Transcript: John McCain And His Mother


John McCain: She certainly is an example I site quite frequently (laughter) when the subject comes up. Obviously, as you can tell, she's in excellent health. And I claim that I inherited all those genes from her.

Couric: You don't like when your son's age is brought up, do you?

Roberta McCain: No. No, I don't mind. You know … in politics there are pluses and there are minuses. And it's true. One year's old could have a minus. But when you think about the experience, and what he's accomplished, and the legislation that he's been able to get through, as opposed to a man who, two years ago was in the state legislature at-- Illinois. So that is a big minus in my view of …

John McCain: That's why I have to take her with me wherever I go.

Roberta McCain: With someone with so little experience. And then who has the most liberal of record of voting in the United States. And I'm no liberal. So of course I think that it's over (unintelligible) on the Republican side.

Couric: You speak your mind don't you? (Laughter) I know that, back in January, you said the Republican base was offering no help whatsoever …

Roberta McCain: That's true.

Couric: …to your son. (Laughter) Now that he's become the nominee do you think he's getting the help he needs?

Roberta McCain: I don't know. I really don't know. And I'm not equivocating. I don't know anything about it.

Couric: Do you feel, though, that the Republican Party is behind him enough?

Roberta McCain: I think they are a lot wiser than I am. And they know … how to do this. I don't. So I really … and I'm not really trying to get out of this. I … haven't thought about it. And I would assume that they know what they're doing, and they're doing the way that this should be run politically.

Couric: Do you ever say, "Mom, please zip it!?"

Roberta McCain: It won't do him any good.

John McCain: (Laughter) I was gonna say, I think at 96 she probably has earned the right to express her views. And I think, Mom, if I could just add on, I think our party … is united. I think we have a lot of work to do, obviously. But primaries are always tough. And … we're pretty much together.

Roberta McCain: Yeah. Well, I'm … I don't know. I assume that it's the way it should be.

Couric: Some of your opponents, Senator, have said that you are the equivalent of a third Bush term. How can you convince voters that you're not gonna be more of the same?

John McCain: Well, obviously, a view of my record, which there has been differences on climate change, or the war, or spending. But the important thing I think about every election, and this one probably more so than many recently is that how we're gonna have a plan of action and vision for the future.

Americans are going through a very tough time now. Housing issue. People are sitting around the kitchen table who have just lost their jobs recently and suddenly. So I think they're very interested in what you can do to help them better themselves and their lives and their futures. And I think that's what most voters would focus on. And I have to give them that vision. And I have the vision and the plan of action. But I've got about six months now, I think, in order to convince them. And it's gonna be a tough job.

Couric: I know you've talked about this, Sen. McCain, but … I want to give you just a moment to clarify it. Often the criticism against you, vis-à-vis Iraq, is that you're going to commit U.S. troops for an additional 100 years. What exactly did you say and why do you think that's been so misinterpreted?

John McCain: What I was saying and what I say today is that after we win the war in Iraq, when they have an esca… a security arrangement with the Iraqis after the Korean War we kept troops in South Korea. It was a buffer for our security.

After the war in first Gulf War we have a base in Kuwait. It's not American presence. It is American causalities that Americans care about. And I'm gonna win this war. And I'm gonna bring our troops home and I'm gonna bring them home honorably.

And if we do what Sen. Obama and Sen. Clinton want to do, I am convinced that we will be back with greater sacrifice of American blood and treasure. And a year ago, Katie, I said to you I would much rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. We are succeeding in Iraq. And I'm not going to take a course of action that I believe will endanger American lives and cause us to have more sacrifice. And I'm convinced to that.

Couric: What do you say … a troop presence? How many troops are we talking about senator?

John McCain: It would depend on the security arrangement. But, again, it's … the same kind of deal we have with South Korea. We have with Kuwait. We have with Japan. We have with Germany. We have troops, as the world's super power, in a lot of places in the world.

After the war is over, and it will be over, and we will bring the troops home with … honor and victory, then we will discuss those arrangements with the Iraqis, just as we did after the Korean War with the South Korean government. And I don't know of anyone who objects to having American troops in South Korea.

Couric: Mrs. McCain, you were born before women had the right to vote.

Roberta McCain: Yeah, that's right.

Couric: And I'm just curious how you feel about the first serious female candidate for president of the United States, just the very notion of that how...

Roberta McCain: I think it's a wonderful idea. I don't see any difference between a man and a woman. Except physically. They're stronger than we are but the rest of that I think that … what's happened with women and is already been … proved. You don't have to argue about it.

Couric: Have you talked to Sen. Clinton, Sen. McCain, lately?

John McCain: Not recently, I haven't, Katie. I just haven't had the chance to run into her.

Couric: You think very highly of her.

John McCain: I respect her. I respect Sen. Obama. And we intend to run a respectful campaign.

Couric: You and Sen. Clinton … had a noted drinking contest in (Laughter) Estonia. And I understand she … drank you under the table. Is that not right? Can you confirm that senator?

