Published June 22, 2008
WASHINGTON – The following is a partial transcript of the June 22, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: John McCain and Barack Obama went after each other this week over a range of foreign and domestic issues.
Joining us now to continue the debate are two national co-chairs of the campaigns who are both being seriously mentioned as possible running mates — former Democratic senator, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle; and from Erie, Pennsylvania, the former Republican governor of that state and the first secretary of homeland security, Tom Ridge.
And, gentlemen, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."
FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER TOM DASCHLE: Thank you, Chris. It's good to be back.
WALLACE: Let's begin with...
FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOV. TOM RIDGE: Good morning, Chris.
Good morning, Senator.
DASCHLE: Good morning, Tom.
WALLACE: Let's begin with national security and the war in Iraq. The lead story in The New York Times yesterday assessed the situation on the ground this way, "Violence in all of Iraq is the lowest since March 2004. The two largest cities, Baghdad and Basra, are calmer than they have been for years. There is a sense that Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki's government has more political traction than any of its predecessors."
Senator Daschle, now that we are finally making progress in Iraq, why is Senator Obama still determined to get all of our troops out within 16 months?
DASCHLE: Well, Chris, I think that's the whole question. Why do we need them if things are going this well?
But I think the real question is, is Iraq the central focus of what it is we need to do. What Barack has said is that we've got to fight the War on Terror on a much more significant level of fronts.
We've got to be in Afghanistan more effectively. We've got to be sure that we're dealing with the War on Terror where it really has generated the greatest degree of threat to the United States. That isn't Iraq. That is Afghanistan and it's worldwide.
So his whole effort has been to say, "Look, let's understand we've got to finish the job. And we've got to get out of Iraq a lot more carefully than we got in. But we really have to turn our attention to where we can do the most good." That's Afghanistan and the larger War on Terror.
WALLACE: Governor Ridge, how do you respond to that, and is Senator McCain's commitment to winning in Iraq open-ended?
RIDGE: Well, first of all, I think we have to give credit where credit's due. Early on, my friend John said we don't have enough troops on the ground.
Ultimately, you need G.I.s and Marines. You need them to bring a level of stability so that the administration in Iraq can work. And it's beginning to demonstrate in a very meaningful way that that strategy is paying dividends. We still have a way to go.
But, clearly, the withdrawal that Senator Obama's talked about — "As soon as I'm elected, I'm going to start bringing troops home" — would not be in the long-term best interest of the Iraqi people, the region or the United States of America.
Can you imagine turning that country over to the terrorists? You turn a huge victory over to Al Qaeda, the terrorists in Iran, and you create further destabilization in the region.
That's something we cannot afford to do, and that's why Senator Obama's policies are flawed from the get-go.
WALLACE: I'd like you to respond to that if you could, Senator Daschle. But also, specifically, Obama keeps talking about the fact that he's going to make a trip to Iraq sometime between now and the election.
What happens if he goes there and if General Petraeus, the author of the surge, and Iraqi politicians say to him, "Look, we have made gains," the gains The New York Times talked about, "and if we follow your path and pull our troops out, we're going to lose everything we fought so hard to gain?"
DASCHLE: Well, I doubt very much that General Petraeus would say that, Chris. And obviously, he will factor in whatever information he's provided. That's the whole idea behind the trip.
But he is the commander in chief and he has made very clear that we've already spent more time in Iraq than we did in World War II. We've already spent more than $1 trillion. We've already lost thousands of lives and more thousands wounded.
We really have to begin to understand that this has to be an effort that we turn over to the Iraqis. Let them govern themselves. Make sure we have a much more effective multilateral presence, but above and beyond everything else, let's understand that the real threat is not Iraq.
The real threat is what we see in Afghanistan and around the world through the War on Terror. And let's put our focus where it really has to be put.
WALLACE: Governor Ridge, come on in. But again, as part of your answer...
RIDGE: I do want to respond to that.
WALLACE: If I may, Governor, as part of your answer, I mean, at what point does Senator McCain say we do have to turn it over to the Iraqis?
RIDGE: Well, I think, again, that depends on the situation on the ground. As The New York Times is reporting, there's greater and greater stability.
