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Larry King Live
Do Strong Super Tuesday Performances By Gore and Bush Signal the End of the McCain and Bradley Campaigns?Aired March 7, 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 is the biggest date on the campaign 2000 calendar so far. We're going to talk live with Vice President Al Gore in Nashville. And joining me to assess the Super Tuesday outcome here in Washington, William Bennett, co-director of Empower America, in Portland, Maine, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, back in the nation's capital, Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post," and here in Los Angeles, former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers. They're all coming up on LARRY KING LIVE.
Now we are going to go back to Atlanta in just a couple minutes as the New York and Rhode Island polls close. We will assemble our panel, and then after the crew in Atlanta gets us up to date, we'll come back here for a wide-ranging discussion with lots of guests and break-ins as well, as long as news happens.
Dee Dee, anything surprising so far?
DEE DEE MYERS, FMR. CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's all kind of unfolding as the earlier polls predicted. That's not great news for either John McCain or Bill Bradley. I think it's been a good night for Al Gore and a very, very good night for George Bush.
KING: We will get the New York result in a minute. If it's Bush, is it over for McCain if it's Bush in New York?
MYERS: It's very tough for McCain to argue that's there's rationale for his candidacy if he doesn't do well in New York.
KING: Bob Woodward, do you agree with that assessment by Dee Dee Myers?
BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes, I guess it's obvious. What's nice is we get to wait.
KING: Do you agree, Bill Bennett, that it's all over but the shouting if New York goes Bush?
BILL BENNETT, EMPOWER AMERICA: Probably, because as I understand it, McCain doesn't have a sweep of New England either.
KING: And how do you read it from Portland, Maine, Senator Mitchell? GEORGE MITCHELL, FMR. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I think that seems correct. The general election campaign starts tomorrow, a very good day for Governor Bush, and I think a really great day for Vice President Gore, who now stands in a commanding position for the general election.
KING: So what we're saying here, Dee Dee, is it's over but the shouting and who's the vice presidential nominees?
MYERS: Yes. I mean, there will certainly will be -- as Senator Mitchell just said, the general election starts tomorrow, assuming that John McCain lose New York.
KING: All right, let's hopscotch back to Atlanta for Jeff, and Bernie and Judy. We'll get you up to date and then come pack with a full session of LARRY KING LIVE.
Guys, what's going on?
BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're going to tell you in just a little bit, because in less than 30 seconds, according our CNN clock, the polls will close not only in New York, but in Rhode Island, and of course as Jeff indicated a short while ago, and Larry and his guests indicated, we're watching to see what happens next. And of course we still have California.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, and that's the point I was going make. Even as we are seconds away from the call in the state of New York and Rhode Island, California closes at 11:00 Eastern. That's another very, very important primary we're watching.
SHAW: The New York primary -- CNN is now ready to make a call in New York. First of all, Vice President Al Gore is the winner here.
And on the Republican side now, this is very close -- or rather Rhode Island. Pardon me. First the winner in the Rhode Island campaign tonight. Senator John McCain has another New England victory over Governor Bush. States won so far, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: George W. Bush tonight, he has won in Georgia, in Maine, in Maryland, in Missouri, which is winner take all. He has won the third biggest prize tonight, Ohio, but we are still waiting for New York and California. On the Democratic side, Al Gore has won everything there is to win -- Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio and Vermont. We have yet to a hear from New York, California and others, but Gore won everything he could up to now.
Now in New York, the race that we are all looking at, what CNN can tell you is that in the battle for delegates it is a very, very close race. We cannot make a call at this time. What we do know is John McCain is doing well among Republicans in New York City and on Long Island, George W. Bush doing very well with Republicans in upstate.
SHAW: Go ahead.
GREENFIELD: Well, I'm just going to throw it to our colleague Wolf Blitzer, who's can give us some insight into the delegate count that we can't make, but what it means.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Jeff, on this really important delegate count, let's take a look right now at what we know this hour, 9:00 Eastern Time, as far as the Republican count is concerned. Take a look at this, George W. Bush, we now estimate, has 397 delegates compared to John McCain's 193, 1,034 needed.
Of the 2,170 needed to nominate the Democratic side, Al Gore we now estimate has a thousand delegates to Bill Bradley's 280. And with the calls in New York State going for Al Gore, we say he will collect 148 of those New York State delegates compared to 67 for Bill Bradley. In Rhode Island, John McCain will get the 14 delegates of that state. And in Rhode Island, as far as the Democrats are concerned, we now estimate that Bradley and Gore will split eight and eight as this point as far as those delegates are concerned.
We now estimate as well that overall, nearly 40 percent of the delegates that Al Gore and George W. Bush will need to capture the nomination they already have at the this hour, shortly after 9:00 p.m. on the East Coast.
