One-on-One with Sen. John McCain

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," October 7, 2005, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Now, early today, the Senate unanimously passed the defense appropriations bill. That contains $50 billion for wars in Afghanistan (search) and Iraq (search).

My next guest sponsored an amendment to ban cruel and degrading treatment against anyone that the U.S. government has in custody. However, this caused some controversy with the White House.

With us now, Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain.

Senator, do you and the White House (search) get along?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Very well. Very well.

CAVUTO: So, on this issue, is there any agita or what?

MCCAIN: Well, I hope we can come to some agreement.

As you know, 28 retired generals support this amendment. Colin Powell (search) sent over a very strong letter in support of it. Our image throughout the world, because of Abu Ghraib (search), is very damaged. We have got to tell the world, we will not torture people. And, also, too many of our men and women who are doing the job of interrogations don`t have the proper instructions and guidelines with which to do their job.

And, basically, that is what the amendment calls for. And I`m glad it was a 90-9 vote.

CAVUTO: Switching gears a little, sir, you know, Republicans are not doing too well in some of these tracking surveys. In fact, a growing number in your party are fearful you might lose your majority next year. Do you think so?

MCCAIN: Well, I am glad it is an odd-numbered year right now.



CAVUTO: You think, if this holds right through next year, you would lose?

MCCAIN: No. I think we have gotten a wakeup call. And I think we are going to start responding to, for example, one of the bases of the Republican Party, a very important one, that believes in fiscal restraint and fiscal discipline.

And, already, we are having a number of meetings to try to cut spending in light of Katrina. I think that we have got to make progress in the war. That is another area. And I think we can. As you know, I have had difference in tactics and strategy, but we have got to win this war. I think the president gave an excellent speech yesterday outlining what is at stake.

And I think, also, that we have got to make sure that we perform ethically here in Washington. I think there is a real concern about that. And that may require some people to be fired.

CAVUTO: Do you think that, with the division in the Republican Party — I know conservatives are upset at the president over the Supreme Court pick of Harriet Miers (search) and the fact that the spending is out of control — you know, you guys run the shot. You own the White House. You own Congress. And you are botching it on spending.

What do you think?

MCCAIN: Well look, I can`t deny the numbers.

I saw a number today that the approval rating of Congress was at 31, and right track/wrong track in the wrong direction. But I think we can turn this around. I am very confident that we can and will.

And, by the way, if I could mention Harriet Miers, the president, when I was with him, campaigned and said, look, I am going to appoint people to the United States Supreme Court (search) that I know and trust and that will strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States.

CAVUTO: So, you would vote for her right now?

MCCAIN: Well, I would not vote for her right now, because I think we have to go through the hearing process and everything like that.

CAVUTO: Right.

MCCAIN: But I am favorably inclined and I am tended — and I want to support the president.

I voted for Justice Ginsburg.

CAVUTO: Could I ask you this?

MCCAIN: Could I just mention...


CAVUTO: Sure. Go ahead.

MCCAIN: I voted for Breyer and Ginsburg.


MCCAIN: I didn`t agree with them, but I voted for them, because elections have consequences.

Go ahead. I`m sorry.

CAVUTO: Yes. I`m sorry.

Could a pro-choice candidate get the Republican nomination?

MCCAIN: I doubt it, given the way the primaries are. I doubt it, but you never know.

CAVUTO: Could a maverick Republican, as you have been described, get the presidential nomination?


MCCAIN: I don`t know. Neil, you would have to leave that to more objective observers than me.


CAVUTO: All right. Let me ask you this. If this party repudiates you on some — a lot of issues that — you tick them off a lot, Senator. Would you ever consider leaving it?

MCCAIN: No. No. I am the party...

CAVUTO: Would you ever run as an independent?

MCCAIN: No. I am the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan.

CAVUTO: All right, so, if, for example, you did not get the nomination, if you were so inclined, you would never consider running as an independent?


CAVUTO: OK. I just wanted to get that out of the way.


CAVUTO: Senator, it`s always good to see you.

MCCAIN: It is a pleasure to always talk with you, Neil. Thanks.

CAVUTO: All right. Thank you, sir, John McCain in Washington.

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