This is a rush transcript from "America's News HQ," January 13, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
BILL HEMMER, HOST: The other big story is from earlier today, was the sight on Capitol Hill, the Secretary of State-nominee Hillary Clinton and her confirmation hearing. One issue that came up is the balance between diplomacy and defense.
My next guest spent some time today during that hearing, doing the questioning and he's with me now — specifically, Bob Casey.
Senator, good evening to you. Thank you for your time.
SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Hi, Bill. How are you?
HEMMER: I'm doing just fine.
CASEY: Thank you.
HEMMER: I just want to touch on this Geithner issue. Is this a big deal?
CASEY: Well, that remains to be seen. He'll go before the finance committee and he'll answer those questions. But I don't know — don't know anything more than the flashes on television. We'll see what happens.
HEMMER: Does it come as a surprise to you?
CASEY: I think he's a very strong — I'm just saying I think he's a very story candidate for the position, but I'm sure it will come up in the questioning.
HEMMER: Knowing what he is nominated for here, and that's Department of Treasury, does it come as a surprise to you today?
CASEY: Well, Bill, nothing surprises me in Washington. There's always going to be developments when you have nominees for these positions, and I'm sure he is prepared to answer those questions.
HEMMER: All right. We shall see on that next week. And we are waiting on a statement, too, so we will get that to our viewers, and will pass it along to you at home.
Senator, let's talk about Hillary Clinton. Is U.S. policy regarding Cuba about to change?
CASEY: Well, I don't know. That remains to be seen. We have an administration that's coming into office. They are still days away from that. We will wait and see in terms of any official word.
But I think that kind of a question bears a lot of scrutiny. I think we have to move on a question like that very deliberately, because it's been — it's been a difficult chapter the last 50 years. And I'd want to be, in terms of my opinion on it, I just want to be very careful about any kind of shift in position from where we've been.
HEMMER: You sound a bit hesitant, almost as if you need more information?
CASEY: Well, — oh, I think so. I think I'd want to take a close look at that before making a determination. Now, I'm speaking for myself here. The administration has to make their own decisions.
But we'll see. And I'm sure if it — if it's presented when they're in office, it may be an issue that comes before our committee.
HEMMER: What about...
CASEY: But today's hearing went well.
HEMMER: I apologize for interrupting you there (ph). What about the Bill Clinton issue today? Were you satisfied with that in the hearing today?
CASEY: I was. I think it was important that it was explored and it was.
But this — I think there are three, at least three points about this memorandum of understanding between Senator Clinton as well as her husband, the former president, and the new administration. And it's this — they're disclosing information that's never been disclosed before. It's voluntary. They don't have to do it. There is no legal requirement.
I think it's pretty thorough, there will be annual disclosures of contributors — and there will be plenty of review. There will be a career person in the Department of State who will have responsibility to track this as well as others in the administration. So, I think there's a lot of disclosure and I think it's an open book on that relationship. It's a unique situation.
HEMMER: Boy, that it is.
CASEY: But I thought she — I thought she did very well today on a couple of things. One is on the management and the mechanics of running a big department, and the other, of course, was on the policy issues that I and others raised: nuclear terrorism, the challenge in the Middle East, Pakistan, Afghanistan — a whole range of tough questions.
HEMMER: You know, Senator, looking in from the outside, on the whole Bill Clinton matter — some of us thought that this would be a bigger issue than it appeared to be today. Did the senators go easy on her when it came to that?
CASEY: No. I think there — I think there were questions about it, and, of course, there were questions what sometimes lost from the hearing, and I had to be reminded myself today, is a whole series of questions that have been answered already prior to the hearing on the record. So, that becomes part of the record, and that can be examined, but I think it's been pretty well-vetted.
And if there has ever been a nominee that's been scrutinized to a degree that I think very few in history have been, it's Hillary Clinton. And if anything, what today demonstrated and what my meetings with her demonstrated is, she's ready, and she is enthused about taking on this challenge.
CASEY: And I think she is answering the call — answering the call from her country once again on a tough assignment.
HEMMER: Senator, thank you for your time. We'll speak again, all right? Bob Casey, Democrat out of Pennsylvania, from Capitol Hill.
CASEY: Bill, thank you.
HEMMER: You got it.
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