Back to the anchor desk.
WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf Blitzer, and we want to go quickly back to LARRY KING. Before we do, Larry, we want to let everybody know that if there are calls to be made, whether it's New York or any place else, we will be breaking in to do that, but we want to take it right back to you -- Larry.
KING: Thanks, Judy.
The California polls will close at 8:00, which is now 6:00, so there's two hours to close, and we will not call anything until they close. And we're still waiting on New York.
Mr. Woodward, if McCain wins New York, is it a new ball game, or is he hanging on?
WOODWARD: Well, you just don't know. And you know, we were about three minutes away from...
KING: Putting it away?
WOODWARD: ... throwing in all our superanalysis, and obviously, at CNN, there was some caution about calling New York, so you really, really can't tell. I think one of the things that you can say, is that McCain shifted the nature of his campaign. Early on, he had one of the most voter-oriented campaigns of all time. He was running around saying to people, look, the system is corrupt, you're not included. Somebody watching that would say, hey, that's about me. Then, when he got tangled up in South Carolina, Bob Jones and Pat Robertson, it became, in a way, a campaign about McCain's grievances, and I suspect people didn't like that.
KING: Senator Mitchell, what's your read on what happened to Bill Bradley?
MITCHELL: Well, I think that the conventional wisdom of he didn't hit back fast enough or hard enough had something to do with it, but I think in the end, there was not enough to distinguish himself from what is, essentially, an incumbent running in a very good time. The economy is very good, the Democrats tend to be pretty pleased with the way things are going, and as a result, there just wasn't enough to distinguish him. I think he ran a good campaign, but very tough to do in the circumstances that existed at the time.
KING: Do you think it also benefited Al Gore to have him contested so that we could see more of the vice president?
MITCHELL: Well, I think both Al Gore and George Bush will come out of this nomination process personally tougher, stronger and more effective candidates, but I think Al Gore comes out in a commanding position for the general election. He's got the best of all world's now. Likely that he will not face the unpredictable, and therefore, I think, potentially very dangerous candidacy of John McCain, from a Democrat standpoint, and will face the much more predictable, and I think in an overall sense, significantly weaker candidacy of Governor Bush.
So right now, I think especially if you look carefully at the electoral college, Gore is in a very commanding position.
KING: Bill Bennett, as a friend of both McCain and Bush, and as a supporter of both -- in other words, you took stance against neither, although you did criticize McCain on the Robertson thing -- were those people who were saying...
BENNETT: I criticized Bush earlier, Larry, too, on the drug business.
KING: Yes, that's correct.
Were those people who were saying that there's some sort of plot on the part of the Democrats to vote for McCain because he'd be easier to beat, but the polls say he wouldn't -- that Bush would have been easier to beat for Gore. Is Gore better off with Bush as his opponent?
BENNETT: I don't know. I agree with Senator Mitchell, that I think they're both stronger candidates, bore Gore and Bush, as a result of this. We'll see, too. I don't want to prejudge either. New York's yet to come in.
Supposing, Larry, that at the end of the evening, McCain wins New York and wins the beauty contest in California, if he doesn't get the delegates, he's still got a case. Those are pretty big states, so you know, let's be conscious about it.
But yes, I think both of these guys, Gore and Bush, have been sharpened by combat. Bush is a better soldier, but the ground he's defending isn't necessarily the ground he wants to be on, and I think McCain has put him in that ground. McCain thus is at once both, as Senator Mitchell said, the earlier headache and worry for the Democrats, but also has created problems for George Bush. The challenge now is George Bush's. I see Senator Mitchell is already handicapping November. That's fine. There's a long way to go. There's a long way to go.
KING: We're the media. What else do we do?
BENNETT: Senator Mitchell, no sorry, he's a senator. He's not media.
KING: He's media tonight.
BENNETT: He's a scholar and statesman.
BENNETT: That's right.
Anyway, we shall see. But I think they're both better candidates.
If I can say one thing about Bradley, I agree with everything that's been said about McCain sucking up the oxygen, and no place to go and he didn't respond well. But everybody talked about George Bush being a creature of the of the Republican establishment. There's a Democrat establishment, too, and Al Gore, you know, got locked pretty early on from labor leaders, teachers unions and others, and it's pretty hard to break through once you've got that Democrat establishment.
KING: Well said, we'll get Dee Dee thoughts as well.
As we go to break, we'll show Nashville, Tennessee, as Gore is happily talking to his supporters on a very -- probably so far, the biggest night in Al Gore's life next to being elected in '92 and re- elected in '96.
When we come back, we'll talk to Karen Hughes as well, manager of the Bush campaign. She's in Texas.
This is LARRY KING LIVE, on election night 2000 primaries, the big one.
We'll be right back.
