Transcript: Tom Ridge, Tom Daschle on 'FOX News Sunday,' Pt. 2

Published June 22, 2008

| FoxNews.com

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: And we're back now discussing the presidential campaign with Obama adviser Tom Daschle and McCain supporter Tom Ridge.

Before we turn to other issues, let's discuss the possibility that one or both of you will end up as your party's vice presidential nominee.

Senator Daschle, if Obama asks you, what will you say?

FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER TOM DASCHLE: I'd say Tom Ridge would make a great V.P. candidate, Chris.

WALLACE: For Barack Obama?

DASCHLE: No, no, no, for John McCain.

I'm not seeking the vice presidency. I've not talked to Barack about it. I don't expect to be asked. And I have no interest.

WALLACE: But that doesn't mean you'd say no.

DASCHLE: Well, obviously, you'd think about it. But as I say, I don't expect it, and I don't — I'm not looking for it.

WALLACE: Let me ask you a question that applies to you and also applies to some of the other possible candidates.

For someone like Obama, who keeps talking about changing the way business is done in Washington, would it be a problem to pick you or any other, quote, Washington insider?

DASCHLE: It might. It might, and that's certainly going to be a factor that he'll be looking at. Who best suits the profile he's looking for and what is his chemistry with the candidate, how good a president would he make? And I think those are the key questions — he or she make.

WALLACE: Governor Ridge, if McCain asks you, what will you say?

FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOV. TOM RIDGE: If he asks me, we'll have a private conversation and we'll decide whether or not we ought to tell you what we said.

I appreciate the question. I think it's very important, and I think the senator agrees with me, it's a very important choice for both parties. Both men are going to look at it very, very carefully. They have a deep bench, both sides of the aisle.

And when it becomes appropriate to talk about it, either from my perspective or Senator Daschle's, I guess we will. But for the time being, I'll leave that conversation up to my friend John.

WALLACE: Let me ask you, Governor, about one question, and it's sort of like Senator Daschle's. It's a generic question, but it does directly affect you as well.

Your biggest problem, according to the handicappers, is that you're pro-choice. Now, back in 1980, when Ronald Reagan picked George H.W. Bush, who was pro-choice, he said, "Look, I'll support the nominee of my party."

If McCain were to say to you, "I'd like you on the ticket," would you be willing to say on that issue of abortion, "I will follow the dictate of Senator McCain, the nominee of my party?"

RIDGE: Well, I believe what I believe, and I've had that point of view before I got into elected office. I've had it when I served, and I have it now.

And again, number one, we're not a one-issue party. Never have, never will be, although it's very important to our base. And it's very, very important to Senator McCain.

He feels very, very strongly about that issue, and that's why any conversation we have relative to that issue or the vice presidency is something that he and I have to discuss before I ever go down that path publicly.

WALLACE: But I just want to ask, because you said I believe what I believe, are you saying you would not be willing to make the pledge of support?

RIDGE: Well, I couldn't possibly — I believe what I believe. I mean, I believe what I believe and have felt that way throughout my entire life.

Obviously, the vice president's job is to support once a decision is made, whether it's on social issues, economic issues or diplomatic issues, the position of the president of the United States.

But that doesn't mean that you don't share a belief that you've had your entire life. But again, those are really difficult and challenging questions when the vice president and the president disagree on a wide range of issues, but the vice president's job is to support the administration.

WALLACE: OK. Let's turn to something else. This week Obama reversed his pledge — we've been talking about flip-flops — reversed his pledge to seek public financing in the general election, Senator Daschle, and announced he will be the first candidate since Watergate to privately finance his general election campaign. That set off this exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who have become masters at gaming this broken system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: He has completely reversed himself and gone back not on his word to me but the commitment that he made to the American people. That's disturbing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Senator Daschle, didn't Obama show, for all his talk about principle, he's just another politician?

DASCHLE: Not at all, Chris. He has never said — what he said was he wanted to preserve that option. That's what he said.

WALLACE: No, he said he would aggressively — because he said it to me, "I would aggressively pursue a deal with the Republican nominee."

DASCHLE: Exactly. And they had meetings to talk about how we might resolve the dilemma of 527s and the dilemma of the outside groups that have been so instrumental in influencing elections in the last couple of years.

WALLACE: But the Democrats have spent — do you know the Democrats...

DASCHLE: But I think, Chris, it's really important to emphasize he didn't break his word on this. And there is that assertion on the part of the campaign and some in the media. That is not right.

What Barack has done is created a new system of public financing. What he's done is...

RIDGE: Chris, Chris, the record is very, very clear here.

DASCHLE: Tom, if I could just finish, and then I'll give you plenty of time, Tom.

RIDGE: The record is very clear...

DASCHLE: What I just wanted to say is that he's got 1.5 million contributors. The average contribution is $88 — three million contributions.

The whole idea behind public finance and this idea is to reduce the role of special interests and lobbyists. He's done exactly that.

WALLACE: Governor Ridge?

RIDGE: Well, first of all, I'm fascinated by the general approach that the senator takes and the Obama campaign takes.

They're willing to say one thing a year ago, two years ago, even a couple of months ago, and as circumstances change, immediately they go in another direction, whether it's I'm for NAFTA or I'm opposed to NAFTA, now I will reconsider my position, I was for — supported Reverend Wright and now I'm going to leave his church.

