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McCain Campaign's Prepared Speech for Denver Town Hall Meeting with Question and Answer Session

Republican presidential candidate John McCain is touting his plan to help the U.S. economy. McCain is pledging to cut taxes and encourage free trade. Video by AP

So I don't know what bill you're referring to. And I don't know what you're referring to. And I'll be glad to have you refer to it. But the reason why I have a perfect voting record from organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and all the other veterans service organizations is because of my support of them.

But you can go ahead and respond if you want to. Go ahead. Give him the microphone back.

QUESTION: I'll respond by saying this, that you do not have a perfect voting record by the DAV and the VFW. That's where these votes are recorded.

And the votes were proposals -- they were proposals by your colleagues in the Senate to increase health care funding of the V.A. in 2003, '04, '05, and '06 for troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. And you voted against those proposals.

I can give the specific Senate votes, the numbers of those Senate votes right now.

MCCAIN: Right. I thank you, and I'll be glad to examine what your version of my record is. But, again, I've been endorsed in every election by all of the veterans organizations that do that. I've been supported by them, and I've received their highest awards from all of those organizations.

So I guess they don't know something you know. So I thank you very much. And I will continue to be proud of my support for the veterans of this country and proud of their support.

QUESTION: I have two questions and very short. If there is a way that you as president of United States, could you change the tax code for business that outsources too many American jobs? That's one.

And the second, could you pick your vice president Mitt Romney as your running mate? Thank you.


MCCAIN: Thank you. Thank you very much. On your second question, I will -- we're in a process -- Governor Romney has earned a great place in our Republican Party. Millions of Republicans voted for him in the primary. And we're very grateful that he and Ann have been so supportive. And I'm very grateful.

So on your first issue, one of the biggest problems now is the taxes that businesses pay in America. Right now, the tax rate on businesses, my friends, is 35 percent. It's the second-highest in the world.

Now, in Ireland, guess what? It's 11 percent. So where do you think businesses are going to go? Do you think, if they have a chance to go to Ireland, where their taxes are 11 percent, or whether they're going to stay in the United States, where it's 35 percent?

Our business taxes are the second-highest in the world. Only Japan has higher business taxes than the United States of America.

So I want to tell you that, for businesses so that they will stay in America, that they will create jobs in America, and they will keep jobs in America, I think the first thing and best thing we can do is reduce the taxes on business. Senator Obama does not agree with that.


QUESTION: Senator McCain, it's an honor. I come from Pueblo, Colorado, also known as the home of heroes, and you should be there. But anyway...

MCCAIN: Would you agree with this gentleman's assertion about my lack of support?

QUESTION: No, sir. I get a different magazine. I'm a member -- life member of the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Military Order of the Cooties...

(LAUGHTER) ... and all the magazines that I have gotten, you have very high ratings. It's not 100 percent. Nobody's 100 percent. But, yes, you have gotten the endorsements.

But, anyway, what I want to do -- I'm a Democrat. And I was in leadership positions. I have resigned those positions. I have not changed my party yet. But I am supporting you for president.

And I invite you to Pueblo, because it is a very strong Democratic stronghold, but I think that if you would visit Pueblo and help me, we could get some of those Democrats, those Hispanics, those disabled veterans to join you.

And I wish you the best of luck. And I'll do anything in my power.


MCCAIN: Thank you very much. Thank you. Hang on, one second, could I just respond and say thank you? And thank you for your service to our country.

And, obviously, being a member of the DAV, you have also made significant sacrifice, and I'm grateful.

Let me just make one comment and I'll move on very quickly.

My friends, I hate war. I hate war. And nobody knows that more than the veteran, because the veteran is the one that feels most keenly the loss of a comrade. I know that on a very personal basis. And I want to tell you that I believe that we are in a transcendent struggle with radical Islamic extremism.

And I will bring our troops home, but I'll bring them home with honor and in victory. I will not bring them home in defeat. And that's...


And I'll be glad to talk more about that.

QUESTION: Thank you, Senator. I would like to also record this.


Senator McCain...

MCCAIN: Right behind you are several recording...


QUESTION: Look at all these people, huh? Awesome day.

