OTR Interviews

Graham: Obama administration's about 'winning at all cost', president can't 'ride out' ObamaCare debacle

The heart of the ObamaCare debate pits consumer personal health insurance decisions versus government-run health care ... so where do voters really have their say?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 6, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Who knows best what is best for you? You or the government?

Senator Lindsey Graham joins us.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: Apparently, not the government.


All I can say is that if this doesn't turn around pretty quickly, President Obama is going to lose his second term. Democrats are going to bail out in droves before next election. And his signature issue is going up in flames if he doesn't fix this.

VAN SUSTEREN: They had some sort of a secret meeting today at the White House that wasn't on the schedule --


-- with a bunch of Democratic Senators, so that actually looks like in free fall that they are freaked and --

GRAHAM: Yeah, if you are a Democrat and you voted for this, you are really going to have a hard time explaining to your constituents in November 2014, particularly if you are in a red state, why this was a good idea.

But this is one thing people are not covering enough. The policy people told the political people in the White House, months ago, maybe over a year ago, what the president is saying about if you like your coverage you can keep it, is not accurate. The political people supposedly told the policy people, this is the best way to sell this idea. We are going to keep selling it. That, to me, is disturbing. And people --


VAN SUSTEREN: I know it's disturbing. Is it because it's deceitful?

GRAHAM: I think they want to win at all cost. It's about winning whatever the issue is. It's about winning at all cost, and they don't think beyond what's just in front of them.

Here is where the president comes in to play. Is he this detached from how this law works? Did he really not know better? Let's assume for a moment that he didn't know better.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which isn't a good sign.

GRAHAM: Well --

VAN SUSTEREN: Whether it's deceitful or he didn't know, neither one - - if you have an uninformed president or deceitful one.

GRAHAM: We're lawyers here and we're talking to a jury. So there is two ways you can look at this. The president of the United States, for months, if not years, made a claim that's patently untrue. So, either he didn't know about his own law bearing his name, called ObamaCare, the Affordable Care Act, or he was in on it. And at the end of the day, there is no good answer.

VAN SUSTEREN: I will tell you, here is what he said -- there is actually no mystery to that because, as recently as November 4th, two days ago, he suddenly says, what we said was you could keep it if it hasn't changed since the law was passed. So we wrote into the Affordable Care Act you are grandfathered in on the plan. That if was never there until November 4th. So it's not like he can say I just didn't --

GRAHAM: He got caught.

VAN SUSTEREN: He got caught.

GRAHAM: Here is the point how could he for a couple years boldly say if you like your plan, you can keep it, period. Now, when an American politician closes the sentence with "period," that means, in their mind, there is no doubt about the statement they just made. So the president is either the most uninformed person in America about his own law or he was trying to sell an aspect of it that just wasn't true.

VAN SUSTEREN: But he could do so, so safely. Because, if you look at the editorial board of The "New York Times" on Sunday, and I have been going back and forth a little bit with them on GretaWire, is they say the president misspoke when he said that.

GRAHAM: No he didn't misspeak.

VAN SUSTEREN: If you have got the newspaper that is a very prominent newspaper in the country giving you that kind of cover, because we counted up 26, 30 times that he said it, why is "The New York Times" --


They -- I mean, they should be protecting the American people and challenging the president.

GRAHAM: How long does it take to understand "The New York Times" editorial view? They're the most liberal paper in the country.

VAN SUSTEREN: But you can be liberal and have a different ideology. Just between liberal and trying to cover for someone. It's a little different.

GRAHAM: Well, why don't you call them onto the show and let them explain why they thought this was him misspeaking?

But here is what he is trying to do. I'm a political person. All of us in politics. He was trying to reassure the American people something very fundamental. If you like your policy, nothing in the law I just passed is going to try to drop it. You can keep your doctor and you can keep your policy. From a consumer's point of view, from an American citizen's point of view, that had to be reassuring to hear your president, over and over again, tell you, now there are changes coming, but here is the one thing I promise, if you like what you have got and you like your doctor, you are not going to be affected by this change. And he said it over and over again. And people want to believe their president. So, if he doesn't fix this, his second term is quite frankly lost because of his over selling --


GRAHAM: -- either through deception or misinformation.

VAN SUSTEREN: But it goes even deeper than that. Every single person -- you can go back and you can pull the videotapes. I was always appalled that no one bothered to read the bill or understand, whether it was a good bill or a bad bill. And some -- a bunch of Democrats are suddenly appalled, like they didn't have any clue. Well, you know, they might have had a clue if they --

GRAHAM: Senator Enzi had an amendment to address this very situation. Go get the tape in 2010 where Senator Enzi is talking about the regulation that was passed that would lead to exactly what we are talking about. Millions of people not being grandfathered, but losing their policy. We actually had to vote on this. And he laid out -- he foretold what was to come, that people would lose their coverage and that you couldn't keep what you had. He said, when they tell you, you can keep your policy if you like it, they are not being honest with you. This was in 2010. We had a vote on it. The people who are now claiming they didn't know, I just don't believe that.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's sort of hard not to. So what should -- would it help if the president speaks to the American people on this?

GRAHAM: Yeah, I think -- yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, this is not just a regular bill. This has transformed medical care as we know it. Should he do it from the Oval Office? What should he do?

GRAHAM: He can't ride this out. He fundamentally misled the American people about something that was reassuring to hear -- if you like your policy and you like your doctor, you can keep it. That is now just going up in flames. Millions of people are losing their coverage. He has got a revolt in his own party.

If I were the president's advisor, I would say, Mr. President, like Ronald Reagan, like presidents in the past, when you have a crisis of confidence and trust, you need to try to reestablish confidence and trust in you as a person. When the politician tells you that you can get more and pay less, that more people will be covered with the subsidy but it won't bother you, that when the business you work for will have increased costs because of more mandates and it won't affect your job or the economy in general, you should be suspicious. But, if the president doesn't reestablish some confidence by addressing the American people and being honest with them about what's going on here, I think he is going to have a rebellion in the ranks.

VAN SUSTEREN: I would actually define it a little bit more. I'm going to take the last word. I want to know why even two days ago, which is well after four and a half weeks that this was launched, that he is now coming up with a new version like that. I mean, why --


GRAHAM: Because he got caught.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because -- well.

Senator, nice to see you, sir.

GRAHAM: Thank you.

VAN SUSTEREN: Always nice to see you.

GRAHAM: Thank you.