As the US presidential race heats up, Diana Kerry, Democratic Party contender John Kerry's sister, traveled to Europe to encourage Americans living abroad to vote. DW-WORLD spoke with her in Munich.
Diana Kerry has been traveling the world to convince Americans to vote
Diana Kerry has been visiting foreign countries to encourage American ex-patriots to vote as well as to drum up support for her brother John Kerry's campaign to beat incumbent President George W. Bush in elections US elections this fall. Kerry's little sister lived abroad for a long time herself.
DW-WORLD: As patron of “Americans Overseas for Kerry-Edwards,” you're currently traveling throughout the world. What is your aim?
Diana Kerry: I am interested in encouraging US citizens who live outside of the USA to register to vote. We are very excited to have at our disposal a new Web site to make possible the registration and application for the absentee ballot online. This makes it very easy for people living in all sorts of remote places to be able to apply for their ballots from the United States. And the deadline to do so is really right now. I’ve been in Mexico and I’ve been in Canada and now I’m making a quick swing through Europe to encourage people here to really do this because it’s such an important election and every vote really does count. We saw in 2000 that the vote was very close, and we anticipate a very close election again this year
You’re doing all this for your brother. How would you describe your relationship to John Kerry?
John is my elder brother and when we were growing up he was always the leader of the family and was somebody I used to like to tag along with and so we spent a lot of time doing things during our vacations together and that was a lot of fun. I still have a close relationship with him, and I have -- with great enthusiasm -- enlisted in his campaign, because I really believe that he is the leader that we need for the country right now.
What would be his main goals as president?
John has pledged to work hard to make the US stronger at home by investing in education and health care and jobs for all Americans, and he also is very committed to working as a strong leader with principles and values within the global community. And I think the restoring of respect both in our relationships with the rest of the world and our respect for the rest of the world is important, and that’s something to which my brother is very committed.
In terms of priorities, are there differences between John Kerry and George W. Bush?
John Kerry will lead the country in a very different direction and he has a positive vision for the country. He has plans and programs which are committed to investing in people and not in the privileged. I think that John will be the leader that we need for our country in these challenging times. He understands that military force is not the only way in which you demonstrate strength. He understands the uses of US power and I have confidence that he will make the world a better place.
The Republican Party obviously see this in a different light. At the recent Republican National Convention they said your brother was indecisive. What do you think about accusations that he flip-flops on issues?
I don’t think they deserve to be discussed or considered. They are just slanderous misrepresentations of my brother's record.
John Kerry has demonstrated over a significant career in public service that he is dedicated to all sorts of important issues ... and that kind of activity has been completely ignored by the Republicans in their presentation of my brother's service to the country. And I think that their personal attacks were really just all they could do because they can’t run on their own record; they have no leg to stand on in that regard.
It was really very disappointing to hear the vice president of the US devote his entire speech almost to tearing down his opponent and not really respecting the American people enough to talk in a positive way about the plans and programs that the party is proposing. They should have been telling people what their extreme right-wing platform really is all about. They obscured the truth of what their party stands for.
Both you and your brother have spent time abroad and know Europe well. From a European perspective, why would he be a good president?
I think that US citizens living overseas would understand that he shares an interest in a cooperative approach to global problems, which obviously is going to mean working with our traditional allies and repairing alliances that the current administration has turned its back on. This will be important for US citizens living in Europe and for the entire world really.
Could John Kerry's connections to Europe be a disadvantage for him rather than an advantage in the election?
I’m not sure what you mean by John’s “connection” to Europe. Certainly I consider that, with the challenges that face us in the 21st century, we need a global perspective and that this can only be an asset to the president of the United States and the leader of the free world.
Do you think the majority of Americans see this in the same light?
That’s hard to say. I certainly hope that this is true. I have been traveling all over the country and talked to many people who are very concerned in as far-flung states as Minnesota and Nebraska and Montana, where people are considered to be traditionally Republican. There is certainly a very great interest in the United States having better relations -- and a recognition that we have alienated our traditional allies and we have lost our good name around the world.