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Larry King Live
Hillary Clinton Takes on Racial Politics in New YorkAired January 17, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Hillary Clinton takes on racial politics in New York. We'll discuss her appearance today with Reverend Al Sharpton with the man himself. Reverend Sharpton is with us in New York, along with Hillary's campaign spokesman Howard Wolfson, former New York Mayor Ed Koch, who was also at today's event, plus Representative Rick Lazio, a New York Republican, who still may be in the race for the Senate, and in Washington, the famed CNN political commentator and columnist Bob Novak.
All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin with Reverend Al Sharpton in New York. He is president of the National Action Network. He appeared today at that major Martin Luther King commemoration at the headquarters of his own group in Harlem. and he also met privately with the first lady for 25 minutes this evening.
What can you tell us about that meeting, Reverend?
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Well, I think, first of all, to understand the event, Mrs. Clinton joined the present senator of the state, Chuck Schumer, the present attorney general. Every top official that you can think of in the Democratic Party was there, and they've been there every year.
I think what her opponent wanted her to do was to act out of the norm and be intimidated by him by not doing what she did. She made three appearances today.
She went to Brooklyn. She went to the Baptist Minister's Conference. She came to us. He stayed in the city mansion all day on Martin Luther King's birthday.
I think this kind of activity says volumes to voters on who really is reaching out, even to people who may disagree with them, and who really has the spirit of Dr. King on this holiday.
KING: And the question was what did the two of you talk about privately?
SHARPTON: We talked about what we talked about publicly, the need for -- to heal in New York, the need to move beyond some of the divisions, the need to talk even where we disagree. There was no private deal. I am not trying to become involved in her campaign. We're trying to deal with public policy, and we had a very frank conversation.
I can tell you she's a very tough person. When she disagrees, she says that. When she agrees, she said that.
I was surprised at how tough she is, and at the same time, she's respectful.
KING: Now, you've always been pretty open with us. Can you tell us what area, Reverend Sharpton, you may have disagreed?
SHARPTON: Well, I have disagreed in terms of some of the welfare reform legislation. I led a march on the '96 Democratic convention. I thought it was unfair to poor people. I still do.
We disagreed on the crime bill. I'm absolutely against the death penalty. So there are many areas that Mrs. Clinton and I would not agree on.
Clearly, though, I think that is why I can respect, despite those disagreements, she had a willing to make us one of the stops today and she said where she disagreed as she was questioned by a broad panel. She made it very clear where she agreed and where she didn't disagreed. I don't think she attempted at all to patronize the audience, which to me is impressive.
KING: And it's obvious from your opening statement that you're going to endorse her. Do you plan a campaign for her?
SHARPTON: Well, I -- I -- I, first of all, am not into campaigning for anyone. I'm not trying to get into a campaign.
I will clearly, as one who has run statewide twice, make it clear to people how I feel and why I feel what I feel. It will not be in the context of anyone's campaign. That has not been a discussion. That will not be a discussion.
But I clearly think, as I said about Chuck Schumer, who was there again today -- I said this a year ago when he was running -- if we have to choose between people who are accessible, even if we have disagreements, and people that operate on the politics of let's play against each other, let's polarize to win, obviously, I would support someone that's accessible.
KING: All right, let's talk for some moments here -- Reverend Sharpton will be with us for the remainder of the program and the panel. But let's talk with Howard Wolfson. He's been on this program before, an he is one of the main spokespersons for the campaign of Hillary Clinton.
Was there a campaign problem over her meeting with Reverend Sharpton today, Howard, in regard to the fact that Reverend Sharpton, as we know him, is a pretty outspoken figure in many areas in New York?
HOWARD WOLFSON, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: Well, as Reverend Sharpton just said, it was really a who's who of New York politicians who went up to Harlem today. Senator Chuck Schumer, the attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, Congressman Rangel, former mayors Dinkins and Koch, public advocate Mark Green. This is nothing out of the ordinary. And New Yorkers will have to make a decision between two types of leadership: the type of leadership that is inclusive and reaches out even when there might be disagreements or the type of leadership that tries to push away.
KING: But the question, Howard, was Reverend Sharpton is particularly known as a pretty outspoken guy, and he's very controversial in New York. That's not denied. And the focus was on the fact that this is his event in Harlem and she met with him privately. Was there any kind of political problem with that?
WOLFSON: I don't think so. It was one of three events that she went to. As I said, it was really a who's who of New York politicians there. And Ed Koch, who will be on your show later, had many disagreements with Al Sharpton. If he could come and listen and speak, certainly Hillary Clinton could too.
KING: So there was no question in her mind about whether she would go or not?
WOLFSON: It seemed know, judging from today and from what I know about New York politics, that it was a fairly standard stop on the campaign trail. It was important to go and listen, to speak, to reach out, even when there are times where you don't -- where you don't agree with someone, it's important to listen. And that's what Hillary Clinton is going to do.
