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John Kerry: The Rolling Stone Interview
By Jann S. Wenner
Rolling Stone Magazine
For two days in October, the John Kerry campaign came to a brief stop at a hotel and conference center on the high-plains sprawl of suburban Denver, where the candidate holed up with his staff and prepared for his second debate with George Bush. While the traveling press idled over endless buffets in one of the hotel dining rooms, Kerry and his closest advisers sequestered themselves behind closed doors, getting ready for the next night's crucial events.
The morning's calm was broken when Kerry's press advisers began circulating word that the candidate would soon be making a statement about the war in Iraq, a canny move to seize control of the day's news cycle, which was already full of bad news for President Bush: A government-commissioned report had concluded that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction; Paul Bremer, until recently his chief administrator in Iraq, had been quoted as saying that the U.S. invasion of Iraq had been done with too few troops; and Donald Rumsfeld had conceded that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. The press was herded out to a field in front of the hotel, chosen for its view of the mountains in the distance. When Kerry emerged, he was wearing his presidential blue suit, and with little fanfare or preamble he ripped into Bush with icy efficiency, saying how in light of the morning's news it was now clear that George Bush and Dick Cheney "may well be the last two people on the planet who won't face the truth about Iraq." After some questions from reporters, he disappeared, projecting the attitude that he had more important things to do.
A few minutes later, we were ushered up to Kerry's suite, where the candidate was tucking into a huge lunch. Gone was the crisp blue suit. He'd changed into khakis and running shoes and had dropped the formal manner. By the door stood a battered guitar case. Through an open door, one could see a framed picture of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, on a bedside table. For the hour that we spoke with Kerry, he was conversational and forthright, relaxed but clearly wearing his game face.