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Democratic Delegates Hear from Sen. John Kerry

July 29, 2004 at 12:00 AM EDT
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TRANSCRIPT

GWEN IFILL: Good evening, Jim. It probably goes without saying that some of John Kerry’s biggest fans are the delegates right in this hall tonight, but after four days of political bonding, they know exactly what they want to hear from their candidate.

What do you want to hear from John Kerry tonight?

REX CHEATHAM, Alabama: Well, I’m really optimistic tonight and hopeful that Sen. Kerry will project not only to Americans, but the entire world, that he’s going to assure the world and our country that he’s going to restore the credibility that we’ve lost.

We all know that under the leadership of George Bush, this country has lost its credibility. So Kerry, I believe, will assure not only Americans that he’s the right person at the right time, the strong candidate.

You know, Sen. Kerry risked his life for his comrades and his country many, many years ago, and, you know, in Alabama, I know for a fact that George Bush, it is very questionable whether he even served in the guard.

We need a commander in chief who is strong, that we know is going to fight for all Americans.

GWEN IFILL: You know John Kerry, but a lot of Americans don’t. How important does that make this speech tonight?

REX CHEATHAM: Well, I think it’s a critical speech because a lot of Americans, as you say, do not know John Kerry.

But I believe after tonight, they will be reassured that he is a candidate who can lead us to a better tomorrow, and as Sen. Edwards said last night, you know, this ticket is going to bring hope to all Americans, and not only for America, but restore that hope worldwide so that once again our allies can trust us and know that they can depend on what we say we’re going to do and why.

GWEN IFILL: What does John Kerry need to do tonight?

JANE MITAKIDES, Ohio: He needs to introduce himself to the rest of America so they know him the way we do.

GWEN IFILL: How does he do that?

JANE MITAKIDES: He talks about his ideas for the future. Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard so much about his extraordinary heroism in Vietnam, his public service.

We know where he’s been. He needs to tell us tonight where he’s going to take us.

GWEN IFILL: Everyone is competing for those votes in the swing states, especially for people who have not made up their minds yet, people who may not be Democrats.

What does he need to say to them in particular?

JANE MITAKIDES: For people in Ohio, he needs to talk first about jobs. We’re not seeing this recovery the Republicans talk about.

In my district alone, we see it every day. We lost in Ohio 14,000 more jobs last month alone. We’re not recovering.

So he needs to talk about jobs and families and the everyday issues that matter to America, and, of course, too, he needs to talk about health care. That’s on everybody’s mind.

GWEN IFILL: Some people have said it’s important for him to talk about national security. Some people said it’s important for him to talk about health care and jobs. You say public service.

How does he satisfy everybody tonight?

BARBARA BROWN, Illinois: You know, I think that if he communicates to people his commitment to this country, his commitment to the people of this country, they understand that that means that he’ll deliver on health care and on national security.

People want to trust their leader, and I think that John Kerry is the kind of man and has the kind of character that people will have confidence in as they come to know him better. So I don’t know in my mind, you don’t have to address the specifics of the issue as much as you have to communicate to people that you’re on their side, you’re committed to their needs and interests.

He’s very, very experienced. He has a long track record of doing that. I think if we convey that to the American people, all the rest of it will fall into place.

GWEN IFILL: Is it about the content of his message or is it about how well he delivers it tonight?

BARBARA BROWN: I’ve worked in politics for a number of years, and my sense is the American people are very good students of character and personality.

I think that if they have that confidence that you’re a good person, a person of integrity, that you’re on their side and they can trust you, then they’ll give you the opportunity to pursue your goals in policy because they know you’re on the right track.

BILLYE BURNS, Louisiana: The issue of joblessness, this is most important to me, joblessness and the state of the economy.

Too many of our people, especially black people, are standing on the corner. Secondly, health care; too many of our people cannot go and get affordable health care. They go lacking. They cannot pay for drugs. That’s too bad.

GWEN IFILL: If this election comes down to just a few votes from a few undecided voters, what does John Kerry need to say to those voters tonight to get their attention?

BILLYE BURNS: I’d like what he plans to do about health care, about the economy and joblessness, because I know most Americans are sitting around being out of a job; what he plans to do to help us get out of this Iraq situation, and what he plans to do to put this country on the right road again.

We are afraid of ourselves. We cannot keep living in fear.

GWEN IFILL: Jim, with less than 100 days before the November election John Kerry and John Edwards will leave Boston after the convention ends tonight for two weeks of campaigning, some of it together, by bus, boat, plane and train.