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Public Statements

ABC This Week with George Stephanopoulos Transcript

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Date:
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GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS
(Off Camera) This morning we begin our series of special reports from the Presidential campaign trail. I know it's early. But President Bush has set up his campaign.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) And his nine Democratic opponents have been running hard for months. We intend to spend some time on the road with each of the candidates, including, we hope, the President.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) We want to show what drives them, to see what the process is really like and to examine the message candidates are sending voters and voters are sending them. First up is Senator John Kerry. In a year where the two most famous Democratic strategists in the country, Bill Clinton and James Carville, say that the key political divide is not left versus right but strong versus weak, the Kerry campaign wants everybody to know two facts about their man.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) One, that he's a war hero. Kerry won a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts in Vietnam. Two, that Kerry is all alpha male. He hunts. He plays ice hockey and, as you can see, he rides Harleys without a helmet.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) All this is designed to convince voters that Kerry is tough enough to take on a popular wartime President. One problem for Kerry is that many Democratic primary voters don't agree with his vote authorizing war in Iraq. The challenge for Kerry and all his Democratic rivals, appealing to those liberals in the primaries without alienating the independent voters you need to win a general election. To see how he's handling that balancing act, we met up with the candidate in Iowa on Thursday.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) You couldn't ask for a better June evening in Cedar Rapids. And this is where John Kerry is supposed to be tonight. But he's nowhere close.

NEWS ANCHOR, MALE
The storm caused some damage across the district, leaving behind a path of downed trees, power lines and shattered windows.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) Which makes the man who runs Kerry's Iowa campaign a little anxious.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) You're about to have Excedrin headache number one for a, for a state director. Senator's supposed to land in, what, half an hour?

JOHN NORRIS, KERRY CAMPAIGN STATE DIRECTOR, IOWA
Half hour.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) You're not going to make it.

JOHN NORRIS
No.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) The Democrats gathering to meet Kerry tonight, they call themselves the Phoenix Club, take the news in stride.

PHOENIX CLUB MEMBER, FEMALE
The senator is delayed.

MIKE GLOVER, ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTER
I mean, you got to understand, these people, a fun evening for them is sitting around the living room drinking coffee and talking about Mid East politics.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) Mike Glover is the top political reporter in Iowa for the Associated Press. He's at the airport to interview Kerry. So we take advantage of the delay to pick his brain.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) What kind of impression has John Kerry made so far six months in?

MIKE GLOVER
Lot of interest. A lot of interest, in part because people view him as someone who potentially can win the presidency.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) And what's Kerry's biggest hurdle right now?

MIKE GLOVER
Kerry's biggest hurdle is to close the deal. There's interest in him, there are -a lot of people who see him as a potential good candidate, a potential strong candidate. He has to close the sale. And in this state, you close the sale of retail politics.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) Kerry touches down almost three hours late. This is his seventh trip to Iowa since he entered the presidential race in January. His organization here is strong. Most polls show Kerry in second place behind congressman Richard Gephardt.

PHOENIX CLUB MEMBER, MALE
We're delighted you're here.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) But former governor Howard Dean is close behind. Propelled largely by his opposition to the war with Iraq.

PHOENIX CLUB MEMBER
I'm one of those people that Bill O'Reilly calls a pinhead and un- American, those kinds of things, because I did not support the war. It is my understanding that you did. But do you think you were told the truth on everything? And do you think they lied to us about the WMDs? Is that true? And now, if you become President, aren't you going to have a horrible mess over there? And what are you going to do about it?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY, DEMOCRAT, MASSACHUSETTS
Well, let me answer, let me answer all 10 questions. And I, I really, I welcome these questions. They're great. Now, I'm glad Saddam Hussein is gone. I have no second thoughts about it. And I don't regret my vote to give the President of the United States the authority to go to the UN and have the threat of force to accomplish a legitimate goal. I regret that this president did, I think, a terrible job of diplomacy.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) After more than an hour of hard questions and handshakes, Kerry softened up some skeptics.

PHOENIX CLUB MEMBER
This woman said to me that you were aloof and arrogant. And I'm sorry, but I would hope from what you saw tonight that my candidate is not aloof nor is he arrogant.

PHOENIX CLUB MEMBER
He's wonderful.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) It is a good night for the Senator. The Phoenix Club isn't ready to endorse him yet, but he's made some new friends. And in a caucus where voters have to stand up in public to be counted and fewer than 25,000 votes could mean victory, a friend is a good thing to have.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) Worth flying in, huh?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
Oh, yeah. I loved it. I those things. You know, I have fun with those.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) They were die-hards.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
Fabulous. But everybody out here is, I find. You know, but those folks are terrific. And then they really care, they're thinking, they're going to put you through the hoops, you have to work. I, I've just gotta get to know them. I've -not been out here. I am thrilled to be, you know, running where I am right now with so few visits and so early in this effort. I think that, I want to meet people. I look forward to it. I love it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) And prove you're not aloof and arrogant.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
It's not a proof question to me. I didn't get elected four times to the United States Senate because I couldn't talk to people.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) What's the biggest difference between your Senate campaigns and, you know, you're a few months into this now ...

