A Teleconference With John McCain

I just got off of another teleconference with John McCain. Here are my notes, not quotes, from the teleconference.

McCain’s Opening Statement

I gave a speech this morning about how I would want America to look after my first term in office in 2013. I want people to see what I want to do. By 2013, I think we will have won in Iraq. There may be sporadic fighting or attacks by Jihadists, but the Iraqi military would have control of the country and American troops would be out of harm’s way, even though we may still have our troops in the country.

I’d be glad to debate Obama or Hillary on whether the surge is working and whether we are winning right now. It’s long, hard, tough — and was mishandled for four years — and I fought against that failed strategy, but in 2013 we will have won. That won’t mean everything is perfect, but we will not have chaos, genocide, increasing Iranian influence — and we’d have to go back. That’s what would happen if Obama gets his way.

Q&A Session

What are your views of what is happening in Lebanon and do you think we should be talking to Iran? Also, Bush talked about the dangers of appeasement. Some comment on that?

Bush says he wasn’t talking about Obama and there are plenty of examples in history of the danger of appeasement. I think one of the reasons the Democrats got so upset is because Obama is really naive to want to sit down with Iran. They pronounced Israel as a “stinking corpse,” they’re sending weapons into Iraq that are killing Americans, and they’re a terrorist state.

In Lebanon, we essentially see a proxy war between the US and Iran. If Senator Obama wants to sit down across the table from Iran, what is it that he wants to talk about with them? The belief that communication has to be done face to face is unacceptable and that shows Obama doesn’t have the knowledge, experience, or background to safeguard this country. I look forward to having that debate with him.

What would it take for you to sit down with Iran?

I would have Iran renounce their intention to wipe Israel off the map. If they did that and promised not to pursue nuclear devices — and stopped training people to kill Americans in Iraq and their sponsorship of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, then perhaps we can have a meaningful discussion.

They are not interested in doing these things because they are trying to realize age-old Persian ambitions in the region. What does he want to talk to them about? All he would end up doing is giving them a prestige enhancement and more sway in the region.

How do you hold your opponent accountable when his staff flat-out lies and the media covers for him?

Obama says he’s going to unilaterally negotiate NAFTA. Canada said that they might sell their oil to China if that happens. But, in NC, he says he’s a free trader. He’s changing positions. He’s inconsistent and contradicts himself.

Have you talked to Newt about issues?

I have talked to him a few times, have watched him on TV, and have read a couple of his books. I would be pleased to have conversations with Newt because I think he has some of the best ideas in this country. I intend to talk to him from time to time because I think he’s a very smart person.

You say that you’re against subsidies, but you favor helping nuclear power. How do you reconcile this?

The problems with nuclear power are of our own making. We don’t reprocess nuclear fuel. It takes 10-15 years to get a nuclear power plant going. The Yucca Mountain gridlock is remarkable. I want to encourage research and push very hard for nuclear power. I think it’s important to reduce greenhouse gasses. We should invest in clean coal technology as well. I have always supported government investment in research and development.

Why did you announce a timeline to leave Iraq? (Hawkins’ Note: What a stupid question.)

Either you didn’t read or understand my speech. I know that we’re going to win in Iraq as we did in WWII and the Gulf War. With victory comes the withdrawal of troops. You don’t set a date for withdrawal. There is no date for surrender. I will have it dictated by the facts on the ground.

Let me explain the difference: if you announce a date for withdrawal as Obama and Clinton want to do, it means you are surrendering, and the bad guys just wait for the date.

How do you plan to take care of those troops when they do come home?

I’ve been recognized time and time again for supporting the troops by veterans’ organizations. I will do everything I can to care for them. I believe in improving health care for vets. I want to increase their educational benefits. I also want to encourage people to stay in the military. I will match my credentials with veterans with Clinton or Obama any time.

You say you want to work towards bipartisanship. What positions would you be willing to appoint Democrats to in your administration?

I have a clear record of working with Democrats. I don’t have a specific position in mind, but I will ask the most capable people, Democrat or Republican, for a position. I will appoint Democrats to my administration.

Summary: I gotta tell you: McCain sounded good in this teleconference. He trafficked in ideas, he had an appealing vision for the future, and he drew pointed comparisons between what he wanted to do and what Obama wants to do at every opportunity. For all of his flaws, McCain comes across as a tough, experienced leader — and an unaccomplished empty suit like Barack Obama is really going to come across like a lightweight compared to McCain once people start getting down to brass tacks and making the decision between the two of them.

PS: Go here to check out John McCain’s vision for America in 2013. I don’t agree with every single thing, but overall, it’s a pretty picture, especially compared to the sort of socialism that Obama wants to inflict on the country.

PS #2: The teleconference was packed and although I wanted to ask him a question, I didn’t get the opportunity. However, they did tell us we could email in questions and I sent the following question, which I would have asked, to the campaign to get a response,

Mr. McCain, let me read something you were quoted as saying a few days ago,

“We get in this kind of a circular firing squad on immigration reform in the Congress of the United States and the lesson I learned from it is we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform.”

Now, you’ve been saying for months that you learned your lesson and that we need security first, not a comprehensive immigration bill. That doesn’t seem to gibe with that quote. So, could you elaborate a bit?

When I get a response, I will post it to RWN.

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