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John Kerry on Principles & Values

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


FactCheck: No, Kerry is 11th most liberal, not 1st in Senate

BUSH_CHENEY CLAIM: "The nonpartisan National Journal magazine ranks Kerry the most liberal member of the Senate-more liberal than Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy."

CNN FACT CHECK:National Journal's Feb. 2004 rankings did list Kerry as the most liberal member of the Senate in 2003, but the result was based only on his votes in the year 2003, and may have been artificially inflated by Kerry's unusually high absentee rate last year. National Journal based its ratings on 62 key Senate votes cast in 2003 in three issue areas: economic policy, social policy and foreign policy. Kerry's rating was based only on the 20 votes he cast in the economic policy area. His votes in social and foreign policy were not counted because he missed more than half of the votes in those categories. Had he missed four more economic votes, Kerry would not have been included in the 2003 ratings at all. Kerry's lifetime liberal rating is 85.7 out of 100, making him the Senate's 11th most liberal senator.

Source: CNN FactCheck on statements by Bush and Kerry: Oct 29, 2004

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

Late Night: "Top 10 Bush Tax Proposals"

Source: Late Night with David Letterman, "Top 10" Sep 20, 2004

Bush & Cheney unfit to serve because they misled us into war

We all saw the anger and distortion of the Republican Convention. For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief. Well, here's my answer.

The vice president even called me unfit for office last night. I guess I'll leave it up to the voters whether five deferments makes someone more qualified to defend this nation than two tours of duty.

Let me tell you what I think makes someone unfit for duty. Misleading our nation into war in Iraq makes you unfit to lead this nation. Doing nothing while this nation loses millions of jobs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting 45 million Americans go without health care makes you unfit to lead this nation. Letting the Saudi royal family control our energy costs makes you unfit to lead this nation. Handing out billions of government contracts to Halliburton while you're still on their payroll makes you unfit. That's the record of George Bush and Dick Cheney. And it's not going to change.

Source: Midnight response to 2004 Republican Convention Speeches Sep 2, 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

Will lead an America where all are in the same boat

I learned a lot about these values on that gunboat patrolling the Mekong Delta with young Americans who came from places as different as Iowa and Oregon, Arkansas, Florida and California. No one cared where we went to school. No one cared about our race or our backgrounds. We were literally all in the same boat. We looked out, one for the other - and we still do. That is the kind of America I will lead as President - an America where we are all in the same boat.
Source: Acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 29, 2004

Urban Legend: Kerry did not disparage Reagan at funeral

From the Urban Legends and Folklore section:
"This moment in Simi Valley is a moment of truth," Kerry said. "Not just for my campaign, but for the future of my party as well. For some of us, this may be our only chance to confirm the demise of the man who is solely responsible for turning the American people away from liberal philosophy. As Democrats, we need to put small differences aside and be certain that this man is truly gone. Next, we must reclaim our country from the church-goers, the middle America folks and the uneducated conservative masses."
Comments: False. The above quote, currently circulating via email, was excised from its original context in a satirical "press release" published June 9, 2004 on the John F'n Kerry Website. The disclaimer at the bottom of that page clearly states: "The John F'n Kerry Website is a parody Website, intended for entertainment purposes only."
Source: Ad-Watch by urbanlegends.about.com Jul 28, 2004

Clear separation of church and state

Kerry says, 'I believe in the separation [of church and state].
Source: Complete Biography By The Boston Globe, p.293 Apr 27, 2004

Revoke every Bush order that favors special interests

From the moment I take office, I will stand up to special interests and stand with hardworking families. In my first 100 days as President, I will revoke every Bush executive order that favors polluters and the special interests.

My first major bill to Congress will be national health care reform, taking on the insurance industry to hold down costs and cover all Americans. I will repeal Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy so we can invest in education and health care. I will take on the oil industry and make energy independence a national priority while creating 500,000 new jobs. I will attack corporate corruption and end the special interest feeding frenzy in Washington. And I will declare an end to the Bush policy of unilateralism and pre-emptive war.

I have spent my entire career standing up to special interests and fighting for the American people. I am running for president because we need a President who is ready and willing on day one to make tough stands and fight the hard battles.

Source: Campaign website, JohnKerry.com, "Issues" Mar 21, 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

Despite Zell Miller, Dem Party does speak to southerners

Q: How you would respond to Sen. Zell Miller's (D, GA) claim that the Democratic party is no longer a national party -- especially that it no longer speaks for the interests of those below the Mason-Dixon line?

A: I disagree with Senator Miller. I respect him but I disagree with him. People below the Mason Dixon line don't have adequate health care, their water is polluted and they are losing their jobs overseas under this administration. Every time I've been down there -- people have responded very positively. I think everyday Americans understand that I will be the president to stand up to special interests and fight for them. And last time I saw Zell, he told me that he liked my speech and that what I was saying would resonate in Georgia.

