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Larry King Live

McCain Wins Michigan and Arizona Primaries

Aired February 22, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


JEFF GREENFIELD, GUEST HOST: I am Jeff Greenfield. I am sitting in for Larry King.

We'll have fresh reaction to McCain's victories in Michigan and Arizona. What does it mean? We'll try to peer down the road. Later in the program, we'll be joined by Christian Coalition President Pat Robertson who made very big news taste today with recorded phone calls to voters in Michigan slamming John McCain's national campaign manager and McCain's positions on abortion and campaign finance reform.

First, our esteemed panel, some familiar names who have been with us throughout this political season. They're in Washington, the honorable Ann Richards , former Texas governor, now a political analyst for LARRY KING LIVE, William Bennett, former secretary of education, now co-director of Empower America, and Bob Woodward, the floating co-host of this program from time to time, better known as assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post."

Let's start with the official Republican on the panel, Bill Bennett, who has been advising both campaigns and endorsed neither. Your reaction?

WILLIAM BENNETT, EMPOWER AMERICA: It's a very big win for John McCain, jack in the box, thought they had him in the box, he jumped back up. Saturday night in South Carolina, he looked pretty frustrated. You thought he was. I thought he was frustrated. Did he have the fight in him to go into Michigan? He sure did have the fight. He took on John Engler, the Michigan establishment, and won. There is life in John McCain. This has got to encourage them. It's got to puzzle the Bush people. Obviously there's a lot of talk about strategy, but this man clearly lives to fight another day, and to be said -- and I think again, probably the strongest argument, he gets people out to vote who otherwise aren't going to be voting in a Republican primary, and that's important obviously down the road, if not now.

GREENFIELD: Ann Richards, Governor Engler is already laying the market down that this was, in effect, a hijacking of the Republican primary. Fewer than half the total vote was Republican. From your Democratic perspective, how do you feel about the notion that Democrats may have picked the winner of a Republican primary?

ANN RICHARDS, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: Well, I think it's one of those "the dog ate my homework;" you've got to figure something to say when you just, you know, when you just lost. And it wasn't only Bush that lost, but Engler lost, too. We have been promoted to think that, boy, just wait until we get to Michigan, and that's when you're going to see the Engler machine really begin to roll. And obviously, it didn't do very well.

So I'm glad you're going to have Pat Robertson on later, because I think it -- you know, Pat and George have bonded here, and I think that had a lot to do with what went on in this primary.

Now I know they're giving the Democrats credit for the McCain win...

GREENFIELD: Or blame, if it's a Republican.

RICHARDS: Yes, but in reality. No. 1, I wish we were that good, and unfortunately, we've never been that well-organized. But the other thing is that I think we have got to give John McCain some credit here.

GREENFIELD: Bob Woodward, Engler says we'll get most of the delegates. Democrats really did this. Psychologically, does it matter?

BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": It really doesn't. I mean, this is a win for McCain in a very, very big way. And I think it shows a number of things. First of all, it is the difference between an 18-day negative campaign that Bush was able to run in South Carolina and a two-day negative campaign in Michigan. In other words, it simply didn't take.

I think it also shows that voters -- the Republicans and Democrats and independents are still looking for a candidate and fishing around, and it is my view that whoever comes out as the real fighter is going to win.

GREENFIELD: A lot more to talk about. We'll do it in just a minute. We'll be back.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There's a lot of contests coming up. There will be some of these primaries where only Republicans vote in it. There will be primaries where both the Republicans and Democrats vote on the same day.

I think the interesting thing is that I won overwhelmingly amongst Republicans and like-minded independents.



GREENFIELD: It is no surprise that Senator John McCain won his home state of Arizona, but a victory in Michigan 72 hours after Governor Bush's big victory in South Carolina, this is the story for tomorrow. Bill Bennett, does this suggest to you that this is going to be a protracted struggle, or do you still think that those primaries on March 7th are Bush's next firewall?

BENNETT: I'm better on the past than the future, but it's obviously going to go on for a while, and let's take this week by week. Washington's going to be a big deal. And you know, we're all thinking about what happens in California. California -- two-thirds of California is kind of an independent place. And you could have a very odd situation where you could have a majority of people who vote voting for McCain but a majority of Republicans, again, voting for Bush and Bush taking it all. Then I'm not sure what happens.