KING: When do we expect her formal announcement, Howard?
WOLFSON: She said that it will be sometime next month.
KING: So would you say early February?
WOLFSON: I would say early February.
SHARPTON: Larry, I want to say this: I want to add to your question to Howard. I want to let everyone know that in 1994, this state elected a Republican governor named George Pataki. His first Martin Luther King holiday, January of '95, he not only met with me privately. He brought me to the governor's mansion to meet.
So I would expect on those standards that I would at least be invited to Chappaqua by next January by Mrs. Clinton.
KING: All right. But the question was asked, because Pataki met with you after he was elected, Al, not before.
SHARPTON: But he met with me privately. What I'm saying is that Mrs. Clinton came and did in New York what Republicans don't even do -- the only one who doesn't meet with people here is Giuliani. I've met with state chairman, Bill Powers, many times. I've met with Mr. Bruno (ph). The only person that has an insecurity about meeting with people that they don't agree with is the mayor. So why would Mrs. Clinton come and act any less available than Governor Pataki? KING: Good point. I've got a couple of more questions for Howard Wolfson, then we'll assemble our panel.
Howard, how is it going with the living in New York and in Washington? How's that taking off? It's been a couple of weeks now.
WOLFSON: It's going great. She's been up here a few times this week. She's been up most of last week. She's going to be up in New York as much as possible between now and the election and of course after.
She and the president are loving their home. They're very much enjoying themselves and couldn't be happier.
KING: Her husband told us on this show a couple of weeks ago that he would campaign for her extensively as long as she wants him. Is that in the drawing boards?
WOLFSON: I certainly expect that President Clinton will be very actively involved in the campaign. He's very popular in New York. New Yorkers know that his policies have been a tremendous benefit to the state. And he'll be a big help.
KING: The mother of Mr. Diallo, the West African immigrant shot to death by four New York police officers -- that trial is going to take place in Albany -- was at that event today, right?
KING: And they did talk to each other, did they not?
WOLFSON: They did. Mrs. Clinton addressed her in her remarks. She was sitting in the front row. It was very emotional, one mother to another, talking about the terrible loss of losing a child. And then they did have a short private meeting afterwards.
KING: And is she as encouraged as ever about this race?
WOLFSON: She is encouraged as ever about this race. She's raring to go. We're going to have the announcement next month. And we're very excited about continuing to travel around the state to listen and now also to begin talking about positions and laying them out as we go forward.
KING: Thanks as always, Howard. Thanks for being with us.
WOLFSON: Good to be here.
KING: Howard Wolfson, a campaign spokesperson for Hillary Clinton. Reverend Sharpton remains, and we'll be joined by Ed Koch and Congressman Rick Lazio and Robert Novak, all after this. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: When I heard Dr. King, even as a young girl, I understood that leadership meant fulfilling the dreams deferred, not turning our backs and walking away.
I would like...
I would like to be the kind of leader that is defined not by who I push down but who I lift up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's bring together our entire panel.
Remaining with us is Reverend Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network. Also in New York is Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York. He was with us Saturday night to discuss his new book, "I'm Not Done Yet," published by William Morrow. In New York is Congressman Rick Lazio, who is still technically considering running for the Senate, say if Giuliani does not. He would, however, have to declare pretty soon. And in Washington, Robert Novak, co-host of "CROSSFIRE," co-host of "EVANS, NOVAK, HUNT & SHIELDS," nationally syndicated columnist, co-host of "Capital Gang," and author of the new book "Completing the Revolution: A Vision for Victory in 2000." It's published by Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. And there you see its cover.
Congressman Lazio, have you spoken to Mayor Giuliani? Where -- is he getting in? What do you know?
REP. RICK LAZIO (R), NEW YORK: I don't know much more than you know. I think he has yet to make his true commitment here to this race. There was a discussion, as you remember, way back in August that by early September he would make an announcement and commit to the race. And he is on his own timetable and has yet to make that announcement.
But you're absolutely right in your earlier comment that for a state as large as New York is, if he was to decide not to get into this race sometime after, say, the middle of February, it would be virtually impossible for any other Republican to get into this race and win.
KING: And what if the Conservative Party wanted to nominate you?
LAZIO: Well, the Conservative line, as you well know, is an incredibly important line in New York State. No Republican has won in a quarter of a century without the Conservative line. So I think with that, the Conservatives do have an important card to play here. They -- they can spell the difference between victory and defeat.
I would never just run on the Conservative line without pursuing the Republican line at the same time.
KING: So if they wanted to, say, nominate you to be on their ticket without -- running against Giuliani and Clinton, you would say no?
