GOP Presidential Candidate John McCain
GLENN: All right. We have John McCain on the phone.
SENATOR McCAIN: How are you, Glenn, you old jerk. Glad to talk to you again.
GLENN: Now see, I don’t think that’s necessary. I don’t think that’s the way you start it.
SENATOR McCAIN: Listen, you are the most candid and nonsugarcoating advocate for America that probably I have ever heard and I enjoy every minute of it, even when on occasion your remarks are turned in a less than flattering way in my direction. And thanks for having me on your show. You do a great job, both on radio and television.
GLENN: You know, sir, I have to tell you the one thing I do appreciate about you is you do call them as you see them. And so we’re even on that and I think that’s great.
SENATOR McCAIN: Well, we have that in common. Go ahead, my friend.
GLENN: Let me just start here with your healthcare proposal. I haven’t read the whole thing yet but from what I’ve seen, it’s the only one that’s — it’s the only one that’s not socialist and so that’s really good. It seems to be based in the free market. Can you explain?
SENATOR McCAIN: Sure. I want to give one of the real important aspects of this proposal is to give every American family a refundable $5,000 tax credit so that they can go out across state lines, which they can’t now, and get the health insurance policy of their choice. If they want to keep their employer-provided health plan that they have today, that’s fine, but I would love to see them have choice and I think people compete and I think you could go online and find out which is the best policy that suits your family.
GLENN: Senator, I mean, I don’t know, I don’t know if you were listening to this old jerk, but I run a business. I run a business here in New York and you know as well as I do that 30% of this city is now on Medicaid because you can’t go outside of New York and compete and so companies are just saying, you know what, let the system — let the government — and the government in this state is doing it intentionally.
SENATOR McCAIN: I agree with you. Listen, when you can only go to a certain market to get any good or service, then obviously it distorts the market and you are unable to have the choice in competition. And it’s also, as you know, forcing more and more small business people like yourself to say to their employees, I’m sorry; I can’t provide you with health insurance; you are going to have to find another way to do it or the next time you’re sick go to the emergency room which as we all know, Glenn, is the most expensive form of healthcare.
SENATOR McCAIN: We’ve got to get choice in competition. We’ve got to put medical records online. We’ve got to have walk-in clinics, we’ve got to have community health centers, we’ve got to have outcome-based care for patients, we’ve got to have the governors get together and the legislators and others and take care of those who are — have a plan to take care of those who are uninsurable.
GLENN: Let me switch gears with you here and let’s talk about the gas tax holiday.
SENATOR McCAIN: Sure.
GLENN: The gas tax holiday, you are saying it’s a good idea, Hillary’s saying it’s a good idea, Barack Obama’s saying it’s a bad idea. Make a case for me.
SENATOR McCAIN: Sure, just to give Americans a little relief, just give the Americans a little relief, especially low income Americans. I think the gas tax is one of the most regressive taxes in existence in that lower income people drive further, they drive older automobiles. You know, in Washington, D.C. very wealthy people live in Georgetown and you can literally walk to work. The people that have the low income jobs drive 40, 50 miles. It’s not a huge thing. It’s just give them a little relief. Maybe have the chance to buy extra school supplies for their kids at the end of the summer. It is no way, in any way relief from the compelling argument and compelling way to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil but I would just like to give people a little break for the summer, particularly low income people.
GLENN: How about the, you know, not just the average person but how about for truckers and airlines? I mean, our trucking industry and our airlines are in real trouble.
SENATOR McCAIN: I agree with you and, you know, the truckers are paying 24 cents a gallon for every gallon of diesel and, yes, the jet fuel is going up. I would like to give them all a little relief and now focus our attention on alternate energy and eliminating our dependency on foreign oil which is half our trade deficit. As you know, $400 billion more goes to countries that don’t like us very much and ends up, some of it ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations. But in the meantime let’s give them a little break. That’s all.
GLENN: Senator, I’m all with you for I think — well, I mean, you agree on both sides. I’m all with you for the — stopping the dependence on foreign oil for security reasons. I think it’s an absolute nightmare what we’ve done. Will we’re being held hostage by these people.
SENATOR McCAIN: You are exactly right.
GLENN: But will you — I mean, to say alternative energy, that’s great but that’s a long way down the road. Will you also, does your energy policy at all say let’s go into ANWR, let’s explore our coastlines, let’s explore coal to oil and CO2 sequester that. Does your energy policy include any of that?
SENATOR McCAIN: It includes all of that with the exception of ANWR, any more than I would want them to drill in the Grand Canyon or the Everglades. On offshore oil drilling, I still respect the rights of the states. I would like to give them incentives and increased revenues from oil that was recovered off the shores of Florida or California, et cetera, but being a federalist, I am not going to force them to do that. But I believe in nuclear. I think nuclear is vital if we’re ever going to move forward, I think batteries should take a car 100 miles. Look, it’s not in my view exploitation of oil reserves although it is a short-term, very vital aspect now.
