January 11, 2008
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SENATOR JOHN KERRY SAYS ELECTING BARACK OBAMA AS PRESIDENT “WOULD HAVE A POWERFUL MESSAGE ALL ACROSS THE WORLD” ON NPR NEWS TELL ME MORE
TODAY, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16

EXCERPTS BELOW; AUDIO AVAILABLE AT www.NPR.org/tellmemore


January 16, 2007; Washington, D.C. – In an interview with NPR host Michel Martin airing today on the news and talk show Tell Me More, Senator John Kerry (D, MA) says that electing Senator Barack Obama (D, IL) president of the United States: “Would have a powerful message all across the world about the American story. About our making real the words that we live by. That all men are created equal. That we have a Constitution that enforces law in equal ways and recognizes the Bill of Rights. That has finally made real the dream of Martin Luther King, so beautifully expressed, that we judge people not by the color of skin, but by the content of their character.”

Excerpts of the interview with Sen. Kerry are below. All excerpts must be credited to NPR News Tell Me More. Television usage must include on-screen credit with NPR logo. Audio of the interview is available at: www.NPR.org/tellmemore

Tell Me More launched in April 2007, and brings fresh voices and perspectives to public radio. The daily one-hour program hosted by Michel Martin captures the headlines, issues and pleasures relevant to multicultural life in America. Tell Me More will broadcast two shows from South Carolina on Monday-Tuesday, January 21-22. For stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org

-NPR-


When asked whether he agrees with the argument that a white president could relate to white foreign leaders better than an African-American president, Sen. Kerry says: “I don’t think so. I just don’t believe that, because I don’t think that’s where the world is today. I think if the United States of America were to select Barack Obama as its president, it would have a powerful message all across the world about the American story. About our making real the words that we live by. That all men are created equal. That we have a Constitution that enforces law in equal ways and recognizes the Bill of Rights. That has finally made real the dream of Martin Luther King, so beautifully expressed, that we judge people not by the color of skin, but by the content of their character.”

When asked whether Americans are ready to look beyond race, Sen. Kerry says: “Yes, I do. I absolutely believe that. I don’t think race has been an issue in this campaign until these last couple days where a few different people have inserted it, but I don’t think that’s Barack Obama’s desire nor anyone else’s. I mean, Barack Obama is a United States senator who is an American, who happens to also be African American. Just like a lot of other senators are equally as American and they’re equally as senator, who happen to be whatever they are in terms of their background. I don’t think most people in America today identify people that way. And that’s part of why this is such a transformational moment. Because this is the moment when we can make that statement declaratively to the world. And what a statement that would be. And the impact of it in terms of our ability to bridge the divide to third world countries. The impact of it to have greater credibility of who we are and what we stand for, I think, is enormous, and that’s part of the reason why I made this judgment.”

On why he thinks Sen. Obama can change the dialogue in Washington, Sen. Kerry says: “[Sen. Obama has] an interesting background that isn’t mired in the battles that have consumed Washington, and therefore helps to create a generational shift, helps to bring younger people back to the table and give them a sense of the possibilities. I think he will break some bad habits. I think Washington has a way of getting it wrong, recently. And because of his ability to probably be able to build a movement. In the great moments that I’ve seen in American politics, particularly going back to the Civil Rights Movement environment, even through Ronald Reagan’s presence in Washington, generally speaking there was a sort of movement of people in a different direction that came at the grassroots level. And I believe that Barack Obama has the potential of being able to do that.”

On why he decided to endorse Sen. Obama, Sen. Kerry says: “…Because the times are different. The requirements are different. In my judgment about these different times and about this moment, is, not that Hillary can’t be a terrific president, but that I think Barack Obama presents a greater opportunity to move to this new discussion; this new transformation; this new message about America; this moment of time where we can hopefully unite people and change the discussion.”