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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Encore Presentation: Interview with George, Laura Bush; Teresa Heinz, John Kerry

Aired October 30, 2004 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you believe that America should lead with strength and purpose and confidence in our ideals, I would be honored to have your support, and I'm asking for your vote.

(CHEERS)

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, is President Bush headed back to the White House for 4 more years? Or will Senator Kerry be the next president of the United States?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Help me to be able to go to that Oval Office every single day and look you in the eye, and tell you, I've got your back.

KING: You're going to hear from George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush followed by John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Thanks for joining us tonight. With America just days away from electing a president, we thought you might like to see highlights of my interviews this summer with 2 presidential candidates and their wives.

We begin with President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush. They sat down with me in August at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles and have just come from a visit with Nancy Reagan. And naturally, we wanted to know how it went.

G. BUSH: She is a really fine woman. Laura and I love being in her presence. She's very strong. She is recovering from a painful period in her life when she lost the love of her life, a great president, Ronald Reagan.

And so it was a wonderful visit with her.

KING: Did you enjoy it?

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: I really enjoy Nancy Reagan.

(CROSSTALK)

L. BUSH: She's doing very well, I think, really well. She looks great. Of course she always looks great. KING: But she has bounced back...

L. BUSH: She has.

G. BUSH: You know, the country responded in such a powerful way. And I think it helped her a lot to know that so many people really loved her husband. And he'll go down in history as a great president.

KING: The other night we were talking concerning that. There seems to be a lack of civility in America, angry people, talk radios's angry, people are angry, people hate you, hate other candidates. It eased for a week during the Reagan funeral. What do you make of this? What's going on in America?

G. BUSH: I think there may be handfuls of people that are very emotional, but I think by far the vast majority of Americans are, you know, are -- want to know whether they're going to be able to work, and whether or not the government is doing its job of protecting the country...

KING: Is the smaller group louder?

G. BUSH: I think it's pretty loud, but they certainly don't represent the majority of Americans.

KING: You don't, so you think there's less civility in America?

L. BUSH: Well, I don't know if I would say less. I think every campaign, you know, in the end, has a part of it that's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and I think that's what we're seeing in this one.

KING: Is it hard to stay away from it? I mean, is there a desire to...

L. BUSH: It's hard for me.

(LAUGHTER)

I don't like it.

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: Not really. I think my most important mission is to let the people know what I want to do for the next four years. These are very serious times that we live in. I've got a lot of explanations to give on decisions I have made. So I spend most of my time explaining why I have made some very difficult decisions and why I know that those decisions will make the country a safer place, or a better place.

KING: You don't have your opponent, though?

G. BUSH: Not at all. Listen...

L. BUSH: No, of course not. G. BUSH: There's a chattering class of kind of, you know, professional politicians who get on the airwaves and they kind of feel like it's their duty to stir things up. But the American people are -- they're focused on their families, and they're focused on their work. And they're interested in, you know, how government can help secure this country during these dangerous times. But I just don't see it.

When I travel the country, and I've been traveling a lot, there are thousands of people who come out and wave, and they are -- you know, they respect the presidency. Sometimes they like the president, but I have this -- I don't have a sense that there's a lot of anger.

KING: So you think issues will resolve this campaign, not personalities or discord or...

G. BUSH: Oh, absolutely.

KING: In view of that, do you think that it's fair, for the record, John Kerry's service record, to be an issue at all? I know that Senator McCain...

G. BUSH: You know, I think it is an issue, because he views it as honorable service, and so do I. I mean...

KING: Oh, so it is. But, I mean, Senator McCain has asked to be condemned, the attack on his service. What do you say to that?

G. BUSH: Well, I say they ought to get rid of all those 527s, independent expenditures that have flooded the airwaves.

There have been millions of dollars spent up until this point in time. I signed a law that I thought would get rid of those, and I called on the senator to -- let's just get anybody who feels like they got to run to not do so.

KING: Do you condemn the statements made about his...

G. BUSH: Well, I haven't seen the ad, but what I do condemn is these unregulated, soft-money expenditures by very wealthy people, and they've said some bad things about me. I guess they're saying bad things about him. And what I think we ought to do is not have them on the air. I think there ought to be full disclosure. The campaign funding law I signed I thought was going to get rid of that. But evidently the Federal Election Commission had a different view.

KING: You have a view, Laura?

L. BUSH: About the 527s?

KING: Yes and also about the ads that have been running...

L. BUSH: No, I haven't seen...

KING: ... from the former servicemen who said his service record is a lie. L. BUSH: I haven't seen those ads either. But I do know there are a lot of terrible ads against George, as well, by 527s. You know...

G. BUSH: Look, the senator ought to be proud of his record.

KING: Senator McCain has been very strong in condemning it and he's very strong endorsing you...

G. BUSH: Yes, he is. Senator Kerry is justifiably proud of his record in Vietnam and he should be. His noble service -- the question is...

