the choice 2004 [home]
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Dan Barbiero
A friend of John Kerry's for almost fifty years, Barbiero was his classmate at St. Paul's School, his roommate at Yale and, like Kerry, saw combat in Vietnam. He talks about the traits of character and personality he observed in his friend early on - how John Kerry stood apart from his prep school classmates, why he blossomed at Yale and how he is someone "who has just worked so hard at everything and puts so much energy into everything that it can easily be misunderstood by people who don't know him." This interview was conducted on May 8, 2004.
Douglas Brinkley
Douglas Brinkley is the author of Tour of Duty - John Kerry and the Vietnam War and professor of history at the University of New Orleans. In this interview, he offers an overview of John Kerry's childhood, family and early ambition and details his combat experience in Vietnam and leadership in the anti-war movement. Commenting on Kerry's "core" as a politician, Brinkley tells FRONTLINE, "Some have said there are two types of politicians. There are ones that go from port A to port B, straight ahead. Then there are political sailors who tack with the wind, the way FDR was. You twist and turn to get to where you want to go. Kerry has an objective. It's to win the presidency. He's going to do whatever he can to do it, and it's not going to be in just this straightforward way." This interview was conducted on April 20, 2004.
David Frum
David Frum is a former speechwriter for President Bush and author of The Right Man, a memoir of his White House experience. In this interview, he describes the pre-9/11 successes and setbacks of the Bush administration, the president's personality and guiding principles, and what it was like being in the White House on Sept. 11, 2001. He also explains the White House speechwriting process, and why the president is prone to verbal stumbles: "...A lot came when he would have a thought, often a kind of emotional thought. As he would begin to say it, he would think better of it, and he was not quick enough to turn off a phrase that his mind had recognized as ill judged." This interview was conducted on July 7, 2004.
Philip Gourevitch
A staff writer for The New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch has written about John Kerry during the 2004 campaign. In this interview, he discusses the traits of character and personality that define Kerry, his accomplishments in the Senate, and his contradictory votes on Iraq and the problems he has had explaining them. "To understand Kerry's mind on any of these issues," says Gourevitch, "you have to think about what it means to be a senator. ... A senator accomplishes things by negotiation, nuance, small steps and compromise. They are often casting votes to create a record that works in several different directions." Gourevitch also talks about Kerry's 2004 campaign and what his approach and goals would be if he is elected president. This interview was conducted on September 28, 2004.
Clay Johnson
A fellow Texan and one of George W. Bush's oldest friends, Clay Johnson worked in the Bush administration in Texas and currently is deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget. Here, he talks about the president's management and decision-making style and how the president has adjusted to life in the White House. In discussing his longtime friend's core instincts and goals, Johnson recounts a story about why Dick Cheney changed his mind and decided to be Bush's running mate. "The vice president came to realize that the president wanted to come up here to really make a difference. He was not going to try to play it safe. ... He was going to try to make dramatic changes to the issues that he thought needed to be addressed." This interview was conducted on July 6, 2004.
Nicholas Lemann
As political correspondent to The New Yorker, Nicholas Lemann has covered George W. Bush over the years. In this interview, he reflects on some of the defining aspects of Bush's life and career and draws together the threads of core traits in his nature and character. These traits, says Lemann, help explain the aggressiveness of Bush's campaigns, his bold domestic and foreign policy, and most importantly, the decision on which Bush is staking his presidency, the Iraq war. "I see President Bush as somebody who has an enormous, and sort of slumbering, ambition and self-confidence," says Lemann. "...I think this is a president who wants to leave a really, really big footprint if he can, both internationally and domestically." Lemann is dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University and reporter for "The Choice 2004. " This interview was conducted in September 2004.
Grover Norquist
As a leader in conservative grassroots activism and the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist has met with George W. Bush several times over the years. In this interview, he assesses the president's achievements and what he would accomplish in a second term. Offering his analysis of America's political landscape and the shifting fortunes of Democrats and Republicans, Norquist forecasts that Bush's reelection will only speed up the continuing deterioration of the Democratic Party: "...over time, the older Democrats continue to move on ... and a successful Bush administration [will] create young Republicans that'll start voting in five, 10, and 15 years on a regular basis. " This interview was conducted on Sept. 2, 2004.
Wayne Slater
For over a decade Wayne Slater has reported on George W. Bush for The Dallas Morning News and is the author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush. Here, he offers an overview of the president's personal and political life, focusing on his six years as Texas governor, the decision to run in 2000, the impact of 9/11 and the president's deep religious faith. Slater also describes Karl Rove's instrumental role in the rise of Bush and the Republicans in Texas, including how in 1990 Rove was in Austin talking about upcoming campaigns and told another political consultant: "'You know, this guy George Bush, very impressive guy. I think I could make him governor, and here's how you would do it.' He already had in effect a sort of early blueprint to make George W. Bush the president." This interview was conducted on July 1, 2004.
Jonathan Winer
A lawyer and former State Department official, Winer was a counselor to John Kerry from 1983 to 1997. In this interview, he talks about what Kerry is like as a manager and politician and offers details on some of Kerry's high profile Senate investigations, including his inquiries into the Contra movement in Nicaragua, drug smuggling and the corrupt international bank BCCI. Discussing Kerry's controversial 2002 vote on the Iraq war, Winer tells FRONTLINE, "He'd been boxed. The Bush administration had chosen to box him and all the other Senate Democrats. ...The vote was designed to be an impossible vote for someone like John Kerry." This interview was conducted on May 28, 2004.
Bob Woodward
Bob Woodward is assistant managing editor at The Washington Post and author of Bush at War and, most recently, Plan of Attack, an examination of the Bush administration's decision making process on the invasion of Iraq that is based on Woodward's interviews with the president and his advisers. Woodward talks about some of the major insights he gained about the White House's months of war discussions, including how the president seemed more interested in how to invade rather than whether to: "I never found a point where they met and said, 'Well, let's really look hard at the downsides of doing this.' It was always kind of 'How do we make the war plan better? How do we make covert action better? How do we adopt a diplomatic strategy?'" Woodward also discusses what Bush's war decision tells us about him and how his mind works and how he functions as an executive: "...He is determined to solve problems. ... Once he is convinced something is a problem, if he has the power to solve it, he will try to solve it. And we know in my business, journalism, that you live in a world of doubt. He has no doubt." This interview was conducted on Sept. 8, 2004.

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posted oct. 12, 2004

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