John McCain: That is the most exaggerated story in history. We had a drink together after a long day. And that was really all there was to it. Really, that's all there was too it. I know it makes for exciting conversation but it just that just simply wasn't the case. But we did travel together. And we've worked together on the Armed Services Committee.

Couric: Who would you rather run against? Sen. Clinton or Sen. Obama?

John McCain: It doesn't matter. I have no choice in the matter, so we just have to run our own campaign. Each, according to some experts, have, you know, but it's all gonna be about my campaign.

Couric: Some people say … the longer this goes on the more damaging it is to the Democratic Party. Are you encouraging Sen. Clinton to stay in the race? (Laughter)

John McCain: No, but, you know, I've heard two sides of that argument too Katie. One is that … the dissention between the two of them … helps me in … that the differences that are exploited between them. The other argument I hear is, well, they're out there motivating people to register as Democrats.

And motivating their base of … So I don't know what's the right answer. But I … think, also, that most Americans really start focusing political campaigns after the conventions. Which is, you know, the end of august, the beginning of September. And then I think they'll be focusing a lot … on our campaigns and making judgments of that. Just as in the primaries, as you might recall, people really didn't start focusing until after Labor Day this last year.

Couric: What is the most exciting part about the potential of having your son in the White House?

Roberta McCain: I don't have any.

Couric: Come on.

Roberta McCain: I'm true … it's true. What happens will happen.

John McCain: How about being able to go to … any of the museums any time day or night? How's that?

Roberta McCain: That's another matter.

Couric: What do you think is the most exciting aspect of your son's potential presidency?

Roberta McCain: I'm amazed … how well rounded he is on so many subjects. When … just out of the blue people ask him questions … and he knows as much as he knows. Honey, everything about the McCain family is just 100 percent (unintelligible) right or wrong … that's it.

John McCain: But could I also, in the interest of full disclosure, mention that, from time to time, we have spirited discussions.

Roberta McCain: Oh yes.

John McCain: Because we don't always agree.

Roberta McCain: We do have. (Laughter)

Couric: What is the biggest issue of disagreement?

Roberta McCain: It's such … I'm not gonna worry about it.

Couric: You can't tell me?

Roberta McCain: No.

John McCain: Sometimes it's …

Roberta McCain: I don't want to fight on television. (Laughter)

Couric: What are these big issues?

John McCain: Oh no, hey look, hey look. One thing about my mom, she really does keep up. She watches the news. She reads the newspaper. She carries them around with me. And so it's kind of issue of the day kind of thing when we…

Roberta McCain: That's right.

John McCain: …when we discuss. What do you think about this? And … we're pretty well in tune. (Laughter)

Couric: But once in a while…

John McCain: Oh yeah … and I think its fun. Because I think it's wonderful … that she is this well informed. And she mentioned that, at a very early age, she got married to a naval officer. I challenge you there's hardly a museum or a church in Europe that she doesn't know or hasn't visited. And I mean it. She has really enriched her life by studying, reading and travel. And I'm proud. And she still does it.

Couric: At 96 you're still doing it?

Roberta McCain: Oh sure. I was up there last week in New York just to go to the Metropolitan ...

Couric: You're amazing.

Roberta McCain: No … do you want me to sit around and play bridge every day? Or discuss my last knee replacement? (Laughter) Or pass around pictures of my grandchildren? Well, that isn't my choice of a way to live. I love to. That's one reason I live in Washington is art museums are open seven days a week, and they're all free, and you can't say that about another city in the world.

John McCain: That's nice. That's nice.

Roberta McCain: It's true.

Couric: Finally, Sen. McCain, if I could ask you a day-of-news story, you know, Myanmar has been in the news should much. If you were president, what would you do to convince the military government to allow international aid into that country to help the thousands - perhaps millions - of people who have been displaced by this?

John McCain: Did I mention one of the great honors of my life was, a long time ago, I had the incredible honor of meeting (unintelligible) in Burma. There's no greater living person in the world today, you know, who has sacrificed so much for her country.

I think (unintelligible) and China have great influence over Burma. I would start putting some pressures on their appealing to them to have this (unintelligible) at least allowing aid to care for these people. It's really awful. It's an awful government when they have to find out that one of these catastrophes is happening by outside radio and not even warn their own people. They find out by outside communications. This is a very bad government. And right now I think that we should ask the other countries in the region, as well as China, that they have close ties to, to really put some pressure on them for humanitarian purposes.

Couric: Do you think enough is being done about it?

John McCain: I don't know. The Chinese have an imagine problem right now, as we know, over Tibet. I think we could tell them that it would help their reputation if they weighed in heavily to … get the… I use the word government loosely… to help … let assistance come in this humanitarian effort.

Couric: It's Mother's Day. What are you going to do for your ma for Mother's Day, Senator?

John McCain: Tell her how beautiful she is.