But let's take this a week at a time. This is too exciting. This is, you know, day-by-day kind of stuff.

GREENFIELD: Well, Ann Richards, as you sit -- are you sitting in the Democratic equivalent of the catbird seat? I mean, is this -- we thought, being wrong about almost everything from a six-month perspective, that Bush would have this wrapped up by, I don't know, Alaska in January.

RICHARDS: Yes, we all thought we were going to be bored to death by this time, and instead we're really interested.

BENNETT: This is a very interesting party.

RICHARDS: Yes, it certainly is.

BENNETT: The Republican Party...

RICHARDS: It's really...

BENNETT: ... is a very interesting party.

RICHARDS: It is really fascinating what's going on. But here's what to look for down the road, because I think the one thing that John McCain really did learn in South Carolina is that you can be overwhelmed by money. When the other guy's got the money -- and I mean, he's been campaigning on reforming, not allowing all of this kind of money to come into politics. But he was on the receiving end of what money can buy. I mean, Bush overwhelmed them in South Carolina with all of that money.

Now, the nice thing is that once it's spent, it's gone. And they have got all of these other primaries coming up, and I am guessing -- in fact Bill said tonight the last numbers he heard it was 10 million to 14 million. Bush has spent this money like water coming out of a spigot. So what makes a difference in these coming primaries is that these guys may be coming in even where the money is concerned.

GREENFIELD: Except Bob Woodward, since Governor Bush is not taking federal money, he can go out and get another $50 million: Can he, or can't he?

WOODWARD: Well, he can try. I mean, it's going to be difficult. There isn't enough time. And the question is: What can you buy with that money now? You can't -- you know, what is the Bush strategy now? You're siting in the -- on that bus or out in the ranch and saying, what do you do now?

Basically, the strategy has been paint John McCain as not a real reformer. Bush is the reformer, is the one who is for campaign finance reform.

Well, as somebody who's chased campaign finance abuses going back about 28 years to know what reform is you have to know what the abuses are. And it is a crock to say that McCain is not for real campaign finance reform.

They're also trying to tag McCain with being soft on his anti- abortion credentials. And that just isn't going to work either. So where do you move?

GREENFIELD: Before we break, Bill Bennett, is McCain's campaign finance reform real or bogus?

BENNETT: Oh, I'm sure it's real, but I think what he's got to do now is say things in addition to campaign finance reform: not to diminish the centrality of that. Obviously, he wouldn't diminish it.

But John McCain needs to make plain -- he says he's a conservative, a Republican conservative. He needs to pick any of three -- two, three of 10 or 12 issues -- school choice, partial-birth abortion, missile defense -- and talk about those issues with the same passion that he talks about campaign finance reform, if that passion is in him. And if he does that, I think he will manage to convert some more people.

I think Bush's strategy is probably to wait him out, isn't it, Bob? I mean, it's to keep getting delegates, log on through, hope, you know, to get enough in California, and then you go South and you have Texas and Florida.

GREENFIELD: Let's explore that after we do some work for Time Warner-AOL, whoever we were for the last hour. We'll be back in a minute.


GREENFIELD: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I am Jeff Greenfield, sitting in for Larry King.

In a few moments, we'll be hearing from Pat Robertson, president of the Christian Coalition. We want to turn to our panel now and ask the question about strategy.

John McCain, Bill Bennett, still, except for Arizona, has yet to prove he can get Republican votes. What do you mean to say yes to pick a couple of issues and talk about them as a Republican?

BENNETT: Well, George bush talks about in his heart, what's in his heart, and John McCain I think talks very well and very effectively about the main thing he cares about, which is reform. But this is in some ways a very new issue for a standard Republican constituency, so he needs to explain that, expand on that. but he then needs to come back to other issues, things that are the staples of the conservative agenda.

And as I said to him when he asked me my advice, same question you asked me, I said pick him. I mean, there are 20 or 30 conservative issues. You continue to say that you are a good Republican conservative. Pick two, or three or four of those issues and speak with some conviction and passion about those issues, recognizing that you're in a primary, John, and you know, speak sincerely, don't fake it up, obviously. He's not very good doing that. Most people aren't. And then, you want to give comfort to Republicans that they are supporting a conservative. And at this point, particularly with all the interpretations -- you know, well, he's only getting liberals, he's only getting Democrat -- you have to offer some solace to your party. You can't run this primary like your running the general.