We're spending $1 trillion a year sending troops all around the world to protect our Constitution from enemies foreign, while here in the U.S. our Senate and Congress seem to be trampling on our Constitution domestically with bills like the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and this upcoming FISA Act, which scraps the Fourth Amendment.

My question is this. On June 30th, we the people served you, along with every member of Congress and the Senate, a petition for redress of grievances guaranteed in the last 10 words of our First Amendment of the Constitution.

And my question to you is, how will you personally respond to the people's petitions for the redress of grievances that were served on June 30th?


MCCAIN: I will examine that petition, and I will try to ascertain what it's specifically about. I have not seen it yet.


MCCAIN: Go ahead, please.

QUESTION: The petition states that there are 10 counts to the violations of the Constitution. And it asks the -- it's a petition for a redress of grievances. It's been around since the Magna Carta, and it's in the First Amendment.

And our government -- it's the way of remedying -- when the government breaks the Constitution, the people petition to restore the rule of law. So will you respond to how you're going to restore the rule of law and the Constitution?

MCCAIN: I'll be more than happy to examine that petition, as I try to examine every petition by citizens to their government.

But also let me point out, on FISA, I believe that it was very dangerous, in my view, to hold the telecommunications corporations liable for them acting in cooperation with the government after 9/11 to help us monitor the communications of Al Qaida and terrorists.

So, obviously, you and I have a very different opinion on that issue. And so let me just say to you right now, I believe that the telecommunications company or any other organization, when called upon by their government to do something that is in the national security interest, that they should not be held responsible in the way that they'll be -- to be sued.


So, my friend, there's a careful balance between protecting the national interest and protecting individuals' rights. And that balance moves back and forth.

Frankly, there have been times in our history that we've not been so proud of -- when we interned Japanese-Americans in World War II -- and there's got to be a continued balance between the protection of individual rights and also the necessity of national security. Now, it's my view that we should have the ability with certain court procedures observed to monitor the communications, particularly with the dramatic modernization and ability of communique (ph) between organizations that want to do America harm.

And so I'm glad you're recording this...


... because I'd like to make sure you show it to all your friends. Have no doubt where I stand, that the telecommunications companies should not be held liable for cooperation they provided the government of the United States after 9/11 when we were trying to stop further attacks on the United States of America.

And to say that you want them to be held liable is something, in my view, that would be a trial lawyer's dream. And I strongly oppose it. Senator Obama supports it. That's a difference in our viewpoints.

Yes, ma'am.

QUESTION: Hi, Senator McCain. I have been a registered Republican since I turned 18. I'm the compliance officer of a local broker dealer, as well as a registered investment advisory firm.

Many of the proposals that are being created for people of my generation no longer include Social Security because of the belief it will not be there. Tell me how you plan to fix it.

MCCAIN: Thank you very much.

I'd like to start out by giving you a little straight talk. Under the present set-up, because we've mortgaged our children's futures, you will not have Social Security benefits that present-day retirees have unless we fix it. And Americans have got to understand that.

Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace, and it's got to be fixed.

Now, how do you fix it? Now, how do you fix it? You fix it by reaching across the aisle, and you say to the Democrats, "Sit down with me at the table. Sit down with me, the way Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill did the last time that Social Security was in deep trouble, and that was way back in 1983."

Ronald Reagan, a conservative president from California, Tip O'Neill, the liberal Democrat from Massachusetts, sat down together, and they walked out of the White House together, and they said, "We're going to fix Social Security." And they did, for about 20, 30 years, right, Hank?

And Hank Brown and I were in the Congress at the time. And we were proud. We were proud to see the kind of bipartisanship that was exhibited for future generations.

Well, now it's broken again. Now it's broken again. Nothing is forever in America. I want to promise you that I'll say to the Democrats and I'll say to the American people: Here's a chart. Here's how much is coming in. Here's how much is going out. And here's where there's more money going out than coming in, and here's where there's no money left."

Now, are we going to hand it off to your generation to fix it? Or are we going to do the hard things? I want to be president to do the hard things. And I promise you that I'll do everything in my power to make sure that not only Social Security but Medicare is addressed, and it has to be done in a bipartisan fashion. And Washington is broke, and we're gridlocked by partisanship, and it's going to change, and it's got to change, and I will change it.


QUESTION: Senator McCain, thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask you this question today. I'm a member -- and my friends, and we're members of a group called ADAPT. We were in Washington in April, and 40 people with disabilities were arrested.