SENATOR McCAIN: But in the long term we’ve got to reduce, we’ve got to develop alternate energy forms, methods and technologies, and anybody that believes that America can’t do that, then I don’t think they have the confidence in America, innovation and technology that I do.
GLENN: You know, there’s a new peer reviewed study out today that says global warming now looks like it’s going to be on hold for ten years. Does that buy us any time to not spend the money on global warming and maybe concentrate on things like Social Security and fix some of those things that are right around the corner?
SENATOR McCAIN: Yes, Glenn, but where we may have a disagreement, I believe that the development of green technologies such as General Electric, the world’s largest corporation, has dedicated to the development of nuclear energy as the French are able to generate 80% of their electricity with nuclear power. There’s no reason why America shouldn’t.
GLENN: Oh, I’m with you on that, yeah.
SENATOR McCAIN: So if we develop green technologies, and see, many people say it’s going to cost us a whole lot more money. I don’t agree with that. I think every time we’ve made technological advances in this country, over time it has reduced rather than raised costs and so in the name of national security and our dependence on foreign oil and in the name of handing our kids a globe and a planet that has less greenhouse gas emissions, I think the encouragement of alternate energy is a long-term solution to both a national security and an environmental challenge.
GLENN: Do you think that — I don’t care about anybody’s religion, I really don’t. I don’t care what church you go to, et cetera, et cetera. Don’t you think that the Barack Obama Jeremiah Wright is a political discussion that should be had vigorously? Because if the man says he wants to sit down with president of Iran and Chavez and everybody else but he couldn’t see the hatred in his own pastor for 20 years, isn’t — does he have the judgment of character to be able to be the President of the United States?
SENATOR McCAIN: I think, Glenn, he has to have that dialogue with the American people but, of course, I, like you, am outraged over Reverend Wright’s remarks but I also — and so I think Senator Obama as said it’s a legitimate issue for political discussion in America, but he will have that discussion with the American people. But I just want to point out again to say that you’re going to sit down with the leader of a country and enhance that country’s prestige in that individual who’s dedicated to wiping Israel off the map, who continues to move forward with the acquisition of nuclear weapons and development of them and at the same time sending explosive and some of the most lethal devices into Iraq, killing young Americans I think is a fundamental naivety that the American people I think can make a judgment. But I just don’t understand that kind of logic, nor do I understand the logic of sitting down with Raul or any of these other dictators. There’s plenty of ways to communicate if they want to modify their behavior in a way that’s beneficial to peace in the world.
GLENN: Last question and then I’m going to let you go because I know you’re running hard, but the — I mean, I’m a Romney guy.
SENATOR McCAIN: Yeah, great guy.
GLENN: I think that we really need some economic sound thinking with everything that is going on and I don’t mean that — I don’t mean that as an insult to you, sir. I mean we need somebody that really has run a business, and most people in congress have never even been in business. What are you looking for as a vice president? Is there — will you use a vice president as somebody that will work with you like — I mean, you are so strong on defense, if I were Barack Obama, I would want somebody like you as my vice president and say, John, go run the war, will you? Help me. Is there somebody, is there anything you’re looking to augment and use as your vice president?
SENATOR McCAIN: Yes. I think that’s one of the things you want in a vice president. But let me just say I understand why you are a Romney person. Mitt earned the votes of millions of Republicans in this primary and he ran a tough campaign. I’m so grateful that he is not only working hard for this campaign but he will have a large role to play in the Republican party in the future. I just would like to say that my — I’ve been involved in the economy of this country for many, many years and I was proud to be part of the Reagan revolution when we brought about some prosperity. When Reagan came to office, as you know, there was 20% interest rates, 10% inflation and 10% unemployment and we had to go through some tough times to get there. I understand the economy of this country. I understand it very well and I’ve been involved in the major issues. But I also agree with you that one of the qualities that’s good to have in a vice president is sun who also has a great appreciation because the economy, I would like to tell you that I think it’s going to get better. I have long-term optimism about America’s economy but in the short-term I think we may be going through some very rough times. So I think that would enhance the requirement for credentials in some respects but I also think that it’s a person who shares my principles and value and philosophy as being the number one qualification because obviously we know what the vice president’s role is. One is to tie — cast a tie-breaking vote in the case of a tie vote in the Senate.
SENATOR McCAIN: And the other is to inquire daily as to the health of the President. So Glenn I want to say congratulations on your success. You are never without controversy and discussion and you contribute enormously to the — you contribute enormously to the discussion in America and I thank you.
GLENN: Thank you, Senator, I appreciate it.
SENATOR McCAIN: Thanks, Glenn. Talk to you soon. Bye-bye.
GLENN: I think he was mocking me at the end. I’m not sure.