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Larry King Live
John McCain Trounces George Bush in New Hampshire Primary; Al Gore Beats Bill Bradley by Slim MarginAired February 1, 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: Good evening from Manchester, New Hampshire. This is edition No. 1 of two LARRY KING LIVEs tonight. We'll be back again live at midnight with edition No. 2.
Our regular panel is assembled. And they are, in Washington, Ann Richards, the former governor of the great state of Texas; William Bennett, the co-founder of Empower America and bestselling author; Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer Prize-winning assistant managing editor of The Washington Post; and here in Manchester Jeff Greenfield.
Later, we'll be hearing from the victorious John McCain. We have declared both McCain an easy winner and Gore a very close winner on the Democratic side.
Let's get the thoughts of our panel. We'll start with Ann Richards. Surprising?
ANN RICHARDS (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: Well, I think everybody was surprised at the size of the McCain victory. The question is, does it really mean anything? I think Bush has so much money that it's going to be very hard for McCain to overcome money and organization in these other states that are coming up.
But I think the one lesson that the Bush group learned this time, or should have learned, is that Bush is going to have to say something other than tax cuts. He's not going to be able to get away with phrases like "Well, I'm all right on that" or "I'm -- I'm -- I'm -- I'm -- I'm sort of -- well, I'm OK there."
RICHARDS: He's going to have to take real positions on health care, on what he's going to do about Social Security. And I think McCain really brought it home to him.
KING: Bob Woodward, what's your read?
BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, obviously, it's a big win for McCain. The question now is McCain and Bradley the reformers, can they carry that message to the other states and win primaries? As you know, New Hampshire is very different than the states that all the candidates are going into -- are so different. Eight days ago, we were talking about Iowa. And I think in New Hampshire, very few people thought about Iowa or mentioned it.
So it's a new ball game all the way.
It's a big victory for Gore, though, also. Even -- it means he's won two, and Bradley hasn't won.
KING: Jeff Greenfield, super night for McCain?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Yes, it's not only that he won: He won by the largest margin of any contested primary in New Hampshire since Ronald Reagan beat George Bush in 1980.
I was thinking of this question, what happens now? You may remember in 1951 when a rookie named Willie Mayes made a spectacular catch against the Dodgers in a key game, whirled around, threw the runner out at home plate.
KING: Billy Cox was the runner.
GREENFIELD: There you go. And they asked Dodger manager Charlie Dreston (ph) about it. He said, "Let's see him do it again." That's the test for McCain. Let's see him -- it is an amazing feat. It is his night. But the Republican Party and I think the political world is saying, "OK, let's see you do it again."
KING: Mr. Bennett, we're staying on the Republican side, and then we'll get to the Democrats. What's your read on McCain tonight?
WILLIAM BENNETT, EMPOWER AMERICA: I was prepared until we got that anti-Dodger sentiment, and I've been thrown off balance a little bit here. It's a big win for McCain, obviously. The bush campaign talked about a bump in the road. This is more than a bump. This is a small or medium Matterhorn. It's a serious matter.
Bush was looking -- remember when Bush was looking so strong, who would dare challenge? McCain went up with 3 percent and challenged.
I've got a couple of questions. One, does this say anything about the tax issue? That's one issue that I'm interested in. Some of us have wondered whether the tax issue really has salience given the state of the American economy.
And second, what does George Bush do now? Ann and I may not agree on a lot, but I think the governor has been too scripted. He has stayed too close to those notes. He's got to come out, show us who he is. He's got to fight for this job now.
And I think that's fine for me. I think that's all right for the Republican Party.
KING: Jeff might have an answer on how that came out on taxes tonight in the polling.
GREENFIELD: I think a victory -- I was looking for that, and I don't have numbers. But it is very clear -- and this has been emerging, what Bill Bennett says -- that for the first time in almost 20 years the tax issue may not be the driving issue in a Republican Party contest. It's how Bush -- I'm sorry -- it's how Bush beat Dole up here in 1988. It's how Ronald Reagan won in 1980. John McCain went to the Republican Party and said: Look, it's conservative not to do this.
And at a time of -- what I was looking at is the numbers show that all across New Hampshire, people think the economy is doing incredibly well. And when you think the economy is doing incredibly well, the idea of getting a tax cut back may be less important. So Bill's -- Bill's got a good point.
