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Public Statements

MSNBC Interview - Transcript

Interview

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

MR. MATTHEWS: We're joined right now by U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Senator, you and I were friends with Tim (Russert), and you spent a lot of time with him socially and you matched wits with him on Sunday morning. Put it all together.

SEN. KERRY: Well, as a tribute, in Washington, I thought today was one of the most extraordinary personal, moving ceremonies that I've seen in the 24 years I've been here. I think that every speaker captured a piece of his life in a wonderful way. And it was a sober kind of reminder of our responsibilities to each other. You had McCain and Obama in the church sitting beside each other.

MR. MATTHEWS: Isn't that something?

SEN. KERRY: You had people who crossed swords in all kinds of different ways there, feeling the impact of Tim Russert as a journalist, as a person who is the referee in many cases. And I sensed -- I mean, I don't think there was a thing out of place today. I really think it was just a very important moment for people to stop and take stock of what's really important here.

MR. MATTHEWS: Do you think it's an odd coincidence that, ever since the bad news came Friday from the studio on Nebraska Avenue -- and we all heard about it in our own worlds -- that nothing else seems to have happened? It just seems to have been a moment of -- almost a moment of silence politically for this to be marked, this tragedy.

SEN. KERRY: Well, it's really interesting. You know, Chris, I mean, that's very true. I think that a lot of things just -- it really kicked people in the gut in a very significant way, and it kind of just -- you know, it's like -- I mean, the same thing when Teddy Kennedy's illness was announced; people just kind of -- you know, there's been a lot of emotion in this city in the last few weeks, some of it around Ted Kennedy, some of it now obviously around Tim Russert. I think people are feeling a little bit kicked around and hurting. And, you know, there's a sense of loss, big loss.

MR. MATTHEWS: It seems like it's come at a time, Tim's passing, that we've also just come through a very rough political period, a lot of personal attitudes exposed, especially the Democratic side, between those who have supported Senator Obama and those who have supported Senator Clinton. Is that coming to a peaceful end, or is that still out there, that rivalry, that anger?

SEN. KERRY: Well, I think it's working its way through is the way to put it. I think there are a lot of people meeting, a lot of people talking and thinking, Chris. But I think that, you know, my sense is people are coming together, and I think that will resolve itself.

I think, more importantly, will the sort of lessons people talked about today so poignantly be integrated into the behavior? And I think, you know, the judgment will be out on that. But I just was very touched today in a very personal way. It sort of made you step back and made you think about things that are important.

And maybe that's a facet of getting older. Maybe it's a facet of being in a different position here now. But it's something that I really felt that today was a good day to take stock of where we are in this city. And I hope that the things that Luke Russert just talked about -- you know, honor and your family and your faith and the things that really define you in the end -- are what will guide us, all of us.

MR. MATTHEWS: What struck me is when the military came in, when the drill team came in --

SEN. KERRY: Yeah, the honor guard.

MR. MATTHEWS: -- and the honor guard came in and put on that -- and we all sang the Star-Spangled Banner, and Ronan -- what's that guy's name? Ronan Tynan.

SEN. KERRY: Tynan, yeah.

MR. MATTHEWS: He was unbelievable.

SEN. KERRY: Yes, he was.

MR. MATTHEWS: Actually, Mr. Longi (sp) did the actual singing. But there was a recognition that patriotism is not a partisan thing. I haven't heard that in a while. I got the feeling for a while there that the right had claimed -- the political right had claimed patriotism as theirs. And yet here was a case where the country recognized that patriotism was available to us all, especially -- well, including those who aren't partisan; Tim.

SEN. KERRY: Well, Tim, as you know. I mean, Tom Brokaw quoted and said it's his favorite saying too -- "What a country." And I think Tim lived that every single day. I mean, Tim loved everything about this country and he loved the opportunities it gave him. He just was the genuine article. I mean, he is a patriot. He was a patriot. And so I think it was appropriate.

But you're right. I don't want to get political here, but I've talked about that for a long time. I think patriotism is not defined always by, you know, how much you boast about your patriotism. It's about how you live your life, about your country, and put it into the policies that you care about. And telling the truth is patriotic. Holding your country accountable is patriotic. There are lots of ways to be a patriot. And I think people need to understand that.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Senator John Kerry.

SEN. KERRY: Good to be with you.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you for being with us on this very sad day, but a glorious day in many ways. It is a tribute to, in many ways, an average guy of great ability and good fortune, but about America.


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