Transcript: Senator John Kerry on 'FOX News Sunday'

The following is a partial transcript of the Oct. 15, 2006, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":

HOST OF "FOX NEWS SUNDAY" CHRIS WALLACE: Joining us now, not by cable line, fiber line, from Camp David, but here in the studio with us is the 2004 candidate for president, Senator John Kerry.

And, Senator, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday".

SENATOR JOHN KERRY: Glad to be with you.

WALLACE: Let's start with North Korea. What effect do you think that the U.N. resolution is going to have on North Korea and its effectiveness in trying to stop their nuclear program, and what would you do?

KERRY: Well, let me begin by saying that North Korea is a renegade nation and it's a nation we all understand does threaten.

That said, I think the administration — and just listening to what I could hear — I couldn't hear all of it — of the secretary's comments, they're living in a world of make-believe, Chris. They're living in a complete fantasy with respect to the foreign policy they put in place.

It is a failure. It's a failure in Afghanistan where they have a sort of cut-and-run policy of not completing the job. We have seven times the troops in Iraq.

WALLACE: Well, forgive me.

KERRY: Well, I want to comment, because it's all tied together.

WALLACE: Let's talk about North Korea.

KERRY: Well, this is about North Korea, because the problem with Iraq is that it has diminished our hand and reduced our ability to be able to deal with Iran and North Korea. They are related.

One of the reasons that North Korea can misbehave the way it is today is because the United States has lost its leverage, lost its credibility and doesn't have the capacity to be able to bring countries together in the way that it used to. That's number one.

Number two, with respect to North Korea itself, you hit it on the head. This administration is tolerating. This administration is doing exactly what it said it wouldn't do, which is allowing North Korea to get away with what it's doing.

These sanctions are not the bold, tough sanctions that the secretary talked about. China walked out of there and said we voted for it, but we're not going to enforce the cross-border mechanism, it's too dangerous for our region.

So you have sanctions that are just, by statement of those involved, not going to do the job.

WALLACE: So what would you do differently to deal with this very erratic regime of North Korea?

KERRY: I would do precisely — I would do precisely what I said for the last five years consistently, which is engage in bilateral, face-to-face negotiations with North Korea, make it absolutely clear to North Korea that we are not intending to invade and have a regime change, and work on the entire set of issues that are outstanding since the armistice with regard to the north.

WALLACE: But, Senator, let me ask you about that. Let's look at what you espoused as your basic foreign policy principle during the 2004 campaign. Here it is.


KERRY: America is stronger. Our troops are safer. And our success is more certain when we build and lead strong alliances, not when we go it alone.


WALLACE: Alliances, not going it alone. Multilateral, not bilateral. Doesn't it still make sense to engage North Korea in talks with all of its neighbors, including China and South Korea, who have a lot more leverage than we do, rather than just get into a conversation about nothing with them ourselves?

KERRY: But it's not a conversation about nothing, Chris. It's a negotiation. Just as Ronald Reagan was prepared to go negotiate with the evil empire and come to an agreement with Gorbachev, we have to be prepared to go negotiate with North Korea, just as Nixon...

WALLACE: But what leverage do we have?

KERRY: ... was prepared to send Kissinger to China — the leverage of the stakes between the two nations.

Let me go back in time. Bill Clinton was in office for eight years. When he started out in office, there was enough fuel for bombs for about one to two bombs. They were members — North Korea was a member of the non-proliferation treaty and North Korea had not tested.

At the end of Bill Clinton's term, they had enough fuel for one to two bombs, they were members of the non-proliferation treaty, and they had not tested.

Now they have enough fuel for nine to 10 bombs. They say they're going to build — get enough for five to six more. They've pulled out of the non-proliferation treaty. We no longer have cameras in the reactor. We no longer have inspectors in the reactor. We no longer know where the fuel rods are. We know that they have now tested.

The United States of America is less safe, and the six-party talks have been a cover to get away from the idea, because George Bush and Dick Cheney decided ideologically in 2002 they would break off the oil trade, they would not build the nuclear reactors, they would not keep the framework that had been agreed on, and from that moment on, it's been downhill with North Korea.

WALLACE: Senator, there are several points you've made that I'd like to ask you about.

KERRY: Absolutely.

WALLACE: But first of all, one, all independent experts say that by 1997, North Korea was cheating on the Clinton agreement.

KERRY: Absolutely. But cheating...

