June 7th, 2015
01:57 PM ET

Fmr Gov Chafee on CNN's State of the Union: "...The war in Iraq is costing us $6 trillion...The tax cut was $1.6 trillion...what this war is costing us has just dwarfed all the other spending...I want to redirect those resources..."

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Democratic presidential candidate, former Governor Lincoln Chafee (I-RI), joined chief Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash for an exclusive interview to discuss why America should ‘wage peace,’ how he would repair relations between America and Russia, and where he feels our resources should be utilized.

 

Text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS

Chafee on redirecting resources from the war in Iraq back to America: “The war in Iraq is costing us $6 trillion, $6 trillion. The tax cut was $1.6 trillion… So we need to wage peace and take those resources and put them back into building our infrastructure, the Amtrak crash, building our schools, so we have the same kind of schools in Baltimore and Ferguson that we have in some of the suburbs.  That's how I want to redirect our energies and our focus, taking those resources and putting them back into America...”

Chafee on how he would repair relations between America and Russia: “…stop making the mistakes that Secretary Clinton made.  That was a big mistake, when we're trying to restart our relationship with Russia and Secretary Clinton presented the foreign minister with a symbolic gesture and they got the Russian word wrong. And it's those types of mistakes that set back a relationship. …I think Secretary Kerry going to Sochi and meeting with some of the Russian foreign ministers, and with Putin, was a good step.  History shows that - going back to relations with China - that if you establish good relationships, that can lead to a better path. We need to wage peace in this world.  That's our responsibility…”

Chafee on the reasons why America should use the metric system: “…it's time for America not only economically but symbolically to join the rest of the world. I know that many in the scientific community, the healthcare community, that have to deal internationally, the business community, are saying this is way overdue. Ronald Reagan talked about it.  Others have talked about it.  But now, at this point in American history where we squandered so much credibility… …it's time… that we have, to make a symbolic gesture to the rest of the world.  And it's also good economically.  So there’s many benefits to it.”

FULL TRANSCRIPT

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

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Hillary Clinton remains the clear front-runner in the Democratic presidential race despite challengers from the left.

One of them former Rhode Island Governor and Senator, Lincoln Chafee is joining me now.  And Governor, thank you so much for joining me.  I appreciate it.

Let' just start with what everybody is talking about out of your announcement this week, and that is your pledge to turn this country to the metric system like Europe and most of the rest of the world is using.  It seems like an unusual thing in today's day and age for that to be the thing that people are taking away and perhaps unusual for that to be the thing that you're pushing so hard as your platform.  Why is that?

FORMER GOVERNOR LINCOLN CHAFEE, (I-RI):  Well, the theme of my announcement was for us to wage peace in the world, for America to change the way we're acting in the world, and I labeled that "waging peace" and I had about ten proposals and going metric was one of those.

Of the ten proposals, better relations with Russia, better relations with our South American neighbors, no more drone strikes, no more torture, no more warrantless wiretapping, let's bring Snowden home - a number of proposals.  And this was one that's part of being an internationalist.  There are only two other countries that aren't metric, Myanmar and Liberia.  And so it's time for America not only economically but symbolically to join the rest of the world.

BASH:  And I have to say, just to people who are Americans who are very comfortable without the metric system, they're looking at this and saying, really, is this guy kidding me?  Does he get it?

CHAFEE:  Well, I lived in Canada when they went - I was working on the horse racetrack in Canada after graduating from college.  I was up there for about seven years working on the horse racetrack, and they went metric and it was very easy.  And I know that many in the scientific community, the healthcare community, that have to deal internationally, the business community, are saying this is way overdue.

Ronald Reagan talked about it.  Others have talked about it.  But now, at this point in American history where we squandered so much credibility with telling the rest of the world there were weapons of mass destruction, we invaded another country, just so un-American, that it's time, in light of the squandered credibility that we have, to make a symbolic gesture to the rest of the world.  And it's also good economically.  So there’s many benefits to it.

BASH:  OK, so let's talk more about your agenda to wage peace, as you call it.  Right now, as we speak, President Obama is in Europe at the G-7 summit and he's calling for an extension of sanctions against Russia.  Would you support that?

CHAFEE:  Well, it's unfortunate what's happened in Ukraine, in Crimea, and with Putin, with Vladimir Putin.  At one time we were really working well together and it's deteriorated.  And I don't know about these sanctions.  I should think there would be better ways of getting a rapprochement with Russia.  They’re so important in the world, and especially to the countries, the former Soviet Republics, such as Ukraine.

BASH:  OK, so if you're in the Oval Office, you're president, what is that better way? How would you correct relations with Russia and Vladimir Putin right now?

CHAFEE:  Well, stop making the mistakes that Secretary Clinton made.  That was a big mistake, when we're trying to restart our relationship with Russia and Secretary Clinton presented the foreign minister with a symbolic gesture and they got the Russian word wrong.  And it's those types of mistakes that set back a relationship.  Little symbolic mistakes.

And so I think Secretary Kerry going to Sochi and meeting with some of the Russian foreign ministers, and with Putin, was a good step.  History shows that - going back to relations with China - that if you establish good relationships, that can lead to a better path.

We need to wage peace in this world.  That's our responsibility.  That's the charge that we're given with our economic power that we have.

BASH:  Governor, let's talk about a domestic issue, a very big one, and that is this nation's deficit.  Would you raise taxes in order to balance the budget and bring down the deficit and debt?

CHAFEE:  Well, as you know, Dana, you were there covering the Senate when I voted against, even when I was a Republican, all of the Bush tax cuts.  Because we had worked so hard to get surpluses.  And first President H.W. Bush went back on read my lips, no new taxes, pledge.  That cost him re-elect.  And then Bill Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy.  That probably cost him the House and Senate, which he lost in 1994.  All that hard work, all that political capital, and then in came the Bush/Cheney tax cuts and I voted against all of them, just because I believe we need to first cut spending and then cut taxes.

BASH:  And I do remember -

CHAFEE:  Not vice versa.

BASH: - you voting against the Bush tax cuts and I remember you not being very popular in the Bush White House for that.  But voting against tax cuts and wanting to raise taxes to address the current situation, where we are, are two different things.  Would you do that at this point?

CHAFEE:  Well, as you know, from my announcement speech, I talked about waging peace and the economic benefits that can come from that.  The war in Iraq is costing us $6 trillion, $6 trillion.  The tax cut was $1.6 trillion.  I mean, what this war is costing us has just dwarfed all the other spending that’s going on.

So we need to wage peace and take those resources and put them back into building our infrastructure, the Amtrak crash, building our schools, so we have the same kind of schools in Baltimore and Ferguson that we have in some of the suburbs.  That's how I want to redirect our energies and our focus, taking those resources and putting them back into America, at the same time making sure we have a strong military.

BASH:  Governor Lincoln Chafee -

CHAFEE:  $6 trillion in Iraq.

BASH:  Thank you so much.  Newly - absolutely.  And we're going talking more about this as the months go on.  Governor, thank you so much for joining me.  We'll talk to you soon, I'm sure, and we'll be right back.

END INTERVIEW


Topics: CNN • Dana Bash • State of the Union
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