KING: Before we continue with our panel and talk with Karen Hughes of the Bush campaign, let's go down to Nashville and hear some of the words on Al Gore on this big night for Al Gore. Listen.
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... to make sure you vote not only for president but on other races and important propositions. In the West, the polls are still open. Go to the polls and vote.
Now my heart...
My heart is full tonight, and I want to thank all of you who are here and all those across America who have stood with us and helped to bring us this moment. This is your victory too. And I...
And I want to say something to -- I want to say something to a good man for whom I have great respect, Senator Bill Bradley and Ernestine Bradley and to their supporters. I received...
I received a very gracious telephone call from him a few moments ago, and I appreciate that. I think that anybody who has heard Bill Bradley throughout this campaign has come away from the experience moved and touched by the strength of his commitment to healing the divisions in our country, especially divisions based on race. He believes in this healing heart and soul. I share his commitment to it.
I have learned from his passion for it.
Tonight I salute Senator Bill Bradley and Ernestine Bradley, his wife.
In this primary campaign so far, I have never taken a single vote for granted. Those traveling with me can attest to that fact. And in the weeks and months ahead, I never will.
I know that I have to work for your vote. I want to earn your vote. And so tonight I want to reach out to all who believe that this is a time for great progress, for great reforms, for an America of tolerance and high ideals.
We stand at a mountaintop moment in our history: the longest period of economic growth this nation has ever known. Under President Clinton...
... almost 21 million new jobs. Welfare reform. Crime down. We're putting 100,000 new police on our streets.
More Americans are safer. More Americans have hope. America is strong, prosperous, at peace in the world.
But while we are here -- but while we are here to celebrate great victories, I say to you tonight -- and hear me well -- you ain't seen nothing yet.
Our fight has just begun. Our fight for the working families of this country has just begun, and tonight, I invite all Americans who seek the best America, all Americans regardless of party to join us in this cause.
We need to build -- we need to build on our record of prosperity. We don't need to go back to where we were eight years ago.
They tried -- they tried their approach before. It produced a triple dip recession and quadrupled the national debt. If you don't want to go back to that, then join us now. Our campaign is your cause.
If you believe -- if you believe in using our prosperity wisely to lift our nation up, not wasting the surplus on a risky tax scheme, then join us now because our campaign is your cause.
If you believe in common-sense affordable tax cuts to help working families save for college, then join us now. And if you believe we can invest in our people and still live within our means and even pay down the national debt, then join us now, because our campaign is your cause.
If you believe -- if you believe in setting aside enough of the surplus to safeguard Social Security and strengthen Medicare, then join us now. Join us. Our campaign is your cause.
Join us to secure health care as a fundamental right to cover every single child in the next four years, to move forward step by step to universal coverage, and then pass a new program of medicoverage so that all of our seniors will have the financial help they need to purchase the prescription drugs that their doctors prescribe for them.
KING: That's Al Gore. Happy night for Al, talking to his workers and co-workers and volunteers in Nashville.
We'll take a break. And when we come back, we'll talk with Karen Hughes, communications director for the Bush campaign, and resume our panel. Don't go away.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. Before we check in with Karen Hughes and resume our panel, Judy Woodruff, I understand, has an update on Rhode Island -- Judy.
WOODRUFF: We do, Larry. The polls closed in Rhode Island 18 minutes ago, and CNN is prepared to declare Al Gore the winner in the Ocean State. This is a clean sweep for Al Gore, the vice president tonight: 10 states, 10 wins. He defeats Bill Bradley in the state of Rhode Island.
Larry, back to you.
KING: Thanks, Judy. Let's go to Austin, Texas, where Karen Hughes, the communications director for the Bush campaign, is standing by. Thanks for joining us, Karen.
So far to this minute with New York so far up in the air, has anything surprised you or the governor?
KAREN HUGHES, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, BUSH CAMPAIGN: Well, Larry, I think we're headed for a great night. It appears the governor is going to have a victory that is very wide and deep and all across America. I know the polls are still open. I want to encourage our supporters particularly out west to go to the polls.
The governor was very pleased to win Maine tonight. That's a place where he spent a lot of time with his family in the summers. It was not supposed to be a Bush state, and so he was very pleased to win Maine.
But we're seeing great support -- Ohio, Missouri -- just all across the country. Governor Bush is having a great night.
KING: How about New York? Are you getting reports from your crew there that are different from ours, or do you agree that it's too close to call?
HUGHES: Well, Larry, I think that our folks in New York are cautiously optimistic. Obviously, the polls are not yet closed, but our New York people reported to us that they feel that Governor Bush has run strong there.