LAZIO: I would say, first of all, I cannot imagine a scenario right now where if the mayor gets into this race where I would get in, but assuming that that does not happen, I would likely make a decision to get in and run on both lines.
KING: Mayor Koch, what percentage of the black vote does Hillary Clinton have locked up in your opinion?
ED KOCH (D), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Well, the poll that I saw mentioned in the press was 90 percent. I think that's an understatement. I can't imagine that she against Giuliani -- that wouldn't be true against our friend here, Rick -- but against Giuliani, I think she will do even better than 90 percent.
KING: Why does Giuliani come out so poor, Mayor Koch, in the black community since a lot of people agree he's been a terrific mayor and cut down crime, and that helps all New Yorkers?
KOCH: Well, firstly, I believe he has been a good mayor but a mayor has to be more than a police commissioner. He has delivered services, but he's got the heart of the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. And that was demonstrated when the two foremost black leaders here in the city, the comptroller, Carl McCall -- the state comptroller -- and the borough president of Manhattan, Virginia Fields, asked for a meeting with Giuliani. And they asked for it over a year, and he turned them down, would not meet with them.
And when asked why, he said, well, it wouldn't help because we don't agree, or words to that effect. You don't only meet with people you agree with.
When the two leading black leaders of the city ask for a meeting to state grievances on the part of perhaps the black community, part of all of the community, don't you think the mayor should meet with them?
Well, when he did that, in the vernacular, he dissed the people of this city.
KING: Bob Novak, what will be the interest in this campaign from a reportorial standpoint based in Washington nationally? How is this going to be covered?
ROBERT NOVAK, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It's going to be covered like it was a presidential race, Larry. I get around the country. I have just been in Iowa, and the week before that, I was in California, Texas before that. And I can tell you that the race that people talk about in this country is the New York Senate race. It really has -- and it's totally polarized. But particularly, Republicans.
Republicans are just dying to see Mrs. Clinton defeated, and they wouldn't care if it was the devil running against her.
I guess I'm here as a spokesman for Rudy Giuliani, because I haven't heard anyone else say a good word for him. But he is thought of as a hero by Republicans in the hinterland: not just because he's running against Mrs. Clinton but because he made New York a livable place, which it hadn't been for a very long time.
KING: You are a conservative Republican, Robert Novak. Anyone who knows you knows. I mean, you're certainly a conservative.
NOVAK: I'm not even a registered Republican.
KING: Isn't Congressman Lazio more to your political thinking than Mayor Giuliani...
KING: ... most big issues?
NOVAK: I would say so on most big issues. But Mayor Giuliani transcends normal ideology and normal politics. He really has almost mythic and heroic proportions. Maybe -- maybe it's undeserved, maybe it's deserved. But when people come to New York from all over the country -- it's your town, Larry -- and they expect -- they expect to see a terrible place, a horrific situation, and they're just amazed that -- how much cleaner and safer it is. And they think that this tough guy who -- and I think Ed Koch has described some of his failings in dealing with people. They think it took a tough guy to clean up New York.
KING: We'll be back with our entire panel. Reverend Sharpton gets into it. We'll be including your phone calls. They're with us for the rest of the way. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: And the reason we have a holiday today in his name and the reason there will be a monument in Washington, which will be in that same group of monuments as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, is because ultimately he did something that very, very few people ever get to do: He changed the entire direction of America from a country that much more profoundly now reflects on the equality of human beings, on opportunity for everyone. And he helped America an even greater nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Reverend Sharpton, what brings you and Ed Koch together on this? Is it based on what Robert Novak said? Is this so vituperative an issue that when two people have the same opinion, even if they disagreed on just about everything else in the past, they come together?
SHARPTON: Well, I think that Mr. Koch is correct when he talks about how the meanness of Mr. Giuliani has been a major factor: to clean up the streets but to pollute the spirit of a city is only half of what needs to be done.
KING: Is that the major factor in bringing you and Ed Koch together? That was the question.
SHARPTON: Absolutely. What brings us together is I think we agree that you don't have to be mean to be tough to make a city or a state to go forward.
KING: All right. And Congressman Lazio, is it a correct beef by those opposed to Giuliani to say that he is -- he has a mean streak?
LAZIO: He's a tough guy. And I think it's absolutely correct in saying that many of the problems that New York City has faced over the years required some degree of toughness in order to get the job done.
But you do have to transcend that, and you do have to speak to people's hearts as well, you know, especially today, we're talking about racial reconciliation and -- reconciliation and Martin Luther King birthday.
I think, although it is true that in most polls Republicans fare very, very poorly, frankly, in African-American communities, it's important for all Republican candidates -- including Mayor Giuliani, if he becomes a candidate for Senate -- to be active in black communities and get out there and to make the case, talk to the issues, talk about empowerment. We have important issues to sell as Republicans, very competitive issues.