We came to your office to ask you to support our national legislation, the Community Choice Act. What that would do is it would end the institutional bias and allow people with disabilities to choose where we live and receive services.

We live in one of the best states in the country. I'm from Mississippi. My friend, Latanya Reed (ph), she's from Tennessee. Sheila Dean (ph), she's from St. Louis, Missouri. We come from all over the country to receive services in the community. Will you sign on to support the Community Choice Act?

MCCAIN: I will not, because I don't think that it's the right kind of legislation. I'm proud to have been one of the many people who was involved with the original Americans with Disabilities Act. And we will continue to update it and upgrade and improve as needed.

The Community Choice Act is not a piece of legislation that I support. And I will be glad -- as we did, when you came to my office, and many of your friends came, as well -- and I will continue to communicate with you, and I will continue to my commitment to all Americans with disabilities.

Thank you very much.


QUESTION: Senator McCain, I want to honor your service. And I am grateful to be here with you.

I thank you for asking us for our comments, because in today's Wall Street Journal there are several statements about oil going to $200 a barrel by the end of the year. And one person...


QUESTION: ... one expert says, on the $200 a barrel, he said, "There's all these forces pushing it up but no force bringing it down to bring it down." Another person said we should go to the strategic reserve.

I would submit that they're both wrong. And (inaudible) when you have time, to offer you his solution to the energy crisis that does not depend on recent reserves, did not depend on the military, is beyond the four-day workweek, and it's beyond the reduction of congestion.

It would have our price of oil on a downward path by the convention. And it would have it significantly down by the election. And all it needs to do is to be put in place. So when you have time, I'll give that to you.

MCCAIN: Thank you.


Give us a couple (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: A couple points, OK. Well, I don't want to take a lot of your time. Let me put -- because it's not a sound bite thing. It really isn't. But I'll give you an example.

Suppose that this coming Sunday, after a number of turbulent actions during the week, that Iran decides that they're going to block the Strait of Hormuz. And they do a good job of it. I think they're ready to do a good job of it, as much as we might think they won't.

So the Iranians block the Strait of Hormuz. On Monday, the futures markets and the financial markets are in chaos. The president may watch that for a day or so to see how high the oil will go -- and who knows how high it would go -- when 40 percent of it would be cut off.

On Tuesday night, he gets up and addresses the country, and he says, "On Wednesday, one-fourth of the American workforce will stay home. By a month later, a third of the American workforce will stay home," and so on up. Why is he able to say that?

Because we have one ace in the hole that no one has yet used, but you will use it, and that is we have a companion infrastructure of the Internet, and the printers, and the cell phones, and all the messages that we use all day long that we can use to keep the workforce home.

And my contention is that you will not break the spike of oil unless you hammer it down by keeping that many people off the roads, in addition to a four-day week. And that way, if you have a third fewer cars on the road by Labor Day, it'll make a difference in the price of oil. And I can go on with that.

MCCAIN: Well, thank you. And I'll look forward to getting your additional input. But let me say, I agree with you. More and more workers today are earning their living in a most productive fashion by remaining at home, and, obviously, whatever incentives that we can provide.

I think there's a living example of that here today, of that kind of success, and that's Meg Whitman, who is here.

Meg, are you -- many of you know Meg Whitman as the founder and CEO of eBay. And when she began her business 12 years ago, I believe there was five employees. Now 1.5 million people around the world make their living off eBay. A very large majority of those do not get in an automobile and go to work.

So I think Meg and eBay, the corporation, is a great example of what you're talking about. And you are putting an idea in my mind, as part of my energy plan is -- and I'm sure you've got some specifics -- is how we could encourage more and more Americans to earn a living, conduct their business, and increase their productivity by not having to use transportation.

And, by the way, I want to thank my friend, again, from the DAV. No, I don't have a perfect voting record, but I am very proud of my support for the veterans over the last 20-some years. And I'm very proud of receiving awards from every major veterans organization for my service to them. I'll be glad to debate a lot of things, but not that.

Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Recently, you did not vote on the most recent Medicare bill that decreased doctors' reimbursement. How are you going to explain to 30 million Medicare patients that will no longer be seen by doctors because doctors are not being reimbursed at the rate that it costs my Toyota to have a regular service?

