<i>FTN</i> Transcript - Mar. 5

face the nation logo, 2009 CBS

Bob Schieffer, CBS
News Chief Washington Correspondent:
Today on Face the Nation, Bush and McCain: it`s down to the crunch, and Super Tuesday could decide whether Bush, the Governor of Texas and son of a former President, or McCain, the Arizona senator and former prisoner of war, gets the nomination. They`re both here, and you can look them over live, next on Face The Nation.

Announcer: And now from CBS News in Washington, Bob Schieffer.

Schieffer: And good morning. Once again joining us today from Buffalo, New York, Senator John McCain - and down in Austin, Texas, the Governor of Texas, George Bush. We begin with Senator McCain this morning. Well, Senator, you got some very big endorsements today. You sort of swept the New York papers. You got The New York Times, The New York Post, The New York Daily News and Newsday, that`s the good news. But as we look at the polls all across the Super Tuesday states, it looks like it`s going to be very, very difficult for you. If you lose in New York, Senator, do you think that realistically you can continue your campaign?

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), GOP presidential candidate: I don`t know, Bob, because it depends on what happens in the other states. I`m confident we`ll win New York. I think the people of New York have figured out that the Bush campaign and Governor Bush and his cronies in Texas have tried to hijack this campaign by putting $2.5 million in negative ads in at the very end.

This is the principle that I`ve been fighting against for all of my efforts for campaign finance reform. It`s disgraceful and shameful conduct, but I think that they came in too early. And I think the people in New York are being able to figure out that this kind of
multimillion dollar investment in attack ads by cronies of Governor Bush is something that they will reject at the polls. Not only in New York, but in Ohio and California where they are running these $2.5 million attack ads, which are obviously totally false, against me.

So I`m optimistic about tomorrow - about Tuesday. I`m upbeat. I think we`re going to - I think they`re going to figure it out and they`re also going to figure out, as they did in Michigan, that negative attack ads don`t work. And we`re running positive ads. We are we trying to build up America, not tear down anybody.

Schieffer: Let me - we want to go into details about those ads in just a moment. But I want to ask you about something quite related to that.

Last night, I was talking to one of your very best friends, and I must say one of your most senior advisers. And he said to me that you are so offended by some of these ads, especially the one accusing you of being against breast cancer research, that he thought if you did not get the Republican nomination, you might actually do what you have said you will never do, and that is run fo president as an independent. What do you say to that?

McCain: I say the Republican Party is my home. I will support the nominee of the party, which I believe will be me, which will be easy. If it`s not me, then I will have to have a campaign conducted far differently, but I will support - than it is now, which is really shameful. But I will support the nominee of the party. I will campaign for the nominee of the party, whoever it is. And my home is the Republican Party.

Schieffer: So you`re saying, no way, no how would you ever run as an independent.

McCain: I see no scenario where that would apply.

Schieffer: Do you - you know, there is a new poll out today that said if you did run as an independent, you might get a quarter of the vote. Couldn`t that cause you to perhaps rethink that?

McCain: No, but it`s fascinating. I don`t think there`s ever been a poll that showed that kind of support of a quarter of the voters, only about nine or 10 points behind the two presumed nominees of the party.

But I`m going to win the nomination by winning Super Tuesday and I`m confident of that. And so obviously that`s an interesting poll, but my view is that I`m going to win, and then I`m not going to have to worry about that. Then I would welcome the endorsement of the Reform Party once I`ve secured the Republican Party nomination.

And by the way, on this - you`re right on the breast cancer attack ads, I mean, that`s really such a low road. I voted in favor of breast cancer research 10 times. Obviously, I`m against earmarked spending. That`s what I`ve been fighting against.

Last fall, we passed the biggest pork barrel bill in history. I voted against it. Governor Bush said that he would have supported and signed it. This is a tactic, frankly, that Steve Forbes used against Bob Dole in 1996. Look at an omnibus bill, select a vote that`s in an omnibus bill and then accuse the person of taking a position that he didn`t. It`s clear that I`ve been a strong supporter of breast cancer research. In fact, the tobacco bill had $50 billion for the NIH.

