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Larry King Live

Which Candidates Have the Upper Hand in Campaign 2000?

Aired February 8, 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, the candidates take off the gloves as primary season heats up. Who has got the upper hand?

We've got a panel of political heavyweights. In Washington, Democratic strategist James Carville, author of a hot new book on political loyalty. In Charleston, South Carolina, Bill Kristol, editor and publisher of "The Weekly Standard." Atlanta, Georgia, Ralph Reed, prominent Republican strategist who is advising George W. Bush. In New York, Jacques DeGraff, the deputy campaign manager for Bill Bradley. Also in New York, Jeffrey Toobin, writer for "The New Yorker" magazine, legal analyst for ABC News and author of a bestselling book on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. And in Washington, CNN political analyst Tucker Carlson.

They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: We're going to spend our opening moments of LARRY KING LIVE with James Carville, the famed Democratic strategist. It's his book "Stickin'" that has just been published by Simon & Schuster -- there you see its cover "The Case for Loyalty."

Obviously, everyone is for loyalty. Is that unusual in politics, that we would have to make a case for it, James?

JAMES CARVILLE, AUTHOR, "STICKIN': THE CASE FOR LOYALTY": Well, what I said in the opening of the book is that people called me a lot of names, and one of them is loyalist. And in Washington, a lot of times that's used to be not so flattering.

And the point I was trying to make in the book is (a) there had not been a lot written about this subject. And (b) I thought it would be interesting to sort of look into it and talk about it, and not just to talk about it in terms of what happened with the president and politics but a lot of other things in terms patriotism, in terms of religion, commercial applications. We even go into sports, popular television shows, and things like that.

And I had a lot of fun doing the book. I had a lot of fun talking about these thing: loyalty to family, which is paramount to me. I'm the oldest of eight children.

So it was a fun book that I had a lot of fun writing, and we talked about politics and had a good time.

KING: What's your definition of loyalty?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Because I mean, there are some who say, do you stick to someone no matter what?

CARVILLE: Right, right. The point is, is that in order for loyalty to be exhibited it has to be tested. And loyalty is like a potent drug. Too much of it can be a bad thing.

If you're on a blood pressure medication or cholesterol medication, if you take too much, you can hurt yourself. If you take none of it, you obviously can hurt yourself.

So it has to be -- it has to be a dosage application here.

We talked about, for instance, a character I alluded to, a Ditto Bowlin (ph) from "The Last Hurrah." And he was known as Ditto, because everything that Skevington (ph) would say, he would just sort of agree with it.

KING: Right.

CARVILLE: Well, that's a sycophant. That -- no one -- people would admire, I think, to the extent someone who is loyal. They're contemptuous of someone of who's a sycophant: the same reason that they're contemptuous of someone who's a back-stabber but they admire someone that's loyal.

I mean, it's a dosage adjustment here. And I don't know what it is, but we talked about in the book. We talked about some examples where people clearly went over the line or didn't go far enough.

KING: All right. Do you accept the statement, my country right or wrong?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Well, that's a famous quote...

CARVILLE: We say in the book that...

KING: ... my country (UNINTELLIGIBLE) foreign nations, may she always be right, but my country right or wrong. Do you accept that?

CARVILLE: Well, let me go into that. I talked about that. And one time, Sartre said that if he had to choose between his mother and the revolution, he's choose his mother.

I don't know. I'd like to believe I'd choose my mother.

No, I don't accept that. I mean, I think that if your country -- we had civil rights laws. People were right to challenge these laws, to test them like that. I served in the United States Marine Corps during Vietnam. I talked about that in the book. I certainly could understand that people had a different view. You know, if my country -- if your country sent you to do an immoral or criminal act, would you do it? I don't know.

My grandmother was a five-star mother in World War II. Myself and three of my other cousins were Vietnam -- I was a Vietnam era vet. They were Vietnam vets.

But I obviously think that even loyalty to country can be tested to the point where it becomes very tough to deal with, but it -- in these extreme cases. And these are not times when our loyalty is tested like that.

KING: In your book, you discuss fighting enemies. You have 12 rules of sticking it to political -- and great title "Stickin'" -- and they include attack, go on the offensive right away, respond if they go on the offensive, get the facts, don't get surprised, keep it partisan, go with your gut, be tough, be intense, worry about timing, attack when the other guy isn't expecting it, stick it from a distance, and get revenge.

All of those are oppressive, are they not? They're -- the idea is to take...

CARVILLE: I don't know. I said in there, I said...

KING: You're not punting.

CARVILLE: What I said is never meet someone that you're getting ready to attack because you might end up liking him, you see, like Tucker Carlson here. I may not want to attack his policies. But in all the people on the panel tonight -- Mr. Kristol done in Charleston -- see, once you meet these people, you find out that you like them and it makes it harder to attack them sometimes.

But -- I mean, that I'm trying to make here is, you know, he who is an enemy of my friend is an enemy of mine. I don't mean an enemy of mine personally. But when you get into a political fight, you have got to be willing to fight. You're in for a pound -- you're in for a penny, you're in for a pound. And I think that's what the Bush campaign is finding out right now.

They -- maybe I ought to fax down there to Austin some of these rules, because I think some of them are applicable to a political campaign. This is kind of a bare-knuckle fight sometimes.

KING: All right. I have got to get a break. And then we'll bring the whole panel in.

Is -- one of the examples you use in the book is, in your opinion, was the Unabomber's -- was his brother disloyal?

