McCain: Lindsey Graham won GOP debate

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 16, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right. You're going to hear a lot of criticism of Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve, that moved to hike interest rates today, that it was awful timing.

And this is a lot of what they're going to point to. In fact, this is exhibit number one, they point to, for not hiking rates, oil. Oil prices are tumbling. If I can show that, a barrel of oil costs you about 35-and- a-half bucks. Do you know what it was just about a year ago? Over 110 bucks.

And that has led to better than 150,000 layoffs in the energy, energy services field, and it goes from bad to worse. You might like it at the pump. They don't like it globally. And they fear that it portends a global recession or slowdown or it's reflective of that.

So, in the middle of that, you have the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates, so they say not a good idea.

I have with us now Arizona Senator John McCain.

So much to talk to you about, Senator. First off, on the Federal Reserve doing this now, what do you think?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Neil, I don't know what the right time is.

But I do know that we should not have the Federal Reserve so heavily engaged in controlling our economy. It flies in the face of free market economics. And I would -- the sooner that the Fed gets out of our business of the -- running the economy, I think the better off we would be.

On the issue of oil, I'm sorry that there have been layoffs, but average Americans are really going to have a lot more to spend this Christmas than they would have otherwise because of the low price of oil.  And nobody is manipulating the low price of oil, although the Saudis are letting it flow.

But the fact is, it's supply and demand. And I'm very happy every time I go to fill up my gas tank, and I think most Americans are, too.

CAVUTO: How can you do that from the back of a limo?


CAVUTO: Kidding. I got you, didn't I? I got you.


CAVUTO: Let me ask you though, Senator, switching gears like a crazy man, if I could talk a little bit about last night's debate, it got a little heated. But it particularly got heated concerning one Donald Trump.  I want you to react to this.


JEB BUSH, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is a tough business, to run for president.

DONALD TRUMP, R-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, no, you're a tough guy, Jeb. I know.

BUSH: And it's -- and we need...


BUSH: ... to have a leader that is...


TRUMP: You're tough.

BUSH: You're never going to be president of the United States by insulting your way to the presidency.

TRUMP: Well, let's see. I'm at 42, and you're at 3. So, so far, I'm doing better.

BUSH: Doesn't matter. Doesn't matter.



CAVUTO: What did you think of that?

MCCAIN: Well, I think that Jeb had a point.

I mean, there's no sense in really insulting people. I have been in many presidential debates, and I'm not saying I did well or badly, but I never impugned the integrity or the personality of my opponents.

I think the real winner last night, for anybody who saw it, was Lindsey Graham. He was at his best. And he showed not only a sense of humor, but he also, most importantly, has a grasp of what we're facing in the case of ISIS and Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin.

And I hope a lot of Americans saw Lindsey Graham last night, because he did one hell of a job.

CAVUTO: Well, he was the star of that first debate. A lot of people readily agree with you.

But when it came to security, the common criticism I heard of all the candidates was that they didn't have a consistent theme, they didn't have a consistent strategy, and that they didn't seem like they would be immediately better -- better stewards of this war on terror.

Some spoke out strongly, to your point, Lindsey Graham, Chris Christie, in dealing with the terror threat, et cetera.

But what do you think of that and whether Republicans have to consolidate around someone who does?

MCCAIN: Well, I think, given the concern of the American people -- as you know, it's now tops in the polls -- they should be looking at the person with the experience, the knowledge and the background.

Lindsey Graham's been to Iraq and Afghanistan 35 times, 33 years in the Air Force Reserve and serving.


CAVUTO: I know that, Senator. But are you surprised he just doesn't poll well? He just doesn't.

MCCAIN: I do not understand it. I do not understand it.  But I do know he and I have been saying the same thing for the last three years. And that is, we're going to have to have boots on the ground.  Almost none of those people you heard talking last night ever were. And, of course, then you have just statements that are -- show no grasp of the situation of everyone -- whatsoever, when -- when Ted Cruz says, we're going to carpet-bomb everybody.

I -- but there is no -- there was really not only not a real strategy, but not a fundamental understanding of what the military does and what capabilities we have.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator, we will watch closely. Thank you for that update on your -- when you go out to the gas tank there. Now I know and I can visualize it.


CAVUTO: Senator, it's always good, seriously, having you. I appreciate it.

MCCAIN: Always good. I will be thinking of you.


CAVUTO: And for your service as well.

All right, John McCain.

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