McCain warns of 'devastating' effects of pending Pentagon cuts

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," August 1, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And tonight, Senator John McCain responds to former Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently called his decision to put Sarah Palin on the 2008 ticket a quote, "mistake."

But first, we begin with some very disturbing developments out of Washington involving your National Security. Now, Senator McCain is among a group of GOP senators who have embarked on a four-state road trip to warn Americans about pending cuts to the Defense Department budget. Now, these automatic cuts, totaling nearly $500 billion over the next decade were set into motion last year when Congress voted to raise the debt ceiling.

Now, unless an agreement is made before January to avoid what is known as sequestration, more than $50 billion in Pentagon funding will immediately be slashed.

Now, today, Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told the House Committee that these massive cuts will lead to a, quote, "unready and hollow force." But that's not all. Millions of jobs will also be put at risk, particularly in the defense contracting industry.

Now, last month, Lockheed Martin CEO Bob Steven said, he is considering issuing layoff notices to all 123,000 of his employees. Now, those notices are required by federal law to be sent out 60 days prior to layoffs that are caused by a foreseeable event. However, because that 60-day window ahead of January happens to fall on the Friday before Election Day, the Obama administration is frantically trying to hide the very real impact that these budget cuts will have on countless Americans.

Now, on Monday, the Labor Department threatened any and all defense contractors who are considering sending those notices, claiming such actions would be, quote, "inappropriate."

And joining me now with reaction to the White House's attempt to intimidate private business ahead of the election, Arizona Senator John McCain.

Senator, inappropriate -- is this not the law of the land? This is a foreseeable event, is it not?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Hey, look, you just can't make these things up. The incredible politicization of everything that this administration does. The Warren Act requires it. I mean, there is no gray area that requires that layoff notices be extended 60 days before the layoffs. That was so people could be prepared for losing their jobs. So, they now-- the Department of Labor, after some time ago saying they had no jurisdiction, are now saying that that doesn't have to be done.

And again, you know, everybody has a record. But again, let me just tell you a quote from Barack Obama, Senator Barack Obama on 7/17/07, there was a threat of some layoffs in Illinois, and then-Senator Obama said, "The least employers can do when they are anticipating layoffs is to let workers know they are going to be out of a job and a paycheck with enough time to plan for their future."


Well, Obama said, "We must give the Warren Act teeth to insure that workers are not left in the lurch without a job or a paycheck."

And look, the effects will be devastating. It is a fight between the three branches of government as to how to eliminate the sequestration and guess who is AWOL -- missing in action. And that's the president of the United States who has decided that it's not his problem. It is his problem as commander in chief to take care of our nation's security. It is his first and foremost obligation. And he has taken a hike.

HANNITY: So, not only does it hurt military preparedness, but also he is trying to hide what his policies are going to cause, hundreds of thousands of Americans that will be off --


HANNITY: And his doing it for his own political expediency. Pretty outrageous.

All right. Let me play to you --

MCCAIN: Can I just say --


MCCAIN: And his secretary of defense and the uniformed chiefs have testified consistently that this will devastate our National Security. It will inhibit our ability to preserve this nation's security. Now, what greater obligation does a president of the United States have? And he is saying, well, Congress created this so they can, quote, "wiggle out of it." This is a president who does not understand America's role in the world and requirement for a strong military.

HANNITY: Senator, I'm going to be interviewing Vice President Cheney later in the week. As you know, he had some comments about your selection for VP, Governor Palin, back in 2008. Here's what he said.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I like Governor Palin. I have met her. I know her. She is an attractive candidate. But based on her background, she had only been governor for, what? Two years? I don't think she passed that test.


CHENEY: -- of being ready to take over. And I think that was a -- a mistake.


HANNITY: I don't think "Senator present" passed that test either, but, you know, any reaction to that?

MCCAIN: No. Listen, I have admired and known Dick Cheney for years. I think he was one of the really outstanding secretaries of defense during Operation Desert Storm and other work that he did. And look, I just don't see the point in keep going back four years ago. I am proud of Sarah Palin. I am grateful for the way she energized our party and I will always appreciate what she did for our party and for our ticket.

HANNITY: All right. Senator, one of the issues that comes back up from 2008, and I'm not trying to dig up old ground here.


HANNITY: Is whether or not you could have been harder in fighting then candidate Obama. In other words, you wanted to run a more respectable campaign, keep it focused on the issues. He ran a pretty negative campaign back then, but that was not the perception.

Let me show you two clips and ask you if you think the media in this country is in the tank for Barack Obama. Were they in the tank for him then, are they in the tank for him now? I'll give you two examples. Governor Romney in Poland and then the president being interrupted during a Rose Garden -- statement that he was making.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Governor Romney, are you concerned about some of the mishaps on your trip?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Governor Romney, do you have a statement for Palestinians?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What about your dad?


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Governor Romney, just a few questions, sir. You haven't taken but three questions on this trip.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It is the right thing to do. Excuse me, sir. This is not time for questions, sir. Not while I'm speaking.

And the answer to your question, sir, and the next time I prefer you let me finish my statements before you ask that question, is this the right thing to do for the American people. I didn't ask for an argument, I am answering your question. It is the right thing to do for the American people. And here's why. Here's the reason. Because these young people are going to make extraordinary contributions and are already making contributions to our society.


HANNITY: Pretty glaring difference, Senator. But you have a unique perspective because you went through this in 2008. Explain the impact that you think this has on the perception that people in this country have on their politicians.

MCCAIN: Well, I think that the media bias towards President Obama is just -- it's something we have to accept. It is just the air we breathe in the political environment. And we have to take that into consideration. I watched Mitt Romney's trip to Europe. He was endorsed by the great hero of the Cold War, Lech Walesa. The Gdansk shipyard was where this whole overthrow of the Soviet Union began.

Prime Minister Netanyahu did everything but endorse Mitt Romney. They have known each other for years. And they couldn't have been more -- Romney couldn't have been more warmly received.

And at the same time, of course, the media treats him, as you just mentioned and -- but it is what it is. And the people like you can bring it to the American people's attention. But honestly, I don't think it's going to change. It is just going to have to be part of what the Romney campaign is going to have to put up with.

HANNITY: I think you are right. Senator, as always, we appreciate you being with us.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

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