Former NATO Ambassador Volker on McCain

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We talk to former NATO Ambassador Kurt Volker about his recollections of Senator John McCain in a live interview from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism D.C. Bureau.


TED SIMONS: TODAY'S CEREMONY AT THE U.S. CAPITOL ROTUNDA BROKE FROM PROTOCOL FOR BIPARTISAN LAYING OF THE WREATH CEREMONY, SOMETHING THAT SENATOR McCAIN SPECIFICALLY ASKED FOR WHEN HE WAS PLANNING HIS OWN MEMORIAL SERVICE. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO IS A LINCHPIN TO THE AMERICAN-LED WORLD ORDER, GREATLY SUPPORTED BY SENATOR McCAIN. VOLCKER AMBASSADOR KURT VOLCKER WORKED FOR JOHN McCAIN IN 1990, NOW ASU’S DIRECTOR OF McCAIN'S INSTITUTE WHICH WORKED FOR ECONOMIC PROSPERITY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. THANK YOU VERY MUCH, AMBASSADOR KURT VOLKER. WE ARE HERE IN THE SAME BUILDING THAT HOUSES THE McCAIN INSTITUTE.

KURT VOLKER: WE ARE.

TED SIMONS : LET'S TALK ABOUT THAT. HOW BIG A DEAL WAS IT TO SENATOR McCAIN TO HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THIS?

KURT VOLKER: SENATOR McCAIN WAS EXTRAORDINARILY PROUD OF ARIZONA. HE WANTED TO SHOWCASE ARIZONA TO THE WORLD. THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS WHY WE DO THE SEDONA FORUM IN ARIZONA EVERY APRIL, AND HE WOULD BE PROUD TO SEE A FOOTPRINT OF ASU IN WASHINGTON, D.C. LIKE THE BUILDING THAT WE'RE IN TODAY, AND HOUSE THE McCAIN INSTITUDE AND SEVERAL OTHER PIECES OF LAW SCHOOL, PUBLIC POLICY PROGRAMS, ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES, CRONKITE SCHOOL, A SIGNIFICANT FOOTPRINT OF THE UNIVERSITY IN D.C. AND ONLY GOING TO GROW FROM HERE.

TED SIMONS: THE OUTPOURS OF GRIEF, MOURNERS, SUPPORT, CELEBRATIONS, SPEECHES, REMARKS, IT'S REMARKABLE. EVEN HERE IN WASHINGTON, HE'S HOLDING THE TOWN.

KURT VOLKER : IT IS THIS IS SOMETHING PEOPLE CLOSEST TO SENATOR McCAIN ARE REALLY TAKEN ABACK BY. WE'VE ALL KNOWN THE SENATOR, WE'VE KNOWN HOW SPECIAL HE IS. WE KNOW WHAT HE REPRESENTS. WE KNOW WHAT HE MEANS IN ARIZONA, BUT TO SEE THE COUNTRY COME TOGETHER AND FEEL SUCH A PASSION FOR SOME INDIVIDUAL, AS WE HEARD TODAY, VERY FEW PEOPLE LAY IN STATE IN U.S. CAPITOL, BUT HE IS ONE OF THEM. NOT A HEAD OF STATE, NOT A PRESIDENT, AND YET GIVEN THAT HONOR. AND WE'VE SEEN PEOPLE FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY COME OUT WITH EXTRAORDINARY TESTIMONIALS WHAT HE MEANT TO THEM. THAT'S REALLY SOMETHING.

TED SIMONS: WHY DO YOU THINK WE'RE HEARING THESE TESTIMONIALS? IT'S VERY PERSONAL FOR A LOT OF -- PERSONAL FOR YOU, YOU WORKED FOR McCAIN AND NOW YOU HAVE THE McCAIN INSTITUTE. SEEMS MORE THAN THAT.

KURT VOLKER : IT IS. THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT SENATOR McCAIN, AND HE HIMSELF EMBODIED THIS WHERE, IT'S ABOUT CORE VALUES. ABOUT FREEDOM AND DEMOCRACY. IT'S ABOUT DIGNITY. IT'S ABOUT RESPECT. IT'S ABOUT COURAGE. IT'S ABOUT INTEGRITY. AND PEOPLE SEE HIM AS AN INDIVIDUAL AND THEY RECOGNIZE THAT, AND THEY SAY THAT'S WHAT WE WANT IN OUR LEADERS.

