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CNN American Morning Transcript

Location: Unknown

January 16, 2004 Friday

HEADLINE: Interview With Senator Kerry

GUESTS: Senator John Kerry

BYLINE: Bill Hemmer

Kerry discusses his run for the Democratic presidential nomination. He explains why he thinks he has a shot at the nomination, despite low poll numbers in some states, including New Hampshire.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: After months now of meeting voters and airing commercials, crisscrossing across the State of Iowa, it's time now, almost, for the Democratic presidential hopefuls to make their final push. A new poll released hours ago showing John Kerry, the senator out of Massachusetts, with a five percentage point lead. This is a tracking poll. Polls oftentimes in the State of Iowa difficult to predict the eventual outcome.

Senator Kerry hired a helicopter, getting around yesterday in Iowa. Today he's back on the ground live in Waverly.

Senator, good morning to you.

Are you doing OK out there?


Yes, I've got a cold crew of supporters and you have an even colder and very loyal crew of workers who are doing this.

HEMMER: Well, listen, give them our best, you know, they're intrepid, too, so we appreciate it.

If the polls are right, you're like Lazarus. If the polls are right, why are you rising?

KERRY: You know, the polls don't get people out to the caucus and the polls don't give people health care. The polls aren't going to put people back to work. What I'm doing is talking to people positively about my vision for America, my vision for this state and the country. People really want leadership that can make America safer and they want leadership that will make the workplace in America fair again.

That's what I'm talking about and I think it's connecting to people.

HEMMER: Throughout the weekend, you tell us you don't like polls. We just saw it on the screen and we'll put it up again.

KERRY: That's what I just said.

HEMMER: Do you like this one?

KERRY: I'm-you know, I don't place stock in the polls. I never have. I've always said that whether I'm up or down, as I just said to you, the polls don't get people to the caucus. Iowans are remarkably independent minded. They're wonderful in the way they take this seriously. I love going out and talking and meeting. We've had so many different kinds of meetings in barns and Elk halls and VFWs and restaurants. People pour out, they take notes, they study us and they look at our character and they look in our gut.

I love the process here and I think the Iowans are just, you know, so independent that the polls don't matter. So I'm going to keep talking to people. I'm going to keep working. I'm a fighter. People know that about me. And I'm going to fight till Monday evening when they go to the polls.

HEMMER: Senator, the word back here is that you're talking less about legislation on the stump and much more as a regular American. If that's the case, why could you not say that before?

KERRY: Well, I think, look, that's all think-think about politics. What I really, I've got a few days left. I have the best health care plan that's going to lower the cost of health care for all Americans. That really matters to people. It works. We can lower health care costs in this country, make business more competitive and lift the burden from workers.

I also have a terrific plan to make America respected and influential in the world again. And we deserve leadership for these dangerous times that knows how to fight a war on terror that makes America both proud and safer at the same time.

HEMMER: Senator, let me take...

KERRY: I'm going to keep talking about that.

HEMMER: Let me take you back to something you said yesterday. You said, and quoting now, "There are three tickets out of Iowa, and I've got one of them." Are you suggesting...

KERRY: No, I said I'm aiming.

HEMMER: Yes, OK...

KERRY: I said I'm aiming for one of them.

HEMMER: Are you suggesting, though, that even a third place finish will be good for you?

KERRY: Look, I'm trying to do the best I can. I've never talked about numbers or places. I'm trying to meet the voters of Iowa. I'm trying to respect their love for democracy. I'm running a positive campaign. I haven't run negative advertisements against other people. I'm talking about my vision for our country. American voters are tired of the rat-a-tat of politics. They really want to know what we can do and will do to help make life better in our nation and life safer. I can do that. I've been fighting these fights for 35 years and I am ready to go to the White House and fight for Americans to make the workplace fair and to strengthen our country.

HEMMER: Well, listen, when you wake up on Tuesday morning, the focus will not be in Iowa, it'll be on New Hampshire...

KERRY: I don't think I'm going to wake up Tuesday morning. I think I'm going to be flying to New Hampshire and I'll wake up in New Hampshire and campaign.

HEMMER: Well, and when you do on Tuesday morning, that's going to be the focus. It's back in the Northeast. This is your part of the country, your home turf. Yet you're trailing badly to Howard Dean and Wesley Clark in that state.

KERRY: See, there you go again.

HEMMER: Well, as I go there again, I want to ask you a very direct question about this. Why do you believe this is the case? And, secondly, do you have half an eye right now on New Hampshire, which is essentially the second step in the process?

KERRY: Of course we're looking at New Hampshire. My wife just left New Hampshire yesterday. My daughter was in New Hampshire. We're campaigning there. But I'm confident people in New Hampshire are just as independent minded as people here. They're going to take a look at all of us during that week and I look forward to campaigning there.

You know, don't look at these polls. If you did, I wouldn't be where I am today here in Iowa fighting away, and I'll be in New Hampshire fighting away. And I'll tell you what, people know that I am a fighter and I'm going to put every ounce of fight I can into New Hampshire and every state thereafter. My campaign is on the move and we're going to keep moving.

HEMMER: Thank you, Senator.

KERRY: Thank you.

HEMMER: John Kerry there in Iowa.

See you this weekend, OK?

I'll be in Iowa this Monday talking to the candidates there. Watch our coverage starting 7:00 a.m. Eastern time here on AMERICAN MORNING, complete coverage then on the big day.

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

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