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CNN American Morning Transcript

Location: Manchester, NH

January 20, 2004 Tuesday

HEADLINE: Interview With John Kerry

GUESTS: Senator John Kerry

BYLINE: Soledad O'Brien

Senator Kerry discusses his win yesterday in New Hampshire and what's next for his campaign. He says he believes he won because people want real leadership in national security and foreign policy.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Turning back to politics now, John Kerry has already brought his message to New Hampshire this morning after last night's victory in Iowa. He wasted absolutely no time before attacking President Bush's foreign policy. Kerry called it "arrogant, inept and reckless" and he indicated that he was ready for a campaign against Mr. Bush based on national security experience.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have three words for him we know he understands-bring it on! Bring it on! Bring it on!


O'BRIEN: Senator Kerry, along with his major rivals, are already on the New Hampshire campaign trail ahead of next Tuesday's primary. He's held a rally this morning in Manchester and he joins us from that rally this morning.

Nice to see you, Senator Kerry.

Congratulations to you. Thanks for being with us.

KERRY: Thank you very much.

It's great to be with you.

O'BRIEN: How are you feeling this morning?

KERRY: Thank you.

Well, we've been going for more than 24 hours, so you feel the way you feel when you do that.

O'BRIEN: A little bit tired.

KERRY: Frumpy.

O'BRIEN: I'll give that to you. Yes.

You know, I have to also give it to you, when we talked at the end of last week, you said, every time I'd ask you about your polls and your positioning in the polls, you said Soledad, not a vote has been cast yet. I don't pay that much attention to the polls.

KERRY: Right.

O'BRIEN: So I'll give you that. Do you feel vindicated by all the pundits who really, at some point earlier on, were kind of counting you out altogether?

KERRY: Well, Soledad, thank you. That's very generous of you and unusual and I appreciate your saying that.

It's not a question of that. It's really a question of what people's needs are and of addressing them. I think Americans are working harder and harder than ever before. People know that and they're frustrated by it. They watch corporate executives, they watch big powerful companies in Washington lobby and turn a Medicare bill into a benefit for drug companies. They see the energy bill with $50 billion of oil and gas subsidies.

Something's broken. It's out of kilter. And I think the average American feels that and they can't get ahead. Tuitions go up, health care costs go up. I know we can do a better job of addressing the concerns of the people who really make America run and that's what I intend to do, and that's what I was talking about in Iowa. And I could sense the response to that. I believe the response will be the same in New Hampshire.

I'm a fighter. People want someone who's on their side, who's really going to fight for their interests.

O'BRIEN: You told your supporters at that rally there just a little while ago that you're the underdog as you head into New Hampshire and that you learned a lot campaigning in Iowa.

What have you learned? Because what you've just told me, that message is the message you've had for a long time and it only seems like in the last week that it seemed to gain a lot of traction.

KERRY: Well, it's not only the only part of the message, Soledad. I have a health care plan that will actually lower costs for all of the people who get health care in the workplace. I'm going to fully fund special needs education so that our communities aren't struggling under the burden of the property tax and they can't advance our schools and our children at the same time. I'm going to provide an environmental policy that's balanced, that brings corporations and others to the table, but keeps our responsibility to the next generation.

We need to solve problems. We need a president who isn't going to divide Americans and look for the lowest common denominator, but the highest common denominator. And, most importantly, I have the foreign policy, national security and military experience to do a better job of building relationships in the world and making America safer and more secure. People are anxious about that and they want real leadership.

O'BRIEN: After a poor showing in Iowa, as you well know, it looks as if Congressman Gephardt is going to be dropping out. He's got an official announcement planned for some time this afternoon.

How do you think that changes the face of this race?

KERRY: Well, I can't tell you that. That's for the voters to determine. I will say this, Dick Gephardt has been a friend of mine for 20 years. We've worked together on many, many things. I have huge respect for his commitment and the quality of his public service. He's one of the most decent people in public life. And whatever he decides to do, I really wish he and Jane well. They are very, very special people.

With respect to the race, I'm just going to continue to focus on the concerns of real people. We have to take on powerful interests. I've never seen, in all the years I've been in public life I've never seen the workplace as unfair as it is today. We can't even get the minimum wage raised and yet if you work on the minimum wage in America, you still can't get out of poverty. You know, I'm tired of people who talk about family values and they don't value families.

We're going to change that and I'm going to stand up and make sure that the voice of the American public is properly represented in the halls of government.

O'BRIEN: Senator John Kerry joining us this morning.

Nice to see you, sir.

KERRY: Thank you.

O'BRIEN: Congratulations on your win.

I hope you get some rest in the next couple of hours.

KERRY: Oh, I will eventually.

O'BRIEN: Thanks for being with us.

Eventually you will. That's true.

KERRY: Thanks a lot.

O'BRIEN: Thanks.

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

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