"IF THE PHONE RINGS AT 3:00 A.M., I THINK THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WOULD WANT ME TO ANSWER IT FIRST," SAYS SEN. JOHN MCCAIN ON "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
In His First One-on-One Interview Since Becoming the Presumptive Republican
Nominee, He Also Says Troop Reductions Possible in Eight to Nine Months
Playing off the recent Hillary Clinton campaign ad aimed at her Democratic opponent Barak Obama, John McCain tells Scott Pelley "If the [White House] phone rings at 3:00 A.M., I think the American people would want me to answer it first." The Arizona senator said it in an interview today (7) in New Orleans, his first since becoming the presumptive Republican nominee, which will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, March 9 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
McCain's dig at both Clinton and Obama, one of whom he will face in the general elections in November, was a response to Pelley asking about a statement made by Obama in which the Illinois senator said McCain "represented the politics of yesterday."
When pressed on the Iraq war, McCain allowed that he would consider a partial troop withdrawal. "I can't give you specific dates. But I can tell you that if we continue to reduce the casualties...the way we've succeeded in just the last eight or nine months, that, eight or nine months from now, we could be in pretty good shape to make further reductions."
He also said there was a way for illegal immigrants to become citizens. "I think some millions [of illegal immigrants] if they complied with some very stringent and rigid requirements, they could find themselves on a path to citizenship." Those requirements include getting at the end of the immigration line, paying a fine, learning English and having a job," he told Pelley.
McCain has been trying to appeal to conservatives, many of whom have rejected his policies. He tells Pelley there are other constituencies he will need to win the presidency. "We have to reach out to independents and the old Reagan Democrats that won elections for former President Reagan.," says McCain. "But I'm very confident that a liberal Democrat versus a conservative Republican, and that would be whatever Senator Obama or Senator Clinton articulate, that I can win that debate. Because I think America's a right-of-center nation. So I'm confident."