Exclusive: Sean Hannity Sits Down With John and Cindy McCain

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," October 28, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Earlier today Sean caught up with Senator McCain and Cindy McCain on the campaign trail in Hershey, Pennsylvania.


SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: All right. One week from today. Are you both ready for this to be over?

JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's the most exciting time. And by the way, thanks for braving a lot of bad weather to come to interview us here in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Thanks.

HANNITY: I wouldn't miss this opportunity. But look, the crowds are out here. You had a full house and obviously people are very excited.

J. MCCAIN: We're very excited.

HANNITY: But one week from today, do you think, all right, here it comes? Are you glad that day's finally here?

Video, Part 1: White House hopefuls discuss campaign morale and Obama's philosophy on wealth

Video, Part 2: John and Cindy McCain talk about downfall of raising taxes in a bad economy, media's treatment of Gov. Palin

Video, Part 3: John McCain criticizes Obama's approach to foreign policy

J. MCCAIN: It reminds me very much of the early primaries, New Hampshire, Florida and other places, where we were running behind and we sensed this momentum building. And that isn't just my impression. That's what our pollsters are showing and that's what even some of the pundits are saying.

Now, a lot of them have declared it over, as you know. But some of them are saying that.

HANNITY: Well, we'll get to that. There's actually a media study that shows that you have had extreme media bias and we'll get to that in a minute.

Mrs. McCain, you said, "He's always calm, I'm always a wreck." So, is it a little tougher on you in these final hours?

CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: I am. But you know, it's so fun because we've worked so hard and he particularly has just done such a marvelous job — to really see this get close and be, you know, a possibility of winning this whole thing. And just our whole family is so proud of him and just so proud of the job he's done.

J. MCCAIN: Well, Sean, I've campaigned in a lot of campaigns for various presidential candidates for a long time. The level of this excitement I have not seen matched.

Now, how that translates into votes and victory, I can't totally predict. What I can tell you is the excitement level like we just saw in Hershey, Pennsylvania — this place was rocking, not only for me, by the way, but Sarah Palin. She has ignited something really incredible in American politics, in my view.

HANNITY: Well, I've been on the road with her, even this past weekend. And she had huge crowds and a lot of enthusiasm, obviously.

Look, clearly there's been a tightening in the polls. Zogby's poll is tight. The Investors Business Daily is tight. AP is tight. The Battleground is tight. But it seems that the issue that has now tightened in the polls is obviously over the economy, which has been driving this campaign out for a while. And the issue of redistribution of wealth. It first came up with "Joe the Plumber" in an interview on "Good Morning America" and then, of course, this tape in 2001 that came out yesterday.

You've used the term "Senator Redistribution." Explain what you mean by that.

J. MCCAIN: Well, I mean, it's very obvious from a long record of being in the far left-hand lane of American politics. That's why he was — he has a clear record of being the most liberal senator in the United States Senate.

We've seen that act before. We saw it, with all due respect, with George McGovern, Jimmy Carter and others in the liberal left. They think that the solution to America's problems is to take money from one group of Americans and give it to another.

Now, that has been proven to be a very bad idea in America, but also in other countries. So it's an idea that you can somehow help everybody's lives by taking money from those who have through hard work, spending all their lives building up some wealth that they can give to their kids. But more importantly, create jobs.

When people in America, like "Joe the Plumber" are able to buy his boss' business, he creates jobs and shares wealth and expands wealth that way, rather than...

HANNITY: It's amazing...

J. MCCAIN: ... rather than saying, you can't have this money, I've got to give it to somebody else.

HANNITY: It is amazing how "Joe the Plumber" — you know, everywhere I go — and I saw a sign here today, "I'm Sally the Homemaker," I'm somebody the Bartender. And I hold up signs whenever I go, "I'm Sean the Loudmouth Talk Show Host."