GREENFIELD: You've seen George Bush up close in this campaign. Can he adjust to this? Do he and his folks have the tactical ability to say, OK, we've got to reframe our message and get it out.

RICHARDS: I think they're in a tough spot, because obviously, the Bush message that they thought they were going to ride this thing on from the beginning to the end was some big tax cut, has not sold. It hasn't worked. It has given him something to say, but it hasn't gotten the responsive cord that they hoped that it was going to get. And I feel real uneasy about giving McCain advice, because I am scared to death of John McCain as a Democrat. You know, I want to see John McCain do well, and I want to see a real contest between these two, but I don't want him for nominee. I am feeling really, really uneasy about that, and have from the time that McCain emerged as a real candidate.

GREENFIELD: What -- why isn't it a good enough message for McCain to go to Republicans and say, I run 24 points ahead of Gore, Bush runs barely five points ahead. Is a tactical explanation enough, or does he need something else?

WOODWARD: Don't you think that the people are saying, can John McCain be a president? Does he look like a president? Does he sound like a president?

In fact, if can cheat for a moment, I'd like to ask Bill Bennett a question, who has advised both Bush and McCain. If you had to pick which one you were going to be in the foxhole with making a tough decision on national security, which one would it be?

GREENFIELD: And you've got, of course, 30 seconds.

BENNETT: Right. No lifelines, right?

GREENFIELD: No lifelines.

BENNETT: Well, not Clinton. Bush or McCain? McCain. WOODWARD: Why?

BENNETT: Because of experience, because of experience. He's virtually been in a foxhole. So that would matter. Yes, McCain, but they're both good men. I think I'd be comfortable with either of them. But interestingly, McCain, by the evidence and argument he makes in his book, might argue no, I am really not a very good guy in a foxhole, as he argues in "Faith of Our Fathers" that he was not a very worthy messenger or witness, as worthy as other people. But no, I think John McCain. It's a different job.


GREENFIELD: That may be one of those non-policy issues that voters...

BENNETT: Could I just add one more...


BENNETT: When I was with McCain in New Hampshire, people were not coming up with the campaign finance reform document and asking him to sign that. They were coming up with "Faith of Our Fathers" and asking him to sign that.

RICHARDS: Listen, I want to make it clear, I don't want to be in a foxhole with either one of them.


GREENFIELD: Duly noted, governor. Duly noted.

RICHARDS: But I think that it is important...

BENNETT: Women in combat.

RICHARDS: I think that it is important to say at this juncture that the fact that McCain is winning independents and Democrats is the most worrisome thing about this as far as I'm concerned.

GREENFIELD: As a Democrat.

RICHARDS: You bet.

GREENFIELD: We're going to be back with our panel in a few moments with much more about John McCain's victory. When we come back, we'll be hearing from Pat Robertson, president of the Christian Coalition.

You do not want to go away, do you?


GREENFIELD: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I am Jeff Greenfield, sitting in for Larry King on this day of the primaries. In a few moments, we'll be back with our highly esteemed panel. And at midnight, a new panel, fresh guests, stale host. That'll be at midnight, Eastern Time.

But first, in recent days, toward the end of the Michigan primary, the Republican race between George W. Bush and John McCain lapsed into a pattern of attacks. Each campaign has complained about automated phone calls to voters spreading negative messages. In one call, voters hear the voice of Pat Robertson, the founder and president of the Christian Coalition.


PAT ROBERTSON, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, CHRISTIAN COALITION: Tomorrow's Republican primary may determine whether our dream becomes reality or whether the Republican Party will nominate a man who wants to take First Amendment freedoms from citizens' groups while he gives unrestricted power to labor unions. The man who chose as his national campaign chairman a vicious bigot who wrote that conservative Christians in politics are antiabortion zealots, homophobes and would- be censors. John McCain refused to repudiate these words.

You may hold the future of America in your hand. With all the sincerity I can muster, I urge you to go to the polls and vote in tomorrow's election. This is Pat Robertson. Thank you, and God bless you.


GREENFIELD: Joining us now live from his headquarters in Virginia Beach, the founder and president of the Christian Coalition, Pat Robertson.

Welcome to the broadcast.

ROBERTSON: Nice to see you.

GREENFIELD: Disappointing night for you, I would assume.

