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John Kerry on Principles & Values

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


American exceptionalism is about what we do, not what we say

Our opponents like to talk about "American exceptionalism," but all they do is talk. They forget that we are exceptional not because we say we are, but because we do exceptional things. We break out of the Great Depression, win two world wars, save lives fighting AIDS, pull people out of poverty, defend freedom, go to the moon--and produce exceptional people who even give their lives for civil rights and human rights.

Despite what you heard [at the GOP Convention], an exceptional country does care about the rise of the oceans and the future of the planet. That is a responsibility from the Scriptures--and that too is a responsibility of the leader of the free world. The only thing exceptional about today's Republicans is that--almost without exception--they oppose everything that has made America exceptional in the first place. An exceptional nation demands the leadership of an exceptional president. And, my fellow Americans, that president is Barack Obama.

Source: 2012 Democratic National Convention speech , Sep 6, 2012

OpEd: Bush & Rove saw flip-flop theme as key opening

Kerry claimed an upset victory in Iowa, won the New Hampshire primary, and cruised to the nomination. A Vietnam veteran and four-term senator, Kerry was a hard worker, a polished debater, and a tough campaigner. I considered him a formidable opponent.

Kerry also had weaknesses. He had the process-oriented mindset of a longtime legislator and a voting record that qualified as the most liberal in the Senate. In the fall of 2003, he had voted against an $87 billion bill to fund troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shortly after he clinched the nomination, my campaign ran an ad highlighting his position. Kerry responded, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

I spoke to Karl the moment I heard the sound bite. "There's our opening," I said. "The American people expect their president to take a clear stand and defend it, especially when it comes to supporting troops in combat." We grabbed the "flip-flop" theme and ran with it for the rest of the campaign.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.287-288 , Nov 9, 2010

Attempted to filibuster Sam Alito Supreme Court nomination

Bush nominated 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Samuel Alito [for the Supreme Court]. Judge Alito had impeccable credentials as a conservative jurist.

Probing for weaknesses, Democrats delayed his hearing until January 9, 2006, and then hammered him for 4 days, one more day than Roberts had suffered.

Alito's answers [during the vetting process and nomination hearings] demonstrated he had a brilliant mind and deep legal wisdom. Alito was never in trouble, given the obvious power of his intellect.

Senator John Kerry phones in a request for a filibuster against Alito from the Swiss Alps. Democrats attempted to filibuster on January 30 but fell short. Among those supporting the filibuster was Barack Obama. The next day Judge Alito was approved by a 58-42 margin, with only four Democrats supporting him.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.423-424 , Mar 9, 2010

2004 flawed exit polls showed Kerry tied in Mississippi

The biggest story of the 2004 election was the fraudulent Edison/Mitofsky Research exit poll on election day. The Mitofsky poll had overstated Democratic percentages by about 6-8% since the 1992 election, but in 2004, the pro-Democratic tilt was absurd. For example, the exit polls had Bush tied with Kerry in Mississippi. Only at 9 PM when the real results began to come in, did the election flip to Bush.

After the election, the designer of the exit poll, Warren Mitofsky, frantically examined the results to try to figure out what had gone so horribly wrong. What Mitofsky found was that "the biggest discrepancies between actual precinct votes and the exit pollsters' results occurred in precincts where the exit poll personnel were female graduate students." It was suggested that Republicans might have been less likely than Democrats to answer the pollsters' questions, "especially when the interviewer is a young woman whose appearance signals she is some kind of Bush hater."

Source: Guilty, by Ann Coulter, p.209-210 , Nov 10, 2009

OpEd: Dem 527s funded Kerry well; but GOP 527s destroyed him

If a person wants to contribute unlimited sums to so-called "Section 527 organizations" to spread the word that McCain is a patriot and Obama is a terrorist, there is no legal obstacle so long as there is no institutional connection to an electoral campaign. In recent years, the nastiest negative campaigning, such as the "Swift Boat" slanders of John Kerry, has been done under the auspices of independent 527s. (Section 527 refers to the provision of the IRS Code.)

On the Democratic side, very wealthy donors have heavily used 527s to raise and spend money to register voters, build sophisticated voter analysis and targeting software, and get out the vote. The largest of the Section 527 groups on the Democratic side, America Coming Together (ACT) raised $196 million for voter drives and an ad blitz. Thanks to these donations, Kerry's hapless 2004 campaign was at least financially and technologically competitive (the problem was not money; it was the candidate and his handlers).

Source: Obama`s Challenge, by Robert Kuttner, p.191-192 , Aug 25, 2008

We need to do more to link good work with faith

Q: What part does your faith play on your policy decisions?

