Kerry's Below the Belt Remark on McCain: Joke or Insult?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 21, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator John Kerry makes a nasty, mean-spirited joke about Senator McCain, and it has nothing to do with policy. Now, we've all heard politicians asked if they wear boxers or briefs. Well, during a speech, Senator Kerry suggested that Senator McCain would wear Depends. Yes, Depends, the adult diapers. We think this is ironic coming from Senator Kerry, who often complains about the nastiness of politics.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: There is a Republican attack squad that specializes in trying to destroy people and be negative.

The world will listen to what the Republicans say when they come here, but words, slogans and personal attacks cannot disguise what they have done and left undone. They have obviously decided that some people will believe anything, no matter how fictional or how far-fetched, if they just repeat it often enough.

Our opponents have focused on false reassurances and false attacks.

This is a textbook Republican campaign strategy. I'm sick and tired of a whole bunch of Republican attacks.

The Bush campaign and its allies have turned to the tactics of fear and smear because they can't talk about jobs, health care, energy independence and rebuilding our alliances.


VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us live is Jeremy Jacobs, political reporter for Welcome, Jeremy.

JEREMY JACOBS, POLITICKERMA.COM: Hi. Thanks for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Jeremy, you were at the event. How did the joke -- I assume that's what Senator Kerry is now calling it. How did it go over?

JACOBS: Well, Senator Kerry was at this summit to talk about energy issues, which he did at quite some length. But he started by telling some jokes, and one of which was this joke on boxers or briefs, and McCain would say Depends. The crowd actually ate the joke up. There was a lot of laughter, and it seemed to go over well.

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VAN SUSTEREN: Anyone say anything afterwards? Anyone think that maybe it was just nasty?

JACOBS: Well, I didn't notice anyone saying that it was nasty. It's worth noting that after Kerry made the joke, he did say, Is anyone here voting for Senator McCain? And either no one was or no one had the guts to stand up and say they were. So it was probably a pretty friendly crowd.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why -- I mean, it's a business crowd. You might think that might be a Republican crowd. It was a Democratic crowd?

JACOBS: It was a summit for business executives. I don't know -- I don't think it had any partisan leanings. But like I said, no one identified as a McCain supporter when Kerry asked them to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: What is Senator Kerry saying today about his statement about Senator McCain?

JACOBS: Well, last night, Senator Kerry debated his challenger this year in his Senate race, and afterwards, he was asked about the remark. And he mentioned that he has used that joke several times, and he even mentioned that Bob Dole at one point used that joke about himself. And so he obviously saw it as a joke and probably nothing more.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that shows why he doesn't get it because he said Bob Dole used the joke about himself. You can make jokes about yourself. But he wasn't making that joke about himself. He was making that about another person, another colleague in the United States Senate. But let me ask this, is that -- Senator Kerry, frankly, is no spring chicken himself. How old is he?

JACOBS: I'm sorry? I didn't quite get that.

VAN SUSTEREN: I said Senator Kerry is no spring chicken. How old is he?

JACOBS: Senator Kerry is 65, I believe.

VAN SUSTEREN: And so -- I mean, I take it that the reference by the joke was a veiled -- I mean, was a covert reference to Senator McCain's age?

JACOBS: Oh, yes. I think it's pretty safe to say he meant -- that what he meant by the joke was that Senator McCain is old.

VAN SUSTEREN: I remember that Senator Kerry made that joke about people who end up -- who get C's in college and end up in Iraq. That one didn't go over too well, either.

JACOBS: Well, he didn't make any remarks about that yesterday, and I don't know about previous remarks like that. But I would imagine that would not go over well, no.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Senator Barack Obama (SIC) said that he wanted Senator Obama to say certain things to his face. It would be interesting to see whether Senator Kerry can say this one to Senator McCain's face. And it'd sort of be interesting to put their two military records next to each other because I don't think anyone in the U.S. Senate has Senator McCain's record. But anyway, maybe it's a funny joke to some. Maybe not. Anyway, Jeremy, thank you very much.

JACOBS: Thank you.

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