Stanford Summit: John McCain

These are my notes from the "fireside chat" with John McCain at the AlwaysOn Stanford Summit:

John McCain - US Senator & 2008 Presidential candidate
Tony Perkins - Founder Always On
Peter Robinson - Research Fellow, The Hoover Institution

McCain's introductory remarks:

He's is running for president b/c he's the "most prepared". Thanks to cyberspace (the business you're in) we're seeing the spread of islamic extremism. The evil is spread through cyberspace so we need to do a better job of

He's most prepared. He needs no on-the-job training.

Two issues he wants to highlight before the panel and questions from the audience:

(1) Ethics. He's heading back to DC tonight so he can deal with the ethics vote tomorrow. He's against the bill in question.

The approval rating of Congress is at 14% - astoundingly low

(2) Climate Change. The debate about it is over. Technology is going to get us through this "very difficult period" as green house gases continue to increase. He believes in a cap and trade program. He also believes in nuclear power (point out that the French are ahead on the nukes issue and took a few pot shots about following the French).

(Factoid: McCain was 5th from the bottom of his class at West Point, which he says proves that in America anything is possible.)

Chat with Tony Perkins & Peter Robinson:

Q (PR): Immigration attempted legislation.
A: "We failed." McCain explained that they were unable to convince the majority of Americans that they are serious about securing the board. If he's elected president, he says he will "secure the boarders."

Q (PR): Taxes - quotes Milton Freedman ("I favor any tax cut...) and compares to John McCain quote from 2003. Was Milton Freedman wrong?
A: Points to Regan views. Tax cuts must be made permanent.

Q (PR): Control spending first (Thatcher), cut taxes first (Regan). What would McCain do? "I would be in favor of cutting taxes. But I would also control spending." (Makes comment re: Great Society "Republicans, over the last 10 years, have presided over the greatest increase in government spending since the Great Society. That's not conservative values. That's liberalism")

"Earmarks is a gateway drug to further spending." If you don't stop it, it's like any other forms of evil. First you

Q (TP): About the economy... people are insecure even though there are signs of it improving. How are you going to make us feel better about the economy (this is the changing world problem... in the future, people will have 10-14 different jobs before they are 38).

A: Stop wasteful spending, restore confidence in Congress, fix social security, fix medicare. {This felt like a canned response to me.}

The conversation moves to the war in Iraq, defense stuff. McCain is clearly comfortable talking about military details.

Q (PR): How will the world be different after 4 or 8 years of a McCain presidency?

He will first sit with his defense secretary to make a plan. Specifically, he will:
1) close Guantanamo
2) never torture anyone in American custody
3) get serious about climate change through international cooperation

He will ask people from Silicon Valley to come and serve their country. And help solve the problems. And to do it for free.

Q (TP): If oil is part of the problem, with going green, the green candidate has not risen.

A: If the brains, talent and innovation are turned to green technologies, he's confident the problem will be solved. (E.g., a better battery, using ethanol, convincing Americans that nuclear power is safe).

Questions from Audience
Q: John Ince/Journalist - 25 years ago we were the biggest creditor nation; now we're a debtor nation. This may be a precursor to our decline. Is this an important issue to you and what will you do about it?

A: This is important, but not as important because of the internationalization of the economy. He's less concerned about the economic aspects. He's more concerned about other aspects of the relations with China - free speech, environmental aspects of China's growth, treatment of Hong Kong, decision making in lack of transparency.

Q: MIT Professor Emeritus - How can we make peace with the Islamists?

A: We have very good relations with Indonesia, the largest Islamist nation. The extremists are who we have to worry about. Esp. true in the more impoverished areas.

Q: ??? - Broadband penetration. US has fallen to 15th in broadband penetration.

A: Can't compare to small countries. The challenge is one that we need to deal with especially for small/rural areas. "We should make this one of our highest priorities."

Q: Will from SF - Pakistan problems... Saudi problems.
A: Pakistan is the unique example of the tension between Wilsonian principles and real politik. The most suicide bombers in Iraq today come from Saudi Arabia. McCain is very concerneda bout Saudi Arabia. There's a careful balance between real politik and Wilsonian principles.

Q: Jamis (Woodside) - Would you conceive going to war with China over Taiwan?
A: It's hard to conceive of going to war with China, but we have to make it clear that we will protect Taiwan. The policy (R & D) is that we strongly support the peaceful reunification of Taiwan into mainland China.

Q: Education for children has dissolved; vouchers; early education.
A: Early ed is very important and those programs have shown that early ed dramatically affects education.


Q: Do you have specific proposals for the environment?
A: Negotiate international agreements, like Kyoto, to solve this international problem in an international way.

Q: Would you
A: "I'd let a thousand flowers bloom...." I certainly wouldn't dictate which technology or research to be conducted.

Q: China/Taiwan issue... How would you stop Taiwan from declaring its independence from China.
A: I would discourage Taiwan declaring its independence. I would also encourage China to be more rational in how it deals with Taiwan. One starting point is that I'd try to get China to declare that it will never use force against Taiwan.

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