Gloria Borger, U.S. News & World Report: Let me just talk to you about the breast cancer ad. When the governor heard your sister has breast cancer, he said, and I quote: "All the more reason to remind him what he said about the research that goes on here." How do you respond to that?

McCain: I`m just offended, I`m just offended. I wonder if someone who would treat a situation like that is ready for prime time.

Borger: Let me also ask you about some things that you`ve done to Governor Bush that he complains about. He says this is a two-way street, and he accuses you having called him an anti-Catholic bigot in Michigan. Do you believe that he is an anti-Catholic bigot?

McCain: I do not, nor did I say so. If you look at the transcript of that message, it said that he wnt to Bob Jones University, did not say a word for three weeks and then apologized, authenticating the message that we had.

There is not a word in it that accuses him of that, but it does state the facts that he went there, spoke - and this university practices anti-Catholic and, frankly, bigotry at a level that`s unacceptable to most Americans - and then three weeks later, expressed his regret. Those are facts, and I stand by the facts. And I`ve said them in phone messages and I say them on this program.

Schieffer: Senator, let me ask you a little bit about that. Because while you have criticized the governor strongly for going there, we`re now told by your South Carolina campaign manager - he`s since left the campaign, that`s Mr. Terry Haskins, I believe - that at one point in this campaign that your campaign was actually trying to negotiate an appearance for you at Bob Jones University, and that Lindsey Graham, one of your big supporters there, was one of those trying to negotiate an appearance for you there. Is that true?

McCain: I don`t know if it`s true or not. I know that there was conversations about it, but would I have loved to have gone to Bob Jones University. I would have to have faced them down and say get into at least the 18th Century, stop your offensive practice of banning interracial dating.

Schieffer: But, Senator, if I could...

McCain: I have an eight-year-old daughter...

Schieffer: If I could just interrupt, Mr. Haskins said you weren`t going there to chastise the people at Bob Jones University. The purpose would have been to go there to try to make a campaign appearance and to try to build support. Do you...

McCain: I`ve never - No, I would have gone there and steadfastly criticized them for what they have done and that`s what I would have done and that`s what I intended to do. I don`t know - Terry Haskins is a dear friend, but he was not a paid member of our Campaign staff, nor was there any negotiations going...

Schieffer: Well, he was the chairman of the campaign, was he not?

McCain: He was one of the chairman. But that fact is, that`s just simply not true, Bob, it`s simply not true. We would have gone - as I`ve been to other organizations that I disagree with in the past - and told them exactly how I feel about their policies.

Schieffer: When you criticized Governor Bush for going there, did you know that Mr. Haskins was a graduate of Bob Jones University and that Lindsey Graham, your big supporter, had just gotten an honorary degree there?

McCain: Yes, indeed, and I knew all those things. That doesn`t mean that I agreed with anything that Bob Jones University stands for. My record indicates that very clearly.

And I have steadfastly opposed - Bob, I have a daughter who is from Bangladesh. I mean, for me to go to a university that has that kind of a policy and not criticize i? Look, I don`t like to personalize anything in a campaign, but goodness gracious, let`s be clear here about my position on these issues for many, many years and my outspokenness about them.

Borger: Senator, last week you told Governor Bush to get his campaign out of the Governor - out of the gutter, sorry. And he responded by saying that you were running what he called an angry campaign. Is he trying to resurrect the issue of whether you have the temperament to become President of the United States?

McCain: Oh, sure; oh, yeah. We`ve been running positive ads. We have no negative attack ads up on the air. He has a proliferation of them. He has been attacking me. These kinds of - this intervention of his cronies, which is clearly done by the Bush campaign, I mean they`re all so tied to each other.

Borger: Do you have proof of that? What`s the proof? You know, there`s an environmental ad running that one of Governor Bush`s friends is paying. Do you have any solid proof that there has been coordination - which would be illegal - between the Bush campaign and the person running these ads?