The administration is taking greater and greater control of not only its diplomatic efforts overseas, its domestic efforts, but also its military and law enforcement.
The Maliki government was criticized a couple of months ago for taking a very aggressive posture going after some of these terrorists in some of these communities. That's exactly what we want them to do.
And make no mistake about it, this is a fundamental venue in the war against terror. Can you imagine turning this region over? You'd have terrorists supported by Iran, and you'd have one of the most abundant supplies of oil under their feet.
It is a central venue in this war against terror, and John has said — and we all hope that the presence of Americans troops in future years is in a noncombat situation, providing the stability and the kind of support we provided Germany and South Korea for years and years.
WALLACE: McCain and Obama also fought this week about the Supreme Court's ruling on the constitutional right of terror detainees. Let's watch that exchange.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: He supports that decision to give those — I understand Usama bin Laden, if he were captured, habeas corpus rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The fact that I want to abide by the United States Constitution, they say, shows that I'm trapped in a pre-9/11 mindset.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor Ridge, John McCain has been calling for years to shut down Guantanamo and move all those prisoners to U.S. soil.
Back as far as 2003, he was complaining that the Pentagon was far too slow in handling these terror suspects. So in fact, for all the rhetoric, doesn't he, like Obama, believe that these detainees should get their day in court?
RIDGE: Well, I think John has said consistently for the past couple of years we ought to close down Guantanamo.
That's separate and apart from giving these non-soldiers, these non-citizens, aliens, the same kind of protections you give Americans. And the fact of the matter is that the Supreme Court extended a right that previously was never extended to enemy combatants and even prisoners of war.
The opinion suggests that there's a certain deficiency within the process, the process by which Congress and the president of the United States created for them to determine — to adjudicate whether or not they should be detained, and I suspect that, one, he's right. You've got to abide by the Supreme Court unless there's a political alternative.
And two, I think they have to move to a political alternative to find something different to dispose of these people held in Guantanamo, but that's separate and apart from closing down Guantanamo.
This is a flawed process. We extend a right to aliens, and we just need to go back and correct the process to adjudicate whether or not they should be detained and how long they should be detained. Where they should be detained — we know it's not Guantanamo. It should be someplace else.
WALLACE: Senator Daschle, does Obama have no concerns about what happens when these terror detainees go into federal court for their habeas corpus ruling?
Do you give them classified information that led to their arrest? Do you take soldiers off the battlefield to come back to U.S. courts to testify, "You know, here's why I arrested this guy and sent him to Guantanamo?"
DASCHLE: Well, Chris, first of all, I think most people have been mystified by John McCain's flip-flop. It is an extension of the Bush third term, which is what we've said from the very beginning.
But Barack Obama has said as clearly as anyone can he believes in our judicial process. He believes in our constitutional rights. And he understands that we haven't made one conviction so far.
Under the process this administration and John McCain now endorses, we haven't had one conviction.
WALLACE: But can you answer my...
DASCHLE: And we have lost
WALLACE: ... specific question about the...
DASCHLE: We have lost immense credibility around the world.
WALLACE: But can you answer my specific question about these detainee hearings? Do you give the defendants classified information that led to their arrest? Do you bring soldiers off the battlefield to come back and say, "Here's why I arrested this guy?"
DASCHLE: Well, that's a separate question from what the Supreme Court addressed this week.
WALLACE: But these are the kinds of things that come up in these habeas corpus hearings.
DASCHLE: Well, they come up, but that doesn't mean that the — the central question is do you adhere to the Constitution.
Do you provide basic rights with regard to telling people what they're charged of and allowing them to defend themselves? Do you do that in a process like this?
The court today said yes — this week, and I think they were absolutely right. Barack has said he supports that decision because he supports the application of constitutional principles to the people regardless of circumstances.
WALLACE: I want to turn to one more issue in this segment, and that is the debate over energy, and both candidates got into that this week. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: I certainly think that there are areas off our coast that should be opened to exploration and exploitation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: What he doesn't tell you is that George Bush's own Energy Department has said that this would have no impact on consumers until 2030.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: Governor Ridge, if Senator McCain has decided to change his position and flip on offshore drilling, why not also drill in ANWR, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge?
