Trent Lott on Obama vs. McCain

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This is a rush transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," May 19, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama has declared and repeatedly reaffirmed his intention to meet the president of Iran without any preconditions, likening it to meetings between former American presidents and the leaders of the Soviet Union. Such a statement portrays the depth of Senator Obama's inexperience and reckless judgment.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I have said is we should not just talk to our friends. We should be willing to engage our enemies as well.


OBAMA: That is what diplomacy is all about.


NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, didn't we just do this? They are at it again.

Video: Watch Neil's interview

Former Mississippi Senator Trent Lott here. And guess who he thinks is winning this tough-talk debate?

Senator, always good to see you.

TRENT LOTT, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Good to see you again, Neil.

CAVUTO: I suspect I know your guy. What do you think?

LOTT: Well, obviously, they are both enjoying this. I guess both of them think that they're winning on the issue.

I think, in the case of Barack Obama — I heard somebody else say this, actually, that, short term, it may get Hillary Clinton further off the front page or even out of the first section, but, long term, this is not an area where Barack Obama wants to be.

I do think it raises serious questions about his judgment and about his lack experience in foreign policy. You know, in some areas, in a lot of domestic policy areas, you can afford to make a misjudgment, make a mistake, and move forward, get another opportunity. When it comes to foreign policy, and defense issues, you need to — you need to be very careful. I have seen John McCain overseas. I was at a World Economic Forum meeting. I saw the respect that foreign leaders have for him. I know his judgment is good.

Look, he is going to change our foreign policy direction. He will do some things differently. But, in this case, Barack Obama did not work in a foreign policy area, for the most part, did not work in a defense area.


CAVUTO: I understand where you are coming from, Senator.

LOTT: Right.

CAVUTO: But what Barack Obama is going to say, here is where all that experience get you, into a very controversial war, one that seems to have no end.

So, Obama's people, Obama himself seem to be saying, this is a winnable issue for us.

What do you make of that?

LOTT: I think that the average American voter will have an innate nervousness about his lack of experience and questions of his judgment in this foreign policy and defense area. He just has not had it.

It is complicated. It is important. Sure, you have to talk to everybody in the world. You have to have a dialogue. But when you set it up in such a way you're going to talk to people like the head of the Iranian government, with no preconditions, with no certainty about what would come out of it, not only there, but in the case of Syria and North Korea, you have got to be very careful about that.

I think that John McCain's experience and judgment is far superior. And I think this is a loser for Barack Obama.

CAVUTO: Well, apparently, the Obama folks, not surprisingly, feel otherwise, Senator.

LOTT: Yes. Sure.

CAVUTO: And one of the things they always seem to be pouncing is, we can't do any worse talking to our enemies.

How would you counter that, that the position they're taking is, hey, look, by not talking to them, this is what we have wrought, agree or disagree? But that seems to be their strategy. How do you counter that in a fall campaign?

LOTT: Look, you have to talk to your allies, which we have not always done enough, although some of our allies, all they want to do is talk.

When it comes to action, they say, oh, United States, please save us.

You have to also be prepared to engage in dialogue in different ways with your enemies, as we have in the past. But you have to be careful. You can't put the prestige of the president's office in a situation...


LOTT: ... where you don't know what is going to happen or what is going to come out of it.

This is very dangerous territory, especially when you have got a guy that has been saying the things that Ahmadinejad has.

CAVUTO: All right, I was just keeping a — a peek on the markets. I wasn't ignoring you.

Senator, thank you very much.


LOTT: OK. Thank you.

CAVUTO: Senator Trent Lott.

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