This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," February 22, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Our top story: the political fight over the UAE port deal. The White House is standing by its decision to let an Arab government run several major seaports.
Our next guest says we shouldn't say "no" to the deal, we should say "hell no"! He is the author of "Whatever It Takes: Illegal Immigration, Border Security and the War on Terror." Congressman J.D. Hayworth, a Republican from Arizona.
So, J.D., can you explain why the president is so confident about this deal and you are not?
REP. J.D. HAYWORTH, R-ARIZ: No, I can't explain that. I think that the wisdom of the American people should be taken into account here and what I've heard from constituents in various locations since being home this week is, "J.D., you've got to stop the deal."
And it is not, as I have seen reported in some quarters and whispered and suggested, some form of Islamophobia. That entire description would indicate some sort of irrational fear.
Now look, the American people understand that prior to 9/11 the UAE recognized the Taliban government in Afghanistan. The UAE financial institutions were less than helpful in terms of trying to root out financial abuses and financial links to organizations promoting terror. And there are real concerns.
The bottom line is this, John: When in doubt, cut it out. That's what my constituents have asked to be done.
GIBSON: J.D., the Democrats seem to just be delighting in the prospects in November of being able to say, "We wouldn't make the UAE deal," and running to the right of Republicans. Can guys like you, other people who are standing for reelection, get around that?
HAYWORTH: Well, sure we can, because although the dominant media culture has a case of instant amnesia when it comes to the previous stance of those on the left, let's readily admit this political truism, John. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. So on this occasion, some in the Democratic Party have said, "Whoa, hang on." But I would point out that a former Democratic President, Jimmy Carter, says the deal is OK and that should give every fair-minded person pause when former President Carter says go ahead with the deal.
GIBSON: So, J.D., are you saying that the Bush administration has gotten to the point where they actually don't care whether Republicans have an uphill battle in November?
HAYWORTH: No, I don't think it's that. I don't think it's partisan. Some of this is institutional. And after all, the executive branch has a lot of good people trying to do a good job and there is understandably a delegation of authority.
But for the president Tuesday to say that he would veto any response Congress might have in the wake of concerns expressed by Leader Frist in the Senate and Speaker Hastert in the House and to move forward with that type of line in the sand, no pun intended, is extremely concerning.
GIBSON: J.D., by the way, assuming that there is legislation and assuming the presidents does veto it, do you, and those on your side, have the votes to override?
HAYWORTH: Well, I will tell you right now that this member of Congress would vote to override. And I believe the American people, again, have serious doubts and unless and until the administration really gets involved in a campaign of education and persuasion — which I daresay is still not foolproof — the American people continue to have questions that are legitimate questions and serious concerns. And reflecting the concerns of my constituents, I would oppose this deal as it stands now and would vote to rein it in. And if the president vetoes legislation action, I'm prepared to vote to override.
GIBSON: Congressman J.D. Hayworth of Arizona, thanks a lot.
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