And I think it is far better, frankly, for the black community to have a sense of competition among the parties, to feel that both parties are competing for their votes.
KING: Congressman, you do not sound like you're ringingly endorsing the mayor tonight. Are you kind of itching to get in this?
LAZIO: Well, the mayor has not announced for the race yet. You know, when he does, I'll make some decision after that.
KING: You mean you haven't decided already you'll definitely endorse him?
LAZIO: Well, I have not decided because he's not a candidate. I think if he becomes a candidate, then that will be something that I'll think about if that's what he wants.
But frankly, I think there are big issues for New York State that we need to talk about. We've talked about the fact that our economy needs to continue to grow. It needs to include all people. We need to make sure that are technology and entertainment sectors, we need to make sure that upstate New York shares in our economic growth.
KING: Do you think there's a chance he might not run, Rick?
LAZIO: I do think there's a chance, although only he knows. He's a fairly mercurial man. And I think we will not know exactly what his intention is on this race until he makes a formal commitment. And I don't know when that will be.
I only know this, Larry, that if he waits after February, middle of February or so and decides not to get into the race, for whatever reason, he will have made it impossible for any other Republican, in my mind, to actually win this race.
KING: Robert Novak, do you agree with that, the mayor should come out sooner?
NOVAK: I would think so. I would also say that if -- if Rudy Giuliani is relying on Rick's kind words, he may be disappointed hearing him tonight. It wasn't too friendly.
Let me tell you this: For what it's worth -- and it may not be worth much -- the Republican establishment in Washington and around the country has been behind Giuliani for months. I mean, he is -- he is one of the poster boys. They have had fund-raisers for him in Washington. The National Republican Senate Committee threw neutrality to the winds at the time that Rick was still thinking of running.
So he has -- they have put all of their money on Rudy Giuliani. And Larry, there is such a -- Mrs. Clinton is having such a hard time, as reflected by the polls, that the only strategy I see the Democrats having is to really smear Rudy Giuliani as a mean guy, as a guy who can't get along, because I think it's almost impossible to elect Mrs. Clinton. What you have to do is defeat Giuliani.
KING: We'll get Ed Koch's thoughts on that and pick right up with the panel. We'll also be including your phone calls.
Don't go away.
KING: Ed Koch, according to Robert Novak, Hillary's up against it.
KOCH: What's interesting to me is that Bob Novak in his opening statement agreed with me in effect that he was mean-spirited, because he alluded to my comments as pointing out the imperfections in Giuliani. But let me go a little stronger on this.
I was mayor for 12 years, and most people said I was a tough guy. In fact, I had Al Sharpton arrested, but I never stopped talking to him.
I believe that you can be tough without being mean.
Let me give you the best illustration, current one, of Rudy Giuliani's meanness. You have women with children in shelters, because they don't have homes. And Rudy Giuliani -- and I agree with him substantively -- says, we want you to work if you're able-bodied. I agree with that. And there are some -- probably a very few -- foolish women who say, no, I won't work. Instead of sending in caseworkers, instead of penalizing them by reducing their cash payments, he says: All right, I'm going to throw you out of the shelter onto the streets, and because you're on the streets, I'm going to take away your children. That's more than mean. That's nuts!
KING: All right. So that -- so she has to run against him, according to Robert Novak. She has to -- this has to be an anti- Giuliani campaign?
KOCH: No. She is going to run on the issues that she's most identified with: on comprehensive health care, on education, on race relations. And her surrogates, the people who support her, will be pointing out every time Rudy Giuliani shoots himself in the foot, which he will do quite regularly, as, for example, when he takes away the first children from the first mother that he throws out on to the streets.
KING: Congressman Lazio, why -- before Al comments, Rick, why is she so far behind?
LAZIO: Well, she's far behind because New Yorkers have never bought into the premise that she can represent them. I mean, I think people still are waiting for a clear explanation as to why she's in the Senate besides the fact that she's just got this personal ambition to be a senator.
I mean, she's never lived in New York State. She's never paid New York State taxes. Her children have never went to New York State schools. And it's very difficult to transport yourself overnight, buy a $2 million house, move into it with a whole photo op, and all of a sudden you've become a transplanted New Yorker with a Yankee cap on and you presume to represent the state. I think people just don't buy into that.
KING: Al -- Al, doesn't that annoy you a little, Al Sharpton?
SHARPTON: No. I think that when the people around the state get to know Mr. Giuliani the way the people in the city do they are going to be shocked, and they're going to say how can you send someone like this to work with 99 other senators. Remember now, we're not talking about him being chief executive in Washington. We're talking about a man that must build consensus, that must build relationships that is so much into himself and his meanness. How can he make legislative alliances that will help the state of New York?