ROBERTSON: Well, It sort of is, but you know, I ran for president once upon a time in the Republican Party, and I realize when you go to the nominating convention in Philadelphia, it's delegates counts that matters. And as I understand, you get three delegates per congressional district; get so many for at-large. And the last count I heard from Governor Engler was 36 for Bush and 22 for McCain. So I think before long, we're going to start seeing a scoreboard of delegates as opposed which primary McCain or Bush wins.

GREENFIELD: By the way, I want to make one thing very clear. You did not do that phone call for the Bush campaign?

ROBERTSON: No, absolutely not. They knew nothing about it. And as the head of the Christian Coalition, we have a group of supporters, the Christian Coalition and friends, a very small group I might add, in Michigan, an we wanted to alert them to some issue, and I'm very concerned about the McCain/Feingold campaign finance reform and what it will do to groups like the Christian Coalition.

And I'm really very grieved about any kind of a slur against minorities. I don't like it. I think it's un-American. And the fact that the campaign chairman of McCain would not, you know -- would say what he said about religious conservatives.

I -- Jeff, I've been beat up for 40 years, and right now the Christian Coalition is kind of like the ADL of the -- of Christianity. We're just not going to take this stuff any longer. I think it's wrong for people of faith to be castigated as they have been, and what Warren Rudman said was just wrong, and so I called him on it, and I believe that John McCain, in all sincerity, is going to repudiate this in the next few days, at least I would hope so.

GREENFIELD: Do you feel the same about the need for Governor Bush to repudiate the ban on interracial dating at Bob Jones University, which as where he, in effect, launched the South Carolina campaign, some of the anti-Catholic statements by the past president. You know this -- you know these arguments.


GREENFIELD: Is that the same issue. Should Governor Bush emphatically say, I have no part of that?

ROBERTSON: Not really, because George Bush didn't take the chancellor of Bob Jones University and make him head of the campaign. I mean, it's one thing to make a campaign appearance someplace. I've been all over the place, making speeches in various venues, and you hope that some of the guys will vote for you, if you're running for office. You don't necessarily endorse anything that they did, but you ask for their support. I think that's all Governor Bush was doing.

If I had been advising him -- and I wasn't, I would have said, I don't think this is a smart move. But nevertheless, I don't think he embraces some of those extreme views of Bob Jones University.

GREENFIELD: Let's talk a little bit about your problem with McCain on abortion, because during the South Carolina debate, it became clear, and Governor Bush has said as much, he and John McCain both exempt rape, incest, life of the mother from a ban on abortion. Governor Bush has said the only real difference he has on substance is the fetal tissue research issue, and yet, you paint John McCain in such starkly different terms than you would Governor Bush. Is there really that much substantive difference in your views on this issue?

ROBERTSON: I don't really think so, Jeff. I haven't painted him that way. I am just concerned about Warren Rudman, because he is very strongly pro-choice. I mean, and to call the religious conservatives antiabortion zealots, you can get a little feeling of how he is. And he was supposed to be the next attorney general, and he's the man who helped put in guys like David Souter on the Supreme Court. And so that's what concerned me, not so much John McCain per se, although he did waffle on Roe vs. Wade out in San Francisco. I am not sure whether he's for or against a repeal of Roe vs. Wade. GREENFIELD: OK, we'll be back in a minute with Pat Robertson. We want to play back for you Governor Bush's reaction to the question about the phone call that Pat Robertson made, and then we'll be back.


BUSH: We did not ask Mr. Robertson to make those ads, Bill. He did that on his own. But I am going to refer, again, to what I just told you about what Senator McCain has done. He's called me an anti- Catholic bigot. I don't appreciate it. My campaign manager here, John Engler is a Catholic. My brother is a Catholic. My sister in law is a Catholic. And there's no excuse for that kind of politics.



GREENFIELD: We're back with Pat Robertson, founder and president of the Christian Coalition.

Mr. Robertson, to be fair about this, in his book, Warren Rudman says some Christian conservatives are bigots, many others are fine folks, which is, in some sense, a statement you could make about any of us, including journalists, as Bob Woodward points out, right? But he was not branding any one of you folks as a bigot.

