A day after delivering his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry responded to President Bush's attack on his Senate record by saying, "The president is not telling Americans the truth."
Kerry made the remark during an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in Pennsylvania, on the first day of a 21-state campaign tour with his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Following is an excerpt from the interview:
George Stephanopoulos: I've go to say: before the speech a lot of delegates were wondering if you could pull it off. Did you beat your own expectations?
Sen. John Kerry: George, I don't stop and analyze that. I do what I need to do to convince Americans that I have a better plan to strengthen our country here at home and to restore our reputation in the world. I know I can fight a more effective war on terrorism than George Bush.
Stephanopoulos: Did you have fun while you were [giving the speech]?
Kerry: I had a ball. It was an unbelievable experience. It was a once in a lifetime experience.
Stephanopoulos: It seemed pretty hot up there, too.
Kerry: It was. I thought about it afterwards, I said, "Why don't they have fans blowing in?"
Stephanopoulos: President Bush is already coming back at you. He gave a speech in Springfield, Mo., this morning, and he took aim at your Senate record. He said you've had thousands of votes with no significant record of achievement. No significant record of reform on intelligence in education of health care.
Kerry: It's just not true. Once again, the president is not telling Americans the truth. They've spent $95 million distorting my record. And The Washington Post has written that they've been false charges, and it's the most negative campaign in history. What has the president been doing? The day after the convention, I invite him to have positive campaign, and all he can do is attack on the day the White House announced the largest deficits in American history. He should get about fixing the problems of this country, not just attacking every day.
Stephanopoulos: He says we're turning a corner.
Kerry: Well, if you talk to a lot of people in America who are struggling to pay their health insurance or have lost their jobs, they don't think so. I don't think you're turning the corner when 4 million people have lost their health insurance. What corner has he turned? I've introduced many pieces of legislation that are the law of the land today, and the president is just trying very hard because he doesn't have a record to run on. What people want is real leadership. They want health care for their families, they want jobs that pay more, not less than the jobs that are going overseas. They want us to be safer in the world. I will not mislead America into war. I will lead this country to a safer place than George Bush has, and they're worried about it so they're just attacking.
Stephanopoulos: Right before the convention, I was talking to Sen. [Edward] Kennedy, and he reminded me of the first conversation he had with you back in 1971. And he said he saw into your soul. Did the American people see into your soul last night?
Kerry: I hope so. I hope so, I want them to. And I'm willing at any time to open my soul up to America because I want them to know that I love this country, I have fought for it, I am still fighting for it. And I believe we can do better.