July 26, 2004: Headlines: COS - Swaziland: Journalism: Television: Election2004 - Kerry: MSNBC: Chris Matthews interviews Teresa Heinz Kerry: "You know I know you grew up in Mozambique which was under Portuguese rule, of course, was colonial. And I was in Peace Corps at the time. I left there in 71."

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Peace Corps Library: Election2004: Election2004 - Archive of Previous Stories: July 26, 2004: Headlines: COS - Swaziland: Journalism: Television: Election2004 - Kerry: MSNBC: Chris Matthews interviews Teresa Heinz Kerry: "You know I know you grew up in Mozambique which was under Portuguese rule, of course, was colonial. And I was in Peace Corps at the time. I left there in 71."

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Chris Matthews interviews Teresa Heinz Kerry: "You know I know you grew up in Mozambique which was under Portuguese rule, of course, was colonial. And I was in Peace Corps at the time. I left there in 71."

Chris Matthews interviews Teresa Heinz Kerry: You know I know you grew up in Mozambique which was under Portuguese rule, of course, was colonial.  And I was in Peace Corps at the time.  I left there in 71.

Chris Matthews interviews Teresa Heinz Kerry: "You know I know you grew up in Mozambique which was under Portuguese rule, of course, was colonial. And I was in Peace Corps at the time. I left there in 71."

MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Teresa Heinz Kerry. Her husband is, of course, accepting the Democratic nomination in Boston. You are were a Republican for a long time. Now you‘re a Democrat. I understand being married to a disparate (ph) husband is part of that. But what‘s changed about your thinking about the two parties?

HEINZ KERRY: Well generally, what‘s changed in politics is that the discourse isn‘t the same that it used to be 30 years ago. And it‘s a pity, because I think an American democracy depends on thoughtful, respectful interchange of ideas. The art of the possible, truly. And that‘s what‘s so beautiful about American politics and has been.

Today that‘s not the case.

MATTHEWS: Whose fault is it? Republicans—you switched from Republican to Democrat. Do you blame the Republicans for it?

HEINZ KERRY: No, I stayed a Republican for about eight years until Max Cleland‘s race. And I was so upset at the way the party treated Max Cleland and Jeanne Carnahan and other. But they had an ad in Georgia that showed Max Cleland, Saddam Hussein and bin Laden, and called him, like them, dangerous and unpatriotic.

And you know, Max Cleland is a happy warrior. He‘s a good human being. He doesn‘t feel sorry for himself. He left three limbs in Vietnam. He takes him two hours to get dressed every morning to go to the Senate as he did. And I found that just not American. Just not good enough.

And I thought, irrespective of positions, I don‘t want to be associated with that kind of politics, period. And so, I left. Then I debated whether I would become an independent or become a Democrat, because I really don‘t think of myself as being very, very partisan. I‘m more interested in something beyond that.

And maybe because I didn‘t grow up early in my first 24 years not in this country, so I don‘t have an association historically with my family as being this or my family is that.

MATTHEWS: That‘s the way a lot of people become what they are.

HEINZ KERRY: Yes. So, I decided, you know, I wanted to vote for my husband. And in Massachusetts, as in Pennsylvania, you have to be registered in the party to vote. So, I reregistered a Democrat. I feel much more at home now than I could possibly feel in the present leadership of the Republican Party.

MATTHEWS: Come back and talk more with Teresa Heinz Kerry about the big week up here in Boston. Back in a moment.


MATTHEWS: We‘re back with Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of John Kerry, who, of course, is accepting the Democratic nomination this Thursday night.

Let‘s talk about you for a couple of minutes. Which I find—I find you fascinating. First of all, if you win this election, you will be the first lady who was not born in America. What is the significance of that to you, the way you look at it?

HEINZ KERRY: If I may correct you, I think the second first lady was not born in America.

MATTHEWS: Abigail Adams.

HEINZ KERRY: No, not Abigail, her daughter-in-law. She was born in England. English.


HEINZ KERRY: But she was. John Quincy...

MATTHEWS: John Quincy Adams, from Massachusetts.

HEINZ KERRY: Yes. She was born in England. But I‘m certainly the first one from say, south of the equator.

MATTHEWS: In modern times.

You know I know you grew up in Mozambique which was under Portuguese rule, of course, was colonial. And I was in Peace Corps at the time. I left there in 71. When did you leave that area?

HEINZ KERRY: Well, my parents left, finally in 1976. But I was—I went away from Africa in 1960 when I went to graduate school abroad and then I went to America in ‘64.