KING: Do you think it will be over by news Tuesday? HUGHES: Well, Larry, of course, that's up to both John McCain and to Alan Keyes. We feel that clearly across America tonight Republicans and conservatives are saying that they support Governor Bush's message of reform and renewal, his message of compassionate conservatism, improving our schools and rebuilding our military.
You know, I heard -- I heard Vice President Gore speaking on your program a few minutes ago, and I couldn't help but think where has he been for the last seven or eight years. He talks about all the things he wants to do, yet he has failed to do them over the last seven years.
Governor Bush has a plan to save and strengthen Social Security, to improve our schools, to give tax relief to working Americans. And he looks forward to carrying that message into the fall campaign.
KING: Thanks, Karen. We'll be seeing a lot of you.
HUGHES: Good to see you, Larry.
KING: Dee Dee, we haven't come back to you in a while. Are -- assuming New York stays this close, what if McCain wins New York and if he wins this beauty contest vote in California?
MYERS: It would have been a better night had he swept New England, which I think a lot of people were sort of anticipating he might do. But -- then it would be up to him. If he's in the race, he wants to stay in the race and go South next Tuesday, a week from today, that's certainly his prerogative. It's a lot better case for him if he wins the beauty contest here and wins New York.
There was a -- a some of the exit polling today was showing that two-thirds of the voters in California didn't understand that if they crossed party lines and voted for McCain or Gore, that their vote didn't count toward delegate selection. So I think that could turn out to be a big fight and really shake things up a bit. I think McCain will be counting on that if he wins the beauty contest here.
KING: We'll take a break, come back with William Bennett, George Mitchell, Bob Woodward, Dee Dee Myers, and some statements from Bill Bradley on LARRY KING LIVE right after this.
KING: Bob Woodward, do you think the Republican Party can heal the wounds of this primary?
WOODWARD: You know, we just don't know. The only reality is that there's eight months of campaigning before November, and if you look back eight months ago, we had no idea where this was going. So it's going to be a day-by-day, week-by-week endeavor.
McCain's got an uphill struggle no matter what happens. But you know, there have been surprises all of the time on the -- I just wanted to comment because you broadcast what Al Gore said in kind of his victory statement down in Nashville. The best thing you probably can be in politics is generous and smart. And what you saw there was somebody being very generous toward his opponent, Bill Bradley, Bradley having virtually called Gore a liar. But Gore is reaching out to him, and then also, I think he is being smart in the sense of building a big tent and saying, I want all the Bradley people with me, and did it in a very forceful and an unusually direct way.
KING: Senator George Mitchell, do you agree with Bob Woodward in that? Was that a smart statement by Al Gore tonight?
MITCHELL: Yes, it was. It was a good statement and a smart statement. I agree with Bob and with Bill Bennett's suggestion earlier that eight months is a long time. Anything can happen, that's true. And both candidates come out of the primary process, assuming the result is as we expect, Gore versus Bush, very seasoned, effective campaigners.
But I just want to make this point about the difficulty that Governor Bush will face. No Republican in the history of the United States has won the presidency while losing the two largest states. In fact, only two Democrats have done it, Woodrow Wilson and Harry Truman, both in unusual circumstances. And look at the two largest states: Clinton carried California by 14 points each time, and he carried New York by an average of 22 points in '92 and '96. Right now Gore is comfortably ahead in both states.
Obviously, a perfect campaign by Governor Bush, a mistake-filled campaign by Vice President Gore, that could all change. But right now he's got a big mountain to climb.
KING: Bill Bennett, you can comment on that, but do you think that McCain and Bush can come together?
BENNETT: Sure. Some of this will depend on, you know, McCain and Bush and how they -- how they present themselves, what they say.
Bob Woodward and I here were talking about the difference between the comments by Al Gore and some of McCain's recent comments. You know, if McCain loses, Larry, which McCain will we see? Will we see the McCain who says, you know, this Bush campaign, you know, very tough, very hard on the Bush campaign, or will we see the guy who said, I am a loyal Republican, I will support the nominee?
You know, if John McCain loses this primary and goes out and works for George Bush, I believe -- I have never interpreted those votes, independents and Democrat votes, cynically like a lot of people in my party have. That is people -- Democrats out to punish the John Englers of the world and others.
KING: Some plot?
BENNETT: Yes, I think a lot of those people were attracted by McCain, and if McCain still has any leverage of them, he would, if he were a supporter -- truly a supporter of the party, would say, look, stick around, there are some interesting things to see in this party. But we'll see which John McCain prevails.
KING: Hold on, Bill.
KING: Let me pick right up. We've got -- we have a statement by Bill Bradley in New York. Let's go right to that. Here's Bill Bradley.
BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. Thank you.
That's the echo.
I want to thank all of those who've worked so hard in this campaign, those who gave their talents and skills and time, those who raised and contributed money, those who gave substantive advice, those who offered continuous goodwill, those elected officials who stood up for me when it was not easy.
