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Sen. John Kerry on Imus

DON IMUS, MSNBC HOST:  “Please welcome now to the IMUS IN THE MORNING program, the junior senator from the state of Massachusetts, Senator John Kerry.” 


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D)  MASSACHUSETTS:  “Good morning, Don Imus.” 

IMUS:  “Good morning, Senator Kerry .” 

KERRY:  “Good morning.  Good morning. Yes, yes, yes, yes.  Is Barnicle out there cheerleading?”

IMUS:  “Yes, he is. “

KERRY:  “I see you've assembled your usual crowd of folks on work release out there.” 

IMUS:  “You know, I had to threaten these bastards to get them to cheer for you, you know.”

KERRY: “ Right.  Listen a threat from you is a threat indeed . “

IMUS:  “How are you?” 

KERRY:  “I'm doing great.  It's been about a month, Dick Cheney hasn't shot anyone.  We're doing great .  “

IMUS: “ I had senator -- senator -- Governor Mitt Romney on this morning.  Do you like him?” 

KERRY:  “Listen, I get along fine with him.  I was a little worried when he started talking about your beautiful bright blue eyes.  “

IMUS:  “Well, we do have gay marriage here in Massachusetts, so... “

KERRY:  “Well, is that an invitation?”

IMUS:  “You know, I was talking with -- before we talk about stuff that maybe you're interested in, I was talking with Senator Dodd the other day about this Combating Autism Act.  And I said, is there any way you can call the CDC and talk to Gaberdeen, whatever her name is over there, who's apparently not a nice woman, get them to get behind this, and so -- you know, this might be hard to believe.  He actually followed up and did that.”

KERRY:  “Chris is terrific.  That's Chris Dodd.  He's superb. “

IMUS:  “And the CDC apparently does support it, and do you know anything about it?”

KERRY:  “I do. And let me tell you an amazing story.  During the early days of Katrina, UPS very, very kindly, and so did FedEx, put together a couple of planes to fly stuff down.  So I flew down to Lafayette to take the UPS down there and deliver it to those folks.  And the UPS driver, I rode in the truck with the UPS driver, just he and myself, all the way to Baton Rouge, and he was talking, just started to talk.  He tells me that he's got twins, and one of the twins got sick.  The doctor says, well, we've got to give him a vaccination.  They give him the vaccination while the kid is sick, and within days, this kid starts changing and showing symptoms.  Low and behold, these are identical twins, same DNA, same (INAUDIBLE), the whole deal, same egg.  And that child who was vaccinated has autism today.  And this family is struggling with it.  And they believe, they believe as deeply as they can, it's the thymerasol that caused this reaction. 
This is -- you find this all over the country.  You and Deidre have been terrific on this issue.  And yet, we still have mercury in vaccinations around the country.  It's absurd.  I don't get it.  We ought to stop, and we ought to pass that bill. “

IMUS:  “Well, the Combating Autism Act actually does provide some funds for research, because we really don't know.  We know that thymerasol is a neurotoxin, and that it's ethyl mercury, and it's 50 times stronger than the mercury we'd find in fish for example and so on.  There's all kinds of statistics.  But there really hasn't been -- despite what people say.  And believe me, I've talked to a lot of them.  There's been no definitive determination whether in fact there is a link between autism and thymerasol .” 

KERRY: “That's absolutely true.  That's absolutely true. Look, If I were a parent and I knew what I know just anecdotally from across the country, I wouldn't want it, and I wouldn't want to put it in my kid.  And I think...”

IMUS:  “Well, the CDC said...”

KERRY: “ ... parents ought to have that choice and that right.  In fact, they do.  Many of them are saying they're not going to do it, but a lot of them don't know about it.” 

IMUS:  “The CDC in fact says that now.  But the Combating Autism Act really is primarily to build these centers around the country, to provide these parents with the ability for early detection, with therapy and some financial support and that sort of thing, and there will be some research. But to think of it as a thymerasol bill, it isn't that.  I mean, maybe...”

KERRY:  “Well, it's to try start down the road, Don.”

IMUS: “ Exactly.”