J. MCCAIN: You know, it's amazing. This "Joe the Plumber" event has really been a catalyst. It really has.

You know we look back on political campaigns. "I paid for this microphone, Mr. Breen." Ed Muskie crying outside The Union Leader, or whatever it was. You know, there are moments when something happens and clearly Senator Obama going to "Joe the Plumber's" driveway and him getting an answer that clearly he didn't like. And by the way, the way that they attacked him? Please.

HANNITY: They've gone after him pretty hard, they've mocked him on the campaign trail. There's been apparently issues of investigating his background.

J. MCCAIN: Oh yes.

HANNITY: And I thought Governor Palin had it bad at one point when they sent a mini army up to Alaska to investigate her.

Well, here's...

J. MCCAIN: And, of course, if anybody in the media, much less "Joe the Plumber," asks a tough question, then they're boycotted, they pull their ads.

HANNITY: I want to get to that, because Senator Obama said it's a tragedy "... that redistribution of wealth was not pursued by the Supreme Court."

J. MCCAIN: That's what's scary. You know, a lot of people believe that there's going to be three vacancies on the United States Supreme Court. And some of the thoughts and writings and statements by Senator Obama about how it's the job of the judiciary to be "redistributed?"

But I think — fast forward after just a short time ago. Senator Obama opposed Justices Roberts and Alito. And he said on ideological grounds. And Sean, a true confession. I voted for Justices Breyer and Ginsburg. Not because I agreed with their philosophy, but because they were qualified to serve.

HANNITY: Even though you...

J. MCCAIN: Even though I had strong disagreements with their ideology. Now Senator Obama wanted to filibuster Roberts and Alito and oppose them because of their quote, "conservative views."

Look, are they qualified? Of course Roberts and Alito are. And so I think, frankly, this is really revealing to Americans who understand the importance of Supreme Court justices.

HANNITY: That's obviously a big issue in the campaign. There may be two, or as you point out, as many as three vacancies on the court.

Let me ask you a couple of simple questions about this redistribution of wealth of "Senator Redistribution."

Is it socialism?

J. MCCAIN: Certainly it's part of the socialist creed, philosophy, to share the wealth. Now if Senator Obama's a "socialist" is something that I'll let those theoreticians decide.

But the fact is that it's a far-left liberal view that you need to take money from one group of Americans and give it to another, to take people who have built up through their labor and their hard work and their dedication to the free enterprise system and take it away from them.

Now, of course we have an obligation to take care of citizens in our society who can't care for themselves. That's why we have those programs, those safety net programs. But you know, the safety net programs, a lot of Americans pay in to Social Security, they pay in to a number of those programs.

So the point is, yes, a society and government takes care of citizens who need our help. That's what America is all about. But nobody that I know of who framed our Constitution had any thoughts that we would take money from one group of Americans and give it to another.

HANNITY: Well, I want to examine this in a little bit more detail. And I have a lot of questions for you, Mrs. McCain, too, today.

But you know, 40 percent of Americans — for example, the bottom 50 percent of wage earners...

J. MCCAIN: Pay no taxes.

HANNITY: Well, 40 percent pay no taxes. The bottom 50 percent pay 2.9 percent. The top 10 percent pay 70 percent. Those are the IRS numbers, most recent numbers.

We almost have redistribution already. But under the Obama plan, as I understand it, the 40 percent that pay no taxes are going to get a check.

J. MCCAIN: Yes. Just get a check. Just — the government's going to give them some money.

HANNITY: Is that welfare?

J. MCCAIN: Where does the money come from? It comes from a printing press, but eventually it comes from...

HANNITY: From people.

J. MCCAIN: And future generations of Americans. We've already run up a $10 trillion debt.

Look, this is just remarkable. And remember, it was $250,000. Then quietly his campaign came out and said, well, now it's $200,000. Then somebody figured it out in The Wall Street Journal that it's $140-some thousand. Then we go back into history and Senator Obama has voted to raise taxes on individuals making $42,000.

HANNITY: That was last year.