McCain: The person is a crony of Governor Bush`s. He spent the night there. He has - getting paid a million dollars a year by the education system. He`s one of the pioneers. They are the people involved in making the ads. They`re all people that are associated with the Bush campaign. You can draw your own conclusions.

McCain: You can draw your own conclusions.

Schieffer: Senator, today Jerry Falwell, one of the leaders of the religious right who you have severely criticized, said today that if you`re the Republican nominee, that he was going to vote for you. Do you want his support?

McCain: No, not unless Mr. Falwell changes his views about a lot of issues. I welcome the vote of anyone who supports my views and ideas. But his and mine are in strong opposition to each other. I proudly voted to impeach the president - to convict the President of the United States on the grounds that he lied under oath.

Mr. Falwell alleges that President Clinton is a murderer. I don`t believe that that`s the case - and I don`t think there`s any place in American politics for those allegations. He would have to start by recanting that to start with.

Schieffer: OK, Governor Bush will be here in just a second. Do you have anything you`d like to say to him directly?

McCain: Well, I`m sorry that he wouldn`t agree to a debate on Tim Russert. I`m sorry that we couldn`t have had an exchange on this program. I would have looked forward to the debate.

But it`s too late now, but I deeply regret that he would try to allow two of his cronies from Texas to hijack this campaign by putting in $2.5 million in attack ads which are not true, and I also feel that the attacks on my position on breast cancer research are beyond bounds. But I`ve got a positiv campaign. I`m optimistic, we`re running on our message, I`m a reformer, I`m the physical conservative and I`m proud of the campaign we`ve been running and I look forward to Tuesday.

Schieffer: OK, thank you.

McCain: Thank you.

Schieffer: In a minute, we`ll hear from Governor Bush in just a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Schieffer: And now joining us from Austin, Texas, the Governor of Texas, George W. Bush. Governor, thank you very much for coming this morning.

Well, you heard what Senator McCain said. He said, basically, you were simply not ready for prime time and he cites as an example for saying that, these ads that you ran about accusing him of being against breast cancer research up in New York and some of the comments that you said after it was learned that his sister has breast cancer. What`s your response to that, Governor?

Gov. George W. Bush (R-TX), GOP presidential candidate: Well, my response is, the Republican Party and independents are going to nominate me, because I`m talking about things that matter for America.

I`m talking about an education system that will have high standards, local control of schools, strong accountability. I`m talking about keeping the peace by restoring the military, by strengthening the military. I`m talking about an economic growth plan that will share some of the surplus with people that pay the bills. That`s why I`m going to be the nominee.

You know, Gloria, when you mentioned the breast cancer, about the sister, I expressed concern about the sister. I was - I`ve got a lot of friends myself who have had breast cancer here in the state of Texas. I help support the Coman foundation, for example. My wife has been very much involved in breast cancer awareness.

What my ad said, Bob and Gloria, was this. It said that John listed a series of projects called garden variety pork on his web page that caught the attention of my campaign, but as importantly, caught the attention of people who are concerned about breast cancer on Long Island. And the ad does not question his votes. The ad questions the programs that he said he was going to reduce or eliminate. That`s exactly what it says.

Now he can try to convert this into something different, but this is a man who said he`s going to eliminate pork and we listed the pork he said he was going to eliminate.

Schieffer: But, Governor, what happened here is the vote that they picked out was an appropriation that had been stuck into a Defense appropriations bill. There had been no debate on it. There had been no discussion of it and the question you could raise is, well, why should people in New York deserve that appropriation any more than the folks down in Austin?

The fact of the matter is that Senator McCain has voted for breast cancer research at least 10 times. Isn`t it a little unfair to say he`s against that?

Bush: No, that`fine that he did that. But this ad spoke specifically to programs that he lists that he was going to eliminate, programs that related to Long Island and breast cancer research. This ad took specific programs that he listed on his own web page. The problem with discussing all these ads, and it`s fine to discuss them,
is that it doesn`t allow me time to discuss what I want to do for America.

