John Kerry spoke at a roundtable discussion for the Friends of the Library in Charleston, S.C. on Friday at the College of Charleston’s Winthrop Roundtable. The Winthrop Roundtable was “founded by former Massachusetts resident and distant Kerry relative John Winthrop.” Kerry told the audience there, that he “would like to hear more about global climate change during the current presidential race and figures it may happen now that Al Gore has won the Nobel Peace Prize.” (see Kerry congratulates Al Gore.)
“It shouldn’t take a Nobel Prize awarded to a former vice president to get people to focus on it. Obviously, I’m glad and hope that it does,” he said. “I mean this should be on the tips of everybody’s tongues. There wasn’t one speech I gave in 2004, not one, anywhere, including the convention speech where I accepted the nomination where I didn’t talk about energy independence.
We need to hear very specific plans more often.”
The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee also talked about a second major issue in the 2008 race: figuring out what to do in Iraq and in the broader global struggle against Islamic insurgents. He said the next president likely will have to fix Iraq and should try to do so not by withdrawing all troops at once but by a diplomatic blitz that would help stabilize the region.
In response to a question asking him to compare Vietnam, where he fought, with Iraq, Kerry noted both involved a civil war but said Vietnam differed because it was a proxy war in the United States’ larger struggle against communist countries such as China and the Soviet Union and because the unpopular military draft energized young Americans.
Kerry formally declared his 2004 presidential bid on the deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown in Charleston Harbor and later lost to President George Bush after losing Ohio by about 59,000 votes. Kerry said Friday he has no regrets about his decision earlier this year not to try again.
“I’m happily running for re-election and focused on that,” he said, adding that he is taking stock in the current crop of Democratic challengers, which include his former vice presidential running mate, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
Kerry said the 2008 presidential campaign started early, “and I think that’s a reflection, frankly, of dissatisfaction with the president. There’s a thirst for change, and people want to move to the future as fast as they can.”
Kerry also reiterated what he has said many times in the past about the ’04 election, that he “has no regrets about his campaign three years ago,” and that it was gratifying that he’s been proven right on the war and right on energy independence (among other issues, he didn’t name):
“I don’t think about it. I move forward,” he said. “If I were running, I could apply lessons … but I’m not. The one thing that does stand out is that there are more and more people writing articles about how I was right about the war, how I was right about energy independence. And that’s gratifying.
“I think my campaign broke a lot of ground that was important, and I remain proud of it. I won 10 million votes more than Bill Clinton running for re-election. I think we did better than some people may have judged. We did well. “Obviously, I would prefer to have won.”
Obviously, Senator Kerry, many of us would have prefered that you won.