ABC News Transcript: Interview With John Kerry

GIBSON: — that the military makes no distinction, that the military makes no distinction between ribbons and medals, but you're the one who made the distinction. In 1984 —

KERRY: No. We made no distinction back then, Charlie. We made no distinction in 1971.

GIBSON: But, but 1984, Senator, I don't want to argue with you —

KERRY: Correct.

GIBSON: I just want to ask the question. In 1984, when you were running for the Senate, that was the first time that you called someone in from labor because they were upset that you had thrown ribbons away.

KERRY: No, someone from labor —

GIBSON: You called them in and you made the distinction and said, I didn't throw my medals away, I just threw the ribbons away. You made the distinction.

KERRY: I was asked specifically in greater detail about what took place. And I answered the question truthfully. Which was exactly consistent with what happened in 1971. I mean, Charlie, go back and get the file footage. There were millions of people watching on television. I stood up in front of the nation and I took my ribbons off my chest just as other veterans did. This is a phony controversy. This is being pushed yesterday by Karen Hughes of the White House on Fox. It shows up at a several different stations at the same time. The Republicans are running $10 million this week to attack my credentials on defense. This comes from a president who can't even show or prove that he showed up for duty in the National Guard. And I'm not going to stand for it.

GIBSON: I understand.

KERRY: I'm not going to stand for it.

GIBSON: I understand you're feeling that politics is behind this. But I ask you, is it not fair —

KERRY: I know politics is behind this, because —

GIBSON: Is it not fair to draw the inference that when trying to appeal to the antiwar people in 1971, you said, as in that interview, it was the medals, and then when the people who supported the war were giving you political problems, you then said, no, I didn't throw the medals away 13 years later?

KERRY: Charlie, that's the most, with all due respect, that's the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. Because I stood up in front of the country, in front of cameras, Tom Oliphant of The Boston Globe got it correct. He wrote about the medals, but he knew they were my ribbons. Everybody understood what we were doing. I even said in that interview that we threw away the symbols of what our country gave us for what we had gone through. And if I was, you know, back then, incidentally, trying to appeal to somebody, I stood up against Richard Nixon, stood up against the war, took a position. It wasn't popular, it was polarizing. I didn't have to do it. If I was trying to hide something, I would have never stood there in front of everybody and thrown them over the fence. I threw my ribbons over. I threw the medals of two veterans who asked me to throw them over, after the ceremony, completely separate. And I'm the one, if I have something to hide, I'm the one who made it known exactly what happened. To me, it's one in the same. And I'm proud of it.

GIBSON: Let me ask you, too, about two other things that you have said subsequent to that.

KERRY: Sure.

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