DID YOU KNOW?
John Kerry is the first major-party presidential candidate in more than 15 years to take such a strong stand against capital punishment.
The skinny highlights:
Kerry a firm foe of death penalty
Sen. John Kerry opposes the death penalty almost without exception, making him the first major-party presidential candidate in more than 15 years to take such a strong stand against capital punishment.
"I know something about killing," he sometimes says when asked about it, a reference to his months in Vietnam as a swift-boat commander. "I don't like killing. That's just a personal belief I have."
He did, however, slightly amend his view in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Before then he had opposed the death penalty, even for terrorists, but he now says he supports it, in limited cases, for foreign terrorists.
The reason Mr. Kerry opposes the death penalty in most cases is because he believes it is unfairly applied by the U.S. criminal justice system.
...Not since the candidacy of Michael S. Dukakis, who served as Massachusetts governor while Mr. Kerry was lieutenant governor, has a major-party candidate run for president who was opposed to the death penalty.
...It's been nearly 25 years since a sitting president was against the death penalty. President Carter generally opposed it, though as governor he signed legislation reinstating Georgia's death penalty.
...This year's White House race pits two extremes on this issue against one another. Mr. Bush's home state of Texas has executed more murderers than any other state, while Mr. Kerry's Massachusetts is among only 12 states that still bans the death penalty.