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Cindy McCain Calls Palin a ‘Perfect Fit’ for McCain Ticket

September 3, 2008 at 6:30 PM EST
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In an interview with Judy Woodruff, Cindy McCain reflects on her husband's run for the presidency and on questions over the vetting process for Sen. John McCain's newly named running mate, Alaska. Gov. Sarah Palin.
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TRANSCRIPT

JIM LEHRER: Thank you, Ray.

Now, a conversation with Cindy McCain. Judy Woodruff spoke with her this morning at her Minneapolis hotel.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Mrs. McCain, thank you very much for talking to us.

CINDY MCCAIN, Wife of Sen. John McCain: My pleasure.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The convention finally got truly underway last night.

CINDY MCCAIN: Yes.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What was it like for you?

CINDY MCCAIN: It’s fun. You know, conventions are always a lot fun. You know, even in the aftermath of Gustav, which, as you know, has been — it’s terrible for those afflicted by it, it is now time to get to the business of nominating and formally nominating our president and vice president, and that’s always exciting.

JUDY WOODRUFF: President Bush pronounced your husband ready to lead last night. What did you hear about John McCain last night that most rang true?

CINDY MCCAIN: Oh, you know, the — there were several different things. What President Bush said was absolutely right: He’s ready to lead.

And when he said, you know, the North Vietnamese couldn’t break him, and certainly the liberal left won’t, and he’s exactly right.

My husband — I heard all the things that I knew about him, and it was just nice to hear other people say it and believe in him the way I do.

Cindy McCain on vetting Palin

Cindy McCain
Well, there's a difference between vetting and interviewing. She was thoroughly vetted. You know, this is not something you do lightly. She was absolutely thoroughly vetted. And just because the media didn't know doesn't mean she wasn't.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you want to accomplish with your speech?

CINDY MCCAIN: Well, I am introducing my family and introducing myself to the United States of America. I keep hearing people don't know me. And what I'd want people to hear from me is really what makes me tick and why I do the things I do, and what I believe in, and what I could possibly do as first lady, if I were so lucky to do so.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Did you listen to Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic...

CINDY MCCAIN: Yes, I did, I did. I thought she did a marvelous job. I was very proud of her. Having being placed in that position myself now, I know it's a little nerve-racking.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The big surprise this week is Governor Sarah Palin. You just met her for the first time last Wednesday?

CINDY MCCAIN: No, no, no, I'd met her before. We've met her before.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what impressions?

CINDY MCCAIN: Oh, my gosh. She's -- I'm so proud of my husband, first of all, for picking such a reform-minded, intelligent, independent, Western woman, more importantly. I love the fact she's from the West.

You know, he had mentioned her name to me several times through the months. And we had chatted about Governor Palin, as well as many others. And I am just so glad, because they are a perfect fit for this.

They're both really, you know, straight-talking people that get in the mix, and they're not afraid to, you know, rustle things. And I think it's just wonderful.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Dan Balz of the Washington Post reported today, quoting McCain campaign officials, that she was not thoroughly interviewed until the day before she was asked to join the ticket. Do you know why that was...

CINDY MCCAIN: Well, there's a difference between vetting and interviewing. She was thoroughly vetted. You know, this is not something you do lightly. She was absolutely thoroughly vetted. And just because the media didn't know doesn't mean she wasn't.

And, yes, we did have a meeting the day of that -- that we selected her and then let everybody know the next day. She's marvelous. I'm so proud of her, and I'm so proud of my husband for doing it.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And your opinion mattered in all of this, didn't it?

CINDY MCCAIN: Yes, yes, it was -- it does matter. It did matter. I'm grateful for that, because I think she's -- she will do such wonderful things not only for the ticket and with my husband, but for the country and for women. And I'm so happy that I will be able to vote for a Republican woman on the ticket.

Palin's appeal to voters

Cindy McCain
She brings with her a different kind of perspective. A mother of a special-needs infant, that absolutely brings a different perspective to this whole discussion about human rights and the rights of others who are less fortunate.

JUDY WOODRUFF: As a mother who's raised four children yourself, do you think it's appropriate for questions to be asked about how she's going to manage the vice presidency, potentially the presidency in an unforeseen circumstance, while she has a large number of children, five children, an infant with special needs, and a daughter who's pregnant?

CINDY MCCAIN: These questions would not be being asked if she were a man. And, quite frankly, I'm insulted by it. I'm insulted by anyone that would assume just because a woman has children, she can't do her job.