MCCAIN: I want to tell them that the Medicare system is broken. The unfunded liability -- in other words, you hear the words "unfunded liability." The fact is, it's your debt. It's a debt that's being laid onto your generation is of some estimates that I see $43 trillion. And it could be higher; it could be somewhat lower. But it's staggering.

And it's the elephant in the room on the economic future of America. And that is that I'm going to tell you that I will sit down -- again, like Social Security, we've got to fix a broken system. We've got to have incentives for people to make their own decisions about their own health care.

Families should be making the decisions and not government. And every time government gets involved and starts setting payment schedules, et cetera, obviously it causes complications.

But I want every family in America to have a $5,000 refundable tax credit so they can go across state lines, and go wherever they want to, and get the health insurance of their choice.


There's a lot I can talk to you about, about Medicare. And, obviously, you are very well-versed on it. But let me mention one other point. There are people who are, quote, "uninsurable," people with chronic conditions. And they're not insured today, and they can't get insured today, and they probably won't be able to get insurance tomorrow.

We've got to set up government-approved plans -- that's GAPs that they're called -- where the federal government and the state government together, with significant contribution from the federal government, will provide risk pools and insurance for those of the, quote, "uninsurables."

And there are many other things that we need to do, treat outcome-based care of a patient; encourage home health care, as opposed to institutionalized care; address the issue of wellness and fitness amongst young Americans.

And I'll end up with this comment about it. My friends, one of the most alarming things that we see in America today is a dramatic increase of obesity amongst young people. That increases risks of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, et cetera.

We've got to talk to young Americans about the absolute necessity of wellness and fitness. And every parent should know what the school lunch program is. Every parent should know what the physical education program is.

I'd love to see every respected athlete in America going around to schools all over America who are the role models of young Americans and motivate them to get in shape and to get into physical fitness programs. We've got to do that.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Senator McCain, a pleasure to see you in person. I just -- in response to one thing about this oil thing, I think America could conserve until their face turned blue. We have a world oil problem now, because we buy oil off the world oil market.

So we would benefit China, and India, and Europe, and lower their gas prices by the sacrifice we make by roller-skating to work. That's one thing. I don't think it's any more that we're the egocentric country that's going to fix this. It's a world problem. The other thing I wanted to say is, your stance on the estate tax of only 50 percent is half the sin or a third of the sin of Obama's. I feel that the estate tax, what someone accumulates after they've paid these terrific taxes upon taxes, what they retain for themselves and then go to the grocery store and then get a sales tax, and on top of that a consumption tax, or whatever it is, what's left to transfer to your kids, your grandkids, the whole thing is a death tax. I think Bush had that right.

I think the bulk of Americans don't like it and should speak up about it. And I don't understand why it's supported.


Well, my specific proposal, as developed by my colleague from Arizona, Jon Kyl, is basically anything under $10 million is tax-free. Anything above that is 15 percent. That's basically -- that takes care of about 99 percent of the families, farms and businesses in America.

And, by the way, my friends, this tax -- this lower tax on estate is supposed to expire around -- I think it's the end of the 2010, as I recall. My friends, if that is allowed to expire, I'm afraid there might be a lot of unexplained deaths on December 31st or September 30th or whatever it is.

I'm not pointing out mothers-in-law, but, you know, I'd -- so that's -- from a humanitarian reason, we sure don't want to see a dramatic increase in the death tax, as you point out.

Let me just say a word real quickly about this issue of the dependence on foreign oil. I didn't give a complete answer to this gentleman or you.

My friends, it's a national security issue, it's an economic issue, and it's an environmental issue. Greenhouse gas emissions are poisoning our planet. I believe that. But that's one reason why nuclear power is so vital.

I believe that nuclear power is clean, it's safe, available, and it's a NIMBY problem. We have got -- we can store and we can reprocess spent nuclear fuel. My friends, the French do it. The French, 80 percent of their electricity is generated by nuclear power. And, by the way, we always like to imitate the French, but the point is...


The point is they reprocess their spent nuclear fuel. We could do that. We could do that. It takes a little guts, but we could do that.

And I'd like to -- by the way, in case you'd missed it, we now have a pro-American president of France, which shows, if you live long enough, anything can happen in the world. But the point is...



