January 21, 2004 Wednesday
HEADLINE: Kerry' Momentum in New Hampshire; Interview With John Kerry
GUESTS: John Kerry, David Nyhan, Kevin Landrigan
BYLINE: Judy Woodruff, Kelly Wallace, Kathleen Koch, Howard Kurtz, Bob Franken, William Schneider, James Carville, Rhonda Schaffler
John Kerry's campaign still portraying him as an underdog in New Hampshire.; President Bush takes State of the Union message on the road.; Interview with John Kerry; The Media: a misplay in Iowa?; The Merrimack Restaurant
WOODRUFF: We're listening to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talking with reporters at the U.S. Capitol. You can see Senator John Warner with him. The secretary briefing reporters, or talking to reporters after briefing members of the House about the plans in the coming months to transfer authority in Iraq from the United States to the Iraqis themselves.
You heard him make a quick reference there to the caucuses. They're talking about Iraq, comparing it to the caucus to Iowa.
Well, back here in the United States, Senator John Kerry is still riding high following his Iowa victory. I caught up with him just a little while ago after a speech he made at Daniel Webster College in Nashua, New Hampshire. I started by asking him if his win in Iowa means he now faces higher expectations here in New Hampshire-much higher.
KERRY: Judy, I don't worry about it. What I'm busy doing is talking to the people of this state. I want them to hear what I want to do to fight for them.
I have a 35-year record of fighting against powerful interests that get in the way of fairness for average folks in this country. The workplace in America today is as unfair as I've ever seen it. People are working harder and harder.
It's harder to get ahead. Their tuitions are going up. The health care costs are unaffordable. Prescription drugs are unaffordable.
And I don't think this president is doing what's needed for them. I'm going to, and that's what I want to talk about.
WOODRUFF: But Senator, the people of New Hampshire know you. You are their next-door Senator, if you will. You've served...
KERRY: Well, I was a next-door governor, too, for heaven's sakes.
WOODRUFF: ... they've known you for 20 years in the Senate. Can you really re-introduce yourself to the people of New Hampshire at this point?
KERRY: Judy, the folks in New Hampshire are extraordinarily independent-minded. And they're smart. And they're going to listen and take stock of us in these next days. You know, one of the other candidates is a next-door governor. He's a neighbor.
So I'm going to contest this not on neighborliness, but on what I'm going to do to fight for people in New Hampshire. They don't want their taxes raised. I'm not going to raise middle class taxes. I'm going to protect the middle class.
I'm going to provide health care that lowers the cost of health care for businesses and individuals in New Hampshire. I'll lower it by $1,000 per person. No other candidate has a plan that will do that.
I can lead us in terms of our international security issues, and I think I am the only candidate who brings both the domestic record and vision, and the international. And that's what separates me.
WOODRUFF: Well, let me ask you about what one of your main competitors here, John Edwards. He also got a nice lift out of Iowa. I talked to him yesterday and he said that you and he agree on many of these basic issues, important issues like cutting taxes for the middle class.
But what he went on to say-and I'm going to read you just a part of what he said-he said, "But the difference is, we come from different places." He said, "I come from a background where my father worked in a mill all his life. I was the first person in my family to go to college," he said. In other words, the implication is you're the one with the silver spoon in your mouth.
KERRY: Well, I like John Edwards, and I applaud his accomplishments. And I think he's done a terrific job in the course of his life.
The measurement in this race is not where you come from. If it were, Franklin Roosevelt and Jack Kennedy would never have been president of the United States. The measurement is, what do you fight for? What is your life like that you lead?
And for 35 years, longer than any other candidate in this field, I have fought to make America more fair; I have stood up and fought to end wars. I've stood up and fought to make our environment clean. I've stood up for putting 100,000 cops in our streets. I've stood up and fought for health care. And those are the fights that define us. And that's what I'm going to debate about and talk about in the next days.
WOODRUFF: Two other quick things. One other thing John Edwards was saying today, he's saying, "If you're campaigning in Georgia and you want to win back the Congress, you want John Kerry at your side, or do you want someone like me?" He means himself, from the South.
KERRY: Well, Max Cleland is at my side. He's the Senator from Georgia, former Senator. And Max Cleland, I think, will testify, as Zell Miller did-Zell Miller said that I gave one of the best speeches he's ever heard in American politics. And he said it would sell anywhere in Georgia.
So I look forward to campaigning in Georgia or in South Carolina. And I think that the team I have down South there is terrific. And that would be a witness to my effectiveness.
You know what they care about down there? They care about jobs. They care about health care. They care about their kids having a decent school. They care about breathing clean air and clean water, and they want a president who can lead America to a safer, more secure world.
WOODRUFF: I hear you.
KERRY: I can do that and I have the experience to do that.
WOODRUFF: I hear you. I want to also cite what one of your other competitors here in New Hampshire is saying, though.
Wesley Clark, he is talking about the fact that he stayed in the United States armed services, a clear apparent comparison to you. He says, "I stayed in the armed forces. I'm proud that I did. A lot of us did."
KERRY: Well, I'm very proud of Wes Clark's service to our country.
WOODRUFF: But doesn't that...
KERRY: And I think it's great that he took a career in the military. I'm also very proud of my service, and what I did to serve my country, as many people do, as citizen soldiers. You go to war. You do your service. Then you come back, and you can proceed in other careers.
But I've always fought all my life for a strong military, for the strongest armed forces in the world, and for the defense of our nation. And I've spent the last 20 years trying to defend our nation as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, as chairman of the Narcotics Terrorism Committee.
I stood up and fought against Ronald Reagan's illegal war in Central America. I stood up and fought in order to hold Oliver North accountable and expose what he was doing. I stood up and...
WOODRUFF: Is that a reference to Wesley Clark in that he...
KERRY: Not at all. It's just what I've done.
WOODRUFF: ... voted for some of these Republicans?
KERRY: No. It's a reference to my life and to what I have done and the things that I think make me a different kind of candidate.
I have experience of 35 years of fighting for people in America, on the domestic issues and making a difference to veterans, making a difference to children, making a difference to our environment. And I have fought, and I have accomplishments to show it, on the international field. I'm the only person who brings both of those to this table. And that's what's important to Americans.
WOODRUFF: Will you win?
KERRY: I intend to win here, and I intend to do the best I can. And I intend to win the nomination.
WOODRUFF: Senator Kerry, thank you very much.
KERRY: Thank you. Thanks a lot.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it.
WOODRUFF: Senator John Kerry.
Well, the presidential race has certainly changed in the last two weeks. Coming up, with so many reporters on the story, media critic Howard Kurtz wonders why all of the changes came as a surprise.
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