Most of all, I want to thank my wife, Ernestine...
... whose steadfastness never wavered and whose enthusiasm never waned. One of the best things, if not the best thing, about this campaign, is that the country has had a chance to get to know Ernestine Bradley.
I just called the vice president to congratulate him on his victories tonight. He won, I lost. And on one level, I agree with Vince Lombardi when he said, "Winning isn't everything: It's the only thing."
Tomorrow, I'll consult with supporters around the country to get their thoughts and advice, and I'll make my plans known shortly. But tonight, I want to go to a deeper level than winning or losing and agree with Kipling who said we should treat those two impostors just the same.
Tonight, we celebrate what each of you in this room, tireless workers for our campaign throughout this country and millions of voters, have accomplished. And that is the beginning of a new politics in our country.
Throughout this campaign, I have talked about the essential goodness of the American people. I see and feel it as deeply and as clearly today as I ever have. But in running for president, I have also sought to enlist something else, something I've always seen in the eyes of the American people. And that is idealism: a belief that good can triumph over bad, that principle can defeat expediency.
I decided to run for president to tap into that deep and abiding strand in our national character: for only by enlisting it can we create new politics and do the great things that still need to be done, the things we can now afford to do in these unprecedented times of prosperity, the things which if we did them would make us all stronger.
That awareness, that hope, that spirit lives in the hearts of millions and millions of Americans.
In this campaign, we don't ask where the wind is blowing and then follow it to gain the people's quick approval.
We begin with conviction; talk with people, listen to their stories, and then propose what we think will make a difference in their lives.
Despite our lack of victory tonight, there's so much that every one of you who became a part of our campaign has to be proud of. We've shaped the national debate in this campaign. We've brought core Democratic issues to the floor. When no one was talking about the 44 million Americans without health insurance, we...
KING: There's the statement by Bill Bradley. He's going to make a decision in the next couple of days about whether he stays in the race or not after consulting with people around the country. It was Bill Bennett that was talking. What did you make, Bill, of that statement by the senator?
BENNETT: Well, I think it's -- he's pretty much ready to -- to throw it in.
It's interesting, I mean, Al Gore subsumed -- put his arms around Bill Bradley and subsumed him -- and I presume he hopes his voters and supporters. Different situation in the Republican Party -- this thing could go on for a while, and John McCain, as always, is unpredictable.
A certain nobility, I think, to the -- to the Bradley campaign and appearance, but at the same time a certain futility. You know, questions about what was this all about anyway.
And interesting, interesting experience for him, I'm sure. KING: Dee Dee...
KING: I'm sorry, go ahead, Bob.
WOODWARD: No, I was just going to say about Bradley, in January, I went out in Iowa with Bradley for a couple of days and watched him campaign and talked to him. And one of the things -- he's such an inner person. He won't tell people what books influenced him, who was giving him advice. He felt this all had to come from the inside.
And at one point, when I was talking to him, he said, "People should never be able to have you," meaning in the sense of understand you fully. And so he was kind of locked away from voters. And it's almost as if he thought he was playing basketball, that somehow if people could have him, if they knew he was going to move left and shoot right, they'd be able to block the shot.
KING: He was in a zone, and he wants to stay in that zone.
Dee Dee, do you regard this as a victory for new politics? He said it's a victory for new politics?
MYERS: Right. No, I'm not sure that the Bradley message was victorious tonight or in this campaign.
KING: In fact, Gore/Bush would not be new politics, that race would it?
MYERS: No, they're both, as has been pointed out tonight already, they are both products of the establishment of their parties. And we're going to have a sort of an establishment campaign.
I think what was heartening to Democrats was to hear not only Gore reaching out to Bradley, but Bradley making it easy for his supporters to support president -- Vice President Gore, hopefully President Gore, in my opinion. But which -- and we don't know if that's going to happen on the Republican side. I mean the vitriol kind of went out of the Democratic race several weeks ago, which makes it easier at this point for everybody to come back together.
But I think Bob Woodward had a very interesting point that Bradley does live inside of himself quite a bit. And I think that translated to people as if was were something that -- running for president was something he could do alone. It's not something that anybody can do alone. I'm not sure that was the message Bradley was trying to communicate, but I think voters felt alienated and distanced from his campaign. And it was one of the reasons he had trouble getting traction.
KING: Senator Mitchell, were both of these fellows, McCain and Bradley, kind of unique in the Senate?
MITCHELL: Well, of course. Members of...
KING: I mean, were they their own people?
MITCHELL: Yes, they were. Members of the Senate like to think each of them is unique, but I think that's true.
I'll just make the point about Senator McCain. He ran a very effective campaign, obviously still running and he may well be in it for some time to come. But I don't share the view of those who think that he will be disrupted if he doesn't get the nomination.