CARVILLE: No. In the end, I came -- I said his brother did a brave thing. He was concerned. He loved his brother. Obviously I talked about the Unabomber and his brother. I talked about a relationship I had with my grandmother, who had some, what would be considered today -- even back then -- some pretty offensive political views, but I loved her desperately. I still miss her every day.

And there's obviously -- there's obviously a sort of difference here. But we talked about the Unabomber. I think the Unabomber's brother was a fine man and I think he did a fine thing. And I think he was being loyal to something higher than his brother. That's one of those extreme cases where loyalty to family is trumped by something else.

KING: Our guest is James Carville.

By the way, his book is "Stickin': The Case for Loyalty." Our entire panel will assemble, and of course, Mr. Carville will remain a part of it.

Don't go away. We've got lots coming.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's reintroduce the panel. James Carville is the author of "Stickin'"; he's also involved with the Gore campaign.

Bill Kristol in Charleston is editor and publisher of "The Weekly Standard," and I guess is regarded as a McCain supporter in all of this. In Atlanta, Ralph Reed is the Republican strategist, president of Century Strategies, and adviser to George Bush. In New York is Jacques DeGraff. Of course, he is deputy campaign manager for Senator Bradley. In New York as well is Jeffrey Toobin, writer for "The New Yorker" and author of "A Vast Conspiracy." It's No. 5 on The New York Times bestseller list. And in Washington, CNN political analyst and staff writer for "The Weekly Standard," contributor as well to "Talk" magazine.

We'll start with Bill Kristol. The projections are in from CNN. Again, this is a CNN projection, not the final results. But in Delaware tonight, George Bush got 51 percent. McCain, who did not campaign there, 25 percent. Forbes, 20 percent, and Keyes, 4 percent.

How do you read that, if anything, Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": It doesn't mean much. It was a firehouse primary, incredibly low turnout, not very strong for Bush. His state chairman said in the paper this morning that he thought Bush would get 65 to 70 percent. On the other hand, it's a victory for Bush.

McCain never set foot in the state: pretty good to get 25 percent given that you've never set foot there. McCain told me the other day that not only had he never set foot in Delaware, he doesn't even look out the window of Delaware when he takes the Metroliner from New York to Washington.

But I was struck here -- I just came back from a McCain town meeting here in South Carolina about 15 miles north of Charleston in Goose Creek, South Carolina, a place you have undoubtedly been many times, Larry. And you know, Delaware is just not going to matter. South Carolina is the battlefield. It is intense down here. There's huge interest and excitement. McCain had 1,200 or 1,300 people outside this high school. They had to move it out of the high school because the auditorium was overflowing, and it's pretty cold here in South Carolina, and they were whooping it up here in Charleston.

KING: Ralph Reed, is Delaware important to your candidate?

RALPH REED, BUSH ADVISER: Well, we, you know, unlike Senator McCain, we believe Delaware citizens are just as important as the citizens of New Hampshire, or South Carolina, or Michigan or California. You know, Senator McCain's really gotten kind of a free ride in that he's really not running as national candidate. He's kind of cherry picked where he wanted to go. He went out to Iowa, he tested the waters, he knew wasn't going to do well there, so he bailed out. We won with the largest percentage of the vote of any Republican candidate in the history of that caucus. He of course went on to win New Hampshire. We won Delaware. And I think if you look at most of the polling, the one thing I would agree with Bill on, is it's very competitive down there.

But I've got to tell you, Larry, I think that this big, earned media ride that John McCain had in New Hampshire has peaked, and crested and is now falling. And I think, you know, South Carolina very much cherishes its role as a picker of presidents. It has chosen the person who won the nomination, ultimately, of the Republican Party every year since 1980. I don't think it will be any exception this year.

KING: Jacques DeGraff, why did your candidate go in and knock both Bush and Bradley on the Dixie flag question? The Democrats don't have a primary in South Carolina.

JACQUES DEGRAFF, BRADLEY DEPUTY CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, there are some things that are really about your principles and what you're about. Bill Bradley got into this -- politics in this presidential race about a few core things that he believes in. He believes in the issue on race, and the flag in South Carolina is offensive to many Americans, not just African Americans, and Bill Bradley felt it was time to take a public stand on this important issue.

KING: Was it calculated to help him in the race with Gore at all?

DEGRAFF: Well, since we really had to detour and make a special appearance in South Carolina, there are some things that are bigger than party politics. This is one of them. And it's time to be counted, and Bill Bradley felt that this was the time to make that statement.

KING: Mr. Carville, before we get Mr. Toobin and Mr. Carlson's thoughts, does Al Gore join with Bradley in condemning both McCain and Bush on the Dixie question?

CARVILLE: I think he's -- I know, I can distinctly remember him already weighing-in and saying he thought that the flag should be taken down. And I just want to say, we'll be glad to take Delaware. It's a great state. I've campaigned up there for Lieutenant Governor Menace (ph). So we'll take it. It could be a swing state in this election. So if the Republicans want to dis it, that's their business.

KING: All right, Jeffrey Toobin and Tucker Carlson, to our knowledge, are not supporting anybody, at least thus far.

Jeffrey, what's your read on what Ralph Reed described as this McCain media thing?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, ABC NEWS LEGAL ANALYST: I think -- I mean, I am a journalist. I am not supporting anybody and will not support anybody. But I think Ralph Reed is right that we are -- we in the press are a fickle beast. And the media enthusiasm for McCain has been so over the top, and there has been so much really almost boosterism in the press about him that, you know, reporters see that too, and the reaction is going to set in. The question is, you know, he's drawing these big crowds that Bill Kristol talked about, and that may continue regardless of what the media does. But I do think there will certainly be a counter-reaction set in sooner rather than later.

