Sen. McCain: Shutdown would hurt Republicans

Where is ObamaCare, budget battle headed?


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," September 25, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, you know, it's not only Democrats who took offense to Ted Cruz's 21-hour-plus marathon. John McCain took to the floor to question the meaning of what the Texas senator was up to and, furthermore, some comments he made about how this health care law was put into place. The senator joins me right now.

What got your goat, Senator?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: That pundits who said that we couldn't defund ObamaCare -- and, by the way, we can't because we don't have the votes -- but were akin to the appeasers in World War II that allowed Hitler to do the things that he did.

CAVUTO: Now, he said he was talking about pundits. You didn't distinguish.

MCCAIN: But, you know, in some ways, I'm a pundit, but I also share their view that say that we can't defund ObamaCare.

But I also wanted to point out that, in 2009, I spent more hours on the floor fighting against ObamaCare than I have ever on any issue. For 25 days, we fought. We fought even until the morning of Christmas Eve. And to somehow say...

CAVUTO: I remember that.

MCCAIN: To somehow say, well, these guys are -- they're not against Obama, they don't fight hard enough. I fought on the floor when it really mattered, when I thought we could beat it. And we didn't because they have the votes, just as they have the votes now.

I will take a backseat to no one in my opposition. In 2012, I spent two months traveling this country saying we have got to repeal and replace ObamaCare. So, somehow, now, because we see that we can't defund ObamaCare, which is -- there is not the votes for.


CAVUTO: So, it will never happen? You don't think that's ever going to happen, as long as the Senate stays as it is?

MCCAIN: Not as long as we don't have 67 votes to override a presidential veto. So, I would love to.

CAVUTO: So, was this a waste a time on Senator Cruz's part?

MCCAIN: Pardon me?

CAVUTO: Was it a waste a time on Senator Cruz's part?

MCCAIN: No, no, no. If Senator Cruz wants to do that and fire up the troops, that's fine with me.

CAVUTO: Do you like him?


MCCAIN: Yes, sure, I like him. We have been out to dinner a week or so ago. I admire him. It's not -- but I can disagree with someone.

CAVUTO: Because you used the wacko bird again. Was that a dig at...


MCCAIN: I have not used it.

And, by the way, I was quoting from an editorial in The Wall Street Journal.

But the point, is that I have a very good relationship with him, I admire him, and we have worked together. But we have a significant disagreement. That doesn't mean we have to be disagreeable.

But when people are compared to appeasers prior -- to the Nazis in World War II over the issue of health care, then I have to say, wait a minute, that's just over the line.

And, look, my family fought in World War II. They're not appeasers. So -- both my father and my grandfather.


MCCAIN: So all I can say is that, look, we're not going to succeed because we don't have the votes.

CAVUTO: What's going on here, though, Senator?


MCCAIN: And so, 80 percent of the American people say they do not want the government shut down for budget purposes.

CAVUTO: But that's just what I was going to ask you. That looks more likely now, if even for a limited amount of time. Senator Warner was saying that. Charlie Rangel was here a little while ago saying that. To me, that looks likely now.

MCCAIN: Well, I hope not. I hope we can still...

CAVUTO: So, you think it hurts Republicans if it comes to pass?

MCCAIN: Oh, I know that it does.

I saw this movie before in 1995, when we shut down the government, cost a $1.4 billion, and the American people literally rebelled, because Americans don't like government, but they don't want it shut down.

A smart way of going after this is picking apart ObamaCare, when we said repeal and replace. The medical -- the tax on medical devices, we should have hammered that one. We should have demanded an amendment on that, on a number of other aspects of ObamaCare that have already been abysmal failures. Look, I respect...

CAVUTO: Do you think that all of this -- you say you respect Cruz. And I'm not trying to stir a fight.

MCCAIN: Yes. Yes. Yes.

CAVUTO: But do you think that there is a battle? Because a lot of people say, well, John McCain, you know, he's the old guard. These guys are the new guard. He better get with it.

MCCAIN: Well, that's fine, but I do not believe the American people or the majority of my constituents want to shut down the government. And that is...


CAVUTO: So, you think they're playing with fire?

MCCAIN: It's the only option.

It's not so much playing with fire, as it is that most people, 80 percent of the American people don't want the government shut down because of ObamaCare. That's just their view.

CAVUTO: But when you have those town hall meetings, Senator, and they get raucous, a lot of guys seem to say, to hell with it, shut the government down.


MCCAIN: That's just not -- it's not fair to the veterans. It's not fair to the people who get Social Security. It's not fair to our men and women in the military. It's not fair to our constituents to shut down the essential functions of government.

And most American share that view. But I will continue to fight. I will continue to do everything I can to repeal and replace ObamaCare. I am convinced that it's a total failure. But to say that this is the issue when we do not have the votes.


MCCAIN: If we'd have won the election in 2012, it might be different.

CAVUTO: It might have been different.

By the way, could you speak 21 hour straight?

MCCAIN: Oh, sure.

Listen, I -- I won't tell you some time how long I had to stand on a feet a couple of times, a long time ago and far away.

CAVUTO: I bet. No one doubts that.


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