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Special Event

McCain: 'I Would Love to See Both Candidates Renounce the Use of Soft Money'

Aired March 21, 2000 - 2:06 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to jump up to Capitol Hill, where John McCain, former Republican candidate has suspended his campaign, as you know, and has just emerged from a luncheon given in his honor by his colleagues in the Senate. he is now surrounded by a cluster of reporters who are peppering him with questions.

Let's listen for a minute.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I said thank you very much. It is wonderful to be back, and I look forward to working with them.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MCCAIN: We will be coming up with that in about a week.

Yes, sir.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MCCAIN: I know that things haven't been nearly as interesting in my absence. You'll have to ask my colleagues. I've announced my candidacy again this year for Miss Congeniality.

QUESTION: Do plan to campaign for Bush, senator?

MCCAIN: I intend, as I said, to support the nominee of the party. There are discussion that are going on, and those discussions I am sure will continue.

QUESTION: What are your attitudes?

MCCAIN: I have nothing more to add to that statement.

QUESTION: Did you ask people not to come to your speech or did people know you were making a speech? I mean there was no one there.

MCCAIN: I didn't inform anyone. I wanted it to be a normal occasion, and that to just go and give a statement about Kosovo. I specifically asked that there not be any special events or arrangements made upon my return. I thought that was the most appropriate way to do that. QUESTION: You said that you wanted Vice President Bush to renounce soft money?

MCCAIN: Yes.

QUESTION: Would you say the same for Mr. Gore?

MCCAIN: I certainly am opposed to soft money. I have made that very clear. I would love to see both candidates renounce the use of soft money.

QUESTION: You would like Gore to ask for an investigation on China abuses...

MCCAIN: All of the abuses of the 1996 campaign.

QUESTION: Would you say the same for the Wyly brothers, in that case of...

MCCAIN: Of course, of course, any campaign abuses. But I must say that the Wyly brothers are pretty -- that's a pretty transparent kind of a thing. And it is obvious what happened there. But many of the allegations, including breeches of national security, have never been investigated. It is like some very, very, very serious things happened. Literally every institution of government was debased by the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1996 reprehensible conduct. Equally reprehensible was the conduct of the attorney general of the United States in refusing to accede to the strong recommendations of the director of the FBI and Mr. LaBella.

QUESTION: Senator, would it be a bar to you campaigning for Governor Bush if he will not renounce soft money?

MCCAIN: No. No. I demand no concessions, nor will there be negotiations.

QUESTION: Could you accept the vice presidential nomination if offered by Governor Bush?

MCCAIN: No.

QUESTION: You would not.

MCCAIN: No.

I thank you very much.

WATERS: That's John McCain meeting with reporters after his return to the Senate, a special luncheon with his colleagues just concluded, telling reporters that he will continue his fight for campaign finance reform. And he is asking both the candidates, Bush and Gore, to renounce soft money. But even if Bush should not renounce soft money, they -- the former GOP presidential candidate, McCain said that would not preclude him stumping for the nominee of his party, whom we will support. He expects no concessions, there will be no negotiations, he said. John McCain back at work on Capitol Hill.

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