Campaigning for Dad, Vanessa Kerry Speaks Out

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," Oct. 13, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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VANESSA KERRY, DAUGHTER OF SENATOR JOHN KERRY: I think my father will show them that if you want a fresh start and you want somebody that’s going to invest in America, you want to vote for John Kerry.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Senator John Kerry’s daughter, Vanessa, hoping her dad will take a few steps closer to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue tonight. It is after all, the last debate.

Vanessa Kerry joins me now from Tempe, Arizona (search) to talk about her father’s campaign. Vanessa, the big question, same as I asked George P. Bush: so why should we fire President Bush and hire your dad?

V. KERRY: There’s a bunch of reasons. I think this president doesn’t deserve a second chance. He’s basically increased the cost of living across the board for all Americans: the cost of health care’s gone up; we have seen rising costs in gas prices; we’ve seen the rise in costs in education, upwards of $2,000 in some states. He’s underfunded No Child Left Behind (search).

He has not made this country safer; in fact, his plans would mean that we’d buy up loose nuclear weapons in 13 years versus four, as my father suggested. He’s had three and a half years of making the wrong choices. And if this country wants more of the same, they should vote for him again. But I don’t think he deserves it.

GIBSON: All right. Vanessa, you hit the points good. So now I’m going to try to get you into some other areas, if you don’t mind.

V. KERRY: Sure.

GIBSON: What we’re hearing from Carl Cameron, who’s covering your dad’s campaign, is the campaign is very upbeat, that they won the first two debates, and think they’re going to win this one and that will, quoting Carl now, "Catapult the Kerry campaign into the lead post-debate."

Is that your attitude? Are you feeling upbeat, like he’s going to run the table tonight?

V. KERRY: I’m feeling confident in my dad. Look, it’s been interesting. Everyone says to me, "Oh, your dad did so well, were you surprised?" And I think, "No. This is who my dad has been all along. It’s just the first time this country’s seen him unfiltered, without media, without advertising, without whatever it is. It’s just been my dad talking about what matters."

‘And I feel confident he’s going to do that again and continue to do that. Look, we’re fighting for an end goal, which is making sure this country gets something better. And that’s what we’re focused on and I feel we’re just going to stay the course.

GIBSON: All right, Vanessa. You’re so good at this, you go on to the harder level questions, then. OK?

V. KERRY: Uh oh.

GIBSON: I hear your father say, "I want to hunt them down, I want to kill them, I’m going to go after them." And then I hear him say, "Well, we have to pass a world test." What is the real John Kerry position?

V. KERRY: Well I think you need to be careful. You’re boiling it down to way too easy.

We need to fight an effective war on terror. And we need to go after the terrorists, and we need to make this country safer, and we need to stop at nothing. But that does mean bringing other countries into the talks. That means cooperation, that means using other countries to help us run surveillance and to really gather information.

If we go this alone, we’re not going to be finding out things, we’re not going be able to cooperate with other countries. The war on terror is not in Iraq, the war on terror is going to be a global effort to undermine the terrorists before they even start making their plans.

And that is going to take the cooperation of other countries. Will my father compromise America’s security to other countries? Never.

GIBSON: Won’t give the French the ability to say yes or no?

V. KERRY: I think we both know that when it comes to the United States, the commander in chief has to defend the United States with the United States’ best interests at heart. Now does that mean, though, you aren’t going to use other countries in discussions and surveillance and cooperation.

GIBSON: Right. No, I understand all that. But in a situation like this — and this is what’s being alleged in the Duelfer Report, one of the things being alleged — that certain parties, our former friends — and just because I don’t want to offend Ambassador Levitte I will leave the name France out of this for a second — but certain parties in the U.N. (search) were being bribed by Saddam Hussein. Now when your father sees that kind of situation going on, isn’t he going to minimize the input of people that he sees are being bribed against America’s interests?

V. KERRY: Look, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and have a huge dinner with my father and drill him on every point. But what I do know is that there are certain countries that if they don’t deserve the United States’ trust and they don’t deserve the United States’ cooperation or whatever it is, then yes, we need to take that into account.

But what matters — and that I know my father believes in — is making sure that the United States is not going it alone in a way that puts us in more danger that puts the target on Americans and puts the target on American troops. Some of that is going to be cooperation.

GIBSON: OK. Now Vanessa, before I run out of time, I got one more for you. I asked George P. Bush this, and that is, there’s a reputational matter. Mr. Bush has a reputation for not being so good at these debates, not explaining himself so well. Your father has a reputation for being kind of, aloof and cool. So, what does his daughter say is the real John Kerry on that count?

V. KERRY: The real John Kerry is one of the most compassionate, warm, engaged people possible. I am a daughter and I’m closer to my father than most of my girlfriends are to their mothers. And I think that’s a real statement of his level of engagement, his level of caring, his level of warmth.

My friends are always struck by how warm and invested that he is in their lives. And I think the country’s going to get to see that. He’s not currently president of the United States, the camera is not trained on him all the time, only when he’s giving speeches, only when he’s talking about serious issues that deserve respect.

I personally would rather have a leader of the country that is thoughtful, takes the issues seriously and doesn’t joke around about issues that matter to the American people.

GIBSON: Vanessa Kerry, fair and balanced, both sides. Thank you so much for coming on and we hope we see you again.

V. KERRY: Thank you for having me.

GIBSON: All right.

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