KING: Ann, does Bush now take off the gloves, so to speak?
RICHARDS: Well, I think one thing that you have to say first, Larry, is that the Bush camp is going to be slightly happy about the fact that this allows them to raise more money. You know, what they're sitting on, about 65 million now. And this -- this will give them a chance to say to those folks, you've got to send us some more, and they always like that.
And I think that if -- if Bush felt humble in Iowa, he learn a lot of humility tonight. And they're going to do a lot of re- examination of this message, because either the message or Bush himself is not selling, because remember, New Hampshire was the first test of an actual direct vote. Iowa was a caucus. It's sort of an establishment party kind of play.
And since this was the first direct vote, they had a wake-up call. And they'll get busy. They'll -- I mean, Karl Rove will fix it. But he's got something to think about tonight.
KING: We'll pick right up on that. We'll take a break and come back. Our panel will be with us.
We'll also be hearing from Ari Fleischer, campaign spokesperson for George Bush. We'll be hearing from Senator McCain at the bottom of the hour.
Here's a little of what he said in accepting his victory tonight. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My friends, last June, I asked the people of New Hampshire to make room in this election and in our party for the forces of reform. I ask you to help me break the Washington iron triangle of big-money lobbyists and legislation that for too long has put special interests above the national interests.
Well, thanks to you, my dear friends, today we made room. We made room, and we have sent a powerful message to Washington that change is coming.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.
Bob Woodward, I am going to moderate the South Carolina debate, the only debate left in South Carolina. It will be four nights before the primary. How important is that one?
WOODWARD: Clearly very, very important. And one of the things I think that we might see here is that George W. Bush will take a page from the Al Gore campaign and Gore transformed and retooled himself by portraying himself and sort of proving that he was a fighter. And this is exactly what George W. Bush is now going to have to do, because there was no contest in Iowa -- he really didn't beat McCain there. McCain has beaten him quite badly in New Hampshire. So Bush is going to have to come out and be very tough, demonstrate those qualities which people look for in a president and fighting is one of them, courage is another.
KING: Jeff Greenfield, Forbes, Bauer, Keyes? Break it down. Does Bauer stay?
GREENFIELD: I don't think so. Keyes stays. He has no reason to leave. And the South Carolina Republican Party is not going to bar him from your debate. I'm -- I will just make a flat-out prediction. In the case of Forbes, his people told me yesterday that, gee, we think we might be able to get as high in the 20s and if we can get in the 20s and McCain won we would stay in. Our estimate is he's going to get about 15 percent of the vote and this actually may be very bad news for McCain.
McCain needs Forbes in South Carolina and in Michigan to drain more conservative votes away from George W. Bush. If Forbes drops out, that's not so hot for McCain.
KING: I am told we have a few minutes with the governor of Texas, Governor George W. Bush at his campaign headquarters. Thanks very much for joining us, Governor.
Bob Woodward just said that you now have to kind of take the gloves off as you go to South Carolina and be a little more of an infighter, so to speak, in this race. Do you agree?
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I am going to run a campaign that'll help me win South Carolina. I have got a great base of support. First I want to congratulate John McCain, Larry. He ran a great campaign here in New Hampshire. He spent a lot of time here, and he turned out a huge independent vote to his credit. And -- but I'll assess my strategy for South Carolina. I will tell you this -- I am -- he came at me from the left here in New Hampshire, and so it's going to be a clear race between a more moderate to liberal candidate versus a conservative candidate in the state of South Carolina. KING: Are you shocked tonight, Governor?
BUSH: No, I am not shocked at all. I am a realist and realize that sometimes there's bumps on the road to the White House and the state of New Hampshire oftentimes is that bump in the road. I understand it. I accept it, and I am moving on. Our team is not the least bit dispirited. It's -- as I told -- I think I might have mentioned to you -- but this is a long road and I am on the road, and I understand that not all the road is going to be smooth.
KING: Are you disappointed, though, that even though McCain won the independents, he also, according to exit polling, won the conservatives in New Hampshire?
BUSH: Well, I don't think he won the Republicans. I know he won the independents and -- it's hard to tell, you know? It's -- a conservative in New Hampshire may not be a conservative in South Carolina or Texas. But I will tell you, I had a great experience here. I have -- came away with great friends in the state of New Hampshire. It's a good lesson. I said in my speech I'll be a better candidate for it. I am honing my game and I am looking forward to getting to Delaware and South Carolina.