KERRY: “ What I'm saying is that in a lot of choices you have to make in public life, you make them on a basis on a sort of cautionary principal.  I mean, that's true, for instance, of global warming.  I can't say to a certainty exactly what's going to happen, and the models differ about what's going to happen.  But I can say to an absolute certainly, and I just got a NASA briefing on this the other day, that if things stay exactly as they are today, absent some unpredictable change in what's going on, within the next 30 years, the Arctic ice sheet is gone, not maybe, not if, the Arctic ice sheet is gone.  And already you have the Greenland ice sheet beginning to melt.  The Greenland ice sheet, unlike the Arctic ice sheet, is on rock.  It's out of the water.  If that melts, you have a level of sea increase that wipes out Boston Harbor and New York Harbor.  I mean, It's just stunning what we're looking at.  And yet, there's no -- Europe, other countries are responding.  The United States remains oblivious.  Or at least the administration remains oblivious. “

IMUS:  “Where are you this morning, some fancy hotel?” 

KERRY: “I wish I was.  I'm like you.  I'm in Washington.  We just finished voting on this horrible budget.  It passed 51-49.  We've got a $9 trillion debt now.  The administration is determined to get people who earn more than $1 million a year (INAUDIBLE) to a billion dollars worth of tax cuts next year, and they're going to leave the veterans budget, you know, cut, and people like you have to go out and do the Fallen Hero's Fund.  It's crazy .  “

IMUS:  “You know who was here this morning, Setti Warren.”

KERRY:  “You got him up early.”

IMUS:  “Well, he was here at 5:00, 5:30.  I asked him -- what does he do for you again?  “

KERRY:  “He's a terrific guy.  He's my deputy chief up in Boston.  He's in charge of working with a lot of the companies up there, and works also with the press.  “

IMUS: “ I asked him if you were running for president again; he wouldn't tell me.  Are you?”

KERRY:  “Setti, what am I doing?  “

IMUS: “ He's holding up -- he's got his fingers up and they're crossed .”

KERRY:  “Yes, he's doing good. Listen, I'm going to make that decision down the road.  I know that you and others sort of have a quick take on the thing.  But everybody had a quick take during Howard Dean, and I'm not worried about it. “

IMUS:  “Back on the original vote for the Iraq war, if you'd had voted your conscience instead of the way you did vote -- No, a serious question,  knowing what you know now, would you still have voted to authorize the president to go?” 

KERRY:  “Obviously not.  No way.  And I said during the campaign.  I said it's the wrong war, wrong place, wrong time.  I said -- look, I think everybody has made it clear that at the time, given the information that we were given, I believe it was the right vote.  It was a vote based on seven-and-a-half years of destroying weapons of mass destruction, and then we lost the inspectors.  We had a two-year period of no inspectors, even though we'd been destroying weapons for seven-and-a-half years, and the CIA tells you, he's got weapons.  I think it was the right vote.  If I'd been president, I'd have wanted that power.  But the president said he was going to do meticulous planning.  He said he would exhaust the remedies of the inspections and the U.N., and he said he would go to the war as a last resort.  He broke every one of those promises.  And everything, every step of the way -- you just listen to Colin Powell, who tells you, there was a small cabal run by Dick Cheney and people in the White House.  They captured the policy.  They didn't even look at the State Department plans for the post-war period.  I went to Georgetown University in January of 2003, and I said, Mr. President, do not rush to war.  The difficult part is not winning the ground war, it's winning the peace.  And that's exactly what's happened. “

IMUS:  “Talking with Senator John Kerry here on the IMUS IN THE MORNING program.  It's 20 minutes until the hour. Let's say you had been elected and we are where we are now with the war in Iraq.  What would you do now to get us out, or to resolve it? “

KERRY:  “I think you have to put it to the Iraqis and put it tough.  This is ridiculous that we've taken three months since the election.  There's no government.  Young Americans -- you know, I was talking to Jack Murtha the other day.  He was up at Bethesda Hospital, and said he saw a kid who could move his eyes.  That's it.  Can't move any other part of his body.  His mother has been sitting by that bed for a year, and you got a lot of other kids over there who are giving their lives, and their limbs and shedding blood while the Iraqis are playing around, trying to figure out who's up, who's down.  You know, the last election, everybody said the mistake that was made is they lost the momentum after the election.  They weren't going to let it happen again.  Well, they've let it happen again.  And I think we sought to just tell them, look, you got, you know, whatever it is, X number of days.  You put this thing together or we're out of here.  And once you have put it together, we negotiate a period by which we shift it entirely over to them, get out, because if you don't do that, this is going to continue, and our guys are going to stay stuck in the middle of a civil war.”

