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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Sen. John Kerry Arrives At Boston's Faneuil Hall To Deliver His Concession Speech

Aired November 3, 2004 - 13:29   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, as if America didn't have a poll overdose going into the polling booth, there were more polls coming out of the voting booth. And what did all the counting tell us? We'll tell you more about that a little bit later.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: But first, we want to take live pictures now from Beacon Hill -- I guess you could say the stalking begins. Is that fair to say? We are waiting for John Kerry...

O'BRIEN: As long as you say it, yes, I guess we are doing a little stalking.

PHILLIPS: I didn't say it.

No, in all seriousness, John Kerry, probably a lot of emotions running through his heart and mind right now as he prepares to give that big speech -- of course, the concession speech -- just down the hill from his condo there on Beacon Hill.

O'BRIEN: Right. He could have done a -- really would be a nice stroll. Looks like a pretty nice day. Little brisk in Boston right now. But I'm sure the Secret Service, who still has official protection responsibilities for Senator Kerry, would not approve of that.

Our affiliate, WCVB, giving us a live feed from inside Faneuil Hall where, really, the revolution was born. Patrick Henry, all the...

PHILLIPS: I was waiting for the Bostonian history, because you lived there...

O'BRIEN: All the great orations of -- the cradle of the revolution right there. And at this point, at that location, in that historic spot, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, of Beacon Hill, just a few minutes away, will offer up his concession speech. That is coming to us, we think within about 30 minutes time. They're still plugging in all the cables and getting everything ready.

Of course, we will be bringing that to you live as soon as it happens. Could be as early as 2:00 p.m. Eastern time. Little bit later...

PHILLIPS: President George W. Bush, his victory speech. We're expecting that about 3:00 p.m. Eastern. But you never know -- give or take a little time when that's going to happen. But obviously a big day for both gentlemen.

O'BRIEN: All right. That's what's ahead. We're going to take a break. We'll be back with a little more of our coverage as election 2004 reaches its denouement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Live pictures, once again, the townhouse of John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry on Beacon Hill, not far from the location of the concession speech. And I believe that could have been Teresa Heinz Kerry there on her cell phone there, but can't say for certain.

About three to five minutes away is this location. You're looking inside Faneuil Hall. Built in 1742, the cradle of the revolution.

There's John Kerry, making his way to the motorcade and down the hill. He will go to make that speech very shortly. We expect it right around 2:00 p.m. But given the fact that we're seeing -- well, he's going back in. He might have forgotten something. Nevertheless, obviously he is about to move in that direction. And given the fact that it is a short distance away, we're going to send it back to New York and Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Miles.

This is Beacon Hill, the home of John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry. There's a lot of history in this home, not only history involving the house, but it was this house -- and Jeff Greenfield's here with us -- he put a mortgage up on this house early on when that run for the Democratic nomination looked pretty bleak. He needed some cash. And I believe it was this house or the one in Georgetown that they got the mortgage on.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This one, Teresa -- who's worth about a billion -- couldn't give him money legally, because she was in control of it. But he had a half interest in the house and, under the law, he took that half interest, mortgaged it -- $6 million worth -- to make sure that the campaign stayed alive when nobody thought it could. So, yeah.

BLITZER: And that was when he was really -- I think some of the polls showing he was behind Al Sharpton at a stage -- here he goes, he's walking out with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, waving to their friends, their supporters, getting in their car to make the short drive over to Faneuil Hall, to deliver what must be the most heartbreaking speech of his life.

I can only assume that, Jeff.

GREENFIELD: You know, even people who hold politicians in minimum high regard have to have some sense of empathy. Here's a guy who -- you're quite right, Wolf -- was running behind Al Sharpton in the national polls late in 2003. There's were kind of lotteries taken on when he'd drop out. He literally risked half -- $6 million, threw the dice in Iowa, won it. Won the nomination. There was this roller coaster ride of he's down, he's up, bad convention, great debates -- even to the day of election, where the exit polls seemed to suggest that he was going to win the battleground states, up until about probably 6:00 or 7:00 or 8:00 last night, he was convinced he was the next president of the United States.