But the public financing one is the biggest and most intriguing one of all. 2006, he says very, very clearly, "I support public financing." 2007, he actually signs a pledge.

On a national news television broadcast, he says, "I will work with John McCain so we can have a public financing arrangement that serves us both very, very well." And then in June of '08, he decides to take his own path.

He's not only broken a fundamental reform of the political system, but he's also broken his word both rhetorical and...

WALLACE: Well, let me just jump into this to ask one question, Senator Daschle. I mean, there's this talk about the 527s. Did you know that the Democratic 527s so far in this cycle have outspent the Republican 527s by more than 2-1?

It's like $120 million to $60 million. So I don't know where all this talk about Republican 527s come from.

DASCHLE: Well, I didn't say Republican. But I said 527s.

WALLACE: Well, I know, but...

DASCHLE: But what Barack has actually said was that he believes that 527s ought to be discouraged, and he's encouraged 527s...

WALLACE: But they're independent. There's no way the candidates can control them.

DASCHLE: They can't control them, but they can be discouraged. And a couple of 527s who have supported Barack have actually closed down as a result of his requests.

But as long as that's a factor, what good does it do to limit yourself on one side and be totally outspent, as John Kerry was, on the other four years ago? That is the problem. That's what he tried to...

RIDGE: The fact of the matter is that he will not be totally outspent. He made a rhetorical pledge, and he's done that a lot. He's a great, great and brilliant speaker.

He signed a pledge. He said on national news broadcasts, "I will sit down with John McCain and we will work out an arrangement where public financing works for both of us," and suddenly — gone.

WALLACE: OK. Let me...

(CROSSTALK)

RIDGE: ... position on a fundamental reform within the political system. That goes to his credibility.

WALLACE: Gentlemen, we've got a couple of minutes left, and I want to go to one last area.

And in fact, you brought it up, Governor Ridge, and that's the issue of trade, where there's a big difference on NAFTA and other trade deals. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Demanding unilateral changes and threatening to abrogate an agreement that has increased trade and prosperity is nothing more than retreating behind protectionist walls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I believe in trade, and I think that, you know, under an Obama administration, we're going to have extraordinarily strong relations with Canada and Mexico.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALLACE: Governor Ridge, is McCain telling the workers in your state of Pennsylvania that NAFTA has been a good deal for him and that as president he will push more trade deals like that?

RIDGE: I think Senator McCain is saying that our economic prosperity depends and demands our engagement around the rest of the world, that we need to understand that it is a global marketplace, that we need to provide our workers, small businesses, large businesses, the opportunity to compete successfully, and that the best way to do that on the international stage is to promote aggressive free trade around the world.

At the end of the day, that will enable us to sustain our standard of living over the long term and create family sustaining jobs.

WALLACE: So he's saying to the workers in Pennsylvania, some of whom may have lost their jobs to Mexico, "NAFTA was a good deal and you'll see more..."

RIDGE: Listen. You know, well, John understands very, very clearly that in this brutally competitive international marketplace, that there may be some ill-effects that affect some communities and some workers.

And clearly, that's why, in addition to promoting free trade, he has a very aggressive approach to deal with those who may lose their employment during the course of this international economic engagement.

But make no mistake about it. You put up protectionist walls, you limit your ability to sell overseas. The long-term effect on jobs overall, not only in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania but around the country, is absolutely disastrous.

By the way, we've got a great facility here in Erie, Pennsylvania. General Electric builds our locomotives, the best in the world, and they sell them all over the world.

WALLACE: Enough of the commercial for Pennsylvania.

RIDGE: And they're glad they do.

WALLACE: Let me bring in Senator Daschle, and I apologize. We only have about a minute left. But hasn't Obama been all over the place on this issue?

DASCHLE: Not at all.

WALLACE: During the primaries, he was saying that he might opt out, that NAFTA had been a big mistake. Now he's saying, "Well, the rhetoric in the campaign got a little overheated, and I'm not going to do — take actions unilaterally."

DASCHLE: Well, basically — well, first of all, this is the best example I've seen this week, and it's only this week, that President Bush and John McCain are inseparable. This is the Bush-McCain economic policy at its worst, Chris.

What we're saying is simply this. We've got to enforce the trade agreements.

RIDGE: You know, Senator, you can keep trying that line all the way through this campaign.

DASCHLE: Tom, I gave you plenty of time.

RIDGE: But you know full well it's different.

DASCHLE: And I hope you'll give me a chance to respond.

First of all, I...

RIDGE: This morphing of Senator McCain into George Bush is wrong and...

WALLACE: Governor Ridge, Governor Ridge, first of all, we're running out of time. And we've got to give Senator Ridge the last period of time here.

Go ahead.

DASCHLE: Tom Daschle. But that's OK.

WALLACE: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

DASCHLE: That's all right. First of all, I think it's very important we enforce the agreements we have.

Secondly, John McCain doesn't get it when it comes to the importance of enforcing labor and environmental agreements and making sure that we insist on those.

And, third, it's critical that we put the kind of fairness into trade that we haven't had. There is nothing protectionist about that.

He wants to make sure that working people are cared for, are understood to be the important focus of trade in the future, and he'll do that as president.

WALLACE: Senator Daschle, Governor Ridge — and I got them both right this time — thank you both so much for coming in. Obviously, lots more to debate.

RIDGE: Thanks, Senator.

Thanks, Chris.

WALLACE: See you both again soon.

DASCHLE: My pleasure.

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