President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili on Russia, Sarah Palin and U.S. Presidential Race

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This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," September 24, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: But it's not only us watching this. The whole world is watching how this plays out. And, today, the United Nations said that they were watching Sarah Palin once again meeting with world leaders, including my next guest. Last time, I saw him, they were trying to kill the guy, the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili.

Mr. President, good to have you.

MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: Very nice to be here. Last time, really talked from Tbilisi. But...

Video: Watch Neil Cavuto's interview with Mikheil Saakashvili

CAVUTO: You were very calm after that what I thought was clearly an attempt to take you out, but I'm glad you made it through that.

And you have been watching this whole financial thing in the U.S. Does it worry you?

SAAKASHVILI: Well, it worries everybody in the world, basically, because, really, what happens, the way it plays out here will determine the future, short-, as well as long-term future, for the world, well-being of billions of people.

And, you know, I had brief chat yesterday with President Bush. I know how preoccupied he is with all of this. And he seemed to be genuinely worried and very, very involved. And I can understand that, because all of us need to be worried. It is something that needs to be resolved. And I'm sure it will be resolved.

CAVUTO: Well, do you fear that, as Vladimir Putin has said, as Iran's President Ahmadinejad has said only yesterday, that the U.S. is losing its financial leadership?

SAAKASHVILI: Well, I think that, first of all, U.S. is still — the main — the reason why this affects the world so much is that America is very important economically. It's certainly, by far, the most important country in the world.

But America has value-based leadership. America is valued — America is followed by other nations, including my own nation, because it's based on the values that America has to offer to the rest of the world — freedom, freedom of choice, democracy, open market.

And I think these are fundamentals. You know, you obviously do some regulations on the market, do some, from case to case, from — you know, judged on the merits of the case, you have to do some intervention, as I hope that it will be done here. But, overall, America is still extremely attractive. And it's — it's totally unmatched.

CAVUTO: Do you worry, Mr. President, that, if we're tied down in this financial crisis in this country, and we're spending all this money on this, that there's less money to support countries like your own that are trying to take on, you know, Vladimir Putin and other countries — and Colombia — we had Uribe on not too long ago — he's trying to take on terrorists — that there might be less money to help you guys out?

SAAKASHVILI: Well, first of all, so far, Vladimir Putin was taking on us. I mean, I — we would — we would not take on him, certainly. That's the last thing we want.

Georgia, it's a struggling democracy, very successful one. We tripled our economy for the last four years. We had one of the lowest corruption rates in Europe and worldwide. And I think — and no country can survive on handouts.

We don't need — I mean, now we are getting very — this package, financial package, from the U.S., because we really were badly damaged by the war. But, essentially...


CAVUTO: And no one has said to you, Mr. President, that's in danger now because of what the U.S. is...

SAAKASHVILI: Well, I don't think so.


SAAKASHVILI: But — I mean, not for this moment.

But what is important to understand, that all these countries out there, as much as we value U.S. help, we still believe we should be self- efficient, self-sufficient, we should be successful on our merits, as we have been until now. We should reignite our economy based on the principles of absence of corruption, attractive investment environment, very little government, very little government intervention, and more of a, you know, open economy, and freedom, democracy.

That's what really brings, you know, confidence to the people, that they are protected by rule of law, by basic principles that are valued by all civilized democratic nations.

CAVUTO: So, that's not a money issue to you.

Let me ask you, Mr. President, I know you met with someone who wants to be the next vice president of the United States, Sarah Palin. There were many at the U.N. who say she isn't up to speed, she isn't up to the job.

What did you think?

SAAKASHVILI: Well, first of all, I met both of them. I mean, Joe Biden is a longtime friend, amazingly smart guy, who gets very good perspective on Georgia's situation.

I met Sarah Palin. She was wonderful. She was absolutely delightful.

CAVUTO: Did you have or get a sense of any of those doubts that some of your colleagues at the U.N. have?

SAAKASHVILI: Look, I don't know who was — I mean, I — first of all, I have huge, you know, trust in America's people judgment. That's why America is so attractive for us, that this is elections. You know, people have wise judgment. And, in the end, they will decide.

And, so, I can hardly comment on individual candidates, at least beside the things what I have said.

But it's very important to remember that, when Ronald Reagan was coming in, everybody was saying: "Who the hell is that guy? He doesn't know anything about politics."

You know, the fact that I'm sitting here now, with — I mean, with — title being president of Georgia, well, maybe it is Vladimir Putin's worst nightmare, but, still, I'm sitting here. I represent independent nation. We still have bright outlook for the future, despite all the problems we have encountered. Some people are trying to reverse it.

This is thanks to Reagan. And he had tremendous intuition. The main thing he had, he sensed where the fight for freedom was, where...


CAVUTO: Did you get that same sense out of Sarah Palin?

SAAKASHVILI: Well, again...


SAAKASHVILI: I mean, I was very pleased to see her. I don't want to make any comparisons...

CAVUTO: Who do you like more?


SAAKASHVILI: Well, as I said, we...


CAVUTO: I will let you start an international incident here. Who's your favorite?


SAAKASHVILI: Well, I think, you know, I really cannot choose at this stage because, as I said, we have been supported. We had bipartisan support, the main support we have been getting. I have been — I came here to the states, right, and I have been met by people, and they have been, you know, telling me: "Oh, you know, President, hold on. We are on your side."

This is American people. This is New York. But we have felt it from other places in America as well.

CAVUTO: So, Democrat or Republican...


SAAKASHVILI: Yes, it is a bipartisan issue.


SAAKASHVILI: As I said, you know, I have been inspired for many years — today, I said that — by Senator McCain. He has been great inspiration, great leader for the — I mean, for all of us who value freedom...


CAVUTO: Right after — right after this thing, he came to your defense immediately.

Now, Barack Obama was cautious, waited a little bit. You said a lot of nice things about John McCain. Maybe you said some nice things about Barack Obama.

SAAKASHVILI: Barack Obama called me and he...


CAVUTO: When did he call you?

SAAKASHVILI: I mean, he called within a few days after...


CAVUTO: How soon did John McCain call you?

SAAKASHVILI: I think John McCain was the first to call, but Obama was very competent, very supportive. He called me...

CAVUTO: You're not going to dis anyone, are you?

SAAKASHVILI: He called me several times. And I have to tell you, Joe Biden...


SAAKASHVILI: ... Joe Biden go to Tbilisi, on the site, on day two. He was the first one to come with a very concrete program. We should do A, B, C, D.


SAAKASHVILI: And that was very impressive. I was very impressed by that.

But, of course, you know, as I said, it's up to the judgment of American people. You know, we...

CAVUTO: All right.

SAAKASHVILI: All these people who I'm talking about, not only we are trying to have interaction with them, but we are inspired by them.


SAAKASHVILI: And we are inspired especially by the people who want — will elect them in the future.

CAVUTO: You're very good at this political answering thing, Mr. President. You got that down.

Mikheil Saakashvili, thank you very much, Mr. President.

SAAKASHVILI: Thank you so much...


CAVUTO: So glad you're safe.

SAAKASHVILI: Thanks a lot.

CAVUTO: We got a little concerned with some of that video we were showing. All right.


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