KING: This is -- I guess, except when the Texas Rangers lost the game, this is your first loss, isn't it?
BUSH: No, well, actually I lost in 1978.
KING: That's right, for Congress.
BUSH: Yes. Second place in a two-man race, so -- but it's -- listen, I -- as I say, I am pleased with how hard we worked. I know I had a tough race here. John skipped Iowa and ran a very good contest here, and he turned out a huge independent vote, much bigger than any of us thought and that's to his credit. But I believe my tax cuts -- my tax cutting plan and my education plan and my plan to strengthen the military are going to play -- continue to play well in the state of South Carolina.
KING: One other -- two other quick things, do you think that the rest of the field should stay?
BUSH: You better ask them. You know, obviously -- the sooner it's a two-man race the more I'll like it, because I believe there will be a nice contrast between my friend, John McCain, and me. But that's up to them, Larry.
KING: And can you -- I know that we strategize and we deal with everything. Give us an idea what it's going to be like leading up to that South Carolina debate and the 19th, is it going to be tougher?
BUSH: The debate be tougher?
BUSH: Oh, I don't know. I think the debates have been tough, and they have been good debates here in Iowa and New Hampshire. This is a -- it's a good exchange that we have had and I look forward to having good exchanges. I don't intend to get personal, if that's what you're asking.
KING: Yes. In other words, you're not going negative?
BUSH: No, I am not, but I am going to make our differences clear. John and I disagree on certain issues and I am going to make them very clear. One of the things I guess I need to do a better job of is explaining to people that he is the chairman of the Commerce Committee in Washington, D.C. that -- and I am the person who has got a zip code outside of Washington. But, no, I look forward to the race. I think it's important to have good ideas and that's what I am going to talk about.
KING: Governor, we'll see you on the 15th in Columbia.
BUSH: All right, sir, good talking to you.
KING: Governor George Bush of Texas finishing second tonight in the Republican primary in New Hampshire.
Back with our panel after this.
KING: Beautiful winter day and night here in Manchester, on the cold side, but the skies were clear and the turnout was heavy. And you're watching edition number one of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be back with edition number two at midnight, and more roundup of course at the top of the hour at 10:00 Eastern. All the times we give you are Eastern times.
Mr. Bennett, what do you think of what Governor Bush has had to say?
BENNETT: Well, it was a big hit he took, and picked himself up, dusted himself off pretty well. He was very gracious, congenial and decent. And he's already running for the South Carolina primary, talking about those independent liberal voters in New Hampshire, might have said Massachusetts. I almost did, because that's obviously the way to position. But this is a testing time for him.
I was thinking about -- I really was thinking of -- it just occurred to me, the Shakespeare plays, the histories, you know, Henry IV, Part I, Part II, the young Henry, the prince is this genial guy, he hangs out with Falstaff, he -- you know, he's known to be a pleasant guy, a convivial guy, but is he up to be king? And that's what those plays are all about. And now this thing is cast in very sharp relief, is he up to be king? Is he -- how much does he got? How much does he have? Is he sharp enough? Is he tough enough? And we will find out.
KING: Jeff Greenfield, what did you read into what the governor said? GREENFIELD: Well, let me just echo Mr. Bennett and quote a one- time colleague of mine who said, way back last August the question George W. Bush has to answer is can he take a punch. He got a punch tonight. I think Governor Bush could not have been clearer about what his intentions and what the campaign's intentions are. "He came at me from the left."
KING: That's a direct quote?
GREENFIELD: Yes, that's not a very popular place to be, particularly in South Carolina among Republicans, and I believe what we're going to hear, not in a personal way, but Governor Bush is going to say, look, John McCain is not a real conservative. He's with the left on campaign finance reform. He's wishy-washy on some of our key issues. He doesn't understand the conservative position on taxes. That's why John McCain tonight made a point of attacking Bill Clinton and Al Gore, which George W. Bush didn't need to do. He's already. McCain trying to say, look, I am a conservative, I am just a conservative reformer.
KING: Bob Woodward, is that the way you read it?
WOODWARD: I mean, Bush has got to come up with some sort of gameplan, but he probably already has one. His advisers knew that he most likely was not going to win in New Hampshire.