Secondly, even his own supporters -- I preached last Sunday for his most high-profile black supporter for re-election for mayor in '97, Reverend Floyd Flake, who said that Mayor Giuliani's Jekyll and Hyde and that he was shocked at how Giuliani has not done what he thought he would do...
SHARPTON: ... when he supported him for mayor and that he doesn't believe he would have the nerve to ask him to support him for Senate.
KING: So Hillary's moving into the city doesn't annoy you as some sort of stepping stone?
SHARPTON: It doesn't. I'd rather have a stranger that is concerned about me than someone I know well that is going to do everything they can to inhibit my growth and to tell me, because I feel a certain way, that's it, no discussion.
KING: We're going to take a break, come back, and include your phone calls for our panel. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Racism still divides the human heart in America. Discrimination and hatred still rear their heads in too many communities.
There are in too many places still an automatic advantage when a white person applies for a job or or buys a home. There are too many workplaces where African-Americans are not adequately represented. And yes, despite what some claim, there is still a need for affirmative thinking and action in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back discussing the upcoming campaign in New York with Reverend Al Sharpton, civil rights activist, president of the National Action Network, who met privately with Mrs. Clinton tonight Ed Koch, former mayor of New York, author of "I'm Not Done Yet"; Congressman Rick Lazio, the Republican congressman from New York who's kind of waiting in the wings, so to speak; and in Washington, Robert Novak, whose new book, "Completing the Revolution: a Vision for Victory in 2000" was published today.
All right, let's take call.
Haverstraw, New York, hello.
CALLER: Hi, I don't understand why all these people are so against Hillary. She would be a great asset. She knows the ins and outs and has been in the -- has been in Washington for over 12 years, and she certainly knows the Senate.
KING: OK. Mr. Novak, do you want to respond to that lady?
NOVAK: Well, her one major effort to -- at legislation, which was the attempted passage in '93 and '94 of the health care plan, was a fiasco, one of the worst fiascoes I've seen in 40 -- 43 years of watching Capitol Hill, and resulted in the first election of a Republican Congress in 40 years. So it's -- it is really a -- to say that she knows her way around is a misstatement. She has worked in the autocratic position of first lady, where she gives orders. And talking about conciliation, she has not been very conciliatory in dealing with the lesser folks on Capitol Hill.
KING: By the way, Bob, probably no one knows the Senate better than you. As you know Rudy Giuliani, would he have a difficult time with the Senate?
NOVAK: Very difficult. They both would be difficult. I can't think of two people less qualified for the Senate. Now, if you take people who make good senators would be Rick Lazio and Nita Lowey. That would be -- but politics is a funny business.
KING: That should be the race, right?
KING: All right, isn't he right, Ed Koch? Both are not suited for the Senate?
KOCH: I think Bob Novak is a genius for recognizing that they both have baggage. But she has less than he. And I do believe that as a result of that fiasco on comprehensive health care that she's well qualified today, recognizing the errors of yesterday, to take on that issue. Because as she said to me when we discussed it, she said that when I brought up the matter there were 35 million people who were uninsured. Today, there are 45 million people in this country without health insurance. And we've got to find a way. And she will, on this occasion, bring in the people who she excluded on the last occasion.
KING: Congressman Lazio, are you a little concerned that the issues will take second place to the personalities here?
LAZIO: Yes, of course I am. Of course I am. I think that New Yorkers do not want to go through another state-wide race which is negative, bitter...
KING: Like Schumer and D'Amato?
LAZIO: Well, yes. I think that was a very tough race for us. To have a replay of that would create just more cynicism. I think to the extent that we can stay focused on the issues -- and I would really implore the Republican candidate, whomever they might be, to really stay focused on the issues. I mean, Hillary Clinton -- the reason why Hillary Clinton has 45 percent negatives and has her favorables below 50 for the first time is because, number one, she's not a plausible candidate from New York, a plausible representative, and also she's wrong on the issues.
We -- part of our prosperity, the creation of all of these millions of jobs is a result of getting to a balanced budget. She would have been a no vote on that. She'd be a yes vote on raising taxes. She would have been a no vote on welfare reform, where millions of Americans have moved off of dependency on welfare reform to jobs.
The challenge here in New York state is how do you bring in our assets? We have tremendous assets, like universities, learning centers, national labs, great businesses. How do you bring them together so that you have economic progress and opportunity for everybody, and particularly today we're talking about Martin Luther King Day, reaching out...
SHARPTON: But who would know better how to do that, Rick, who would know better than those in the Clinton administration that really turned the national economy around?
LAZIO: But, see, but I would say for Hillary Clinton in particular, who shut everybody out of the process the one time she had the opportunity to mold a policy, for a president, frankly, who has twice vetoed welfare reform, finally got backed into it, this president is someone who signs bills only when he seas the tea leaves, the political tea leaves lining up...
