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Larry King Live

Cokie and Steve Roberts Discuss Their New Book

Aired February 3, 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, Cokie Roberts, co-anchor of ABC's "This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts," joins us from New York, and in Washington, her husband, Steve Roberts, professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University. What a story. They're next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Two people who need no introduction. We'll do it anyway, though. They're our guests the full hour tonight. They're Cokie Roberts, here in New York with me. She's co-anchor of ABC's "This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts." She's a congressional analyst as well, ABC analyst as well, National Public Radio, and the co-author with her husband of "From This Day Forward." It will be out officially February 14, appropriate, Valentine's Day, published by William Morrow.

And the person on the left side of that dust jacket is Steve Roberts. He is Shapiro (ph) professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University. He's the co-author of this book. He's a regular on CNN's "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER." They write a column together for "The New York Daily News" in a syndicated column. And both are contributing editors with "USA Weekend."

So we're out of time. Thanks for joining us, and good night.

(LAUGHTER)

COKIE ROBERTS, CO-AUTHOR, "FROM THIS DAY FORWARD": We're exhausted.

KING: We're Going to talk actually politics. We're going to talk about marriage. Let's talk first about the book, then a lot of politics, and then more about the book.

I know, Cokie, you've come off a big hit about mothers and daughters. What led to this one?

C. ROBERTS: Well, that book did seem to hit a cord with a lot of people about relationships among women.

KING: Big best seller, too.

C. ROBERTS: Thank you.

And the -- Steve and I had written a piece together for "USA Weekend" which was in the form of letters to our children, which was about our mixed religious marriage. I'm Catholic. Steven is Jewish. And it struck an enormous chord. We were just amazed. We got hundreds of letters, most of them favorable, not all. But the editor of my first book said, you know, really you ought to do the same sort of thing in terms of couple's, relationships among couples, starting with your own, but then other couples as well.

KING: Did you co-write it, Steve?

STEVE ROBERTS, CO-AUTHOR, "FROM THIS DAY FORWARD": Well actually, the part that's about us, Larry, which is a little more than half the book, we tell in dialogue form. As you mentioned, I am a professor at George Washington, and I hired one of my former students to be our designated listener, and she brought her 3-month-old, the esteemable Molly Rose, and asked us questions and listened. So we did it in dialogue form, and then edited it down. But part of the reason we did that is because that is book of sermons, Larry. It's not sermons. It's not sociology. Hopefully, it's not very stuffy. Hopefully, people will laugh at it. And we thought doing it in a conversational tone would make it more fun for people.

KING: And then who wrote parts, Cokie, about earlier people, John Adams and the like?

C. ROBERTS: We split them up in the same way that we normally do the column. Normally, we'll talk about the column. One of us will write it, the other one will edit it, and we'll take turns. There were six chapters in this book, and we wrote three and three.

KING: The children you wrote letters to are how old?

C. ROBERTS: The children we wrote letters, too, are respectively 31 and 29. They have each been married two and half years to wonderful people.

KING: Boy and girl?

C. ROBERTS: A son and a daughter, right, a blonde son, brunette daughter.

KING: Jewish, Catholic.

C. ROBERTS: Jewish, Catholic. We also have a cat and dog.

KING: Were they both raised in the same faith, Steve.

S. ROBERTS: Well, they -- we tried very hard to raise them in both faiths, Larry. We had this agreement in the beginning that both traditions would be part of our household. You know, there are many ways you can do this. And we -- the way we did it is not necessarily for everybody. You can decide to raise them in one faith or the over. You can decide to have no faith in your household. For us, though, there was really only one option. We both were so tied to our families, so tied to our traditions and respected each other's traditions so much that it was never a question of one of us giving up our background. It was a question of combining them and really embracing each other's traditions.

KING: They went to mass and synagogue?

C. ROBERTS: Right yes, yes, and there were times when they rebelled against all of that. But you, enough already, but...

KING: Was there a bar mitzvah?

C. ROBERTS: No there was not a bar mitzvah or a confirmation. But their marriages each included both traditions, and they both felt very strongly about that.

KING: What's the story?

C. ROBERTS: Well, I'll tell you about the story about our marriage, which sort of set the stone for this. We were 22 and 23 years old. This was 33 years ago, and we were trying very hard to make everybody feel comfortable and everybody feel included, so we were getting married in the yard of my house. Steve and I live in the house I grew up in. And we were married in the garden.

And while this was -- this picture you're seeing here is -- tells part of the story. So we're getting married after sundown on Saturday night. It -- under a hoopa (ph), the traditional Jewish wedding canopy. The president was there, and 1,499 other people. My mother did all the cooking.

KING: You were the ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ... the Washington institution.

(LAUGHTER)

C. ROBERTS: That's right. My mother cooked for this whole gang of people, and my Jesuit uncle and Arthur Goldberg was the Jewish presence. We couldn't get a rabbi to come. And so we were trying desperately to get everybody included, and everybody feel comfortable, and you know, have the wedding be symbolic of what we wanted our marriage to be.