WALLACE: If I may ask my question — and in fact, had already begun secret uranium enrichment. I think to get to the larger issue...

KERRY: Can I stop you there for a minute? Because it's very important, what you just said. Uranium enrichment — their bombs are plutonium.

And the fact is with respect to the threat of the United States, while we knew they probably were cheating, we were on a road where we had them in the non-proliferation treaty. They didn't have additional bomb capacity, and they hadn't tested.

And if we had stayed on that road, then we could have perhaps had a better opportunity to be able to curb this.

One other very critical thing. Eisenhower taught us this. I mean, Richard Nixon taught us this. By working through the diplomatic process and doing it in a legitimate way that builds you credibility, you bring people to your side so that if and when it comes to the moment of crisis, they're prepared to be with you.

Nations are not prepared to be with us today because this administration has broken faith with all of that kind of effort.

WALLACE: I mean, some people would say you want to have it both ways. In the case of Iraq, you blister the United States for acting unilaterally, and here you're attacking them for acting multilaterally.

KERRY: No, Chris.

WALLACE: But if I may, let's go to a speech that you made in New Hampshire...

KERRY: No, no, no, you can't make a statement like that and just get away with it. I am not going to let you do that.

WALLACE: I'm going to ask you a question, and then you can answer the whole thing. You made a speech in New Hampshire on Friday night where you blistered the Bush approach to North Korea. Let's take a look at that.


KERRY: When George W. Bush turned his back on diplomacy, Kim Jong Il turned back to making bombs, and the world is less safe today because a mad man has the Bush bomb.


WALLACE: The Bush bomb?


WALLACE: I mean, don't you really think you should blame this on Kim Jong Il, not President Bush?

KERRY: It's a bomb that has been developed because of the unwillingness of this administration to engage in opportunities that every expert says have been there all the time.

President Carter went over there in 1994 and President Carter negotiated an agreement. Now, rather than continue that agreement in 2002, this administration just arbitrarily decided, out of ideological whatever — anything but Clinton — they proceed down a different road.

And things have gotten worse. Things have gotten worse in Afghanistan. Things have gotten worse in Iraq. They're not telling the truth to the American people about a civil war in Iraq.

They don't listen to the generals on the ground in Iraq. The generals have said it's a debacle. They've said Rumsfeld doesn't have credibility. They're not standing down while the Iraqis supposedly stand up.

In every aspect of our foreign policy, this administration has misled Americans and misled the world. And they don't have credibility. Chris, this is not political. This is not political.

WALLACE: Well, it's a little political.

KERRY: No, it's not political. No, it's not political. It used to be that foreign policy was something that was done on a bipartisan basis. It used to be that the politics ended at the water's edge.

And the fact is that they have so left people out of this process, so disregarded all the advice that they've been given, even their own advice in their administration, that they've now isolated themselves in the world.

And our troops are paying the price of an administration that has not leveled with the American people and has lost credibility in the world. And that's why Iran is emboldened, and that's why North Korea is emboldened.

WALLACE: Senator, back in 2004 — and this is the summer of 2004 by which point we all knew that, in fact, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — President Bush challenged you on whether you would still have voted for the authority to go to war. Here's what you said.


KERRY: Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have.


WALLACE: But this week you wrote this, and let's put it up on the screen, "There's nothing — nothing — in my life in public service I regret more, nothing even close. We should all be willing to say I was wrong. I should not have voted for the Iraq war resolution."

Senator, if it was right to vote for the Iraq war resolution in 2002 and it was right in August of 2004, why is it now your biggest policy mistake?

KERRY: Because this administration has made every mistake and abused every authority that it was given to such a degree beyond where we were at that point in time.

And also, we have learned since then, Chris, of the degree to which they misled us, the degree to which they have abused the authority that they were given. At the time...

WALLACE: But you didn't know that in August of 2004?

KERRY: No, we were about one year out from the start of the war then, Chris. A whole series of things that we thought could be done — I was still saying that I thought we could, hopefully, if they made the following decisions, make it a success.

I went to Fulton, Missouri. I went to New York University. I went to Georgetown University. I gave three speeches in which I laid out what I thought the president needed to do to make a success of Iraq.

In each case, we offered the president the best advice that we could give. The president didn't follow that advice. On the last occasion, I said this may be the president's last chance to get this right. The president didn't do what's necessary. He still hasn't.

You have to resolve the differences, political differences, between Shia and Sunni. And there's nothing our troops can do to do that. General Casey has said this can't be resolved militarily. Condi Rice has said this can't be resolved militarily.