J. MCCAIN: Yes. And then Barney Frank said we're going to find a lot of rich people out there to tax. Then he's going — they said they're going to cut defense and raise taxes.

What? We got a sneak preview.


HANNITY: And coming up more of my sit-down interview with John and Cindy McCain.

Now it seems that the senator is more than OK that he and Governor Palin do not always agree. In fact, he thinks it's a good thing. Find out why after the break.


HANNITY: And we continue now with more of my interview with presidential hopeful Senator John McCain and his wife, Cindy.


HANNITY: You quote yourself a "foot soldier" in the Reagan revolution.

J. MCCAIN: Yes, sir.

HANNITY: All right. When President Reagan took office, we had pretty tough economic times.

J. MCCAIN: Terrible.

HANNITY: The country had just lost 8 million new jobs, inflation was 12.5 percent. Interest rates, if you remember, were 21.5 percent. He dropped the top marginal rates.

J. MCCAIN: And by the way, I think unemployment was 10 percent.

HANNITY: It was double digits, yes.


HANNITY: He dropped the top marginal rate from 70 to 28 percent. Some liberals said that we'd have a depression.

In eight years, revenue to the government doubled, 20 million new jobs were created and it was described as the longest period of peacetime economic growth in history.

J. MCCAIN: Let me back up just a little bit for you.


J. MCCAIN: Jack Kennedy came to office and said cut the capital gains tax, they did and revenues increased. Now Senator Obama, talking to Charlie Gibson, Charlie Gibson said, why would you want to raise capital gains taxes? There's a 100 million people involved in that. And he said because of fairness, even though, as Charlie Gibson pointed out to him, revenues decrease. He still wants to quote be quote "fair."

That's redistribution of the wealth.

HANNITY: Well, explain, if you can, why is it that it would be a bad thing? Maybe you can explain to people that think, oh, well, wait a minute, maybe the rich aren't paying enough, and if I am going to benefit, why would that be bad for the economy?

J. MCCAIN: History shows us if we raise taxes in a bad economy, you hurt the economy. And there was a president named Herbert Hoover, a Republican. They raised taxes, they practiced protectionism and they went from a serious recession into a deep depression.

Now, that's a matter of history. The worst time to raise anybody's taxes on anything is when we are in an economic crisis.

Finally, when people accumulate wealth, like "Joe the Plumber," then they hire other people. And then other people are able to move up the economic ladder.

HANNITY: They pay taxes, buy homes.

J. MCCAIN: That's a fundamental principle of the free enterprise system that we celebrate every day in America. Thank God, 300,000 jobs have been created by small businesses, while we lost over 700,000.

HANNITY: Mrs. McCain, by the way, it's good to see you.

C. MCCAIN: Thank you.

HANNITY: You feel — and you were quoted as saying you feel you're going to win, you feel the enthusiasm. You've not been happy with some of the ads that have come out against your husband. You're pretty defensive of them.

Explain why.

C. MCCAIN: Well, you know, I think many of the ads have misrepresented my husband, misrepresented him in a personal way, too.

We have serious differences between these two candidates. And there's a very clear choice for the American people. And it's just important for us now to make sure that we get our message out and make sure that people understand what's the truth.

HANNITY: You know, when it comes to the war, for example, your son is fighting in Iraq. And Governor Palin's son is fighting in Iraq. We know your husband's record.

You know, you said — you've talked — he's lived every day of his life by this code of conduct: duty, honor, country. That is something that our opponent cannot say that he has done.

C. MCCAIN: Well, what I meant by that was my husband has lived, truly has lived his life by the code of conduct. He has always put his country first in every measure of everything he's ever done. That was not a criticism of Senator Obama by any stretch. It was just a matter of me talking about the truth and what I believe is the truth of my husband and his conduct and how he's led his life.

And that's also what he's instilled in our children. Not only our sons, but our entire family. You know, they're both good men that was no way meant...

