"Face the Nation" transcripts, July 8, 2012: Sen. McCain, Sen. Durbin, ex-Gov Barbour
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-Arizona/Armed Services Committee): Well, first of all, I appreciate the remarks of the Secretary of State. I admire her greatly. But the fact is the United States has played no leadership role. Now, fourteen thousand people have been massacred by Bashar Assad. The United States of America's performance so far has been shameful and disgraceful.
Kofi Annan just announced today, that his plan has utterly failed and what do we need to do. We need to show first leadership. The President of the United States should be speaking out for the people of Syria. Second of all, we should get arms to them, so that we can balance the forces. It's not a fair fight. Russian arms are pouring in, Iranians are on the ground, and people are being massacred, tortured, raped, and murdered as a matter of policy by Bashar Assad. We need to establish a sanctuary, so that they can organize, they can resist, and they can prevail. I believe that some day, he, Bashar Assad, will go. My question is to the Secretary of State and the President of the United States is, how many more have to die before we take action to help these people with other nations and I don't mean American boots on the ground? It's shameful, the total lack of leadership that the United States has displayed for the last fourteen months.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, you talk about getting arms into help the people. How do we know which rebels to help? Because this is kind of a-- a desperate group here, and-- and my understanding is, we don't really know who some of these people are. How do we-- number one, how do we get the arms there and how do we know which of the rebels to give them to?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: First of all, some of the weapons are coming in now, and, you know, I saw that movie before in, Libya, we didn't know who they were, it could be al Qaeda, I heard it even in Bosnia and Kosovo. The fact is that these people are not-- have not been taken over by extremists or al Qaeda, but they could be if this conflict get-- drags on for months and even years, but the fact is that we know who to get arms to, we know that if they had a sanctuary or a safe zone that they could organize better, and there are already some arms flowing in, not thanks to the United States of America, but thanks to some other countries in the region. I am confident that if we overthrow Bashar Assad the people of Syria will do exactly what the Libyan people did yesterday and that is vote for a democratic and freely elected government.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You-- you do not seem to be agreeing with Secretary Clinton when she says Assad's days are numbered; you sound like it may go on for a while?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: How long, I say with great respect? How many times has Secretary Clinton said that in the last fourteen months? Right now, Bashar Assad is able to massacre and slaughter people and stay in power. Thanks to the supply of Russian arms. Thanks to Iranians that are on the ground. We are now have people with Kalashnikovs fighting against tanks, artillery, and helicopter gun ships that are massacring them. So, I believe that his days are numbered but those days could be very large in numbers, and it requires American leadership working with countries in the region. I know these people, these leaders in these other countries. They are crying out for American leadership, and by the way, when was the last time the President of the United States stood up and said, we are with these people. They are fighting for the same things that we believe in and stand for.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You're-- you're also just back from Afghanistan. Senator, in 2009, President Karzai pledged and said that cleaning up corruption would be his number one priority. As far as I know, since 2009, not one single person has been brought to trial and found guilty on corruption charges. Now, you have just met with President Karzai, as I understand it, do you have any indication that he is getting ready to-- to do something about this? Because we're pledging on more billions of dollars, us and NATO, and I think it's fair to say a lot of people think this is just money down a rat hole because he doesn't seem to be changing at all. Do you have any indication that he's going to get serious about this?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: I have a strong indication that President Karzai has pledged to spend the next two years, before the expiration of his presidency, in fighting corruption in his country. Now, whether he'll actually do that or not, it also would come close--so close to him as to members of his family--remains to be seen. He has pledged to do that. We must hold him to that. There are two major challenges to success in Afghanistan. One is the corruption that is permeates the country; and the other, of course, is the Haqqani Network and the sanctuary that the extremists, the Haqqani Network and others have in Pakistan with the active cooperation of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service. We have to go after that Haqqani Network and we have to go after them wherever they are, and we have to see progress in cleaning up in corruption and the President continues to announce withdrawals rather than strategies for victory.
BOB SCHIEFFER: I want to shift a little bit to the campaign. Now you are a Mitt Romney man. He's been getting a lot of advice from fellow Republicans lately. He's also been getting a lot of criticism, especially from Rupert Murdoch and-- and all the people that work for him, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, The Weekly Standard. Do you think this is criticism that is coming from all parts of the Republican Party or is it just confined to the-- the Rupert Murdoch folk?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Well, Bob, as a former candidate for President, albeit a losing one, I can't tell you how many-- how much good advice I got from people, especially when it appeared that maybe things aren't going so well. You're always-- it was always welcome, but the fact is, there is one person in the arena. Mitt Romney has been through a very tough primary. He has not only survived it but prevailed over a number of candidates. He has a good, strong campaign. I will leave it up to the pundits as to who should be fired and who shouldn't. But this campaign and this election is going to come down to jobs and the economy. The latest jobs numbers, obviously, incredibly the President says is a step forward. I would hate to see a step backward.
BOB SCHIEFFER: You know, in campaigns as you well know appearance is often everything. A lot of Democrats criticized Mister Romney over the Fourth of Ju-- July holiday for riding around in a speedboat, while those numbers were-- were coming out. He's now planning to go to the Olympics and then later he'll go to Israel. Do you think he's going to be criticized for that? Should he be staying closer to home?