MATTHEWS: What do you bring to the table in terms of that kind of experience? It‘s different than other first ladies?

HEINZ KERRY: You know, in the world that is as globalized as it is, and I mean by that communications, travel, et cetera, and the economies, it‘s probably not a disadvantage to have a lived in other places and have other yardsticks. I certainly do. And I feel comfortable—you know, I feel comfortable with different peoples.

Maybe I size up people a little differently. I‘m less afraid of being with people who are different from me than some people are. And in fact, I find it interesting.

And it is in a sense a surprise that in a country that bases its richness and its wealth on diversity, you know, and the ability to live with diverse groups, that issue of someone being slightly different or from somewhere else should be an issue. I mean, Our country is full of immigrants, first, second, third fourth generation immigrants. And here‘s one more, you know?

MATTHEWS: Let‘s flip it around. The president of the United States, whatever his strengths are, we can argue about that as the election goes on, is certainly not a kid who grew up with a tremendous curiosity about the rest of world. He had all the financial and all the home advantage of being able to travel, see the world, go to Europe. Go visit his father when he was ambassador to China. He never showed much interest in the world as a kid growing up.

In fact, right through to his presidency, hadn‘t really done much world travel. Is that a handicap? Has it been a handicap in this war, not being familiar with the rest of the world?

HEINZ KERRY: I always think that not knowing is not as good as knowing, whatever the reasons. You know, I‘m not going to blame him for not knowing, but I think that he probably felt a little bit more comfortable initially in the beginning of his presidency in terms of understanding what isolationism means, and understanding what making good foreign policy means, being preemptive in peacetimes.


HEINZ KERRY: And therefore, being proactive. You know, people‘s understanding is cumulative, and certainly reflect their lives.

MATTHEWS: During the early course of the war when the French were vetoing our position on the war and the Germans were not in the security council questioned us and the Russians, there was a lot of this foreigner bashing. I thought it was stupid: freedom fries, things like that. What was your feeling when you heard that french fries were now going to be heard freedom fries. This sort of—we call it xenophobia, this anti-foreign attitude.

HEINZ KERRY: You know, when you come from poor countries and countries whose only stand—standing is the respect with which they deal with other people, you don‘t call people names. Period. And if you really, furthermore, know about Mediterranean people, particularly Mediterranean men, whether they be Arabic or whether they be Greeks or Portuguese or Spanish or Italians or any of them, you don‘t insult and hurt the pride of these men. They can‘t deal with that, and that‘s the way it is. If you know that, you deal with it differently.

So, there are a lot of very simple things. They‘re just—humanity rules and wisdom of knowing, and that certain things, which beyond being counterproductive, are dangerous. And so, you know, the old saying is you don‘t catch flies with vinegar, right?


HEINZ KERRY: Well, you don‘t. You don‘t have to give them honey, you know, but you at least have to invite them in. And I was scared when I heard those statements about old Europe, generally. You know, old Europe has a lot of things to teach us and has. And we have things to teach them too. And that kind of comfort zone from knowledge and from respect is necessary if other countries are going it respect you.

MATTHEWS: Why do you think that the rest of the world, I was just lucky enough to be in France, I can‘t catch I lot of the on the street hostility, but certainly when you read the papers, a lot of the other countries in the world don‘t respect our position in Iraq. There is a sense that we went it alone, we sort of were cowboys about it. You must be hearing that from a lot from different people. What do you think we did wrong in terms of the way we went to war? Were we right to go to war with Iraq?

HEINZ KERRY: I think before we went to war we set the whole thing on the bad premise, on a bad platform. And then adding insult to the injury, which is calling the other people old or incompetent or whatever, doesn‘t help make friends.

And I think part of the animosity today is a respect one. You know, how can people this powerful treat those of us who have less—but we are wise, differently and arrogantly. That is offensive to these people. And I understand that.

On the other hand, the issue of terrorism, the issue of danger, is very close and has been throughout time to Europeans. You know, the Irish, English, the French with all of the North Africa problems they have.

MATTHEWS: The Basques.

HEINZ KERRY: The Basques in Spain. So, this is not something that‘s alien to them. And they don‘t generally go out and blame other people, they just deal with it.

To me, this whole terrible thing of 9/11 was America‘s first loss of innocence in terms of real, ugly politics that way in our own home turf. And it was awful. It was awful for the world.