Schieffer: Well, but the fact is that you have launched these ads and that your friends have spent $2.5 million now on an ad that you say you know nothing about attacking his environmental record.

I mean, isn`t that just exactly what Senator McCain says has gone haywire in America where somebody can come in, spend all this money. No one would have known who spent the money up there attacking his environmental record, if the reporters hadn`t rooted it out, and yet these friends may wind up spending more in New York than you and Senator McCain are spending up there.

Bush: Bob, there are people spending ads that say nice things about me. There are people spending money on ads that say ugly things about me. That`s part of the American - let me finish, that`s part of the American process.

There have been ads independent expenditures that are saying bad things about me. I don`t particularly care when they did. But that`s what freedom of speech is all about and this allegation, somehow that I`m involved with this is just totally ridiculous, it is uncalled for. There is no, no truth whatsoever.

The notion that this man who ran the ad spent the night in the Governor`s Mansion, I think Senator McCain just made that allegation. It`s just not true.

Borger: Well, Governor, do you think you should stop these ads?

Bush: You know, let me say something to you. People have the right to run ads, they have the right to do what they want to do under the First Amendment in America. I don`t think these ads are particularly helpful to me.

Borger: So you have a right to ask them to stop.

Bush: I spend more time talking about these ads than I talk about an education programs that`s going to make America a much better placeÂ…

Schieffer: Well then, why don`t you...

Bush: ...But I would much rather be talking about children than some independent expenditure or independent expenditures that are against me.

Borger: So if you tell them to stop, if you tell them to stop, than you would be talking about the other issues, why not just say, stop the ads?

Bush: These are independent expenditures, Gloria. This was a decision made totally independent from my campaign. I heard the Senator say the guy spent the night at the mansion? I want to see some substantiation on that.

Schieffer: Well, how is it, Governor, that people can see someone spend $2.5 million on your behalf, this is someone that`s contributed to your campaign as govrnor. I don`t know the details, but I understand he also does business with the state of Texas. How can people sit here and look at this and say, this fellow is just for good government. He doesn`t want a thing for Governor Bush or he won`t need a thing from President Bush. He`s just for good government and that`s why he`s spending all this money. Isn`t that one reason people just find politics so disgusting these days?

Bush: Bob, this is a guy who contributed to Senator McCain when he was a Senator, I understand. This is a man who made a decision to spend money on his own. Obviously, the ads aren`t that helpful to me. I`m spending more time talking about ads than I am talking about my agenda.

Schieffer: Well again, I go back to the question then: why don`t you tell him to stop, so you can talk about what you need to be talking about?

Bush: Because these are independent expenditures. I don`t want to - you know, you say are they coordinated? Why should I pick up the phone and coordinate with him to get them down? You know, they`re not helping me. Just like the Sierra Club doesn`t help me when they run ads.

What I would rather talk about is an education plan. We have a huge difference of opinion on education here in this primary. And I want to keep talking about that. And that`s what I`m going to do when I go out to California.

Borger: Governor, Senator McCain just a few minutes ago called your campaign disgraceful and shameful. How do you respond to that?

Bush: I just respond by saying look at the results. People are pouring into our party because I`ve energized the Republican Party. I`m going to unite our party. I`m bringing new folks into the primary. I`m getting the young vote.

Young people don`t come in and vote in this primary if they don`t hear a message that`s optimistic and hopeful. I`m painting a picture for a better tomorrow. I`m talking about giving people some of their own money back. We`ve got a surplus and yet taxes are the highest they have been since World War II. I`ve got a plan that says children are not going to be left behind in American schools. And people are hearing that call. People know that I`m going to lift the spirits of this country when I become the nominee and the president. And that`s why they`re coming on my side.

Borger: Governor, you have also said that McCain is running an angry campaign. Are you raising that issue of his temperament and whether he is temperamentally suited to be President of the United States?

Bush: No, I`ve also said that if John`s the nominee, I`ll support him. We just have a disagreement. I happen to think I`ll be a better president and a better leader for our party. And a better leader for our party.