And so I am tearing out of the house to get married because my father is bugging me to come hurry up; the president was there. And my nephew, who you just saw in that picture, who is now, you know, 38 years old, dropped one of the wedding rings. He was the ring-bearer. And he turns around, and that was the moment, where he as turning around and saying to my father, "Papa, I lost the wedding ring." And so people started handing me rings to wear down the aisle, and I am all teary, and I say to my father, oh, no, no, no, this is terrible, I can't do this, you know, the symbolism is all wrong to not have the right wedding ring. He says to me, Cokie, don't you think there's enough symbolism going on here for one night? Come on down the aisle.

KING: Steve -- that's a great story.

C. ROBERTS: Eventually what happened is the president's doctor found the ring with his little ear light that he brings.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Steve, why has this worked? The betting would have been two immediate kind of people, one, the daughter of a very famous Washington family, a Jewish boy being accepted into this, wouldn't have worked. Why did it work?

S. ROBERTS: Well, I think it worked because we wanted it to work, Larry. And every day of the last 33 years, more than 1,200 days -- I've counted it up -- we have been married.

C. ROBERTS: Twelve-thousand.

S. ROBERTS: Twelve-thousand, 12,000.

KING: Seems like 1,200.

S. ROBERTS: Yes, 12, 000 days. I think maybe only six of those days we haven't talk to each other, and we don't normally talk on television like this. And I think that we always decided, we always knew this was the most important priority, and everything was secondary, and we've been fortunate in the role models. We've both had parents with very long-standing and wonderful marriages, and we got married very young at a very turbulent time. 1966 was not a very great time to great married. A lot of changes that we lived through. I think we were fortunate.

KING: A lot of your friends divorced.

S. ROBERTS: But I think in the end, we worked very hard at it.

C. ROBERTS: But you talk about the families accepting -- the truth of the matter is Steven really fell in love with my mother before he fell in love with me. So there was never any question about accepting him. You know, we were in Washington for our student political meeting, and he was staying over at our house, and he had some terrible cough, and started coughing in the middle of the night, and -- well you tell the story, Steve. You were the one who was there.

KING: What happened?

S. ROBERTS: Well, you know, this was the first night I was ever in the house that we now live. And I was staying in Cokie's girlhood room, and I heard this knock on the door, and it being 1966, I pretty much figured it wasn't Cokie.

C. ROBERTS: No, this was 1963.

S. ROBERTS: '63 -- it wasn't -- this is the second time she's corrected me.

(LAUGHTER)

C. ROBERTS: It's all math. It's all math.

KING: Hold on. Let me get a break. Hold it right there, because I just had a vision they break up tonight on LARRY KING LIVE. That would be part of our continuing saga -- no.

C. ROBERTS: No, no.

KING: All right, we'll pick up the story of Steve and the knock on the door. This is called a hook.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We will be, of course, taking your phone calls, and we'll talk politics, too. We've got the Roberts with us, and their book is just out, "From This Day Forward." The official pub date is Valentine's Day, but it's in all of the stores.

All right, Steve -- the knock on the door.

S. ROBERTS: So, I hear this knock on the door, and in walks my future mother-in-law, dressed in this flowing peach negligee. Now, I have never seen...

C. ROBERTS: He's always hoped I would have one. I never have.

S. ROBERTS: I hadn't seen much like this in bay on New Jersey, Larry. This was quite a revelation. And my future mother-in-law says to me, "Darling, you sound terrible, drink this." And hands me a drink which I am sure is about three-quarters bourbon. She didn't really have to say "open wide," because my mouth was already -- you know. What is this vision that has walked in?

Well, it's true, I did fall in love with my mother-in-law first. I got around to Cokie later. And that room that I was in that night, that was Cokie's girlhood room and it was -- our daughter grew up in that same room and then got married in the exact same spot, in the same yard, 31 years after we got married in that same place.

KING: If this story were fiction, it would be hard to sell.

Cokie, why did you include other people historically?

C. ROBERTS: Well, because I think that the whole question of couples going through things that couples are going through today through history gives you some perspective on it. You know, there's a view in this country that -- probably everywhere -- that everybody's going through what they're going through for the first time, and my mother has this irritating habit of saying accurately all the time, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." And I felt that when I started reading the history of these things, that a lot of things, particularly that young women feel that they're going through today, have been gone through before. Abigail Adams...

KING: Explain -- they wrote letters, right?

C. ROBERTS: Abigail and John Adams wrote letters to each other constantly. He was away pretty much all the time for 10 years of their marriage. KING: And very open letters, right?

C. ROBERTS: Very. Although she kept trying to get him to write more open letters about how much he loved her, and he was sure the British would intercept them and he'd be made a fool of and the newspapers would say -- you know, we think newspapers have just started writing about private lives. He was terribly concerned that he would be ridiculed in the press for saying lovely things to his wife, and she finally, essentially, said to him, You want to be scared of the British? You better be scared of me, because I am getting very ticked off here.

KING: You also write about slave marriages.

C. ROBERTS: Slave marriages, which were very brave marriages. We have these wonderful slave narratives that the historians have collected that talk about the incredible things that slaves went through in order to form unions. They were never legalized, because they were not legal citizens.

KING: So they went through a ceremony?

C. ROBERTS: They went through ceremonies on the various properties where they lived, usually -- sometimes presided over by ministers, sometimes by the owner, sometimes by other slaves.