And one of the things that needs to be emphasized, in Iowa and New Hampshire, the campaigns are totally different than they are in the rest of the country. It really is retail politics. Did McCain say he had 114 town meetings? That is a lot. He's going to have a handful of town meetings in California and New York. So we're going into the arena of wholesale politics, where Bush has three assets -- money, money money, and it is going to really make a difference. I mean, he has got so much money, maybe at the end, he can voluntarily promise to give some of that money to retire the federal debt, which everyone is currently worried about.
KING: Ann Richards, does he send -- Ann Richards, does he make it -- McCain, to the left?
RICHARDS: Oh, absolutely. He's going to try to paint McCain as being some born-again liberal. Oh, there's no question about that, because of course everybody in South Carolina thinks that people in New Hampshire are Yankees anyway. So he begins with that "they're a bunch of foreigners" kind of viewpoint.
One small thing that I -- that really interested me in the returns tonight, is what happens now with New York? Here, the establishment of the Republican Party have done everything and Bush has joined in with them to keep McCain off the ballot in New York. This sort of checks it to them, it seems to me, that McCain really does -- really has established he's bona fide, and it ill behooves them to keep him off the ballot.
KING: William Bennett, do you agree with that? Do they have to put him on almost now?
BENNETT: They may. I don't know.
Let me just say that America is littered with the bodies of people who brought a lot of money to races and didn't make it out of states, a lot of Texans you know? Ask Phil Gramm.
KING: I am going to cut into you one second, Bill.
BENNETT: Ask John Connally. OK.
KING: I am going to cut into Bill one second. Let's go to Bradley headquarters, where the former senator from New Jersey is addressing his supporters -- watch.
BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Bradley! Bradley! Bradley!
BRADLEY: OK. Thank you. Thank you, New Hampshire. Thank you. What a wonderful year. Thank you.
BRADLEY: New Hampshire is a state of frank talk, independent thinking and town meetings, and I loved every day. I know all of you have worked your hearts out. This has been a joyous journey since my first event in Jaffrey (ph) last January. People have trusted me with their stories and I'll never forget them. They've trusted me with their hopes and I'll always honor them.
We have made a remarkable turnaround, but there is still a tough fight ahead.
BRADLEY: Al Gore has run a strong race and I congratulate him. But we're smarter and better prepared and (AUDIO GAP) to continue the fight.
BRADLEY: But it's a fight about more than Al Gore or me, it's a fight about the kind of America we know we can become.
BRADLEY: Eleanor Roosevelt once said that the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. What is your dream for yourself, for your family, for your community, for your nation?
Can we, in a time of unprecedented prosperity, afford to dream big dreams again?
BRADLEY: Can we afford to create a new politics in America?
BRADLEY: That's the question that the people have to decide in this election.
For this election is not merely a choice between two individuals, between two men with different backgrounds and experience. It's a choice between philosophies of leadership.
It's a choice between those who are content with our great prosperity and those who regret our failure to use the great opportunity which prosperity has given us to provide care for the ill, to lift up millions from poverty, to heal the wounds of racial divide...
KING: Former Senator Bradley conceding tonight, but certainly not throwing in the towel, as he forges forth to continue the race. Of course they're be quiet on the side of the ledger for a while, even though he has challenged Al Gore, has accepted the Gore challenge to a weekly debate on the issues. The Democrats don't get involved in a primary again until March the 7th.
We'll take a break. Our panel will be coming back, and we'll be also talking with the victorious Senator John McCain. That's all ahead on edition number one of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... people and make them feel they're represented again. And we're having a great time. And could I finally add, Larry, just -- this experience in New Hampshire, with the people of New Hampshire, has been one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. And I'd like to take the opportunity of thanking them. And we're headed down to South Carolina tonight.
KING: Cindy, what was it like for the wife of this candidate? Do you enjoy this? Did you like this New Hampshire scene? Are you looking forward to this long, hard road ahead?
CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF JOHN MCCAIN: I've had a great time in New Hampshire. The people down here are just wonderful and I've enjoyed every minute of it. And I'm looking forward to South Carolina. We've spent some time there and I think that if we take our message the right way and do what we've been doing down here, we're going to be successful.
KING: Were you like John? Were you surprised by the size of this win?