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

Bush broke his three biggest campaign promises

My case is based on 3 big promises Bush made in 2000, then subsequently abandoned.
Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 10-13 Oct 1, 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

Contest between common sense values and extreme ideologues

This is not the normal contest of Democrats versus Republicans. This is a contest between common sense American values and extreme ideologues whose agenda is to dismantle 50 years of Democratic achievement and we're not going to let them do it. Some people [say] that they can't tell the difference between us and them. Well, the differences could not be more clear - the agenda could not be more compelling - and the stakes could not be higher. Our agenda is as clear as it is different and fairer.
Source: Keynote Speech to Massachusetts Democratic Issues Convention Jun 7, 2003

I'm talking about things that matter to people

Q: The rap on you is that you're just too aloof, that you don't have the common touch it takes to win.

KERRY: Well, probably I ought to just disappear and contemplate that by myself.

You know, I've heard that for a long time, but I'm attracting support all across the country and it's because I'm talking about things that matter to people. I'm the only person running for this job who's actually fought in a war.

I believe I bring strength to this ticket: strength about how we maintain a military that is strong, but make ourselves stronger in the world. And I think I know what our vision is for this country at home: health care, really leaving on child behind, putting people back to work and I have a proven record of fighting the tough fights that will give people trust that I will do that for America.

Source: Democratic Debate in Columbia SC May 3, 2003

I'm a good person to be in the foxhole with

I'm very well aware that when God made me one of the debits he gave me was sort of an over level of intensity, maybe an over level of earnestness, or whatever you want to call it. On the other hand, what I do know about myself is that when you have a fight, I'm a good person to be in the foxhole with, and I know that we're in a fight right now.
Source: KERRY/WELD: DEAD HEAT, PBS.org Sep 19, 1996


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

Saw the fear in the eyes of people who were not free

My father was in the State Department, stationed in Berlin when it and the world were divided between democracy & communism. I have unforgettable memories of being a kid mesmerized by the British, French, and American troops, each guarding their own part of the city. Russians standing guard on the stark line separating East from West. What I learned has stayed with me for a lifetime. I saw how different life was on different sides of the same city. I saw the fear in the eyes of people who were not free.
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

Attended boarding school in Europe; fluent in French

Having a mother who grew up in Europe and a father who worked to reshape it, going to school abroad and learning French, Italian and German meant that Kerry developed a comfort with other cultures and other points of view that abides to this day. He's an affirmed multilateralist and proud regular at the yearly World Economic Forum in Davos, and he is married to a woman - Teresa - who speaks even more languages than he does. When he and his brother are on a conference call and want to talk privately, they have been known to break into French. But when he tried to flaunt his credentials as a favorite of foreign leaders and a better bet to navigate the now hostile waters of world opinion, the Republicans pounced, suggesting that he is some kind of Eurosnob - forcing Kerry, a Vietnam veteran, to remind people that he had fought for his country and has served it as a public official for most of his adult life.
Source: Time Magazine, "The Making Of John Kerry" Jul 6, 2004

Despite aristocratic roots, a Catholic outsider at schools

While his pedigree was plenty aristocratic [at his boarding school in N.H.], Kerry didn't have the money to go with it. He didn't fly the private jet to Paris for a long weekend. In fact, he worked summers loading trucks as a Teamster at First National Stores, then one of the Northeast's leading grocery chains. "You have to understand that atmosphere," a [boarding school classmate] says. "These were kids who were raised to believe that they came from the ruling class. But John was Catholic. He was also not from wealth. He never had money in his pocket. I joke that he still owes me money. He never had cash, and that was a very unusual thing for a student at [the boarding school]. He also had a European kind of flair. He dressed a little differently, liked to wear French cuffs. He was a very hard worker at everything. He played sports hard. He was very competitive, and it wasn't a cool thing to be competitive. You didn't have to be competitive - you had a birthright."
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

Raised Catholic, but family history includes Jews

As fate would have it, I learned a new personal lesson about diversity and the American mosaic late last year. Anticipating my candidacy, the Boston Globe looked into my family history. Among other things, the paper discovered one hundred years ago, my paternal grandfather was an American Jew named Fritz Kohn, who changed his name to Kerry and converted to Catholicism shortly before immigrating to Massachusetts. I didn't know this because my grandfather died when my father was just five years old-a reminder of how much so much of America's history is buried.

One thing that hasn't changed for me as a result of this revelation is my Catholic heritage. I am a believing and practicing Catholic. And being an American Catholic at this particular moment in history has three particular implications for my own point of view as a candidate for the presidency.

Source: A Call to Service, by John Kerry, p. 23-4 Oct 1, 2003

Favorite song: Bruce Springsteen, "No Surrender."

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

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.