Can Kerry Capitalize?

This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," May 24, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All eyes are indeed on the president Monday night as he tries to reduce fears of heightened instability in Iraq. My next guest and his boss will be watching that speech very intently. Joining me now is Senator John Kerry’s national security adviser and former Colorado senator, Gary Hart (search).

Senator, thank you for joining us.

GARY HART, SEN. KERRY’S NATL. SECURITY ADVISER: He’s hardly my boss, but thank you.

CAVUTO: All right, well, I guess he likes to think he is. Let me ask you, Senator, what do you want to hear out of the president tonight?

HART: Well, I would like for him to say a statesman-like statement that it would have been much better had we taken our European allies (search) with us into Iraq, but now we need their help, badly; and both to reduce American casualties and vulnerabilities but also to take the bull’s-eye off Uncle Sam and make the world community responsible for restructuring Iraq.

CAVUTO: But do you have any faith in the U.N.? When everything hit the fan, Senator, as you know, and the compound was bombed, they begged out, in 1998 when they had the opportunity to stay they begged out. So, they have a history of being a little wobbly.

HART: Apparently the president has confidence in them because he has an envoy of the secretary-general restructuring the government of Iraq today. We are not doing that. And we apparently are going to support whatever structure of government they come up with. And I think the president himself has said that he wants the international community now to help out in the restructuring, whether that’s NATO, the U.N. or someone else. We are using the U.N. to pretty good effect in Afghanistan and a variety of other places. There are things they can do and things they can’t do.

CAVUTO: Do you think, Senator, that a lot of the U.N. members, and the U.N. collectively, hates this president so much that it will sit on its hands hoping that Senator Kerry comes in?

HART: No, no, no.

CAVUTO: Why do you have faith in the U.N. then that it is not doing that or thinking that?

HART: Well, I think the burden of proof is on those who think the international community wants the president of the United States to fail. I don’t think that that is the case. I don’t think they hate George Bush. I think they think he made a mistake and don’t quite understand his casual attitude towards alliances that carried us through two world wars and the Cold War that we felt were very, very important to us in the second half of the 20th century to win the Cold War. To simply walk away from them, I think there is puzzlement, but I don’t think there is hatred.

CAVUTO: Well, there seems to be an equal amount of puzzlement over the position that this president took toward the U.N. It’s not as if he didn’t try to win them over, right? I mean, he tried for upwards of a year and nothing came of it. And your man, Senator Kerry ultimately agreed that the move we made to war was the justified one.

HART: On the conditions that the president would take the international community with him. I think the difference, if I may say so, between myself and Senator Kerry is that he trusted the president to strike that bargain with our traditional allies, whether through the U.N. or directly with those allies. And I thought it was clear to me, given those who were advising the president, that the decision had been made to overthrow Saddam Hussein come what may, and in effect to heck with the rest of the world. And I think -- in this case I happen to be closer to the truth than my boss.

CAVUTO: Well, then I’ll tell you something, Senator, at least you are clearer in that position than I am hearing from Senator Kerry. I mean, I hear it out of two ends of his mouth here. And I know this is a political season, but you can’t have your cake and eat it, too, here. If you were for the war and for getting into the war, and even bypassing the U.N. when it looked like they weren’t going to support our actions for a war, then you can’t come back and say, I told you so, we have to go back to the U.N.

HART: Well, I don’t know whether he is saying, I told you so. What he is saying is, we have to internationalize the reconstruction of the country. It is my understanding that Senator Kerry still supports the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. The question is, who rebuilds the country? Who pays for it in both dollars and -- or financing and lives. And I think what we are seeing and we’ll see tonight is the president coming around to Senator Kerry’s position.

CAVUTO: But are you troubled, Senator, as a very good read on political tea leaves, that Americans are confused by the senator’s position?

HART: The Americans.

CAVUTO: They don’t know where he stands and they feel that he hasn’t been consistent.

HART: Americans are confused by President Bush’s position, and he is in the spotlight. Why now that we have been occupying this country for a year is he laying out the blue print of our policy? I think it should have been done before we invaded the country.

CAVUTO: All right, Senator Gary Hart, always a pleasure, thank you, sir.

HART: A pleasure, thank you.

CAVUTO: All right, Gary Hart.

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