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: The question is: Who can best lead the country in a time of war? That's really what the debate ought to be about. And I think it's me. Because I understand the stakes.

KING: Is this, though, a war they can never win? I mean, isn't a terrorist being born today somewhere...

G. BUSH: Well, it can be won by spreading freedom. It can be won by, if the United States continues to lead the world and encourage those who long for freedom to seek freedom, and to work with governments to put institutions in place that allow women to have rights and honor human dignity and human rights.

You know, I tell the story about the time I had dinner with Prime Minister Koizumi, Laura and I did in Tokyo. During the course of the dinner it was very interesting to hear two people that represented countries, that at one time were at war with each other, are now talking about the peace.

And had we given up on this concept that people could self-govern and that liberty can change the habits of people after World War II, it's conceivable I wouldn't have been having that conversation.

And some day, somebody is going to be sitting down with an American president, with an elected Iraqi leader, talking about the peace, because free societies are peaceful societies.

And so, to answer your question, you bet.

KING: You can win the war?

BUSH: Yes, we can. And in the short-term, we will secure our country by never relenting in our desire to bring people to justice. It's best that we bring them to justice overseas so they don't hit us here at home.

In the long run free countries will end up listening to the hopes and desires of their people. Free countries will be peaceful countries. Free countries are countries that don't export terror. And it's vital that the United States never forget the power of liberty when it comes to transforming societies. KING: Isn't it hard to send people to war?

L. BUSH: Sure. Oh, absolutely. I mean, that's the most difficult decision any president ever makes. And you know, that's the hardest thing about serving as president.

KING: We've had more today, there are more eruptions in Iraq. And it seems never-ending, does it? What does it do to you?

G. BUSH: Well, first, it's painful to know that a young American has lost his or her life in combat. It's painful because I know how broken-hearted their loved ones are. We have met with their loved ones a lot.

KING: You have?

G. BUSH: You bet.

KING: Because we don't see any stories.

G. BUSH: Well, you shouldn't. These are private moments. These aren't moments to be publicized. These are moments between me and Laura and their families. And I assure them, when I meet with them, that their loved one will not have died in vain.

In other words, we will complete our mission, which is a free Iraq. And we will.

And, of course, it's difficult right now.

But eventually -- and that's because there are people that cannot stand the thought of a free society emerging in the heart of the Middle East.

But what's happening in Iraq is, slowly but surely, the Iraqis are beginning to take more responsibly.

We've got a great leader in Prime Minister Allawi. He's a tough guy who believes in free societies. And more and more Iraqis are being trained. And more and more Iraqis are stepping up to do the hard work of bringing these terrorists, these former Baathist and some foreign fighters to justice. And that's why we are going to prevail.

KING: We are with President George W. Bush and Laura Bush. And we'll be right back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Want to talk about a lot of issues tonight.

This all started on 9/11. 9/11 changed the world, changed you, changed everybody watching.

John Kerry, your opponent, has said at the convention: Had I been reading to children and had my top aide whisper in my ear, "America's under attack," I would have told those kids very nicely and politely, the president of the United States has something he needs to attend to. And there's a film showing you sitting. What was going -- let's explain this, so we hear it from the other side.

G. BUSH: Well, I had just been told by Andrew Card that America was under attack. And I was collecting my thoughts. And I was sitting with a bunch of young kids, and I made the decision there that we would let this part of the program finish, and then I would calmly stand up and thank the teacher and thank the children and go take care of business.

And I think what's important is how I reacted when I realized America was under attack. It didn't take me long to figure out we were at war. It didn't take me long to develop a plan that we would go after Al Qaeda. We went into action very quickly.

KING: So you think the criticism was unwarranted?

G. BUSH: Oh, I think it's easy to second-guess a...

KING: What was going...

G. BUSH: What is relevant is whether or not I understand and understood then the stakes. And I recognized that we were at war. And I made a determination that we would do everything we could to bring those killers to justice and to protect the American people. That is my most solemn duty.

KING: Wasn't that the hardest seven minutes of your life?

G. BUSH: Well, there's been a lot of hard moments in my life.

KING: But at that moment, to hear that news...

G. BUSH: Yes, it was -- trying to understand exactly what it meant. But there have been a lot of hard of moments. It was hard to go to the ground zero on September the 14th, 2001, and see those workers and police men and women and the firefighters who had been searching the rubble looking for their loved ones. That was a hard moment.

But it was a moment where I resolved to them publicly that we would do our duty in government, and protect this country by staying on the offense.

And, Larry, it's very important that we never yield, that we are steadfast and determined to bring these people to justice. This is serious business. And they've got the capacity to lurk and wait and hope we forget September the 11th and the lessons of September the 11th. That's what they do. They plan and plot, and this country must not yield.

KING: You worried about the convention?