KING: Tucker, is the media not supposed to cover him? I am coming at this like idiot's delight here. Are they -- what came first?

TUCKER CARLSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first I mean, the notion that the press shouldn't have a large role in choosing a president, I disagree with. I am for it actually.

But no, I mean, look, John McCain ran a better campaign. In addition to being infinitely more amusing than the Bush campaign, he simply gave reporters more access. And that's not something you can just write off. He gave them so much access there were times when I was riding the bus when nobody asked him a question. I mean, there was just nothing left to ask, but that means something.

Look, if you have a candidate who appears or is afraid to answer questions, that's significant. McCain clearly isn't afraid to answer questions or afraid of anything else, and that's appealing, and I don't see anything wrong with the press reporting that or the public responding to it.

KING: Next Tuesday night, the four candidates in the Republican primary will debate. I will be the moderator of that debate. It will be one and a half, Eastern time. Starts at 9:00. There will be no commercials. It's going to be a solid hour and a half.

Ralph Reed, does George W. Bush have to do very well next Tuesday?

REED: Well, I think the Governor Bush that you're seeing now is feistier. I think he's ready to fight for this nomination. He wants it badly, not for his own ego gratification, but because he believes very strongly that there have been people that have been left behind, that our prosperity needs to be extended.

And the answer to your question is, Larry, I don't think he's going to give a quarter on this. I think he's going to fight very hard, and John McCain is going to find out what a competitor Governor Bush is. And I think what's going to happen in this primary, is that unlike what happened in New Hampshire, where we didn't respond to his distortions, and his falsehoods and his negative ads, we're going to let people know where John McCain really stands. We're going to let them know that, for example, his economic plan includes $150 billion in tax increases. We're going to let them know that he says he's pro- life, but when he went to California, he said he didn't want to overturn Roe v. Wade. They're going to find out that he says one thing and does another.

KING: So you expect it to be a feisty debate then.

REED: Absolutely. I mean, listen, we take John McCain at his word, Larry. He says that he wants to take our party and our country in a dramatically different direction, and we agree. We think it's the wrong direction. We think it's the same direction that Bill Clinton wanted to take us. He echoes Bill Clinton in saying we can't afford a broad and deep tax cut. He supported a campaign finance reform bill supported by Al Gore, Bill Clinton and the dominant media and the labor union bosses, and his tobacco legislation would have raised taxes $100 billion, and I think once people find those out, I think George Bush is going to win in South Carolina.

KING: As we go to break, we'll have Mr. Kristol comment on that when we come back, and then discuss the Bradley-Gore with Carville and DeGraff as well, and comments from Toobin and Carlson as well, and your calls as well.

Here's what John McCain had to say about Governor Bush today in South Carolina -- watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It cannot mean that Governor Bush is carrying out a campaign he plans to do. As I say, when he had a 30-point lead, we were buddies; he used to put his arm and embrace me. Then we beat him in New Hampshire, and now, I'm a hypocrite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're sliding through two campaigns here.

Bill Kristol, you want to respond to Ralph Reed before we ask Mr. Carville and Mr. DeGraff a little about the Democratic side? Any response to what Ralph just said?

KRISTOL: Yes. I do, Larry. But look, I think Ralph's point is very important, and we shouldn't let it go. I just want to emphasize what he said. He said that John McCain wants to take the Republican Party in a new direction. That is true. It looks to me as if George W. Bush is running basically the George Bush campaign of '92 and the Bob Dole campaign of '96. After a promising start in 1999, an attempt to redefine the message of the party, the message of conservatism by some thoughtful speeches along the vain of compassionate conservatism, the Bush campaign has defaulted to the absolute, Orthodox, conventional Republican establishment campaign that lost and lost badly in '92 and '96. And that is what I am afraid George W. Bush -- that's the prospect that Bush holds for the general election in 2000.

KING: All right, let me ask...

KRISTOL: The most significant thing that's happened this week is those national polls, Zogby polls, for the first time shows Gore beating Bush, but also shows McCain beating Gore handily, by 12 points.

If you went to this rally at Stratford High School tonight here in South Carolina, it was James Carville's worst nightmare. It was Republicans, conservatives, and moderates, and independents and Democrats rallying behind McCain. I do believe that McCain opens up the prospect for a general realigning election for Republicans. And I think the big story this week is that Bush's inevitability died in the snows of New Hampshire. Bush's electability is now dying in the sun of South Carolina.

KING: Let's ask Mr. Carville -- would you rather have your candidate run against Bush or McCain? And answer me direct. I mean, you must have an opinion?

CARVILLE: I'm looking you right in the camera -- red rover, red rover, send either one of them right over. That's what I say. I say take the record of these last seven years, going into eight years. We're ready to go. We're ready to tee it up. We're ready to talk about what we want to do. We're ready tow talk about this people's record and everything. If the Republican Party want to run a primary on James Carville or anything else, let them go because, they can't -- they not going to be able to in the end...

KING: Right out of the Carville playbook.

CARVILLE: They're going to have -- no Republican is going to ask this question: Are you better off today than you were eight years ago? That's off the table. Al Gore is going to be the next president of the United States. We're going to run an aggressive campaign. Let these clowns go over there and beat each other up. I don't care.

KING: Jacques DeGraff, is there any candidate that you'd rather face -- Jacques?

DEGRAFF: I'm a street fighter. Anybody you put in front of us, any Republican that you put in front of us, the Democrat Bill Bradley will knock down. We're ready. Let's go.

KING: Do you think Bradley would be a stronger candidate -- based on the polls just quoted by Mr. Kristol, Bradley would be a stronger candidate than Gore?