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
None. Very similar. The intensity level is the biggest difference.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) What's the biggest thing you want to work on?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
I -don't think there's a biggest thing, George. I think I just want to get out there. I've always loved campaigning, getting into a living room, talking with people. That's the best part of the job.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) And Martha Aldridge(PH) doesn't think you're aloof and arrogant anymore.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
I love it. I tell you, I don't, she was very perceptive. She said, I think it's because you're tall or something. I don't know what it is. I'm not even going to second guess it. I don't anymore.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) It's 7:30 the next morning. Kerry is already showered and shaved. He checks in with one of his daughters, Vanessa.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
Nessie? Hi, honey.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) And changes some lines on his speech with campaign aide David Wade.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
Well, then I think we ought to say, also "what scientists suggest is possible."

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) As for Kerry's daily bowl of oatmeal, well, that's exactly on message.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
I made oatmeal. George, Quaker Oats. Got my oatmeal. I didn't even realize it. I could have walked over there, picked it up.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) You haven't been to the plant yet, huh?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
I have not been to the plant yet, no. I've always wondered how they make this stuff, though. I've almost single-handedly kept that place afloat.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) Kerry told us last night that his big job is to get better known. So campaign aides take care at every stop to reinforce that bio.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) Even though today's speech is about energy, it's being done in a Veterans Hall. And the Harley is parked right out front.

GLEN JOHNSON, BOSTON GLOBE
The one area where he's still intimately involved in his campaigning is his speech preparation. I've seen him on airplanes sitting up a couple rows ahead of me, you know, writing, most of the trip looking out the window, thinking, and then coming back and writing. He is constantly trying to evolve with his speech and try and find that one perfect line that capsulizes what he's thinking.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
I want to know that, within the next 10 years, that the light that shines from the Statue of Liberty and the light which gleams across the parks where Iowans celebrate the Fourth of July will not have to be powered by Mid East oil, but can symbolize an American free from dependence, stronger and more securer than ever before.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) The formal speech lays out a five-point plan that includes tougher fuel economy standards for automobiles and tax credits for new technology like hydrogen cars. But as always, the locals have other questions in mind.

RESIDENT, MALE
Recognizing that Palestinians are not just in the West Bank and Gaza, but they're in Israel, they're in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Voice Over) By noon, this leg of the Iowa trip is over, on to Wisconsin. That state's primary follows Iowa and New Hampshire next February. Tonight, Kerry will speak at the Democrat's state convention. On the plane, I follow up on some of the questions Iowans have been asking him.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) You were talking to the press about the Middle East. And he said it was naive to expect that Prime Minister Abbas of the Palestinians will be able to control all the violence in just a few days. And based on that, I was just wondering, what do you think of this idea that's been raised by a lot of experts that what you really need now is an international peacekeeping force, because the Palestinians aren't capable of securing the towns themselves?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
I don't think that works either, George, unless you have an agreed- upon structure by which you are, both sides have accepted some clearer steps. I mean, you've got to stop the violence. The question is, will the Palestinians take matters in their own hands to try to do that?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
(Off Camera) But Prime Minister Sharon has made it pretty clear in the last 24 hours that this is war against Hamas, and he's out to liquidate them. Is that the answer?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY
If, if the Palestinian authority is not prepared to stop the violence against Israel, Israel, just like the United States, has to take into hands protecting its own security. It has no choice.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) As we talk, Kerry's advanced staff is preparing his next event. At Milwaukee's War Memorial.

KERRY CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER, FEMALE

Show him, maybe, the plaque.

RESIDENT

The plaques and the Medal of Honor ...

KERRY CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER, MALE

And the, Medal of Honor winners in the middle and the POWs.

RESIDENT, FEMALE

POW/MIAs. Absolutely.

KERRY CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER

Okay, great.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) People are really upset that they feel misled by President Bush on this issue weapons of mass destruction. I know you said you're agnostic about whether or not he misled the public on weapons of mass destruction. But do you have a hunch on whether you think they hyped the intelligence?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

George, again, I think it would be irresponsible of me at this point to draw conclusions prior to all the evidence being on the table. What I know is we have to get that evidence. We have to have an investigation to know to a certainty whether or not it was hype, whether we were misled, whether there was a concerted effort, a clientitis(PH) between, you know, that the CIA was serving the political purposes of the administration. I want answers to that.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Good to see you, buddy.

RESIDENT

Gentlemen, let's welcome our fellow veteran brother, Senator John Kerry.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

Veterans will give Kerry crucial political support. But this bond is personal, too.

RESIDENT

You're welcome here.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Thank you, my friend. Thank you very, very much. Where, where did you serve?

RESIDENT

Ku-chi, Fook Ben and -Zian(PH) .

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

What years?

RESIDENT

'76, '78, and that's when you were there, sir.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Yeah, you left me a mess ...