L. BUSH: No, I'm not really worried about it...

KING: I mean security-wise. L. BUSH: No...

KING: New York?

L. BUSH: I mean, I think we'll be safe in New York.

KING: So complete confidence -- no fear?

L. BUSH: No, I don't. I think it will be safe. I mean, I think people will be vigilant. I think obviously everyone in the federal government and the state government and the city government will be doing everything they possibly can to make sure it's safe. But I do know they'll all be doing everything they can and that New Yorkers will also be paying attention.

KING: You first were opposed to the 9/11 Commission and then changed. Why?

G. BUSH: Not really.

KING: You weren't opposed?

G. BUSH: Well, I just wanted to make sure that it was done the right way. I felt like that -- one of my concerns was that it would usurp the Congress' need to fully investigate.

Then I recognized this was a good avenue -- a good venue and a good way to really get out the facts. And they did a really good job.

KING: What did you think of the report?

G. BUSH: I thought it was a great report. I read it.

KING: Are you going to implement most?

G. BUSH: Well, we have already implemented a lot of their recommendations. And the other day I announced that we would have a national intelligence director.

KING: Will he have all of the power they recommended?

G. BUSH: Well, I want to work with Congress on that. The issue of the budget is probably the most interesting issue. And Congress itself has got to get its house in order on the budget. There is a lot of different jurisdictions involved with intelligence...

KING: Shouldn't that man or woman have a lot of power?

G. BUSH: Yes, absolutely. There's no need to have a position if that person doesn't have the capacity to make important decisions. The person should not be in the Cabinet and will not be in the Cabinet.

KING: Because?

G. BUSH: Well, because I think you want this person to be independent from the administration to a certain extent, separate from the administration is a better way to put it, not independent...

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: You bet. Not independent in the sense that the person can't be fired.

I think the president ought to have the right to name and nominate, with the consent of the Senate, and have the ability to fire the person.

But I really don't think it makes sense to have the intelligence director sitting around a Cabinet table as we discuss, you know, agricultural matters or health matters. I think this person needs to be -- independent is the wrong word, separate from the administration, with powers.

KING: There is a rumor, I don't know if you've heard it, that you are going to ask Senator McCain to take that job -- leave the Senate and take that job. Did he come through your thoughts?

G. BUSH: Well, we haven't really started thinking about...

KING: Will he be in your thoughts?

G. BUSH: You know, as I say, you're catching me totally fresh. I haven't really thought about a person to fill the job, because the job doesn't exist yet.

KING: I know.

G. BUSH: We have to first get it through the Congress. And, frankly, my attention has been focused on naming somebody to run the CIA. And I found a very good man in Porter Goss, nominated a good man from Florida who I think will do a great job.

KING: Do you expect him to breeze through it right away?

G. BUSH: You know, breeze is an interesting word. I expect him to be nominated. I would certainly hope people wouldn't hold up his nomination, because he's a very capable individual.

KING: Your opponent has said that this war was going it alone -- you went alone. How do you respond to that?

G. BUSH; My gosh, you know -- Tony Blair doesn't think that.

KING: Perhaps alone in relationship to previous where we've had so many united people with us...

G. BUSH: Well, let me -- there's 30 nations now involved in Iraq. And I know their leaders well. I've thanked them on behalf of the American people for serving alongside our troops. I think to say we've gone it alone really does denigrate the contributions of other countries.

These leaders and these people and these countries from all around world, whether it be Japan or South Korea or Denmark or Holland, they've made sacrifices like we have, because they understand the stakes.

KING: Have any expressed any regrets?

G. BUSH: Not to me. Because people -- people understand that Saddam was a threat. And the world was better of with him sitting in a prison cell. We're safer because he's in a prison cell. The Iraqi people are certainly better off because he's in a prison cell.

But they also understand that, what I told you earlier, that a free Iraq, in a part of a world desperate for freedom is -- will be an agent for change. These are historic times. That's how I view it.

KING: Is this the most important election ever?

G. BUSH: For me it is.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Well, people are saying that. though. Sure, they said it when Franklin Pierce was running. But wouldn't you say, based on history there isn't...

G. BUSH: I think it's very important. I think the election is important for a lot of reasons.

KING: There's clear definition between you, right?

G. BUSH: Absolutely, there is, particularly on how to fight and win a war, on taxes, on a lot of issues and...

KING: Why do you think, first, it's so close?

L. BUSH: Well, because, I mean, look at the last election. I think, you know, I think United States is divided as they say. I don't think we're divided against each other but I just think they're...

KING: Politically.

L. BUSH: Politically.

KING: And that hasn't changed?

L. BUSH: I don't think it really has changed since the last election.

G. BUSH: But we'll see. You are speculating here in August.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Only based on polls.

G. BUSH: I know but I mean, you know...

KING: We got to go.