C. MCCAIN: I was a little bit, yes. We thought it would be maybe a little bit closer.
MCCAIN: Or a lot.
C. MCCAIN: We thought maybe it would be a little bit tougher, of course. And I'm just overwhelmed by the support of the New Hampshire people.
KING: Senator McCain, were you worried when, following Iowa, for two or three days there, the reports were that Governor Bush had passed you in the polls?
MCCAIN: I -- of course, you're concerned. But what you've got to do is stay on your message and not be affected by the polls. But look, Governor Bush is a good candidate and a good man. We're going to have a real race. But I really believe the message is what's going to prevail for us over time.
But I -- I've believed that this was going to be a lot closer than it was. And obviously there was a whole lot of people that came out to vote that had never voted before, and a lot of young people, and that's really the story of this race, so many people who have never been involved who were involved in our campaign, and also, again, a lot of independents. But we also carried rather handily the Republican vote as well.
KING: Now, Governor Bush said that -- in congratulating you -- he was just with us a couple of minutes ago. He said you obviously came at him from the left. You won the left tonight. And it apparently -- and all our analysts here have agreed, he is going to go to the right and paint himself as the conservative Republican as you head to South Carolina. Do you see that coming?
MCCAIN: I don't know. We'll be running our own campaign. But I think it's conservative to pay down the debt and save Social Security and not put it all into tax cuts. I think it's conservative to want to get rid of the special interests. And I think it's conservative to really try to lead and convince people of your qualifications.
I -- our exit polling data showed that we carried conservatives as well as moderates.
And so I look forward to a vigorous debate. You're going to be down in South Carolina and -- at a debate, and I'll look forward to that. And I just think we won such a big victory. It was all encompassing tonight. And I don't intend to go right or left. I'm a proud conservative Republican and we're just going to stay on message.
KING: Do you expect, though, him to turn this right versus left? I mean, he literally said so tonight. MCCAIN: I don't know. But I think that the people in South Carolina will examine my record and my positions. And I don't think that anybody can paint me as being anything but a proud conservative as I am, in the tradition of Ronald Reagan and my favorite, Theodore Roosevelt.
KING: Do you think you'll get on the ballot in New York?
MCCAIN: I don't know. I would ask our viewers to call Governor Pataki and call Governor Bush and ask them to let me on the ballot. I'm a viable candidate. The days of communism are over.
And by the way, if you want to know more about us, mccain2000.com.
KING: Do you think, by the way, that in view of this victory tonight, that should impress the Republican bigwigs in New York to let that down and put you on, just by the fact that it's the only one you've entered and you've won?
MCCAIN: Well, I hope so. Governor Bush just has to pick up the phone and tell Governor Pataki to let me on. That's all really that's necessary. But I tell you, we're in federal court with them and we'll take it to the floor of the convention, because this is the only state in America where they keep qualified candidates off the ballot and it's unfortunate for the Republican voters of New York.
But look, this is a happy night for us, Larry. We're exhilarated. We've had a wonderful experience, one I'll never forget. And we're going to be down at New Hampshire at 3:00 a.m. in the morning and campaigning hard in South Carolina with the same message of reform and giving the government back to the people.
KING: Do you have something scheduled in New -- in South Carolina early tomorrow?
MCCAIN: We've got a 3:00 a.m. rally at the airport and then we've got a bunch of town-hall meetings tomorrow. So we're having fun.
KING: You're bringing town-hall meetings to South Carolina?
MCCAIN: We've already been doing them there and we have been very well received.
KING: And, Cindy, will you stay with John through the South Carolina campaign?
C. MCCAIN: Yes. I'm going to stay all the way through, all the way through until March 7th.
KING: We'll see you both down there. Again, congratulations, Senator.
MCCAIN: Thanks, Larry.
C. MCCAIN: Thank you.
KING: Senator John McCain and his wife, Cindy, from their campaign headquarters. He heads right out tonight to South Carolina, a 3:00 a.m. airport rally.
We'll be back with our panel, their thoughts on what's been said by Bradley in concession and McCain in victory. And we'll be back again at midnight with another edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And at the top of the hour, Bernie and Judy and the gang will return as well. Don't go away.