TED SIMONS: AND YET, I'VE HEARD PEOPLE SAY THIS COULD BE A VALEDICTION ON THE KIND OF WORLD, WORLD ORDER, COMPORTMENT, YOU NAME IT, THAT WAS SO IMPORTANT TO JOHN McCAIN.

KURT VOLKER : YEAH, I UNDERSTAND THAT POINT, AND WE'RE GOING THROUGH TROUBLING TIMES, WHETHER IT'S IN EUROPE, BRITAIN, RUSSIA, CHINA, MIDDLE EAST, AROUND THE WORLD, SOME VERY TROUBLING TIMES, BUT FUNDAMENTALLY, I REMAIN OPTIMISTIC BECAUSE I THINK THE VALUES THAT McCAIN STOOD FOR ARE VALUES THAT ARE UNIVERSAL, SHARED BY PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD, AND PEOPLE WON'T GIVE UP ON THOSE, IT'S A MATTER OF MOBILIZING AND GETTING THE RIGHT LEADERSHIP AND BEING PERSISTENT AND FIGHTING FOR THOSE OVER TIME. THEY WILL PREVAIL. IN THE END I'M OPTIMISTIC, BUT GOING THROUGH A ROUGH PATCH.

TED SIMONS: WE ARE INDEED, AROUND THE WORLD, WE'VE HEARD FROM MANY WORLD LEADERS REMARKING REGARDING JOHN McCAIN. HOW WAS HE VIEWED? WAS HE VIEWED AS A QUICK TRIGGER FINGER FIND OF A GUY? VIEWED AS AN AMERICAN? HOW WAS HE VIEWED?

KURT VOLKER : ALL OF THE ABOVE. HE WAS READY AND WILLING TO USE FORCE WHEN NECESSARY. HE WAS AN ADVOCATE FOR THOSE WHO ARE MOST OPPRESSED, WHO ARE NOT SEEING HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS RESPECTED. HE WAS OUTSPOKEN. HE WAS EXTRAORDINARILY PRO-AMERICAN AND AMERICAN SECURITY INTERESTS, BUT VIEWED AMERICA AS A PARTNER WITH ANYONE WHO SHARED THE SAME VALUES AS AMERICA. SO YOU HAVE SEEN IN THE LAST WEEK ALLIES OF STATES AROUND THE WORLD SPEAK OUT ON BEHALF OF SENATOR McCAIN, YOU'VE SEEN ACTIVISTS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. PEOPLE WHO HAD RIGHTS OPPRESSED. THE PALLBEARER VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA DEDICATING CONVICTION, BELIEF, HOPE TO SENATOR McCAIN BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY'RE STANDING FOR. SO YOU SEE THAT COME TOGETHER EVEN THOUGH MANY WAYS IT RILES PEOPLE AT THE TIME.

TED SIMONS: INDEED, COULD -- JOHN McCAIN WAS ONE OF A KIND AND EVERYONE WANTS TO PROMOTE WHAT HE DID, WHAT HE MEANT, HOW HE CONDUCTED HIMSELF. CAN YOU HAVE TOO MANY JOHN McCAINS OUT THERE? THIS IS A SPECIAL PERSON. YOU CAN'T HAVE TOO MANY OF THOSE GUYS.

KURT VOLKER: I'M NOT WORRIED ABOUT TOO MANY, I'M WORRIED ABOUT HAVING ONE. [ LAUGHTER ]

TED SIMONS: YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN? ALMOST LIKE HE FILLED A VACUUM.

