Saturday, November 1, 2008

Obama on CNN's 'Situation Room': Transcript (10-31-08)

Barack Obama was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer. Read the complete transcript.

BLITZER: Iowa showed that a black man can really get a lot of white people's support.

OBAMA: I think that's part of what it showed but what it also showed, I think you'll remember because you were watching. A lot of people were skeptical about young people coming out, about people who traditionally haven't participated in caucuses getting involved. And here's where we, I think, proved that we can get people much more engaged in the political process than they had been before.

BLITZER: Let's go through a whole bunch of substantive economic issues, foreign policy issues. I'm going to give you quick questions, if you give me quick answers I think we'll get through a lot. We have limited time, as you know.

You want universal health care or something approaching universal health care. That is a top priority. Where is the money going to come from?

OBAMA: Well, we're going to have to cut back on some things that don't make sense right now. We're spending $15 billion a year, for example, under the Medicare program to subsidize insurance companies. We're going to have to cut some programs that don't work in order to provide health care and as I said before, we're going to roll back the Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans, people making over $250,000 a year, especially millionaires and billionaires who have been making much more than that.

BLITZER: So in effect that will pay for the health care?

OBAMA: That will pay for the health care.

BLITZER: What about the war in Iraq? You're going to want to stop that war as well, right?

OBAMA: The war in Iraq, we can achieve some significant savings. It's not going to come immediately. I've said I want a responsible drawdown.

We're still going to have to refit our military. We're still going to have to deal with rising veterans' costs. Post traumatic stress disorder, for example, I think it has been under-diagnosed. We've got to make sure treatment …

BLITZER: But the $12 billion the United States is spending a month right now on Iraq, that's going to go on at least for what, a year, a year and a half?

OBAMA: My hope is that we draw down that money over time, it's drastically reduced. But the point is that we're not going to be able to take that $12 billion and suddenly automatically apply it all to domestic stuff. We've got to take care of our troops. And we're still going to have expenditures in Afghanistan because we need to hunt down bin Laden and al Qaeda and put them finally out of business.

BLITZER: Senator McCain says if he's president, he will veto every piece of legislation that has pork barrel spending or earmarks. Will you make that same commitment?

OBAMA: You know, here is what I tell you. We're going to have to fundamentally change how our appropriations process works. And I want to sit down with members of Congress, should I be elected, even before I am sworn in and explain to them that some of these projects may be worthy projects in their home state, home district, but right now we can only do those things that are absolutely necessarily.

And if we're going to have a project, I think it has to be not just a whim of a particular local community, it's got to be something that serves to help build the overall economy and move us in a better direction.

BLITZER: At a time of economic crisis, as it is right now, the worst since the Great Depression, people want to know who you'll be surrounded with on these important decisions. Who do you think will be your secretary of the Treasury?

OBAMA: Well, I am not going to make that kind of news …

BLITZER: Give me an example of the folks that you're thinking about.

OBAMA: I haven't won yet. But I'll tell you who already is part of my senior economic advisory group because you've seen them. Paul Volcker.

Former Federal Reserve Board chairman. Larry Summers, former treasury of the – secretary of the Treasury. Warren Buffett, who has been a great friend and great adviser and talked to me a lot during this recent economic crisis.

Those are the kinds of people that I expect will surround me, will help me make decisions, but it's getting ahead of ourselves for me to identify particular Cabinet folks.

McCain Interview with ABC's Charles Gibson: Transcript (10-31-08)

Read the complete transcript.

GIBSON: You said irresponsible to measure the drapes. But do you have in mind a spreadsheet of people that you would bring into a McCain administration?

MCCAIN: Oh, sure. Yeah. Yeah. A long list of these or acquaintances and people that I've known for a quarter of a century, but there's also people who are wise people who may not come into the official position -- Henry Kissinger. Henry Kissinger is a man I've admired and respected ever since the day I came out of prison camp in Vietnam. I call Henry all the time.

Now, is Henry and I always in agreement? No. George Schultz, secretary of the Treasury, secretary of state, probably wouldn't want to come back and work in Washington, but I'm in constant contact with him.

GIBSON: But are these new faces we would see in a McCain administration? You've talked about change?

MCCAIN: Well, Democrats as well as Republicans. And if I start going down a list of names -- but they are respected people in America.

GIBSON: But it would be a nonpartisan Cabinet?

MCCAIN: Oh, sure.

GIBSON: Democrats?

MCCAIN: Of course.

GIBSON: More than just a token?

MCCAIN: No, no. A lot of Democrats. But I think the key now, restoring trust and confidence. How do you do that? By having trusted and respected people in your government, people -- Meg Whitman, founder of eBay. People say, gee, that's the person that turned the 10-employee business into one that employs 1.3 million people in America. That's a person -- a woman we can identify with, a leader we can identify. Those kinds of people.

Of course, I would look to Silicon Valley as well. Some of the success stories there. John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco. Fred Smith, who's made a great success out of FedEx. Obviously, I would want the advice of someone like Warren Buffett and Paul Volcker and others who are respected Democrats. Rubin is another one. Others that Americans can say, hey, this will give us some confidence and trust back.

GIBSON: Clean break, though? No holdovers from the Bush administration?

MCCAIN: I think that Secretary Gates, as secretary of defense, has done a fantastic job. And I think that people all agree with that. I'm not sure that he would want to stay permanently. That is one of the toughest jobs in America. But I'd like for him to at least stay on for awhile while we arrange whatever transition may be necessary.

Quietly, he's taken on some of the bad practices in the Pentagon itself. He's quite a guy.

GIBSON: First priority of a -- President-elect McCain.

MCCAIN: Any president. Any president is to ensure America's security. You've got -- that is a first priority of any president throughout our history, particularly, in the 20th and 21st centuries. We're in two wars. We face the existential threats of radical Islamic extremism.

So, obviously, that has to be any chief executives first responsibility. The second -- and, obviously, right now, the highest priority of the American people get the economy out of the ditch and moving again and create jobs. And national security and military security and economic security are not -- they are inextricably tied. No nation in history has had a terrible economy and maintained its military strength.

GIBSON: What would you want out of a lame-duck session of Congress? Second stimulus package?

MCCAIN: No. I'd like to sit down and talk with the members of Congress and find out exactly what's needed. But I'll tell you one thing. I'd lay down the law. No more pork. No more pork. We can't afford it. We -- we can't afford it.

Now, that will be a big fight that I will have with my own party as well as the Democrat Party. But there's a 9 percent approval rating of Congress today. We just had one of our most senior -- the most senior Republican in the Senate convicted by a jury of his peers. OK? We have members of Congress residing in federal prison. There are investigations going on.

And I can tell you what my friend Tom Coburn says, earmarking is a gateway drug. And it leads to corruption and I've seen it. And we've got to stop it. And don't think that it's, quote, always been there. It hasn't. It's grown worse and worse like any other evil that goes unchecked. So we'd take that on right away.