Transcript: Cost of War

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," March 16, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: We're just getting word now that President Bush has chosen Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne as his new interior secretary to replace Gale Norton, who recently announced that she would be leaving.

We got reaction right now from Treasury Secretary John Snow, among other things we want to talk about.

What do you think?

JOHN SNOW, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I know Governor Kempthorne. I knew him when he Senator Kempthorne.

CAVUTO: That's right. Right.

SNOW: And he gave up the Senate, a rare thing, gave up the Senate seat and went back and ran for governor.

CAVUTO: That has gotten to be a thing. Corzine did it in New Jersey and all, right?

SNOW: Yes. What is it about Washington that the people want to be back home?

CAVUTO: You want to be a power broker. You want to be a power broker.

SNOW: They want to be back home, be an executive.

No, he's a terrific choice.

CAVUTO: I was thinking of you, Secretary, in light of these changes, because the talk was, you know, that they were grinding you. You're all over the world. I always wish I had your frequent flier miles.


CAVUTO: Do you ever get tired of it, say, you know, I would like to hang up my hat, too?

SNOW: Well, you know, it's a great thrill to be here and be doing this, and representing our president, the chance to do things...

CAVUTO: Isn't Washington as divided as ever? They're stopping you at every track.

SNOW: Well, there's adversity in everything you do. But it's a real satisfaction to represent, you know, this president at this time in history. It's just a historic time.

CAVUTO: So, this talk that you were getting just tired of this nonsense, just talk?

SNOW: I didn't hear that.


CAVUTO: You're a gentleman. Let's talk a little bit about today and this military campaign [Operation Swarmer], supposedly the largest since "shock and awe."

For a lot of folks, it justified the expense of the military, that maybe we're making progress, that maybe the Iraqi military is making progress. But people are still going to come back to you, Secretary, and say, too much money on defense; we have got to slow it down.

SNOW: Well, we have to get our priorities straight. And we can afford our priorities.

Winning the war against terror has to be the number-one priority for the country. If we don't win the war on terror, then everything else becomes secondary, you know.

So, we're going to spend what it takes to win the War on Terror. The American people are behind the president on that. And we're not going to let up.

CAVUTO: But they're not as behind him as they were. Does it trouble you that some of them have even said, a bit prematurely, perhaps, that he's a lame-ducker now?

SNOW: Well, he's not.


SNOW: You know, he's a tower of strength, is what he is. He's somebody who doesn't give up.

CAVUTO: Does he care about all the bad polls and the 30-something approval rating?

SNOW: The president is, as I say, he's an absolute tower of strength. He knows what needs to be done, and he's not deflected. He just goes after it. He stays on it. And he stays resolute. He's the right leader for these times. There's no doubt about that.

CAVUTO: Does he just sense the polls are downplaying him, that he's doing better than the polls suggest? Is that what you think? What?

SNOW: I think the president trusts that, in their hearts, the American people know that the war on terror is the most important business we have to deal with today, and that success on the war on terror is no option. We have to win. And Iraq has become the center ground of that. So, we have to prevail there.

I think the president is absolutely resolute and confident that that's where the American people are, and that's what's right.

CAVUTO: He has indicated that he is concerned we're becoming a bit isolationist, especially nixing the Dubai port deal on this move in the House — through legislation to punish companies or countries that are friendly to Iran.

What is going on?

SNOW: Well, the Dubai ports deal was unfortunate, really.

The president took a really principled stand there. And the process, that so-called CFIUS [Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States], where we review foreign investments it worked on the substance well. It avoided any risk to national security, in connection with approving that transaction. What we didn't do well and we need to take responsibility for it — communicate with Congress, communicate with the American people. Now we are engaged with the Congress.

CAVUTO: But are you less of the isolationist than the administration had been, do you think, real quick?

SNOW: Well, no. This administration is opposed to isolationism. And we can't afford to go there. That's the wrong path to be on.

CAVUTO: All right, Treasury Secretary, always good seeing you. Thank you.

SNOW: Hey, thank you, Neil.

CAVUTO: John Snow.

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