BUSH: My faith plays a big part in my life. Prayer and religion sustain me. When I make decisions, I stand on principle, and the principles are derived from who I am. I believe we ought to love our neighbor like we love ourself, as manifested in public policy through the faith-based initiative. I believe that God wants everybody to be free. And that’s been part of my foreign policy. In Afghanistan, I believe that the freedom there is a gift from the Almighty.

KERRY: I went to a church school and I was taught that the two greatest commandments are: Love God, with all your mind, your body and your soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.I think we have a lot more loving of our neighbor to do. We have an unequal school system. And the president and I have a difference of opinion about how we live out our sense of our faith. I talked about it earlier when I talked about faith without works being dead.

Source: [Xref Bush] Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

Bigotry and hatred should never steal our hope and future

Two young bicycle mechanics from Dayton asked what if this airplane could take off at Kitty Hawk? It did that and changed the world forever. A young president asked what if we could go to the moon in ten years? And now we’re exploring the solar system and the stars. A young generation of entrepreneurs asked, what if we could take all the information in a library and put it on a little chip the size of a fingernail? We did and that too changed the world forever.

And now it’s our time to ask: What if? What if we find a breakthrough to cure Parkinson’s, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and AIDs? What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery like stem cell research to treat illness and save millions of lives? What if we do what adults should do-and make sure all our children are safe in the afternoons after school? What if we have a leadership as good as the American dream - so that bigotry and hatred never again steal the hope and future of any American?

Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

The flag represents who we are and what we believe in

The Old Glory. The stars and stripes. I fought under that flag, as did so many of you and all across our country. It flew from the gun turret right behind my head. It was shot through and through and tattered, but it never ceased to wave in the wind. It draped the caskets of men I served with and friends I grew up with. For us, that flag is the most powerful symbol of who we are and what we believe in. Our strength. Our diversity. Our love of country. All that makes America both great and good.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Reject politics that divide people

We must make this election a contest of big ideas, not small-minded attacks. This is our time to reject the kind of politics calculated to divide race from race, group from group, region from region. Maybe some just see us divided into red states and blue states, but I see us as one America - red, white, & blue. When I am President, I will enlist people of talent, Republicans as well as Democrats, to find the common ground so that no one who has something to contribute will be left on the sidelines.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Pray humbly that we are on God’s side

We welcome people of faith. I think of what Ron Reagan said of his father a few weeks ago, and I want to say: I don’t wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day. I don’t want to claim that God is on our side. As Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God’s side. And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Jewish grandparents fled anti-Semitic Europe in 1905

Frederick A. Kerry was actually a Czech Jew named Fritz Kohn who had fled the aggressive Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1905, brutalized by anti-Semitism. Three years before his arrival in America he married Ida Lowe, a beautiful Jewish musician from Budapest. According to the "Boston Globe," the young couple simply studied a map of Europe, found County Kerry in Ireland, and chose it as their last name. Baptized as Catholics, they moved to Chicago. Eventually they moved to Brookline. He seldom missed attending Catholic church services on Sunday. (He kept it secret that he was of Jewish descent.) It seemed, to the outside world, that the Kerry family exemplified the American dream.
Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 31-32 , Jan 6, 2004

Honors the separation of church and state

Q: Will church versus state issues hurt the Democratic Party’s chances in areas of the country like the South?

A: No, I think I agree completely with Dean. I think that we can be people of faith, and we are. But as Kennedy made clear to the nation in Houston in 1960, we cherish as a country the separation of church and state. I think many of us turn to God in our private moments and also when we go to church or mosque or synagogue. But we recognize that the beauty of America respects the divisions.

Source: Democratic 2004 Primary Presidential Debate in Durham NH , Dec 9, 2003

Persecuted Catholics rely on church-state separation

Catholics have always been a minority in this country, and we have sometimes suffered persecution. To a larger extent than Catholics elsewhere, we have supported and relied upon the constitutional principle of separation of church and state to guarantee our right to worship and our liberty of conscience. That tradition, strongly advanced by John Kennedy in his quest to become our first Catholic president, helped make religious affiliation a non-issue in American politics. It should stay that way
Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 24 , Oct 1, 2003

Need a president who won’t write laws only for contributors

This is the biggest say-one-thing-do-another administration in all time. The president says one thing about children, does another, one thing about taxes, does another, about housing, about the war. We deserve a president of the United States who will write laws for all Americans, not for campaign contributors. And I intend to be a president for all Americans who takes back the flag of our country because it doesn’t belong to any party, doesn’t belong to any president.
Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate , Sep 9, 2003


John Kerry on Campaign Themes

Service is what brought America peace and prosperity

We thank that whole generation for making America strong, for winning WWII, winning the Cold War, and for the great gift of service which brought America 50 years of peace and prosperity. My parents inspired me to serve, and when I was a high school junior, Kennedy called my generation to service. It was the beginning of a great journey - a time to march for civil rights, for voting rights, for the environment, for women, and for peace. We believed we could change the world. You know what? We did.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Restore trust and credibility to the White House

