Cindy McCain 'On the Record'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 14, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator John McCain's wife, Cindy, just returned to the United States after a disturbing, eye-opening trip. Today she went "On the Record" about the scandalous things she saw, including women who had been raped and now displaced. They have no place to go. Plus, Mrs. McCain talks about her daughter, Megan's, growing activism and her husband, Senator John McCain's, Twitter habits.


VAN SUSTEREN: Mrs. McCain, nice to see.

CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: You've been on quite a road trip.

MCCAIN: Yes, I have. I have. I -- it's been an interesting time for me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Where were you -- you've come back from Africa. Which part of Africa?

MCCAIN: I was in Congo. And I had -- this was my second trip. I had been there in 1994. And this time, I went back as a guest of the World Food Program and found a country that I had seen before and was far worse than it was. I expected to see some progress, and what I saw a country that's disintegrated.

VAN SUSTEREN: Which country were you in this trip?



MCCAIN: Uh-huh.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why was it -- how was it different or not different from '94?

MCCAIN: Well, what you see now is a country that's been destroyed by -- by war, obviously, but more importantly, it's a country -- it -- it's such a rich country in what it could do, and there's -- because of the government that's completely corrupt and there's no infrastructure, you have a country that is just -- is a complete mess.

You have got militias pushing -- burning villages and pushing people from here to there, leaving them homeless. Without the infrastructure, there are no roads to get around.

And, of course, the worst part is there is no food.

There are always problems in war, but particularly in what's going on right now, is the women are being so mistreated with rape and with the mutilations that are going on. And, of course, the militias are also kidnapping children and turning them into -- putting them in the army.

What I saw was devastating.

VAN SUSTEREN: Take me through it. You landed in late April. What did you do the first day?

MCCAIN: I went back to Goma, which is where I had been in 1994, is also the base of the World Food Program in that region. And what I wanted to do and my intent on this particular trip was just to get an overview to what was going on and where -- if there was some way that I and other people around the world could help.

And I was overwhelmed with what I saw.

And, first of all, the World Food Program is responsible for 1 million people in eastern Congo, the food for 1 million people, and 3 million total in Congo.

So if you think about that, this is a country that if you overlay it on the map, it is the size of Western Europe. And it is just -- there is just nothing that is even orderly or even remotely capable of supporting a population that is disintegrating.

VAN SUSTEREN: The women you mentioned, these were displaced people?

MCCAIN: There are displaced people everywhere. Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you mean by "displaced"? Because we have no sense of that. We hear about it, displaced, thousands. But what is it really like? Give me the real --

MCCAIN: They refer to them as IDPs, internally displaced people. And these particular people, like I said, their villages have either been burned or they have been forced out. And so, basically, they pack up whatever they can get, if it's anything --

VAN SUSTEREN: And walk off?

MCCAIN: And walk off. Many times they lose their families. In a lot of these cases, these women, particularly the women, have lost everything, including their own dignity.

And a lot of the families have been separated. Of course a lot of them have actually been killed from it.

I mean, it's something that I saw some of when I was there in '94. Obviously, it was a different set of circumstances. But this is -- the attention is being paid to Darfur and other places, and understandably. There are some serious things going on. But Congo is a different story. And people are not focusing on it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you go around the world doing this? What do you think it is?

MCCAIN: I have been asked that question before. And the only thing I can tell you is that, honestly, it's just what's in my heart. I would not be comfortable with myself just staying at home.

And I am not anything special. But it is just something I need to do. And it is important to me, and I think it is important to keep the issue alive, too. And in whatever way I can do, in whatever small way it is, I want to try to help. And I do not have any better explanation than that.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about Operation Smile? What is Operation Smile?

MCCAIN: Operation smile as an organization that provides cleft palate surgery's around the world.

The cleft palate is something that is -- you do not see it much in the U.S. because it is repaired very early. And diet, nutrition, genetics, you know, all that has a great deal to do with it as well.

But overseas, you see a lot of it. And graciously and gratefully they provide surgery's and help change the lives of children.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is not just a cosmetic thing, though. People think of cleft palate in many instances as a cosmetic operation.


VAN SUSTEREN: This is actually so people can communicate and talk and eat. I mean, there's a lot more to this.

