DAN RATHER: Welcome to the 27th Democratic Debate of the 2004 primary season. With us this morning are Senator John Kerry and Senator John Edwards -- and two other people we're just going to ignore. Senator Kerry, let me start with you. The National Journal just released a report calling you the most liberal Senator in the Senate. Senator Kerry, would you call yourself a Senator?
SEN. KERRY: I don't think the American people want this campaign to be about labels, Dan.
DAN RATHER: So you would not call yourself a Senator?
SEN. KERRY: I would call myself a fighter for the American people, but, no, I'm not going to make this campaign about political labels.
DAN RATHER: Senator Edwards, is Senator Kerry a Senator?
SEN. EDWARDS: I believe he is, Dan. And I believe he's been one for a long time, in Washington. Washington is an evil place, Dan. And Senator Kerry has been a Senator there for a long time. In Washington. Ooooh.
DAN RATHER: Now, Senator Edwards---
SEN. KERRY: Excuse me. Let me step in and defend myself here, Dan. I've just been attacked. Senator Edwards has pulled out a baseball bat and is currently attacking me. I need to defend myself. I may be from Washington, and I may have $400 million in the bank, but I refuse to be called a Senator. That's not the kind of name-calling the American people want.
REP. KUCINICH: I'd like to get a few words in here, if I may.
DAN RATHER: No, you may not.
REP. KUCINICH: Okay, then.
DAN RATHER: Senator Edwards, Senator Kerry has now won 18 of 20 primaries, and you've won one. Some people say you're just angling for the Vice Presidential nomination. If you lose all of the primaries up to the convention, do not receive the nomination, and watch President Bush win re-election over Senator Kerry, will you drop out of the race?
SEN. EDWARDS: I don't believe ---
DAN RATHER: You don't believe? A follow-up on that if I can. Do you mean you don't believe in---
SEN. EDWARDS: I'd like the opportunity to finish.
DAN RATHER: I'd like the opportunity to interrupt you.
SEN. EDWARDS: I just need thirty seconds. I don't believe the voters have finish speaking in this election. There are two Americas, Dan. There's the America where John Kerry has won 18 of 20 primaries, and there's the America where I still have a chance at the nomination. Some may say that second America just lives in my head, but I believe it is real and it is strong and I will fight for that America to become the one America.
REV. SHARPTON: I believe there's more than two Americas, Senator Edwards. I believe there's a third America, where I'm actually a legitimate candidate for this nomination---
DAN RATHER: I'm afraid I'm going to have to cut you off, Reverend Sharpton.
REV. SHARPTON: You will NOT cut me off, Dan. I've been sitting here patiently while you've been going back and forth between Senator Kerry and Senator Edwards, ignoring the fact that I am here --
REP. KUCINICH: Me too!
REV. SHARPTON: Shut up, Dennis. Dan, you've been ignoring the fact that I am here. The voters have a right to choose. The media, by ignoring my candidacy, is telling the voters that I am not a legitimate candidate. And that, my friends, is illegitimate!
DAN RATHER: Very well. The next question is to you, Senator Kerry. It's about a woman's right to vote. Do you believe women should be able to be voters?
SEN. KERRY: It's about rights, Dan, not terminology. I believe women should have the right to cast a ballot in the Presidential election just like a man can. I believe they should be able to choose their preferred candidate, and have that selection counted toward the determination of who wins the election. But if you're asking me if we should call them voters, well, on that point I have to disagree. It's about rights, not terminology.
DAN RATHER: Senator Edwards?
SEN. EDWARDS: I believe I'm in full agreement with Senator Kerry on this one, but let me just add that I think it's a state issue. If a state wants to call its women who cast ballots "voters," then that's great; if they want to call them "eggplant," that's fine too.
DAN RATHER: Reverend Sharpton, you get the last word on this.
REV. SHARPTON: Thank---
DAN RATHER: Excellent. Moving on. Senator Kerry, pundits have been saying that you are not as lickable as Senator Edwards.
SEN. KERRY: I'm sorry. Lickable?
DAN RATHER: Excuse me. I mean likable. People have said Senator Edwards is more likable than you. That you don't have the charisma, the personality, the charm to be an effective leader. What do you say to those critics, and what have you learned from Senator Edwards on the campaign trail?
SEN. KERRY: I don't believe I have a likability problem at all, and I think anyone who accuses me of that is just too poor to identify with me. I think people at cocktail parties and state dinners like me very much, and any of them will tell you so just as soon as I pay them to. I don't think I've learned anything from Senator Edwards except that maybe I should dye my hair brown, because his hair does look pretty good for a man his age, I have to admit.
DAN RATHER: Similarly, Senator Edwards, people have said you lack the experience to be President, especially foreign policy experience, given that you've only been in the Senate for one term. What do you say to those people?
SEN. EDWARDS: I say there are two Americas, Dan. There's an America where we need leaders who have experience, and there's an America where a man like me, an honest man, a good man, a man whose father was a millworker and whose mother was a windmill, who can rise up and make a difference. I say there's an America where the guy with $400 million wins the nomination, and there's an America where the guy with just $36 million wins the nomination. These are my two Americas, Dan.
REP. KUCINICH: Don't forget about the America where a guy with $1.85 and a stale donut in his jacket pocket can win the nomination. Because when I am the nominee---
REV. SHARPTON: Pigs will fly when you are the nominee, Dennis.
REP. KUCINICH: Yes they will, Al. Because I am a vegan, and so I will give pigs the freedom to fly. Pigs will also get universal health care and the right to a free college education. And I will not send any pigs to Iraq, and Canadian pigs will not steal our jobs because I will recall NAFTA, burn it, and eat it. As long as it is not made of meat.
DAN RATHER: Senator Edwards, you've gotten rich off of being a trial lawyer. Do you think the people of America realize that there's a whole set of lawyers in this country who make a lot of money?
SEN. EDWARDS: I think they do, Dan. I think they do in one America. But in the other America, people don't have a chance to become lawyers, because the other America doesn't have any vowels, and so there are no lawyers, doctors, or teachers. Just a lot of rhythm. Sometimes. When "Y" isn't a vowel.
DAN RATHER: Finally, a question for all of you. Is Michael Jackson a pedophile?
SEN. KERRY: I don't believe in labels. But, yes, I believe he is.
SEN. EDWARDS: I'm in full agreement with Senator Kerry on this one.
REV. SHARPTON: Sure, absolutely.
REP. KUCINICH: I think---
DAN RATHER: We're out of time. Thanks so much to the candidates for joining us this morning. Godspeed.