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tv   Public Affairs Events  CSPAN  August 25, 2018 9:53pm-10:49pm EDT

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the house of representatives before becoming a u.s. senator. it's a position he has held for the last three decades. he ran for president twice, the first time in 2000 and again in 2008, becoming the republican nominee. prior to his political career, he spent more than 20 years with the u.s. navy before retiring in 1981 as a captain. his service included bombing missions during the vietnam war where he faced injury and captivity when his plane was shot down over northern vietnam in the fall of 1967. as a prisoner of war, john mccain was subjected to torture and solitary confinement while being held in various prison camps, including one commonly referred to as a hilton. he was released 5.5 years later. in 1992, he spoke about his
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experiences as a prisoner of war and vietnam's legacy in american history. from the c-span archives, this is just under an hour. >> october 1967. the people and militia arrested a major american major, john mccain. he was shot down in an american plane. he was shot down near the electricity -- near the power plant. during the day, 10 american planes were shot down. john mccain then came here. we erected this monument.
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>> that is a picture from pinoy. the voices of a c-span mike while we were there, that is a monument to john mccain area what is that? >> i've never understood that. i visited it i'm not sure why it was built. i want to visit it. there's a few mistakes there. i was in the navy. they called me a major and i was lieutenant commander. why they erected it and what significance it has to them, i have never quite figured out. i complained a couple times when i heard that the grass was overgrown and there may have
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been bird droppings around it. they thought i was serious. i didn't complain anymore. i went down right in that lake. the thermal power plant, i was hit right over the target. when i ejected, i landed in that lake. that is why they put it up there. i was badly injured. they swam out and pulled me in. i can tell you, they were less than friendly. we had just finished bombing their city. i don't hold a grudge against them. sometime in the 70's they built that particular memorial. i'm very glad it's there. i don't have any other memorials anywhere else. >> how many times have you been back there? >> twice. once in 1985 with walter
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cronkite on the 10th anniversary of the fall of saigon. last march, we went back for a few days. we visited it again. we also went down to saigon. as you know, they call it that now. >> is it hard to go back? >> no. it was a long time ago. i have many vietnamese friends who were on the other side. there's no reason for me to hold a grudge or anger. there were individual guards that were very cruel. there's no sense in me hating the enemy's when, as you know, the vietnamese people are basically decent, gentle people. a victim of oppression and wars
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that have gone on for a couple of thousands years. i don't admire the communist system. i think they are going to fall sooner or later, just as the rest of communism is falling throughout the world. i hold no personal grudges. >> let's go over the statistics. you were in the navy for how many years? >> 22. from 1958 and i left in 1981. >> we did the plane go down? >> 1967. i was hit by a missile over the city of hanoi. we were bombing of thermal power plant. this was the first time we bombed a target inside of hanoi. as many of our viewers will remember, they were very heavily defended.
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they had rings of surface-to-air missiles. there were eight headed in my direction and one of them hit me. >> how badly were you injured? >> broke both arms and my leg on ejection. when i was pulled out, my shoulder was badly damaged by a rifle but.
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>> we went from solitary confinement to a large cell. it was a dramatic, and wonderful change. >> how many prisoners of war are
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there in the united states congress? >> none in the senate and to others in the house. sam johnson from texas, pete peterson from florida. i knew them both, sam johnson much better than pete, but i knew both. peterson is a democrat, johnson a republican. is there anything about being in prison that makes you a democrat or republican? [laughter] >> i think that there was some resentment back in 1968 when lyndon johnson stopped the bombing. we assumed there would be some accommodation made for pows there was resentment about that and also i think that in the 1971-72. , there was much more in pertinent and help to the
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families that their happy before -- had been before. there was clearly more help for the families. but, as you know, military people have a tendency to be more conservative. >> we have a map, and chose vietnam. where was the carrier you were flying from? >> we were further north from that. we would have been very far. we would stay up fairly close. some of our bombing missions we would go on would be 45 minute missions. take a short drop and return. we sometimes stayed fairly close to the north vietnamese coast. >> i want to show the audience where this was.
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right and there, and you come down and are into the north vietnam or hanoi area. the other side is laos. >> and if you move over to thailand, you can see that the air force bases were up new the vietnamese border. in places like these, some others. the air force would fly out of those bases, and some from south vietnam, into hanoi and haiphong. you can see there were long missions the air force had to fly where the ships would be right off the coast. for a long time, vietnam was divided in a line. basically through hanoi, and the air force had a responsibility on the western side. the navy on the eastern side. later in the war, we went uncoordinated strikes.