KING: Incredible, though, that that existed in this country.

C. ROBERTS: In this country not that long ago.

KING: Yes, I know.

C. ROBERTS: And pioneer marriages, Larry, oh my goodness, what these people went through.

KING: Going West.

C. ROBERTS: Went West on these wagon trains, and oh, unbelievable stories.

KING: Great idea.

Steve, was there ever a time when your marriage was in trouble?

(LAUGHTER)

C. ROBERTS: Watch out here, honey.

S. ROBERTS: You mean before tonight?

(LAUGHTER)

S. ROBERTS: I don't think so, Larry. I think it would be foolish to say that it was always very smooth. I think there were stresses on our marriage. We lived through the death of Cokie's dad and my dad. We lived through the death of Cokie's sister. We lived through a lot of changes in our roles in our relationship. You know, we got married in 1966, when I was clearly -- you know, all men were the breadwinners and Cokie moved four, five times with me with my career, and then things changed, and she became famous and made more money than I did. I recommend it to the gentlemen out there.

(LAUGHTER)

S. ROBERTS: But it's a -- I think that in the end -- someone said to me years ago, Larry, when I was doing a series about divorce, when I was a "New York Times" correspondent in Southern California, and a very shrewd therapist said to me, you know, If you wake up every day and say, why should we stay together today? There are going to be days, there are going to be weeks, there are going to be months when you say, hey, I don't have a good reason. You have to be able to say, well, I am committed to this relationship over a long period of time. And look, not every relationship is made in Heaven. Not every marriage lasts or should lasts. We're not naive about that.

But I don't think there's ever been a time when I think our marriage was in any serious trouble, where either of us thought seriously that this wasn't the right thing. I think we've always felt it was the right thing.

C. ROBERTS: But there were times when we were ready to kill each other.

S. ROBERTS: Well, yes.

KING: Is there professional rivalry?

C. ROBERTS: No.

S. ROBERTS: Well, I...

C. ROBERTS: Well, you seem to be saying something different?

S. ROBERTS: No, I think there is not. I can -- as you mention, I do the CNN show every Sunday. I, in fact, watch Cokie from the green room here while she's on and I am getting made up. Look, I always know ABC is going to have more viewers, so it would be foolish for me to feel a rivalry because she's always going to win, Larry, you know.

KING: We'll take a break, come back, we'll talk some politics. We'll take your phone calls, and then more about this extraordinary book.

Don't go away. We're back with Cokie and Steve after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Can't have the Roberts on and not talk politics. We'll get back to happy marriages and your phone calls as well. But first, let's do -- let's hopscotch.

Cokie, you've got Giuliani on Sunday, right? C. ROBERTS: I do.

KING: Along with John McCain?

C. ROBERTS: That's right.

KING: John McCain is not hard to get. But Giuliani is hard to get.

C. ROBERTS: Well actually, this week is a hard week to get John McCain. He's not doing anything else this week. And this week, he's hot.

KING: OK. What do you make of Rudy-Hillary? Hillary announces Sunday.

C. ROBERTS: It's going to be so fabulous to behold.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Can't wait, can you?

C. ROBERTS: From a reporter's point of view, this is just going to be a lot of fun to watch, because they're both very interesting people, and they're both going to do things, you know, that make the voters mad, and they're both going to do things that are brilliant, and it's just going to be great fun to behold.

KING: Steve, we were talking before we went on. How do you explain Bill Clinton? Is he the best politician you've seen, pure politician?

S. ROBERTS: Along with Ronald Reagan, he's certainly one of the best that I've ever covered.

You know, I came to believe in a curious way that Bill Clinton's sins, that his problems, in a very curious and perverse way, wound up being a source of great strength. You can't be the Comeback Kid unless you've been down, Larry. And going back to the '92 campaign, with the Gennifer Flowers problems, with the draft problems, he wound up wearing these scars on his sleeve saying, see, I've been tested, I've come through a difficult situation. And he keeps coming back. He is certainly the most resilient politician. But also, he's the most insightful. You know, it's funny, because in this year everybody says, I don't want to be Clinton in terms of morality, but everybody is trying to be Clinton in terms of political strategy.

Just today, John McCain saying, elections are won in the center, Republicans, you better understand that, that's Clintonism. You might attack Clinton as a person, but they're all copying Bill Clinton as a politician.

KING: Bradley, Cokie, surprised or not?

C. ROBERTS: In New Hampshire? Well, I think that actually if he had not done the health thing on -- in Sunday's "New York Times," which was a curious thing to do a few days before an election, that he might have won it. He was clearly edging back up and getting close and then he ended up only 4 points back. I am very curious to see what he does now, whether there is a way -- you know, he's got this whole strategy, March 7 is this huge national primary and that's where he's putting his eggs, and we'll see if that basket works for him.

S. ROBERTS: You know, I think...

KING: Now, Steve, how do you -- let's take a break and come back. We'll have Steve comment and discuss South Carolina and the Republicans. The book, by the way, if you joined us late is "From This Day Forward," the official pub date is Valentine's Day, but it's out everywhere now. We'll go to your calls at the bottom of the hour, too.

