TAMPA (WFLA) — Former Democratic presidential nominee and Secretary of State John Kerry called Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic “one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”
Kerry, speaking as a campaign surrogate for former Vice President Joe Biden to 8 On Your Side political reporter Evan Donovan, said Biden would do “everything” differently than President Trump.
“The result is the United States of America is way behind other countries all around the world,” Kerry said. “Americans are not even allowed to travel now to Europe.”
On President Trump’s suggestion that people in North Carolina should “check their vote” by voting twice—by mail and in person—Kerry said Biden wants people “to be able to vote as easily and safely as possible.”
“The [former] vice president wants people to obey the law,” Kerry said.
8 On Your Side asked if allegations by anonymous sources that Trump called military veterans “losers” and “suckers” were simply partisan attacks, like the ones Kerry faced over his military service in the 2004 campaign.
His full answer was cutoff by a bad connection, but he differentiated between what people who were there said about him versus these reports about Trump.
“In the case of Donald Trump, the people involved are not countering it,” Kerry said. “Has General Kelly stood up and said ‘no, that is not what happened at the cemetery’? Has General Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff… Has he contradicted that that was said? No, I don’t think so.”
Kerry also responded to 8 On Your Side’s questions about the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between the U.S. and Iran that he helped negotiate. Trump left the so-called “Iran deal” in 2018.
“The deal actually solved the problem of taking a nuclear weapon out of the mix,” Kerry said. “There were no ships being fired at while we were in that deal. There were no people being put in harm’s way.”
“It was Donald Trump who broke that agreement and pulled out without needing to,” said Kerry. “If he thought there was something he didn’t like, he could have gone back and renegotiated it. He had every ability to make changes if he had really wanted to, and to get the people who supported the agreement to come to the table with him.”
“But he didn’t do that. He just broke it,” Kerry said. “He pulled out. And by pulling out, he made the hard-liners in Iran stronger. It was a catastrophic decision, and one that has made the United States and the region be at greater risk, not less.”
After Trump left the deal, the Boston Globe reported that Kerry was trying to salvage parts of the deal “in some unusual shadow diplomacy with a top-ranking Iranian official.”
8 On Your Side asked how that was different from Michael Flynn speaking with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak about sanctions during the end of the Obama administration.
“That’s not correct, I didn’t negotiate anything with the Iranians,” Kerry said. “I was at an international conference in Munich and I was at New York in the U.N. and saw them briefly, but I didn’t negotiate anything. There was no negotiations.”
Kerry has been a friend of Biden’s for many years, serving alongside him in the U.S. Senate for two decades and later as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama when Biden was vice president.
Watch Battleground Florida every Sunday morning at 9:30 on WFLA News Channel 8 or streaming live at wfla.com/newscast right before Meet the Press.