BLITZER: All of the (INAUDIBLE) were convinced. Judy Woodruff is joining us, as well. Especially, Judy, even before the exit polls starting coming in, the early and mid-afternoon yesterday, the final polls, they thought going into this race, if you spoke with top Kerry advisors, they were convinced he was going to be the president.

JUDY WOODRUFF, HOST, "INSIDE POLITICS": They really were. Well, they were mostly convinced. I mean, they were believing the most optimistic projections, Wolf, about their -- the groups that were working with them, groups like America Coming Together and others, the labor unions, that combined with the Kerry effort that all these people were going to be able to turn out an unprecedented number of voters and push John Kerry over the top.

And in fact, Wolf, we've just been told by the Kerry people that, in Ohio, they were able to top George Bush's numbers by something like 200,000 voters -- Bush's numbers in 2000 -- by another 200,000 people. What they didn't anticipate was that George W. Bush was going to go even higher, far higher, and be able to pull in Ohio enormous numbers out of the western part of that state, in particular.

So, they did -- they pulled out all the stops, but the Bush people pulled out all the stops and then some.

BLITZER: The Kerry motorcade making its way through the streets of Boston, on the way to Faneuil Hall to deliver this speech. We're told that John Edwards will have remarks, John Kerry will have remarks. We don't anticipate they will be answering questions, at least in the immediate -- in the immediate moments after their remarks. But we will stand by. We'll watch to see what happens.

This is a moment for the Democrats -- as a party, Jeff -- that they have to take some stock of where this party stands.

GREENFIELD: If they take a longer-range look -- if they make the mistake of saying, gee, if we'd only switched 65,000 votes in Ohio, John Kerry would be president, they would be making a serious mistake in my view.

They were outpolled by three-and-a-half million votes. They lost three or four seats in the Senate. I think there's one that's still up for grabs. They lost seats in the House of Representatives. They have been out of power in the Congress now, with the Jim Jeffords exception, for 12 straight years. They have only succeeded in winning 50 percent of the popular vote in a presidential election once in the last 40 years.

And they have, once again, discovered that there were large numbers of people in this country -- Judy alluded to the folks in the southwest part of Ohio, all over the south, all over rural and small town America, and increasingly in suburban America -- who will not let the Democrats in the door on policy issues because they, for one reason or another, rightly or wrongly, they do not believe the Democrats understand who they are, what they believe in, and that is a -- that is a serious long-term problem for the party.

WOODRUFF: It's a long-term discussion for the Democrats. Because if you start to give in on the principles that you think define the party, then do you then -- do you then turn off some of the very loyal Democrats who have been with you for years and years? And these are some of the hard talks they're going to be having to have with themselves in the weeks to come, months to come.

GREENFIELD: You know how much I hate -- both of you -- how much predictions make my skin crawl. But there's a fairly safe one. In about 48 hours, you're going to hear the Howard Dean supporters say we told you, we told you energizing the base is the key, not moving to the middle. And you didn't listen to us, and that's why you lost.

BLITZER: Well, you could make the counter-argument that if Howard Dean or someone like that would have been the Democratic nominee, the loss would have even been more substantial.

GREENFIELD: You have perfectly summarized the other part of the argument. We can save everybody now months of arguing at dinner tables.

WOODRUFF: I think there's going to be every which kind of recrimination you can imagine. there's going to be somebody from every corner saying, "Well, if you'd only done this," or, "If you'd only done that" -- that's to be expected after a loss as heartbreaking as this one.

GREENFIELD: That's the theme. If they'd only listened to me, 500 people will say, that's why they lost. But this is endemic.

BLITZER: Thanks to our affiliate WCVB in Boston. We're showing the motorcade winding its way through the streets of Boston to Faneuil Hall. A Boston native is joining us, John King knows this area quite well, happens to be on the north lawn of the White House right now.

