Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday conceded that big Republican gains are on the way for November 2 and pushed guest John McCain on how the newly elected Tea Party candidates will "cooperate" with Barack Obama.
The ABC co-host allowed, "...[Republicans] are going to pick up Senate seats. Likely could take control of the House. Definitely going to pick up seats. What happens the day after?" [MP3 audio here. Click on article for video.]
Putting the responsibility for bipartisanship on conservatives, Stephanopoulos cited an ABC News poll and pushed, "...A majority of Americans, believe that President Obama is more interested in cooperation. Tea Party advocates more interested in division. How do you prove them wrong?"
McCain jabbed back, highlighting Stephanopoulos' past work as a Democratic operative: "You were in the White House. It's up to the President [to cooperate], as it was up to Bill Clinton when you were in the White House, after the '94 election."
Earlier in the segment, Stephanopoulos scolded McCain for his tough attack against the liberal Barbara Boxer. (Over the weekend, the Arizona senator lamented the "unpleasant experience of having to serve with her.")
The GMA anchor worried, "But even Carly Fiorina, who you're campaigning for, did a double-take when you talked about that. You're chuckling now, but did you go too far? Is that too personal?"
Finally, Stephanopoulos repeated a complaint from the Center for Public Integrity, a group funded by left wing donors such as George Soros: "They released a study showing that dozens of Republicans, including you, who oppose the stimulus, then went on to request funds for your state."
Of course, at no time did Stephanopoulos admit that CPI is a left-wing organization.
A transcript of the October 19 segment, which aired at 7:05am EDT, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Exactly two weeks to go and, boy, the talk is getting pretty tough. Yesterday, Sarah Palin out there saying the Republican is, quote, "through" if they don't follow the lead of the Tea Party. Also, Senator John McCain, our guest, he's here live this morning. He surprised even some Republicans with his heated attacks on California Senator Barbara Boxer. We're going to talk to him about all that in just a moment.
ABC GRAPHIC: Personal Politics: Sen. McCain Defends Comments
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Joining us live now, Senator John McCain. Welcome, Senator.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you, George.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, we're seeing all kinds of hot rhetoric in the last couple of weeks. And I do want to show you campaigning for Senator Barbara Boxer [sic]. 'Cause you got riled up.
MCCAIN: Barbara Boxer is the most bitterly partisan, most anti-defense senator in the United States Senate today. I know that because I've had the unpleasant experience of having to serve with her.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Now, we don't see it in that clip. But even Carly Fiorina who you're campaigning for, did a double-take when you talked about that. You're chuckling now, but did you go too far? Is that too personal?
MCCAIN: No, I don't think so. I think the whole issue of national security is very important. And obviously, the voters of California have a choice. Barbara Boxer has voted against the Gulf War, against training and equipping the military. Let me just give you one example. In 2007, when the surge started there was a vote as to whether to fund it or not. Barbara Boxer voted against it. Joe Biden, Senator Joe Biden, on Meet the Press, dare I mention, said "This isn't cutting off the war. This is saving the lives of thousands of American troops."
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, you said it was unpleasant to work with her.
MCCAIN: That's what Joe Biden said. That her vote would have cost the lives of thousands of American troops. This is serious business.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no backing down there. Let's talk about Sarah Palin and what she had to say. She warned that if the Republican Party strays from the Tea Party message, the Republican Party is, quote, through. Is the right?
MCCAIN: I think she is right to this degree. That, obviously, when we gained the majority, Republicans gained majorities, they betrayed our base, particularly on the area of fiscal responsibility. The earmarking, the out of control, the corruption, the out of control spending and we were- Republicans were repudiated in 2006 and 2008, as I know very well. And what Sarah is saying, that we have to got to get a fiscally responsible majority in Congress of Republicans and act in a fiscally responsible manner.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But, can you really deliver on that? I was struck yesterday by a study by the Center for Public Integrity. They released a study showing that dozens of Republicans, including you, who oppose the stimulus, then went on to request funds for your state.
MCCAIN: First of all, that's simply not true. I have never asked for-
STEPHANOPOULOS: They cite three different letters.
MCCAIN: They are wrong. I received a letter from constituents. I put a cover letter on it and passed it on. And I specifically said, I am not requesting the funds. So, they're not telling the truth.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, when you pass on a request from constituents-
MCCAIN: That's not a request. I'm not advocating for a specific project. I'm not advocating for it. I'm passing you on a request for my constituents. That's what I do as their representative. I specifically state that I am not asking for that fund. So, they are not telling the truth.
STEPHANOPOULOS: They also talk to a Tea Party leader who says, the Republican Party, GOP should not be taking this money, and spending it, regardless of where it came from. They should be fighting against it with every fiber of their elected beings." So, taking your point, Tea Party advocates want you to go even further. They don't even want you to pass it along. They want you to fight and stop the spending.
MCCAIN: I think what they're saying is what I've been fighting against for 20 years, which had the late Senator Stevens called me the sheriff, the corrupting, ear-marking, pork barrel process that goes on. I've seen the corruption myself. I don't say that word lightly. That's why we have former members of Congress in prison. It is earmarking and park barrel is corruption. And the Tea Partiers is exactly right. We have got to stop it.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There seems to be some tension inside the Republican Party. When Sarah Palin came out to California this weekend, neither Carly Fiorina nor Meg Whitman showed up. Your own daughter, Meghan McCain, on This Week on Sunday, took off on Tea Party favorite, Christine O'Donnell, saying she has made a mockery of the process.
MEGAN MCCAIN: She has no real history. no real success in any kind of business. What that says to my generation, is one day, you can wake up and run for senate, no matter how lack of experience you have [sic]. And it scares me for a lot of reasons and I just know in my group of friends it turns people off because she's seen as a nut job.
JOHN MCCAIN: My daughter and I have very spirited conversations from time to time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I'll bet.
JOHN MCCAIN: And it's a lot of fun. In all due respect, my daughter, the primary voters of Delaware chose Christine O'Donnell. And she's the candidate.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you a final question that gets to what happens the day after the election. Even if Republicans don't take control of the Senate, they're going to pick up Senate seats. Likely could take control of the House. Definitely going to pick up seats. What happens the day after? You saw that poll that John Berman was citing. He said most Americans, a majority of Americans, believe that President Obama is more interested in cooperation. Tea Party advocates more interested in division. How do you prove them wrong?
MCCAIN: Well, first of all, Americans are very angry. They are very, very angry. We all know that. That's reflected in polls. The Tea Partiers are a manifestation of that. And obviously, they have struck a cord that is really a remarkable thing. If the- it's up to the President.
STEPHANOPOULOS: All the President?
MCCAIN: You were in the White House. It's up to the President, as it was up to Bill Clinton when you were in the White House, after the '94 election. He reached out to Republicans. We did welfare reform. We did a lot of things.
STEPHANOPOULOS: After the government shutdown.
MCCAIN: Yes, indeed. There was a real crisis. And you remember it very well. But, the fact is, this President has not reached out, not one time, on any major issue, to Republicans. I hope that he will. We look forward to problem-solving with him. But, we really need to respond to the anger and the frustration that the American people are feeling today.