But the point is it's an economic issue, finally, as I go to you, ma'am. We are sending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas to countries that don't like us very much. You were not only talking about the Straits of Hormuz. What about the attempt that almost succeeded or came close to succeeding on a Saudi oil refinery not that long ago? So we are transferring huge amounts of wealth to countries that don't like us very much. And some of that money ends up in the hands of terrorist organizations.

My friends, that's why we have to embark on this national mission. A Lexington Project is a national mission. Americans can do it, but we've got to come together and do it in a bipartisan fashion.

And it's not just nuclear power, and it's not just roller skates. It's wind, solar, tide, nuclear, an automobile with a battery that will take 50 or 100 miles. General Motors is working hard on a car called Volt.

I met some people from Silicon Valley that just developed an electric car. And the good news is, they developed an electric car. The bad news is, it's $100,000 a copy. But the better news is that the next copy they make will be $60,000.

Do you remember the cost of a cell phone when it first came out? It was about $1,000. Now they're giving them away, OK? So we can do it. We can do it, but we have to do it. Our economy, our national security, and our environment depends on it.

Did you want to follow up real quick? Yes, sir.

QUESTION: I think Brazil is 100 percent energy efficient. And when we become 100 percent energy efficient in 20 years, 10 years, the point is, is that we will be, too, maybe someday, but the world is going to support the people that we don't like. The gas is not going away, I don't think, in my lifetime.

MCCAIN: Well, let me say that I believe that, when Jack Kennedy, President Jack Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon, nobody believed we'd get there in the time that we did, OK? I think Americans are capable of great things. And I believe that we're capable of this one.


And let me just add that I believe that, if we don't do this, then the prospects for our economy are not as -- are certainly not going to be what we want them to be. And it is an environmental issue. There's a lot more we need to discuss about this, but energy is now a key issue in determining the future of the United States of America, and Americans have always, always risen to the challenge whenever it's there.

Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Welcome to Colorado.


(inaudible) what I want to tell you, I want to speak for everyone here, and I collaborate with every statement they say. I may have very little to say, but everybody has had the opportunity to talk to you is what we all (inaudible) and don't you ever, once you become a president and say, "Well, I was forced to raise the taxes, and I resisted, and I did" -- this is what we -- you tax us when we're born. You tax us when we're dead. You tax us when we eat. You tax us when we sleep. You tax us every which way. Get off of my back!


MCCAIN: If you're not busy, I'd like to take you with me wherever I go. Thank you very much.


MCCAIN: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) let me add, since (OFF-MIKE)


QUESTION: You know, we want you to do all the things. It's not possible. What (inaudible) is that the Americans have gone (inaudible) they have gotten fatter. They have gotten sloppy (inaudible) and they have gotten into the munchies (inaudible) every which way you go. They're eating. They're sleeping. And they want everything handed to them.


Everything goes both ways, the government and the people. It is time to wake up!


MCCAIN: Thank you. Could I say thank you and thank you for your passion?

Again, I have a small disagreement. I think every time Americans have been asked to serve, every time they've been asked to be involved in a cause greater than their self-interest, they have always responded, and that's the reason why we're still the greatest nation in the world.


QUESTION: Thank you, Senator. It's hard to follow (inaudible)

MCCAIN: Do you have any passion?

QUESTION: Senator, I just wanted to ask you, college students are graduating with an unprecedented rate of debt after they graduate from school. What do you plan to do to alleviate these student loans and reduce the cost of school?

MCCAIN: Thank you. Is this -- do you have a comment? You're the photographer here, is that...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) MCCAIN: Oh, the paparazzi for this rock star. I see.


MCCAIN: I see. Thank you.

Skyler (ph), thank you. You have very attractive friends.


May I say, my friend, we have got to, in the short term, make sure that student loans are available for this fall. As you know, because of some of the problems that exist -- and I hope that all the governors will make sure that the student loans are available in the short term.

In the long term, we've got to move towards providing the kinds of incentives for young Americans to receive education. One of the issues that was brought up at the beginning of this conversation is educational benefits for our veterans. We've got to provide other educational benefits.

The city here (ph), young people that go into cities all over America and teach children, are rewarded with educational benefits, amongst others. I think we've got to put in programs for national service, to serve the country in a whole broad variety of ways. And the first reward then would be educational benefits. That's the first step.