ROBERTSON: Well, he went on that he didn't think we ought to be part of the Republican Party, that this group is a danger, and on and on. I mean, he amplified right much. And I don't think if anybody said, well, the vast majority of journalists were anti -- or pro- choice zealots or something like that, it would fit very well. You like to think of yourselves as objective. But just smacked of really obnoxious bigotry. And I just think it's wrong. I -- you know, I just think it's wrong. You know, I think it's live and let live in America. We have freedom. We have a First Amendment that we all honor. And I just think I'm part of the Republican Party, and the Christian right, as he calls it, comprises about 30 percent of the Republican base, and to turn that off is political suicide. I think it's not a smart move politically to try to alienate this group of people.

GREENFIELD: A couple of more issues.

ROBERTSON: All right.

GREENFIELD: You take great issue with McCain's campaign finance plan. You say it's aimed at independent advocacy groups. The McCain bill that is now before the Senate, according to their staff, says absolutely nothing about independent advocacy groups. In the bill, as it is written now, you and every other group are free to put on as much radio and television advertising as you want, aimed at anybody. You're talking about a provision that he withdrew because he decided it couldn't possibly pass. So why are you attacking the senator for a position he no longer holds?

ROBERTSON: Well, I am glad to hear that, but it was just recent, in the first iteration of that bill, that was in there very strongly, and I've had some members of the Senate talk about the bill. They don't like it. They think it's unilateral disarmament. The big thing that I'm concerned about is that labor unions are not restricted with what they can spend in elections, whereas, you know, this Paycheck Protection Act is so important, and McCain voted against that. That is key thing to keep labor bosses from taking the money of the workers and just spending them in campaigns, perhaps against their will.

And so I -- perhaps the bill has been altered since his initial iteration, but nevertheless, that was what was put down by Senator McCain and vigorously advocated by him. And if he shifted ground, this is kind of a pattern, possibly, of shifting on certain issues, but I'm not sure what's out there now. We have Shays-Meehan. We have other -- these campaign finance reforms, and I just don't like any of to them, the way they're set up. But I'm not sure that what you say is totally accurate.

GREENFIELD: Well, I checked on it today.

ROBERTSON: All right.

GREENFIELD: And not only is that not in the bill, but paycheck protection is now also in the bill. The McCain office argues that it was a tactical maneuver last year, that in his bill is ban on soft money, nothing to do with groups like yours, and paycheck protection.

And I guess the question is, why would you put out something that asserts things that as of now are just not accurate?

ROBERTSON: Well, If that's the case, I stand corrected, Jeff, and I'd be only too delighted to withdraw my objection. But from those who have advised me on the matter, that was what was said, and those who are in the Congress have indicated that that was major problem, and it was in the bill and repeated over and over again, and Senator McCain wouldn't listen to the entreaties of a number of people who said this thing must be fixed. So if he's -- fix it in the last iteration, I am happy to hear it, but nevertheless, up to that point, it was in there, and it was very damaging to the Christian Coalition and other similar groups on the left and the right.

GREENFIELD: Just a couple more quick things before we go.

ROBERTSON: All right.

GREENFIELD: Governor Bush has the endorsement of two of the most pro-choice Republicans in the entire country, Governor Pataki of New York and Mayor Giuliani of New York. Giuliani doesn't even -- he opposes the ban on partial-birth abortion. Does this trouble you about Governor Bush?

ROBERTSON: I don't mind any endorsement that he gets. You know, it's like Ronald Reagan: He said, if people want to endorse me and vote for me, I'll accept their endorsement. They're not going to change the way I think. And I think that George Bush wants to be president. He has his own deeply held convictions, and if Governor Pataki is for him, I mean -- and Giuliani, more power to him. I don't think that -- this is a broad tent. We've always spoken about broad tents in the Republican Party. I believe that we should practice inclusion, not exclusion, and I think that we need a broad coalition of people in order to win in the election.

The thing that worries me about what's happened in Michigan just recently with some of these open primaries is that at least half of the voters were either Democrats or independent. It's like the Democrats are trying to hijack the Republican Party's nominating process, and I don't like that at all. But in terms of bringing in varying Republicans of different stripes, I mean, we're all for it. I believe in working together if we possibly can. That doesn't mean that we necessarily accede to Pataki's views on abortion. But let the majority decide, of Republicans; let's not let the Democrats decide what the Republican Party is going to say and do.

GREENFIELD: Pat Robertson, good of you to join us. I know you have to go. Thank you very much.

ROBERTSON: Yes, thank you.

GREENFIELD: We'll be back with our panel and our remaining moments on LARRY KING LIVE. I am Jeff Greenfield . Stay with us please.