KING: By the way, our stellar panel -- I'll reintroduce them for you -- will be returning live at midnight Eastern Time. And they are Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas, William Bennett, the co- founder of Empower America, Bob Woodward, the assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post," and Jeff Greenfield, the CNN senior news analyst.
We'll start this time with Bob Woodward. What did you make of what Mr. Bradley had to say and then Senator McCain?
WOODWARD: Well, first of all, listening to the Bradley alleged concession speech you wouldn't really know that he lost and if he labeled himself to a certain extent the turnaround kid -- he said there's a turnaround, though he did not win.
I think the really very interesting thing was, again, seeing McCain in your discussion with McCain. I am struck by a couple of things. He says it is the power of his message. I think it is very much the power of his personality, that, that calm, straight talk really jumps out of the camera and the television set in a way. And it's not a put-on with him.
I know four years ago when his good friend, the Texas senator Phil Gramm was running for president and McCain was supporting Gramm, going down and talking to McCain for hours about Phil Gramm, things were always open. He was willing to discuss them, and I think people feel that.
KING: You were telling me, Jeff, there's nothing like being on his bus?
GREENFIELD: The "Straight Talk Express" is one of the most amazing political experiences any reporter can have. I know there's a feeling that the press kind of rolls over for McCain, but the fact is, you get on that bus -- the first five minutes is standup comedy. I mean, he's a genuinely funny guy, although he does need new jokes at this point.
And then everything is on the record. There's no such thing as off the record with him. Ask him anything. He will be frank to the point sometimes of politically dangerous. He gets to the town meetings. He tends to make the same speech. People have gone up and said to him -- he'll go to Portsmouth and say that he's for base closings where there's an important base. People will come up to him -- I've this once -- and say, I hate your position, I'm voting for you because you're the first politician that's told me the truth. I don't know how long that's going to last, because the press has a habit of saying, he's great...
KING: Down we go.
GREENFIELD: ... no, he's not.
But it is for now the most astonishing political story. It's almost something out of a movie to see somebody speak quite that bluntly.
KING: William Bennett, how far can he take it?
BENNETT: Well, I think the truth is making a comeback. We've been missing it for a while, you may recall, in this town. And I think John McCain underestimates himself. I've been on that bus. I've been with him before it and after it. And I disagree with him: It's not about campaign finance reform. A little bit maybe. But when people came up to John McCain the two days I was with him, they didn't come up with copies of campaign finance reform statement. They came up with copies of "Faith of Our Fathers," which is his biography.
They look up to him. He's a hero. He's got certain moral qualities, which people admire, and I think he can go a long way.
But let me say this: After this trouncing Bush has taken -- and it is a trouncing -- he is a strong candidate. He does have a lot of money, but he also has a lot of popularity, a lot of support. New Hampshire's well-situated for John McCain.
South Carolina is just going to be really interesting. And I know you told everybody we're back at midnight. Are we going to have to come back at 3:00 a.m. for that thing too, Larry, or are we off- duty?
KING: No, no. We're off-duty. You're off-duty at 1:00 a.m., Bill.
BENNETT: Thank you, sir.
KING: We have enlisted you to the corps.
BENNETT: My beauty sleep.
KING: And is there a special quality about Senator McCain?
RICHARDS: No question about it. I always test myself: How do I react when I see somebody on television? And while I was sitting here watching McCain talk, I could feel myself smiling. So there's no -- there's no doubt about it that the guy has such a even manner, such an even sort of personality. And you can tell he's not spinning. You know, when we were listening to Bush, immediately all of us sitting up here knew exactly which one of those programmed lines he'd just been fed. I mean, we knew setting up the liberal versus conservative, we could see that he's talking about immediately the things that will appeal in South Carolina.
You didn't -- you don't feel any of that with McCain. It's a very interesting phenomenon that you really kind of trust this guy.
I want to say something about Bradley, though, .
RICHARDS: It's interesting to kind of question what would have happened if Bradley had taken off the gloves earlier. If he had really gone into this thing tooth and nail in a conventional political campaign and shown the kind of passion that he showed in New Hampshire, what -- what would this vote have been?
Now, it is a real victory for Al Gore, I think, because Bradley came at him hard. I mean, it was a -- across the cheek and back again. What would have happened if he -- Bradley had done that earlier, because 53-47, I am really surprised that -- that, you know, the vote is very close.
