- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2000

'Can I finish? Can I finish?'

California radio talk-show host Michael Reagan interviewed John McCain via telephone Tuesday night. Mr. Reagan, a son of Ronald Reagan, had been neutral on the presidential race between Mr. McCain and George W. Bush. Mr. McCain, meanwhile, has been said to be seeking Nancy Reagan's endorsement. Sound like an opportunity for a cozy chat? Let's listen in on an excerpt of the conversation.

MICHAEL REAGAN: As president, one of the legacies you would leave would be the judges that you would appoint as president of the United States of America. And there's some great concern if Warren Rudman, who is your overall campaign chairman, would be in such a position in a McCain administration to appoint judges like Judge [David] Souter to the bench, as was done during the Bush administration back in the 1980s.

JOHN McCAIN: Warren Rudman did not appoint, uh, Judge Souter

REAGAN: He

McCAIN: Uh, President Bush did. You remember? He was the president.

REAGAN: Yes, but

McCAIN: Second of all, Warren Rudman is a fine, decent man, who has served his country in the Korean War, attorney general of his state, and a senator that was highly respected. Uh, it was President Bush that appointed, uh, Justice Souter.

REAGAN: Right, but Warren Rudman

McCAIN: Uh, Warren Rudman is 70 let me finish, please. Could I finish? Warren Rudman is 70 years old. He had a serious illness. He's not interested in playing any active role in a McCain administration and I resent enormously phone calls that were made by Pat Robertson saying that he was a "vicious bigot." I think that one might be

REAGAN: Senator

McCAIN: well worth

REAGAN: Senator

McCAIN: talking about

REAGAN: Senator

McCAIN: as well.

REAGAN: Senator, I'm not, Senator

McCAIN: I asked you if I could, I asked you, Michael, if I could finish. Can I finish?

REAGAN: But you did finish, senator.

McCAIN: Can I finish? Can I finish? Yes or no?

REAGAN: [pause] What else do you have to say?

McCAIN: Can I, can I finish or not? I mean, otherwise

REAGAN: Go ahead.

McCAIN: OK. I don't appreciate him being called a "vicious bigot" by Pat Robertson in personal phone calls to hundreds of thousands of Americans. He is a fine and decent man and he will play an advisory role to me because he's a fine and decent man who enjoyed a sterling reputation as United States senator and attorney general of the state of New Hampshire. Now, I'm finished.

REAGAN: Education. Big issue. I mean, compared to other industrial nations, we here in America, the children, routinely test near the bottom. So, what about your plan for a better educated child here in America? What is the McCain plan?

McCAIN: Choice, uh by the way, before we go on to that, uh, it doesn't disturb you that Pat Robertson would, uh, call up people and say that, uh, Warren Rudman is a "vicious bigot"? I'd like you to talk about that

REAGAN: No, senator.

McCAIN: a little bit

REAGAN: No, senator.

McCAIN: from time to time.

REAGAN: No, senator, because, let me tell you, I think that gets off

McCAIN: No. No, you. Let me tell you. The man's name is maligned and his reputation is maligned, and it ought to be talked about, OK?

(Garbled sound as Mr. Reagan hangs up.)

REAGAN: Senator McCain, goodbye. Senator McCain, goodbye. (Sound of paper being torn up.) You know something? I'm ripping this up. You lost my vote.

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