Sen. McCain: Gingrich watching the sun set on his campaign

Arizona senator on Florida primary, Mitt Romney


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," January 30, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST OF “YOUR WORLD”: Well, Newt Gingrich pointing to the past to make his case for why he deserves the GOP nomination now.


NEWT GINGRICH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We tried a moderate in 1996. And he couldn’t debate Bill Clinton effectively, and he lost. We tried a moderate in 2008. He couldn’t debate Barack Obama effectively, and we lost.

I think, we nominate a moderate this year, the gap between Romneycare and Obamacare is about that big. I think it will be very hard to Romney to defend himself.


CAVUTO: All right, the guy just mentioned in that sound bite, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who opposed Barack Obama back in 2008, you might recall.

Senator, I think he threw you under the bus.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Nothing surprises me, Neil.

It’s a -- it’s a tough business. And as he watches the sun set on his chances for -- to get the nomination, then people have a tendency to lash out. Some of them do, anyway. It goes with the territory.

CAVUTO: Yes, but it sounds almost -- well, beyond mean, because he as you says -- talking about the backing that Mitt Romney has gotten, and referring to you and of course Bob Dole as the guys who lost, that they probably are not the guys Romney should have trotted out.

What do you make of that?

MCCAIN: Well, for a moment -- I don’t -- I’m really not too concerned about what they say about me.

But Bob Dole is a man who left parts of his body in the killing fields of Northern Italy in World War II. Anyone -- any United States senator, no matter whether they were Republican, was liberal or moderate or conservative, will tell you his leadership of us in the United States Senate was the best that we have ever had.

He is a wonderful ask decent American. And to start trashing Bob Dole is not appropriate. In fact, Bob Dole’s -- it wasn’t Bob Dole’s debating skills that harmed him in his attempt to defeat Bill Clinton. It was because Newt Gingrich, in his wisdom, has decided we needed to shut down the government in 1995, and that really did severe damage to Bob Dole’s chances, because Bill Clinton was -- emerged incredibly victorious in that fight.

But, look, Mitt Romney is doing a great job. His credentials are that he saved the Olympics in Salt Lake City. He has been a governor. He’s been in the free enterprise system. He has the credentials to be the next nominee and the next president of the United States. And I’m not surprised that he is picking up momentum.

As you know, I was down in Florida campaigning with him. And we had a lot of fun. And I think he is going to do extremely well.

CAVUTO: Well, I, for one, loved the Zsa Zsa Gabor line, by the way.


CAVUTO: But I would probably be one of the few in the audience who would have gotten that.


CAVUTO: But could I get your...

MCCAIN: It worked better at Sun Lakes and at The Villages.


CAVUTO: I hear you.

But, Senator is there something to what the former speaker says about Republicans going more moderate? Now, I don’t think that’s a fair general description of you.

MCCAIN: Well, you know, I’m intrigued...

CAVUTO: But I do think we wrap ourselves around these labels. And what he’s saying is, when Republicans go moderate, they go down. What do you say?

MCCAIN: But, you know, when he’s -- first of all, Mitt Romney is the nominee.

But when he says I’m -- quote -- "moderate," I am astounded. I was on the floor of the Senate railing against this K Street project, a flood of earmarks, which was corruption, which was pervading the Congress and a betrayal of the things we had promised the American people when they gave us a majority. It bred corruption.

That’s why Bob Ney Duke Cunningham is in jail. That’s why Bob Ney is in jail. That’s why we had Mr. Abramoff. And it was a calculated plan by Newt Gingrich and his friends to try to help freshman congressmen.

Before, the old bulls had been able to put in a few -- some earmarks. They exploded under Newt Gingrich. And the K Street project, where they’re worked hand in glove with the lobbyists, was not the kind of government that the American people deserve.

So if that’s establishment, fighting against earmarks and pork barrel spending that exploded while he was speaker of the House, I will gladly accept that label.

CAVUTO: If he is in the nominee, that is Newt Gingrich, could you support him?

MCCAIN: Yes. Sure. Absolutely.

I’m a loyal Republican. I’m loyal to my party. And I certainly will. But, in the meantime, I think that his electability, which is a factor -- maybe not the most important factor, but is a factor -- his electability is very poor. And it’s -- and I think it’s understandable. And I regret it.

CAVUTO: So what do you think of, then, Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd Palin, pretty much endorsing Newt Gingrich?

MCCAIN: Well, my feelings and affection for Sarah and Todd, but they did not -- in all due respect, they didn’t know him when I was down there on the floor of the Senate, putting up a 52-page -- into the congressional record -- 52 pages of earmarks that had been put in, the bridge to nowhere. It ended up with the bridge to nowhere.

You know. You have heard the -- you know, the, what is it, $50,000 to study the effect on the ozone layer of flatulence in cows. It went on and on. It was an outrage.

CAVUTO: Yes, but the cows -- the cows liked that particular transaction.


MCCAIN: Well, listen, the testing procedures are interesting.

CAVUTO: There you go.


MCCAIN: Anyway, anyway, Neil, it’s just -- it was a period where we had an opportunity to govern cleanly and efficiently, and we did not. And we betrayed the American people. And who was closest to Ronald Reagan and who did this with Ronald Reagan -- we all love Ronald Reagan. We know that Ronald Reagan was not perfect. And agreeing to the tax -- spending -- the tax increases and spending cuts, Ronald Reagan acknowledged later on that he had made a mistake.

He was not perfect. But, in my mind, he will go down as one of the greatest presidents in history.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator, for that and your Zsa Zsa Gabor comments, I want to thank you.


CAVUTO: Always good having you, sir. Thank you very much.

MCCAIN: Thanks for having me on, Neil.

CAVUTO: John McCain.

Content and Programming Copyright 2012 Fox News Network, Inc. Copyright CQ-2012 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.