Obama Supporter and Former Democratic Presidential Candidate John Kerry on 2008 Race

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," April 4, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

OLIVER NORTH, GUEST CO-HOST: Earlier in this week, Alan sat down with former Democrat presidential nominee and Barack Obama supporter Senator John Kerry. Watch this:


ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: What do we do about Michigan and Florida? All kinds of people have come forth with all kinds of solutions. What would be your idea to solve this problem?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: My idea is let the Democratic National Committee and the states sit down and come to an agreement.

Watch Alan's interview with Sen. John Kerry

Obviously, the rules were not abided by. Rules have to be followed. At the same time, we want those delegates seated. All of us want those delegates seated.

And I think both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton want to see those states appropriately take part at the convention. I'm confident they will. I think people need to just relax a bit and let the state Democratic National Committee and the states work out a solution.

COLMES: So does this get solved at the convention, before the convention? Do we have this — a June 1 or July 1 deadline? What's the timeline?

KERRY: If you're talking about the nomination itself, I think it's very important to try to conclude this as rapidly as possible.

My hope is — I can understand some super delegates wanting to see sort of how Pennsylvania and North Carolina go, but I really think that, by the beginning of June, it is important for every super delegate to recognize their own responsibility, to understand the importance to the party of getting going. And I think they ought to make their choices, make their choices known so we know we have a nominee.

COLMES: How important is the will of the voters? After all in Massachusetts, where you and Senator Kennedy have gone for Obama, the people actually voted for Hillary Clinton, so...

KERRY: I know.

COLMES: So what does the will of the people mean in terms of the superdelegates?

KERRY: Well, first of all, we have a proportional system in the Democratic Party.

Secondly, I'm really amused by this constant refrain about Kerry and Kennedy in Massachusetts. I don't hear that similar call for Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell in Washington, for Governor O'Malley and Barbara Mikulski in the state of Maryland. For — I mean, there are countless places in America where Obama won in, in some places by 60 percent, I might add. And the senators or governors from those states were with the other person.

So in fact, if everybody from a state winds up voting according to that state, the Clinton people better be careful, because in fact, she loses delegates.

COLMES: The recent attacks on the pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was that akin to the "swift-boating" which, unfortunately, became a verb that you went through? And how did Obama handle it?

KERRY: Well, I'm not going to get into the akin-ship to what I think is a pretty unique period of abuse of patriotism and abuse of truth.

The bottom line is that I think Barack Obama gave a remarkable speech, stepped up, gave America a true presidential moment, if you will, displayed a calmness and a strength of character that is exactly what you want in a president.

And I think that — you know, people understand the difference. Reverend Wright is not on the ballot. He is a retired pastor, and he is not Barack Obama's current pastoral leader. And I think people need to understand that and separate it.

I thought Senator Obama did an extraordinary job of talking to America about what every American knows remains — you know, an issue, a hurdle in the life of our country. I thought he did it gracefully. I think he did it, you know, very clearly and articulately. I really applaud what he did. And I think that was a great indication of the kind of leadership one will get from a President Obama.

COLMES: I want to talk about John McCain here for a second. There was a story back in 2004 that McCain said that he urged you during your campaign not to talk about your military record. Everybody knew about it, let other people talk about it.

But he comes out with his first ad, and it's about his military record. Is that a mistake for him to be doing?

KERRY: I must say, I'm — you know, other people will decide what's a mistake or not a mistake. But I am amused. I remember reading that advice. And it's been very interesting to see so many of his advertisements talking about his military service and so forth.

Look, I happen to believe it's relevant for him. I thought it was relevant for me. If you want to be commander in chief, I think that that's certainly one component of a resume. It's up to people to make their own decision about, you know, where he's at in the campaign now.

COLMES: Is it fair to go after him for the comment about staying in Iraq for "100 years"? Or is that akin to, you know, when they went after you for: "I was for the 87 before I was against it"? You joked about that recently with the Associated Press.

Or is that — is there a lack of context here that needs to be applied, just as there needed to be context to your comment, which was too rarely applied during your campaign?

KERRY: I don't think there's a lack of context. Senator McCain has said that he thinks whatever it takes. He is for a third term of George Bush. He is for continuing the Bush policy in Iraq. He says whatever — it's an unconditional engagement that he's in favor of. And I think we need a conditional engagement, as does Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, incidentally.

Democrats have, for five years now, been arguing that you need to leverage the Iraqi behavior so the Iraqis take responsibility for themselves. And President Bush, and now John McCain, continue to argue for a process that allows Iraqi leadership to avoid assuming responsibility and to prolong the presence of American troops.

We just heard three retired generals today — a major general, lieutenant general, brigadier general, each of them — talk about how, in fact, the American presence is what is creating the instability, and you will not have stability until you announce that we are, in fact, leaving and begin to push the responsibility to the Iraqis.

So what was once an early argument by some of us four and five years ago is now a central argument of many people who've served in the military, who are in high positions of responsibility. And I think the administration, John McCain, ought to listen to them.

COLMES: You said in 1971 in a very important question, you asked rhetorically, "how do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Is that same question as relevant today in this war as it was then?

KERRY: Well, the addition to that question today would be man or woman, obviously, because the armed forces have changed since then.


KERRY: But the fundamentals of the question are the same.


COLMES: And we thank John Kerry for talking to us.

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