Transcript: Kerry, Hatch

STEPHANOPOULOS: So he wouldn't agree with those like Howard Dean who say it's not worth doing if you don't have the public health insurance option?

KERRY: I think there is an enormous amount, George -- oh, here is what Teddy would do. He would say, I'm going to fight the fight, and if and when we get to the point that we can't get there, we'll see whether or not we can do enough to make good happen out of this.

And you can't make that measurement today. We have to go down that road.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You said, earlier this year, Senator Hatch, that Senator Kennedy was really missed in the negotiations, because of his ability to speak to progressives and reach out to Republicans.

What about going forward right now? Who can fill that void and is there a deal to be had here?

HATCH: One thing that Kennedy had, he could bring together all of the base groups of the Democratic Party. They wouldn't take him on once he made up his mind. And as somebody who over the last 33 years passed almost every health care bill that works, many of them with Ted Kennedy, in fact, most of them with Ted Kennedy.

Everything from orphan drugs to the three AIDS bills to the CHIP bill, you can just name it, you know, even people with disabilities. I mean, we worked on all of those together.

In every case, he fought as hard as he could, like John has said here, but when he recognized that, you know, he couldn't get everything that he wanted, but he could get a good bill by working with the other side. And making through compromise, he would always come through.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you think he would move in that direction now?

HATCH: I have no doubt about it. I mean, if he was here...

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it doable now?

HATCH: ... I don't think we'd be in the mess we're in right now. And look, Ted was the leading liberal in the Senate -- in the whole Congress, as far as I'm concerned. And others come very close to him, like John here.

I mean, very good people, but you know, let's be honest about it, the people out there are very concerned. They don't want a Washington-run government plan, it's just that simple. And I think that is showing up everywhere throughout America. When Medicare is $38 trillion in unfunded liability, and then they want to take $400 billion or $500 billion out of Medicare, I mean, come on, this doesn't make sense. And Teddy would have recognized that.

And look, I -- we used to get in tremendous fights, he and I, but we would always come together in the end. And it was always because both of us were willing to go to the center. And sometimes he would go to the center-right.

I mean, CHIP was a center-right bill.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what's going to...

(CROSSTALK)

KERRY: Yes, but one of the things that Teddy would make clear, and I want to now, is that no one is talking about a government-run, Washington-based health care plan. That is not what people are talking about.

So if we can get a reality onto the table, which Orrin is usually pretty good at doing, we can have a good conversation here.

I'm convinced we're going to do this. I believe better judgment is going to prevail. I think we're going to come back, begin this discussion anew in a way that we ought to. And I think we're...

STEPHANOPOULOS: But let me draw out something...

KERRY: ... going to get it done.

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