being directed by military intelligence people to do some of the abuse.
GRAHAM: I think we're going to find that they did some of the abuse on their own. I think we're going to find it was the worst-run command situation I've ever seen. I think you're going to find a sophisticated plan that was in Cuba about how to interrogate Al Qaida people was translated to an unsophisticated group in Iraq who was poorly trained, under-staffed, and that the result was a cocktail for disaster.
And as being a member of the military for the last 20 years, it will be more than privates and sergeants who will be charged. There will be more courts-martial to come. And we're going to prove to the world that even in a war the rule of law applies, and that when you serve your country — God bless you for doing it — but we're going to expect you to follow the rules. We're not being hard on these people.
If we do this right, we can demonstrate to the world, particularly the Arab world, that the rule of law is the way to go. So I'm confident there will be more courts-martial, and it's just not going to be privates and sergeants.
CLINTON: Oh, Chris, I can't say it more eloquently than Senator Graham. And I think the role that he has played in our Armed Services Committee in general, but in particular with respect to the prison abuses, has been absolutely essential. His experience in the military, his experience as a judge advocate general means that he knows what this system is and how it's supposed to work.
And I just have to reiterate, you know, some people I think have jumped to all kinds of conclusions. You know, there are those who have already decided who's responsible, and, you know, we've got to be careful about that.
GRAHAM: Right. Right.
CLINTON: There are others who wish we'd never even held a hearing, that we should've shut our eyes to it.
You know, I think both of those extremes are wrong. And as is usual, you know, what I think is the better position is the one that Senator Graham has just articulated.
This is a painful experience.
WALLACE: Do you believe there are going to be courts-martial up the chain of command?
CLINTON: Yes, absolutely. I think that it is important not only for the military to get this under control and to set an example, but it is, as Lindsey said, very important for our country.
You know, we are not them.
CLINTON: You know, we are the greatest nation in the history of the world. We have rule of law. We have due process. We have ideals and values. And, frankly, that's what we think we're fighting for.
So it is imperative that we do this right and that we follow the investigations wherever they lead.
GRAHAM: You know, I think it's — along those lines, it's dangerous when we start comparing ourselves to Saddam Hussein and accept his standard. Great armies and great nations have great values. Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine percent of men and women in the uniform share those values.
What happened in that prison is a breakdown in discipline. It is not hazing. If you'd seen the photos, you would be very upset. And the only way we will correct this and get back on the right track is to go after all those who are accountable, regardless of rank or status.
And I promise the men and women in uniform that we will do that. We will not let the low people suffer and the people up the chain get away with it.
WALLACE: Senator Graham, for all of your differences on issues, you are both pushing a plan that would allow National Guard and Reserve personnel to get health coverage from the military even if they're not called up. Now, the White House has opposed this, says it's too expensive. Why is it important?
GRAHAM: Well, I'm going to vote for President Bush proudly, and I imagine Senator Clinton won't.
Between now and November, we're going to have great debates, and I'm going to be fighting for the president because I believe in him and I believe in his policies in Iraq. This is part of the war on terror.
But the men and women who are doing the real fighting, the worst thing they can say about Senator Clinton and myself is some bad things. The worst thing that can happen to you in Iraq is that you get killed or you get wounded and your family members are left behind to suffer.
Here's where we agree: We agree that if you join the Guard and Reserves, you are being asked to do more things than ever in the history in the country, and that one in four people called to active duty from the Guard and Reserves are unable to go on active duty because of health care problems.
I believe it is long overdue to make sure that every Guard and Reserve member becomes a member of the military health care system just like an active-duty person and family. It will help recruiting. It will help readiness. It will help retention. It's about $4 billion over five years. They have earned it. They need it. And we're going to fight for it in a bipartisan way.
And I love the people in the Pentagon most of the time, but I disagree with them over this.
WALLACE: Senator Clinton, some people may be surprised to see the two of you working together on an issue. I don't have to tell you, and I probably don't have to tell most people, that Senator Graham was one of the prosecutors in your husband's impeachment trial. No hard feelings?
CLINTON: Well, you know, I think that...
GRAHAM: I don't think that was lost on her.
CLINTON: Yes, it...
But, you know, I believe in redemption and growth...
... and, you know, people who were previously misguided can see the light.
But on several issues, we have found common cause, and particularly on this Guard and Reserve issue. We introduced legislation a year or so ago, and I think it was surprising to some people, but we had the same experience in our respective states.
CLINTON: You know, what Lindsey says about 25 percent of our Guard and Reserve, when they were activated, not being ready for duty — why? Because they worked in jobs that didn't provide health insurance. They didn't make enough money to provide it for themselves.
And at a certain point, you say to yourself, if you're going to shift all of this responsibility onto our Guard and Reserve members, then don't we want to invest in them, so that they can be ready when they're called?
And, you know, along with Senator Daschle and others — this is a bipartisan effort — and, you know, the Pentagon doesn't agree. But I think this is part of an overall look at where we stand with our forces — the number of forces that we need, the responsibilities we assign to Reserve and Guard. We have to take a hard look and devise a 21st-century military.
