With a deadline looming in the fight over our nation's debt ceiling, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., has become an increasingly prominent -- and sometimes frustrated -- voice in the debate. He spoke to CBS News's Bob Schieffer Thursday. A transcript follows:
Schieffer: We're joined by Republican Senator John McCain who was so frustrated by all of this year he called the situation "bizarre-o." Senator, have you seen anything today to cause you to step back from from that description?
McCain: Not really, Bob. But I do believe that this country is not going to go into default for the first time in history. And let me just tell you what I think scenario is most likely. First of all, the Republicans that are very reluctant to vote for this short-term fix campaigned on the promise to their voters that they would make very deep and significant cuts. So I'm in some sympathy with the dilemma that they're in. But I believe that some time tonight Speaker Boehner will get sufficient number of votes, they will send it over here, and Sen. Harry Reid and the majority over here will vote it down.
Harry Reid will not be able to get his version passed, either, which, by the way, has not got real cuts in it. But it does not have tax increases in it, unlike the President's present stand. Then the leaders will sit down and negotiate and we will not have this country in default. And I think that people are becoming more and more aware of the consequences not only in the United States, but worldwide.
Schieffer: But is what you're saying here, Senator, is that you think that what is basically Sen. Reid's plan now, that Republicans could find some way to go along with that and then that could pass the House?
McCain: I do not at this time. I certainly wouldn't because it has a trillion dollars in cuts in spending based on our withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. That's just not real. But I believe the result of negotiations with Speaker Boehner, Sen. McConnell and Sen. Reid, they could arrive at a conclusion because the major objection that a lot of us had was we don't want to increase taxes. The majority leader Reid has already made that concession in his proposal.
Schieffer: Senator, the thing that I wonder about is I think the congressional leaders on both sides are ready to make a deal. But what I wonder about is can the followers go along with the leaders or will the congress stumble into some kind of default here, despite the best intentions of the leaders on both sides?
McCain: I believe they can and will. How soon is, I'm not clear on. It may require some kind of a warning shot. For example, watch the markets tomorrow, the financial markets around the world. I believe that the American people have very different views about what we're in, but the major view is disdain and even larger than that is that they want us to sit down and agree to something because they don't want this government to deprive them of the service, which they very need and have earned.
Schieffer: Okay, so bizarre-o still stands, but you think they will find a way. Thank you, Senator.