Kerry On Vietnam, Antiwar Movement

In Part 2 of his interview with CBS News Anchor Dan Rather, Democratic presidential canidate John Kerry reflects on his service in the Vietnam War and his subsequent role as a leader of the antiwar movement.

RATHER: What's the biggest mistake you've made in the campaign so far?

KERRY: I regret some of early things I did in politics which weren't very smart. I've learned from them.

RATHER: The antiwar movement leadership?

KERRY: No, not in the least. Very proud of it

RATHER: You hear people say, "Look John Kerry's a war hero" – and the record shows that you are. But can you be a war hero and be a leader of an antiwar movement?

KERRY: I was.

RATHER: And you're proud of that?

KERRY: You bet I am.

RATHER: Make any mistakes in that regard?

KERRY: Yes, some language that I used, I've said before, I think was a little reflective of a young man who was angry, a young man who felt disappointed in our government leaders who had lied to us. I regret that I wasn't perhaps more tuned into how something I said might affect somebody. But you learn. That's the beauty of life.

RATHER: Speaking of anger, have you ever had any anger at President Bush, who spent his time during the Vietnam War in the National Guard, running an effective campaign that does its best to diminish your service in Vietnam? You have to be at least irritated by that, or have you been?

KERRY: Yup, I have been. That's an honest answer. Those of us who served care enormously about the people we served with and the fact of our having put our lives on the line. And I think when others challenge that, it would be inhuman if it didn't grate a little bit. But I keep my eye on a larger target.

I'm running to be president of the United States because I believe in this country and I think the American people can see through those kinds of things. So I hold my breath and put my trust in the American people to look for something bigger and better than that kind of silly attack. But it does irritate, sure.

Part 1: Kerry On Iraq, Nader, Bush