By the way, Steve mentioned Ronald Reagan. Tomorrow night, we're going to have a tribute to Ronald Reagan. It will be his 89th birthday Sunday. Nancy will be with us, Maureen, a lot of friends, former co-workers. Tomorrow night, a tribute to Ronald Reagan. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Steve Roberts, you were going to add about Bradley, Gore?

S. ROBERTS: Well, you know, one of the things about this, Larry, I think in my reporting in New Hampshire showed me is that, you know, Bill Bradley is trying to say change course. There were only two slogans in American politics, you never had it so good and it's time for a change.

And Bill Bradley is trying to say it's time for change and a lot of people, particularly Democrats, are saying why? One hundred and seven months of prosperity, and I just don't think he has convinced enough voters that really they need to change. He says it shouldn't be politics as usual. A lot of people are saying, hey, politics as usual is pretty good.

I talked to one woman in New Hampshire this week who said, you know, eight more years of the same thing wouldn't be all that bad. That's the inertia that's in favor of Gore. I don't see how Bradley has a dynamic enough argument to make enough voters change their minds.

KING: And now we turn, Cokie, to McCain and the gang and Bush in South Carolina. You got to do the first debate. I get to do this one on the 15th with the Republican candidates.

C. ROBERTS: Which should be a lot of fun.

KING: Yes. We're down to four candidates now with Bauer apparently leaving tomorrow. What do you make of McCain?

C. ROBERTS: Well, the voters are really excited about him, his voters are. And he arrived in South Carolina in the middle of the night and hundreds of people were out there. Now, they apparently have had a good bit of beer, so he couldn't even speak, but...

KING: Does he have the big mo', as they say?

C. ROBERTS: He certainly does, and you're beginning to pick up some nervousness on the part of the Republicans in Congress who are backers of Bush, and some tentativeness in the Bush campaign, which you had never heard before.

But you know, what Steve said about Clinton about his comeback kid-edness, that could work for Bush too if he knows how to do it, if he knows how to come up again from the noch and show people that he has now been tested in battle, maybe that works for him.

KING: Steve, what has McCain touched? What's done it?

S. ROBERTS: Good question, Larry. After all the talks I had in New Hampshire, I think you could sum it up by a woman who said to me as she was driving to the polling place, she was torn between Bush and McCain. And she said, I eventually went for McCain because he pulled my heart strings in a way that George Bush didn't. It's an emotional thing and it's a personal thing.

Hardly anybody talks about issues. They don't know about his health care plan, they don't know about campaign finance reform. But they see him as a candid, straight-forward person, and I think he is using Bush's strength against him, it's like a judo wrestler, he points to Bush and says, see, he has all that money, he has all of that endorsement, he has all of that support from his father and from Governor Sununu and all the other -- Jack Kemp -- and all the people he tracked down. I think that McCain has found a way to use Bush's strength against him.

C. ROBERTS: And that's a real danger for him, because if he goes into South Carolina and starts spending a whole lot of money and showing people all of this clout, McCain could use it against him.

KING: Look at all he's raising on the Internet, too -- McCain is raising...

C. ROBERTS: Half a million dollars.

KING: Now today, Steve, he gets rapped by the Cigarette Smokers' Alliance, apparently that's funded by the tobacco companies, and John calls it a badge of honor.

S. ROBERTS: Well, exactly.

KING: That's a benefit to him.

S. ROBERTS: You know, this is -- it is in the same way that, you know -- for instance, Bush trying to keep him off the ballot in New York, McCain loved that, throw me into that briar patch one more time, you know? And I think, you know, he probably paid the Smokers' Alliance to attack him. Maybe next week he can get the insurance companies to attack him. I mean, this just is perfect for him.

KING: What wackos are left who like tobacco companies, right? They're meeting in a phone booth.

C. ROBERTS: Well, there's some people in North Carolina.

KING: I'm not talking about the -- even the growers in South Carolina are mad at the big tobacco companies, because they're buying them from outside.

C. ROBERTS: Because they buy them from abroad, right.

KING: Can McCain win, Cokie?

C. ROBERTS: Well, he has a strategy that if his strategy plays out, yes, he could win, because it's his four-state strategy, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Arizona, Michigan. If he can convince people that he really can win every place in the country and if Bush doesn't come back strong and convince people that he really is the candidate for them, which is a big "if." That's a huge if.

KING: Does Bush have to be strong in that debate in South Carolina?

C. ROBERTS: Yes, this is a good opportunity.

KING: Because McCain is helped by having Forbes and Keyes there, right, because their votes you would think they would take away from Bush?

C. ROBERTS: That's right, I think that is right. But you know, the other problem Bush has is that before he even gets to South Carolina, today for instance he was in Delaware all day. He's got to fend off Steve Forbes in Delaware. Now, at the moment he has more delegates than anybody else, but at some point that could change and that becomes a problem.

KING: Steve.

S. ROBERTS: You know, Larry, a key question in my mind is can McCain do on a mass scale what he did on such a small scale in New Hampshire? One of the reasons he touched that woman's heartstrings was that he was in her town three times and she felt she knew him personally. He did 114 town meetings, he was there over many months. He's not going to be able to do that in South Carolina, although he'll be there for most of the next two weeks. It's going to be harder in the bigger states.