DEGRAFF: Well, I'm not going to get into polls, because they're a snapshot in time. This campaign is evolving. We're gaining steam. We're ready do this national primary. We're the most formidable insurgent candidacy in the history of the Democratic Party. And we've got to answer a few questions and ask a few questions of brother Al Gore. And when that's over, then we'll face those Republicans.

KING: James Carville.

CARVILLE: If there was a CNN poll that showed the vice president beating McCain, I mean, we going to go out here and flash this poll or do that. I am just telling you right now, the Democrats are going to have a heck of a year and Al Gore's going to...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: When you say "the Democrats," are you worried about Bradley, James?

CARVILLE: I worry about everything. He's a fine man. He has a great record in the United States Senate. He's a very bright man. Like I said before, his campaign has one minor problem: He's running for the Democratic nomination, he can't get Democrats to vote for him. But other than that, he's doing great.

CARLSON: One thing.

KING: Yes.

CARLSON: If I could just point out why James is insane here real quick -- look, if you're going after George W. Bush and Al Gore, you're getting him on two things: You're going to say, oh, he's a scary right-winger, and you're going to say he's a lightweight. And I think that is the plan. Are you going to hit McCain on those things? No, of course not. What are you going to hit him on?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: One at a time.

CARLSON: I can tell you exactly what we're going to hit him on. When you look at John McCain when it's all said and done, it's all been said and nothing's been done. When it's all said and done, he's said a lot and done nothing. That's exactly...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: All right, let me get a break guys. Let me get a break, and we'll -- everybody, one at a time. And we'll get Mr. Toobin's thoughts when we come back.

And here's what George W. Bush had to say about Senator McCain -- watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am going to remind people that there is an old Washington habit of saying one thing and doing another, and John has made a campaign funding reform to be the cornerstone of his campaign. He's railing on lobbyists and special interests on the one hand, and on the other hand, he's saying pass the plate. The -- he's got -- of all the campaign contributions, he's got the biggest percentage of his contributions from lobbyists. I can understand him saying that he hasn't done anything illegal; it's just you do one thing and say another.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: OK, Mr. Toobin, after listening to Messieurs Carville, Kristol, Reed and DeGraff, do you have an overview?

TOOBIN: Well, the thing that really has hit me about the Republican primary so far, is there have really been two dominant issues: One is, you know, who will give a bigger tax cut? And the other is, who's more antiabortion? And if you look at the entire electorate, not the Republican Party alone, both of those issues are very unpopular. The country shows no inclination, as the Republicans in Congress have learned, for a big tax cut, and only a very small number of people want to make abortion illegal. And so I think if you combine, you know, those unpopular issues with the current prosperity, I think the Republicans are digging themselves in a hole either way.

KING: Ralph Reed, do you want to respond?

REED: Yes, I don't find -- first of all, let me say, I don't find myself agreeing with James Carville very often on anything, but I do have to say that I certainly agree with his diagnosis of McCain. I mean, the guy has been in Washington for 17 years. He has been an insider. He's been a committee chairman. He's one of the most powerful men in Washington, and he has little or nothing to show for it. His two signature issues are campaign finance reform, which he's not been able to pass, and a tobacco bill that he's not been able to pass.

He said that he couldn't pass a patient's bill of rights in Washington because of the tangle of special interests. But, Larry, George W. Bush passed a bill in Texas that gave patients the right to sue an HMO if sued, gave a woman a right to visit an Ob/Gyn without going to a gatekeeper, gave people the right to the privacy of their records. He's reformed education. He's reformed welfare. He's cut taxes. He's expanded the prosperity, and he's actually gotten things done. He's a reformer with record. And I think John McCain is a Washington insider who's accomplished little or nothing in 17 years.

KING: The question was, are they off base, the party, in going into tax cuts and abortion which the public doesn't seem to be on their side with?

REED: No, I really don't think so, Larry. And let me tell you why, because I think while people have enjoyed the prosperity of recent years -- and by the way, it came more as a result of the efforts of Alan Greenspan and the Republican Congress than this administration -- the fact is, that they're nervous about the future and they want to make sure it's extended.

And the thing they want to make sure of -- and this is something George W. Bush has made, the centerpiece of his campaign, is extending the prosperity of those that have left behind. That's why Governor Bush's tax cut doesn't go, the bulk of it, to those at the top. It goes to the 70 percent of the taxpayers who are in the bottom brackets.

The second thing where I would just take issue with Jeffrey a little bit, is that if you look at the polling, when it comes to the economy, people feel pretty good about where things are going, even though they're nervous about the future. But, Larry, when you ask them about the moral direction of the country, by a margin of three to one, they say the country is heading in the wrong direction. So they want a president that they can be proud of again, who will restore honor and dignity to the Oval Office again. That's going to be a big issue in 2000, and Clinton and Gore are on the wrong side of that.

KING: Tucker, do you think morality is going to...

DEGRAFF: Larry?

KING: Yes.

DEGRAFF: I'd like to jump in here because I want to make sure that people understand that Al Gore is not a foregone conclusion. We Democrats have a few questions we'd like to ask and get some straight answers before this whole thing is resolved. It's been 2,576 days that we still don't have an executive order on racial profiling. He's got to explain an 84 percent approval ratings by the right-to-lifers. Those are the kind of questions we intend to ask in this national primary. We don't think he has winning answers.

KING: Tucker Carlson, do you see all of this as very close, projecting ahead to November?

CARLSON: Well, with all due respect to Jacques, I think Gore is a foregone conclusion. I think Bradley missed his moment. And no, I mean...