He's a very independent person, which people like, but he's also, I believe, a loyal and committed Republican. And I think he will help Governor Bush in the campaign if he can do so once it's over.
I personally think that his candidacy, if he got the Republican nomination, would have been at least potentially more difficult because much less predictable. I think if he gets the nomination, the past voting that I cited earlier really wouldn't be relevant.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
BENNETT: ... is a soldier. He's a noble warrior. When he was hanging around in that -- in that prison camp in North Vietnam, he had opportunities to leave. He stayed. It wasn't for himself that he stayed; it was for others. So this is a deeply ingrained habit. I think -- I think we'll see that.
Yes, you'll see him move to the center. Now, I think Governor Bush was hoping to move to the center earlier, but you know, a little trouble along the way. Al Gore will move to the center as well.
But the -- the -- there's a more difficult problem in the Republican Party, because, you know, John McCain has gone after George Bush and has hurt him and has tagged him with -- with a -- with a label that the Democrats will certainly want to use. They will want to argue that this a candidate of the far right and so on. Bush, on the other hand, has tagged McCain.
Remember the presumptions, this is this business about when you ask us all, you know, what's going to happen? A lot of people presume George Bush was going to walk to the nomination without any trouble at all -- you know, that he was the establishment candidate -- and that the big trouble would be Bradley for Gore. Bradley might even get it, a lot of pundits said. Well, look where we are tonight. So it's interesting.
Sure, they'll go to the center. But Bush's dance, Bush's actions early on will, I think, be more telling. He has got to be lot more muscular than he has been, tougher, I have been saying throughout.
We have two candidates, McCain and Bush. One of them refuses to make friends. The other refuses to make enemies. And George Bush is going to have to make some enemies inside the party. He's going to have to take somebody on. KING: We'll be right back with more of Bennett, Mitchell, Woodward and Myers -- sounds like a law firm. This is LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be with you through the night, our team of Jeff and Judy and Bernie, and the whole crew. Everywhere they are, we are, at CNN.
Don't go away.
KING: Dee Dee Myers, is there any chance that either or both of these runner-ups, if McCain were to lose, would be on the ticket?
MYERS: I think, sure, I think both of them will be considered for the ticket. I think a month ago, Bradley looked liked a less likely presidential nominee than he does tonight, where there seems to be goodwill between Bradley and Gore. I think McCain is a little trickier. He's not very popular with the establishment, and you know, the last thing you really want is a really independent vice president, even during the campaign. You want somebody who agrees with you, who will run on your agenda, who will support you, and I think there's lot of people...
KING: It certainly would unify the party, from a Bush standpoint?
MYERS: Well, except the Bush people might argue that McCain didn't get that many Republican votes. Now, we have them in the middle, but I don't know how much vice presidents help with getting votes. What you want is somebody who supports you and isn't going to make a lot of mistakes.
KING: If McCain falls tonight or falls in the next couple of weeks, that'll be the only topic of discussion, Bob Woodward, who's going to be the vice presidential nominee. We'll know the Republican before the Democrat. They meet first in Philadelphia. Do you think either of these might be on the ticket?
WOODWARD: I think anything is possible. The interesting thing about Bush and McCain is if they could mend the personal animus and somehow find a way to make peace with each other, because obviously, it's been an angry last six weeks. Ten days ago, I asked McCain this question about whether he would accept the vice presidential spot for Bush, and he said, no, no, no, no. But five years ago, McCain was saying he would never run for president, so things change. And there is always the possibility that Bush could go to McCain and say, look, take the number two spot. If we win -- and say this publicly, you will be the secretary of defense, for example, or the secretary of state, then Bush could bring all of those people in or back.
KING: Yes. Lyndon Johnson, Senator Mitchell, ran with Kennedy. Who'd have thought that?
MITCHELL: Well, time heals all wounds, and in politics, not much time. The fact is that both will be prospective candidates. Both should be. They have both been out there. They're well known in the public and well liked, at least in some quarters, but I think that both Bush and Gore will wait as long as they can and assess the situation as close to the convention as possible to see whether there are any potential weaknesses.
Frankly, California will decide this election. It's the point I started with at the beginning. I don't think either of them can win the presidency without carrying California. And so I think they will test to see how they're doing there and who might help them there.
KING: Bill, if McCain wins New York tonight -- and that's still open; we have no call on that -- and he wins the beauty contest in California, and therefore, stays alive and keeps plugging, does he have an outside shot? I mean, we have been eliminating him so far. Does he have a chance?
BENNETT: You wanted us to eliminate people at the top of the hour. We've been resisting you, Larry, mightily, doing our best, I think.
KING: Swayed by the media.