John, weigh in on this discussion, on John Kerry, a man you've covered for many years, you understand him about as well as any political reporter does. How painful is this for him right now?

JOHN KING, SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Obviously, it's painful. I mean, as Jeff just was noting, he was given up for dead. And then he waged a spirited comeback in the Democratic primaries. He's driving now through the city. He's just now a very short distance from Faneuil Hall marketplace.

Senator Kerry had come back. They felt very good about it in the end. There will be all sorts of second-guessing now. The liberals will say he should have stayed with the base. The Democratic leadership council crowd will say he should have moved to the middle earlier. The Bush White House believes it did a good job in defining him as a liberal.

At his last rally in Dallas, Texas, Monday night, the president summed it up very succinctly -- more succinctly on the campaign trail. He was in front of cheering hometown supporters and he said, "There's a big difference in this campaign. He's a committed liberal; I'm a compassionate conservative." The Republicans believe not only did they peel off a few Democratic votes -- not many, but a few Democratic votes -- by painting Senator Kerry as a liberal out of the mainstream, but that they excited their conservative base every day with those lines, whether the issue be taxes for economic conservatives or, as the president campaigned, talking about a culture life.

They believe they were successful, essentially, in rewriting the 1988 campaign in saying you had a conservative against a Massachusetts liberal, which to many Republicans, especially conservatives, is a dirty word.

BLITZER: Judy, for John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry, John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards, is this the end of the Edwards' political career, the end of the Kerry political career? Can we say that at this very early stage?

WOODRUFF: Well, I think it's presumptuous for us to say that. On the other hand, where does John Kerry go from here? Once you've run for president, I can't imagine that he would seek the presidency again. John Edwards, this has hardly helped any presidential aspirations he had.

Clearly if John Kerry had been elected and served a couple of terms, John Edwards' resume would be greatly burnished. But he doesn't have that on his resume now. He has a failed bid for the vice presidency, and I think there's some out there asking, you know, how well he ran. So...

GREENFIELD: When you think about people who've lost and run again, you think about people who won the popular vote -- or almost did -- Richard Nixon came within 100,000 votes of John Kennedy in 1968, years later was elected president.

But when you lose by three-and-a-half million votes and you're 61 years old and you've been the nominee of your party and the diagnose is you're a northern liberal who was not a particularly empathetic campaigner in the Clinton-style, it's tough. Look, he's a senator from Massachusetts. This is not the world's worst job.

As for John Edwards, what's the base?

BLITZER: John, the motorcade has now arrived at Faneuil Hall. You see John Kerry and his colleagues, his friends, his advisors, family members, getting ready to walk in.

KING: Wolf, you're going to hear a great deal of talk from Democrats, as they watch the speech today, about how important it is to follow the lessons of presidential politics. George W. Bush was a governor. Ronald Reagan was a governor. Bill Clinton was a governor. Many Democrats already looking around the landscape, saying one of their party's problems in this election was they had a weak bench of governors.

The Iowa governor, Tom Vilsack, comes up amid the early speculation, but already beginning speculation about the 2008 race. They will say, just as it was difficult for Bob Dole to run from the president, it was very difficult for Kerry to run, as the president would say, every day away from his record of casting so many votes in the United States Senate.

So, Democrats, as they listen to Senator Kerry bid farewell today, they will question his campaign. There will be debates within the party over what he did right and what he did wrong. But the one thing I think everybody in both parties would agree on is it is much easier for a governor to run for president than it is a member of Congress.

WOODRUFF: But Wolf, if I can name one senator whose name is certainly out there, it's Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York State. I mean, she -- it's unprecedented for a former First Lady to run, but she has already built up a term -- in her first term in the Senate, a reputation as somebody who works with Republicans, and I think that's a name we're going to hear.

