Part Two of the 'Almost' John Kerry Interview

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," Oct. 26, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST:  In the "Personal Story" segment tonight, as we told you last night,  we've been trying to get an interview with John Kerry for months, and we're not the only ones.  Journalist Bob Woodward (search), the assistant managing editor at "The Washington Post," has been trying real hard as well. Mr. Woodward  joins us now from Washington.

So we've been trying since the Fourth of July.  How long have you been  trying?


O'REILLY:  And where did you — what happened?  Tell us about how that went.

WOODWARD:  Well, you know, they don't want to do it.  I, as you may know, interviewed President Bush for three-and-a-half hours for my book "Plan of Attack," and the president answered hundreds of questions, very specific ones about why he did things, what he felt, his reaction to advice from Cheney, Powell and so forth.

And it seemed that this is a commander in chief election.  We are electing the commander in chief and how whoever that person is functions is critical, and so I wanted to come up with some sort of parallel questions  that would tell us about what — how Kerry would function as the commander  in chief, how he would deal with threats.

O'REILLY:  So you were using your book — yes, you were using your  book and just inserting John Kerry in the place of Bush.

Now you did something unusual, and I want to tell the audience this  because I know you don't do this usually and I never do it.  You did submit  the questions to the Kerry campaign in advance.


O'REILLY:  Why did you do that and what was the response?

WOODWARD:  Well, early September when it looked like this was going to happen, as you may recall, Senator Kerry said on Iraq he would do everything differently compared to what the president had done, so I took the 22 big decision points for Bush and just wrote them out and said this is what I'm after.

In fact, if you looked at the questions, they are not that hard. Kerry's advisers say that he would have strong answers, and I think that's quite possible.

But the mystery for voters, I think, is I've traveled around the country, well, what would Kerry — we know what Bush would do, and, whether you like it or don't like it, it's pretty clear.  Kerry has not had an executive position. What would be the principals and so forth?

O'REILLY:  Absolutely. He hasn't defined himself. But, you know, you've given him the questions in advance, and he still wouldn't do the interview?  I mean, I don't know — why?

WOODWARD:  Risk adversity, I think.


WOODWARD:  You know, what's to gain?  You know, maybe...

O'REILLY:  What's to gain?  You're Bob Woodward!  You're a big shot!   You work at "The Washington Post."

WOODWARD:  Oh, no.

O'REILLY:  Everybody reads you.  What's to gain?

WOODWARD:  You know, there's a down side.  Every time a candidate opens his mouth, as we know, they get bombarded from the other side.

O'REILLY:  All right.  That's — but, look — come on.  Look, Bush...

WOODWARD:  But, you know, my....

O'REILLY:  ... interviewed with you.  Bush interviewed with you, and  he interviewed with me, all right, and I think it says a lot about Kerry that he turned us both down, and — now I want to do this with you, and you  can do this with me because you also have a bunch of questions.


O'REILLY:  I want to ask you as the assistant managing editor of "The  Washington Post," not a reporter anymore, because your newspaper endorsed  Kerry, as you know...

WOODWARD:  Yes, but — which I have — you know, I don't have anything to do with the editorial side.

O'REILLY:  I know that, but your newspaper endorsed Kerry. Now I'm  going to ask you if you know how Kerry stands on these things, and, if you  don't, just say you don't.

How would Kerry seal up the Mexican border and prevent three million illegals from coming in here every year?  Do you know?

WOODWARD:  I think it would be real hard.

O'REILLY:  But you don't know what he would do, do you?

WOODWARD:  No, I — do you?

O'REILLY:  No, I don't, and we both pay attention.  We do this for a  living, don't we?

WOODWARD:  We try.

O'REILLY:  Right.  So we don't know.  Woodward doesn't know.  And  you're a much better journalist than I am.  And O'Reilly doesn't know.   He's a big mouth.  So — and that's a pretty important issue.  So we don't know what he's going to do on the border.

How many U.S. troops would he send to Iraq?  He says he'll send more  to try to calm things down.  Do you know how many more?

