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CNN Larry King Live Transcript

Location: Unknown

January 20, 2004 Tuesday

HEADLINE: Analysis of Iowa Caucuses; Interview With John Kerry

GUESTS: Tom Harkin, Charles Grassley, John Kerry, Alan Simpson, George McGovern

BYLINE: Larry King, Wolf Blitzer, William Schneider

Analysis of the results of the Iowa caucuses. Interview with the caucuses winner John Kerry.

KING: Normally, this hour is a repeat of the earlier presentation of LARRY KING LIVE, but we are on live for both hours tonight. In a little while, former senators Alan Simpson and George McGovern will be joining us, along with Wolf Blitzer and Bill Schneider. But we're going to spend some moments with Senator John Kerry, the Democrat of Massachusetts who won it tonight.

I go back a couple of months ago, I was standing in front of the Regency Hotel in New York, and you told me no matter what you were going to win. Were you really that confident, or were you putting something on for me?

KERRY: I felt very strongly we could win, and that if we did the things the way we did it, that we would. I'm the underdog in New Hampshire still. My campaign, as you know, is coming from behind. We came from behind here; we're going to have to fight there. And obviously they'll be a lot more intensive.

But I think what I talked about here resonates, Larry. You know, I've never seen the work place in America as unfair as it is today, never. It's tilted, and people are working harder.

They can't afford their health insurance, they can't afford tuitions that are going up 18, 20 percent a year. Wages just don't rise that way. And we've lost jobs overseas like crazy. People want leadership, real leadership that tells the truth, says what it means, means what it says, and takes America to a better place.

KING: Were you surprised tonight at all by the size of it?

KERRY: Actually, I was, yes. It was an enormous. I mean 40 delegates is a huge win, and in a six-person field, I really am surprised.

But the Iowans that I met across this state over these last months have been stunning. You know, they really take this seriously. They study you, they check your gut, they look you in the eye, and I love that process. I wish all of America could have participated as intimately as the people who took part in the caucuses did. They deserve the applause of all of America for making democracy really a showplace here in Iowa.

KING: I gather you like the caucuses. By the way, on a side issue, you favor them for Iraq?

KERRY: Well, I like the personal-you know what I like? I like the personal part of it, Larry. I think when you can stand there and people grill you and say, well, why did you do this, well, why do you believe this, or what are you going to do for me, and they don't take any BS, it's real stuff. So I think that I'm enormously gratified by that. And as I get into New Hampshire, I look forward to continuing to talk to people who are equally independent-minded.

New Hampshirites are tough, too. And they'll put me through the grill the next week, and I look forward it.

KING: The administration is favoring the same concept for Iraq. Do you buy that, caucuses in Iraq to choose the new government?

KERRY: I'm not convinced that that's the way to go at it. I think that it's going to, you know, first take a development of a constitutional process. And I think the first thing to do is have the international community be doing this, not the United States of America. I think there's a fundamental flaw in any effort to develop a government that is exclusively the imprint of the United States, and I think we'll find that as time goes forward.

KING: A few other things. Were you surprised at the poor showing of Governor Dean?

KERRY: That's not for me to judge at all, Larry. Look, I'm excited tonight about what our campaign did.

I particularly want to say something about Dick Gephardt. He has been a really noble warrior for our party and for our country. This is a tough night for him, and I understand it. I've been there before.

He is really one of the nicest, most decent people in public life that I've ever met. And I think the country owes somebody like Dick and Jane, who both have given their lives to this effort, just a huge thank you for all they've done.

KING: Senator Edwards, how about his showing?

KERRY: He did a great job. I have great respect for him. He's a very talented person, and he ran a very, very good campaign here.

I think we're both talking about many of the same things. We share a lot of the same views about these things. And I look forward to continuing to campaign with him. John and I like each other, we know each other and respect each other.

What's important here is that as we go forward, that we Democrats really focus on George Bush and what's happening to the country. I believe that the nation is truly feeling an enormous anxiety that hasn't yet burst out in the consciousness of a lot of people in Washington or elsewhere. But health care costs are just out of sight, and people can't afford it and they're hurting.

You know, I've met countless people who are out of work, their wife or husband's been found to be ill with cancer or something. They don't know where to turn, and they're not getting any help from this administration. And you can go down the line of issues like that.

We're going backwards in water quality, backwards on air quality. The school class sizes are getting bigger, Larry. There are serious issues for us to talk about in this country, and I really look forward to it over the next months.

KING: Are you going to New Hampshire tonight?

KERRY: You bet. We're getting on a plane in a couple of hours. I will arrive in Manchester at 6:30, 7:00 in the morning. We're going to have a rally at the airport and then we're going out to campaign. And we're going to fight for every vote we can find.

KING: So you will not be in your seat at the State of the Union then?

KERRY: Probably not. Uncertain at this point for sure, but probably not. I think I'm going to watch it in Concord, New Hampshire with the family that will be affected by what the president says. And I'll probably react from that vantage point rather than in the Congress.

KING: You have two new opponents now, Wesley Clark and Joe Lieberman. How do you regard them?

KERRY: With great respect, both of them. Both friends of mine, and I hope we're going to have a fight that does credit to the Democratic Party and to the country. That's the way I've always run my campaigns.

I want to offer an optimistic, positive vision for our country, as I did here. I didn't run a negative television ad here. We had a great campaign, and I feel good about it. Now I intend to continue to try to...

KING: I'm sorry, go ahead.

KERRY: Sorry, Larry. No, that's fine. It's your show.

KING: We're running close on time. Yes, but you're the winner. Before you leave us, Wolf Blitzer has a question-Wolf.

BLITZER: Just a quick human interest question. We hear a raspiness in your voice, Senator Kerry. And congratulations on your win here in Iowa tonight.

KERRY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Earlier, your aides were telling us you had laryngitis, you might not be able to speak. You had to cancel a few events. Didn't your doctors tell you tonight the worst thing you do when you have laryngitis is to talk?

KERRY: Yes, they've told me that. But on the other hand, Wolf, this is a great moment. I'm doing fine now.

You know, I went for about five days on four hours' sleep a night, campaigning and talking from literally 7:00 in the morning until midnight. That will take anybody's voice downhill for a day or two. I'm looking forward to a great race in New Hampshire, and we're going to be in full stride.

KING: Thank you, Senator. We'll see you next week in New Hampshire.

KERRY: Thank you very much. Thanks, folks.

KING: Senator John Kerry.

When we come back, Alan Simpson and George McGovern join Wolf Blitzer and Bill Schneider. Don't go away.

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

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