And one of the real questions to me -- he said now that he's won he has a bigger megaphone. That's true, the press is covering him. He's going to have a lot more money, but can he use that megaphone to connect with people on an individual basis the way he did in New Hampshire? In my mind that's the single biggest question, because if he can I think he really can give Bush a run.

KING: Don't discount television, which seems to like him.

C. ROBERTS: Television does, but it's not quite the same because what happens in those meetings and on that bus and all of is that he'll start talking and then he'll make a joke at what he said himself and constantly be self-denigrating, and that is very appealing to people, and it doesn't come across as much on a television screen.

KING: We're going to take a break and we'll come right back, we'll pick up with Steve, and we'll also get a story about -- in this marriage book -- about an immigrant marriage, and we'll take your calls as well. Steve and Cokie Roberts are the guests. I am Larry King. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. Let's reintroduce our guests: Cokie Roberts, the co-anchor of "This Week With Sam and Cokie" on ABC. They should have kept that name. We liked it. It was named on this show. They took it away.

C. ROBERTS: That's right.

KING: And...

C. ROBERTS: We wanted our last names back.

KING: And Steve Roberts, author and teacher, and he's a regular on CNN's "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER." And both have co-written from this day forward -- official pub date is February 14 from William Morrow --we're talking politics. We're also talking a great deal about the book. We're going to go to your phone calls in just a moment.

What's the immigrant story, Steve?

S. ROBERTS: Well, Larry, this is a story I've wanted to tell my whole life. And when my great grandfather was living in Russia, or an area that's now Poland, eastern Poland -- it was Russia at the time. And he met a young girl. They fell in love. She was the daughter of the richest man in town and he was a bookbinder, very poor bookbinder.

And her family broke it up and sent her away, and he bound with his own hands a book of -- as I always heard it from my dad, a book of love poems and gave it to her. And they never saw each other again.

And he married another woman, had my grandmother as a daughter.

And years later, my grandmother was in America, and she had a nephew who was an orphan. And this nephew was in the cloak-and-suit business in New York. And he was -- fell in love with a rich girl and sort of the same story.

The grandmother was very much against the match. And this nephew came to my grandmother and said, you know, Aunt Miriam (ph), would you come with me and meet this girl's family and show her that I really have people, even though my parents are dead?

So my grandmother went with him. And they're sitting there. And the grandmother of the girl, who is the one who is totally against this match, Larry, and she's sitting over in the corner being very stern but she's listening. And she hears my grandmother's story. And finally, she perks up and says: Now excuse me. Did say your name was Miriam Wasillsiski (ph)? And my grandmother says yes. And you come from the village of Isashuck? Well, yes. Your father was a bookbinder? Well, yes, she says.

And the woman -- the grandmother says, please, just a minute, and goes upstairs and brings down the book of poems.

She was the girl. And their grandchildren in America met and married...

C. ROBERTS: I get goose bumps...

S. ROBERTS: ... and were married for 62 years.

KING: What a story! Whoa! Well, we can't top that. Let's go to calls.

Philadelphia, hello.

CALLER: Hello there. My question is for both Mr. and Mrs. Roberts.

KING: Go.

CALLER: If both of you are of different religious persuasions, what faith are your children now?

KING: Cokie?

C. ROBERTS: They were raised in both traditions, and they included both traditions in their wedding ceremonies. Both of them are married. And they are very, very committed to family and ritual, and I don't think that they have really come down on one side or another. And I'm -- I don't think they ever will.

KING: Steve, they are not parents yet. You're not grandparents yet, are you?

S. ROBERTS: Sore subject, Larry. No, we're not.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Barren, barren.

S. ROBERTS: We have...

KING: That's a biblical term.

S. ROBERTS: Our...

C. ROBERTS: They have -- they have time.

KING: OK.

S. ROBERTS: They do have time. KING: What I'm getting at is, how will those children be raised?

C. ROBERTS: It's up to their parents.

S. ROBERTS: And them . We hope very much -- I'll tell you a story, Larry, when we were married, and Cokie mentioned that Arthur Goldberg (ph), an old family friend, helped preside -- as you know, in Jewish tradition a rabbi is really an elder of the tribe, not really a priest in the Christian sense. And so Justice Goldberg was very kind to come to the wedding and give a wonderful talk about Jewish teachings on marriage. And that was important to me. It was important to my parents that our traditions be recognized and respected.

And so 31 years later, my son is about to get married, and he came to me and said: Would you be the elder? Would you give the talk about Jewish teachings on marriage at my wedding? And I said: I was thrilled; I'm honored. And I was trying to think about what to say.

And in the mail, Larry, we got one day, just a few weeks before the wedding, Arthur Goldberg's son had been going through his father's papers and found the original handwritten notes that Arthur Goldberg had used at our wedding. And so I was able to use the same notes 31 years later at my son's wedding.

And I can quote to you the best thing that Arthur Goldberg said, which I also repeated, which is Arthur saying -- Justice Goldberg saying in terms of Jewish scripture to me, "Remember, never cause a woman to weep because God counts her tears."

C. ROBERTS: He's trying, but you know, it's not...

S. ROBERTS: I haven't always succeeded on that.

KING: Cokie, with these stories, the Goldberg letter comes to him, the grandfather...