G. BUSH: But give us a chance to kick down the stretch. It really is early...

(CROSSTALK)

G. BUSH: Yes, exactly. It's early in the campaign in a certain sense. I mean, a lot of people want to be on vacation. You and I follow this closely, of course, but a lot of folks are vacationing and they will start to focus again...

KING: Do you think there are a lot of people who haven't made up their minds?

G. BUSH: I guess the polls don't say that. But I think there are some people that can be persuaded to change their opinion.

KING: Do you run into people who say, "I don't know." Or do you run into mostly people who say, "I support you"?

G. BUSH: I run into both. And when you say, "run in," the president generally doesn't run into anybody. I mean, we're driving...

KING: But you've been attending -- you've been doing public forums now?

G. BUSH: A lot of public forums. A lot of bus trips. And we see people express their opinions. The great thing about our country is they're free to do so. And by far the vast majority of people who come out to wave are doing so in a friendly fashion.

Although occasionally there is the not-so-friendly wave. But I do believe -- OK, I don't know if it's going to be close or not. I believe I'm going to win. I believe the American people know my style of leadership. They know what to expect.

And they understand that the commander in chief must not waver in this era, that we must continue to stay on the offense.

But they're also beginning to understand my deep desire to spread liberty around the world as a way to help secure our country in the long run.

I think we have an obligation to lead. And we will lead, and we will continue to work with others in a vast coalition.

This debate on coalitions is a very interesting debate. Sometimes I think they're basically saying that there is no such thing as a coalition unless the French are involved. But the truth of the matter is, the French are involved in Afghanistan, and the French have been involved in Haiti. The French government just didn't agree with the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power. And, therefore, there was a difference of opinion on that issue.

But I will argue that Saddam Hussein out of power has made the world a better place and a safer place.

KING: Even without weapons of mass destruction?

G. BUSH: Well, we thought we'd find stockpiles. The whole world thought we'd find stockpiles, including, evidently, the French government, which voted in the United Nations Security Council to say to Saddam: Disclose, disarm, or face serious consequences.

But what we do know is Saddam Hussein had the capability of making weapons of mass destruction. And after September the 11th, a risk we could not take was that he would share that capability with our enemies.

Let me say one other thing. Had we not moved, Saddam Hussein would be even more powerful. He would have defied the world again, after 11 years of defiance, he would have defied the world again and would have been even more dangerous.

KING: So you'd do it again?

G. BUSH: Absolutely. We made the right decision.

KING: Would you send more troops, though? They had -- everything couldn't have been perfect, you certainly -- let me pick that up in a minute.

G. BUSH: OK.

KING: We'll be right back with President Bush, Mrs. Bush, on LARRY KING LIVE. We're going to talk about stem cell research, about which Mrs. Bush has been strongly speaking recently, and they met with Nancy Reagan today, who has opinions on it. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. We're in Los Angeles with president and Mrs. Bush, and we're on the subject of, if we had to do it over, we would do it over, would we do it with more troops?

I mean, everything wasn't perfect.

G. BUSH: No. Listen, some things happened that were hard to predict. And some things didn't happen that we thought were going to happen. For example, we thought they'd blow up the oil fields. We though there'd be mass starvation, refugees.

Now, here's the way I'm doing my job. I set the strategies, and I ask the experts to provide the tactics. And General Tommy Franks came into my office. I said: General, do you have everything you want?

I'll never forget the day that we launched the war. And in my heart of hearts, I know that diplomacy had failed. The last option of a president ought to be to commit troops, in large right. It is a very serious decision. And I went down to the situation room in the basement of the White House. And there was Tommy on the screen. And I said to him: General Franks, do you have everything you need? Are you satisfied with the plan? And do you have all you need?

And he looked at me and said: Yes, sir, Mr. President.

And I went to around to all the other commanders that he had assembled there on the video. And I -- to a person, they said they had what they needed.

And I said -- gave the order to the secretary of defense, Tommy saluted. I said, God bless you, and left.

And the reason I tell you that story is that Tommy, General Franks, now Tommy, knew me well enough to be able to walk right into the Oval Office and say: Mr. President, we don't have what we need. We need of this or that.

KING: Does the buck, though, stop with you?

G. BUSH: Absolutely.

KING: President Kennedy was told the Bay of Pigs would go smoothly and then he took the rap. He said...

G. BUSH: I'm taking the rap, too, of course.

KING: So the buck does stop...

G. BUSH: Absolutely. That's what elections are about. The American people can go in that voting booth and decide whether or not...

KING: So is that what led you to say on that ship that the battle is over?

G. BUSH: No, I didn't say that. Now, let's be careful about that.

I went on that aircraft carrier to thank a crew.

KING: The sign said it, I think.

G. BUSH: No, the sign said, "Mission accomplished." It didn't say the battle was over. It said, "Mission accomplished." And I was talking to sailors and a pilot who had been on an extended tour -- I think, maybe the longest in a long period of time. They were both -- this carrier was both in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

And I wanted to look them in the eye and say: Thank you for doing your job.