And when I said to someone in Iowa, someone asked me, why are people abroad so mad at us? And I tried to think how I could explain that in human terms. I said, well, imagine you have three or four kids and one kid is really a star. Just things come naturally. Whatever it is.

And then they do something very foolish that hurts them, hurts their chances, whatever it is. And you are especially mad and especially disappointed with that child, whereas if another child did the same thing, you would have a talk and figure it out, right? It‘s like that.

For a lot of people in the third world and a lot of people who never had—in other country, not just the third world, who have never had liberty, who have had members of the family who have died for the sake of freedom, the sake of votes, et cetera, who don‘t have enough health, schooling, whatever, for those people, the idea of America, of this possibility of America that you will never reach, will never go to, but the idea of it is very, very, very important. It‘s a beacon. It‘s a potential.

And when you see that besmirched, when you see that diminished, far away as it may be, then you hurt and you get mad. It‘s a child you really get mad with. How dare you do something like this when you have so much going for you and we need you to be this beacon of hope.

And so, I understand how people who have always thought of America as a hope in the world and as a hope and example, how disappointed and hurt and scared—scared they must be. Scared for us. Scared for us. What‘s happening in your country. I understand that.

MATTHEWS: Do you think we should have gone to war with Iraq? After listening to all of this, it sounds like we made more enemies than friends?

HEINZ KERRY: We have. I think the world is less safe today than it was then. Bar—no questions about it. We have basically given scholarships to potential terrorists to become terrorists by creating this situation. They‘re so angry.

Now, the problem in the world is not—not that we created the terrorists initially. We didn‘t. But doing this doesn‘t diminish it. And as we now know from what was said—certain things were said which were not the truth, and the Congress of the United States was led down, in my view, a path believing one thing and acting on one thing.

But what I think is important for people to know is, in my book, anyway, as I watched it, is that the motion and the bill to allow the president to go to war as a last resort was one that meant last resort, particularly in the case when the president of the United States did not need that to go to war. Could have gone to war anyway. People don‘t realize that.

Secondly, what that did was to create a forum and a demand for policy, but for diplomacy to take place. And we did. We had five months of peace. Colin Powell went to the U.N. and did some of the work, et cetera. And when the war came about at the end of February, it came about a decision over a weekend like that.


HEINZ KERRY: It was not anything extraordinary. It happened. So, it was a war that was going to happen, because that‘s what they wanted to do.

And so I think what those senators did, and took a lot of blame for, was creating a process that didn‘t exist, forcing a process to take place, and then hope that peace would prevail. It didn‘t.

So, I would have not have gone to war, ever, that way. And I know from all of the soldiers that I have talked and all of the generals and anybody I have ever talked to, military people don‘t like to go to war, because they know what happens. They don‘t like to see the men killed, and the women today, and they don‘t want to kill.

And so—you also never go to war without an exit strategy and you never go to war without the ability to go and tell a parent of a child that died, I did everything I could.

MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you very much, Teresa Heinz Kerry. Thanks for join being us on HARDBALL.

HEINZ KERRY: Thank you.


MATTHEWS: Very candid interview there. Our live coverage from Boston on the eve of the Democratic convention continues in just a minute. We‘ve got a live report from Fenway Park where John Kerry will be throwing out the first pitch at the Red Sox game tonight.

And coming up at the top of the hour, the show I‘ve been talking about all day, the best hour of the week, join Tom Brokaw and myself for the MSNBC special, “Picking Our Presidents: The Greatest Moments.” And I mean it, the greats moments.

When this story was prepared, this was the front page of PCOL magazine:

This Month's Issue: August 2004 This Month's Issue: August 2004
Teresa Heinz Kerry celebrates the Peace Corps Volunteer as one of the best faces America has ever projected in a speech to the Democratic Convention. The National Review disagreed and said that Heinz's celebration of the PCV was "truly offensive." What's your opinion and who can come up with the funniest caption for our Current Events Funny?

Exclusive: Director Vasquez speaks out in an op-ed published exclusively on the web by Peace Corps Online saying the Dayton Daily News' portrayal of Peace Corps "doesn't jibe with facts."

In other news, the NPCA makes the case for improving governance and explains the challenges facing the organization, RPCV Bob Shaconis says Peace Corps has been a "sacred cow", RPCV Shaun McNally picks up support for his Aug 10 primary and has a plan to win in Connecticut, and the movie "Open Water" based on the negligent deaths of two RPCVs in Australia opens August 6. Op-ed's by RPCVs: Cops of the World is not a good goal and Peace Corps must emphasize community development.

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Story Source: MSNBC

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