Bill Frist on Cindy McCain's Humanitarian Efforts

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," September 4, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BILL HEMMER, CO-HOST: Potential first lady Cindy McCain takes stage before her husband later tonight. Many don't know a lot about Cindy McCain's extensive humanitarian efforts.

My next guest traveled with Mrs. McCain about six weeks ago to fight against global AIDS and extreme poverty in Rwanda. Former Senate majority leader Bill Frist back with us tonight.

Good evening to you.

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HEMMER: You look good.

FRIST: You look good.

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HEMMER: You went to Rwanda six weeks ago?

FRIST: We did.

HEMMER: What is the drive there for Cindy McCain on this trip?

HEMMER: You know, it was fascinating. I do a lot of work using medicine and health as a currency for peace. So when I was there with Cindy McCain, I was in the room with a group of people. And I said, "Who here was actually present in 1994 when the genocide was." Cindy McCain's hand went up.

HEMMER: You're kidding me.

FRIST: She has done 50 medical missions, personal medical missions. Cindy McCain on the ground around the world.

HEMMER: She was there in 1994?

FRIST: She was there in 1994 at the time of the genocide when a million people were slaughtered in a period of 98 days.

HEMMER: What is drawing her to these causes? What is taking her to places like Rwanda during really the depths of that country's history?

FRIST: You know, obviously, it's not politics. This is before politics. It's been her entire adult life, and it is a commitment to this oneness of humanity, to a recognition that individuals by themselves can make a difference. And by making a difference, you can improve the world. That's what — America doesn't know that really about her yet.

HEMMER: Well, you just spent a month there, right?


HEMMER: Operating and working with children when you were in Rwanda, Mozambique. And the one program itself — what is it targeting?

FRIST: One campaign is an advocacy organization of 2.2 million people, bipartisan, Bill Frist, Republican, Tom Daschle, Democrat, together, looking at extreme poverty, because we can make extreme poverty history, and number two, HIV, AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, the sort of diseases that kill 5 million people a year.

HEMMER: Now, there are those that believe malaria can be eradicated in our lifetime. Do you believe it's a possibility, or is that just talk?

FRIST: You know, it is important for the American people to understand because the United States has put more money on HIV, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis than any country in the world and it's having an impact real quick.

In Rwanda - the number one killer of children in Rwanda is malaria. Since the United States of America stood up and working with Rwandans, we have been able to cut those deaths by two-thirds.

HEMMER: Is that right?

FRIST: Cut them back two-thirds. It works and it's cheap. And that's what America needs to know.


HEMMER: Listen, you're going to be onstage tonight. You will introduce Cindy McCain.


HEMMER: What are you going to say?

FRIST: You know, I'm going to introduce her really using this sort of mantra of medicine and health and caring and compassion as a currency for peace. And I say that because it's a natural with her. It is who Cindy McCain is. America probably doesn't know it yet, but they should.

But it is also a part of our public diplomacy, our health diplomacy around the world. And I will use a line tonight and the line will be John McCain and Cindy McCain understand that you don't go to war with somebody who has just saved the life of your child. That really says the story. So yes, we've got hard power out there, but we also have soft power. And the soft power is where the American people and President Bush before and in the future President McCain will actually lead.

HEMMER: Bill Frist, good to see you again, OK?

FRIST: Bill, great to be with you.

HEMMER: Good luck, all right?

FRIST: Thank you.

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