In the speech I gave on the carrier deck, I also went on to say, there is more hard work to do. And I'll do it again. I would do it again. I think I have an obligation as the commander in chief to do a couple of things as far as the military goes: Thank the military every change I get.

The other day I was -- yesterday -- last night in Phoenix, there was this huge crowd. And there was a woman holding up a sign that said, "My son is in Iraq."

And I singled her out. And I said: I just want to tell you, ma'am, your son is providing a noble service during these historic times. And I want to thank you and your son for sacrificing for long- term peace.

And, you know, I owe an obligation to our troops.

KING: The president and Laura Bush.

When we come back, the other candidate for president and highlights of my July interview with John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. When I sat down with John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry last July, it was just 2 days after the Senator had announced that John Edwards was his runningmate. And we were interested to know if John Kerry's wife, Teresa, had weighed in on that decision.

Mrs. Kerry, what part did you play, if any, in the vice presidential choice?

HEINZ KERRY: Sounding board.

KING: He threw names at you?

HEINZ KERRY: I read a lot.

KING: Did you sign off on this?

HEINZ KERRY: Well, let's put it this way: If it had been unacceptable, he would have known it, but clearly it wasn't unacceptable. Clearly not.

But no, you know, John and I share a lot of information. And when he asks me a question, I'll answer it. I never told him you can't pick so-and-so, or you can pick so-and-so, but we just discuss.

And I think the process was a great process. It was very well thought out and very broad. And I felt that we learned a lot and felt good about it.

KING: How important was her input?

KERRY: Her input is important on everything. First of all, she's smart as a whip. Secondly, she's got as much common sense and is sort of as grounded as anybody that I've ever met. So, I value that input -- beyond just husband/wife, I value it. But let me emphasize this, because people always make a big deal out of it. Neither of us want to -- not as a policy. It's not a policy adviser kind of thing. It's a partner. It's something -- it's a special kind of trust that exists between a husband and a wife. And -- she doesn't want to be a policy adviser. She wants to be my wife, and that's what...

KING: What happens when you disagree?

HEINZ KERRY: Actually, it's interesting, because if you're not terribly prescriptive or didactic on things and you're really curious, then you have great conversations.

KING: I'll bet.

HEINZ KERRY: And so, you might start up disagreeing with something and then seeing another point of view that's quite interesting. And I mean, I think that's how compromising good governments happen is when people come from different points, finally find a solution that works.

I think a man and a woman, on a whole array of issues, including raising children, have differences, and then you work them through. So, it's interesting. It's a learning experience.

KING: Do you want honest appraisal from people around you?

KERRY: Absolutely.

KING: No matter how direct? If someone disagrees, you want them to say to you, "I disagree."

KERRY: I do not like yes people and I don't have yes people around me. And everybody in my backroom there is laughing right now, because they tell it to me like it is, and that's the way I want it. And it's the only way to make it valuable.

KING: Concerning the selection, I know you saw President Clinton here a couple weeks ago -- in fact two weeks ago tonight...

KERRY: Yes, I thought he was great.

KING: ...about picking a vice president. He said, "The most important thing is that he," you, "pick somebody that he believes with all his heart would be a great president if he dropped dead, got shot, was in a plane crash. And the second most important thing is that he picks somebody he likes, has confidence in, and would give a lot of responsibility to and form a real partnership with."

He also said, "It shouldn't matter where he's from, what state, who will help you -- the only thing that counts is: Is he a good successor?"

Did that fit the bill?

KERRY: I agree with all of the above. And the answer is yes. And I talked to the president. I talked to President Clinton. I talked to Al Gore. I talked to...

KING: Before picking?

KERRY: Oh, absolutely. I talked to a vast number of people. And I sat down in the end, Larry, with my gut, with my heart, making that judgment, knowing he'd have to pass the test.

Now, here's what I believe. John -- you know, you look -- people have a way of only looking at things through sort of labelized, standardized lenses. I think it's a mistake to do that.

Yes, John Edwards has had six years as a United States Senator, but he's had a lifetime of experience and judgment, lifetime of fighting for things, lifetime of family life, lifetime of caring.

You know, Dick Cheney was only a few years in the Congress, and then he held several different kinds of various positions...

KING: Executive...

KERRY: ...some executive, some public. Ronald Reagan came to the office as a governor with no foreign policy experience. George Bush came with zero foreign policy experience and used Dick Cheney as his buffer to say, well, this will be OK.

I believe what's important is that I've picked somebody with the character, with the judgment, with the values to be able to take over as a president, lead this nation if something were to happen to me. I know from watching John Edwards on the campaign trail, from looking him in the eye as close as I am to you and debating with him and talking things through with him, from watching him in the Senate and watching him work, from looking at his lifetime of battles, this is a man who represents the values of our country and this is a man strong enough and skilled enough to lead it.