So I ask you, Chris, and I ask the president, where is the summitry? Where is the statesmanship? Where is the diplomatic effort similar to those we've seen in the past in American history to resolve those differences and end the civil war?

And if you don't engage in that, then our troops are going to continue to die with a strategy that is wrong.

WALLACE: But I want to ask you a question which goes to you...

KERRY: Sure.

WALLACE: ... not to President Bush, because this, quite frankly, is a rap against you. Isn't this — and I'm talking about your vote now for the war resolution and now your recanting of this — isn't this another case of I was for the $87 billion before I was against it?

KERRY: No. I was for the $87 billion if we paid for it and if we had a plan, and we voted on that in the Senate. And when the vote lost, then I voted against it because I thought it was a matter of conscience and principle. And I should have said that more clearly.

In the same way now, this vote — look at what the president's done. He said he would go to war as a last resort. He didn't. He said he would exhaust the remedies of inspections. He didn't. He said he would build a legitimate coalition. He didn't.

He now has made every mistake possible so he has isolated our troops, isolated America. This is a civil war. He even continues to mislead Americans about Iraq being the center of the war on terror. It is not now and it hasn't been the center.

We were attacked by Osama bin Laden from Afghanistan. We have seven times the troops in Iraq that we have in Afghanistan, where they're still plotting against American airliners and against Americans. The center of the war on terror is Al Qaida, now distributed in some 65 countries around the world.

And this administration even cut and run and failed to do...

WALLACE: All right.

KERRY: ... what it could have done at Tora Bora to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.

WALLACE: We've got a little over a minute left, and I want to ask you a little about politics, because it's no secret that you are actively considering the possibility of running for president in 2008.

And you said in a recent article, "Next time I would campaign in more states, next time I would respond more aggressively to the swift boats." But why shouldn't Democrats say look, here was John Kerry in 2004, he had a great chance, he was running against a president who had gotten us into war for reasons, for intelligence that turned out to be wrong, he had his chance and he blew it?

KERRY: Well, some will ask that question, and they have a right to. But there's an answer to that question. The fact is that in the course of a campaign, you make some judgments.

Our judgment was that the truth was out there, that enough newspapers, enough people had the truth about my record. That was a misjudgment, a miscalculation, but I don't think that a tactical miscalculation necessarily eliminates you from whatever basic policies, basic experience, basic life commitment and ability to be president.

And finally, most importantly, you know, I think the real test is that it was a very different time. We were at war, one year out from the war. Osama bin Laden appeared in the last hours of the campaign, changed the whole debate.

I'm not embarrassed by that campaign. We did a hell of a job. Our people were extraordinary. You know, I'm proud that I won 10 million more votes than Bill Clinton did winning reelection in '96.

We exceeded our vote goals in every precinct in America. We came within 59,000 votes of wining in one state against a president in time of war who lied about my record personally — the campaigns did — and who lied about the war.

WALLACE: We have only 30 seconds left. A lot of Democrats, I'm sure, are saying look, a lot of bad things happened over the course of these four years from 2004 to 2008, because you — it may have been a good campaign, you got a lot of votes — you lost.

KERRY: That's right.

WALLACE: Why shouldn't you be held responsible and why should you get another chance?

KERRY: Well, Some will, and I'll make the decision based on what happens over the next few weeks. And when I do, I'll make the argument for why I should get a chance.

But look, why should Ronald Reagan have won four times for the nomination and finally on the fourth he won the nomination? John McCain, their leading candidate — didn't he get kicked around South Carolina by the same president because he wasn't patriotic enough as a prisoner of war? He's now their leading candidate for president.

Richard Nixon seemed to get kicked around pretty badly both running for president and governor, turned around and came back and got elected president.

I think in America, Americans give people a second chance. And if you learn something and prove you've learned something, maybe even more so. Now, I don't know what I'm going to do yet. We'll make that decision down the road.

WALLACE: And you always have a place here at "FOX News Sunday" to make that announcement, Senator.

KERRY: Oh, thank you.

WALLACE: Thank you so much for coming on and talking with us again. And please, don't be a stranger. Come on back.

KERRY: I'm happy to be here.

WALLACE: Thank you, sir.

KERRY: Thank you.

WALLACE: Coming up, our Sunday regulars on the nuclear standoff with North Korea. Is a diplomatic solution still possible? Stay tuned.