The congressionally chartered panel, which is due to deliver its much-anticipated report to Bush at the White House this morning and then unveil it to the public, outlined diplomatic and military ideas intended to change the course of the 44-month-old war.
Kerry told Barnicle that the Baker Commission and the Bush administration, need to "Get this policy right for the soldiers, for the region and for our country."
The transcript from Hardball with Mike Barnicle is as follows:
BARNICLE: The Baker Commission report tomorrow. There were elements of it that have been released in Time magazine, various newspapers, it would seem.
Are they just going to report the obvious?
KERRY: See, that's what I hope they don't do. This is really important.
The Baker Commission needs to not just find a consensus; that's not what we're looking for. We're looking for the right policy. We're looking to get it right.
And what I think is critical -- I have felt all along you need that date to leverage.
Now I've heard rumors they won't have a date but, boy, they may come close to it or they ought to come close to it, because what's most critical here is: Change the behavior of the fighting factions in Iraq and change the behavior of the other countries in the region that can help have an impact on that behavior.
That's what's key: Get this policy right for the soldiers, for the region and for our country.
BARNICLE: Of the country and of the '08 presidential elections that are coming up, do you get the sense, do you hear anything anecdotally that this administration, with regard to its war policies in Iraq, with regard to the Baker Commission, is intent on passing nearly everything off to the next administration, Republican or Democrat?
KERRY: No, I really don't, Mike.
First of all, I think all this '08 stuff is way too early. I think what people are really excited about is the fact that we just elected a new Congress and that power has shifted.
And people are going to be waiting to measure what the Democrats do with that. Are we going to be responsible? Are we going to offer real choices to America?
And we're determined to try to do that.
Secondly, I think that this administration, nobody's interest -- the Republicans don't want to go in with this thing in the status quo.
And finally, we have a moral responsibility. I mean, if anything motivated me to come into public life, it was the issue of war and peace way back in the 1970s. And I remain as adamant today as a senator with sworn constitutional responsibilities: We've got to get this right.
We can't allow names to be added to a future memorial about Iraq and Afghanistan because we dillied around here and we were unwilling to confront the real issues.
That would be an abdication of every bit of responsibility that I certainly came here to exercise. We need to get it right.
BARNICLE: And '08 quickly, down the road, you're going to -- next year...
KERRY: That's down the road. That's down the road. Let's stay focused on what we need to be focused on.
BARNICLE: All right. Thank you, Senator John Kerry.