IMUS:  “Well, who would deliver that message?  “

KERRY:  “Well, it ought to be delivered by the president and the secretary of state.  What they do -- you know, this ambassador over there, Ambassador Khalilzad, who's a good man.  And I was over there about a month ago.  He's working as hard as he can.  But you need to have more diplomatic lift.  You need to have a much more serious diplomatic effort to try to pull the other countries, the Sunni neighbors in the community and others, to pressure them.  You know, this is the third war, in effect, in Iraq.  This first war was the war against Saddam Hussein and alleged weapons of mass destruction.  The second war was against the jihadist, with the theory that it's better to fight them over here than fight them over here.  Now you've got the third war, and that's for democracy and for their freedom, et cetera. Well, the problem is, it's really a civil struggle.  And even General Casey and others have said, this can't be resolved militarily, it's got to be resolved politically.  But you don't see the kind of effort you saw with a Henry Kissinger or a Jim Baker, or any number of other people historically who lift diplomatically to make something happen .”

IMUS:  “The Dubai Ports Deal resolved to your satisfaction?” 

KERRY:  “Well, you know, I think that was -- I mean, there was a certain amount of noise factor in that, Don, as you know.  The issue to me is not fundamentally ownership standing alone, it's security, port security.  And, again, I raised that issue in the campaign.  Only back then, it was about three percent of our containers that are actually inspected.  Now it's five percent.  So ninety-five percent of the containers that come in to the United States aren't inspected.  That is crazy.  It's just absurd, and there is technology out there.  There are system that could be put in place.  They've refused to spend the money. And you stand up and you look at the priorities.  Once again, veterans are being cut.  The post-traumatic stress disorder is up among the vets coming home.  You've got about a 300 percent increase of the divorce rate in the officer corps of our military.  The National Guard is being stripped.  You have enormous need for veterans to have long-term care, because we've got more people who are amputees, more people surviving, because the quality of the, you know, immediate triage and care.  These guys are being cut, so people earning more than a million a year can get a tax cut.  You know, I get so sick of those guys running around talking about values when those are the choices that are being made.  That's just -- it's wrong. “

IMUS:  “You know, while you were talking, I started thinking about something else.”

KERRY:  “Well, I'm sorry about that.  “

IMUS:  “I don't mean that.  I don't know why I do that.  Actually Charles and I just agreed to stay with CBS Radio for some more time.  But I mean, that's not good, is it, senator.  I mean, I got to start paying attention .  “

IMUS:  “How is Theresa doing?”

KERRY: “ She's doing great .  “

IMUS:  “She's not ready to, you know...”

KERRY: “ No.”

IMUS:  “She still loves you?  OK, good.”

KERRY: “ Yes.  St. Patrick's Day, celebrate, break out the green ketchup.”

IMUS:  “I still, I don't think I understood -- I was talking to Governor Romney, for example, about the Dubai Ports thing, and he started talking about how it was an opportunity to examine who manages our ports and that sort of thing, but that would have never come it had it not been, you know, the Arab Emirates.”

KERRY:  “The real issue is security.  “

IMUS:  “So, but I mean, we're told by a number of people, like people who I respect, like Tom Friedman, like David Brooks, like other folks like that, that they weren't going to have all that much to do with the security aspect of it. And I guess, my question is, most of the American people thought it was insane to turn it over to a company primarily of Arabs.  But there were some responsible people who thought that that was ridiculous, and it was an opportunity for us to make some desperately needed friends in that part of the world, so that's what I ask you know, is kind of...”

KERRY: “ Well, it hadn't been vetted, and you know, they take part in the Arab boycott against Israel.  Are you going to turn it over to them? I just think there was a lot of issues that weren't thought through and they weren't vetted, and it was appropriate to oppose it. “

IMUS:  “Always nice to have you on the program.” 

KERRY:  “Glad to be here.  I've got a good St. Patrick's Day here.  We're going out with David Gregory.  “

IMUS:  “You are?”

KERRY:  “No, I'm -- I heard your interview the other day.  It was funny.”

IMUS:  “Thanks very much, Senator Kerry.  I appreciate it.”

KERRY:  “Good to be with you.  Take care.”

IMUS:  “Senator John Kerry on the program. “