So I think it's going to mean Bradley is going to be able to raise some more money and Bradley is going to be able to stay around for a while.
KING: Bob Woodward, you agree?
BENNETT: Bradley loses but Bradley lives. Bradley lives.
KING: OK. Did you say -- Bill Bennett said that, right? OK.
BENNETT: Yes, I said that.
WOODWARD: But Bradley has said that he would stay around...
KING: Bob, hold on a second. We'll pick right up with you. We're going to go to Al Gore's headquarters for his victory speech. And there you see Gore and his supporters here in downtown Manchester, New Hampshire.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: During the day, during the day today, some people thought this might be like the Super Bowl. They thought that we might fall a yard short. But let me tell you...
... let me tell you...
(APPLAUSE) ... this Tennessean is in the end zone, and it feels great.
Thanks to you.
And you ain't seen nothing yet.
We've just begun to fight. We're going to march all the way down the field from state to state, from coast to coast, all the way to victory in November for the American people, for our party...
... for our country.
We have just begun to fight.
I want to thank -- I want to thank my wife, Tipper, the best campaigner in the Gore family by far.
I want to thank my whole family, Karenna, and Drew, and Sarah, and Kristin, and Albert. I want to thank all of the volunteers. You know, I want to thank everybody who made this possible, most of all the people of New Hampshire. Let me tell you -- we -- for months we were the underdogs here. We were behind in the polls for 14 weeks. We were outspent but because of you we were never out-worked. And I thank you for that.
This was a hard fought campaign.
GORE: This was a hard fought campaign. Senator Bradley was a tough competitor who made us fight for every vote. And I believe the contest made us stronger. As a matter of fact, I know it did. I know that this is a better campaign, a more focused and stronger campaign.
I heard from several people -- I heard from several people today that while they were on the phone with a volunteer from our campaign, another volunteer was knocking on the front door, and they wanted to know which one to talk to.
Thank you. Wow. That's true.
Now, here's what I think is the most important thing. Today in New Hampshire a lot of new people came into the process and voter participation was way up. The voters listened and responded to our campaign. They listened to the discussion of the issues.
Let me tell you, the people of New Hampshire in both -- in both contests listened very carefully to what the candidates were saying. I had open meetings all across this state. As a matter of fact, last night I had one for three hours and 35 minutes.
And I had faith in the people of New Hampshire, I had faith -- I have faith in the American people and I have faith in the possibilities of our future. We have an opportunity now to take the message that has been so successful here this evening all across this state.
In this autumn and winter of campaigning, which has been one of the best, most enjoyable, most satisfying experiences of my life, we took our cause all across New Hampshire, door to door, in the debates, and most of all to the open meetings across the state.
And for me that was not something new. As a matter of fact, during the eight -- the 16 years that I served in the House and Senate I had open meetings all across the state of Tennessee as a young congressman, and then as a senator. And in those years of open meetings I listened and I learned, and I learned from the people how to focus on issues like our economic prosperity, nuclear arms control, the environment and health care and education.
GORE: And then this fall in New Hampshire, in the heat of the competition, in response to the total immersion and the dialogue with the people of New Hampshire.
When I was behind, I went back to the people and started listening carefully and responding to every single question...
... every single comment. I listened to you. I shared your concerns. I responded to your questions.
I spoke about your dreams and how we can make this country better for your future.
So tonight... KING: Al Gore accepting the plaudits of the crowd and the victory tonight in New Hampshire, albeit a close one. We'll be back with our remaining moments with our panel in this edition one of LARRY KING LIVE.
We'll be back with our edition two at midnight. And at the top of the hour, Bernie, Judy and the gang will be back with more results and analysis.
We'll be back with Ann Richards, William Bennett, Bob Woodward and Jeff Greenfield right after this.
KING: By the way, the night of that South Carolina debate, which you'll see here on CNN, which we'll moderate, is the night of February 15, Tuesday, February 15. The primary is the 19th.
Jeff Greenfield has an interesting look here at what? A town?
GREENFIELD: Yes, you know, we talk about bellwethers, towns that vote with the winner -- there's a town in New Hampshire, Hudson, New Hampshire. It's a town of 22,000, just over the Massachusetts border, has voted with the winners of every Republican and Democrat primary since 1952 when it started, did it again tonight. Not only did it do it, it voted McCain over Bush big, with Forbes third and Keyes fourth, just as the state did, and it voted Gore very narrow over Bradley. I mean, I don't know who's in this town, but they're going to start getting large gifts from the candidates. They never get it wrong.
