Couric asked Kerry whether his criticism of Bush's "scare tactics" was a case of "the pot calling the kettle black." Kerry said: "No. No, it is profoundly not at all." He went on to criticize a situation where nine out of ten of America's active duty troops are either in Iraq, going to Iraq or coming back from Iraq. He also criticized Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security.
Kerry was unworried about Clinton alienating some voters. "I'm running for President," he said. "Not Bill Clinton."
Asked about Cheney's charge that Kerry is weak and that such weakness will invite terrorism, Kerry told Couric he wanted to look her and the American people in the eye and tell them that "unlike Dick Cheney and George Bush, I put my life on the line for this country. I fought for this country as a young man and I will fight for this country as President." He also touted his votes for the "biggest defense budgets" and "biggest intelligence budgets" in US history.
Kerry reiterated his charge that Bush let Osama Bin Laden "escape and regroup" at Tora Bora and said Bin Laden is "now in 60 countries around the world."
Kerry explained his comment that he was not changed by 9/11 by saying that he knew terror was a problem before Sept. 11, 2001, that he had written a book about it and that having been to war, he knew that this was something that "we have to win." (He said this even though when he came back from Vietnam he said: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?" Kerry told Couric: "I knew exactly what we needed to do." He then segued into his Tora Bora attack on Bush.
In an interview with NBC's Jamie Gangel, Vice President Cheney said "I think that's nuts" when talking about Kerry's New York Times Magazine interview in which he said he wants to get back to the time when terrorism was just a "nuisance" like prostitution or gambling. Cheney dismissed the Washington Post's endorsement of Kerry and criticism of Bush as something coming from a "not friendly" newspaper. Cheney said he was surprised by the "amount of damage" that had been done to the infrastructure in Iraq by Saddam Hussein.
Asked if he thought Kerry's comment about his lesbian daughter was calculated, Cheney said, "Well, that was the suspicion after they both brought it up and Mary Beth Cahill said Mary was 'fair game.' Cheney added: "Fair game—that's descriptive of an issue" at which point Lynne Cheney interjected, slapping the Vice President's knee, finishing his sentence by saying, "—not our dear and wonderful daughter." Asked if he thought Kerry should apologize for the comment, Cheney said he thinks the matter is beyond us and that we should move on.
In reference to this week's star surrogates—Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger—Cheney said he would rather have the Terminator than Elvis.
Cheney did not shy away from making a prediction of the final outcome. His prediction? "52-47 Bush".
Cheney said Democratic attacks on the draft and Social Securtiy are unfounded. Asked how he will feel if Iraqis choose an Islamic fundamentalist government, Cheney said the people of Iraq will make that choice and that a government in Iraq that is elected and is representative, "whatever it is," will be better because the world is safer now that Hussein is in prison and not in his palace.