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Sen. John McCain

John McCain

6:50 p.m. PDT: Sen. John McCain’s recent appearance at Google seems to have prepared him well for his D5 interview this evening. Certainly, he appeared slightly more at ease fielding Walt and Kara’s initial questions about broadband penetration in the United States than he was at Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s query about good ways of sorting 1 million 32-bit integers in two megabytes of RAM. But then they asked about the war in Iraq…

  • 6:58 p.m.: Sen. McCain suggests that there should be as little government regulation of broadband as possible. Walt notes that the telecom industry is re-aggregating back into “one unified AT&T.”
  • Sen. McCain says we should let the market and technology solve the Net-neutrality issue: “When you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment.”
  • 7:05 p.m.: Question from Kara: What are your thoughts on copyright and the proliferation of video on the Internet? Sen. McCain’s response: We need to reform our copyright laws, but it needs to be carefully thought through. There needs to be leadership from the White House because some in Congress don’t understand the complexity of these issues.
  • 7:10 p.m.: Whoa. Impromptu job interview. Sen. McCain says given the chance, he’d hire John Chambers for his cabinet. Wonder if he’d consider Steve Ballmer for secretary of state, Kara posits.
  • 7:15 p.m.: On immigration: Sen. McCain says the status quo is unacceptable. “We must act soon. This is an issue of transcendent national importance.” He notes that immigration has become a national security issue since 9/11, with the caveat that it’s a humanitarian and economic issue as well.
  • 7:20 p.m.: Here come the hardball questions. Walt asks the senator how he can support current U.S. military action against Iraq. Sen. McCain admits that U.S. efforts in Iraq have been mismanaged and mishandled, but “we are where we are. … Now we’ve got a new general and a new strategy and it’s working.”
  • “It would be very easy to say intellectually ‘Let’s withdraw,’ ” Sen. McCain says. “But it’s not that simple.” So, Kara asks, what is the senator’s plan for Iraq? He replies that it’s a classic plan for controlling insurgency. “Control the environment so people can live their lives.” It will require more troops, he says, but ultimately things will stabilize. Then Iraqi forces can take over, and we can leave.”I know how unpopular this war is. I just believe that if we take the way out that is espoused by some, it could be fatal.”
  • 7:30 p.m.: Question from Walt: In January 2009, will we be facing a question of war with Iran if they continue to destabilize the Palestinian/Israeli situation? Sen. McCain says that Iran is a great threat. We need a league of democracies to act against Iran, he says, adding that we should impose our own sanctions against Iranians outside of the U.N. “We will prevail again,” Sen. McCain says. “We must prevail. We will never surrender.”
  • 7:40 p.m.: Moving on now to the Q&A session, much of it focused on the war in Iraq.
  • Q: Do you believe that every American citizen is guaranteed a right to habeas corpus?A: Yes. But only Americans, not military combatants.
  • Q: Would you ever authorize targeted assassinations?
    A: I would be very reluctant to do that. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I can’t imagine a situation in the world today where I would authorize an assassination.
  • Q: If you were elected, would you abolish the U.S. Department of Education?A: I wouldn’t abolish it, but I would sure try to fix it. Choice and competition is the fundamental solution to our education problems.
  • Q: Should the government be encouraging more competition in telecom?
    A: I’m all for the government encouraging competition, but I’ve found over time that less government involvement is better. Unless there is a clear-cut, unequivocal restraint of competition, the government should stay out of it. These things will sort themselves out.
  • Asked about green energy, Sen. McCain stresses the need to pursue biofuels. “I believe that nuclear power is a major part of our energy independence, which must be our highest priority. Our oil supply is in danger. We must be energy independent.”
  • 8 p.m.: Seems like an odd segue, but Sen. McCain is moving on from green energy to kiddie porn, a subject he had wanted to discuss. Directly addressing D attendees, he says, “Internet child porn is spreading. You have the ability to help us combat it. You can help us develop the tools necessary to combat this terrible evil.”

And with that, the session concludes. Backstage, we spot the Senator chatting with Cisco CEO John Chambers and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Already pulling his cabinet together, apparently.

Find more D5 coverage at The Wall Street Journal.

Sen. John McCain Session Photos

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Walt, Kara, and Sen. John McCain kick off D5

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