And then, of course, I think it's we have to find ways to reward particularly educational benefits for those who are engineers, science, mathematicians, et cetera, because that is a very big shortcoming in our ability to maintain our technological and innovative lead.

The photographer wanted to add to that? No?

QUESTION: I wanted to ask a different question, if that's OK.


QUESTION: Hi, Senator McCain. Thanks for coming back to Colorado.

I recently met a man named Frank from Colorado Springs who falls into the Medicare Part D donut hole. And I've heard your answers here that, you know, we have to do what we did 20 years ago with Medicare or what we did to the Social Security, and go back, and really kind of fix the problem.

Do you have a more concrete answer for what you'd do for someone like Frank, who's a veteran like yourself, in a wheelchair, an amputee and can't pay, you know, his prescription drug bill?

MCCAIN: Well, the first thing that I would do is make sure that, if he's a veteran, that he gets eligibility for veterans care. Yesterday I was at the Phoenix Veterans Hospital and had the opportunity of meeting with many veterans who are being very well- treated there.

Now, we all know about Walter Reed, and we know about some of the problems in our veterans health care, but there is a flipside to that, and there's a lot of veterans health care facilities that are wonderful around the United States of America, including one here in Denver, as I understand. I have not visited it.

And so I would certainly see if he's eligible for veterans health care to start with. Second of all, I would have to know the exact specifics of his issue. There is Social Security disability payments. There are other programs.

But if he's not eligible to get care and the...


MCCAIN: I will. I will make sure that we address that issue as quickly as possible. It is a -- the Medigap issue is there, and we're going to have to address it, as well, and put a fix in. No American should go without the necessary health care. That's one of the obligations of our society.

But I also have to tell you, if the costs of health care continue to skyrocket and we don't do anything about that, we're not going to have affordable and available health care for any American. And we have got to get those costs under control, because there are not incentives now for people to keep health care costs down.

And that's many of the proposals that I have outlined, including, as I say, outcome-based care. If you give a health care provider a certain amount of money to care for that patient, and at the end of the period of time they've done a good job, then they should be rewarded.

There's a pilot program which has been very successful. It's called Cash & Counseling, where we have given seniors actually the money in order to take care of their own health care needs. And guess what? That program has turned out to be pretty well and pretty economical.

As far as people who are in these different donuts -- and there are a number of them -- obviously, we have to fix them, and we have to fill them. But if health care is not affordable, then we're not going to be able to make it available to that individual.

And I'd be glad to hear from you and hear from Frank and see exactly how we can help him immediately, without working on any specific government program, because no American should exist under the conditions that you described, especially one of our veterans who served our country.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Russell, and I'm an intern with CoPIRG Foundation, Health Care Alert Project.

And my question for you is, right now, more young adults are going to college than ever. We're having to face health care issues, too, such as having to drop out of school if we get sick and not being able to afford our tuition in the first place.

More young adults are having children at a younger age. They require family health care. How is your plan going to address the issues that young adults face in the 19- to 34-year-old category?

MCCAIN: Their health care is going to be affordable, available and portable. And as I said, one of them is, every family in America, particularly those you're talking to, I'm going to give them a $5,000 refundable tax credit that they could take across state lines -- right now, they're not able to do so -- and get health care insurance of their choice.

I think it affects the people that you're describing probably more effectively than anybody else. And right now, Americans, their greater fear when they lose their job is that they can't keep their health insurance policy with them. Obviously, we've got to make that portable as Americans, as opposed to some years ago, move from one job to another. And they move from one place to another.

So it's got to be available. It's got to be affordable. And we have to get the inflation side of it.

The costs of health care, my friends, the inflationary health care is double-digit or near-double-digit. And so to bring health care costs down has got to be one of our highest priorities or we are not going to have health care available to any American.

And there's technology. I've seen the -- well, as I mentioned, I was at the V.A. yesterday. Guess what? They've got all the veterans' health care records online. And that has increased their efficiency dramatically. I know my friend here from the DAV will tell you.

Why isn't that practice adopted by every health care organization in America? Put their health care records online. You know one of the things it also does? It reduces dramatically the, quote, "medical errors" that are on the best-kept, unfortunately, one of the sad aspects of health care in America and the world is the, quote, "medical errors."