BENNETT: I understand. Well, I understand. You have earphones on all sides. We understand that. I think sure, look, one of the things that's clear about McCain and one of the reasons why there's magic in his crowds and so much magnetism, is he's enjoying this. He likes the campaign. The stuff he got in trouble on a week ago, you know where he hit Robertson and Falwell, and came back, and this business about driving evil from the party was a very bad note, and it hurt him, but otherwise, he's run a buoyant and exuberant campaign.
So I suspect if they think there's any glimmer of hope, they'll stay in it. Now remember, how many surprises we have seen in this thing. We had New Hampshire. You were asking that night, is thing over, and has McCain won in it? Then South Carolina, then Michigan, so yes, there's life.
So yes, there's life. But I would echo what Bob said, it's interesting what Senator Mitchell said about their taking as long a period of time as possible to vet candidates. I think there would be great advantages for Bush to talk to McCain, again, because the thing that all of us have noticed in our party, Larry, is that what John McCain did was get people out and into our primaries who had never been there before. Despite the negativity in a lot of this campaign, there were record numbers of people voting in Republican primaries. And you know, this is a matter of addition, so I think it's worth thinking about.
KING: We'll take a break and come back with more.
This is LARRY KING LIVE. And don't forget, our round-the-clock coverage continues at the top of the hour with our group in Atlanta and all over the United States.
Don't go away.
KING: Bob Woodward, chances of a female on the ticket?
WOODWARD: Of course, again, anything is possible.
KING: Good chances, would you say?
KING: Good chance?
WOODWARD: Well, I think Senator Mitchell made a very good point, that there is going to be an argument in the camps of the winners to say, let's take as much time as possible to pick who's going to be the running mate, and it will depend on issues. I kind of think that the questions of foreign policy and defense policy probably in the next months, or certainly before the November election, are going to be a very big deal. There's -- you know, something always comes up, and people are going to say, do these candidates really know that business? And if you compare Gore and Bush just in terms of experience, it's something Bush has got to -- don't shore up his flank on.
KING: Bill Bennett, don't you expect if its Bush or McCain, either one, they're going to bring Colin Powell into this campaign?
BENNETT: Yes, we were just talking off camera about supposing that you were to follow Bob Woodward's scenario and you have Bush and McCain then you add Powell to the mix, that's a pretty interesting mix. The other thing I would say is they might want of the one of them consider becoming a catholic in the next couple of months.
BENNETT: Although instant conversions -- we don't do that in our faith.
But I have to disagree with George Mitchell on one thing, and that is California. It's huge, and it's 15 percent, but the country has changed. I know about the history. But you know, There are a lot of electoral votes in places other than California. It's 15 percent. Nobody wants to lose it. Texas is a huge state. It's important. No one would concede it. But I think we will see the time when someone will lose California and still win the general election.
KING: Dee Dee, do you think that'll happen -- hold on one second -- Dee Dee, someday you'll win California, but lose?
MYERS: Sure. I think it's more important for Democrats to win California than Republicans.
KING: We'll pick up with the comments of Senator Mitchell. We'll take a break now and come back, and then we'll have all of our remaining moments of this edition of LARRY KING LIVE on this election night, primary night, right after these words.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE, and before we get some final words from our members of our panel, let's go to Nashville, Tennessee and Vice President Al Gore.
I said earlier this may be your happiest night other than '92 and '96, correct?
GORE: It's a good night, Larry. I'm very grateful to all the people who helped produce these victories. I'm very excited about moving forward to the fall campaign and talking about how we can keep our prosperity going, make sure no one's left behind, how we can bring revolutionary improvements to our schools and expand health care to all children, give our seniors a prescription drug benefit and clean up the environment in ways that promote the creation of more good jobs.
KING: Do you have any bitter -- I know you were very gracious tonight about Senator Bradley. Any bitterness? He was pretty rough.
GORE: I don't hold any. And I received a very gracious phone call from him tonight. He and I have been friends and colleagues, and as I said this evening, I think that he brought a tremendous passion to this campaign for ending the racial divisions and other things as well.
KING: Do you expect -- he said he's going to check with his advisers and the like. Frankly, do you expect him to leave the race?
GORE: Oh, I'm not -- that's not for me to say something like that. I -- he will consult with his advisers, as he said that he would. And then I'm going to let him speak for himself.
KING: Anything surprise you tonight, Mr. Vice President?
GORE: Well, I think the scope of the -- of the wins was certainly gratifying. I'm very, very grateful. I mean, I could go down the list of states and recall so many friends in each place, folks who are celebrating tonight who helped me in this cause.