KING: You do? You think Bradley is done?

CARLSON: I do. Yes, I do think he's done. I mean, I think he's run a really interesting campaign, and I think it'll probably be studied in political science classes for a long time to come, the idea that a candidate who makes no effort to mask his contempt for the process, and in some cases, for voters, could get as far as Bradley did is just remarkable. I'm not quite sure what to make of it, except that I think it's a reflection of dissatisfaction with Gore, an uneasiness on the part of a lot of Democratic primary voters with Gore.

But in fact, Bradley, of course, has made Gore a much better candidate, tightened him up, focused him, made him much tougher, and ended up scaring Republicans.

KING: We'll take a break. Come back, reintroduce the panel, include your phone calls.

This is LARRY KING LIVE.

Bill Mahr tomorrow night. Thursday, Walter Mathau and Diane Keaton. And Friday, Bruce Willis.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to our political roundtable. Our guests in Washington, Democratic strategist James Carville, author of the new book, "Stickin': The Case for Loyalty."

In Charleston, South Carolina, Bill Kristol editor and publisher of "The Weekly Standard."

In Atlanta, Ralph Reed, president of the Century Strategies and adviser to Governor Bush.

In New York, Jacques DeGraff the deputy campaign manager for Bill Bradley. Also in New York, Jeffrey Toobin, writer for "The New Yorker," legal analyst for ABC News, and author of the best seller, "A Vast Conspiracy."

And in Washington, CNN political analyst Tucker Carlson.

James Carville, how do you respond to DeGraff's question about racial profiling and no executive order to end it?

CARVILLE: Well, I would say one thing is that President Clinton hardly needs a lecture from anybody in this country. I think he's generally regarded as one of the best presidents we've ever had. And when it comes to civil rights, I think people understand that.

The '84 voting record...

KING: How about that question, though?

CARVILLE: 1984. I mean if we -- you know if the -- and I like Senator Bradley. I like the people around him. If they want to run a campaign on 1984, let them go run it. We're running a campaign to talk about what's going to happen to this country in 2004. Eat our dust. We're moving on. And I think the Gore people -- I think this is all 16 -- what you did 16 years ago. It's just -- they got to get their act together.

KING: No, how about the racial profiling question? Could he sign an executive...

CARVILLE: I -- they debated that. The debate in Iowa, the vice president answered that a gazillion times. I think Sharp James (ph), the former mayor of Newark, got in the middle of that. The details of it escape me.

I would take Bill Clinton -- the Clinton-Gore's record on civil rights, on protection of minorities and match it against any administration in the history of the United States. And I think most minorities would agree with me on that.

(CROSSTALK)

DEGRAFF: Larry, Larry, the facts are these: Al Gore said that his first act as president would be -- his first civil rights act as president would be to sign an executive order to end racial profiling, which would be like showing up in an emergency room with a heart attack and being told to wait a year.

He's vice president of the United States right now. Let's see him put this as a priority.

KING: You mean he could force the president to sign it, Jacques?

DEGRAFF: They are the president and vice president; they ran on the same ticket. They've been able to work together on other things. This is a priority. People have told him it's a priority. He's made a commitment to do it. Why doesn't he do it right now?

KING: We're going back and forth. Bill Kristol, Ralph Reed has said that John McCain basically hasn't -- and Carville has said -- hasn't done anything in the Senate.

The two major proposals he hasn't gotten passed. How do you respond to that -- after 17 years?

KRISTOL: Larry, an amazing thing has happened on your show tonight. Ralph Reed has echoed and agreed with James Carville. That suggests -- I mean, that really tells you the terror that John McCain causes among the Republican establishment.

And it's amazing down here in South Carolina. There were four senators, Governor Bush has brought in four senators to campaign for him. There are waves of congressmen coming down, lobbyists, every first-class seat from National Airport to Greenville, Columbia and Charleston is booked for the next 10 days.

Washington is emptying out. There are tables available at the Palm. James Carville's dining alone. The lobbyists left Washington. They're all here in South Carolina because they are terrified...

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: Yes, right. They are terrified...

REED: Yes, Thursday night in D.C.

KRISTOL: They are terrified of George -- of John McCain because he is a reformer. I don't even agree with all of his reforms. Or -- and I think we can have a legitimate debate on them.

But the fact is this is an insurgency that's challenging the Republican establishment and the conservative establishment

KING: As...

KRISTOL: ... and that is why Ralph Reed is echoing James Carville.

REED: Larry -- Larry, can I respond to that?

(CROSSTALK)

CARVILLE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: Yes, you can, Ralph.

REED: Can I respond to that?

KING: All right. James and then Ralph, James then Ralph.

CARVILLE: What are the three signature McCain accomplishments in the United States Senate? Do you want to go through them for us real quick, after 17 years?

KRISTOL: Yes. He was de facto secretary of state of the United States during the Kosovo war.

CARVILLE: When?

KRISTOL: And he did more than President Clinton, I'm afraid, to ensure that the U.S. -- to ensure that the U.S. won it.

CARVILLE: I don't know how to tell you -- I don't how to tell you this.

KING: One at a time.

CARVILLE: What's his accomplishment? He opposed the war that we won. That's an accomplishment. I'm sorry, that don't pass the laugh test, Bill. Give me three accomplishments.

KRISTOL: James, you know -- James, if you were telling the truth -- James, if Larry could make you tell the truth -- and I wish he could...

CARVILLE: I asked you what his accomplishments...

KRISTOL: ... you are terrified of facing John McCain.

CARVILLE: Could you just -- would you, Bill...