KING: Was the fact that he's a trial lawyer a deterrent?

KERRY: No, on the contrary, I think that it's an asset in skills. Again, people make a mistake about that.

You know, there's a young girl, Victoria (sic) Lakey, who today is taken care of, who has medical care for the rest of her life, who needs it, because of something terrible that injured her grievously. And were it not for the skill of somebody representing that kind of person in America, which is one of the beauties of our country, people might not be taken care of.

Now, are there abuses in the system? Yes. John Edwards and I both believe that, and I'm committed to trying to help fix that.

So, we're going to surprise people in our ability to show, I think, common sense and direction, which helps to undo the things that are wrong, but preserve the rights and the important things that make a difference.

KING: Teresa, how do you get along with Mrs. Edwards? HEINZ KERRY: She's a wonderful person. She's a mother.

KING: Did you get to know her on the campaign trail?

HEINZ KERRY: Actually, I had met her before, and she campaigned very, very hard. And she was in Iowa a lot, and so was I.

KING: Worthy opponent?

HEINZ KERRY: Oh, she's an amazing woman. And -- she is! She is a mother earth person who's also got a huge brain, only to compete with a very big heart and a sense of humor.

So, she's suffered. She's suffered loss, and she didn't drown with it.

KING: Lost a child.

HEINZ KERRY: Lost a child. And I respect people who have tragic losses like that and pick up their lives.

KING: Senator, how did you tell him that he was the pick? How did -- what happened? What happened?

KERRY: Well, I picked up the...

KING: You know what? This is a grabber. Hold it.

We'll take a break. And when we come back, how the word was passed, and then a lot of other issues with the Kerrys. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: I am pleased to announce, that with your help, the next vice president of the United States of America will be Senator John Edwards from North Carolina.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Senator Kerry and Teresa -- Teresa, I love that -- to say it -- Teresa Heinz Kerry.

OK, how did you let him know?

KERRY: I picked up the phone, called him, quick pleasantries, and...

KING: How you doing, John?

KERRY: I asked him how he was doing, obviously, but then I really got right to it, Larry. He knew what the call was about, and so did I. And I asked him. I said, "John, I would be -- I'd be honored if you'd be willing to join me in an effort to help change the direction in this country and help make me a great president."

And he said very quickly that he would be honored to do that. And what really is funny is what happens afterwards. When we hung up the phone -- we had a good conversation. And Emma Claire -- little six-year-old Emma -- jumps on the phone -- because he calls Elizabeth, who was down in North Carolina -- and Emma Claire says to Elizabeth, "Mommy, mommy! Daddy picked" -- "John Kerry picked daddy." And she's very excited.

And then, little Jack, who's four-years-old -- the youngest -- wants the phone, you know? And John thinks he wants to get in on this excitement. No, no. He gets on the phone and says, "Mommy, mommy, I could swim with my head above water." I mean, he knew what was important.

KING: You said he could make you a great president. What do you mean?

KERRY: I think that a team is important. I think America wants leadership, Larry, that just tells the truth, deals with real issues, and is willing to lift this country up.

I think John is the kind of person who is optimistic, connected to small-town rural America. He knows the problems. And he's the kind of person who's going to look me in the eye and not be afraid to say, "You're wrong. This is the way we got to go." And I think you need that kind of partner.

KING: But you're the final sign-off, though, right?

KERRY: You bet I'm the final sign-off, but you know, that's the partnership that's important in many ways.

You know, Elizabeth will do that with John and Teresa does that with me. And I think that...

KING: And you want the same thing with John?

KERRY: I think it's a great team, all of us together.

KING: Did you talk to Mrs. Edwards after the announcement?

HEINZ KERRY: I did, separately. I called her a couple of hours later, because she was trying to get on a plane and come up to Washington to pick up the children.

So, I got her at the airport, and I said, "I'll talk to you when you land and figure out what clothes you need to bring."

KING: We all remember Tipper and Hillary. Are you two going to do bus trips and...

HEINZ KERRY: You know, I don't know yet what the schedule is for after the election -- I mean, after the...

KING: Are you ready for a full campaign, though? I mean...

HEINZ KERRY: I have been in a full campaign since September, really.

KERRY: She's campaigned her heart out, unbelievably.

HEINZ KERRY: ...except for two weeks off -- as has Elizabeth. Elizabeth just had children to go home to, little children. I didn't, so they just overworked me like a slave.

KERRY: She just had a big child to go home to.

KING: Now, what about an area that appears in disagreement -- it came up, I think, in the debate we did in California -- unfair trade?

Senator Edwards opposed NAFTA -- he wasn't in the Senate when the vote came up.

KERRY: Right.

KING: And you are in favor? How will that come down?

KERRY: It'll come down, I think, very easily -- very easily, Larry, because we both believe -- I mean, the heart of our disagreement or agreement was that workers in America were not being treated fairly. That this administration has abandoned countless people in Ohio and Michigan, I mean -- Wisconsin.

