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McCain Speaks - Part II

Yesterday I posted Part I of John McCain's remarks at the press conference with David McSweeney on Saturday. Here's the rest of what McCain had to say:

On what Republicans can do to improve their prospects for November: "I think this is going to be a very tough election, and what I think we Republicans need to do, maybe, is have the President veto a couple of these pork-barrel appropriations bills. I think we Republicans need to sit down together and resolve the immigration issue. We control the Presidency and both Houses of Congress we ought to be able to work out a reasonable program to enforce our borders, and to fix our broken immigration system. I think that progress in the war on Iraq is vital. We all know that the number one issue in every poll is the war in Iraq. By the way, I think the leadership the President will be showing in this present crisis [in the Middle East] will help him.

And I think we just need to overall show our base, our Republican base, that are very concerned about fiscal discipline, that we can get spending under control. I'm not worried about our base, which is concerned about fiscal discipline, to vote Democrat. But I am concerned that they might stay home because they're unhappy with our dramatically increased spending practices over the last six years."

On energy policy: "What I think we obviously need to do is expedite as much as possible progress on ethanol. I just came from Iowa, there are seven new ethanol refineries being built - they're already at 24 and they're building 7 more. Ethanol, when oil is $10 dollars a barrel, isn't that exciting. When oil is $70 or $80 a barrel it's very, very vital, and we're seeing a dramatic expansion of that.

I also believe that nuclear power is clean, is available, the technology is there, and we need to increase dramatically our nuclear power plants. I know that's controversial in some places. I would remind you that 80% of the electricity generated by the French is from nuclear power. The Japanese - everyone in the world is using nuclear power heavily, except for the United States of America.

We did close a bit of a loophole on CAFÉ standards - we may have to look at that some more. But I really believe that the two existing technologies right now are ethanol and nuclear power. Hydrogen is great. Many of these other new technologies are great, but when I get into the details of them they say, 'well, that's two, five, ten years away.'"

On whether Congress will pass an immigration bill before November: I really hope that we do. One major reason is, why shouldn't we be able to sit down together and work this out? We all are in agreement the system is broken. It's the product of 40 or 50 years of failed government policy - nobody understands that better than people from Arizona where we have terrible devastation associated with that issue.

But we should be able to sit down and discuss this. We've had several discussions with some of the House members. Congressman Pence from Indiana has had an idea that we've been discussing, Congressman LaHood has been in the meetings I have...

The President believes we need a comprehensive approach. I totally agree with the President. But once you accept that premise, it seems to me that everything is on the table as to how we could best enforce our borders, establish a temporary worker program of some sort, and dispense somehow with the problem of 11 million people who have been living in our country illegally. Some came yesterday; some have been here 60 or 70 years. So, if we can just have a dialog amongst us, it seems to me that we should be able to come to an agreement. I'm hopeful that we will.

From a pure political standpoint, shouldn't we be able to govern? Shouldn't we be able to sit down and address a major issue that is of major concern to the American people? I think the American people expect us to.

And again, I want to emphasize, we who support a comprehensive solution, as the President does, we're willing to discuss and compromise on almost every aspect of it. We're not locked in concrete on any specific aspect of it. So I hope we can, and I believe we can, and I'm guardedly optimistic."

On an immigration compromise that starts with a year of border enforcement before triggering other provisions of a comprehensive plan: "If tomorrow we said we're going to seal the border, and we're going to do whatever is necessary - and we are spending billions more now, we're hiring thousands and thousands of new border patrol, we've got the National Guard on the border, we're doing lots and lots of things - even if tomorrow we said we're going to set up a guest worker program...it would still take a couple of years. So you could be sealing the border and at the same time moving forward with all of the apparatus and bureaucracy associated with a program like that.

On the other hand, if you say you have to seal the borders, my friend, the Israelis just found out you can't "seal" a border. The only thing that's going to keep the Israelis safe from having people cross their border is to stop the threat. The only thing that going to keep people from coming across our border is to dry up the magnet, which is what attracts people, which is jobs.

And that's why if the only way you could work in America would be with be with a temporary worker visa - a tamper-proof visa - those people who are south of the border wouldn't want to come across illegally because there would be no job for them while they're here, because any employer who employed them without that document would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

On campaign finance reform: "We think that the McCain-Feingold bill has been largely successful. What hasn't been closed is the loophole concerning the 527's, which are a violation of the 1974 law. I don't mean to get too technical here, but right now we have the ability, because of this loophole the Federal Elections Commission will not close and should - and we're in court trying to get them to close it - people like George Soros, and wealthy billionaires are able to pour literally tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaigns. It's wrong. It needs to be fixed. The Federal Election Commission has to act.

The other provisions of the law have worked pretty well. But we really have a bad Federal Elections Commission. They are the ones who created the loopholes to start with, for soft money and others, and it's very regrettable."