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NBC Today Transcript

Location: Manchester, NH

January 20, 2004 Tuesday

HEADLINE: Senator John Kerry discusses his first place win in Iowa, New Hampshire, and his campaign


KATIE COURIC, co-host:

Now back to the Iowa caucuses. We are talking to the three top finishers this morning, John Kerry, John Edwards, and Howard Dean. Let's begin with Senator Kerry fresh off a big come from behind win. He's just landed in Manchester, New Hampshire, this morning.

Senator, good morning and congratulations.

Senator JOHN KERRY (Democrat, Presidential Candidate): Good morning, Katie. Thank you very much.

COURIC: You know, for weeks your campaign hovered in the single digits. How did you pull this off?

Sen. KERRY: Katie, I trusted the people of Iowa. And I went out with a clear message about where we need to go in the country. Americans and particularly Iowans were just extraordinary in the way that they worked at this. They looked in our eyes. They checked our gut. They checked our character. And I liked the test. I went through the process with-with a delight because they are so absent any cynicism. They really just dig into it and do their homework. And they-they really want leadership.

I think people in New Hampshire are the same way, I think people across the country. We are living in a very dangerous world. I think George Bush has run a reckless foreign policy and arrogant foreign policy. I think the American people understand we can do better in the world. They also know that we can put people back to work in America if we have a better set of priorities. We need to not abandon our children. We need to have health care that's affordable for all Americans. These things aren't words. They are really achievable.

COURIC: Senator...

Sen. KERRY: There are...

COURIC: Senator Kerry, let me just interrupt for a second.

Sen. KERRY: Yes. Sure, Katie.

COURIC: I know a lot of people are crediting your support from veterans as well as more positive ads that-that you basically did. But others are crediting your deep pockets. Let me read you an excerpt from the Washington Post editorial this morning: (Reading) "As impressive as Mr. Kerry's win was, he was able to obtain the outcome only because of his capacity to reach into this-into his deep pockets and lend his campaign more than $6 million. It's not healthy for a democracy, and for a candidate's shot at the presidency to depend on his personal wealth." What's your response to that?

Sen. KERRY: We were outspent by-by an opponent. We were outspent. And I also wound up winning more colleges. I think I won almost every college in Iowa with the exception of one or two. I clearly attracted people to this race on the basis of ideas. And the fact is, to beat George Bush, it is good that we are going to be able to continue to be outside of the caps at this point. That was something I didn't choose to do. I asked my opponent not to do it. And I decided only to do it after someone else had broken that. The point is not-I mean, that's the first person I have ever heard mention that as an effect in this race.

What mattered in this race was the fact that I offered very specific leadership in international and national security issues, and I also had a plan to offer affordable health care to all Americans. I had a plan...

COURIC: Senator Kerry, are you...

Sen. KERRY: put people back to work.

COURIC: Will you continue to hammer John Edwards on his lack of foreign policy experience, and are you worried going into New Hampshire that Wesley Clark will coop the Iraq issue from your campaign?

Sen. KERRY: Katie, I've run a very positive campaign. We didn't run any negative television advertising in Iowa. I've talked positively about my record and positively about my vision for the country, but there are real differences between all of us in this race. And they are important differences for voters to think about. It we are going to beat George Bush, I believe we need a nominee who has experience in international relations and foreign affairs because George Bush plans to run on national security. I also believe it's important to have a president who has years of experience in domestic issues. So I think I am the only candidate in this race...

COURIC: Senator, we only have a few-we only have...

Sen. KERRY: ...who brings the full package to the table.

COURIC: ...we only have a few seconds left. But I don't mean to rain on your parade. But the landscape is littered with candidates who came in first in Iowa and didn't go on to win. There's par-party's nomination Edmund Muskie, Dick Gephardt, Tom Harkin, Bob Dole to name a few. Is there a danger of making too much out of this first place showing?

Sen. KERRY: Katie, I'm not making anything out of it. I am here in New Hampshire. I'm an underdog in New Hampshire. I intend to fight for every single vote here exactly the way I did out in Iowa. And people up here know me. I am a fighter. I am here to win every vote in New Hampshire based on ideas about how to lead America to a safer future. And I have, I think, the 35-year record of experience in domestic and international affairs that will reassure America that I know what I am doing.


Sen. KERRY: I have the judgment and the temperament to lead the nation and that's what is important.

COURIC: Senator John Kerry. Senator Kerry, thanks so much for your time this morning. We appreciate it.

Sen. KERRY: Glad to be with you. Thank you.

COURIC: It is 7:09. Now here's Matt.

Copyright 2004 National Broadcasting Co. Inc.

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