Run around the country; there are workers who just feel abandoned. They've had to unbolt their equipment, ship it to China, in some cases train their replacement workers. And the job training hasn't been there. The healthcare support hasn't been there. The new job creation hasn't been there.

John and I are in agreement that what we need is smart trade, trade that works for all of us. And I think we need to fight in our trade agreements to raise the standards by which other people are living and by which we're competing.

KING: You had a difference, though, right?

KERRY: Well, it really -- in the end I think it is one of those struggles within a democratic primary process to find the difference when there wasn't that great a difference. And I think John would agree with you, that he didn't like NAFTA. I voted for it. That was the difference.

But we both wind up in the same place today, that we have to find for fair, competitive playing field for the American worker. And when I'm president, the American worker isn't going to have to beat down the door of the White House to have us stand up, to have trade laws enforced on behalf of America.

KING: Was it difficult, Teresa, to have been married to a Republican who died tragically and then to marry a Democrat, albeit Senator Heinz was a kind of moderate Republican?

HEINZ KERRY: Yes, he was, proudly so.

KING: Have you had a shift political views?

HEINZ KERRY: Not at all.

KING: No?

HEINZ KERRY: Not at all. You know, I am always who I am, and anyone who's known me forever will tell you that. I guess there's enough of a child in me that that's important. And also, I am the product of living in dictatorships. And someone who's lived in dictatorships and not being allowed to be themselves, it cherishes the ability to be yourself and to have feelings and to speak them when asked. And I am that person.

My late husband, for anyone who knew him, was a very Socratic person. He loved discussion. He loved to solve problems. He loved chess. He loved bridge. He loved to always get better. And he, kindly enough, to even introduce me to John the year before he was killed. They both were speaking in the same place on Earth Day.

KING: Really? You got along well with him?

KERRY: I did. I liked him very, very much.

KING: I did too. I interviewed him. He was some guy.

HEINZ KERRY: I think what I've taken from my life always is that what matters about choices that one makes at this level -- and I don't mean at the presidential level, but in one's life -- questions about morality of issues, not you're right, I'm wrong, Republicans are bad, Democrats are good, or vice versa. It is what is in the best interests of people. And so, it's just the way I think. And so, I never judge things according to party lines.

KING: So you don't label yourself, Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal.

HEINZ KERRY: No. I've always worked on bipartisans, whether it's on healthcare, drug reform, et cetera. All my work is bipartisan, because what I'm -- as nonpartisan actually, because I look for solutions. I'm very practical. And so was my late husband.

And so, the transition doesn't come from anything that I have to change inside, it's more -- mind you, I did not change my party until two years ago -- a year-and-a-half ago.

KING: Wait a minute, you remained...

HEINZ KERRY: A Republican until a year-and-a-half ago, until Max Green was defeated. And when Max Green was defeated the way he was, I was so very upset that I thought if Jack had been alive he would've been so offended by what they did to him, and I just left then. I was really upset by that. He was a hero. With 3 limbs gone and they called him unpatriotic. It's just not right.

KING: Do you think about it, Senator, before we get into some issues. I may be president. I once complained publicly about actions in my country. I fought for my country, was wounded -- was angry at the things I fought for. I might be in that place. Do you think about that?

KERRY: I don't think about it that way, to be honest with you, Larry. What I think about are the things that we're fighting for and the continuum -- the sort of continued effort and the lifetime to try to be able to make a difference on these things.

KING: So, you don't think wow?

KERRY: It -- right now I don't. Maybe one moment suddenly, and particularly if I win, you'll sense that awesome burden. But right now this is a fight to do the things I've been trying to do. This is a fight for health insurance for all Americans. It can be done.

(CROSSTALK)

KERRY: It's a fight for restoring the values of our country in foreign policy.

KING: Let me get a break. And we'll be right back with Senator John Kerry and Mrs. Kerry. And we continue this exclusive hour with two extraordinary people, no matter what your politics. You've come a long way. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

Senator Lieberman was on this program the other night, and he ardently supports your ticket. And he said that you and Senator Edwards both support President Bush in Iraq. He supports President Bush in Iraq. He thinks Iraq is going to turn out very well. And the reason for his ardent support is on domestic issues, in which he finds you clearly in his corner. But he says in Iraq there ain't any difference, is there?

KERRY: I would disagree, Joe. Yes, there is a difference. And it's a very profound difference in terms of the cost to the American people and the risks to our soldiers because from day one -- day one -- way before we went in, I urged this president to do what was necessary diplomatically to build the international support that would have been at our side.

From day one I urged the president to exhaust the remedies available to us so that we didn't rush to war. I wanted this president to give meaning to the words "go to war as a last resort". I don't believe he did, Larry. It's just very simple. He didn't, and the facts show it. We're paying an unbelievable price in the treasure of our young, and in the costs in billions of dollars to the American people, because this president miscalculated.