HANNITY: You've been attacked even personally. The New York Times apparently is not big fans of the McCains. But, one story that I found the most compelling about you is the story of your adoption and you didn't tell Senator McCain until you came home.

Why don't you tell us that story. That's the pesonal side.

C. MCCAIN: Well, I was — at the time was working in Bangladesh with my medical team. And I was working — part of what we were doing was working Mother Teresa's orphanage. I stumbled upon these two little babies. And one of them had a severe cleft pallet and another one had a little heart condition. And Mother Teresa — her nuns are very persuasive. And they said, you know, you can get them out. And I was able to get them out. And really, literally, on board the aircraft home, I realized she had picked me. I couldn't give her up. But, I didn't have time to call my husband and tell him.

HANNITY: So, you get off the plane —

C. MCCAIN: I stepped off the plane in Phoenix and introduced him to his new daughter. That is a true story.

J. MCCAIN: Now, she's 17 and doing wonderful.

HANNITY: All right. Governor Palin — I'll ask you both this question. She had — the mini army went up to Alaska to try and dig up dirt on Governor Palin. Her family, her children have been attacked. More recently, her clothes. I think the media spent more time attacking her children and her clothes then they did investigating an issue I had been concerned about — the relationship with Bill Ayers.

What do you think of that?

C. MCCAIN: Oh, I think it's all nonsense. My gosh. We have very important issues facing the country and there's — this is the kind of stuff the media's focusing on? What about our troops? What about our economy? What about their vision for the country? That's what we should be talking about. I think the whole thing's nonsense.


HANNITY: I don't pay for my clothes. FOX does.

J. MCCAIN: Can I just mention one other thing? I know there's now this going around that there's differences between myself and Sarah Palin. We're very close. We are both mavericks. There are a couple of things we disagree on. In fact, you are on her side...

HANNITY: On energy independence, yeah.

J. MCCAIN: On one of them.

But look, do you expect two mavericks to not — to agree on every single thing? I am so proud of her. Listen, she and I share the same principles, the same values, the same vision for America, and I couldn't be more proud of her and the job she's done.


COLMES: Coming up, has the media been fair to the McCains? That next in Sean's sit-down with John and Cindy McCain.


COLMES: We now continue with Sean's interview, the conclusion of the interview with John and Cindy McCain.


HANNITY: Let me ask about the negativity, in terms of the media. There's a recent study that came out: 57 percent of print and broadcast were negative against you. When it comes to Senator Obama —

C. MCCAIN: Only 57 percent? I thought it was more than that.


HANNITY: Well, this was this study.

But, Senator Obama had more positive obviously, than was negative. I watched "The View." I saw Senator Obama on "The View." I saw Michelle Obama on "The View." And then I saw you guys on "The View."

What is — is that been the way it is?

J. MCCAIN: You play the hand you're dealt. Fact is, you rely on a good sense of the American people. As we pound into this last week. Americans are starting to focus. That's why it's swinging our way, Sean. You rely on them. And frankly, to complain about the media just wouldn't be —

HANNITY: I would have liked if "The View" asked a question of Michelle Obama, why did you say America is a downright mean country in 2008? I think that question would have been asked of you, considering how hard they were on you.


MCCAIN: It was quite an experience.


HANNITY: When Rosie was there so it was —

J. MCCAIN: Elisabeth Hasselbeck, you know, who was with Sarah —

HANNITY: I was with her. We interviewed her last night.

J. MCCAIN: Isn't she marvelous? She did a great job.

HANNITY: We're great friends.

J. MCCAIN: She's a lonely person.

HANNITY: She said it to me. I thought Alan was tough. She's got it really tough. Joy recently called me dangerous. So, you know, I get a little heat too.

I'd be negligent if I wouldn't talk about Senator Biden's comments. That Senator Obama would be tested in the first six months. That there will be, mark my words, an international crisis.

