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McCain Responds to Testy Exchange With Obama

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 25, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Today's health care summit remained civilized — well, for the most part. But the president came out swinging against his 2008 GOP rival, Arizona Senator John McCain.

Now take a look at this testy exchange that occurred between the two of them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Let me just make this point, John. Because we're not campaigning anymore. The election is over.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I'm reminded of that every day.

OBAMA: My concern is, is that if we do that, then we're essentially back on Fox News or MSNBC on the split screen to start going back and forth.

MCCAIN: Could I just say, Mr. President, the American people care about what we did and how we did it.

(CROSSTALK)

MCCAIN: And that's a subject that I think we should discuss. And I thank you.

OBAMA: They absolutely do care about it, John. And I think that the way you characterized it obviously would get some strong objections from the other side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: And joining me now with reaction to that and with his take on how things went down at the meeting today is the man, Senator John McCain.

• Watch Sean's interview

Senator, welcome back.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Sean.

HANNITY: All right. We didn't show the lead-up to that because I want to ask you. You brought up the cornhusker kickback. You brought up the Louisiana Purchase. You brought up that it wasn't on C-SPAN.

You dealt with a lot of process. He never fully addressed your issues. What was your impression of his reaction?

MCCAIN: Well, my impression is, and I think it's a correct one, that he's very, very uncomfortable. He really didn't try to respond to the unsavory sausage making that went on in developing this health care reform bill.

And not only was it buying votes here — you know many things. You know $100 million for a hospital in Connecticut. What's that all about? The — probably one of the most egregious is excluding — I think we call it Gatorade or the Florida flim-flam, they are excluding 400,000 people because of where they live in Florida from any cuts in Medicare advantage.

And they are announcing they're cutting Medicare advantage. There's 330,000 people — Medicare recipients in my home state of Arizona who don't want their Medicare advantage cut.

So — and there's a long list of it. And then of course there's the sweetheart deals for the pharmaceutical companies and the hospital association and the American Medical Association. Probably the worst is the pharmaceutical deal, what we can get into.

But — so I think that the president was uncomfortable because he knows it was wrong. It's not the way that he promised he would do and that was, we'd change the climate in Washington.

HANNITY: He accused you and he accused John Boehner — I think Eric Cantor was another one — of using talking points. That's what he said. When you brought up legitimate questions about bribing senators for votes, about states getting advantages — if the bill were so good I don't think they need to do this, but he accused you of talking points.

He's reminded you that he won in the election which I thought was a bit of a cheap shot. He interrupted you by my count three, four, five times when were you speaking here. And he seemed impatient with you.

Did you feel that being in the room with him?

MCCAIN: I felt that he wanted to get off the subject as quickly as possible.

(LAUGHTER)

MCCAIN: Because it's not defensible, Sean. And in Arizona I've been having town hall meetings for the last year all over my state, ever since, as he reminded me I lost, and people are as angry about the process as they are about the product.

I mean they are outrage that just because of the influence of an individual or a vote that needs to be bought, that there should be these kinds of backroom deals going on, which, again, the American people were promised that we weren't going to do that anymore.

I mentioned — the president probably wasn't happy to hear it — that eight times during the campaign he said — on health care reform, he said, I'm going to have the C-SPAN cameras in the room so the American people would know, yada, yada, yada.

HANNITY: Well, it was that and Lamar Alexander, as I mentioned earlier when he just had your running mate on. Lamar Alexander brought up a lot of good points in the course of all of this, not the least of which is the issue of reconciliation.

Now he read the quotes that Harry Reid and then Senator Obama had used on the issue of reconciliation. And he wouldn't answer directly if he'll take that off the table. They were saying it's unconstitutional, it's arrogant. Now is it acceptable?

What do you think the consequences are if they use that process?

MCCAIN: Well, as you know, I later on in conversation, I brought that up again. Because I had, back some years ago when we Republicans were in the majority, resisted the so-called nuclear option, which was — that would only require 51 votes to confirm judges, which I felt would have been on the path to destroying the 60-vote procedure in the Senate.

And so I brought it up. And basically, his answer was, well, the people want a vote. That was really the most disturbing part of this meeting today. That even Robert Byrd had said, this would be outrageous.

Reconciliation — that's the word, the meaning of it is reconcile small differences between House and Senate on budgetary matters. Never was it envisioned to affect 1/6 of our Gross National Product and that's clearly the path that he signaled that we are on.

HANNITY: Yes.

MCCAIN: It would be an outrage to the American people.

HANNITY: You know, during the campaign, one of the things Barack Obama was, I guess, best known for, is he's a great orator. He moved crowds, people would faint. You watched all of this as you were going through the campaign.

I find it very interesting because he's given so many speeches, so many town halls, so many pitches for health care. It seems every time he speaks on the topic, he loses ground. Not to use the term reconcile, how do you reconcile those two?

MCCAIN: I think the American people are figuring it out. I think the American people are always smarter than a lot of people give them credit for.

They know what this is about. They know that it's a budgetary gimmick that's going to end up costing two-and-a-half trillion dollars. They know that the states can't afford Medicaid expansion like this. They're very smart, and they're very resistant to the government intervening in this massive fashion in their health care and getting between them and their physician.

HANNITY: All right, Senator, always good to see you. Thank you for being with us.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Sean.

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