This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 29, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: Arizona says to the feds, If you don't do it, we will! And what does their senior U.S. Senator John McCain think about that?
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R- ARIZ.: Thank you, Greta. Thanks for having me on again.
VAN SUSTEREN: There are many people -- not so many, I guess, in Arizona, but certainly outside the state of Arizona giving Arizona an awful lot of heat over this statute that's been passed and that Governor Brewer has signed into law. What's your thought about the federal government and the state government in this battle over immigration?
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, the governor and the legislature acted out of sheer frustration that the federal government is not carrying out its constitutional responsibilities to secure our border. Our border is unsecure. I'd like to give you two numbers to indicate that. In just the Tucson sector last year, 241,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended. We figure they catch about one out of four, one out of five. That means over that a million people crossed our border illegally last year. Can you imagine what that does to the people that live in southern Arizona?
The second number I'd like to give you is 1.7 million pounds of marijuana were interdicted in the -- in the -- across the Arizona border last year, 1.7 million pounds. The drug cartels are in an existential struggle with the government of Mexico. The violence on the border is skyrocketing, 22,000 people in Mexico have been killed in the drug wars. And our border is not secure.
So my answer is that this law I probably would have written a little differently. But it does clearly state that you have to have reasonable cause to stop someone. So what's being portrayed out there is that you can just willy-nilly stop someone is not accurate. You have to have reasonable cause.
Let me put it in layman's terms, if I could. We have a seatbelt law that if you stop someone for speeding, say, or reckless driving and that person doesn't have a seatbelt on, then you can give them a citation. But you can't stop them just for not having the seatbelt fastened. See my point? That's what this is like.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, I'm sure this will get sorted out in courts and people will be -- and some judge will decide whether it's constitutional or not. But the thing that strikes me is that, you know, we've been playing these sound bites at night going back many national leaders. President Reagan said we've got to secure the borders. We've shown sound bites. President Obama said that he was going to take care of the problem. Everybody on the national level said that he or she's going to take care of problem, but it's not done.
What is your -- meaning the federal government's -- problem? I mean, what don't you get about it? You tell us, but you don't do anything!
MCCAIN: Well, they haven't devoted the assets or the personnel to the issue. Jon Kyl and I have a 10-point plan, including sending 3,000 National Guard to the border right away, recruiting 3,000 additional border patrol, getting the surveillance capabilities, including UAVs and other capabilities in place.
Greta, there are two sectors in Arizona, Yuma and Tucson. They have taken steps in Tucson -- in Yuma which has dramatically reduced the flow of illegal immigrants across our border that they haven't in Tucson. That's a good comparison there. San Diego, they have reduced crime by a dramatic amount by having a triple fence over there.
We can secure our borders. Other countries have secured their borders. And most importantly, it's an obligation for us to have our borders secure.
VAN SUSTEREN: But why won't you? I mean, Governor -- then Governor Napolitano said, you know, she wanted the -- you know, she's made statements about security in the borders. Then she becomes a federal person. She becomes head of Homeland Security, and suddenly, the enthusiasm seems to dissipate a little bit. And I don't know if it's because it's the impossible problem or what it is, but it's a -- I mean, something -- there's a real disconnect between this real problem -- everyone agrees we need to secure the border -- and getting it done.
MCCAIN: Yes, then Governor Napolitano called for the Guard to be on the border.
VAN SUSTEREN: When she was governor.
MCCAIN: When she was governor of the state of Arizona. Now, obviously, they have not given any decision. It was over a year ago that Jon Kyl and I called for the Guard to be on the border because we saw this violence going up dramatically on the other side of the border, knowing full well that it was going to spill over. And it is going to spill over. Do not underestimate the sophistication, the barbarity and the capability of the drug cartels and the human smugglers who basically coordinate with each other as they take people up through these corridors.
A couple of weeks ago, we busted an organization that took people from Nogales, Mexico, to Nogales, Arizona, to Tucson, then in vans to Phoenix, and then distributed them all over the country. Some of those people came from as far away as China.
This is a sophisticated effort. They take people and they put them in these drop houses, subject them to cruelty, make their families pay ransom before they let them go. They are the cruelest, most barbaric people. And this cry for human rights -- we want human rights for these people not to be exploited and subjected to the cruelty of these coyotes, who are terrible people. Just last week -- I think it was last week -- 67 people were crammed into a U-Haul rental vehicle, a panel truck, 67 people. I mean, it's unspeakable some of the things that are being done.