Now, there's been a lot of issues involving national security. I don't know if you heard this but, French President Sarkozy, today, used the term talking about Senator Obama's plan on Iran, basically naive and utterly immature, was the phrase he used. That's meeting with rogue dictators, Iran is a tiny country not a serious threat.

Putting all that together, should America be concerned about his ability to be commander-in-chief?

J. MCCAIN: I think they should be concerned and I think they'll make a decision. But the point is that he has been wrong and he was wrong about the surge. He still won't admit that he's wrong. And he's wrong about — when he said that Iran is a tiny threat. He was wrong when he said that Georgia should exercise restraint.

The point is that Senator Obama has no experience and no background to make the judgments. And I wish that every American could hear the tape of what — the way that Senator Biden said that, he said, mark my words —

HANNITY: I have played that —

J. MCCAIN: — there will be an international crisis. Sean, because he's untested and he will have to be tested. The one thing about these people that we are up against — I've been tested and they know it.

HANNITY: Does that telegraph to the world — I mean, during the debates the issues that he voted to cut off funding for the troops during the war. That he —

J. MCCAIN: After pledging that he wouldn't.

HANNITY: He accused the troops of air-raiding villages and killing civilians. He said he'd pull out — I'll end this war in 2009. He's since adjusted that.

What does that mean? Does that mean we'd lose the war?

J. MCCAIN: Well, when Harry Reid announced that he agreed with him, and there is no doubt that if we had done what Senator Obama wanted to do, we would have come home — our troops would have come home, there would have been more sectarian violence, an Al Qaeda beachhead, greater Iranian influence in the region and we probably would have had to gone back with further sacrifice.

But, I think the other point here is that Senator Obama just — I mean — when I hear him say some of these things, for example, about Colombia — the reason why he was against the free trade agreement with our best friend in the whole hemisphere is because that labor leaders are being killed? That's an old saw that the union leaders drug out years ago. There has been dramatic improvement in Colombia. Colombia is helping us fight — the president of Colombia rescued three Americans who were being held captive by the FARC that are working with the people he would sit down with, Hugo Chavez. But — so it's just — he does not have the experience to make the right judgments.

HANNITY: Last question — Senator Obama seems to be preparing his victory speech. He's saying the righteous wind is at our back, $2 million party in Grant Park. We've got all the ACORN controversy. Do you think he's coasting to victory? Is he picking out the drapes a little early?

J. MCCAIN: I think that more than one candidate has read the polls at this time and not the trends and I guarantee you one thing — we'll be up late on election night and I guarantee you that rallies like these that are going on in the next seven days, we're going to win this election.

HANNITY: Are you worried about the ACORN controversy, voter fraud?

J. MCCAIN: Sure I am. Sure I'm worried about these controversies and I'm particularly worried in Ohio.

HANNITY: You're worried, worried more than him?

C. MCCAIN: I always worry. That's my job.

But if I could say something, if I may. I mentioned when I introduced my husband that he took some serious votes and some serious stands. When our son was serving over there, I was just like every other mother: I was worried for my son. But I have never been prouder of my husband than when he took those difficult stands with our son there and I supported him wholeheartedly. It was just really — it was an unusual feeling for me because I was torn in both directions and I'm so proud of what he did.

HANNITY: The surge strategy was proven right.

C. MCCAIN: It worked. The surge worked.

HANNITY: I just disagreed with you on McCain-Feingold.


J. MCCAIN: I know.


HANNITY: We've had a lot of arguments over the years.


HANNITY: And McCain-Kennedy.

J. MCCAIN: When I'm in the White House, you're coming in there, we're going to continue that debate. We'll even let your —

HANNITY: I'm a maverick too.


J. MCCAIN: We'll even let your teammate in with you, old Alan Colmes. Tell Alan —

HANNITY: He gets to come in too?

J. MCCAIN: Absolutely.

HANNITY: Senator, good to see you. Best of luck next week,

J. MCCAIN: Thank you.


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