Excerpts from interview with John Kerry

July 29, 2010

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On the weeklong controversy

I can understand some people in the absence of facts or background or context being curious and in some cases incredulous. But I think its entirely, you know, has a truth and a context, and if it’s understood....some people will never forgive you and others will say, ‘I get it.’ I think the press, some of them, just jumped to a lot of conclusions in this thing.

On whether he was trying to dodge taxes by mooring the boat in Rhode Island

If you guys think that John Kerry doesn’t have enough sense of either propriety or common sense, that I’m going to be sailing my boat around Massachusetts where I’m highly recognizable but it’s going to somehow stay in Rhode Island and I’m going to avoid a tax, I’m nuts. I’d be crazy to think that I’m going to be doing that, and that was never our long term initiation here.”

On whether he reacted quickly enough

I don’t think I dealt with it fast enough, effectively enough. There’s nobody to blame but myself for that, and I’m not casting any fingers at anybody...I really didn’t register the notion of, ‘Oh my God if somebody says what’s it doing there now, why not do this.’ And then, boom, the issue came up before we completed the final working on the boat. My fault. We should have thought that through more effectively.

On buying a $7 million yacht

We signed the contact on Nov. 11, 2007. The stock market was at 13,500. Unemployment was at 4.5 percent. And we thought it was a good time to try to, for the long-term, for the family, make this investment....Now, within months afterwards, by middle of 2008, [President] George Bush and [Treasury] Secretary [Henry] Paulson were coming up here, screaming about the economy and we were in save the economy mode. Everybody got hit, everybody got hurt. Obviously we wouldn’t -- Teresa and I talked about it. There’s no way we would have signed a contract then. There’s no way.

On the appearance of wealth

Well wealthy is measured in different ways...I have been lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky in my life to always be comfortable...I really don’t think Massachusetts sits there and measures you by your pocket book, I think they measure you by what you do with your life. And I will stand comfortably, calmly, and comfortably behind things I vote for....Look, we don’t feel like we have anything, either of us, to apologize for, to people. Because you know, the happenstance of death and accident and tragedy leaves my wife with a certain amount of money. She’s still a human being who spends an amazing amount of time and energy, doing good for people and that’s not an excuse or anything else. She doesn’t have to apologize for wanting to have good moments on a sail boat with her family and she does enormous things for women’s health, for charity, for cancer...And in the last year she’s had a tough year, she’s fighting cancer, she’s been treated at Mass General and she’s been through the wringer. So I think she deserves, you know, peace and quiet, tranquility, and enjoyment of something she wanted to spend some money on. Period.

On why he didn't give a fuller explanation sooner

There wasn’t even room to do that. I said to people, on day one, we will pay all taxes, all taxes, there’s no issue here. On day one I said that, and nobody took yes for an answer. It was all, 'Why is it Rhode Island, why is it here, why is it here?' And you know, when you’re at an airport and people, you know, are attacking you with microphones and pushing you into the back of your car with cameras and things, it’s hardly the atmosphere in which to try to have this kind of a conversation.

On whether he paid the taxes

As I sit here, we have fully paid the tax. It is in the hands of the commonwealth, the proper forms are filed, it’s done....Legally, I’m not compelled [to pay the taxes now]. But politically, and in terms of the perception, that is something that came at us unexpectedly before I had gotten to the point of doing what we needed to do. That’s the way it is, that’s the way life is sometimes. I’m not going to sit here and, you know -- I should have paid more attention and done it faster or whatever. I just didn’t think we had to.

On his boat showing up in Massachusetts

We haven’t taken full delivery of this boat yet...I’ve taken it up to Massachusetts a few times for sea trials. That’s in the contract.

On sailing

My dad was lucky enough because he was in a position to do so to retire early, built a boat in Norway, sailed the boat across the ocean. I remember joining him for the last part of that sail with classmates of mine when we graduated at age 18 from high school. And we sailed for about five days....We just have always loved sailing. It’s been part of our family and part of our love.

On how often he'll be on the boat

I can’t tell you, depends on the US Senate and my duties and my responsibilities. You know, Teddy Kennedy found a lot of ways to spend days on his boat before he got sick.