As President, I will restore trust and credibility to the White House. I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war. I will have a Vice President who will not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws. I will have a Secretary of Defense who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders. And I will appoint an Attorney General who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Seeing complexities of complex issues is not flip-flopping

After 9/11 all us rallied to Bush’s call for unity to meet the danger. There were no Democrats. There were no Republicans. There were only Americans. How we wish it had stayed that way. Now there are those who criticize me for seeing complexities-and I d -because some issues just aren’t all that simple. Saying there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq doesn’t make it so. Saying we can fight a war on the cheap doesn’t make it so. And proclaiming mission accomplished certainly doesn’t make it so.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Shutting one’s eyes and ears to the truth is not patriotism

To those who question the patriotism of Americans who offer a better direction for our country, before wrapping themselves in the flag & shutting their eyes & ears to the truth, they should remember what America is really all about. They should remember the great idea of freedom for which so many have given their lives. We are here to affirm that when Americans stand up and speak their minds and say America can do better, that is not a challenge to patriotism; it is the heart and soul of patriotism.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

America can do better and help is on the way

Where is the conscience of our country? It’s in rural and small town America; it’s in urban neighborhoods and suburban main streets; it’s alive in the people I’ve met in every part of this land. It’s bursting in the hearts of Americans determined to give our country back its values and truth. We value jobs that pay you more not less than you earned before. We value jobs where, when you put in a week’s work, you can actually pay your bills, provide for your children, and lift up the quality of your life.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Ready to lead America: I was there and I led the fight

Kerry made his case: “I have the experience,” Kerry said. “I’m ready to lead America.” “I was in Rio, in Buenos Aires, in Kyoto, in The Hague,” he said, fighting the good fight against global warming. “I led the fight on health care,” Kerry said. “I led the fight for early childhood education and for clean air.” What he meant, but never quite said, was that his rival Howard Dean had written none of those laws, attended none of those conferences, led none of those fights. The closest Kerry came was when he asked his audience: “Would you hire a contractor who had never built a house to build one for you?” [Because NH surveys have Kerry behind Dean], Kerry feels obliged to assure those listening to him that he is in the contest to stay. “I am a fighter,” he said repeatedly. “This race is by no means over. As the last weeks close, people begin to focus. Who can be elected? Who can beat George Bush?”
Source: R. W. Apple, New York Times , Dec 22, 2003

Campaign built around a call to service

No matter what issue I address, my underlying message will be the same:It’s time to renew a sense of common purpose. My presidential campaign will be built around the ideas of shared endeavor, national service, intergenerational obligation, and activism aimed at overcoming partisan and personal rivalries to meet the demands of a decisive, even fateful, era. That’s why I’ve titled the book A Call to Service. I hear that call, and I believe most Americans are ready to hear it as well.
Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 13 , Oct 1, 2003

Redeem promise for a better America for our children

I am a child of the greatest generation of Americans and therefore a member of the most fortunate generation of Americans. Like my parents, I have always hopes and often assumed that my own children will have more opportunities in life than I had and will live in a country and in a world where such opportunities are more widely shared and more deeply rooted than at any time in the past.

I am running for president in no small part to redeem that promise for the America to come. While we are living today in the most extraordinary and powerful nation no earth, I believe not only that America’s best days are still to come but that our best work is yet to be done. We have the capacity to lift the life of our own land as well as lead the world to a safer and more hopeful future. But doing so will require equal measures of strength, vision, and resolve, embodied in a leadership that grasps both the breadth of our potential and the great legacy of our past.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 1 , Oct 1, 2003

It is time for this country to ask again, why not?

35 years ago I heard the news of Robert Kennedy’s victory and then assassination. That moment was seared in me, as were the words, ‘Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream things that never were and ask, why not?’

I’m running for presiden because I believe it is time for this country to ask again, why not? Why not in the richest country on the face of the planet, health care for all of our citizens accessible and affordable? Why not early childhood education so that all of our children get the best start in life? Why not invest in our future and our jobs by creating energy independence for America? Why not have a military that is strong but at the same time advances our ideals around the globe? And why not have a president who understands the truth that the flag and patriotism do not belong to any one party, they belong to all Americans?