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: You know it's hard for me to say what-- what a presidential nominee should or shouldn't do, and I know that those decisions are thought through. I really think it's important that Mitt Romney go to Israel, particularly, since these are the most very dangerous times, as you know, the talks with Iran predictably have failed an and we are facing what could be a serious crisis between Israel and Iran, so I strongly support that. The Olympics, you know, Mitt Romney has a history of taking the Olympics in Salt Lake City from total disaster and actual criminal behavior to the most successful in history. But I don't presume to tell him where he should go or where he shouldn't go. And, again, Bob, these are things that are the back and forth and the pundits love to talk about, but I still say again, jobs and the economy, and also national security--
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: --and America's failure to lead.
BOB SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, thank you so much, Senator, for joining us. And we'll be back in one minute.
BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now to talk some and politics, Senator Dick Durbin, the number two Democrat in the senate. He's in Springfield, Illinois, this morning. And here with me at the table, former Mississippi governor and chairman of The Republican National Committee, Haley Barbour.
Governor, let me just start with you. Speaker John Boehner was asked last week by a Romney's supporter can you help me love Mitt Romney, and he said no. Here's his quote, "No. I wasn't elected to play God. The American people probably aren't going to fall in love with Mitt Romney. Ninety-five percent of the people who show up to vote are going to vote for or against Barack Obama. Mitt Romney has some friends, some relatives, some fellow Mormons that are going to vote for him but that's not what this election is about. It's going to be a referendum on the President's failed economic policies. Romney is a solid guy. He is going to do a great job even if you don't fall in love with him. Is that enough, though, just to say let's get rid of Barack Obama. Is it going to take more than that, Governor?
HALEY BARBOUR (Former Mississippi Governor/Former Republican National Committee Chairman): Of course, every presidential election in the United States is a referendum on the incumbent President if the incumbent is running and his record. In this case Obama's economic policies and failure to make the economy grow or help the economy grow, create jobs is going to be the first thing. But at the end of the day, Mitt Romney also has to give people something to vote for. I think that is more a matter of timing. I think right now Romney is smart to wait before he starts laying out proposal after proposal but he ultimately will. But the important thing, Bob, is the American people will then compare that to Obama's record, and that referendum on his record will happen. John Boehner is right about that.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Do you think people don't love Mitt Romney?
HALEY BARBOUR: No, you know--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Is that a problem?
HALEY BARBOUR: --I think a lot of people who know Mitt Romney will really, really like him, fond of him, and think he is-- he is an enormously generous guy. Here's a guy that's given incredible amounts of money to charity, quit a multi-million-dollar-a-year job to go run in the Olympics because of-- he's doing it for his country. There is a lot to love about Mitt Romney. But the election still is going to be a referendum on Obama's policies--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Okay.
HALEY BARBOUR: --and the results of those policies, which are pretty poor.
BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator Durbin, started Governor Barbour off with a quote from a Republican. Here's one from a Democrat, former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote in The Huffington Post this week that President Obama did inherit a bad economy from George Bush. But he says, "The excuse is wearing thin. It is his economy now, and most voters don't care what inherited." And "if the economy stays bad," Robert Reich said "he's not going to be elected." Is that fair? Does he have a point?
SENATOR RICHARD DURBIN (Assistant Majority Leader): Well, I-- I tell you, it's-- it's clear that economy is the number one issue. It's also clear that the month that Obama was sworn into office we lost eight hundred thousand jobs that month. Last month we created eighty thousand jobs in the private sector. In the last twenty-eight months we have seen consistent private sector job growth. It is also clear that when it comes to contrasting, Mitt Romney has no economic plan. He wants to return us to those thrilling days of the bush yesteryears that brought us into this recession. But he has two other problems in his campaign that have really dragged him down, he can't get lift. The second one is the whole question of health care reform. Let's get down to the bottom line here. Mitt Romney is the Obamacare daddy. He gave birth to this baby up in Massachusetts and now he doesn't recognize it; he can't pick out any straight-- strains in the hereditary chain there that looked like anything that he did in Massachusetts. But let me tell you, Bob, there's a third issue looming here and it's all about a lighthouse off Nan-- Nantucket called Sand Katie. If you read the vi-- Vanity Fair piece and The Associated Press piece we understand the following. Mitt Romney has failed to make an economic disclosure that every President and candidate for President has made in the last thirty-six years goes back to his father, who disclosed twelve years of tax returns, he's disclosed one. Secondly, he is the first and only candidate for President of the United States with a Swiss bank account with tax shelters, with tax avoidance schemes that involve so many foreign countries. And the third is that when it comes down to his Swiss bank account, there is just no way to explain it.
- Leigh Ann Caldwell
Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.Follow on Twitter »
- AP president blasts "unconstitutional" phone records probe
- President at a crossroads
- Gates knocks "cartoonish" Benghazi criticism
- May 19: Pfeiffer, Cornyn, Chaffetz & Pruitt
- Face the facts: A fact check on gas prices
- Gitmo closing: Time for rhetoric has passed, says Amnesty leader
- Bob Schieffer on "dumb and dumber" in Washington
- Gates: "Difficult if not impossible" to get military assets to Benghazi in time
- Pruitt: Justice Department's seizure of AP phone records "unconstitutional"
- Drones have not "made us any safer," argues Amnesty leader
- Face the Nation: Local Listings
- Maya Angelou recalls her childhood on Mother's Day
- Noonan: Petraeus resignation "mysterious"
- Official: We knew Benghazi was a terrorist attack "from the get-go"
- Face the Nation transcripts May 12, 2013: Gates, Pickering, Ayotte, Durbin, and Angelou