WALLACE: Senator, I can't let your first appearance on "Fox News Sunday" go by...
... without taking special note. And we are kind of running out of time, but I want to ask you a few questions.
First of all, several top Democrats, including Joe Biden, Bob Kerrey, have suggested that John Kerry pick John McCain as his running-mate. Could you accept, would you accept, a pro-choice Republican on the Democratic ticket?
WALLACE: Pro-life, right.
CLINTON: I don't want John to be upset.
WALLACE: Yes, that's right, pro-life.
CLINTON: Well, first of all, I'm a big admirer of John McCain's. You know, we serve together, the three of us, on the Armed Services Committee, and I have the greatest respect for him.
I take him at his word that he's not interested in the position, but this is such a personal decision that John Kerry has to make, I will support whoever he chooses.
Because, from my perspective, he has to ask himself three questions: Could this person be a good president if something happened to me? Could I work well with this person? And no two people have exactly the same position on every issue. And, number three, could this person help me win?
And whoever John Kerry decides fits those criteria, I'm going to support.
WALLACE: And if he picks John McCain?
CLINTON: Absolutely. I'll be there supporting whoever John Kerry decides to pick.
WALLACE: Even though he's pro-life?
CLINTON: We have pro-life Democrats. There are pro-choice Republicans.
WALLACE: Not on the national ticket very often.
CLINTON: Well, but, you know, these are unusual times. And I obviously am a very strong supporter of Senator Kerry. I think he would bring the kind of experience and thoughtfulness that we need right now in the presidency. And whoever he picks, I'm going to support.
WALLACE: Have you told the senator or someone in his camp that?
CLINTON: Oh, sure, I've told them repeatedly, and I'm telling them right now, here on Fox News.
But I've spoken with Senator McCain, and he assures me he's not interested. But, you know, we'll see what happens.
GRAHAM: Can I make — I was John's campaign chairman in South Carolina, and you saw how well that turned out...
... so what do I know?
But when you see me drafted by the NBA...
... then you can worry about John McCain running...
WALLACE: We should tell people that you're actually sitting in a very large hole...
GRAHAM: They can figure it out. They don't need you to tell them. They know that I don't have the skills necessary to be in the NBA or NFL or any other sports league.
John's not going to run, but it is nice, I think, a compliment, to be thought of by both sides up here in those terms. John's not going to leave, but these are times where petty differences, focusing on what you disagree to define you as a senator is not necessary. The country needs senators to rise to the occasion.
And I'm here on this program to let people know in South Carolina that if I can work with Senator Clinton — we have polar opposite views on a lot of things — to make the men and women in uniform better off, I will. And I think she's saying the same thing.
We're not going to win this war if we focus on what divides us. We need to focus on what brings us together. And one thing brings us together: The men and women who serve us are not Republicans or Democrats, they're Americans.
WALLACE: Senator, I just want to...
WALLACE: Even though that seems like the right place to end this, I'm going to press on with one last issue, and that is — and it seems appropriate, because obviously a lot of people talk about Hillary Clinton on Fox News.
CLINTON: No fooling. Really?
WALLACE: You famously coined the phrase, "the vast right-wing conspiracy."
CLINTON: Right. Right.
WALLACE: When Senator Kerry...
CLINTON: And here I am, right in the middle of it.
WALLACE: Well, I'm going to ask you about that.
When Senator Kerry was overheard talking about some Republicans who were crooked liars, you said that that was, quote, "quiet descriptive of reality."
Do you really see things in such adversarial terms?
CLINTON: Oh, Chris, you know, we all put on our political hat when we have to.
GRAHAM: Yes. I do too.
CLINTON: That's all part of being an elected official. And, yet, what I think Lindsey and I are trying to say, as well as demonstrate with our joint appearance today, is, at least from where we sit on the Armed Services Committee, we are facing some very dangerous and challenging times. And I just wish we could get everybody to understand that.
GRAHAM: We were both afraid to come, because when I ran, the things I said about...
... coming up here to make sure she doesn't have her way...
But now that you're here and you're in the middle of a war, it does hit home to you once you sit on the Armed Services Committee, when you look at the prison abuse scandal, when you look at what we have in common. It really does change you, and I hope for the better.
But yes, politics is politics. It's fun, but some of the things that people say are not fun. And I've been guilty of saying some things that I shouldn't have said, and I've had some things said about me that I wish others wouldn't have said. The future is what this is about, not the past.
WALLACE: Well, you know what, I'm glad I asked the question, because that was a really good answer from both of you.
Senators, thank you both so much for being here.
GRAHAM: Thank you.
WALLACE: And, Senator Clinton, don't be a stranger.
CLINTON: Well, thank you, Chris.
WALLACE: You're always welcome here.
CLINTON: Thank you very much. And I love this cup.
Nice size. Good, hefty cup.
WALLACE: Sounds like you want one.