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Interview With John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry

Aired July 8, 2004 - 21:00   ET


KING: Tonight -- exclusive: Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry, their first interview event since he named John Edwards his vice presidential pick. Why do you think they'll win and should win the White House? And their reaction to this morning's terror warning, and more.
John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry next, together for the hour on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Welcome to a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE here in New York with Senator John Kerry, who's frequently appeared on this show, and Teresa Heinz Kerry, her first appearance on this show. We thank you both very much for coming.

Let's get to, first thing's first, news of the day. Tom Ridge warned today about al Qaeda plans of a large-scale attack on the United States, didn't increase the -- do you see any politics in this? What's your reaction?

KERRY: Well, I haven't been briefed yet, Larry. They have offered to brief me; I just haven't had time. But all Americans are united in our efforts to defeat terrorism.

I believe that John Edwards and I can wage a far more effective war on terror than George Bush has. I think we can do a better job of making America safe. But in these days ahead, we all join together no matter what.

KING: So, you don't question the timing of this? Some are.

KERRY: It's not for me to do. I think that what's important is for the terrorists to understand that I and John Edwards will wage, using every tool available to us, the most effective war possible against terrorism.

KING: When do you get...

KERRY: And they -- the American people are going to decide this race, not terrorists. And they need to know that.

KING: When do you -- when do you get your briefing?

KERRY: We're arranging it. It's at the end of the week I'll get it.

KING: Should be pretty soon.

KERRY: I think it's tomorrow or the next day.

KING: And as for the vice president, he gets one, as well, right?

KERRY: I hope he will. It's presumed.

KING: 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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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...


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...


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.


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: We'll be right back with Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry on this edition of Larry King Live. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Do you think that they should have stayed in Afghanistan first, they should have found Osama bin Laden?

KERRY: Absolutely, positively. They had Osama bin Laden, Larry, and they actually...

KING: Clinton had him, too, almost.

KERRY: But then they -- yes, but in very different circumstances. America, number one, had not been attacked in that way, on our territory, here in America. Number two, the Congress and the country had not licensed the president to go to the lengths that we licensed George Bush.

George Bush licensed -- stood up before America and said we're going to do anything, we're going to go the distance, smoke them out of their caves, wanted dead or alive. Well, they had him in the mountains of Tora Bora. We had the 10th Mountain Division, we had the Marines, we had the 101st Airborne. They had all our military capacity there.

What did we do when he was in the mountains of Tora Bora?

We turn to the Afghans, who one week earlier were fighting against us, and we said, you go up in the mountains after the world's number one terrorist and criminal. And what happened, he got out the back door, dispersed, and they've become more dangerous.

I believe they made a disastrous decision at a civilian military level, in command of the troops, that restrained our people, and the result was that we are now living with a more dangerous situation than we have to be.

KING: What do you think, Teresa, would be the effect of another terror attack on the United States, politically?

HEINZ KERRY: I don't know. I think most Americans subconsciously believe something's going to happen. It's a matter of when, and it's a matter of how. KING: Strange way to live, though.

HEINZ KERRY: Yes, but, you know, Europeans have lived that way, and other people around the world have lived that way. Americans have been very safe, at least as a nation.

KING: Are you worried about your convention?

KERRY: No, I'm not worried about the convention.


KERRY: We will have...


KING: ... the conventions.

KERRY: We will have superb security. And, again, I would say to the terrorists, they will not change the course of America's commitment with respect to what we can do. What they may think is wrong. All Americans are united in our efforts to fight terror.

I believe, in fact, that John Edwards and I can manage a far more effective war on terror. And I'll tell you why.

KING: Why?

KERRY: Because this president has alienated so many countries that we need to bring to our side in order to help us to be able to reduce the threat of terror.

KING: Would...

KERRY: And to reduce ...

KING: ... want to reduce the threat of...

KERRY: Yes, but it's a question of how you go about it, Larry. If you just sort of rush into Iraq and leave your allies behind you, and Iraq suddenly becomes a new base for al Qaeda, which it was not previously, have you made the world safer? I say, no.

The result is that we don't get the information that we could be getting from certain places. We don't get the cooperation that we could have.

Look, do you know that athletes going to the Olympics in Greece have been warned not to wave the American flag or show exuberance if they win? That is extraordinary.


KERRY: I intend to restore America's ability to fly the American flag in parts of the world, and for people to look up to what it means again. This administration has lost us respect around the world. And I believe it's partly because we have not shown the patience and the maturity, and the kind of dignity and leadership that we have traditionally shown.