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>> it meant that this was north and south? >> yes. >> we have got some videotape, senator mccain, that has become a mini tourist area. have you been there? >> i have not been there. remember, the b-52s did not fly north until the christmas bombing of 1972. there were a number of b-52s that were shot down in that christmas. -- period. but it was an incredible display of firepower and had taken up the ability to defend themselves. >> we show this because we wanted to show you the neighborhood. this is a day in april that was about 100 degrees. and this, in the middle of that song with houses around it that was wreckage.
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then you have to pay a little money to get back. >> free enterprise network. >> you had to take a car. any reaction when you see a chunk of a american b-52? >> you could make an argument that they were not used correctly during the war. once they were sent north, they had a devastating effect. they literally took out the air defenses of north vietnam where we had been using tactical air, not successfully in the past. the b-52 is an awesome weapon. i noted, with some interest, that some of them were used in the persian gulf. >> and what was the difference in the size of your plans? -- planes?
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>> it was one 50th of the size, but more importantly, the bomb load was seven or eight bombs, and i do not know how many hundreds come off. the firepower it could bring to bear is very impressive. in the first few nights, it was very dangerous until they took out the air defenses. >> this is in the middle of hanoi. this is senator john mccain who was a prisoner of war for five and a half years. we will show some videotape from the prison cell, two of the three places he was located what he was there. and this was in a neighborhood that was fairly easy to get to. but one of the things that people want to know is that if we actually bombed civilians during the war. john: no we did not.
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there was a famous incident of a hospital in hanoi, which supposedly was struck with all of these casualties. it turned out that was not the case. there was precision bombing and the civilian casualties were minimal. at the same time, i have got to add that whatever you are in a war on the civilians are going to be hurt. if there were not civilian casualties, war would be a much more attractive kind of business. the casualties were minimal, but unfortunately, civilians were killed. host: any idea how much the b-52 costs? john: they have been in since the 50's. they have turned out to be a critical, because they were originally designed as a strategic father, to carry nuclear weapons, and then they turned into a conventional carrier. i do not know the cost, but to duplicate something like that which is the be-two, you're talking about a billion dollars.
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the b-52 was a worthwhile investment. i have great admiration for the crews, because they flew straight and level and depended on their electronic countermeasures, where in a tactical air plan, you can dodge. host: that is a plaque on the wall, you can see where it says 52, obvious what is. that is a plaque on the wall, right near the site where you and taurus can go in hanoi -- tourists can go. they seemed to ignore us when we were there. we were not an honorary -- oddi ty. are you surprised they would keep something like this? would you do the same thing here? john: i don't think we would. but for some time, they wanted visible symbols of their victory. those pictures are interesting, look at how terrible those conditions are. the problem in vietnam, as you know, is that they have made
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these enormous sacrifices and nothing has come of it. that is a bitter, bitter pill for them to swallow. host: why have they not been able to do better? john: because of their system of socialism and central government control, etc.. and as we make it into later on, the economy of saigon is much more threatening, as you know. because there is capitalism and free enterprise. in north vietnam, it is improving a little bit because they have loosened the control. but their system as such, like any socialist country, they cannot improve unless they allow free enterprise to function. as you know, the people are still the old ho chi minh 70-80's generation. even they recognize they have to change. host: you said you were mistreated.
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is that pandemic to the south vietnamese people? john: the vietnamese viewed us, understandably, as an air -- enemy. they believe that, and i understand. they are very naive people. i understand why they would dislike us and understand why they would mistreat a captured pilot to get military information. the resentment that i hold towards the vietnamese, at least those individuals, was when they attempted to exploit us for propaganda. that is not in keeping with the geneva convention. and, frankly, they were trying to use us as an extension of the. -- battlefield. they knew they could not prevail militarily, but they could prevail in the streets of washington dc. most of the mistreatment was to
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make tapes, to confess crimes, etc.. host: you are senator john s mccain the third. this is a leading question, because you know i knew your father. when i was in the navy, he was the first admiral i ever met. he was john s mccain junior. who was he, and what role did he play in this war? john: both my father and grandfather were navy admirals. they were the first father and son who are ever four-star admirals. my grandfather was an early naval aviator. my father was a submarine officer during world war ii and was promoted and was a commander in chief in the pacific. which was, as you can understand, difficult for him.
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much more difficult in my view on him than it was on the -- me. host: did he see you elected? john: no, he did not. host: and before, he said he spent 22 years in the navy, did you get out at what rate? john: captain, i was the navy liaison officer to the senate. host: have anything to do with getting you interested in being one of them? john: yes, it made me very interested in political life. not because i found it attractive, but when i saw what a person can achieve as a member of congress, it became attractive. host: if you have just joined us, we are continuing our many our special of vietnam revisited. our guest is senator john s mccain, here to talk about his experience as a prisoner of war. we now have some video that will take us, we just drove around.
