Fresh Paint
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Dr Phil and Wife Robin Interview John and Teresa
Very rough transcript of Dr Phil and wife Robin's 1 hour special with John and Teresa Kerry talking mostly about family.

(Wild applause at mention of John and Teresa.)

Dr. Phil & wife Robin are doing it because audience members concerned that you can't be one kind of man and another kind of president.

Right after they sat down together, Dr. P and wife felt like they had something in common. (boys about the same age).

Teresa want's "one good daughter in law." Never had a daughter. Talks about her miscarriages.

Q Do you create times for all of the kids?

Anecdote about Thanksgiving, Christmas holidays. "Tomatoes" vs the "Pickles," annual family broom hockey game, helps blend the two families.

We find those moments.


First impression of the Kerrys: Robin expected them to be more political, but they were just good parents.

Dr. Phil was impressed with Kerry, calmness, just normal people.

Teresa was completely different than how the the press paints her. Very funny, warm, a very engaging woman.


Dr Phil replays entire clip of the hamster story from the convention. How to characterize the daughters?

Alexandra called "the artist" of the family.

Vanessa is "the scientist" -- they have differences of opinion. Vanessa for gay marriage, dad not.

Clip from Kerry's old rock band -- kids embarrassed, say "what on earth was he thinking"


Talk about Kerry's divorce. They were separated 6 yrs before the actual divorce. Why?

Everyone trying to sort things out. Trying to ease into all of our feelings. I just took time.

Q What did you do that made kids turn out so good?

We made the initial decision that no matter what happens, you've got to put them first. Ex wife made up for a lot of John's deficits.

Q What did you do to make it as smooth as possible. We kept anything negative away from them.

Q How did you answer the questions from the girls about it? You got to tell them the truth. Sat down as a couple. Ongoing effort to make them understand that their lives wouldn't change. Make sure they knew it wasn't their fault.

Q Did you ever fight in front of the girls?

I don't think so. Eldest daughter may have had a premonition that a breakup was coming. Both of us determined to give them a sense of place. Tried to maintain contact (ie, helping with homework over the phone) even though in Washington. Not a sacrifice. It's the most important thing. Families first, the most important thing.

Teresa said John never missed a single sports game with his girls. Would fly everywhere to get to them.

Dr Phil says "You either get it or you don't". Kerry gets it. Could have written the chapter on blended families in his book.

Who was the heavy in the family? I think we both had a sense that you have to keep limits, do it in a constructive way. Once, my younger daughter said she was going to be somewhere, but ended up somewhere else, when I grilled her about it I said, tell the truth, when she did, said now that wasn't so hard, was it?

Q Did you ever spank a girl? Only once, and I learned more about myself, that I would never do it again. ("this is harder on me than on you.")

One of the girls when small heard about birds and bees at school, came home wanting to know about it. I started to diagram it on a piece of shirt cardboard, she got terrified and ran out of the room.

Teresa -- girls tell their daddies they love them, but boys never tell their moms.

Topic: remarriage.

I had this nervousness about making a commitment. I was slow. Hard to say I'm going to trust this relationship. Teresa had everything opposite. 27 years of marriage. No problems trusting.

You get older, you know yourself better, you know the pitfalls better.


John remembers once a rock came thru the window during a campaign (first wife). Thinks she never got over it. Important not to have kids participate because they had to. Not to push on them my choices. Vanessa volunteered to take time off from med school, wasn't forced. Kids take attacks personally. In the end, they're made of good stuff.

Q Do you have trepidation about being the first lady? I've lived in Washington since 71, I know what power does. The only rock is to stay myself, as a mother, as someone who want's to improve society. Kids suddenly see mom out there really taking it in the chops. I've been having fun. Chris called, said Mom, you're awesome. Just stay strong. It made them see me in another life.

The "fourth sons" -- extended family of friends of Teresa's sons. Kitchen discussions, joshing, embarrassing each other in front of the grownups.

Teresa on criticism: I'm as grateful that I'm as old as I am. I don't worry. You have to be able to go to bed and sleep. It's their face they're showing, not mine. A lot of people believe everything they see and hear. I used to take criticism of late husband seriously. If you want to be loved by everyone, don't go into politics.

At 68, she'll be the oldest first lady. Teresa admits she was a witch with her children about television. They could watch half hour of tv a day, a show like Wild Kingdom. Once a week they could watch an hour of their choice, but had to write a paper about why they wanted to watch it.

On juvenile delinquency -- most happens right after school when not supervised. if we're going to break cycle we have to concentrate on these programs.

Topic: How Kerry survived bouncing from school to school 7 schools in 9 years. He wasn't born with silver spoon in mouth. He had to be tough. though part of his childhood was normal (cub scouts, but then had to suddenly move). Having a unique childhood is where he finds his strength.

Q How did it effect him? Good part of the travelling was I saw a lot of family. But had no sense of place. I look back on it fondly. I was a middle child, one older, two younger. close family. They're all still part of campaign, and our lives. Sister lives in N.Y., adopted a little chinese girl 4 yrs ago. Big problem, you're "always saying good by". He never had a lifelong friend. Though had roommates, friends from college, made each friendship valuable. Lost good friends in Viet Nam. "You get steeled to it."

Q Is there a defining time? An event that was pivotal?

When the pattern is interrupted, to go to another country, another language, going to school away from home. crying and homesick. But you adjust. You get a great sense of self-confidence, have to make decisions. All of that travel made it clear that I wanted to have a continuity, a place, for my own kids.

When you lose you parents, you learn that we're all still kids.

Robin was impressed that Teresa and John concentrated on getting the blended family close together so quickly.

Dr P. says John is a guy who blooms where he's planted. Finds the positives in the negatives.

Agree that they're great parents, who put Family First. (ie, title of his book).

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