KING: If that's a given, do you...

(CROSSTALK)

KERRY: Yes, even now. Again, I have urged the president to show the broad engaged proactive, deep statesmanship necessary to be willing to bring other countries to the table sufficiently...

KING: You don't think he's trying to do that?

KERRY: I think he's tried somewhat, Larry, but I think it is possible that he has burned the bridges so badly, and that the credibility of this administration is so low, that they have great difficulty bringing other leaders now to the table. That's number one.

Number two, they have never really been willing to transfer the kind of authority and decision-making and shared responsibility for reconstruction and for the transformation of the government so that you actually invite people to the table. I think the absence of those two ingredients has made it far more dangerous and costly for the American people.

KING: Why did you vote against the additional financial support?

KERRY: I voted against that support at that time as a statement that we should get the policy right. And because they were unwilling to fund it in an appropriate way.

Joe Biden and I offered an amendment and said, "Let's ask all Americans to share in the cost of this war." And rather than have a $690 billion tax cut over the next 10 years, why don't we just settle for a $600 billion tax cut and we can pay without adding to the deficit for this entire war? The Republicans and George Bush rejected that shared sacrifice. And I said that's wrong, and that's why I voted against it.

KING: So, if you took office January, first thing -- and let's say things are as they are, what change would you immediately make?

KERRY: Well, if they are as they are today, we've got serious continuing problems, because the insurgency continues. And I would assume if they are as they are today, after all the efforts of the interim government we're going to have some serious longer-term issues.

I would immediately reach out with personal diplomacy to those countries on the sidelines today. Think about it as a matter of common sense, Arab countries have an enormous interest in the outcome of what happens in Iraq. But are they at the table? Europe has a...

(CROSSTALK) KING: ...conference?

KERRY: Well, it's not a conference, no, but I would personally use the diplomacy and the president and the power of the presidency ...

KING: You'd go to the middle east?

KERRY: I -- at the right moment I would certainly go to Europe and meet with allies and do the diplomacy necessary to find a way to bring people to the table here.

KING: So you wouldn't bring the boys back?

KERRY: Larry, we have an interest.

(CROSSTALK)

KERRY: No. I think that what we need to do is guarantee that there is a stable, long-term, transformational Iraq in place, but there's a better way to get there.

KING: What do you think of the war in Iraq, Teresa?

HEINZ KERRY: It's a tragedy.

KING: You think it's a mistake?

HEINZ KERRY: I think in terms of diplomacy, it was not diplomatic, meaning we went into it without going all the way to prevent it. And I happen, because I am in the Brookings Board, and the executive committee, of the institution, to have had an all-day briefing on this about six months before. And I heard, you know, very interesting things being said. And I couldn't believe that maybe these things could happen.

KING: In retrospect, would you not go now?

HEINZ KERRY: I would never have gone to war this way. I would have really waited.

And remember, with a vote was to give the administration, and Colin Powell specifically, the mandate, so to speak, to try peace. And they did till the end of February. They actually wanted to go to war in September. So, we were able to maintain peace till then. Why not wait a little longer?

KING: Concerning weapons of mass destruction, do you think they believed it, or do you think you were mislead?

KERRY: Oh, I think many of us believed it based on the information that we were given, Larry, but it's ...

KING: You don't blaming the president for believing it.

KERRY: Here's -- I went to a briefing at the Pentagon where we were shown photographs and we were told, with specificity, what's in the photographs. And when you would try to find -- well what's the source for this? Do we have a -- well, we have you know -- this is from the following sources. We can't share all the sources, and so forth.

The fact is that with their sources, had I been president, would've raised remarkable doubts at that moment. Because when we've learned after the fact who the sources are, many of us knew those sources at that time, and we would have put doubt in them.

In addition to that, and much more importantly -- much more importantly -- they mislead America about certain weapons that were in fact available. Whether it was intentional or not, I can't tell you.

I'll just tell you that the responsibilities were not properly carried out. I think reports have come out publicly that show us that. But what's more important to me -- I mean people can make mistakes on intelligence -- is breaking one's own word as president in the manner in which you actually take your nation to war.

When you say you're going to build an international coalition and do the diplomacy, do it. They didn't. When you say you're going to war as a last resort, and it really is the last thing we're going to do, mean it. They didn't.

KERRY: They're very rushed to war, without the plans to win the peace, without adequate support, to minimize the risk to America, and to minimize the cost to America. The job of the commander in chief is to do both of those things and maximize the capacity of their success.

KING: John and Teresa Heinz Kerry. Stay with us. We'll be right back

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Thanks for joining us. Tomorrow night, I'll be with you live for a special pre-election show with some great guests. And of course, be sure to join us on election night as we bring you all the results.

Now stay tuned for more news on CNN, the most trusted name in news.

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