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are they called hanoi hilton's? john: the media call them different things. the plantation was one. the hilton we knew of was the old french present which we will see later on. and there was another large prison also. but the only one we call the hilton itself with the old french prison. the one we drive around now we call the plantation. host: this is a around the block of the inside of all of this. john: whenever we were taken someplace, we were always blindfolded, handcuffed. so i never saw the outside. host: when you went back, what was the purpose? john: they asked me because it
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was the 10th anniversary of the fall of saigon, a review of the whole u.s. involvement. i must tell you that it was a great thrill to spend time with a man like walter cronkite, who is incredible. i don't have to tell you how knowledgeable he is and what a fine man he is. host: how long were you inside the prison? john: i was there around two and a half years. host: what is your strongest memory? john: my strongest memory is the heat. when i think about all of the parts of it, you're starting in march or april, it gets very hot and i -- hanoi. all of the rooms were blocked off, and it used to get incredibly hot in those rooms. of course, we had no hygiene or anything. you got boils, dysentery.
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it was a very difficult time until the rates would start. -- rains would start. host: when you went back, did you go back to this prison? john: i did, and i tried to go to another, but that is still being used as a prison. that is a real prison. they were stocks on the wooden that. -- bed. i don't know how the french did architecture in other ways, but they built a good prison. host: did you hear much of this noise? john: yes, lots of noise in the street. there is also a railroad that runs my. -- by. host: somebody said they were anxious to go back so they could find out what noises they were hearing every day. they found that some of them belonged to the vendors of different products.
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it was like the cream sickle people. john: yeah. host: the good humor man. john: yeah, him. when the first americans were shot down, he kept them all in the old french prison. as the population increased, they branched out into two others. this one we are about to see anyone other. host: how many were here with you? john: around 50-60 people. for reasons we never understood, the vietnamese would move us around. we never understood the rhyme or reason. generally, if the soup and the peace of bread. again, in the last year-year and a half, it approved significantly.
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as part of this change in treatment. none of us have quite understood , except for a combination of things, including international pressures and the efforts of millions of americans. host: what other time have you been back? john: april 1991. i am a member of the committee on pow affairs. i assume there are americans alive until we have as full a counting as possible. we still have not gotten the full accounting. i have not yet seen hard evidence of their argumentative alive. i'm somewhat pleased by the progress that has been made in the last six months. host: what are the politics of it? john: business in america is very interested in having the embargo lifted. those who are opposed to it are
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those feel the vietnamese have still not been forthcoming in their efforts to resolve the issue. it is generally agreed that the vietnamese have complied with our demands that they move forward. i think the mia pow issue still remains a significant issue. host: would you have been elected had not gone through this? john: i don't know the answer to that. i think that, clearly, my service gave me some advantage. at the same time, many, many former military and pows have run for office. i think the american people express their gratitude forecast service, most of them elected their officials on what they think they will do for them. it helped,, but i don't think it had much effect on my elections.
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host: were you in a cell with anybody else? john: i was by myself. host: could you talk to anyone? john: ike attack on the walls. the one on the side of me was empty, but the other side, we developed a method of talking by putting a cup on the wall, we could talk to each other. host: who was next to you? john: a guy named bob kramer. a wonderful man. host: they are talking to you on the deeper -- beeper. [laughter] i hope we have time, this is being taped for the audience. let's look at it, it is nine minutes long. you'll see a gentleman who was the head, this is a film studio. he says that it is a film city before, after. he agreed to allow us to go to the cell if we would watch a
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film after it was over he would not let us take the film. they have been helpful allowing us to dig up remains and get to the bottom of this. would you agree with that message? john: the past few years, they have been helpful. much more helpful that the past. the particular sick -- single event was in the office staff by americans, allowing them to go anyplace in the country. that has been a significant change, but the issue is not resolved. host: by the way, when do you think the embargo will be lifted? john: if progress continues in the way that it has, sometime
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after the elections. but there are a lot of things that need to be result -- result. -- resolved. host: which group is the loudest? john: there are various organizations, some that are quote mainstream. then there are others who are viewed as splinter groups. i think the league of families has a position they are opposed until there is a full accounting, and they need great credibility. there has been, as i say, a great deal of progress. we should thank the vietnamese, though we have still not gotten the full cooperation that we need. particularly in the area of laotian problems. as you know, there were hundreds who went down, very few ever returned.