LAZIO: I think that the bodies that have been passing the budgets have been Republican Congresses. The bodies that have moved to try and provide tax relief are Republican Congresses. When the Democrats were in -- or even this year, we took all the tax increases that were in Clinton's budget and put them on the floor. Even the Democrats ran away from it. Do they do best in the dark.
KOCH: Rick, you're being unfair.
KING: Al, do you want to respond? Al?
SHARPTON: Yes, I think first of all you can't talk about the prosperity without talking about what the Clintons have done nationally. But I think even more important, when you look at the fact that this mayor has spent millions of dollars of city money arguing constitutional questions and lost every one of them, to think he'd be sitting in the United States Senate with that kind of management record, to think that he'd be voting on two to three empty seats in the Supreme Court when he has lost most of the constitutional arguments while he's been mayor is absolutely absurd.
I think that when the rest of the state looks at the real record of Rudy Giuliani, you haven't seen high negatives...
KING: Let me...
SHARPTON: ... when the rest of the state understands what Rudy Giuliani is.
KING: Let me get a break. Then we'll come right back and I'll ask Bob Novak what effect this is going to have on the national race, with what appears to be 100 percent turnout in New York.
We'll be right back with more calls, too.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This city was chaotic. And, Lord, please try to find somebody like Mayor Giuliani to take over the mayorship after he becomes senator, for, Lord, I know you are going to grant his heart's desire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before Mayor comments -- Mayor Koch comments on what was just said and we take another call, Bob Novak, what's the effect of this race on the national race, do you think?
NOVAK: I just want to say, Larry, that Reverend Sharpton has twice said that once the people of New York learn what the people of the city know about Mayor Giuliani, they'll reject him. Of course they have elected him mayor twice and re-elected him. He's the only person -- the only Republican re-elected as a Republican with strictly Republican votes. So they like him pretty well in the city.
SHARPTON: By what margin, Bob? By What margin? Let's remember he was elected in '93 with two percent. He was re-elected with one of the lowest turnouts in the history of this city. So with all of the Republican support you're talking about, we've never seen this huge Giuliani mandate at the polls.
NOVAK: But that's remarkable...
KING: All right, before -- all right, before, all right, before Bob...
NOVAK: That's remarkable for a Republican here, but I'll answer your question, Larry.
KING: All right, then I want to hear what Mayor Koch has to say. But go ahead, Bob.
NOVAK: Yes, I think there's going to be a...
NOVAK: I think there's going to be a huge turnout in New York. But it's going to be a big turnout on both sides, because this is going to really generate people. I don't think it's going to have an effect on the presidential race. If the Democrats don't carry New York for president, they can just kick away this election. I assume that they'll -- that Gore, assuming he's nominated, would beat Bush, assuming he's nominated in this state. But I think that Gore would run well ahead of Mrs. Clinton.
KING: Are you saying you think that Gore and Giuliani would both win, Bob?
NOVAK: That is my guess if the election were held today... KING: That's what I'm asking.
NOVAK: ... and held later, yes.
KING: Mr. Koch.
KOCH: Yes, Bob, I believe that Giuliani would not have been elected if I hadn't helped him along with three other key people. He said so at the time. Because I was unhappy with the David Dinkins administration, in particular the last year and Crown Heights. I voted for him a second time, even though I broke with him two years into his first administration, because I did not want to see his opponent, Ruth Messinger, a left-winger, elected after this city had been first brought to the center by me and brought to the center by Giuliani in terms of philosophy.
But that doesn't mean that people who voted for him voted for him because we thought he was what he should be. A mayor has to be more than a police commissioner. He's the heart, he's the soul of people in this city. We -- instead of his believing that we are his servants, he is supposed to be...
KOCH: the servant of the people.
KING: Ed, would you admit...
KOCH: He's not.
KING: ... if he ran for a third term, he'd win?
KOCH: It depends on who ran against him, honestly.
KING: All right.
Los Angeles -- let me get another call in -- L.A., hello.
CALLER: Hello, for Reverend Al Sharpton.
CALLER: What specific qualifications and/or record does Hillary Clinton have that makes her so appealing to the black community as a politician?
SHARPTON: Well, I think that what she has stood for in terms of health care and in terms of dealing forthrightly, clearly today was one, with issues of concern, all the way from how we're going to make the economy fair for people at the bottom -- she talked about tax credits, she talked about the need to revive investments in the inner cities, I think that she talked about a fair criminal justice system -- as opposed to a mayor who has sat there and ran his city for seven years that even his black supporters, as I just said, have now said that he's a major disappointment to them. If you ask in terms of the black community, you'd have to answer why even his own supporters in that community are overwhelmingly leaving his side. All of us can't be crazy.