C. ROBERTS: It was unbelievable...

KING: Are you two -- why don't you call it "Six Degrees of Separation"? I mean you two...

(LAUGHTER)

C. ROBERTS: You know, in the notes from Justice Goldberg had -- by that time, he was at the U.N. mission -- the U.S. mission to the U.N. And as you know, the residence is in the Waldorf Astoria. And his talk was written on the little telephone pad from the Waldorf Astoria.

KING: A man who gave up the Supreme Court.

C. ROBERTS: That's right.

S. ROBERTS: You know, Larry, when I told this -- when I told this story at Lee's (ph) wedding, and in giving this talk, I mentioned we -- I had just gotten these notes. And the priest who was there was so thrilled at this notion of this family tradition, he said -- spontaneously he said, I certainly hope Lee and Liza (ph) use the same notes and say the same things at their children's wedding.

So, that's up to them, but I hope they do.

KING: San Jose, California, for the Roberts, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I wanted to ask Cokie. It seems like she was pretty harsh on Clinton during the impeachment trials. And I was wondering if after a year if she had any second thoughts about what she said.

C. ROBERTS: Oh, I think that basically what happened in the Oval Office was something that we would not like to have seen happen and never want to see happen again. And I think that you're seeing that right now on the campaign trail, that the voters who went in to vote in the Democratic primary in New Hampshire, the majority of them said they disapprove of the president as a person. I don't think that that is something that you really want to see people saying about our president.

KING: By the way, on a media note, we know the program has had some problems and -- and Bill Kristol was let go. What -- what -- do you hear anything about changes?

C. ROBERTS: No. I think the program is actually doing very well at the moment. And you know, it's just -- we -- sorry Bill Kristol is gone because he's a good guy. There was some sense that there were just too many of us there and that it was too many voices at the same time.

KING: This Sunday morning thing is fierce, is it not?

C. ROBERTS: It's become a little fierce, which is a little odd because it used to be a nice sort of backwater of intelligent talk. We're trying to keep up intelligent talk but be in the competition.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of your phone calls. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Cokie Roberts and Steve Roberts. The book is "From This Day Forward." The publisher is Morrow. The caller is from Memphis. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. I would like know if your politics are the same, and if not, what is your major point of contention.

KING: Ah! We'll start with Steve. Good question.

S. ROBERTS: I think our politics are pretty much the same, but I do think that there are times we disagree. Among other things, there are two things Cokie is I will never be. She's a woman and she's a Catholic. And I think these two experiences, trained by the nuns, that world view has shaped her views in many wonderful ways but there -- they're also in some ways differently.

I think we disagree on abortion. I think we disagree at times on military intervention. I've tended to be more caucus; Cokie has tended to be more supportive of military intervention in places like Bosnia. So I just think on specific issues, we do disagree. I think in general, our political priorities are pretty similar.

C. ROBERTS: But you know, I think women in general approach politics in a very common-sensical fashion, and we are really not particularly -- in my case, not at all, ideological.

KING: Not?

C. ROBERTS: Not.

KING: Steve's more ideological?

C. ROBERTS: I think a little more.

But to me, you just look at each issue as it presents itself to you, and you say, what makes the most sense to me? And you don't care who's on what side.

KING: Can you explain how the Matalin-Carville marriage works?

C. ROBERTS: There's clearly a lot of affection and humor.

KING: Must be, because they root against each other.

C. ROBERTS: Humor goes a very long way.

KING: She want his client to lose the election.

To Alexandria, Virginia, hello.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I have a question for Cokie. I am Catholic also and my husband is Jewish, and I know how painful it is to be in a marriage like this. You guys are just beautiful.

C. ROBERTS: That's very kind of you. I haven't found it painful.

KING: Go ahead, ma'am. Why do you say painful?

CALLER: Well, I'd like to ask Cokie how she dealt with the question of raising the children Catholic. I had to, after about six years, I had to insist that we raise the children Catholic, and I was just wondering how she can reconcile it? KING: By the way you said "had to." Insist by your decision, or your parents, or what?

CALLER: It was me. I couldn't live with two traditions.

KING: OK.

Cokie?

C. ROBERTS: Well, you know, as Steve said earlier, everybody has to do it his or her own way. In our case, we can live with two traditions. We have found that the more we know each other and the more we've learned about each other's traditions -- and some of that has been from observation, some of it has been from going back and actually learning. I mean, I sat down and learned as much about Judaism as I could, and continue to. And I think that we found that they are not as dissimilar as they seem on the face of it. Certainly when people speak all the time of the Judeo-Christian tradition it's for a reason; it's because we come out of the same moral and ethical roots, and of course, in everyday life, that's the thing that matters the most. And so I actually found that my life and my children's lives were enriched by having the two traditions.

Somebody said to us earlier today that we had found ourselves and we didn't even understand this -- in some ways the custodians of each other's traditions. And there's a lot of truth to that, whether it's my trying to cook Jewish food, and have the Jewish holidays and insist on the children going to temple, and -- or it's Steve being very supportive of anything I do, not only religiously, but also in terms of my family. We live, as we said before, in my family's house. I lost my father when I was 28 years old, and my children were tiny. And Steve has tried better than anybody else to keep my father alive for those children. So I think that we've really made each other's traditions stronger, and learned and loved each other more because of them.