KRISTOL: You are terrified of facing...

CARVILLE: Bill, would you just give the three signature accomplishments of 17 years in the United States Congress of John McCain?

KRISTOL: Look, I'm not the spokesman...

KING: OK. He won't give you the accomplishments, and you won't admit you're terrified. OK.

REED Larry, can I respond to what Bill said? KING: All right, Ralph Reed, go. I'm balancing six people, and I ain't with any of them. Ralph.

REED: If I could just respond to what Bill said.

First of all, John McCain's the one with the Washington zip code here, and Bill Kristol's the one with the Washington zip code here.

I'm in Atlanta. Governor Bush is from Austin, Texas. We're not the Washington insiders. That's first of all.

Second of all, if you want to know where all the Washington lobbyists are, they're going to be at a half million dollar fund- raiser for John McCain in two nights.

In fact, John McCain, according to the "Wall Street Journal" Friday, has raised a higher percentage of his money from Washington insiders, lobbyists and corporate special interests than anyone running for president in either party.

And in addition to that, his campaign finance reform is a hog's trough for special interests. It gives power and control to Washington left-wing union bosses. And in fact, I want to quote a magazine called "The Weekly Standard," Bill's magazine. This is what they said, not me. This is what Bill's magazine said about John McCain's campaign finance plan, the centerpiece of his campaign.

They said -- quote -- "It is ugly, foolish and blatantly unconstitutional." Those are "The Weekly Standard's" words, not mine.

KING: Let me get a -- let me get a call in. Fort Lewis, Washington, hello? Oh, I should hit -- press it down? Excuse me. I'm so entranced at what they're saying, I forgot to hit the call.

Fort Lewis, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My question is for the panel. At a recent Democratic debate, Gore and Bradley started off by saying they would not sling mud at each other and then did exactly that. What effects do you think negative politicking will have on this election and future elections?

KING: Tucker.

CARLSON: Well, I mean, there's certainly a lot of whining about it. You see it going on with -- right now between McCain and Bush. Each one is, well, he's being mean to me, no, he's being mean to me.

It really is this kind of playground thing. Mrs. Jones, George is being mean to me. I mean, it's pathetic. I mean, there's nothing wrong with a little negative campaigning. On election day in New Hampshire, John McCain, I was with him on the bus. Somebody asked him first thing in the morning, what are you going to do today? And he said, I'm going to go from polling place to polling place, harass my opponents and tear down their campaign signs.

And of course, you know, he was kidding. But we -- I think we need more of that spirit. Politics is meant to be a little bit physical and rough. And whining about it doesn't serve anybody's interests.

KING: Jeffrey, hasn't -- haven't politics in America always been negative?

CARLSON: Well, it has, although I have to say -- I mean, I think this has been a remarkably civil campaign so far. I mean, I think we're actually living in sort of...

KING: Up to tonight?

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: Well -- I mean -- the Kristol-Reed thing is getting a little ugly, but we don't have to worry about that too much.

(LAUGHTER)

But the -- we're living in sort of the post-Lewinsky world, where people are so afraid of looking like a House manager that everybody wants to talk about issues. And this really has been a campaign about issue: whose tax cut is better, you know, who's for or against racial profiling.

You know, if you're going to have fights about that, I don't see what's wrong with that. I really don't think this has been a terrible campaign at all. And so I don't -- I mean, I don't think we're heading into an abyss.

KING: Back with more, more calls and more comments from all of our panelists. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What I think is going on here is pretty clear. In politics, as I said, people make misleading statements, and most of them do it because they don't know better. You know better. You know what you're saying is not true. And quite frankly, I wonder whether if you're running a campaign that is saying untrue things, whether you'll be able to be a president that gets people's trust. If you're running a campaign that's divisive, that's the kind of presidency that you'll also have. I think they deserve, people deserve more respect.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: Look, since that's a negative personal attack, can I have a rebuttal?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Go ahead. GORE: Look, Bill. We've had some heated disagreements in this campaign. Let's keep it to the substance of the issues. I haven't accused you of lying. You -- we can have a disagreement on the substance of the issues without you making negative personal attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Don't forget: One week from tonight is the Republican debate leading up to the South Carolina primary. I will be the moderator. It will be 90 minutes starting at 9:00 Eastern, the regular time of LARRY KING LIVE. It will be seen all over the state of South Carolina on commercial stations, and nationally and internationally on CNN. And there will be no commercial interruption at all.

That's 90 minutes.

Jacques, I wanted to ask you before we take the next call, does your candidate have to do really well on March 7th to stay in this?

DEGRAFF: Well, we won't put an end game to it, but obviously we must do very well. And why we're going to do very well: because we still haven't heard the answers to the questions that I asked.

We still don't why we don't have an executive order on racial profiling. We still don't know anything about the 84 percent rating on -- from right to life. And there are a lot of other questions we've got for Al Gore that will have to be answered between now and March 7th.

KING: If Mr. Gore said he changed his mind on right to life, would that satisfy you?

DEGRAFF: Well, then he'd have to explain his moment in the debate when he couldn't seem to explain that, when he said...

KING: And if he said that -- and he said that as vice president he can't issue that executive order, how would you respond to that?

DEGRAFF: I would explain -- I would respond to it, he's taken credit for everything else that Bill Clinton has done. Why can't he now exert some influence on his partner in the administration and get this done?

It's clearly a priority of his.

KING: Philadelphia, hello.

CALLER: How are you doing, Larry?

KING: Hi.

CALLER: My question is for Ralph Reed. I want to know why George W. Bush has no problem appearing at places like Bob Jones University, which has racist policies such as not allowing interracial dating.

