"First in the Nation" special: John McCain transcript
February 3, 1999
Steve Forbes | Al Gore | John McCain | Dan Quayle
( Editor's note: This interview with John McCain appeared in a joint CNN-WMUR special, "First in the Nation: The New Hampshire Primary," which aired February 2, 1999. CNN's Bernard Shaw interviewed McCain.)
SHAW: Did conservatives push the Republican party over the impeachment cliff?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AR), REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think so. I think that what was done in the House of Representatives was an act of sincere belief. I believe that the House of Representatives did what they believe was their constitutional responsibility.
Now, did it hurt us because the American people, obviously a large majority of them, want it over? I think so. But, over time I think they're going to view this process as something that people legitimately believed in.
SHAW: You want Americans to be proud. What would you do that's not being done to make that so?
MCCAIN: First thing I'd do is do everything I could to instill integrity, honesty and ethics in the office of the presidency of the United States, to try to restore that respect.
The second thing I would try to do is reduce or even do away with overtime the influence of special interests here in Washington, which predominates the legislative process, which makes the American people believe that we no longer represent them and has led to an ever decreasing vote of participation, and an ever decreasing participation of qualified young men and women in the political process.
SHAW: You say the chase for money has replaced the battle of ideas, yet you're now chasing money, going around with your hands out asking for money.
MCCAIN: With my begging bowl, yes. There is a requirement to raise money. I intend to do it according to the spirit of the law which is $1,000 per person. Yes you have to raise money. I'm seeking money; I wish that I didn't have to do it, but it's part of the political process.
What I object to, strongly object to, is the huge influx of massive amounts of money in the form of soft money contributions, which there is no accountability, no disclosure, and then distort the political process and later on the legislative process.
SHAW: Steve Forbes has made more than 26 trips to New Hampshire, Lamar Alexander eight, Gary Bauer, seven. How are you going to overcome the campaign lead that these other candidates have?
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, unfortunately, for some, most people don't focus on these campaigns until very late.
Second, the people of New Hampshire are fiercely independent. I have not a doubt that my independence and my conservatism will appeal to the people of New Hampshire. There is a significant veterans population in New Hampshire. There is a significant number of people who believe that government is not the solution to all the problems. I think we can do well in New Hampshire, and I'm pleased to have the support that we have already received.
SHAW: You had an affair your first marriage. The sitting president is been impeached for his conduct with Monica Lewinsky. Should a politician's private acts be part of public discourse?
MCCAIN: Let me say that I am responsible for the break-up of my first marriage. I will not discuss or talk about that any more than that. If someone wants to criticize me for that, that's fine. I believe that the standards of morality of conduct will be determined, not by the politician themselves, but by the media and the American people. I will leave that judgment to them.
SHAW: How will you handle people trying to pry into your personal life? People who are just outright nosy?
MCCAIN: It happens, it goes with the territory, it's part of a political campaign, I'm not equipped to change it; only the American people and the media are. I realize that this is a very, very tough business. It's not a contact sport, it's a collision sport.
Steve Forbes | Al Gore | John McCain | Dan Quayle
Wednesday, February 3, 1999
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