RESIDENT

I did. I stirred up the bees and got out of there right after Tet.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) At last, what Kerry's been waiting for all day. His campaign gets the money shot. And he hits the road.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

What a pleasure, I'll tell you. That is so much fun.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Think the Secret Service will let you ride a Harley in the White House?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

No, no. I, this is something I will not be doing for a while if I win, and a lot of other things too, probably.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) What else?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Well, I'm not going to be able to fly. I'm not going to do, you know, there's things that you don't do, you can't.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) But you'll still have fun?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

I presume.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) Of course, giving up his risky hobbies is not something Kerry needs to worry about just yet. So, it's back to work.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Poly-sci major? Where?

COLLEGE STUDENT, MALE

At UW Milwaukee.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

Fantastic. What year are you?

COLLEGE STUDENT

I'm gonna be a senior coming up this fall.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Good for you. Then what?

COLLEGE STUDENT

I don't know, I don't know. I'd love to ...

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Get you involved in the campaign.

COLLEGE STUDENT

I'd love to do it. I'd love to do it.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Well, you're on. You're a prisoner.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) To keep the campaign running at full speed takes money. Kerry has to raise about $70,000 a day. That means squeezing in lots of phone calls between stops on the campaign trail. It also means spending lots of time at cocktail hours at the homes of people like Matt and Mary Flynn. This is Mary Flynn. Mary, why are you doing this?

MARY FLYNN, KERRY SUPPORTER

Why am I doing this? Because I believe in John Kerry's campaign, and I believe he'd be a wonderful president.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

And how much money you gonna raise tonight?

MARY FLYNN

Oh, lots.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Make some noise.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) Then it is time for the main event. All day long, hundreds of Wisconsin Democrats have been at the airport Sheraton watching local politicians and waiting for the presidential campaigns to take the stage. In primetime, Howard Dean shows why grassroots Democrats are buzzing about him.

HOWARD DEAN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

Mr. President, I am tired of being divided by race, I am tired of being divided by gender, I am tired of being divided by income. I want my country back, Mr. President. I want the country that we built back, Mr. President. And I want that country now.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) Backstage, Kerry doesn't seem too bothered. He's relaxed and loose, joking about the sticky floor.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Yeah, time to go in. I can't move. You got to unstick me, quick.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) After a long day, the crowd is almost spent. Sensing that, Kerry ad libs his open.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

We have reached that magical moment in the evening when just about everything's been said but not everybody has said it yet.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) He taps into Democrats' anger at President Bush's tax cut.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

My fellow Democrats, we need to bring a sense of outrage to this campaign to take back the White House in the year 2004.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) And tries out a new theme.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

We need a new patriotism. A patriotism that demands not only change at the top, not only the -notion that we are going to take back our democracy, but there is a spirit of service to harness the faith and the energy and the commitment of people of all ages in our country.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) Kerry chose not to remind this crowd that he voted for President Bush's war resolution. After the speech, I asked him why.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Simply because, in this kind of a speech, you don't have the ability to have the kind of conversation that I had last night, where you have the time and the ability to explain exactly what you're doing.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) But, but at some point aren't you going to have to take that view on in the party? I mean, it's so strong.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

No, I think it's, I think it's very clear to people. I voted and I'm proud that I voted in a way that can defend America from what I consider to be a legitimate threat and concern.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Voice Over) That vote may help protect Kerry's right flank in a general election against President Bush. But now he's feeling pressure from the left. This heart and head problem that all Democrats have.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) They, their head tells them, I want to -get someone electable. Their heart says they want somebody who is gonna be the, give them the old-time religion. How do you bring those two together?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Well, I think I am bringing them together. It's not just, you know, pleasing each, sort of, whatever piece of a constituency. The Democratic party sometimes makes the fault of being just the sum of its constituencies, and then we fall apart later. I think we have to be more than the sum of our constituencies. I think we have to be a vision for America that brings people who aren't Democrats to the fold.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Do you agree with Al From and Bruce Reed have been saying, that the party actually has to redefine itself this year?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

I don't, I don't agree with that completely. I think the party has to be more clear to people about what we actually stand for.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) We're about 16 hours since you were eating your oatmeal. Just one final thought, can you sum up in, in a -phrase or a sentence what you think it takes to become president?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

I think it takes a, a passionate, deep belief in what the country can be, what our country can be. And I feel incredibly energized, focused, clear about what I want to do as president, about where our country can go and how we get there. And it's the American people, I think, who, in many ways, give you that kind of day-to-day strength to get there, to be there. It's a hard road, but there is no greater honor and there is no greater thrill than being able to talk about your country and put your ideas, one's own ideas, out there about where you think your nation should go. And I'm, I'm having a great time doing it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) And you'll be at it again in about six, seven hours?

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

I'll be at it again in a few hours and I'm looking forward to it.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) Good night.

SENATOR JOHN KERRY

Thank you, man. It was great being with you. Thank you. Appreciate it. Thank you. All right. Are we going to talk through tomorrow a little bit? Thank you.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS

(Off Camera) As I said, we're working to get time on the trail with all of the candidates. And one final note, on Saturday there was an informal straw poll at the Wisconsin convention. Howard Dean topped John Kerry 203 to 50. We'll be back with our tribute to David Brinkley after this.

Copyright 2003 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.  
ABC News Transcripts

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