KING: Why would he do that, Ralph?

REED: Well, I think that Governor Bush was not endorsing that policy. He's made that abundantly clear. When he appeared at that university, they were endorsing his views. He wasn't endorsing their views.

And moreover, Governor Bush, Larry, opened his campaign, or at least his first major domestic policy speech, at an interfaith-based ministry in Indianapolis that ministers to African-Americans and Hispanics in the impoverished part of that city that have been left behind.

So I think Governor Bush's record on being inclusive, and reaching out to African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities -- he won, as you probably know, over 40 percent of the Hispanic vote -- is very clear. And I think to suggest otherwise is really off-base.

KING: Why -- why speak, though -- I mean, the question was, Ralph, why speak at an institution even though they're endorsing you, why speak at an institution in which your brother couldn't date his wife?

REED: Well, first of all, you should know that Governor Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, is married to a Latino.

KING: I know.

REED: So I think it goes...

KING: His own brother couldn't date the brother's wife at that institution. Why speak there?

REED: Well, again, as I've said, he's made it abundantly clear that he's not endorsing that policy. If you want to know why he went there, it's because there were 5,000 students there that we believe ought to be allowed to hear his vision. And I think to exclude them from that because of that policy would be a mistake. But to suggest that he's endorsing that policy I think is wrong.

KING: Would -- Bill Kristol, do you think John McCain, if invited, would speak there?

KRISTOL: I don't know. I obviously can't speak for him. I'm not an adviser to his campaign, as Ralph is to Governor Bush's.

I do know just from being here in South Carolina and doing a little reporting there was a split in the Bush camp about whether Governor Bush should kick off his South Carolina campaign at Bob Jones.

Governor Carroll Campbell, the former governor, was against beginning the campaign there because of the symbolism of starting there. Look, I don't think Governor Bush has a bigoted bone in his body. It goes without saying. I think he's, in fact, been very forward- looking on racial matters.

But I do think it was an odd decision, and it was a kind of sudden lurch to the right to try -- and Governor Bush said, I'm the conservative, I'm the right in this race. And now he's saying, I'm the reformer!

I mean, there's something about the Bush campaign -- and I have a high regard personally for Governor Bush. But the -- he just seems unable to really explain why he should be elected president as opposed to repositioning himself politically.

KING: Bill, do you think John McCain is going to win in South Carolina, Bill?

KRISTOL: Look, it's probably dead even right now. There's a new poll out that has it dead even in Michigan. I think basically in the states where people are praying attention, McCain has caught up to Bush.

I can't judge. I've been to one McCain town meeting here. I haven't been to a Bush meeting yet.

But yes. If you asked me to bet, I think -- I've never believed in the firewall theory. I've never believed that governors and senators and congressmen can really deliver states. I think in these early primary states, the voters take a real close look at the two candidates.

And what we learned in New Hampshire, where the voters took a real close, is that even among registered Republicans McCain beat Bush. And among, of course, when you add independents, as you will add them here in South Carolina, McCain won very big. So I guess if I had to bet, I'd bet on McCain.

But look, it's a very competitive race, and that debate next week is extremely important.

I would bet, based on previous experience in previous states, that about half -- half the likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina will probably watch that debate. And there will only be three or four men on the stage. It will clearly be a Bush-McCain debate. And that's way it should be.

I mean, let the voters of South Carolina ignore Ralph and ignore me and ignore all the ex-governors and ignore all the lobbyists on both sides, and take a look at John McCain and George W. Bush, and decide who should be president.

KING: Do Forbes and Keyes play no part in it?

KRISTOL: Well, it's totally a two-way race. They're both polling below 5 percent here. I wonder if Steve Forbes really can now stay in. I mean, it's becoming ridiculous I think. KING: We'll take a break and come back with more. More on the Democratic side from Mr. Carville. More thoughts from Toobin and Carlson as well. And you're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Bill Maher tomorrow night. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: What I'm going to do is remind people about my record, remind people that I'm coming with a record from outside of Washington. I will treat people with respect. But I'm also going to blow the whistle on people that say one thing and do another. And I'm going to do it in a respectful way.

But it's important for people to understand the facts. I've got a good fight on my hands. And to his credit, he did a good job in New Hampshire. But there's nothing wrong with a little competition.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: James Carville, just so we get something straight, are you saying that Al Gore is a lock on March 7th?

CARVILLE: Oh, James Carville never says anybody is a lock on anything, but every time you say it's a lock, then somebody comes and picks the doggone thing. But I'll say this: He's won in three primaries. He's won all three. He's very popular with Democrats. He's run a very good campaign.

And I just think Senator Bradley has had a little trouble finding his sea legs here. And I'm hopeful that we can end this thing. I'm being very upfront, not very objective here. I hope we can end this thing on March 7th, get together. And I hope these Republicans keep going, slug it out, and have at each other.

I'm just sitting here doing my knitting, so to speak.

KING: Concerning -- concerning the Republican -- I'm sorry, Jacques, go ahead.

DEGRAFF: Larry -- Larry, it's still 2,576 days. There's no answer on racial profiling, because he's hiding behind Bill Clinton. And there's no answer on his pro-choice position. There's no answer...

KING: You think racial profiling...

CARVILLE: I said it was 1984 that you bring it up. If you want to run a campaign 16 years ago, if you think that's going to change it...

DEGRAFF: James, no, I'm talking about right now today. There's no executive order because Al Gore doesn't have an answer.