KURT VOLKER : HE DID. HE EMBODIED SEVERAL THINGS THAT NO ONE ELSE DOES AT THE MOMENT. BIPARTISANSHIP, ABLE TO WORK BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE. FOCUSED ON SERVING A CAUSE GREATER THAN SELF. HE HAD COURAGE BECAUSE OF PAST EXPERIENCES, EVEN AS A PRISONER OF WAR, HE WASN'T WORRIED ABOUT ANYTHING. WILLING TO COMBINE AMERICAN NATIONAL SECURITY INTERESTS WITH FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHTS OF OTHER PEOPLE AT THE SAME TIME. IT'S VERY HARD TO SEE THESE THINGS COMBINED TO ANYBODY ELSE. SENATOR McCAIN SPENT A LOT OF EFFORT MENTORING THE NEXT GENERATION OF SENATORS AS WELL AND SEEN THEM AT THE SEDONA FORUM, I KNOW MANY OF THEM. GOOD PEOPLE FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE, FIRST-TERM, SECOND-TERM SENATORS WHO ARE COMMITTED TO THE VALUES THAT SENATOR McCAIN WAS COMMITTED TO, AND I HAVE A LOT OF HOPE FOR THE FUTURE. DAN SULLIVAN FROM ALASKA, CHRIS MURPHEY FORM CONNECTICUT, JONI ERNST FROM IOWA, I THINK WE HAVE REASON FOR HOPE.

TED SIMONS: THE JOHN McCAIN HERE IN WASHINGTON AND WE ARE SPEAKING LIVE IN WASHINGTON, AND THE JOHN McCAIN IN ARIZONA. I MEAN, WAS THERE MUCH OF A DIFFERENCE AT ALL? WHEN YOU GOT UP IN SEDONA AND THE BIG BLUE SKIES AND EVERYTHING AS OPPOSED TO THE BIG BLUE SKYSCRAPERS IN WASHINGTON. WAS THERE A DIFFERENCE?

KURT VOLKER : I NEVER SAW A DIFFERENCE. YOU GO HIS OFFICE IN WASHINGTON AND LOOKS LIKE ARIZONA. YOU GO VISIT WITH HIM IN ARIZONA AND YOU CAN'T KEEP UP WITH HIS WASHINGTON PACE. SO HE WAS THE SAME PERSON NO MATTER WHERE HE WAS. AND I THINK IN MANY WAYS IT WAS THE CHARACTER OF ARIZONA. THAT IS BEING GROUNDED ON THE EARTH AND THINGS LIKE THE GRAND CANYON THAT ARE BIGGER THAN ANYTHING WE CAN IMAGINE, GROUNDING HIM IN A WAY TO SAY I CAN TAKE ON THINGS ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD, AND HE HAD NONSTOP ENERGY TO JUST GO AND GO AND GO AND TAKE ON WHATEVER ISSUES HE WANTED TO TACKLE IN WASHINGTON OR AROUND THE WORLD.

TED SIMONS: IF THERE'S ONE MEMORY YOU WILL TAKE WITH YOU OF JOHN McCAIN?

KURT VOLKER : THERE ARE SO MANY. I DID VISIT WITH HIM IN APRIL AT HIS RANCH IN SEDONA. IT WAS THE LONGEST CONVERSATION WE EVER HAD. I WORKED WITH HIM FOR 20 YEARS ON AND OFF ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. HE'S ON THE GO. SAYING TO MY FRIEND EARLY THIS EVENING, YOU WOULD SCHEDULE TIME TO RIDE WITH HIM ON THE TRAIN FROM THE ROTUNDA BACK TO HIS OFFICE TO GET TWO MINUTES TO BRIEF HIM ON SOMETHING, AND IF HE FOUND ANOTHER SENATOR FRIEND OF HIS ON THE SAME TRAIN, YOU LOST YOUR WINDOW. WE REMINISCED ABOUT THINGS, AROUND THE WORLD, THAT WAS A GREAT EXPERIENCE. THE OTHER THING I REMEMBER VIVIDLY WAS HIS CONCESSION SPEECH WHEN HE LOST THE ELECTION IN 2008 BECAUSE THAT WAS THE GREATEST GESTURE I'VE EVER SEEN, SOMEONE DELIBERATELY TRYING TO BRING THE COUNTRY TOGETHER.

TED SIMONS: ALRIGHT, FORMER NATO AMBASSADOR KURT VOLKER, HEAD OF THE McCAIN INSTITUTE IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

KURT VOLKER : GREAT TO BE HERE, TED. .

former NATO Ambassador Kurt Volker

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