MCCAIN: Absolutely.

And more importantly, you have in many societies, people with any kind of deformity, particularly a facial deformity, will be left in a closet. They will be shunned and put aside.

In my own daughter's case, I think she would have died if she had not wound up where she was.

So it is much different. They are treated much differently.

VAN SUSTEREN: Your mentioned your family. Your daughter was on "The View." Did you see it?

MCCAIN: I am so proud of my daughter. She is doing -- Meghan is doing a wonderful job, as I am all my children.

VAN SUSTEREN: No, I understand that. But she has been out there, quite visible.

MCCAIN: Yes. She is doing a great job. I'm very proud of her. And her dad is very proud of her, too.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you see "The View"?

MCCAIN: I did. I watched. It.

VAN SUSTEREN: And were you nervous? Were the nervous mother watching.

MCCAIN: I am a very nervous mother, yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: You have been on "The View" too.

MCCAIN: I have. I'm nervous only because it's my daughter. And I know she can handle it, but I think, like anybody, you know, I am a mom.

VAN SUSTEREN: She is shaking things up a little bit in the Republican Party, bringing a little youth to the Republican Party, which has been thought as not exactly -- the younger crowd hasn't been attracted to it.

MCCAIN: She is. And I am very proud of her for that, because she is like her father. She is very straight talking. She is very genuine in her beliefs and what she is trying to do.

And there's -- it's wonderful. It is remarkable. And I think she is doing not only a great job, but I think she has the ability to make people sit up and listen.

VAN SUSTEREN: Your husband, he "Twitters."


VAN SUSTEREN: You laugh. Why do you laugh?

MCCAIN: I am glad he twitters. This whole twitter thing is brand new to me too, as well.

But I think it is an interesting concept that has happened, and it has caught on. And now everybody is twittering. And I'm excited about it. I think it's a great way to communicate.

VAN SUSTEREN: We all follow him. He has thousands of people following him.

MCCAIN: Gosh, it's like 600,000 now, something like that. I just saw the number.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you follow his twitter?

MCCAIN: I do follow his twitter. I twitter, too. I don't have nearly as many followers.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is your twitter account?

MCCAIN: My Twitter account is CindyHM1.

VAN SUSTEREN: You weren't able to twitter from the Congo, though, were you?

MCCAIN: I did twitter from the Congo. I did.

VAN SUSTEREN: Because, I mean, actually, that's another sort of way to reach out.

MCCAIN: I twitter about, like everyone else, what is important to you. And the things that are important to me are things like the Congo and what's going on around the world.

And so that is kind of what I do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have things slowed down since last year?

MCCAIN: Yes, things have slowed.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was last year a huge disappointment? Or do you just pick yourself up and dust yourself off and get going?

MCCAIN: Yes. Listen, we have been in the game, I mean we have been in politics for a long time. And, obviously, we wanted to win. But when the race was over, I was more than happy to get back to doing what I do, which is my humanitarian work and traveling to places like Congo and others.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's interesting. Out of all the people, the final four, you and President Obama and Mrs. Obama, I always thought that no matter what happened, your life would change the least, that you would still be doing the same things.

MCCAIN: You are right. If we had won, I would be doing exactly what I am doing. And I love it. And, obviously, we didn't, and I am still doing it.

So I think, you know, in anyone's life, you have to make yourself happy, and certainly keep your family happy. And this is what I like doing. And I want to continue to do it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think the Republican Party has -- I mean, they have lost the House, the Senate, the White House. What is going on in the Republican Party?

MCCAIN: I think it is time for a change. New voices are always good. And I think the Democratic Party went through the same thing a few years back, as we remember. And it's time for change. There is new blood coming into it.

And, most important, I think our party needs to be an open party. We need to agree to disagree on some things, and most importantly, involve more people and make them feel welcome.

VAN SUSTEREN: How you do that? What the issues that are keeping people out?

MCCAIN: There's lots of issues. We are divided on so many things, as are the Democrats.

I think what my husband and I have always said, particularly my husband, is he didn't believe there should ever be a litmus test to be a Republican, that we are a party of inclusion and not exclusion.

And that is a message -- the best message I can give.


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