Ronald Reagan reached out to Gorbachev, did a better job of trying to use the alliances of the century in order to protect our interests. I also think when you turn away from North Korea as long as they did, when we turn away from global warning treaties, when we take so long in procrastinating to deal with AIDS in Africa and less developed (UNINTELLIGIBLE) country problems. We you don't do the job of curbing loose nuclear materials in Russia, people begin to question your values and your seriousness.

KING: Vice President Cheney continues to remain hard line with regard to weapons in Iraq, disagrees with the study of the commission.

What do you make of that?

KERRY: I don't know what to make of Vice President Cheney, period.

KING: I mean, he's a bright man. He's been around a long time, he knows the territory. You've got to give him that...

KERRY: I think that the vice president has been one of those who regrettably has exaggerated the cause...

KING: That means knowingly?

KERRY: ...has exaggerated the cause. There are statements he has made that have clearly been proven to be wrong. Members of the administration themselves have -- I mean, Colin Powell has publicly stated a different point of view, and we know there's been this tug of war between the State Department and the Defense Department and the White House all of these years.

I think that Mr. Cheney has been the sort of ideological hardliner, and I don't believe his judgments have necessarily led America to a safer place.

KING: How will Senator Edwards fare against him in the debate...

KERRY: Well, you know...

KING: ... talk about the experience?

KERRY: I think people make a great mistake to sort of hype these debates. Overall, Dick Cheney is really very, very competent, knows how to -- he's been very knowledgeable, as you've said. He certainly knows things. So does John Edwards. And I think you just have to let them go at it and see where the things fall. The same things, the same thing with president... KING: You don't feel (UNINTELLIGIBLE) like Edwards is in tougher grounds?

KERRY: No, not at all. Senator Edwards has served on the Intelligence Committee. He's been diligent in learning about and pursuing these issues. He's traveled abroad. He was several weeks ago in Brussels and in Italy at a conference. He's been to Afghanistan. He's traveled, he's thought about these issues.

As I've said, he has more experience as a candidate for Vice President of the United States than George Bush did as a candidate for president, and he has better judgment.

KING: Clear up something, was John McCain felt given an offer?

KERRY: No. No, nobody was offered anything until I called John Edwards.

KING: Was he given a feeler?

KERRY: No, what happened, Larry, was, and I think it was the responsible thing to do, that many people, myself included, admire John McCain...

KING: You're friends, aren't you?

KERRY: We are friends. It's a dear friendship, and I respect him and respect that friendship enormously. And I admire John McCain's willingness to stand up and sort of speak his heart to the country. I think that's important, and that's what John Edwards and I are going to do. But I think that ...

KING: So you didn't offer.

KERRY: People suggested that we look at that. There were some people on the other side of the fence, may I say, who reached out and suggested it. John and I chatted briefly about whether or not we should even explore it. And I think in his heart he felt that it was not something he wanted to do, and in the end, we saw issues about it, and we didn't pursue it.

KING: What did you think?

KERRY: It's that simple.

HEINZ KERRY: I like John. I like John. I've even voted for John in Pennsylvania when he ran the last time.

KING: You were a Republican, then.

HEINZ KERRY: Yes, I voted for John McCain.

KING: Would you have supported a Kerry/McCain ticket?

HEINZ KERRY: I think one can say yes or no...

KING: Well, you would have supported it, naturally.

HEINZ KERRY: Well, if he'd chosen him, for sure. But the considerations that go -- that at least that John went through to get to that point were vast, and we didn't look at those...

KERRY: We just never got through any of that process, Larry.

KING: You never went past exploration.

KERRY: Well, we never went never went past that there could be an exploration.

KING: We'll be back and talk about some domestic issues, right after this.


KING: We're back with Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry.

Stem cell research -- research, embryonic stem cell research. Nancy Reagan came out for it. The president opposes embryonic stem cell research, not adult stem cell. Your stand?

KERRY: I'm in favor of it. With strong...

KING: Would you sign off on it right away?

KERRY: With strong ethical guidelines, but I am in favor of it, and, yes, I will sign off on it immediately.

KING: Do you support it, too?

HEINZ KERRY: I do, and quickly just to tell you this, but I met a woman in Florida two weeks ago, a 30-year-old lawyer, who -- no, she's 35. Who at age 30, she had two strokes, completely paralyzed, lost her speech, lost everything. And she went to a meeting that I ran. At the end, she came and told me and gave me a book she's written.

