February 16, 2000
LARRY KING: We'll start with governor Bush. What area of American international policy would you change immediately as president?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Our relationship with china. The current President has called the relationship with china "strategic partnership." I believe our relationship needs to be redefined as one of competitor. Competitors can find areas of agreement, but we must make it clear to the Chinese that we don't appreciate any attempt to spread weapons of mass destruction around the world, and we don't appreciate any threats to our friends and allies in the far east. This President is one who went to China, and ignored our friends and allies in Tokyo and Seoul. He sent a chilling signal about the definition of friendship. When I become the president, I am going to strengthen our alliances in the Far East. I am going to work with the Russians to get rid of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty so that we can bring certainty into an uncertain part of the world, and that's the far east, as well. We must say to people in that part of the world, "don't threaten our friends, don't threaten our allies." So I am going to change the relationship.
LARRY KING: And you're going to let them know?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Of course I'm going to let them know. That's what a president does, a president lets them know.
LARRY KING: Ambassador Keyes, what would you change?
ALAN KEYES: I think the first thing I'd want to do is restore respect for the national sovereignty of this country...
LARRY KING: By?
ALAN KEYES: I was very much in disagreement with our entry into the world trade organization. I think we gave away a portion of our sovereignty that we should never have surrendered to an unrepresentative body that can make decisions, according to that treaty, that would have direct effect on the lives of Americans. It violates the fundamental principle of our way of life: No legislation without representation, representative government. I want to see us withdraw from the world trade organization and put our approach to trade back on a footing that maximizes the results that we get for the American people.
LARRY KING: Senator?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: China is obviously a place where this... One of the signal failures of this administration, although there are certainly many failures throughout the world. But I would also look very... Revise our policies concerning these rogue states-- Iraq, Libya, North Korea-- those countries that continue to try to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them.
LARRY KING: And you'd do what?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: As long... I'd institute a policy that I call "rogue state rollback." I would arm, train, equip, both from without and from within, forces that would eventually overthrow the governments and install free and democratically- elected governments. As long as Saddam Hussein is in power, I am convinced that he will pose a threat to our security.
LARRY KING: Governor...
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes.
LARRY KING: ...In what occasion could you describe where you would use arms?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: When it's in our national strategic interests. Europe is in our national strategic interest. The Far East is in our national strategic interest. Our own hemisphere is in our national strategic interests. The Middle East, protecting Israel is in our national security interest. I'll give you one clear example in our own hemisphere. If, for whatever reason, somebody tries to block passage to the Panama Canal, as President of the United States, I will make sure the Panama Canal remains open for trade and our interest is to have a hemisphere that is peaceful and open to trade.
LARRY KING: What if it wasn't. What if it was a moral question? Senator?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Actually, it's not that simple because we are driven by principles. There are times when our principles and our values are so offended that we have to do what we can to resolve a terrible situation. If Rwanda again became a scene of horrible genocide, if there was a way that the United States could stop that and beneficially affect the situation... By the way, we couldn't in Haiti. We sent 20,000 troops and spent $2 billion, and Haiti is arguably worse off. Obviously, it's the last resort. But we can never say that a nation driven by Judeo-Christian principles will only intervene where our interests are threatened, because we also have values, and those values are very important. I'm not interrupting you, Alan. So I think that it's important that we always have some complex challenges as to where we must intervene, because sometimes we find that if genocide is allowed, the consequences of inaction later on in history are far more severe.
ALAN KEYES: I think basically we have to send a message to the rest of world that we will not be stepping in to intervene into the affairs of other countries on any kind of routine basis unless the level of atrocity is so clear that it justifies violating that principle of non-aggression for the sake of which we have sacrificed tens of thousands of lives. And I think it would be irresponsible to do what Clinton, in fact, has done, and take us on a road of interventionism that sets that threshold so low that I think it's a threat to peace.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, I think there needs to be a clear statement of when and if we'll commit troops. I worry about Rwanda. I didn't like what went on in Rwanda, but I don't think we should commit troops to Rwanda, nor do I think we ought to try to be the peace-keepers all around the world. I intend to tell our allies that America will help make the peace, but you get the troops on the ground to keep warring parties apart. One of the reasons we have such low morale in the military today is because we're over deployed and under trained.
