September 15, 2003 Monday
HEADLINE: Massachusetts Senator John Kerry spends the weekend in Iowa campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination
ANCHORS: HARRY SMITH; JULIE CHEN
JULIE CHEN, co-host;
Now here's Harry.
HARRY SMITH, co-host:
All righty. The next presidential election is nearly 14 months away, so there is still plenty of opportunity and optimism for each of the nine Democrats hoping to challenge President Bush next fall. One of them, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, spent the weekend campaigning in Iowa, and we went along for the ride.
A Saturday in September in Ames, Iowa, with three things in the air: fall, football and the fact that in four months, Iowans will caucus to choose a presidential candidate. About 300 Story County Democrats have shown up primarily for a close-up look at John Kerry. It's presidential politics at the retail level, and some here are still shopping.
Unidentified Man #1: Governor Dean and then Gephardt and Kerry are all three that I've been looking at very critically.
Senator JOHN KERRY (Democrat, Massachusetts): Well, I'm glad I'm exciting you.
SMITH: It's been less than two weeks since John Kerry announced his run for the White House. A key campaign theme is nearly two decades of Washington experience.
So if you're going to win this nomination, you've got to beat these other Democrats first. Why are you better than they are?
Sen. KERRY: I think it's what I offer in terms of experience and leadership and a proven record of fighting for the things that make a difference to our country right now.
SMITH: But so far, Vermont's Howard Dean, a Washington outsider, has dominated the headlines.
Do you need to take him on? Do you need to be more critical of him?
Sen. KERRY: III just need to be who I am, go out to America with my vision for the country. And I believe the differences will become clear, and incidentally, not just with him. There are other people in the race. He's not the only candidate.
We're going to bring art and music and dance and theater back to the schools of America and celebrate it.
SMITH: Kerry looks comfortable on the stump and swears he enjoys the process.
Sen. KERRY: I love it. This is the best part of what we do. Getting there in the airplane is horrible, raising the money is horrible; meeting the people and talking about our country is the best thing in the world.
Unidentified Man #2: Without further ado, Senator Kerry.
Sen. KERRY: Thank you.
SMITH: In an Iowa State dorm, about 30 students choose a meeting with Kerry over the football game with Iowa.
Unidentified Woman: How do you plan to address issues of secondary education funding?
Sen. KERRY: I'm going to do several things. First, I'm going to restore the funding to the Pell Grants.
SMITH: He answers every question. He presses the flesh, an investment of time he says will pay off, if he wins or not.
Sen. KERRY: As long as I do my best, as long as I keep faith with myself in this effort, my values, I don'tyou don't lose, no matter what happens.
We are going to prove to America that the one person in the United States of America who does deserve to be laid off is George W. Bush, and we're going to do it.
SMITH: The presidential elections are more than a year away, but out here, it feels closer. And the Democratic Party faithful believe President Bush is vulnerable.
Have you made a decision? Are you...
Ms. SHIRLEY ARMSTRONG (Undecided Democrat): I really haven't made a decision finally, just anybody but Bush. Anybody.
SMITH: Kerry and most of the other candidates showed up Saturday for Iowa Senator Tom Harkin's 26th annual Steak Fry. Kerry's followers were noisy, energized and organized, not bad for a campaign barely two weeks old. But did Kerry wait too long to get in the hunt?
Howard Dean has got up to an amazing lead in terms of momentum and press. Did you wait too long to announce your candidacy?
Sen. KERRY: No, absolutely not. Look, he's done a very good job, and I admire and respect the way in which he's brought a lot of people into the system. But the test is not whether you have a good Internet fund-raising mechanism. The test is whether or not you're really ready to be president of the United States, whether or not you have the best vision and program for America.
That's our endeavor. Let's go out and get it done.
SMITH: He'll spend $1 million on TV time and countless hours here to make a stand in Iowa. It's not a do-or-die state, but close.
Sen. KERRY: I'm very confident about where we are. Many, many people have suggested to me, you don't want to be that far out front right now. And sobut we're just doing fine. I like my campaign. I like what we're doing. Stay tuned.
SMITH: Now here's Julie.
JULIE CHEN, co-host:
All right. Thanks a lot, Harry. Up next, remembering the legendary Johnny Cash with lifelong friend, country star Marty Stuart.
Plus, Sharon Stone talks about her difficult divorce and the medical condition that nearly killed her.
And our Dave Price finally gets to pick the woman he's going to take on a dream date. You're watching THE EARLY SHOW on CBS.
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