OTR Interviews

McCain Gives Straight Talk on Obama's Jobs Bill, Libya, Christie and the 'Fast and Furious' Scandal

Veteran Ariz. senator discusses 'Fast and Furious' scandal, his recent trip to Libya, Chris Christie and Obama's jobs bill's chances of passage


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 4, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: The unemployment rate still at 9.1 percent and Congress still can't agree to even vote on a jobs bill. Earlier tonight we asked Senator John McCain what it will take to get some jobs someplace in this country. We also asked him about his recent trip to Libya.


VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, nice to see you, sir.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Nice to see you.

VAN SUSTEREN: You are just back from Libya. Tell me, Americans, what are we getting out of it for us? I hate to be so selfish, but what are we getting out of it.

MCCAIN: We are getting out of it people who are able to determine their own future, out from under the heels of a cruel and merciless dictator who is responsible for the deaths of some 90 Americans.

And we also can get economic value with U.S. investments and trade with a country that is awash in oil money. There's some $130 billion in frozen assets around the world of Gadhafi's. And they are very appreciative of what we have done. They wish we would have done more. So do I, but the fact is they are appreciative.

And I should also mention what the problems are. They don't have a national army, it's full of militias with varying degrees of loyalty to the TNC. So they have to have a national army. The biggest thing the United States to could do right now is to help them with the wounded.

They have some 30,000 wounded, some of them maimed, some of them amputees, and if we could provide them with medical assistance. I would send a hospital ship to tell them. We have a hospital shim in Germany. We could send some there. They don't have the ability to treat the thousands of wounded and many more wounded are coming in as we speak because the fighting continues. Lindsay graham, Marco Rubio, and Mark Kirk and I went to the hospital. We saw these people, people who are amputees. The United States has the medical capability. And, by the way, they would reimburse us for those expenses.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where is Qaddafi, by the way? Does anyone know? And when we find him, what should happen to him?

MCCAIN: Well, there's been varying reports. I fear that one of the friendly African countries may take him. But I would like to see him in the International Criminal Court. He is guilty of war crimes, the bombing of pan am plane. The Libyans I think would like to try him in their own courts, but my personal preference would be in the international criminal courts.

VAN SUSTEREN: Didn't we take him off the terror lift, the state department's terrorist list a few years back?

MCCAIN: Well, the fact is he was cooperating on nuclear materials that he had. He did turn them over. There's no doubt that there was a period where the administration -- and from their perspective at the time I can see why they took the steps that they did. But one of the things we have to worry about is the literally thousands and thousands of these hand- held, shoulder-held, anti-air missiles that he had vast inventories of, some of which have gone missing. That's one of the many challenges that we face in Libya.

VAN SUSTEREN: One of the challenges here is jobs in the United States. How are we doing on the job front?

MCCAIN: Well, I notice that the majority leader announced that maybe he would be taking up the jobs bill. I will be interested in seeing that since there are a number of the Democrats who are very uneasy about it and may have difficulties voting for it. I think we Republicans need an alternative jobs bill so that we can show the American people that we have an alternative that will actually help the economy rather than raise their taxes, and more of the same that didn't work the last time we tried a $787 billion stimulus bill.

So I think that the Democrats may move something, but I would be -- I would be very interested to see the outcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where is the Republican bail? What is the Republican idea?

MCCAIN: I think we have a lot of good ideas, repeal Obama care, cut the corporate tax from 35 to 25. We now have the highest corporate tax in the world. And an issue that you are interested in, repatriation of money overseas, $1 trillion that we would like to see brought back and invested in jobs in the United States, which we could do.

A moratorium on federal regulations, a moratorium on federal hiring, a number of steps we could take, making tax steps permanent to continue to stimulate the economy, that coupled with spending cuts, in my view, is the recipe for getting our economy going and restoring the confidence of business, small and large, so that they will invest.

As you know, businesses are sitting on larger amounts of money than maybe anytime in our history, but they don't know when the next regulation is coming down to hit them. Business executives testify to this openly. They don't know when the next time their taxes are going to go up. So give them the confidence of a secure future of how they can invest and create jobs and we can get out of this mess we are in.

VAN SUSTEREN: An issue relating to your home state of Arizona, operation fast and furious. Congressman Mark Smith has written a letter to the president asking for a special prosecutor to investigate Attorney General Eric Holder. He testified before Congress that he apparently recently heard about the operation and they found some memos that show maybe he was notified much earlier than that. Do you support the calling after special prosecutor in this instance?

MCCAIN: I have been talking about it with Jon Kyl, my fellow senator, and Arizona members of Congress from Arizona, because Brian Terry, the border patrol agent was killed in Arizona. The majority of this activity took place in Arizona, Texas, as well, but a lot of it in Arizona. So we are talking about it, and we will reach a decision in the next day or two.

But frankly, Greta, I don't get what part of the congressman's question that Eric Holder didn't get when he said when did you first find out about this? And the attorney general of the United States said he didn't understand the question. That's -- that's very interesting.

VAN SUSTEREN: So a special prosecutor or not?

MCCAIN: We are leaning towards it, but I want to talk with the whole delegation and act as a unified delegation. We all represent the state of Arizona where a lot of this happened.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor Christie said today no means no. He said it a million times but he said it again today. Taking Governor Christie out of the race, any thoughts on the Republican field or how the race is progressing?

MCCAIN: Well, obviously I regret that he didn't come into the race. I think he would have been a strong candidate. I think that there is still a number of twists and turns before this thing is decided. The one thing I have learned is the media wants a race. I don't know who they will be, but they want a contest. Mitt Romney seems to be doing well and we could handicap all of the different candidates, but I'm confident that at the end of January or February or March, whenever it's decided, that we will have a strong candidate who can defeat President Obama.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you, sir.

MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on.