And so there's a whole lot of things that we can do, but it is not a government-run health care. I don't want the government making decisions. I want the families making decisions, whether they're young and old, about health care in America.


Yes, ma'am?

QUESTION: Well, first of all, I want to tell you how absolutely impressed I am that you have not pre-screened questions and that they're open to everybody and that you're giving answers. MCCAIN: I'm afraid our first questioner left us.

QUESTION: My next question is, my grandparents immigrated here. Anybody who was not a full-blooded Native American is the product of immigration. I am all for legal immigration. How do you plan to deal with illegal immigration, while still keeping America open to people that want to come here and prosper?

MCCAIN: This meeting is adjourned.


Thank you. Very quickly, very briefly, if I could just tell you, I believe -- and we all agree -- that immigration, legal immigration is the best -- is the vitality and strength of America. We all know that.

And we tried twice to pass comprehensive immigration reform. And that meant securing the borders, temporary worker program that works, and addressing the issue of the 12 million people who are here illegally. We failed.

We failed because the American people remembered that we passed a law in 1986, that we gave amnesty to a couple million people, and we said we'd secure the borders. We gave the amnesty -- you remember, Hank, Bob -- only we didn't secure the borders. So now we end up with 12 million people here illegally.

Every nation has the requirement to secure our borders. So we've got to have the assurance that our borders are secured. And that can be done through walls in urban areas, but virtual fences, UAVs, cameras, sensors, et cetera. We can do that. We can do that. It's expensive, but we can do that.

And, by the way, we are now cooperating with Mexico in a fashion that's almost unprecedented. There's a thing called Merida Initiative. And we are going to spend your taxpayers' dollars in helping the Mexicans stem the flow of drugs that are coming in this country and killing young Americans.

And this initiative is a very good one. And for once, we've got a president -- no, I don't mean that. We now have a president of Mexico who is committed to helping us. And I think that's very important.

But we have to secure our borders. We have to have tamper-proof biometric documents that, when an employer needs a worker, that that person can get that document, come and work temporarily, and then go back to the country that he or she came from.

And that way then -- and if someone wants to come to this country illegally knows the only way they can get work here is to have those documents, then the magnet isn't there. And the numbers of people who are trying to get here with decrease, because if they know, once they get here, unless they have those documents, then they can't get a job. That's a key element. And then we have to address the issue of the 12 million people who are already here illegally. And, my friends, some of them are criminals and have to be deported immediately. Some of them we have to address in a humane and compassionate fashion, because that's the kind of country we are.


And we need to do that in a humane and compassionate fashion. Again, it's one of these things -- if I could tell you, again -- it's one of these things that requires Republicans and Democrats to sit down together. Washington is gridlocked. It's gridlocked. They don't do anything.

They went out on recess for the Fourth of July with a proposal to help people who are losing their homes left unaddressed. Congress, we never miss two things: pay raises and recesses.

And so we're going to sit down -- we're going to sit down with -- we're going to sit down together, Republicans and Democrats, beginning -- I'd like to see it tomorrow -- but beginning in January of 2009, and we're going to sit across the table, and we're going to pass legislation, and we're going to solve this problem for our national security, for our economy, and for our reputation as a nation.

We are a nation that still has the lady standing over in New York Harbor with her lamp held beside the golden door.

Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Thank you, sir.

MCCAIN: I'm being photographed today. I'm so (inaudible)

QUESTION: I was actually going to apologize for the weather, but apparently it's lucky for you.


I have a question I just want to clear up, your stance on something. On Friday, February 12, 1999, you stated, and I quote, "Presidents are not ordinary citizens. They are extraordinary in that they are vested with so much more authority and power than the rest of us. We have a right, indeed, we have an obligation to hold them strictly accountable to the rule of law."

You said that in reference to articles of impeachment of Bill Clinton, which you voted in favor of.


My question -- I agree. I agree. My question is, meanwhile, two weeks ago, you were in Ohio and you told a concerned citizen that you did not agree with articles of impeachment of President Bush. So my question is: Why should 35 articles of impeachment that Dennis Kucinich has on the table for high crimes and misdemeanors be treated with any less urgency and authority than a mindless and pathetic sexual scandal?