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as a way of explanation, when c-span went to handling, we asked a handler, call it whatever provided by the government. you will see him in this video. the minute we got there, we asked if you go to the prison. they said we will get you there one way or the other. but one afternoon, they said it was time to go and we had plenty of time. what you will see is haphazard, ad hoc. we walked in, sat down and visited. he was in the army, and our cameraman and us took off. at the end, you will hear, we wanted to go up and just listen for a well, see what you can here. it is about nine minutes long, and if you don't mind watching, we will come back and get your reaction.
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[speaking veitnamese] >> this section is newly built. it is intact. >> so these were cells? [speaking veitnamese] >> this is storage of a film studio.
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[speaking veitnamese] i stayed there and observed. the behavior of american pilots. >> were they out here in this courtyard? >> they were. [speaking veitnamese] >> at this time, this house was not there. >> this building was not there. >> yes.
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[speaking veitnamese] >> during john mccain's time here. >> this was a very long time.
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>> [speaking veitnamese] >> it was just for one person if they could not manage to go there,. >> there was a shelter underneath their. >> [speaking veitnamese] >> [speaking veitnamese]
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>> john mccain also came here. >> [speaking veitnamese] >> and, you were sleeping, mr. john mccain, in this same room. >> where we just spoke? hm. >> this is where we cooked food for the americans. >> where was the kitchen? >> [speaking veitnamese]
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they have got flowers all around it. it looks real nice. it was told h him by others. it was a little different. >> how has this changed since 1985? >> i did not go back. last year. that shed had been built where the trucks were. it was about the only change that i saw. >> which prison had the better conditions? >> that one clearly. the cells we're going to see later on, they were much smaller. much more tightly guarded. i believe that they kept the people that they treated as kind of special prisoners and they kept them there mine because my father was an admiral. others because they attempted to escape. it was i think a tougher environment than real hilton as
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we called it. >> how much mail did you get step in >> i received about three letters if my family. i of them -- two of them -- guess all three when the vietnamese were offering release in 1968. >> hold up letters did you send and how many got back here? >> about 40-50 i sent and i think they got about 10. >> when did you come back to the united states? have a recuperative period? >> i had to get two operations on my leg. >> for those who have just joined us. what were the 5 1/2 years you were in the hanoi prisons? what years? > 1967-1973.
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>> why dependent you get out of the service when you got back? >> i loved the navy. i was able to continue flying which took some skill to do. after a certain number of years, i failed my flying physical and so i had to get out. physical injuries caught up with me to a large degree. >> we read so much about the impact and i heard about the impact on the individuals, the stress, the post vietnam stress syndrome we keep hearing so much about. has that impacted you at all? >> i never had a nightmare or a flash back or any particular memory except the ones that i cherish or the friends that i made or the wonderful relationships that we forged together. i hold no bitterness and/or anger and i would attribute part of that to the fact that i was 29 years old when i was shot down and captured. i was a professional military pilot. many of the people we find that have difficulties readjusting, many of them were the
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18-19-year-old young draftees who went and served and frankly were very badly treated on their return in any view -- my view and got given them the welcome home. >> what is the legacy? >> never again should we go into a conflict unless we are clear in our goals and we are prepared to do what is necessary to win victory as rapidly as possible. i think in retrospect maybe 100 years from now it will have been good for america to define limits of power. up until that time, we could go anywhere, bear any burden in the world in the words of john f. kennedy. i hope we continue to understand the limits of use of military power and although desert storm was a wonderful success which we're all proud of, we have to be very, very selective where we send young americans to fight and die. >> this is the last bit of tape to show you.
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what do you remember about this? >> this prison was built in 1943 by the french. it was well built. a lot of cells in it. all of them solitary cells. they are small. many of them have stocks on the booeden bed. there are peepholes for guards to look through. i think it would have been a very tough place to live for us but also for the vietnamese when the french had that prison. vietnamese as he a prison still. there was no exercise area or any open area like we saw in the other prison. >> how many were there with you? >> there was about i think it was about 50 or 60 of us in
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there at one time and then after they moved us all into large -- this you can't tell too much from the camera but this prison covers a very large city block. very large city block. we were in where the individual cells are. 1970 and 1971, they moved us into large cells with 40 or 50 each which was another part of prison. s as i say, the large cells were quite nice compared with the small ones. >> we were there on a couple different days. one day when i was there. i don't have the tape now. standing there looking at the prison. there are not many cars in hanoi. all of a sudden a 27-car procession came by with the prime minister of malaysia. all for the purpose of setting up a trade relation.