KING: Steve, are there some things you have to give up in these traditions?

S. ROBERTS: Yes, I think that if you feel strongly, either as a Catholic, as this woman who just called, or as a Jew, that the only thing that would work for you is to have your children raised in your faith and your faith only, then this is not the right kind of relationship. It -- I think you have to give up the notion that your children are going to be pure descendants of whatever tradition you have. They are going to be hybrids. They are going to be a combination. And you have to be willing and happy to live with that. And we are.

As Cokie said, in many ways, I think we both feel enriched. I have -- we live in the house where Cokie grew up. I farm -- it's a big word, but we actually do farm Cokie's dad...

C. ROBERTS: He does farm, and I have to be a farm wife all of August. S. ROBERTS: And I farm Cokie's dad's garden. And this is a metaphor. This is -- I still have some of his old tools, almost 30 years after his death. And I'm out there in the garden using his watering cans and his rakes, and I -- he's there. It's part of a tradition. It's part of something that I embrace joyfully. And -- but if you can't live with that, then that's fair enough. It's not the only way to do it.

KING: Did one of the children or the other tilt one way or the other? Is one of the children more Catholic than Jewish, or vice...

C. ROBERTS: No I don't think so.

KING: No?

C. ROBERTS: You know, they're big grown-up people figuring out their own lives, and I think that, you know, they'll do it however works for them.

KING: The book, again, is "From This Day Forward." The guests are Cokie and Steve Roberts.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: They're two of the busiest, happiest people in this business, print and broadcast. They're Cokie Roberts and Steve Roberts.

And one advantage of this marriage, the children take every holiday off school known to man.

C. ROBERTS: That's right. When they were small, their cousins on each side were just jealous beyond belief.

KING: Hanukkah -- I'm off.

C. ROBERTS: That's right.

KING: Bayonne, New Jersey, hello.

C. ROBERTS: Bayonne, Steve's hometown.

KING: Hello?

CALLER: Hi.

Steve, this is Dorothy Golish (ph). I am Barney Frank's (ph) aunt.

S. ROBERTS: I know who you are.

CALLER: All right. And David and Ruth Golish's mother.

And it was so wonderful to see you and Cokie. Cokie visited our house when they owned it one time, visiting Barney I remembered.

CALLER: Well, that's great.

Thank you. Thanks for calling.

KING: How long did you know the Roberts family, Dorothy?

CALLER: Well, we belonged to the same temple. I would say 40 years.

S. ROBERTS: At least.

KING: Did you know Steve when he was little?

CALLER: Yes I did.

KING: You knew his parents?

C. ROBERTS: He was a little funny looking, wasn't he?

CALLER: No he wasn't.

(LAUGHTER)

CALLER: How are your brothers, Steve?

S. ROBERTS: They're wonderful. I have a twin brother who is still teaching at Harvard and a younger brother who is living here in Washington.

CALLER: Yes, in fact, when Barney spoke in Bayonne, I went to see -- he was there. He was a moderator.

KING: Is he an identical twin, Steve.

S. ROBERTS: No, he's a fraternal twin, although he does look a lot alike. People will recognize us as brothers. And you know, carrying on this tradition, my twin brother's oldest daughter is a medical student at Johns Hopkins, and she just announce and few weeks ago that she's going to be married, and she's going to be married in our yard on the exact same place that Cokie and I were married and our daughter was married. She'll be the fifth wedding in this yard.

C. ROBERTS: Steve has a sister, too. We shouldn't leave her out.

KING: Tradition is very important?

C. ROBERTS: Very important. Tradition, family, ritual.

S. ROBERTS: In fact, you know, Larry at our daughter's wedding, we had a hoopa, a Jewish wedding canopy, and Cokie had been worrying for weeks and months it was going to rain.

C. ROBERTS: It was outside. It was scaring me to death.

S. ROBERTS: And at the end of the day, I had put...

C. ROBERTS: I'd been calling the, you know...

KING: The weather bureau.

C. ROBERTS: ... you know, the National Oceanic -- and this is Becka's (ph) wedding, which was -- Becka is the bride.

KING: So what happened at the end of the day, Steve?

S. ROBERTS: Well, at the beginning of the day, they had asked me to -- for the hoopa, the wedding canopy, to pick something from my garden to put over the wedding couple, and I knew exactly -- immediately what I should do. I went out to the garden, I picked the two hottest, reddest peppers I could find and hung them right over their heads and they got married under these peppers and the whole evening was lovely. There was no rain. Everything -- at the end of the night -- I was in bed by this time. Cokie is -- everybody is -- at the end of day, everybody's cleaning up. Cokie goes out...

C. ROBERTS: This is about 2:00 in the morning and I went out...

S. ROBERTS: And Cokie is sitting under the hoopa and says a prayer saying, thank you, God, for this lovely day and for keeping the weather so wonderful, and at that instant, the skies opened up and it poured.

C. ROBERTS: It was God saying, I could have done it anytime, honey.

KING: You two have stories that are unbelievable here. God's tuned into you. Send the grandmother over to do the thing, have the lady from Bayone call. The wife knows the mother, the brother knows the sister.