BLITZER: This is the inside of Faneuil Hall where John Kerry and John Edwards will be speaking. People don't necessarily remember, Jeff, that John Kerry will remain in the United States Senate, although John Edwards is leaving.

GREENFIELD: Yeah, he's got four years to go. This, by the way, Faneuil Hall, is one of the great locations in Boston. It's -- Quincy Market is outside. This is one of the places where Samuel Adams -- not the beer...

BLITZER: Here you see Ted Kennedy, senior senator from Massachusetts, coming in. A severe setback to him. He had worked so hard to try to get John Kerry: A, the nomination; and B, the presidency.

GREENFIELD: If you count Ted Kennedy's primary challenge, this is the fourth Massachusetts Democrat who has sought the presidency and failed in the last 25 years. Ted Kennedy, Paul Tsongas, Michael Dukakis, now John Kerry. No aspersions on the people of Massachusetts. At least they have the Boston Red Sox curse ended, but they may invent a new curse that you can't be elected president -- you know, not since John Kennedy can a Massachusetts Democrat be elected president.

BLITZER: You look at this picture, John King, what goes through your mind?

KING: Standing there in 1988, that very spot when Michael Dukakis named Lloyd Bentsen, the senator from Texas, as his running made, an effort by Michael Dukakis to get somebody from outside of the northeast -- the Boston/Austin Axis, they called it, just like Kennedy/Johnson -- to try to say that I may be from Massachusetts, but I will represent the entire country to find a more sensuous running made in Lloyd Bentsen. John Kerry tried much the same, a younger, more energetic senator in John Edwards. But they tried to reach out to the south, to try to diversify the party. Politically, geographically, obviously it did not work. But it was in that very spot where Michael Dukakis named Lloyd Bentsen his running mate back in 1988 -- my first presidential campaign. I'm getting old, Wolf.

BLITZER: Not too old.

GREENFIELD: I think this is also -- John, correct me if I'm wrong -- where Senator Kerry and Governor Weld held some of their famous debates in 1996?

KING: That is correct. It is a fabulous spot. It is a historical spot. In this hall, it's breathtaking in its history. Out around it is one of the more fabulous neighborhoods to walk through Boston. You can go one way to the State House and up Beacon Hill. The other way into the North End if you're hungry. It's just a breathtaking part of the city.

BLITZER: Candy Crowley is in Boston. She's been covering the Kerry campaign for us and doing an outstanding job, as she always does. Candy, this is the end of this campaign. It's about to be official.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm thinking right now of a conversation that we had when we did a CNN special on John Kerry. Talked to his oldest friend, somebody he'd known from grade school, who said, "You know, I sat down with John a year ago and I said, 'John, you've got this beautiful wife. She's rich. You've got all this money. You're a U.S. Senator. Why would you want to run for president?'"

And John Kerry said, "Well, because I have things I want to do. And you know, the worst that can happen is that I'm a U.S. Senator with a beautiful wife and a lot of money." So, that's where he is right now.

I mean, this is a "Don't Cry for Him, Argentina." There's a lot that is still ahead. He has the rest of his term to serve out.

They -- I think the worst part of this, for them, is they really believed in that last week -- you know, the Bruce Springsteen sort of rock tour that we did in Madison, having those 80,000, they thought, in the streets of Madison. We went to Milwaukee in the final days -- pouring rain, very cold, big crowd, thousands standing there, waiting for him. Same at the airport, people who stood for three and four and five hours.

And after a while, inside your bubble, you begin to believe that that's what the world looks like. So, this was really tough for them, because as they moved in -- they're now saying, well, we knew Ohio was tough. We thought it was even. But the fact is that the feel of this campaign, when they got off the plane here in Boston yesterday, was we're going to win this.

So, it was a very rough night. And I'm sure this is a very rough moment for the senator.

BLITZER: The man, Candy -- and to our viewers -- who's standing in front of the podium there is Marvin Nicholson, a Kerry aide, and setting the microphone, making sure that everything is all set for John Kerry and John Edwards once they finally go out there and make their speeches.

