Kerry On Iraq, Nader, Bush

As the Democratic convention prepares to get underway in Boston, CBS News Anchor Dan Rather asked Sen. John Kerry about Iraq, Ralph Nader and how Kerry sees himself.

Rather: Looking back, was it a mistake not to get out?

Kerry: I think just to run or leave would be a tragedy and it's because of the arrogant way in which this administration approached this war, got itself into the war and pushed other people away. I think we need a new president to clear the air, to restore America's credibility, to restore our alliances, and to bring people to the table that they should have been at since the beginning

Rather: You used the word arrogance … too strong?

Kerry: No. No. When you miscalculate what will happen in the aftermath of a successful invasion as they did, the height of that miscalculation is absolutely stunning. I've never seen anything like it in modern times and I think that word is not too strong at all.

Rather: When I talked to someone in the Whitehouse -- said you think John Kerry can't win -- Why? They said -- these are the words they used -- 'He's aloof; he's distant, sometimes even cold.' Does that describe John Kerry in some ways?

Kerry: No, doesn't describe me at all. It describes the person they'd love me to be but I'm not.

Rather: Have you or any member of your campaign talked to Ralph Nader about withdrawing from the race?

Kerry: No.

Rather: Not at all?

Kerry: No.

Rather: When you spoke with him last time, did you talk to him about that?

Kerry: No.

Rather: Do you expect him to withdraw?

Kerry: No.

Rather: In a close race, couldn't he be the difference or could he?

Kerry: My hope is that in the course of this campaign that John Edwards and I will speak to people in the country who once supported Ralph Nader or found a reason for his candidacy. I hope people will not waste their votes, because a vote for Ralph Nader will be a vote for George Bush.

Rather: At the core of the attack against you is that you were "Senator Flip Flop." Does or does not the record indicate that you have been on several sides of most issues or at least several issues over the years?

Kerry: Not a one. Ask me.

Rather: You voted for the war but now didn't vote for the money …

Kerry: That's not a flip-flop -- that's not a flip-flop. I voted to hold Saddam Hussein accountable in order to make sure he disarmed and I voted to do it with the stipulations of the president who said he would build an international coalition, go to war as a last resort after exhausting remedies of the U.N. He did none of the above. And I learned in war that if things are going wrong, you better fix it. Now that's a pledge I made to myself after coming back from Vietnam.

Rather: You don't think that is a flip-flop.

Kerry: Not in the least. I think we have to be in Iraq. What have I flipped on? I just think we ought to do it right!

  • David Hancock

    David Hancock is a home page editor for