We'll be back with our remaining moments with the amazing -- you two could be a sitcom. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

This week on LARRY KING LIVE, tomorrow night, we'll pay tribute to Ronald Reagan on his 89th birthday with friends and family, including Maureen Reagan, James Baker, entertainer Merv Griffin and a lot more. And on Saturday, we'll talk to Arianna Huffington, "Talk" magazine's Lucinda Franks and more. And next week on Tuesday night, the always outspoken James Carville will be the guest. That's all ahead on LARRY KING LIVE nightly 9:00 Eastern on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Cokie and Steve. Memphis, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: OK. Well, I was one of the guests at the wedding for Becka...

C. ROBERTS: My son-in-laws from Memphis.

CALLER: Is there any chance of a renewal of the vows? We want to come back.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Hold it. Who is this, ma'am?

CALLER: Judy Harbor (ph).

C. ROBERTS: Hi, Judy, how are you?

CALLER: Hi.

C. ROBERTS: Well, we loved having all the Memphis folk. It was wonderful. Everybody was so great to come.

CALLER: Well, your daughter is just a delight. And of course, I have known Dan all of his life.

C. ROBERTS: Right. Well, we are lucky to have Dan in the family. We are very lucky. Our daughter Becka, who is married to Dan -- Becka is, of all things, Larry, a reporter.

KING: What a shock!

C. ROBERTS: She is a reporter...

S. ROBERTS: Where have we failed?

C. ROBERTS: ... for public radio. She reports for the world and also is starting next week her own TV show on KQED on technology. And our daughter-in-law is a reporter for "CBS Market Watch" in London, so we have the -- we're surrounded by all of these young comers upper.

KING: Obviously from that call, Steve, you had the Memphis contingent, they come from everywhere for this, right?

S. ROBERTS: Well, you know, actually tonight is the North Carolina Duke basketball game and the only thing I don't like about my son-in-law is he went to North Carolina and I am a big Duke fan.

But I knew this guy was going to be a great son-in-law. He hadn't been dating my daughter very long, and North Carolina beat Duke in a very close game and I get this message on my phone, it says, "Steve, Dan Hartman here, just in case you missed it on the news I wanted to let you know that North Carolina beat Duke by one point last night, tip in last six seconds, 10 straight for North Carolina, just thought you'd want to know." I said, this guy has got guts and a sense of humor, what could be wrong with that?

C. ROBERTS: Not intimidated by the old man.

KING: How do you feel about having the book come out, Cokie?

C. ROBERTS: Well, it's, you know...

KING: It's always a thrill.

C. ROBERTS: It's exciting but scary.

KING: You want it to do well.

C. ROBERTS: You want it to do well. It's like having a child, it's easier than having a child, but -- and it takes less time, but -- in the long run, it's not as satisfying, but I -- it is exciting and I hope people like it...

KING: Steve, for you too?

C. ROBERTS: ... because I think it does have some nice stories.

KING: Steve, for you too?

S. ROBERTS: Well, it's very exciting. We've loved working together and when we took on the project we said to each other, if this book is going to jeopardize the marriage we'd rather have the marriage than the book, and fortunately, it was a pretty smooth relationship, although Cokie keeps saying we're going to jinx it here.

C. ROBERTS: Exactly right. Hush up.

KING: OK. I can't let it go. We only have a minute left, but I can't let it go without some news question. Your mother is ambassador to the Vatican. What is the condition of the pope?

C. ROBERTS: Well, every time you see the pope it's just remarkable how well he does. I last saw him New Year's Eve when...

KING: Look stable or not stable?

C. ROBERTS: Well, sometimes he doesn't look as well as others, but anytime he wants to take a major trip or has something he wants to do, he does it. He does it in a schedule that would kill me. My mother's schedule would have killed me years ago.

KING: How old is your mom now?

C. ROBERTS: Mom will be 84 next month and she's doing fabulously. We wish to be anywhere near as active, as agile and as gorgeous as my mother at 84.

KING: Did she tell you anything about the pope possibly retiring?

C. ROBERTS: No, I -- no pope has ever retired. Some have been poisoned and you know, other such things.

KING: You got to go back, yes.

C. ROBERTS: But I think this pope is going to hang in there.

KING: Steve, where do you -- are you going to be in South Carolina?

S. ROBERTS: I hope so, Larry, if I can work it out with my teaching schedule. As you know, I -- there's a reason why I couldn't be with you in New York tonight, because I teach. In fact...

KING: I know.

S. ROBERTS: ... one of many former students is right here in the studio with me, it's your floor manager tonight, so you're hiring them as well. So I'm very grateful for it.

KING: They're everywhere. That's Jane. Thank you, Cokie.

C. ROBERTS: Thank you, Larry. Good to be with you. Thanks a lot.

KING: Thanks very much. Thanks, Steve.

S. ROBERTS: OK, Larry.

KING: Steve Roberts and Cokie Roberts.

"CNN NEWSSTAND" is next.

Tomorrow night, a tribute to Ronald Reagan, he'll be 89 on Sunday. Nancy will be with us on the phone and in studio, Maureen Reagan, a lot of friends and former members of the Reagan staff. That's all tomorrow night.

Thanks for joining us. I am Larry King. For the Robertses in New York and Washington, good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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