There was a palpable shift in strategy -- at least I sensed it, many others did, Candy -- when all the Bill Clinton strategists and aides were brought in in recent weeks to try to jazz up this campaign. Talk a little bit about that.

CROWLEY: Well, you know, all along we've seen various reincarnations of the campaign, or at least, you know, shifts of how they were going to approach this. What they wanted to do, in the final couple of months, the last six weeks, was to focus the campaign.

The problem was, as much as sometimes they would try to turn the corner to domestic issues -- talking about Social Security and jobs and the economy, the issues they thought would play in Ohio, which they had set their sights on and really felt was theirs. Every time they tried to do that, something would happen and it always came back to Iraq.

Then, we began -- we went into that phase where they would see a headline -- you know, today this happened. I mean, I don't know if you remember, but the last two weeks of headlines for the president had been awful. The ground in Iraq has been terrible. All kinds of reports coming out. And John Kerry would seize on those and incorporate them into his speech that the president was incompetent, that he didn't deserve another term, that he had mismanaged the war -- wrong war, wrong time, wrong place.

So, in the end, as much as they tried to play to their strength, it came back. I think they'll be some second-guessing about the ripped from the headlines approach of the campaign. They were criticized about that, by the Republicans who said he doesn't have a message. Every day, he reads the paper, he runs out there. But they thought it fit into their overall message -- the president has run this war incompetently.

But they could never, ever bring it to their turf, and they knew the turf was the economy and jobs and Social Security and healthcare, but could never get the conversation to focus on that for very long.

BLITZER: Candy, stand by. Judy and Jeff, when you look at the Democratic party right now, who is the leader of the Democratic party in the aftermath of this defeat of John Kerry and John Edwards?

WOODRUFF: Well, technically I suppose you could say it's whoever takes Tom Daschle's place as the minority leader of the Senate.

BLITZER: That's probably going to be Harry Reid of Nevada.

WOODRUFF: And we assume that's Nevada Democratic Senator Harry Reid who's announced he's going to run. And we are hearing that he's not going to face any tangible opposition.

But beyond that, because we know Dick Gephardt is retiring from the House. Beyond that, it's not clear. I mentioned Hillary Clinton a few minutes ago. People still look up to Bill Clinton. But he's a figure of the past. One assumes Terry McAuliffe is leaving his job as the head of the party. So, there's no -- there aren't any obvious candidates out there.

BLITZER: Do you have any obvious candidates, Jeff?

GREENFIELD: No. Because in the old, old days, the nominee of the party is who'll be (INAUDIBLE) leader of the party. You don't hear that phrase hardly anymore for very good reason.

Any party that doesn't have the White House has a problem with leadership. If you have the Congress the way Newt Gingrich had it under Clinton for a couple of years, you could point to him. But I think, you know -- look, we've all done this for a while. It's in the blood to start picking who's next. I think this would be at least a 10-day moratorium on going to the next election. And the, for the Democrats, they've got to worry a lot more about what they stand for than who's going to lead them.

BLITZER: John King is at the White House. John, the president, after he delivers his victory speech scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Eastern over at the Reagan Center in Washington, talk a little bit about his agenda, his itinerary over the coming weeks.

KING: Well, the president will give his speech today. Aides are already at work here at the White House on the budget of next year, the State of the Union address, and the president's first post- election international trip. He will go to Chile for the annual Asia- Pacific Economic Summit. There, he will see the leaders of China, the leaders of Russia, the leaders of Japan, other global economies. Some of them, including Japan, a key ally right now on the ground in Iraq.

So, the president having some economic business, some business about the war and the coalition in Iraq to tend to right away. And they say he will quickly get about the business of governing.

Now, you've mentioned Harry Reid probably to become the Democratic leader. Most here at the White House, and I spoke at length about this with Karl Rove, the president's top advisor, this morning, think there will be a short honeymoon, if you will -- perhaps not the exact right term -- because Democrats will see that this president did win a majority. He did gain seats in both the House and the Senate.