LARRY KING: Move to another area. Sort of a man on the sidelines. We'll ask you. Do you think this has been a dirty campaign, Alan?
ALAN KEYES: Well, in fact, I haven't given their campaign a thought. (Laughter) I will confess, I spend too much time thinking about the moral crisis of this country, the priorities this nation needs to address, moving back...
LARRY KING: So you have no opinion?
ALAN KEYES: ...To its basic moral principles. I have a positive message of my own. I concentrate on that message, because I think it's of vital importance to this country. I frankly believe that you spend all this time beating up on somebody else because you don't have that much to say yourself. I have too much to say of a positive nature about the future of this country to worry about beating up on my opponents, except when specific issues require that we call attention to differences.
LARRY KING: All right, Governor, what do you make of all these past two weeks, the charges and counter- charges? You go, and then the Senator.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it's kind of politics, and John and I shook hands and we said we weren't going to run ads, and I kind of smiled my way through the early primaries and got defined. I'm not going to let it happen again. And we shook hands, and unfortunately he ran an ad that equated me to Bill Clinton. He questioned my trustworthiness.
LARRY KING: Are you saying he broke the agreement with you?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: No, I'm just saying you can disagree on issues... We'll debate issues. But whatever you do, don't equate my integrity and trustworthiness to Bill Clinton. That's about as low a blow as you can give in a Republican primary. (Applause)
LARRY KING: That's what got you mad to sort of fight back?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I stand by my ads.
LARRY KING: Senator McCain, did you break a promise?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, let me tell you what happened. There was an ad run against me. We ran a counter-ad in New Hampshire. Governor Bush took the ad down. But let me tell you what really went over the line. Governor Bush had an event and he paid for it, and stood next to a spokesman for a fringe veterans group. That fringe veteran said that John McCain had abandoned the veterans. Now, I don't know how, if you can understand this, George, but that really hurts.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: That really hurts. And so five United States Senators, Vietnam veterans, heroes, some of them really incredible heroes, wrote George a letter and said, "apologize."
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Let me...
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: You should be ashamed.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, let me speak to that.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: You should be ashamed. Now, if you want to hear...
LARRY KING: Is he responsible for what someone else says?
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, this same man... He stood next to him, it was his event... This same man had attacked his father viciously.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: John, I believe that you served our country nobly, and I've said it over and over again. That man wasn't speaking for me. He may have a dispute with you...
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: He was at your event.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Let me finish, please. Please.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: He's listed as your--
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: let me finish. Let me finish. (Laughter)
LARRY KING: Let him finish.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: The man was not speaking for me. If you want to know my opinion about you, John, you served our country admirably and strongly, and I am proud of your record just like you are. And I don't appreciate what he said about my dad either.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: You paid for an event... (Applause) ...You paid for an event and stood next to a person. And when you were asked if you would repudiate him, you said, "no."
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: No, John, what I said... What I said... Let me say what I said...
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Let me tell you what happened after that...
LARRY KING: But I want Alan to give me one thing. If you have a surrogate making a speech for you today, are you responsible for what he says?
ALAN KEYES: I... I really am sitting here wondering, because I said we were going out to 202 countries. And is this kind of pointless squabbling really what we want them to see? (Applause) We're talking about electing the President of the United States; it seems to me, we could let their ad people get in the back room and fight it out and let the American people hear what they've got...
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Let me just finish up, okay?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Let me say one thing about all this business, John.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I told you, I pulled them all down.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: You didn't pull this ad.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Yes I did.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: This, that ended up in a man's windshield yesterday. It questions my... This is an attack piece.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: That is not by my campaign.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it says paid for by John McCain. (Laughter)
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: that is not by my campaign.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: Well then, somebody's putting stuff out -
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I called that off.
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: I agree with you.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: ..But you're putting out stuff that is unbelievable, George, and it's got to stop. And your answer's got to stop.
LARRY KING: Well, let me put... Il end it now. Are you going to pull anything?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm going to see about what I'm putting on TV. And what I put on TV was looking in that camera and saying, "you can disagree with me on issues, John, but do not question... do not question my trustworthiness, and do not compare me to Bill Clinton." .
LARRY KING: We want to thank Senator McCain, Ambassador Keyes and Governor Bush. Thank you very much for joining us. Good night.