I believe we can achieve these ideals, and I ask you to join me in the effort to make America safer, stronger and more secure.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC , May 3, 2003


John Kerry on Personal

My faith affects everything that I do

My faith affects everything that I do, in truth. The Bible says, “Faith without works is dead.” Everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people. That’s why I fight against poverty, fight to clean up the environment and protect this earth, and fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith. But God’s work must truly be our own.
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

My mother was the rock of our family

My mother was the rock of our family as so many mothers. She stayed up late to help me do my homework. She sat by my bed when I was sick, and she answered the questions of a child. She was my den mother when I was a Cub Scout and so proud of her 50-year pin as a Girl Scout leader. She gave me her passion for the environment. She taught me to see trees as the cathedrals of nature. By the power of her example, she showed me we can and must finish the march toward full equality for all women in our country
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Grandfather committed suicide; John never told he was Jewish

Richard Kerry, John’s father, was 6 years old at the time of his father’s suicide. He would also lose a sister, to cancer, and that crush of grief seems to have hardened his personality enough that his children would have a hard time penetrating it years later. “He didn’t share emotions easily,” Kerry says. The Kerry kids never knew the full story of their grandfather until the Boston Globe published its account last year. “I knew he committed suicide, but I never knew the how or why. I never really asked. I sort of figured overdose.“ Neither did Kerry know that his grandfather was a Jewish convert to Catholicism. ”I was not aware of the name change. And obviously, I wish my mother and father were alive to ask them.“ Only in his father’s last years did Kerry talk to him a bit about the past. ”I think my dad was really upset about the loss of not only his father, but ultimately his sister, and I think it had a lot of impact on him. Just a sadness. I sensed there was a big hole.“
Source: Time Magazine, “The Making Of John Kerry” , Jul 6, 2004

Spent summers on Cape Cod and hometown in Millis MA

Kerry cannot be so easily situated in the public mind. He may be the Senator from Massachusetts, but he is not from Massachusetts. He is not really from anywhere; his father’s legal and diplomatic career meant that the family moved every few years. Now he talks about deep roots nourished through summers on Cape Cod with all the various cousins, and says people have made too much of the moving around - even though he famously had to shop for a congressional district the first time he ran for public office, in 1972, because he didn’t really have a hometown. If any place comes close, it is a rural town outside Boston called Millis, where the Kerrys settled after the war. They bought a big, pretty house with six bedrooms, multiple fireplaces and a pond
Source: Time Magazine, “The Making Of John Kerry” , Jul 6, 2004

Political heroes: Max Cleland, FDR, JFK, Lincoln

Q: Who are your political heroes?

A: Max Cleland is an extraordinary example-he’s a triple amputee and a veteran. He’s an excellent example for us all. Other heroes of mine are: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, & John Kennedy- they were leaders that took extraordinary risk. That’s what political leadership is supposed to be all about. It’s hard to pick just one-there are a lot of leaders in their communities who are doing amazing work. We can all learn from their examples.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A , Nov 7, 2003

Voted YES on confirming of Sonia Sotomayor to Supreme Court.

Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee kicked off the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Nominee, Judge Sonia Sotomayor. In her opening statement, Judge Sotomayor pledged a "fidelity to the law:"
"In the past month, many Senators have asked me about my judicial philosophy. It is simple: fidelity to the law. The task of a judge is not to make the law--it is to apply the law. And it is clear, I believe, that my record in two courts reflects my rigorous commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its terms; interpreting statutes according to their terms and Congress's intent; and hewing faithfully to precedents established by the Supreme Court and my Circuit Court. In each case I have heard, I have applied the law to the facts at hand."
Reference: Supreme Court Nomination; Bill PN506 ; vote number 2009-S262 on Aug 6, 2009

Voted NO on confirming Samuel Alito as Supreme Court Justice.

Vote on the Nomination -- a YES vote would to confirm Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of New Jersey, to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Reference: Alito Nomination; Bill PN 1059 ; vote number 2006-002 on Jan 31, 2006

Voted NO on confirming John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Vote on the Nomination (Confirmation John G. Roberts, Jr., of Maryland, to be Chief Justice of the United States )
Reference: Supreme Court Nomination of John Roberts; Bill PN 801 ; vote number 2005-245 on Sep 27, 2005

Religious affiliation: Catholic.

Kerry : religious affiliation:

The Adherents.com website is an independent project and is not supported by or affiliated with any organization (academic, religious, or otherwise).

What’s an adherent?

The most common definition used in broad compilations of statistical data is somebody who claims to belong to or worship in a religion. This is the self-identification method of determining who is an adherent of what religion, and it is the method used in most national surveys and polls.

Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person’s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There’s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.

Source: Adherents.com web site 00-ADH11 on Nov 7, 2000

Supports Hyde Park Declaration of "Third Way" centrism.

Kerry signed the manifesto, "A New Politics for a New America":

As New Democrats, we believe in a Third Way that rejects the old left-right debate and affirms America’s basic bargain: opportunity for all, responsibility from all, and community of all.