And she goes to the Dominican Republic to get stem cell treatments from lamb -- lambs. And she talks, walks perfectly. She still has a little bit of a slur, but if we can do certain things, anyway, with lambs, I'm sure there's some other reasons for doing more sophisticated needs, or different needs. But the point is, we cannot deny science. Morality and ethics is what we have to do.

KING: Are you also Catholic?

HEINZ KERRY: Yes, absolutely. Nuns, convents, from five to 18.

KING: OK, what part does your faith play in your governance?

KERRY: It guides you. It's your rock. It's the bedrock of your sense of place, of where it all fits.

KING: Are you given Communion? KERRY: Absolutely.

KING: But there were some bishops who would deny that to you.

KERRY: Well, there are some bishops who have spoken out, but they -- but that's not the position of the Church, and as you know, we have a separation in America of Church and state. My obligation as a Catholic is to examine my conscience, under the freedom of conscience under Vatican II, Pope John XXIII, and Pope Paul, and I do that.

And -- but as President Kennedy said, when confronted with this same question, said, you know, I'm running to be a president who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic president.

KING: Is abortion a great moral issue to you?

KERRY: Sure it is. Absolutely. And I think it's far more complicated than public life allows the discussion for. I mean, being for choice does not mean you are for abortion. Neither Teresa nor I are for abortion. Abortion should be rare, but safe and legal, as President Clinton said so often, and I think appropriately.

I think that it's really a question of who should make this decision, and how do arrive at it. But there is morality. Of course there's morality involved. And we should be talking to people in America about responsibility, about adoption, about other choices. And I want to have a better conversation than I think we've had on it. But it doesn't change my position on who chooses. And I will protect that right of choice.

KING: How will you ask senator -- President Clinton to be involved?

Senator Clinton, too.

KERRY: I'll ask them both to be involved. They're both...

KING: Do you want President Clinton to go on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KERRY: Absolutely. They are both very, very talented...


KERRY: and he already has.

KING: Well, I mean, if he wanted to go sweeping the country.

KERRY: He will. And there are places the president will go to, he's already committed to do events. Look, Larry, one American would not trade the economy we had in the 1990s, the fact that we were not at war and young Americans were not deployed. When we did go to war, we won it in Kosovo quickly and decisively and appropriately.

What American would not trade the economy, the unemployment rate and the movement in the right direction that we had under President Clinton?

We balanced the budget, we paid down the debt for two years, we created 23 million new jobs, and I want the president to go out and remind America that we can do better than we are doing today. These people are the pessimists, because they are satisfied with the status quo. John Edwards and I believe America can break new frontiers of science. We believe we can take care of children and fund education. We believe we can have health care that's affordable for all Americans. But we're going to be honest with the American people. You can't do those things and have a great, big giant tax cut for the wealthiest people in the nation.

KING: Teresa, do you think his book will have an effect on the campaign, the Clinton book?

HEINZ KERRY: I haven't read it yet. It's so long, and I haven't got the time right now. But I think it's a very personal tale. It's about his life, and...

KING: What effect do you think it might or might not have on a campaign.

HEINZ KERRY: I just don't know how many people out there are going to read it. I think the people that will buy it to read it already know what they think, and they're already interested in either just them or politics. The other people, I don't know. He's a very charming man.

KERRY: She's smart, isn't she?

HEINZ KERRY: That's true, I don't know.

KERRY: She's right.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Politicians never use that answer, I don't know.

KERRY: Yes, we do.

KING: You do?

KERRY: Oh, yes.

KING: You have said in your life, publicly, I don't know.

KERRY: I have said it in the last months.

KING: Have you ever said, I was wrong?


KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments with the Kerry's. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with more moments, we hope the first of many visits with all the candidates. We expect to have the vice presidential nominee on shortly, with your blessing, I trust.

KERRY: In a flash. I hope he does it many times, that's why. KING: And we expect to have you back frequently. This is going to be a long, arduous campaign.

Ralph Nader can't be a help. He can't help you.

KERRY: Well, my hope is -- my hope is, Larry, that I'm going to speak to the people who support Ralph Nader. And I'm going to hopefully make Ralph Nader's candidacy unnecessary. That's what I'm trying to do.

KING: Are you ticked that he's running, Teresa?