RIDGE: Well, first of all, let's put the whole question in perspective beyond both candidates. We're now talking — I just drove by a gas station. Up here it was $4.30-something a gallon. That changes the nature of the debate.
And you add in the increased demand worldwide — China, India and elsewhere. It's unacceptable. So we need a long-term answer because — dramatic change in circumstances.
And John has said, "Look, we need nuclear, 45 by 2030. We need to drill offshore, give the states the right in the federal system to make that determination. Alternative fuels, conservation, clean coal technology."
John understands that you can't pay for heating bills at this level or sustain these gas prices for the ordinary family. We need a long-term solution. We have to start now. And conservation and windmills and ignoring the reality is not going to do it.
WALLACE: All right, but let me ask you, if it is such a crisis and because of that the senator has decided to end his long-held opposition to drilling along the coastlines of Florida and California, why not also drill in ANWR?
RIDGE: Well, my friend would give you a straightforward answer. Apparently he's seen the region, feels very strongly about the region up in Alaska and he said no.
We'll begin the process. We'll drill offshore. I'm not sure his feet are in cement on this if prices go to $10 a gallon and whatever.
But right now, he would prefer to see what these other measures that we would take — drilling, nuclear, alternatives, conservation, clean coal technology — before we really go into the pristine environment up in Alaska.
By the way, which we could do in a very protective, environmentally sensitive way, but John says today, "No, we won't do it. Let's go after these other alternatives first."
WALLACE: That's part of the answer I don't understand. He keeps saying that ANWR is pristine. Is ANWR, which is as we just showed a map, in the farthest northern reaches of Alaska that most of us will never see — is that any more pristine than the coastlines and the sea life along California and Florida?
RIDGE: Well, I use the word pristine, and I guess we've all enjoyed the beautiful coast of Florida and California. But right now, my friend John has said, "Look, there are many, many different things we need to do in a very aggressive way."
He understands the implications for the individual families. He also understands we need a long-term solution. He's the only candidate that has this multidimensional long-term solution that includes nuclear, drilling, and all these other offensives in terms of going after additional fuel, given the incredible drain on existing supply because of the worldwide economy.
WALLACE: Let me bring in...
RIDGE: We have to do it now. And if he chooses not to drill in Alaska, so be it.
WALLACE: That's it. He decides.
Senator Daschle, Obama says — talks about environmental damage from drilling offshore, but the fact is that a moratorium was put in effect in 1981. There's been a lot of technological advances since then.
We had Hurricane Katrina go through the heart of the Gulf of Mexico and ravage these oil rigs, and there were almost no oil spills. So what's he talking about?
DASCHLE: Well, Chris, first of all, we're surprised at yet another flip-flop on the part of John McCain here.
But the key here is what Barack said. We aren't going to produce a barrel of oil until 2030. We're not going to have the ability, first of all.
Secondly, we can't drill our way out of the problem. What we have to do is to provide the kind of commitment to conservation, the commitment to efficiency, the commitment to alternative fuels, the commitment to the ways that we know can be...
WALLACE: But let me just pick up...
DASCHLE: ... a real achievable result.
WALLACE: ... on that one point. You say — and we had the quote of him where he said, "We can't do it until 2030." The fact — let's say that's right, although some people say that that's exaggerated.
The fact is that we've been saying that for 30 years. If we had started drilling offshore 20 or 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in. Isn't that precisely the mindset, when we keep saying, "Well, but this won't help us for 10 years?"
DASCHLE: There are thousands and thousands of federal land and other acreage that the oil companies have chosen for whatever reason not to use so far.
We haven't even depleted the opportunities that they have to drill in the areas where it is appropriate and where it is legal today. So until they've exhausted all those other possibilities, why would we go to someplace that has so little real value?
This another gas tax gimmick, Chris. This has nothing to do with meaningful production or meaningful supply. This has everything to do with another gimmick...
WALLACE: Governor Ridge, I've got to break in here. But when we come back, we'll talk — take a look at Obama's decision to forgo public campaign financing, and we'll ask our guests where they stand in the "veepstakes."
Back with all of that in a moment.