This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," November 30, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Earlier, Alan sat down with former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.
COLMES: I want to talk about Iraq. Is there anything you want to say about this continued misunderstanding people seem to have? And you know, as you know, I've defended you on this.
But it seems like no matter how much you say it, people want to believe what they want to believe in terms of you left out one word of a bad joke.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That's exactly what I did. I left out one word of a bad joke. Clearly, I as a combat veteran, as somebody who understands and knows what our troops are going through and respects them enormously, would never, ever directly insult our troops in any way whatsoever.
And I think people knew that, because we put out the real text of what I had said. This was five days before an election. People grabbed on it to try to make a political issue out of it. And I think that's what I responded to, that it was inappropriate to do that.
But for anybody who misunderstood it, for anybody who thought I had intended it, obviously I apologize for anybody's misunderstanding. I just would never do that.
I have fought for veterans all my life. Most recently helping to get additional funding for mental health issues for posttraumatic stress syndrome, fighting against cutting the traumatic brain injury research, fought to help our widows on the bases.
I care enormously, and I regret this. But obviously, we've got to move on. I mean, this is one word left out of one sentence. Time to move on. Really, time to move on. There are big issues out there.
You know, what really concerns me more than that and people's reaction to it about me is what's happening to our troops on the ground and what's happening to America in the Middle East. That's the issue.
And we really need to focus on the policy, and that's something that I've been talking about for the last three and a half, four years. We need to redirect it.
COLMES: The Iraq Study Group reached a consensus yesterday. The word is out today that they are talking about a plan to get troops out of there but without a timeline, something you have called for.
You appeared, as I understand it, before the Iraq Study Group. Were you disappointed with what the report, it is reported, is going to say?
KERRY: Well, reported, unreported. You know, it's really dangerous to start saying anything about a report that hasn't come out. So look, if the report is as forward looking as I've heard it may be, I think that's a big step forward, personally.
I think it's an important reassessment of what the realities are in Iraq. And I really wait to see the language.
Let me say more importantly what I've been saying all along. For three years now I've been saying that you have to have robust diplomacy in order to settle something that can't be resolved militarily.
And what bothers a lot of us is that, despite the fact that General Casey and Condoleezza Rice and others keeping saying there's no military solution, our soldiers are caught up in the middle of a military action without the commensurate diplomatic and political effort to try to resolve it.
This has to be resolved politically. And it's not a matter of Al Qaeda creating all of this carnage. It really is Sunni on Shia, Shia on Sunni. It is a civil war.
COLMES: It is a civil war?
KERRY: Yes, sir, it is a civil war.
COLMES: What do you make of the reluctance on the part of the administration to use that phrase and got very upset when certain people in the media did use it?
KERRY: Well, the administration, regrettably, has been very reluctant along the way to sort of acknowledge the realities, which is part of the problem that we face.
I think for myself, I'd like to find a bipartisan common ground that we could all get on. This is about America's interest. This is not a partisan issue. It doesn't have any party label, Alan.
These are our troops on the ground or in harm's way. These are American interests that are very serious in the region. The interests of stability, the interest of our relationship with our ally, Israel, the Middle East peace process, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, which moves towards nuclear weaponry. These are huge issues.
We need to find the common ground, the consensus, Republican and Democrat alike, to protect the better interests of our country. I'm prepared to work with the administration to do that.
But they've got to begin to acknowledge realities. If the administration is saying at the same time, you know, if the administration is saying everything is moving in the right direction at the same time as our own intelligence agencies are telling us that our presence is creating more terrorists, we have a really serious disconnect that we've got to get over that disconnect.
COLMES: Should we talk to Iran and Syria? As James Baker has said, you've got to talk to your enemies. There seems to be some disparity about whether or not we should actually have a dialogue with countries surrounding Iraq, which could help indeed help, perhaps, in securing the safety of our soldiers there.
KERRY: Of course, we should talk to them. I mean, of course, we should talk to them. Well, you know, President Kennedy said we should never negotiate out of fear, but we should never fear to negotiate.
We should not be afraid of talking to people that we don't get along with. We don't have to trust what they say, and we won't. But we can surely find different places to put to test what they say they're willing to do or not do.
It seems to me that if Ronald Reagan can go talk to the leader of the evil empire, Mr. Gorbachev, and together they can come out of a room and agree to get rid of nuclear weapons. If Richard Nixon can send Henry Kissinger to China. If we can negotiate an agreement, as imperfect as it may have been, with North Korea through Bill Perry, secretary of defense, and President Clinton, surely, we can talk to Syria and Iran and figure out if that can be helpful in getting our troops home with honor and with stability in Iraq.
HANNITY: So you think he's going to run?
COLMES: He said he will decide after the first of the year.
HANNITY: Do you think he's going to run?
COLMES: Now I'm on the hot seat. I've got to answer for him?
HANNITY: He will decide after the first of the year.
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