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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

John McCain Speaks About Iraq on Senate Floor

Aired October 2, 2002 - 12:28   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Senator John McCain is speaking on the Senate floor right now in support of a strongly worded resolution authorizing the president to use force against Iraq if necessary.
Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: ... as commander in chief. Limiting the president's ability to defend the United States when Congress and the president agree on the nation of the threat posed to the United States by Iraq is unwise. No resolution tying the president's hands or limiting the president's ability to respond to a clearly defined threat can anticipate the decisions the president will have to make in coming weeks and months, with American forces deployed overseas on his orders to defend American security.

We cannot foresee the course or end of this conflict, even though to most of us, the threat is abundantly clear and the course of action we must pursue is apparent. That is why there is one commander in chief, not 535 of them. Restricting the president's flexibility to conduct military action against a threat that has been defined and identified makes the United States less capable of responding to that threat.

Supporting the president in his role as commander in chief does not necessarily mean supporting the president's policy on matters of national security. The 1995, president Clinton determined to deploy American forces to Bosnia to uphold a fragile peace in a land where many said was not possible -- until that time, I had serious concerns about the administration's policy in the Balkans. But once the president made his decision, I worked with Senator Bob Dole, Senator Warner and many of my colleagues, to make sure the president -- a president from the other party, who we had criticized harshly for his conduct of national security policy -- had the support he needed to enforce the peace in Bosnia. I think my friend Senator Dole would agree with me that it was one of the high points of our service in the Senate.

Thanks to the president's leadership over the past few months, the Congress has been moving steadily to support the president's determination to hold Saddam Hussein accountable to the world. I urge all my colleagues to renew their efforts to come together on one resolution, to show the world we are united with the president to enforce the terms of the Gulf War cease-fire and prevent Saddam Hussein from threatening our and the world's security ever again.

And again, I want to thank...

BLITZER: Senator John McCain, like Senator Lieberman earlier this hour, endorsing a strongly-worded resolution that would authorize the president to use force, if necessary, against Saddam Hussein, his regime in Iraq, if they don't comply with U.N. weapons inspectors. Senators lining up to go forward.

There is still problem, though, as far as the White House is concerned. They've reached an agreement with the leadership, the Democratic and Republican leadership, in the House; still no full agreement in the Senate.

We'll continue to monitor the situation there as well.

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