KING: Bob Woodward, what was your read on Gore's speech?
WOODWARD: Very fiery. I think it's quite possible in the coming days that President Clinton is going to give the Presidential Medal of Freedom not to Gore, but to Bradley, because Bradley, by mounting the challenge to Gore, not only as people have analyzed and said repeatedly, has allowed Gore to come out of his cocoon and become the fighter, but also Bradley in the course of challenging Gore performed kind of a surgery between Gore and Clinton. And the issue now is, who is Gore? What is he saying? What is he doing? Not the Clinton legacy, which, of course, Gore had to drag around for years.
KING: Bill Bennett, what's your read on the Democratic side of things?
BENNETT: Well he's still hitched to Clinton, you can be sure of that. He's still the -- Bill Clinton's vice president. But Gore wins, but Bradley lives. Look, I think Bradley ran a horrible campaign. He's lousy campaigner. He's a Rhodes scholar. You know, he's an Olympian. He's detached. He doesn't like people applauding for him, because he's got three more distinctions to make, you know, keeps stepping on his applause line, and he comes within six points of Gore. I mean, he's around, and now we're going into New Jersey and New York. So I think this is still a problem for Al Gore. This professor is still out there, going to make distinctions. And if his was a mean campaign ad -- I mean I grew up in Brooklyn, I -- this is mean? I mean, these were elbows? These were elbows with pads on them. This was the softest mean stuff I ever saw.
RICHARDS: Oh, now listen.
KING: Ann Richards, you may counter.
RICHARDS: Shoot,in Texas, they call campaigns contact sport. You know, it's a rolling ball of butcher knives; don't get in front of it. I thought Al Gore looked absolutely terrific, and it's not just a partisan -- he looked energize tonight, he looked good, he looked happy, and he made sense, and he was full of all kinds of enthusiasm, and he had his crowd worked up. So I think we'll give him every accolade. And I agree, Bill Bradley has made a heck of a campaigner out of him.
So you know, if Bradley's got more life; it just means that Gore is going to be tested more and more and more, and it's just going to make him a better nominee.
KING: That's the honorable Ann Richards, former governor of Texas. She rest of the panel will be back, all of them in a couple of hours. And we still have two minutes left.
I don't think you agree, Jeff Greenfield.
GREENFIELD: No, I do, and I want to point ahead to what is bad news for Bill Bradley on the exit poll. Among independents, Bradley won 56-40. Among Democrats, Gore won 59-41. In New York, independents can't vote in the Democratic Party. In California, when they add up delegates, it's a process so complicated we can't get into it. But for the delegates, only Democratic votes can be counted. So unless Bradley has a message to deliver to core Democrats, as we get down into these next primaries on March 7, he's in trouble, despite the fact that he did recover and make a strong showing tonight.
KING: Bob Woodward, do you expect Gore now to respond to Bradley's acceptance of the weekly debates?
WOODWARD: Well, I agree with Governor Richards. We may have reached a point where the Gore campaign will ask Bradley to stay in the race so they can have some sort of contest and some sort of discussion and debate. It turns out that it has worked for Gore in a magnificent way.
The other lesson of all of this -- and I think it's interesting to discuss lessons -- if you look at Gore physically, there is something about him, and apparently he went on this diet, he has time to exercise regularly, and he looks like the one who was a professional athlete in his youth, not Bill Bradley.
KING: I thank you all very much. We thank Senator McCain for being with us and -- as well. We brought you the Bill Bradley concession of sorts, and the Gore announcement of his victory. And we want to thank our panel. There'll all be back in two hours. If you joined us late, they are Ann Richards. The honorable Ann Richards is the former Governor of Texas, and William Bennett, the co-founder of Empower America and a best selling author, Bob Woodward, the Pulitzer-prize winning assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post," and our own Jeff Greenfield, CNN senior news analyst.
Bernie, and Judy, and Bill and Jeff will be back with more analysis and results, then we'll have "MONEYLINE," the latest in sports. And we'll be back with the panel in two hours.
I am Larry King. Thanks for joining us. Don't go away.
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