KING: Congressman Lazio, would you think that -- first of all, Congressman, as a national figure, since you're in Washington, do you agree with Robert Novak that despite a huge turnout in New York the effect on the national race will be minimal?
LAZIO: I think so. I think there will be a large turnout. I agree with Bob about that. But I don't think it's going to have a tremendous impact on the national race unless somebody says something during this race for Senate down the home stretch that changes the presidential dynamic. But I don't think that will happen.
KING: We'll take a break.
And as we go to break, here's Hillary Clinton on Martin Luther King's birthday discussing it.
And when we come back, more of your phone calls.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: He spoke the language of justice. He made me fully understand how many rights I took for granted that still eluded my fellow citizens. He showed us the indignities that African-Americans faced every day, the doors locked shut, the dreams deferred, the futures denied.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Santa Monica, California -- hello.
CALLER: Yes, hello, Larry.
CALLER: To what extent, if any, does anyone in the panel think Hillary is using her Senate run as a stepping stone to the presidency?
KING: Mayor Koch, do you think so?
KOCH: No, I do not. And in any event, if that were to occur that's years away. But I don't believe that that's in her planning.
KING: Congressman Lazio?
LAZIO: I can't think of any other reason why she would make this move. This is a woman that's got a great amount of opportunities internationally as well as nationally with her husband as president. I think this is absolutely her plan as a stepping stone to run for the White House.
KING: Reverend Sharpton?
SHARPTON: I think the one that we should watch out for is Rudy Giuliani, who clearly wants to be chief executive. And I would fear that if he won this election he would absolutely use that to run for the White House. And I would have to find Adam Clayton Powell's old home in Biminy if that became the case.
KING: Santa Monica...
NOVAK: Can I answer that?
KING: Santa Monica's answer -- but I want Mr. Novak to respond -- yes.
NOVAK: There's no doubt. Everybody I talk to in New York, Democrats and Republicans, off the record think that she wants to be the first woman president. She thinks she'd be a better president than her husband. And, Ed Koch, it might not be that far off. It could be 2004 when she's running.
KING: But Robert -- Robert Kennedy did that. And by the way, is that bad if you want to be president? Is that a bad goal?
NOVAK: No, you asked me the question. I'm giving you an answer.
KING: No, no, but is it bad? That's just a question, not an opinion.
NOVAK: No, I don't think -- some people think she isn't qualified to be president, she shouldn't be president. But she's not going to be president if she's just first lady. But if she's a U.S. senator, she's as well-qualified as anybody.
KING: Mayo, Florida -- hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry.
CALLER: Enjoy your show. I have a question for Mr. Novak.
CALLER: He made a statement that Hillary lost the Congress for the Democrats in '94. Is he not misstating it was the insurance companies like Thelma and Louise that really lost that for the Democrats?
KING: Wasn't it that campaign, Robert?
NOVAK: That was the liberal rationale. I don't think that was the case. I think that the American people took a look at the -- at "Clinton Care" and decided they didn't want their health system run in the image of the U.S. Postal System and made careful, considered decision on it.
KING: Rick, do you have a problem as a conservative with the fact that in two major social issues, abortion and gun laws, Giuliani and Clinton agree? LAZIO: Well, I actually don't have a problem with them on the gun issue. I think, you know, the problem for Giuliani with conservatives is not so much that he's pro-choice, it's his position against a ban on partial birth abortions, which is a real problem for many conservatives within the conservative movement and many Republicans...
KING: Is that why the...
LAZIO: ... and many moderates I might add.
KING: Is that why the party...
LAZIO: I mean, Ed Koch, I think is for the ban.
KING: ... conservative -- is that why, Rick, the Conservative Party is not going to -- or appears not going to endorse him?
LAZIO: Gee, I don't want to speak for the Conservative Party, Larry, but they have said through their chairman, Mike Long, that they have two issues with Rudy Giuliani. One is you cannot run on the liberal line and the conservative line at the same time. You cannot be both things. It denigrates the ideals of the Conservative Party to do that. So you've got to renounce running on the liberal line, which is very difficult for Rudy Giuliani because he's very close with the chairman, the party boss of the Liberal Party, Ray Harding. His son is on the Giuliani payroll.
And the second thing is that he's got to moderate his position on his -- on -- against an opposition to the ban on partial birth.
KING: Yes. So Reverend Sharpton, does it -- isn't it kind of weird to you that as a liberal, the Liberal Party is going to endorse Mayor Giuliani?
SHARPTON: Well, I think that Mr. Lazio has said, again, things that people around the state of New York need to know. And that is that Mr. Giuliani, who plays squeaky clean's, problem is that both of the Liberal Party chairmen's sons work for him in the city of New York. So he's dealing in patronage, which gives him a problem, which is why I think to really have democracy in New York, Rick Lazio ought to run as a conservative, Giuliani as a Republican, and we prepare for Mrs. Clinton to go to the United States Senate.