Borger: But he says you`re raising that issue.

Bush: Well, he may - he can say what he wants to say. I`m just telling you that I`m going to b a better candidate. I`m going to be the person that can paint a picture that is optimistic and hopeful.

I have a record of leadership in the state of Texas. The results here in this state are impressive when it comes to the education of our children. And our party ought to have a standard bearer who`s able to say to America, look what`s happened. Here are the tangible results. Our students are learning. Our party ought to have somebody who says I can reach out to Hispanic voters and African-American voters to be able to help us not only win but help America realize its potential.

Schieffer: Governor, I ask Senator McCain a couple of minutes ago about your appearance at Bob Jones University. He revealed - or we have discovered that at the same time he was criticizing you, in fact his campaign was also negotiating for an appearance for him to go there. But I want to ask you something. On reflection, if you had it to do over again, would you go back to Bob Jones University?

Bush: You know, I would have. And I would have said, we`re all God`s children. And I would have said there`s great religions in America that make America great, including the Catholic faith. I regret missing an opportunity. I really do.

When I was there I talked about uniting America, and I talked about the plans for education and the plans to keep the peace and the plans for economic growth. I`ve talked to a lot of Catholic leaders since then. They know where my heart is, Bob. They know I`ve been an inclusive governor, somebody who has brought people together.

I really believe this issue has backfired on John. I believe that he raised a lot of doubts about my heart and people are overwhelmingly responding. I was in a parade yesterday in upstate New York and there were signs all over the place saying, I`m A Proud Catholic For George W. Bush.

Borger: Governor, why is it that every major New York newspaper today seems to have endorsed John McCain`s candidacy?

Bush: I don`t know. You better ask the editors up there. He can have the editorial page endorsements. I want the votes of the people who are going to decide who the Republican nominee is. I think I`ve got a good chance in New York.

I came back late last night from Connecticut and New York. And the response has been overwhelming. We`ve got a great grass roots organization. And people are fired up because of the positive message.

People aren`t listening to all this squabbling about, you know, these ads. What people want is somebody to lead us. And lead us to a better tomorrow by having an education system that works and an economy that`s strong. I keep talking about this, but America has got to understand the taxes are the highest they`ve been on the working people since World War II. And we better share some of the surplus with the people who pay the taxes so the economy will continue to grow.

Schieffer: All riht. Governor, we have to leave it there. Thank you very much for being with us this morning. As we wish Senator McCain, we also wish you good luck down the campaign trail.

Bush: Thanks a lot.

Schieffer: Back in a moment with a final word. Thank you, Governor.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Schieffer: Finally today, it is a real shame the whole country can`t be watching this Bush-McCain race from a vantage point in New York.

For pure entertainment and delicious meanness, nothing beats New York politics and the tabloids are having a fine time with this year`s sideshow, which features Governor George Pataki squaring off against New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Now mind you, they are both Republicans and both Bush supporters but they`ve always despised each other and this campaign has not proved to be a bonding experience for them.
Pataki would loving to be Bush`s running mate, so he`s taken over the Bush campaign with relish, doing what they do in New York like saying McCain is against breast cancer research and so on. But here the plot thickens. Giuliani has ulterior motives, too. He is running for the Senate against you-know-who, and has figured out that if he`s going to beat her, he`ll need some of those independents who are for McCain.

So even though he is a Bush man, he announced he`ll say only nice things about McCain. Wait, Giuliani wanting a nice campaign? Pataki`s top adviser said she was dumbfounded by such an attitude which was when somebody else called the whole thing stupid. Heaven knows where this will all end. But by Friday mccain himself wrote to Bush man Giuliani to thank him for keeping the tenor of the campaign positive.

You know, it`s not often that a candidate compliments someone on the other side for being nice. But as I said at the top, it is New York.

Well, for continuing political coverage, visit our Campaign 2000 and Face The Nation websites at cbs.com. That`s our broadcast. See you next week right here on Face The Nation.

(END)

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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