But now I'm concentrating on reaching out to ask others to join us: Republicans; independents; those Democrats and independents who supported Senator Bradley; those who are looking for campaign finance reform; those who want to keep the prosperity going rather than going back to an old, discredited policy with a risky tax scheme that put us into recessions in the past and could threaten our prosperity in the future; those who want to lift up our public schools instead of draining money away in the form of private school vouchers; those who want to protect a woman's right to choose; those who want child safety trigger locks; those who want to protect the environment; those who want a Supreme Court majority that interprets our Constitution according to the deepest values of America.
I ask all, regardless of party, to join because our campaign is your cause.
KING: A couple of quick things: What, in your opinion, turned this around? We all knew there was some problems some months ago. You switched campaign headquarters. You challenged the challenger to debates every night. You call yourself the underdog. If that'd be true, you...
GORE: Twice a week.
KING: ... were the underdog. What -- what...
What turned it around?
GORE: Well, I think the competition from Senator Bradley was a blessing in disguise in helping me dig deep and find a much better way to communicate directly with the American people from my heart. I have made a shift in my own priorities in deciding that it's more important to be a presidential candidate connecting with the American people than to be the best vice president you can possibly be to the nth degree.
I stopped speaking first and foremost for the administration and the Clinton-Gore agenda, and began to give my own spontaneous reactions from the heart to whatever question or challenge arises.
And I think that that made it possible for me to see the need to move the campaign here to Nashville and have open meetings and start focusing on listening very carefully to what the American people are saying about our country and our future. And they've taught me a great deal these last several months, and I'm grateful to the American people.
KING: Thank you for the time. We'll be seeing a lot of you. Congratulations.
GORE: Thank you, Larry. Look forward to it, thank you.
KING: Now, let's get some final comments from our panel. Mr. Bennett, are we looking forward to a very interesting month? Do things quiet down now if it is Bush-Gore? Do we wait now until -- is there campaigning in July?
BENNETT: Oh, well, before July, there'll be a lot of work. I mean, some of the things we talked about tonight, which is trying to get people to mend fences and work together. We also have other primaries. There's a lot of work to do. There's a lot of development of the issues to do.
So no, it won't be quiet. It'll be quieter probably than the last couple of weeks, but again, Larry, we still don't -- this evening is not over. We still don't know what we've got on our hands.
KING: Senator Mitchell, is there anything we can do about how long our campaigns run? MITCHELL: No, I don't think so, Larry.
KING: It seems endless already and we ain't even near November.
MITCHELL: I think they'll be campaigning full blast pretty much between now and November, and in eight months, anything can happen. It's a long, long time in politics.
But I just want to say to Bill Bennett before concluding, it is possible, of course, that Governor Bush can lose California and New York and be elected president. But if he does, he'll be the first Republican in history to do it.
MITCHELL: And I will buy Bill Bennett the most expensive steak dinner in Washington, and Larry, you can come along too.
KING: Ah-ha. Bill, make a note, Bill!
BENNETT: I made -- this is yes. Right before Lent he offers me this. OK, that's...
KING: Mr. Woodward, what can we expect in the months ahead, assuming Bush get the nomination? We don't want to assume he is ahead in New York but we're not calling it.
WOODWARD: First thing we can expect is if Senator Mitchell has to pay off, he doesn't realize how much Bill Bennett eats at one siting.
BENNETT: Thanks, Bob.
MITCHELL: And it may bankrupt the senator, though. I mean, who...
BENNETT: Journalism at its best here. This is what I love.
WOODWARD: I think one of the interesting things is that if Bush turns out to be the nominee and now it looks like Gore is the nominee of the Democrats, they ran very, very tough primary races. And if you look at it, they most often succeeded when they got toughest. So if we look down to the road, it may be a very tough campaign, if not a very dirty campaign.
KING: All right, Dee Dee, we have less than a minute. Do you agree with everything that Bob said? Tough, dirty, rough.
MYERS: Yes, I think it's going to be a difficult campaign. I think both candidates are going to move back to the center, but I think Al Gore has a good head start. If you listen to what he was saying tonight, he was talking about the accomplishments of the Clinton-Gore administration, which included welfare reform, you know, reinvigorating the economy, reducing crime and putting more cops on the street.
KING: They shouldn't underestimate each other, though, right?
MYERS: They shouldn't underestimate each other, particularly -- I think that's been particularly true of Al Gore. I mean, people were coronating George W. Bush before he had run a pretty tough primary, and we'll see what happens from here on out.
KING: We thank Dee Dee...
KING: We thank Dee Dee Myers, Bob Woodward. Great having Senator George Mitchell with us talking politics again. Always great to see him. And of course, William Bennett, the co-director of Empower America, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post.
We are now going to go back to Atlanta where our crew stands by. They'll keep you up to date as all the polls close ahead in California and Idaho and other places, and more on New York.
I'm Larry King. We go to Atlanta right now.
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