MCCAIN: I thank you. I don't believe that the -- I do not believe that an effort to impeach the president of the United States is appropriate or necessary or called for. That's just my position.


Yes, sir?


QUESTION: Thank you, Senator McCain. I was just wondering if you could address what you think is the most fundamental difference between you and Senator Obama.

MCCAIN: I think it really has to do with the role of government and the role of, as well, as our nation's security. If you look at Senator Obama's voting record, whether it be in the United States Senate or in the Illinois State Senate, it was basically a -- except for the 130 times that he voted "present," which is remarkable, voted "present" 130 times -- and it's very a partisan, Democrat, liberal voting record.

And that's what people care about more than anything else. His solutions are big government, tax increase, greater role of government. And mine, obviously, are different.

On national security policy, we obviously have dramatically different views. And I believe that the surge was called for. I believe that the time we were losing, and I argued for the surge, he said the surge wouldn't succeed and was doomed to failure.

So I think it really has to do -- the fundamental difference is our view of the role of government in America. Everything he has supported is bigger government, more regulation, higher taxes, et cetera. And I am a very proud conservative that believes in less government, in our nation's security, and lower taxes, and a government that basically only intervenes in people's lives when every other avenue has been exhausted.

I believe that's the principles of our founding fathers, that individuals, and then states, and then finally the federal government is the one that makes decisions that affect America's lives. I believe in the individual first.


QUESTION: Thank you, Senator McCain. With 75 cents of every health care dollar being spent on chronic disease, how are you planning to fund preventative care, which is more expensive and on the front end of it?

MCCAIN: Well, as I mentioned, one of the preventative care proposals that I had is that every American parent should find out what the school lunch program is. Every family should know what the physical education program is at their school because of this increase in obesity amongst young Americans.

Wellness and fitness, we want to reward people and employers who provide insurance to give incentives for practice of wellness and fitness. If you've got an employee that joins a health club, then give them some cash to do so.

If you've got an employee or a person who works -- was a worker who practices wellness and fitness, they should receive tangible rewards for doing so in the form of lower insurance rates, in the form of incentives and rewards from their employers, for -- in a whole variety of ways, we can incentivize wellness and fitness, including that that I said of role models for young Americans to practice that wellness and fitness, as well.

But I agree with you, from the nature of your question. My friends, if we have an unhealthy lifestyle in America, our health care costs are going to skyrocket. And there are companies and corporations right now that do incentivize their employees. We've got to make that broader and even on a national scale and part of our health care reform that we obviously -- Medicare reform we need to employ.

Could I just say that it's been, as always, an entertaining and enjoyable -- I found a new person to take around the country here with me. And I'm very grateful.

I appreciate all the young men and women who bring cameras with them. It's good. It's good for the economy. Keep buying those cameras.


And so I want to thank all of...


MCCAIN: OK, thank you. And, look, could I just say, I'm glad you're here. You and I may not...


MCCAIN: I wouldn't vote for those -- I would nor support those articles of impeachment. How could I answer it any more straight?


MCCAIN: OK. All right. But all I can say to you is that I respectfully disagree.


MCCAIN: Anyway, you know, one of the things that we try to do in town hall meetings, if we all start yelling, then it doesn't really get very enjoyable or informative. But let me just say...

(APPLAUSE) But I appreciate the fact you're here. And I appreciate -- if there's one goal that we have to have, it's get all Americans, but especially young people involved and campaign in this election, because what we do will affect you, frankly, far more than any other group of Americans for obvious reasons.

I just want to say to you, again, my friends. I'm (inaudible) to be here. I love the town hall (inaudible) love the give-and-take. Occasionally I will misspeak, and then you will all be on film, and we'll hear about it. And that's good.


And that's good. But the fact is, I thank you for being (inaudible) going to do these all over the country (inaudible) ranging from energy to articles of impeachment. So I want to say thank you.

And I just want to assure you again what I said in my opening remarks. My friends, I will always, always put my country first. That's been my life. That's been my life.

Many years ago, Tom Kirk and I were in a prison camp long ago and far away. And I was given the opportunity to leave early. I didn't do that, because Tom had been there before me, and a guy named Everett Alvarez (ph), who'd come several years before either one of us.

And I've always tried to put (inaudible) thank you for being (inaudible)



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