VAN SUSTEREN: In The New York Times this morning, I read that there were three people murdered in front of school kids in Mexico on Wednesday. Seven other people were taken out of a bar, some of them boys, and executed. I mean, the level of violence just across our border -- are we doing enough to help Mexico? And how in the world did Mexico get so wildly out of control that it seems that -- they've called in their military.
MCCAIN: Yes, and their military has become their only effective instrument. There's so much corruption, unfortunately, amongst their border patrol and police and others. The Mexican government is doing everything that it can. Calderon is a good man, the president of Mexico. We are coordinating with them. We're spending over a billion dollars in trying to help them with technology and others.
But I have to tell you, this is an existential threat for the existence of the Mexican government, and there are areas where the drug cartels have taken over at least temporarily. We need to help them in that fight. If they lose that fight, you can imagine the consequences to the United States of America. And by the way, the drug business, I understand, as -- is -- some estimates is $65 billion a year.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama, when there was a discussion the other day about your state's new state statute, referred to it as misguided. How do you get his attention on this? Because, you know, there's just no question that -- you know, that there's a horrible amount of violence and it's going to get -- I think it's going to get worse because it's not getting any prettier in Mexico. How do you -- how do you get President Obama's attention on this?
MCCAIN: Well, I hope he might take the opportunity to come down to our border and meet the people whose property is being routinely violated and our wildlife refuges that are being destroyed because of the movement of these people across our borders. I wish that he would listen to his own border patrol, who will tell you that there is more than they can handle down there.
The president never had a lot to do with these issues while he was a state senator or the short time he was a United States senator. I hope he will educate himself. And for him to say this law was misguided -- then I would also urge him to read the law because the law does not, in my view, violate people's rights, nor does it have anything to do with racial profiling. It has to do with probable cause.
And again, I am confident of one thing the president should know. The legislature and the governor of Arizona would never have acted if it had not been for the fact that we have an out-of-control border and it's a threat to the safety and security of our citizens.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about the Hispanic community? They -- you know, they are -- they're terrified that this is going to be racial profiling, and there does -- I mean, that's an element -- is that -- is there -- is that a political element to it (INAUDIBLE) I mean, are people here in Washington worried about getting votes from the Hispanic community?
MCCAIN: I've talked to many in the Hispanic community who are deeply concerned and upset about what is being done to these people who are being transported across the border, the mistreatment, the cruelty, the brutality that's being inflicted on them. And I've talked to many Hispanics who know that we have to secure our border.
So our job, in my view -- my job -- is to convince our Hispanic citizens that we are doing this to try to protect the lives of Hispanic citizens. And also, as patriotic citizens, they should know, as well, the importance of a secure border.
VAN SUSTEREN: It seems to me that the -- that the -- that it's a human rights issue. We don't want people to be abused and tortured and beaten. It's a criminal element because we're -- the crime is going to be exported to the United States. Much of it has. And of course, the drug aspect -- you've already given the statistics. And there may be an economic cost, you know, and so I -- it seems to me that it's just crying out for attention. And it's hard for me to sort of understand, you know, why so slow.
MCCAIN: I don't know why the president and the administration have not done enough. I have to say, in all candor, in the early years, the Bush administration didn't do enough.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, President Reagan asked for it, too. I mean, we can go way -- I mean, everybody has dropped the ball on this.
MCCAIN: Yes. And -- but then I also would like to say, in the last couple of years of the Bush administration, there were significant -- there was significant progress made. Look, we've learned lessons in Iraq, as far as being able to set up barricades and barriers, surveillance capabilities with UAVs and other capabilities. We can do it. We can secure our border.
Then, after the border is secure, then we need to look at a temporary legal guest worker program and a pass to citizenship and all that. But first, the border has to be secured.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, we have much more with Senator McCain just minutes away in this hour. We ask him about his very good friend, Florida governor Charlie Crist, who just did something unthinkable in politics. We're going to tell you what he did, and Senator McCain will tell you whether they are still friends tonight.
VAN SUSTEREN: And now we continue with Senator John McCain.