KING: OK. Ralph Reed, Senator McCain mentioned you the other day. Let's hear what he had to say and your comments -- go.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: I am very disappointed that over the weekend that Governor Bush would stand next to a fringe person who says I have abandoned veterans. Five senators who are Vietnam veterans demand an apology. I am disappointed when one of his surrogates, Ralph Reed, calls me a liar. Others are calling me hypocrites. So of course, I am energized when we're attacked. And we're going to fire back. We're going to respond. We're going to respond heavily, because Governor Bush said he wouldn't do that kind of thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Ralph Reed, did you call him a liar?

REED: No, absolutely not. I'm...

KING: He said you did.

REED: Well, I'm disappointed that Senator McCain would say that, because I have never said anything even remotely similar to that. But I will say this: I think we will tell the truth about his record. And his record is, for example, that in his economic plan, he has $150 billion dollars in new taxes, Larry. He's got a $9 billion tax increase on contributions to churches, colleges and charities. I was on the phone yesterday with the pastor of one of the largest churches in upstate South Carolina. He's in the middle of a $6 million building fund. He said, if John McCain's tax fund became law, I wouldn't be able to build my building. Now we happen to believe, unlike John McCain, that we ought to be shifting more power and money to synagogues, and churches, and colleges, and faith-based ministries. He wants to take $9 million of it and send it back to Washington. We're going to say things like that, because they're true.

And I think the difference here is you've got one person who's a real reformer with real accomplishments; you've got another one who's a Washington insider, who talks a lot, but doesn't get anything done.

KING: We'll take a break, come back, and get thoughts from all out of our panelists -- I know we've had a lot of them -- and try to wrap this thing up and get more cogent as well. And tomorrow night, Bill Mahr. And don't forget, on Friday night, Bruce Willis will be with us. And then a week from tonight, that debate. We'll be there.

Don't go away.

This week on LARRY KING LIVE. Tomorrow night, he's outspoken, he's outrageous and definitely politically incorrect. Bill Mahr for the hour. taking your calls. On Thursday, acting legends Walter Mathau and Diane Keaton, and Friday, he had the sleeper hit of the year -- Bruce Willis is guest. That's all ahead LARRY KING LIVE, 9:00 Eastern on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Some final thoughts from each.

James Carville, your book is "Stickin." Is Al Gore a sticker?

CARVILLE: Yes, Al Gore is a sticker.

But I want to make a point here about this veterans thing.

KING: Quickly.

CARVILLE: I am a Vietnam era vet, my brother, my family -- I just think it was a dumb attack that the Bush people made, and I think John McCain will be fine for vets. I'm not in the habit of saying nice things about Republicans, although I personally like John McCain. He just hasn't done very much, but he would protect veterans.

KING: Bill Kristol, by the way, picking up on that, was it a mistake to take the veterans' ploy on the Bush part?

KRISTOL: Sure, I mean, Governor Bush can't be held responsible for what everyone standing next to him on stage says but he didn't distance himself from these really irresponsible allegations that John McCain has somehow walked away from the POWs and MIAs in Vietnam.

KING: Summing up, do you think the debate is going to decide it maybe?

KRISTOL: Yes, look this is a real campaign. All the money, all the establishment support doesn't matter. The voters of South Carolina are going to see these two men. They're going to see a lot of them. I think the debate is the moment when they'll see the most of them probably next week. And I think it could be key, and I think it will be very interesting to watch.

KING: Ralph Reed, do you agree with that point, that that debate will be important and that the race is close?

REED: I think -- yes, I agree that the race is close. It's very competitive. I think in the end, Larry, if you really look at it, South Carolina is very different from New Hampshire. There'll be fewer of these maverick libertarian and even liberal voters coming into that primary. In fact, Governor Bush is leading among Republicans in that primary right now by about 10 points. And as I said, traditionally, South Carolina has looked at this situation and said, look, you got a big wave out of an early state, but we're going to go with the winner, and that's George Bush.

KING: Jacques DeGraff, you still have -- on those two key points you've been hitting all night, do you think that's going to prevail for the senator on March 7?

DEGRAFF: Well, it's more than those two points, but those two points indicate that Al Gore can hide behind Bill Clinton, but Al Gore is not Bill Clinton. And yes, we expect to win, because those questions and others won't get answered because Bill Bradley tells the truth, and that's what will win on March 7.

KING: Tucker Carlson, what's your read on South Carolina for -- in their primary? CARLSON: I don't know. I mean, I think that the Bush campaign -- I talked to a bunch of people in it tonight, and they're very mad at McCain, and they're mad about his newest spot, in which he compares Bush to Clinton. And they said they're going to spank him hard on the air. I am not sure it's going to have a great effect. I think voters in South Carolina want the candidate who is the farthest from the lip- biting Baby Boomer that they can get, and I think a lot of them think it may be McCain.

KING: And, Jeffrey Toobin, what's your read? Will the debate -- will that be pivotal?

TOOBIN: Because you're moderating, absolutely. No, I think it's going to be very important. It's obviously a very close race.

The thing that strike me is that 135 years after the Civil War, you know, a leading Republican candidate speaks at a segregated -- you know, a university where bigotry is enshrined in the rules, and they won't even come out against flying the flag of slavery over the state capitol. I mean, you know, it's no wonder that 80 percent of African Americans vote Democratic. And you know, we hear that this is going to change every year, but you know, the Republicans keep doing this.

KING: One thing we can assure the viewers as well as the panelists: The debate will be fair, and everyone will get a fair amount of time, and all the issues will be covered.

We thank our panel for joining us.

See you tomorrow tonight with Bill Mahr.

Stay tuned for CNN NEWSSTAND next. Don't go away.

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