GREENFIELD: Welcome back. Let's rejoin our panel now for reaction to Pat Robertson and to the McCain victories in Michigan and Arizona.

With us in Washington, the Honorable Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, now a political analyst for LARRY KING LIVE; William Bennett, former education secretary, former U.S. drug czar, now co-director of the group Empower America; Bob Woodward, bestselling author of many books and assistant managing editor of The Washington Post.

Bob, your reaction to what you heard from Pat Robertson.

WOODWARD: Well, I think if you listen to that phone call and then listen to the interchange, to a certain extent you see the anatomy of the smear. You see -- you call up somebody and you select information, you distort information and say one thing: And then you look at the facts as you pick the elements apart, to a certain extent, and you see that it isn't what was in that phone call.

For instance, for Pat Robertson to say that Warren Rudman, the former senator from New Hampshire, who is McCain's chairman, is a bigot because he criticizes some members of the Christian Coalition is absurd.

And you know, so I think on its face you kind of see the weakness of it.

And I mean, I've known Warren Rudman. I know lots of people who have known him. And he may be very opinionated, but the idea that he is a bigot is crazy.

GREENFIELD: Bill Bennett, the Bush campaign had a complaint of its own about a recorded phone message from a group called Catholic Voter Alert that criticized Governor Bush for appearing at Bob Jones University because of its alleged anti-Catholic bias.

Are these -- your reaction to that, to Pat Robertson. Are you Republicans going to find yourself in a very difficult situation from which to extract yourself?

BENNETT: Well, it's a problem. There was some ugliness here. There was some ugliness in South Carolina.

Bob's right. If you read the Rudman book, it's -- that's a quotation which taken out of context suggests that Warren Rudman is talking about all members of the Christian Coalition. He's not. He's talking about some. He's talking particularly -- this is an interesting irony -- about people who challenged Powell who is now endorsing McCain.

So there's -- politics is interesting, to say nothing else.

But this was an ugly business in South Carolina. I heard reports all day about some very ugly phone calls made against McCain. McCain, I think, made this dreadful mistake, though, it has to be said, about that first ad, comparing Bush to Clinton.

GREENFIELD: Twist the truth like Clinton.

BENNETT: This horrible business with this guy Quinn, who runs "The Partisan Review," who has this really ugly stuff coming out, and now this Catholic thing.

Now, it seems to me there's a place for advocacy by people on both sides as long as one I think correctly quotes, keeps things in context. And the role of people in churches is certainly something that's part of our politics too.

I have to say it does -- there does seem to be a greater burden of proof on Christian conservatives than on Christian liberals. Where you were last night at the Apollo Theater I think had a fair member of the ministry there. People are endorsing Al Gore, and you know, left and right, people of the cloth. Question about the admixture of church and state is very rarely raised there, but you can bet that people like me are as offended by Al Sharpton as we were offended by things that go on, on the right. And that needs to be put into context.

GREENFIELD: Before we go to a break, when you were in your campaign against George W. Bush, did he beat you fair and square? Did you think there were -- I mean, it's very tough in combat ever to see the other person as honorable. But were you the victim, in your view, of below-the-belt tactics?

RICHARDS: Was I on the receiving end of the Christian Coalition and the right wing and all the folks that Warren Rudman characterized? Absolutely. And every single race that I made, not just the one with George Bush, but in every single race, because these people are zealots. It is my religion or no religion. It is my point of view on abortion or none at all. There is -- there's no gray here at all.

GREENFIELD: But what I was asking is whether in that campaign you thought the Bush campaign had been part of what you would regard as "below the belt" tactics, or was it just good old-fashioned Texas politics?

RICHARDS: Well, it was good old-fashioned Texas politics, because it is a contact sport down there and it is no holds barred and it is a rolling ball of butcher knives, and you expect all of that stuff. But let me tell you what was important to me that jumped off that screen when Pat Robertson was talking, is that 30 percent of the base of the Republican Party is right-wing, and it is right-wing fundamentalist Christian. And they have made their deal with George Bush, and that deal is we are bonded and we are wedded through this election. And that is the reason why George Bush is vulnerable.

GREENFIELD: We're not going to leave it with Bill Bennett shaking his head. We're going to actually let him articulate that head shaking in just a minute. We'll be back.


GREENFIELD: Back with our remaining moments before we go back to Bernie and Judy in Atlanta.