VAN SUSTEREN: Your party has lost one. In fact, one of your biggest supporters, Governor Crist is going rogue on you, going independent. He was your big supporter in Florida. What do you think about that?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I regret it. Charlie and I are good friends and will remain good friends. Obviously I will be supporting Marco Rubio. He will be the Republican candidate. I wish Charlie well. He's a fine person and a good friend. But I'm a Republican and I support Republican candidates.
VAN SUSTEREN: Have you spoken to him at all in the last week or two?
MCCAIN: No, I did not.
VAN SUSTEREN: How come? He's a friend of yours and obviously this is a huge issue. I think it is significant to have a defector, in essence, because he's running for his political life.
MCCAIN: Actually I knew -- Charlie has my number and I knew that if he wanted to talk to me, I would be glad to talk to him. I know was a tough decision for him.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does he gain out of this, going independent?
MCCAIN: I don't know what he's thinking. But it was pretty clear once he vetoed that bill that was supported by the Republican legislature he was looking at that option.
VAN SUSTEREN: And there's the picture that has been running against him hugging President Obama. I assume that didn't help him with many in the party in Florida.
MCCAIN: I am told that was not helpful.
VAN SUSTEREN: A year ago Senator Specter switched too. What is going on? Your party, it seems like people are looking for a couple of doors.
MCCAIN: I say with great respect to Senator Specter, who had been a Democrat before. But in Charlie Crist's case I think that from a purely pragmatic standpoint I think he was aware he could not win the Republican nomination for the United States Senate.
VAN SUSTEREN: Can he win as an independent, do you think?
MCCAIN: No, I don't know. I don't think so. My friend Joe Lieberman, as you know, has been able to win as an independent. But I don't know enough about the dynamics of Florida politics. After all, I lost Florida in the presidential campaign.
VAN SUSTEREN: Should he give back the money from some of the big Republicans who supported him?
MCCAIN: I think that Charlie should because he took the money as the probable Republican candidate. I think he probably should.
VAN SUSTEREN: Health care, how are we doing on the health care bill?
MCCAIN: We find out more and more all the time about what is in this 2,733 monstrosity. We find out that there's huge increases in taxes. We find out that certain people under certain conditions in states will not be eligible for "Obamacare."
And we are finding out that there is significant impact on businesses that make medical devices and other people that didn't have the money to lobby here. And we also find that more and more Americans are opposed to this bill the more they find out about.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of the states that have challenged it? In fact, your state is in this lawsuit as well down in Florida (ph).
MCCAIN: I think they have a point. I understand the commerce clause of the constitution, but I also understand that, at least it is my view of the constitution that under this bill you have to buy a product. The ingredients of the product are prescribed by the federal government. And if you don't buy that product you are going to be fined. I don't find that anywhere in the constitution.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you make of the federal regulatory reform bill?
MCCAIN: I hope we can move together. I'm concerned about some of the aspects of it, the consumer protection. We always give them good names like that, which may be a very independent and very powerful bureaucracy.
I worry about there's no addressing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They were two of the catalysts of this whole collapse, yet there's nothing in this bill that is addressing of it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why not?
MCCAIN: I think they think it is too hard. But I assure you I'll have an amendment and we'll have a vigorous discussion.
VAN SUSTEREN: You mentioned the consumer protection agency that they're designing within the Federal Reserve. I'm having a hard time understanding why we need it.
I'm all in favor of protecting the consumer. But we have the SEC which is supposed to watch the markets for us and protect us. We have the federal trade commission.
It seems within the federal government there must be some place where people have the authority and probably dropped the ball. And if they don't have the authority maybe we can we can extend it instead of creating more bureaucracy. It seems that would be a more efficient way to do it.
MCCAIN: In all due respect to my Democrat friends, usually their answer to a problem is to build more government. This is what this agency is all about. And so another agency of government along with the other alphabet soup of agencies seems to be their answer.
There's one other aspect of this bill. I don't think bill addresses what our goal is, that no institution in America should ever be too big to fail.
I think we should reinstate, basically, Glass-Steagall, which means basically that if you are in business of home loans and doing the normal traditional banking business, we'll back you with the taxpayers' dollars in the form of FDIC.
But if you are in the investment business as described by Mr. Blankfein yesterday where basically they set up a casino where you bet for or against certain events, we should have nothing to do with that. We should make sure the taxpayers never have any involvement whatsoever.
If they want to go to Vegas and put it all on red, fine. But the taxpayers shouldn't have any backing of it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.
MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on.
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