OTR Interviews

McCain blasts Obama's failure to bring home Americans held in Iran: A 'really immoral, failed' foreign policy

Veteran senator sounds off on seeking a sixth term as he enters his 80s, Rand Paul's presidential candidacy and Obama's attempt to sell the Iran nuke 'agreement'


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 7, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator John McCain making big announcement fore 2016 announcing he is seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate. If reelected this would be his sixth term in the Senate. And Senator John McCain joins us. Good evening, sir.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Good evening.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, was it a tough decision or easy one for you to decide to run again?

MCCAIN: It wasn't too difficult, Greta. The country and the world is in more turmoil than ever before and that's not just my opinion. There are threats to us that thanks to this failed presidency and this - the incredibly hands-off leading from behind foreign policy the country is in grave danger. And also there is a lot to be done here in Arizona as well. I'm looking forward to continuing serving as chairman of the Armed Services Committee.

VAN SUSTEREN: You bring up the topic of Iran obviously. I'm sure the whole topic about dangerous to the world. I'm curious what you think how your former colleague, now the current secretary of state, John Kerry is doing in negotiating this deal and getting the message because he is the emissary for the president?

MCCAIN: John Kerry has had a series of failures, whether it be trying to negotiate Bashar Assad's departure from Syria or the Israeli Palestinian peace process. And it was obvious to all of us who know him that he was desperate for some kind of an agreement and this agreement is not only flawed but it's dangerous. There is really no verification that's meaningful. There is no restraint on things like their missile development and their warhead development and their continued behavior, sponsoring terror and on the move throughout the Middle East. And thanks to the failed policy of Barack Obama, we have now the Middle East who is going their own way in the Arab Sunni -- Arab countries because they have no trust and no confidence in us and this is just another affirmation of that -- this really bad deal.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you say desperate for an agreement -- desperate for agreement for what purpose? I mean we are all sort of desperate to make sure Iran doesn't get a nuclear weapon because that will change the equation all over the world not just the Middle East, but when you say he is desperate for agreement -- for an agreement, what do you mean?

MCCAIN: In that he was willing to make concessions, which are obviously now a very flawed treaty or certainly very questionable. Certainly there are two different versions of this quote, "agreement" between the Iranians and the U.S. and that will be interesting to see how we sort that out. But in other words, no restraint on Iranian behavior, which in four countries in the Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen right now, the Iraqis are on the move and they are calling the shots. And now we are treated to the situation where Soleimani is now leading the fight against ISIS in Tikrit, the same guy who sent in the copper-tipped IEDs into Iraq during the surge and before and after that killed hundreds of American soldiers and marines. It's hard to make that kind of thing up.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Let me turn to today's news. Senator Rand Paul making announcement he is now number two. Your thoughts about Senator Ted Cruz. I know in the past you've never been big fan of him, but your thoughts now about these two senators having thrown their hats in the ring.

MCCAIN: I think they are very -- both very bright new members of the Senate. Senator Cruz is a valuable member of the Armed Services Committee. Rand Paul obviously has a strong base, some of it inherited from his father. I'm very interested in Rand Paul's past views as well as evolving views on national security. Obviously, it seems to me some of those have changed somewhat as the situation in the Middle East has deteriorated. But, look, I have been through it. It's a tough grind. I wish them both well. And I will be supporting Lindsey Graham who is the person who really knows how to handle these national security challenges.

VAN SUSTEREN: One quick question, our Marine who is sitting in prison in Iran, what do we do about that, and of course, we have a Christian pastor and we have a journalist and we have others, but I want to focus on the marine.

MCCAIN: We should be demanding his and others' release, Greta. This is just an example of the arrogance, frankly, of the Iranians and what they are able to get away with. Isn't it our obligation to bring this marine and other American citizens home before we enter into an agreement? We probably won't obviously. But look, we are in disarray throughout the world. Lessons are being taken from our involvement. Leading from behind doesn't work. And the latest two examples of success, Somalia and Yemen, are authentication of a really immoral foreign policy much less a failed one.

VAN SUSTEREN: Senator, thank you. Nice to talk to you, sir.

MCCAIN: Thank you.