She not only can do her job, but she brings with her a different kind of perspective. A mother of a special-needs infant, that absolutely brings a different perspective to this whole discussion about human rights and the rights of others who are less fortunate.

She also brings with us -- you know, a mother of a large family who has done all she has done and has done it really well, myself being a mother of a lot of kids, running a business, working with my husband, doing the nonprofit charity stuff, we -- you know, all women know we can do it, we can do it really well. And the more you give us, the better we are.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think she'll attract some of those 18 million voters who were supporting Hillary Clinton?

CINDY MCCAIN: I do. And I also think she's going to attract a lot of other people that perhaps hadn't considered my husband. You know, my husband is not about the status quo or doing things, you know, go along to get along.

He's about shaking things up. He wants things done differently. And to put somebody on the ticket with him that perhaps was just status quo -- and I'm not saying anyone was that, but I'm talking about from the opinions of the outsiders that are kind of stirring all this up.

My husband always wanted someone that would think like he did, in terms of approaching the issues in a tough way and not afraid to say to you, "No, we don't want that Bridge to Nowhere. We'll pay for it if we want it."

JUDY WOODRUFF: She originally supported it.

CINDY MCCAIN: Mm-hmm. But, obviously, in the end, she didn't.

Clinton's views versus Palin's

Cindy McCain
Gov. Palin has a great deal of experience, starting as member of the PTA, then a city councilwoman, then a mayor, now the governor of Alaska. She comes to this ticket with far more experience than anybody else does.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On the Hillary Clinton point, Sen. Clinton, pro-choice; Sarah Palin, Gov. Palin, pro-life, Sen. Clinton. Gov. Palin supports the teaching of creationism; Hillary Clinton doesn't. Hillary Clinton talked about 35 years of experience as a reason to vote for her.

Don't the differences outweigh just the fact that they're both women?

CINDY MCCAIN: No, I don't think so at all. Isn't it marvelous to be different in the United States? None of us agree on anything.

Gov. Palin has a great deal of experience, starting as member of the PTA, then a city councilwoman, then a mayor, now the governor of Alaska. She comes to this ticket with far more experience than anybody else does, because she's governed at a local level.

You know, it's one thing to be governor of a state; it's another thing to be mayor, because you're living next door to your constituents all the time. I mean, I think she brings tremendous expertise to this ticket.

Take on Obama, becoming first lady

Cindy McCain
I hope to bring, certainly, my own touch to things. I do a lot of nonprofit work. That's what makes me tick. It's what keeps me going and really keeps me focused.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you think Barack Obama is ready to be president?

CINDY MCCAIN: No, I don't. I don't. Barack Obama is a good man, good family. But for a man who spent time in the State Senate and took a hundred and some votes, or however many it was, voted "present," and then came to the United States Senate, and on tough issues voted "present"?

You know, only the tough decisions get to the president's desk. You can't vote "present" when you're the president of the United States. I don't think he's ready, no.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Back to Cindy McCain. If your husband is elected in November, what role will people -- should people look to you to play in his presidency?

CINDY MCCAIN: Well, I hope to -- first of all, I can't believe I'm sitting here talking about possibly being the next first lady of the United States. It's very humbling.

I hope to bring, certainly, my own touch to things. I do a lot of nonprofit work. That's what makes me tick. It's what keeps me going and really keeps me focused.

And I hope to bring what I do and maybe a little bit of inspiration to those who perhaps would normally be sitting on the sofa on a Saturday afternoon to come out and be a part of helping and solving these problems together, and not relying on the government to do so.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you expect from the next two months? It's almost exactly two months from now.

CINDY MCCAIN: Sixty days. Who's counting? I expect a well-fought campaign, something that hopefully we can get beyond all of this -- this ridiculous nonsense that's going on right now and get straight to the issues, and, more importantly, let America see the differences between these two candidates and between these two campaigns.

We're a campaign of change, reform, prosperity, peace. We're not a campaign of doing things the old ways. We want to -- we want to make this world not only a better place, but, more importantly, make sure that our young men and women that are fighting for us come home with honor and for the right reason.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, Cindy McCain, we look forward to watching you and watching this campaign very closely.

CINDY MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you. It'll be fun.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Thank you so much for talking with us.

CINDY MCCAIN: Oh, thank you. My pleasure. My pleasure.