Interview on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Los Angeles, California
February 16, 2016

QUESTION: Over the last three years, our next guest has been to almost 80 countries and logged more than a million frequent flyer miles. He’s the head of the U.S. State Department. Please welcome Secretary of State John Kerry. (Applause.)

Thanks for coming. Do I call you “Your Honor” or what? What is the proper way to address the Secretary of State?

SECRETARY KERRY: Hi. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: That seems simple enough.

SECRETARY KERRY: Whatever. That’s quite a ride, that thing.

QUESTION: Oh, the elevator. Yeah, the pretend elevator. Why do I feel like you’re here to see Gwen Stefani. Is that true? (Laughter and Applause.) You’ve been – how long have you been Secretary of State for now?

SECRETARY KERRY: I’ve been Secretary of State since February 1st, 2013.

QUESTION: I know you’ve said you like the job. Do you still like the job?

SECRETARY KERRY: I love the job.

QUESTION: You love the job?

SECRETARY KERRY: I have the best job in America.

QUESTION: Do you really think that?

SECRETARY KERRY: I do, yes. (Applause.)

QUESTION: I feel like Guillermo has a better job than you do.


QUESTION: Guillermo over here. Whenever something --

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’ll tell you this: Guillermo has more fun than I do, that’s for sure. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: He probably does. Because when bad things happen around the world, they say, “John, go there.”

SECRETARY KERRY: No, they say, “Why did you let that happen?”

QUESTION: And, “Why did you let that happen,” too.


QUESTION: Yeah, it’s --

SECRETARY KERRY: I truly have – it’s a fantastic job. I mean, to be able to represent your country and to be able to try to stop a war, to try to make a country better, to make our country stronger – it’s a privilege.

QUESTION: Yeah, it’s such a hard job, though, and you’re dealing with – well, you had a ceasefire agreement in Syria over the weekend and that --

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we have an agreement to try to make it work over the course of the week. And it’ll all – I think everybody believes it’s going to take a little longer than that. But we also didn’t want to sort of say, “Oh okay, let’s have a ceasefire in three weeks or two weeks.” It doesn’t make sense. You’ve got to push the process as hard as you can and try to save lives. And so we’re pushing the process. Because we said a week, we’ll get it done sooner than we would have if we did it in two weeks or three weeks.

QUESTION: Do you ever feel like it’s hopeless, like there’s no reasoning with this group of people or that group of people, and they’re not listening to me and there’s nothing I can do? Why am I here? Why am I not home in bed?

SECRETARY KERRY: Am I allowed to lie? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: But of course. Isn’t that what politicians do? (Laughter and applause.) Not you, of course, but the others who aren’t sitting next to me. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, I’m out of politics now.

QUESTION: Are you?


QUESTION: You feel like you are out of politics?

SECRETARY KERRY: I am out of politics. And judging by the Republican field, half of them are too. So --

QUESTION: Do you get feedback as you visit these other countries --


QUESTION: People who say, “What’s going on with this Donald Trump? Is he really going to ban Muslims from coming into the country?” Do you hear about that stuff from people?

SECRETARY KERRY: I hear about it everywhere.




SECRETARY KERRY: And I think next year the White House will be sending out a lot less Christmas cards. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, not if Donald Trump’s in it. He’s going to send out only Christmas cards. There’ll be no Happy Holidays anymore at all. (Laughter.) The holidays will not be happy anymore. (Applause.)

When you get – when you get a phone call in the middle of the night, it’s never – it’s never good news, right? I mean, it’s always something bad.

SECRETARY KERRY: If you get – yeah, if you get a call.

QUESTION: Who decides whether or not the call goes to you, whether or not you’re awakened in the night? Is there a person specifically?

SECRETARY KERRY: Well, we have people working 24 hours/7 in the State Department. It would depend on what it was whether it would go to me or whether it would go to the Secretary of Defense or whether it would go directly to the White House.

QUESTION: Are there times where you say, “I’ve got to wake the President up”?



SECRETARY KERRY: No, no. I have not had to do that. And I just don’t – there’s a process where if that had to happen it would either be the chief of staff of the White House or the national security advisor, I’m sure.

QUESTION: If you and I were friends, I would call you in the middle of the night all the time. (Laughter.) And I would be like, “There is trouble in Abu Dhabi.” (Laughter.) Yeah, you should not give me your number.

SECRETARY KERRY: That’s why if you put a screen up with six people from my past, I wouldn’t remember you. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: When you – you’re traveling, we have a map, actually. I think it’s interesting to visualize all the different countries that you’ve been to since you started this job, and you probably would add more if we’re just counting your own personal travels. All the countries in red – like if this were a game of Risk, you would be way ahead of everybody else. (Laughter.) Are you planning to get to all of them before you’re done?

SECRETARY KERRY: Looks like a game of Monopoly to me. I like it.

QUESTION: Do you pack yourself or does someone do it for you?

SECRETARY KERRY: I do. I pack myself. Absolutely pack myself.

QUESTION: Are you always packed and ready to go?

SECRETARY KERRY: I actually have – I have a bag that rarely gets completely unpacked.

QUESTION: I see. Do you have an international calling plan? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY KERRY: No. Yes, I do. I do. I absolutely do.

QUESTION: What do you say to people who say – who don’t think what happens in other countries is important to us in this country?

SECRETARY KERRY: I say to people that there’s no such thing as foreign policy. All – everything we do now – I mean, this world is so interconnected. And everything that we do in the State Department is geared towards creating jobs, making life better for Americans, protecting us here at home. I mean, we all saw what happened in San Bernardino. We know what happened in Paris. We know what the threat of Daesh is today – ISIL. If we don’t do our job to the best of our ability all the time, we’re letting the American people down. And I think President Obama has made it clear that the top priority of his Administration is to keep America safe, and we’re doing everything possible.

QUESTION: Your job seems like the hardest job anyone could ever have to me. Like, what would you do if – if you had to sit Taylor Swift and Kanye West down – (laughter) – how would you bring those two together?

SECRETARY KERRY: I thought – I actually thought that’s why I was here. (Laughter and Applause.)

QUESTION: We can set that up. Well, I appreciate you taking time to stop by.

SECRETARY KERRY: I’m not even sure the best Secretary of State could get a ceasefire between them. We’ll try. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, maybe the next person will have that on their agenda. Well, thank you so much for coming.

SECRETARY KERRY: It’s such a pleasure.

QUESTION: I appreciate you being here. Secretary of State John Kerry. (Applause and cheers.)