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the former prime minister of singapore was there also when we were there. does it worry you on the trade side that we are waiting too long to lift this embargo? >> it does worry me. they have shown they are fertile markets. the vietnamese are very industrious people. at the same time, i think we have to face reality. that is that the american people are not prepared to extend that to the vietnamese until there is a full accounting of those still lists as missing in action. it is a very, very poor country. it is one of the lowest per can'ta incomes in the world. when we talk about this market, as you know, there is belief that there is oil and gas. i think american companies can take advantage of that.
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sometimes we cannot just put commercial interests paramount to all others and they have to be balanced against a lot of other issues that face this country. to point out one other fact. a lot of americans still event the act that vietnam was country that had the first defeat on us. we have to get over that too. >> would you combo back? >> yes, i would go back. if it would do some good. the reason i didn't go back with senator kerry and smith, is i didn't see anything particularly eneficial to going back this time they could continue to. i also have to be careful they don't try to use me for their wn purposes.
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it is interesting how much my name is known around vietnam. it is amazing. >> anybody can travel there. american travel agents, i'm not sure what the last couple of weeks has been. they have to go through a an australian travel agent or hong kong or whatever. do you recommend that? >> it is a lovely country. there are some parts of it that are magnificently beautiful. many of our veterans have found it very therapeutic to travel back to vietnam. they have enormous tourist potential if they have the right system again. i would recommend people go if they so choose. they should understand one, the conditions are still not good as far as hygiene. i think also they have to understand accommodations are still very, very poor. they also have to understand that they are going rip them off every chance they get. they have their hand out for every car, every driver. you're kind of at their mercy.
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there is no represental car. >> it was much more prevalent in the south than the north for the happenedouts. -- handouts. there were fewer in hanoi than sigh began. -- saigon. >> this is true. there is floating hotel that the australians have brought around. i stayed at the world rex hotel which many of our veterans would say is an r & r hotel. it hasn't changed a bit. it is like a leap backwards about 20 years historically. but i don't think there is any doubt that they will improve and their tourist facilities will improve. i have talked to many veteran who is felt it was a great and healing experience. i recommend they go back if they
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feel that is best for them. i talked to others who said i never want to see the place again. it dredges up old, terrible memories. it is up to the individual. i believe there are parts of the country. some that are really lovely places but again the accommodations are much -- >> nice to report to you in hanoi there is a new hotel that was there when you were there. the french came in and renovated it. 109 rooms. $100 per room. >> it would be a pretty old city. very a attractive.
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>> we're out of time. thank you for sharing your experiences. >> thank you. on memorial day when a lot of this is going to be shown, we appreciate the service and sacrifice. we will always cherish their memories. thank you. >> you have been watching a archive rom the c-span senate senator john mccain. he is survived by his wife and six children and his 106-year-old mother roberta mccain. our news make they are weekend, our guest is the president and c.e.o. of the center for american progress. a think tank created in 2003. she talks about the mueller investigation and where the democratic party is headed. she shares her thoughts on the paul manafort trial and guilty
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plea by the president's former lawyer, michael cohen. how should democrattings respond to paul manafort? his conviction of financial crimes? also guilty pleas by michael cohen. how do you think democrats should respond to those legal developments? >> there are two issues at play here. see it h of these cases as a culture of correction in washington. democrats have been talking about that culture and the challenge of correction and we have this -- these two instances that obviously the news around duncan hunter and just a few weeks ago two members to have house of representatives who were indicted for self--- as part of being members of congress. the whole picture of the -- that is ini vading washington.
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people are helping themselves and not serving the public. i also think this is connected pretty strongly to the russian investigation at large and you know, that is a situation in which it seems to be accelerating getting closer and closer to the president. that issue i think candidates, people should talk about what's happening in washington. i think the russian investigation is an important one. it is about what happened with our democracy. i think it is vital and obviously the mueller investigation seems to be picking up speed as well. >> you can watch that entire interview tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. eastern. ere on c-span. >> chicago, illinois. the convention of the democratic party. nominating tonight its candidate for the presidency.
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that man will be vice president hubert humphrey. right now, speeches are being made for senator mccoverpb and then we will have nominations seconding speech for the rev rent mr. channing phillips of washington, d.c. a favorite son, candidate of the black caucus. candidate of the bs convention, 212 delegates here -- negro delegates here. here in the amphitheater, new york, holding a caucus right now discussing violence downtown. [applause] >> you are wasting valuable time. several hundred of mccarthy supporters and others have gathered into the caucus room


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