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CNN Paula Zahn Now Transcript

Location: Boston, MA

November 4, 2003 Tuesday

HEADLINE: Analysis of "Rock The Vote" Debate; Interviews with Democratic Presidential Candidates

GUESTS: Joe Klein, Gideon Yago, John Edwards, Wesley Clark, Joseph Lieberman, Howard Dean, John Kerry

BYLINE: Paula Zahn, Candy Crowley

Analysis of "Rock the Vote" debate. Comments from the Democratic Presidential candidates about the debate.



KERRY: Let me tell you something. You know why I will be a great president of the United States? Because I've been a long- suffering Red Sox fan. I know (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


ZAHN: He came clean on that one.

We continue our wrap-up of tonight's Democratic forum in Boston.

Joining us right now is Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Always good to see you, senator.

KERRY: Thank you. It's great to be with you.

ZAHN: Thank you. Let's talk a little bit about what dominated top part of this forum tonight, and that was a number of questions raised about whether Governor Howard Dean is a racist or not. Do you believe he is?

KERRY: Oh, that wasn't the question. The question is whether or not he should apologize for using the symbolism of the Confederate flag. Look, several months ago, Governor Dean said that flying the Confederate flag in South Carolina was a state's right issue.

I said it is not a state's right issue, that I believe that the flag belongs in museums. So clearly Howard Dean has a very different view about the Confederate flag from a lot of people in America. It is a divisive symbol. We should not be seeking to be—appealing to it.

And I think it's very hard for Governor Dean to say, on the one hand, he wants to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, but he wants to appeal to Dixiecrats. I don't think that makes sense.

ZAHN: But senator, to be perfectly fair, you have to admit...

KERRY: I am being perfectly fair.

ZAHN: But, but here's what I want to say though, that Howard Dean did go on to say tonight that the Confederate flag was a racist symbol. Are you saying...

KERRY: Listen, what I'm saying is...

ZAHN: ... it's a mistake for Democrats to even try to get that vote?

KERRY: No. What I'm saying is that Governor Dean always walks back from his position. He's changed his position on Medicare. He's changed his position on guns. He's changed his position on Social Security. He's changed his position on NAFTA. He's changed his position on the Confederate flag. And I think we need a president who has a consistent sense of these priorities and positions. That's all I'm saying.

ZAHN: How much of the criticism do you think was thrown at Governor Dean tonight because he is perceived in some polls as the front-runner in this race?

KERRY: Look, that's all process stuff. I can't tell you why. I disagree with him on that position, and I disagreed Dick Gephardt and Governor Dean on the issue of taxes. They want to raise taxes on middle-class Americans.

So I'll pick any candidate that I happen to disagree with on a particular position. But obviously, as we get into these last months, people need to know the differences between us.

I have a vision for this country of putting people back to work, having healthcare for all Americans, and making certain that we have a full funding of our education system, and put people in an equal standing in America. And that's something I've fought for all my life. There's a consistency in it, and that's what I hope to bring to the presidency.

ZAHN: A final spousal question for you this evening. Your wife said today that these debates are not only unproductive for both the people but the candidates as well. Do you agree with her?

KERRY: My wife was talking about the number of people and the very little time that we get to talk. And I think all of us would like to have a debate where we get a little more opportunity to be able to really have a debate. I'm perfectly willing to do a lottery and have four people show up one time and four another or something.

I would love to have an opportunity to have America really hear how we think and get to see the real differences between us. And I'm not sure that they do entirely in these types of events.

ZAHN: Senator John Kerry, thanks for spending a little time with us, the...

KERRY: Thank you very much. Thanks.

ZAHN: ... post-forum. Appreciate it.

Content and programming Copyright 2003 Cable News Network Transcribed under license by FDCH e-Media, Inc.

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