WOODWARD:  No.  He says that he would add 40,000 to the Army, but he also says, as you know, that he wants to get out of Iraq and hopes there  would be a withdrawal soon.  He was not specific about it, but...

O'REILLY:  Right.  So he says he'll send more, but then he'll withdraw  some. I don't know.  I'm confused on that, and that's a pretty big issue.   And I'm sure you would have asked him that if you had interviewed him.

How will John Kerry pay for the universal health care he wants the  government to be in charge of?  Do you know?

WOODWARD:  Well, what he says is, you know, raising taxes on the  rich...

O'REILLY:  That's only going to cover 20 percent of it.

WOODWARD:  ... is where he would get lots of money.

O'REILLY:  That's only going to cover 20 percent of it.  And where's  the other 80 percent then?

WOODWARD:  And it gets used lots of places also, so I don't know, in his case, and to be fair, Bush's case, the things that the president's  talked about...

O'REILLY:  But we got a chance to ask Bush. We didn't get a...

WOODWARD:  We did.

O'REILLY:  So you don't know how he's going to pay for the...

WOODWARD:  That's right.

O'REILLY:  And I don't know.

WOODWARD:  I don't.

O'REILLY:  And we both...

WOODWARD:  And I don't think — I haven't read anything where anyone's come up...

O'REILLY:  I haven't either.

WOODWARD:  ... with kind of a concrete answer on that.

O'REILLY:  Nobody told me how we're going to pay for this universal health care.

OK.  That's one, two, three, four.  Did he make any mistakes on the record when he came back from Vietnam and was an anti-war protester?  Has he admitted to any mistakes?  Do you know if he has?

WOODWARD:  Yes, in part.  He said he was over the top in some of his criticisms.

O'REILLY:  Which ones?

WOODWARD:  He said that — specifically about the atrocities that were committed by others.

Can I ask you a question?

O'REILLY:  Absolutely.

WOODWARD:  Because I think this is an important issue.  One of the things the president — when I talked to him, the president said very  directly and jumped in his chair when he said this, he said he believes we in the United States have a duty to free people, to liberate people, and  that's one of his reasons for going into Iraq. He said that he and some of  the other leaders in the coalition — this is his word — have a zeal to liberate people.

When I questioned him about it, he suggested that I was an elitist. Now I think one of the key questions is, in the future, how do we use our  military and other power?  How would a commander in chief exercise that?  And I'd like to know does Kerry believe we have a duty to liberate people  or...

O'REILLY:  Yes.  But I'll answer that question.  I think I know the  answer.


O'REILLY:  I think the Senator would say, yes, I do, because he can't say no, but in conjunction with the world nations, the United Nations, and we have to get a coalition before we do it, we can't do it unilaterally.  I  think that's what Kerry would say.

Now I've got one more for you, and then you can ask me one more.


O'REILLY:  Why are you against gay marriage, Senator Kerry? Do you  know why he is against gay marriage?

WOODWARD:  I don't specifically. He has just said...

O'REILLY:  OK.  So you don't know...

WOODWARD:  ... he is.  He's just said he is.

O'REILLY:  Right.  Well, he has said he is.  He said he opposes it,  but you don't know and I don't know.

So you and I, Woodward and O'Reilly — I love the sound of that.  See, you dump Bernstein, and it's Woodward and O'Reilly. I love that.

You and I, we can't answer four out of the five questions that are pretty obvious questions.  The senator has not told us.  Now I think that's pretty frightening, and I'm not being a partisan jerk here.  I think the  senator has got to answer these questions before next Tuesday.

I'll give you the last word, Mr. Woodward.

WOODWARD:  Well, one of the other issues in all of this — and it's a  character issue and how-somebody-operates issue.  I asked the president about doubt, whether he has any doubt about his actions in Iraq, and he just said no doubt, you may not believe it, but I have no doubt.  Now the question is what is the role of doubt in John Kerry's world?

O'REILLY:  OK.  Mr. Woodward, thanks very much.  We appreciate you  taking the time in being here.  And I've read all your books, and you're an  excellent writer.  I really appreciate it.

WOODWARD:  Thank you.

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