KING: And on that note, we'll take a break and come back with some more comments from each of our guests.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Hello, nice to see you. Hi. Hello, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New senator, right?
CLINTON: I hope so. If you'll help me that will happen. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll surely help you.
CLINTON: Thank you, sir. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Mayor Koch, is this race going to tighten up considerably, do you think?
KOCH: Oh, yes. The polls have fluctuated over the last few months, and I believe that ultimately as people hear her -- she is her own best salesperson. She goes out there and she's on television, and she'll do more of that, you can feel the sincerity, the intelligence, the courage. And I believe that she will ultimately win. And I am going to do what I can to make that happen.
KING: Congressman Lazio, based on remarks tonight and other times we've interviewed you, are you kind of champing at the bit? Would you really in your gut, in your gut like to get into this?
LAZIO: I would like to get into the race. But I'm a realist. I understand the dynamics at play here. And I am presuming that the mayor will make an announcement, and I hope that it will be an announcement that he will get into the race very soon so that we can prepare to win this race. And I think he needs to take the issues to Hillary Clinton, because I think that if he does that we will win. We need to wage a positive, inclusive race, and we need to challenge her on her positions.
It's fine enough for her to be having photo-ops around the state, but I think it's important for us to say, what have you done in minority communities? How many jobs have you created? What are your ideas for our hospitals, our universities, our businesses, our communities, our community-based organizations? Where are you on J.C. Watts' community renewal act, for example, that would have helped many of our urban areas, that the president vetoed? Why didn't you stand up at that time? Can you be bipartisan? Can you work in the Senate?
And it does trouble me, in fact, in the end, if somebody gets elected to the Senate with the premise that they're only using this as a stepping stone...
KING: All right.
LAZIO: ... because to me it says they won't be a good legislator. They won't pay attention to building relationships.
KING: Al Sharpton, can minorities elect the senator?
SHARPTON: Minorities can come together and be the majority. And they proved that with the election of Chuck Schumer. I think that Mrs. Clinton has the ability if she chooses to do so, and she did today, to reach out and energize a base that will surprise Rudolph Giuliani.
I think also that the best thing that could happen is if the issues are discussed, if the records are discussed. She was the one answering questions today. He was hiding in the mansion having people using prayer to politicize his race rather than answering the voters' questions, where you're going to have to win the votes and win the race at.
KING: Robert Novak, do you agree with Mayor Koch it will get closer?
NOVAK: I'm not sure it. That's not for sure. She has been in a tail spin for months now. One thing that's very interesting -- and I think it's apropos of this being Martin Luther King Day -- the polls show that 93 or 94 percent of the African-Americans in New York are supporting Mrs. Clinton. I don't think that's healthy for New York, I don't think it's healthy for the Democrats, I don't think it's healthy for the Republicans. And if I could give a plug for my new book, "Completing the Revolution," one of the things I recommend the Republicans do is make a real effort, which they don't do, to go after the African-American vote, because I think they could do much better even against Mrs. Clinton. But they won't do it unless they try much harder than they've done. And I think this total domination of the black vote by the Democrats is not healthy.
KING: Do you think it's a mistake, Bob, for a total domination of either party to get a bloc vote?
NOVAK: Absolutely. I think I don't...
KING: In other words, you'd be against white Anglo-Saxon Protestants going 80 percent for Republicans?
NOVAK: That's what we have right now in the South. To win Southern elections, because of the rising black vote, Republicans are aiming at 70 percent of the white vote. This is racial politics, racial-oriented politics. I don't think it's good for the country. But it would take a much bigger effort. And, of course, if you do the other things I recommend in the book, like tax reform and term limits and campaign finance reform and privatize Social Security, you can get both white and black votes.
KING: Ed Koch, do you expect a D'Amato-Schumer replay here?
KOCH: I don't think so on the part...
KING: In vituperativeness.
KOCH: No, no. I believe that the first lady is going to take the high road because it's in her interests, and I think it's her personality to do that. I believe that Rudy Giuliani can't take the high road. He's not capable of it. He will go for the jugular. He will try to destroy her character. He's done it with anybody and everybody who's disagreed with him. The richies in this town who support parks, he calls them the Marxists -- crazy.
KING: On that note, we will hear much more from this. We thank our panel, Howard Wolfson earlier and continuing for the full hour Al Sharpton, Ed Koch, Congressman Rick Lazio, and Bob Novak, whose new book, "Completing the Revolution: a Vision for Victory in 2000" published today. Ed Koch's book is "I'm Not Done Yet: Keeping at it, Remaining Relevant and Having the Time of My Life."
Stay tuned for CNN NEWSSTAND. The topic is sports and race.
See you tomorrow night. Good night.
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