Bill Bennett, you heard Governor Richards say that George W. Bush and the Christian right are bonded, they are wed. You don't agree?

BENNETT: Well, I certainly can't correct the perception that Governor Richards had of her own race, but on the Christian coalition, who is -- or the conservative Christians and who are the conservative Christians. I may fall under the governor's stereotype. I'm a Christian conservative. I happen to be a Catholic Christian conservative. I think it's a little more complicated than the governor says.

You may recall Bill Clinton happened to carry an awful lot of Christian conservatives when he was elected. There is gray, Ann. There are people who are bigots, who are close-minded on the right. There are people who are closed-minded on the left. But there a lot of people of all sorts of different views who constitute Christian believers and on the Republican side. And John McCain has won the allegiance of a number of those people.

There is a kind of animus -- I'll say it again -- which I think is real. You know, I'm not one of these people who is, you know, always seeing someone coming to get you. But there is a kind of animus against Christian conservatives, which I think is very telling. One expects people to call out the lions any minute. You know, these people should somehow not be allowed to vote, they should not be allowed to have their views.

I travel in Christian conservative circles, many of them all around this country, and let me tell you there's a great diversity point of view. There is not this, you know, this movement that moves all as one person: poor, uneducated, easy to command. There is no such thing. But there are an awful lot of people in America of Christian belief who are conservative, who are very worried about the collapse and failure of some of our critical institutions. And they have a right to be concerned about it, and they don't go en masse to the polls to defeat Ann Richards or Al Gore or Bill Clinton or anybody else.

RICHARDS: Well, there's a fine nuance between being a Christian and having conservative beliefs and being a fundamentalist right-wing member of the Christian Coalition. It's just a different deal.

GREENFIELD: Now, you know that Governor Bush has used a faith- based argument for some distinctly different themes: about a big tent, about reaching out to the dispossessed. That's always been a part of Governor Bush's theme.

Does this entry, the Pat Robertson entry, does it complicate the governor's broader message about his faith?

WOODWARD: Not really. I mean, not in the short term I don't think. I think what's interesting, that we should look a little bit back rather than ahead and remember South Carolina. Governor Bush showed some real political skill -- now, some of it got dirty and some of it got very negative. But if you look at the way the debate here on the LARRY KING SHOW a number of weeks ago, I mean, Bush was very forceful, in control, almost commanding. He changed strategy. He got very tough.

And so now, you know, all of these candidates are -- McCain and Bush are in this crucible again, and it gets uglier there, and the real candidates are going to have to show themselves.

GREENFIELD: We're going to take a quick look ahead when we come back in our few remaining moments, in just a second.


GREENFIELD: We're going to do this very quickly. Bill Bennett, is George W. Bush the nominee of the Republican Party yet? Well, he's still likely, I guess, but not necessarily.

Ann was talking about money. What's that song? "Don Juan, your money's gone, and when your money's gone your baby's gone."

We'll see. He can go back to some of the same sources to get money, but McCain is getting money now too.

It is still a fight, I think -- and I still believe in the American imagination, and this is where McCain has made inroads. And imagination can beat money. Ask John Connally. Ask lots of people.

GREENFIELD: Steve Forbes?

BENNETT: Lots of people. GREENFIELD: Bush the nominee of the Republican Party?

RICHARDS: I think Bush is the nominee, because I think he gets those fundamentalist Christian right-wing within the party. I think that's locked in. The deal's done. I think he signed up all of those members of Congress very early when it looked like it was going to be an anointing instead of an election. And so, that's the delegate strength.


WOODWARD: Obviously, no one knows. The good news is more people are watching the coverage. More people are reading about it. And more people care. And that energy from the voters is going to make the candidates' job that much harder, and they're -- you know, they're going to have to perform. A long race.

GREENFIELD: Two seconds.

BENNETT: Yes, five seconds. People said Americans were disengaged from politics, alienated from their politics: not in South Carolina, not in Michigan. Keep it going.

GREENFIELD: Mr. Bennett, Governor Richards, Bob Woodward, thank you very much. As always, the best panel in the business, not counting your host, of course.

We'll be hearing from Senator John McCain in a victory speech in just a few minutes, and then we'll be going back to Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff in Atlanta: the entire CNN election team.

I'll be back at midnight with a brand-new fresh panel and an attempt to remain conscious. We'll be back. Don't go away.



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