HEINZ KERRY: I'm not ticked. You know, he's done so much in terms of consumer affairs for this country, and I think he felt very hurt personally in Boston when he wasn't allowed to come in and debate. It was public humiliation.

KERRY: To attend the debate.

HEINZ KERRY: To attend sorry. To attend sorry. And I don't think anybody should be treated that way, personally, but I wasn't there making the decision. And so he probably is a little upset and...

KING: You don't resent his running?

HEINZ KERRY: You know what, coming from a dictatorship, no. This is a free country and think...

KING: If you wanted to run, you can run.

HEINZ KERRY: ... his people who want to vote for him are smart, and if they decide it's too risky, even though they love Ralph Nader, it's too risky to have happen what happened before, it's up to them to change, but I would never tell them you can't.

KING: Have you seen "Fahrenheit 9/11"?

KERRY: No, I haven't. I haven't.

KING: Do you plan to?

KERRY: I don't plan to, right now.

KING: Don't plan to?

KERRY: No, I don't plan to.

KING: Wouldn't you be curious to want to see it? KERRY: I've seen it. I've watched it for the last four years.

KING: But you haven't seen it put together like Moore put it together.

KERRY: I've got it put together in my head, Larry, and I know why I'm running president. I believe we can do better. I think the country wants to move in a different direction, with leadership that really brings people together, tries to solve problems, and that's what I intend to do.

KING: Have you seen it?


KING: Don't plan to see it?

HEINZ KERRY: Maybe when all this is over, but we don't have much time.

KING: Where were you on 9/11?

HEINZ KERRY: You know, it's very interesting. I landed at National Airport less than 12 hours before, coming from Pennsylvania, where I was doing a prescription drugs thing -- meeting. And I came in from Pittsburgh, landed at National, and that's the last time I landed at National for quite a while.

KING: How'd you hear about it?

HEINZ KERRY: I was at home in Washington. I had just come in and I got a call...

KERRY: I think I called.

HEINZ KERRY: And they said, look at the TV. I looked at the TV and I couldn't believe it.

KING: Where were you?

KERRY: I was in the Capitol. We'd just had a meeting -- we'd just come into a leadership meeting in Tom Daschle's office, looking out at the Capitol. And as I came in, Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid were standing there, and we watched the second plane come in to the building. And we shortly thereafter sat down at the table and then we just realized nobody could think, and then boom, right behind us, we saw the cloud of explosion at the Pentagon. And then word came from the White House, they were evacuating, and we were to evacuate, and so we immediately began the evacuation.

HEINZ KERRY: You walked out with John McCain, didn't you?


KING: You and what?

HEINZ KERRY: He and John walked out together.

KING: He and John McCain walked out -- what did you think?

Did you think...


KERRY: I knew instantaneously...

KING: Clinton said he though bin Laden.

KERRY: I knew instantaneously with the first. I'm a pilot, and I looked at the weather, and it's what we call in pilot lingo CAVU, ceiling and visibility unlimited. And I knew that that plane did not fly into that building accidentally, as people were speculating. It just doesn't happen, could not, under those circumstances. So I knew it was deliberate, whether it was suicide, whether it was something -- I couldn't tell. When the second plane hit, it was obvious to the world.

And as we went out of the building, my immediately feeling was, we're at war. I mean, that was the sense, that we are under attack. People are attacking the United States of America and we needed to respond.

KING: Were you scared?

KERRY: No, I wasn't scared, I was angry. I was very angry.

KING: Were you scared?

HEINZ KERRY: I was a little scared, actually. Understand, first of all, it was hard to comprehend. But, actually, I remember how I was told. My son, Christopher, had left that morning from New York, and he lived nearby -- at 6:00 in the morning to go to a meeting in Carolina, somewhere. And when he landed -- when he got off the plane, he called me.

He said -- he was in the airport. He said, mom, mom, look. And several of his friends from college lived and worked around the American Express, and he got panicked, because his friends were being killed.

KING: We're out of time.

KERRY: And my daughter called, also, she lived right near there.

KING: Oh, really?

KERRY: And she was there and she called me, hysterical, from the phone booth, saying, Dad, what's happening?

KING: See a lot of you, John.

KERRY: We will. Thank you.

KING: Teresa.

HEINZ KERRY: Thanks very much.

KING: Senator John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry. Big event they've got tonight here at Radio City Music Hall, by the way. And the campaign has begun.

I'll be back in a couple of minutes.


KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" is next. See you tomorrow night.


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