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CNN Live Event/Special Transcript

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February 3, 2004 Tuesday 10:00 PM Eastern Time

HEADLINE: America Votes 2004

GUESTS: John Kerry

BYLINE: Wolf Blitzer, Bruce Morton, Kelly Wallace, Frank Buckley, Candy Crowley, Dan Lothian, Joe Johns, Bill Schneider, John King, Ed Lavandera, Suzanne Malveaux, Paul Begala, Robert Novak, William Schneider, Donna Brazile, Dan Lothian, Jeff Greenfield, Carlos Watson, Joe Klein, Kelly Wallace

HIGHLIGHT: Election night coverage. Then, interview with John Kerry.

BODY:

BLITZER: All right, well we don't know. Stand by for a second.

I want to go to John Kerry right now. He's joining us live. Senator Kerry, congratulations on your wins tonight.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Very impressive wins in four states, maybe more. We'll see what happens in New Mexico. Give us your bottom line assessment right now. What does this race look like?

KERRY: Well, my bottom line assessment is, first of all, I'm extraordinarily gratified by the returns tonight but most importantly I think it reflects a very significant desire across the country, from one coast to the other, north to south, for change in our country.

People want new leadership. They want a direction that is geared towards working people, putting people back to work in our country. They're tired of watching large interests walk away with a Medicare bill, large interests walk away with an energy bill.

People really think we can do better. We can do better in the world. We can strengthen our nation and I think it's a vote for change and I'm very, very gratified by the returns thus far and I thank all those who went to the polls and who voted tonight.

I particularly want to say a word about Joe and Hadassah, who are great friends. They bring a special spirit to our politics, a great steadfastness of commitment and belief and I think that they'll continue in so many ways to contribute to a civil discourse in our country but I want to say hello to them and thank them for their contribution to this effort.

BLITZER: I know that you came in second in South Carolina. John Edwards won in South Carolina. Some will say, you know, John Kerry is going to have trouble in the south. He's a Massachusetts Democrat. What do you say to those people looking ahead to Virginia, Tennessee, states that are coming up this month?

KERRY: I'm looking forward to those fights. Look, I'm very gratified that Senator Hollings and Congressman Jim Clyburn and Representative James Smith, the Minority Leader of the House and others fought for me down there but the fact is that we were outspent five to one.

I wasn't able to put the same kind of time into it and I congratulate John Edwards on a great job but you have to run across the country in all of the states and I'm the only candidate who went to all seven states over the course of the last week.

I think it's important to do that and it's reflected, I think, in the vote that I'm getting tonight and the support in the four states today and I hope more before the night is over and it's the beginning of an effort, I think, to really try to reach out nationally.

I'm in Washington tonight. We're doing very well here. I'm grateful that the governor of Michigan Jennifer Granholm and the Lieutenant Governor John Cherry for coming out for me in the last few days and Governor Gary Locke here in Washington.

I think we're moving and I think the campaign is growing. I think people want leadership in this country that is fiscally responsible that tells the American people the truth that appeals to common sense in America and I will do that across the south in all parts of the country. The south is part of America. It's as America as any place else with the same concerns.

WOODRUFF: Senator, it's Judy Woodruff.

KERRY: Yes, hi Judy.

WOODRUFF: And I want to extend my congratulations as well. When it comes to John Edwards, though, when he came out to make his acceptance speech winning South Carolina tonight he had two lines I want to ask you about.

He said the family you're born into shouldn't determine what you can accomplish in life. And he also said we need a president who understands the hopes and dreams of ordinary Americans. As you know he's been talking out on the campaign trail about being the son of a mill worker.

KERRY: Sure.

WOODRUFF: And clearly he seems to be aiming this message at you. You came from a well-to-do family. Is this going to be a problem?

KERRY: Well, I don't think. No, I don't think so and I don't think he's aiming the message at me. And I would agree with both of his statements. I absolutely agree with both of them and if those statements are true then that's why we had a Franklin Roosevelt and a John Kennedy who were able to be great presidents of the United States.

Where you come from is not what it is about and John is absolutely correct. What matters is what you fight for and what your record is and a lifetime of caring about people.

What I learned a long time ago when I served in the military is nobody asked you where you came from. Nobody cared about what your background was. They cared about whether you were a standup person and fought and they cared about whether you did your duty and covered people and, in fact, stood up for principle.

GREENFIELD: Senator, if I may.

KERRY: All my life...

GREENFIELD: I'm sorry. We have about 30 seconds left. It's Jeff Greenfield. Hi. I talked to a Bush campaign aide today who said we're not going to question John Kerry on his military service but when the folks in America know where he stood on things like opposing the death penalty for terrorists and the (unintelligible) he's not going to make any inroads into that traditional blue collar more conservative Democratic base. Are you worried about that?

KERRY: No, I'm not worried about that because, in fact, I am supportive of the death penalty for terrorists and they know it and they'll try to distort it but it is a fact. And I also do not support gay marriage and they know that.

But I voted against gay bashing on the floor of the United States Senate and I think people in the United States of America want a president who will stand up for civil rights and civil liberties and not drive a wedge between people in our country.

So, I welcome that debate. I welcome that fight. I'll stand up for the Constitution of the United States of America, for equal protection under the law and we deserve a president, incidentally, and an attorney general who will do the same thing.

BLITZER: Senator Kerry, unfortunately we have to leave it right there. Our time is out. Congratulations once again. We'll continue this conversation down the road.

KERRY: Thank you.

BLITZER: A big day, big wins for Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, at least four wins for him tonight.

Content and programming Copyright 2004 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by FDCH e-Media, Inc.

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