They believe they will have an atmosphere of cooperation at the beginning, but turning that atmosphere into action will be quite challenging, because the president wants to bring together Democrats and Republicans to deal with Social Security reform. But he wants to do things that the Democrats adamantly oppose. The president wants to take new steps towards healthcare accessibility and affordability, but he wants to do things the Democrats say won't work. And so, when we get to the substance of what the president wants to do, we will test what everyone is saying today will be at least initially a bipartisan atmosphere. And it will be interesting. In the early first Bush term, he reached out to a senator from Massachusetts named Ted Kennedy. John Kerry promised him this morning he would try to help the president. Will this president reach out to John Kerry, or will he ignore him and try to govern without Democratic help? That will be a key challenge for this president.

BLITZER: That's Alexandra and Vanessa Kerry we're looking at. Speaking of Senator Kennedy, the daughters of John Kerry, they're putting a brave smile on their faces. How disappointed, Judy, they must both be.

WOODRUFF: I think they were both assets for their father on the campaign trail. Alexandra Kerry, in particular, seemed to be -- you know, had really come into her own as an articulate spokesperson for her father's campaign.

And Wolf, if I could just pick up on what John was saying. I think, you know, it will be very interesting to hear what John Kerry says, whether he talks about what we need to keep fighting for as Democrats, or does he stress reconciliation? I think -- is the tone of this speech going to be, you know, we're all in this -- we're still in this together and we're not going to give up the fight, or is it going to be now's the time for healing?

BLITZER: Teresa Heinz Kerry walking into Faneuil Hall with a round of applause. Her friends, her supporters, her family there as well. Her son right next to her. This is a moment where the Kerrys and the Edwardses -- and I haven't seen the Edwards' side of this family. Have you seen them yet, Jeff, in these pictures?

GREENFIELD: No, I haven't. I just want to point out that there might be talk of reconciliation and we're all in this together, but very soon, it appears that the president of the United States will have his first chance to name a Supreme Court justice. Chief Justice Rehnquist appears to be seriously, if not gravely, ill.

That fight has been in rehearsal for four years in Washington, with liberal interest groups and conservative interest groups kind of practicing their techniques on district and federal court nominees. This president has not had a chance to appoint one justice, because there hasn't been a vacancy.

And again, at the risk of making a prediction, which I can't stand, that battle over the Supreme Court nominee with a more Republican Senate is going to be a barn burner.

BLITZER: All right. Kerry has been introduced now. He's walking in -- Senator Kerry. He's going to get a strong, strong round of applause. Here he is, John Kerry and John Edwards. John Edwards walking up first, John Kerry following. They're going to be speaking -- we don't know how long, how short, what they'll say. I assume John Edwards will speak first, introduce John Kerry. But then again, we don't know. We haven't been told, but that's what the assumption is. Edwards speaks first, Kerry speaks second. And then we'll listen and we'll wait and we'll see. This is a difficult moment for any politician.

Am I right, Judy and Jeff, John, if you can help me, this is only the second political contest that John Kerry has lost?

WOODRUFF: That's right, that's right.

BLITZER: Early in his career, he lost a race.

GREENFIELD: Race for Congress, then he lost lieutenant governor. And one thing that's very indicative for these people to do is not to give their campaign speeches. They've given it 500 times. It's in their blood at this point. The tape's in their head.

BLITZER: All right. Let's listen to John Edwards speak first. And he'll be followed by John Kerry. This team has been together now for sometime. They've worked extremely hard, up until the last moment, doing as best as they could. They had millions and millions of dollars in support, thousands -- hundreds of thousands, millions of volunteers. They had what so many Democratic politicians and strategists thought were so many issues running in their favor, whether it was the economy, which had faltered, the war in Iraq. But not to be.

WOODRUFF: But you know their hearts are breaking.

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