Mr. Kerry, are you a LIBERAL?
I always get a kick out of this snip from the New York Democratic Primary debate. This section deals with a rather surprising question... "Mr. Kerry, are you a liberal?"
He never answers the question. Neither does John Edwards. However, the most entertaining aspect of his answer is that he qualifies his voting record by implying it was skewed....(wait for it).......because, he only voted 37 of the 62 times. That's right, he rationalizes his #1 Liberal Senator rating based on his poor attendance and failure to attend to his Senatorial obligations. He further rationalizes that the Senior's Bill and the Tax Cuts were just bad legislation and had nothing to do with being liberal. Ummmm, John, that's being liberal. You don't just join an ideology by buying the T-shirt.
Q. Can I just change the topic for a minute? Just ask a plain political question? The National Journal, a respected nonideologic publication covering Congress as you both know, has just rated you, Senator Kerry, No. 1, the most liberal senator in the Senate. You're No. 4. How can you hope to win with this kind of characterization in this climate?
MR. KERRY. Because it's a laughable characterization. It's absolutely the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen in my life.
Q. Are you a liberal?
MR. KERRY. Let me just go to -
Q. Are you a liberal?
MR. KERRY. Please, come to the characterization. I mean, look, labels are so silly in American politics. I was one of the first Democrats in the United States Senate in 1985 to join with Fritz Hollings in deficit reduction. Now does that make me a conservative? I fought to put 100,000 police officers in the streets of America. Am I a conservative?
Q. But Senator Kerry, the question is -
MR. KERRY. Just a minute. You don't let us finish answering questions.
Q. You're in New York.
MR. KERRY. Well, I'm going to fight for it. That's exactly what I'm going to do, I'm going to fight for it. Do you know what they measured in that? First of all, they measured 62 votes. I've voted 37 times. Twenty-five votes they didn't even count because I wasn't there to vote for them. Secondly. Secondly. They counted my voting against the Medicare bill, which is a terrible bill for seniors in America, they call that being liberal. Lots of conservatives voted against that. In addition, they counted my voting against George Bush's tax cut that we can't afford. I thought it was fiscally conservative to vote against George Bush's tax cut. They call it liberal.
Q. Is this a helpful characterization in this campaign?
MR. KERRY. I think it's the silliest thing I've ever heard of.
Q. Senator Edwards?
MR. EDWARDS. May I respond just to this question, Dan.
MR. EDWARDS. Because all three have -
Q. I'm coming to you. Are you a liberal?
MR. EDWARDS. I don't believe anybody, this is actually a subject that John and I agree about, I don't think anybody in American cares about what some inside-Washington publication says about your ideology. What they care about is what are your values. Where do you come from? What do you believe in? And who are you fighting for? And do you understand the real world and the problems that people face every day in their life? That's what the people of the United States are looking for in a president. This president does not understand what's going on in people's lives. He is completely out of touch. I wish he would do one day what the four of us do every single day, which is go out, campaign, conduct town hall meetings. Not ticketed events. Not where you make people pay $2,000 to get in the door. But actual real people and listening to what their problems are. This president does not know what's going on in the real world.