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Larry King Live
Republican National Convention: Powell, McCain, Nicholson Discuss Day OneAired August 1, 2000 - 0:00 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, day one of the GOP convention in Philadelphia is finished. How did everybody do? We'll hear from retired general Colin Powell, one of the night's featured speakers. The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Jim Nicholson, joins us, along with California delegate Gerald Parsky, chairman of the Bush campaign in the Golden State, and GOP Congressman John Sweeney, a member of the New York delegation.
And then our Journalists' Round Table with Tucker Carlson of "The Weekly Standard" and "Talk" magazine, Walter Isaacson, managing editor of "Time" magazine, and CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield. They're all next on this special second edition of LARRY KING LIVE at the 37th National Republican Convention.
Good evening. We will be with you twice each night at 9 and midnight Eastern time. Colin Powell will be joining us in a little while, and then we'll have our panel of journalists.
We're going to spend our first moments, however, with Jim Nicholson, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and California delegate Gerald Parsky from California and New York delegate John Sweeney, who's also a congressman from the great state of New York.
Were you happy with tonight? You're going to say no. You were happy.
JIM NICHOLSON, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I was thrilled with tonight.
KING: How did you get everything on time?
NICHOLSON: Well, you know, you manage it, and you plan for it.
KING: As a show.
NICHOLSON: And it worked beautifully. The timing is a show, Larry, but not the speeches. I mean, those people were up there speaking from the heart. And I thought Mrs. Bush was inspiring, and General Powell was just phenomenal.
Their messages were so strong, talking about what we need to do for children in this country, to give them a break and give them a chance with a good education.
KING: Was this a new kind of Republican convention, Gerald?
GERALD PARSKY (R), CALIFORNIA DELEGATE: It was brand new, I thought. And for Californians, it's particularly important.
PARSKY: Governor Bush has demonstrated from the beginning that he's going to bring a new look to California. And it's really important, because our party in California has suffered some defeats in the past. But he -- his message is ringing, and his appointment of Secretary Cheney has been fabulous.
And I agree with what Jim said. Tonight was -- were messages from the heart. You could see with Laura Bush that -- the feeling about the family, and the spirit was fabulous. And in the California delegation, you could really feel it. And to have someone like General Powell talk about Dick Cheney the way he did, people felt that. And his emphasis on education is the number one issue in California. So to Californians, it should really ring.
KING: Different party, John?
REP. JOHN SWEENEY (R), NEW YORK DELEGATE: Well, I've been to three conventions. This was one, and I think Governor -- this reflects Governor Bush's personality pretty substantially. He understands that we need to connect to the American people. That's why we're rolling out ordinary folks with real stories.
One of the earlier programs today was the -- one American dream, many American dreamers, and I think that's what we saw tonight on the stage. And the specific commitment to education and to our children and to not leaving anybody behind, and letting folks know that the Republican Party understands that we need to move forward with a variety of agendas, whether it's Governor Bush's commitment to put $5 billion into Head Start, to work on literacy issues, we're going to make a serious commitment with real and substantive responses, so that we help those that in the past have not gotten the help from just big government.
KING: You're the two biggest states, and right now, Mr. Gore is ahead, I think, in both in the polls, right?
NICHOLSON: Marginally so.
PARSKY: In California, we think we're even right now, which has been a major gain.
PARSKY: Dead even in California, which is a major gain.
SWEENEY: Our last polls are showing us closing within 5, I think. Governor Bush is coming strong. I think New Yorkers are understanding, he understands them, he's run a big state before. And his education policies, in fact, in Texas could sorely be needed in New York. And we think he really provides us an opportunity to sell hope.
KING: You think you can win both California and New York?
NICHOLSON: I think we can, yes. I think New York is uphill, but I think we can compete there. Rick Lazio is beating Hillary Clinton pretty soundly in New York now, which indicates that New Yorkers are going to vote for a Republican for the Senate, and I think that -- I think we could win New York.
KING: Lazio will win more votes...
NICHOLSON: Got a Republican governor in New York...
KING: ... than Bush?
NICHOLSON: Well, if the election was today, probably would, but it isn't today, it's 99 days from today. And a lot can happen. And I think that this Cheney choice is playing very well. We're seeing what we call the Cheney bounce in some of the national polls, including one from this network right here, last Thursday showed them up 14 points. The next day, Friday, showed them up 16 points in this race.
KING: But you don't want to rest on those kind of laurels, because we remember back to '88, when a gentleman from Massachusetts was 19 points ahead of a sitting vice president.
PARSKY: But if you look back to '88, former president of the United States won California. So as far as California's concerned, we really -- we think -- we don't like polls too much...
PARSKY: ... unless, of course, we're ahead. But no, I -- we think -- tonight's message was really important, because you could see in the way in which Governor Bush referenced his wife, that was really from the heart, and the way she talked about her background, that was really very important to us.
SWEENEY: There's a human side to this, and I think Gerry's pointing it out, and I think it's going to transcend anything we've done at any of these conventions.
Let me also point out in New York, that if Clinton fatigue is felt anywhere, it's certainly felt in New York, where Hillary Clinton is reminding New Yorkers every day that they want to end this.
KING: We'll be back with some more moments with our guests, and then meet General Colin Powell, and then our panel of journalists. Don't go away.
KING: A nearly just about empty Comcast Center in Philadelphia. The first night is over.
We're talking with Jim Nicholson, the chairman of the party, California delegate Gerald Parsky, and Congressman John Sweeney is a delegate with the New York group.
And we're going to make a little news now, because Gerald's going to tell us about what's going to happen in California next week.
PARSKY: Well, next week, traditionally the president or the nominee for a party will go to the Midwest. He may do that, but he's coming to California as well. So Governor Bush has said from the very beginning that he's committed to winning in California. Next week will be a stop for him. And he's going to campaign with Senator McCain in California.
KING: So McCain and Bush go to California a week before the Democrats open, right?
KING: Many cities in California?
PARSKY: As many as we can work in, as many as we can work in. It's real important to kind of get a cross-section of the people understanding that we're a party united and that although our primary was strongly contested, Senator McCain and Governor Bush are together.
KING: And when do you get him in New York?
SWEENEY: Well, I had a conversation with Don Evans tonight, and we're working on that. There are a couple of them that they're looking at. That's a timing question as well, but we're pretty confident he's going to come, and we're pretty confident we can deliver.
KING: What role do you have, Jim, in the election campaign? Are you part of the planning with the Bush group?
NICHOLSON: Yes, we work very closely with him, every day we coordinate with him, on campaign planning, finance support, advertising, strategy, tactics.
KING: Well, your job is to elect Republicans in every stratosphere, right?
NICHOLSON: As I say, from the precinct to the presidency, from the courthouse to the White House.
KING: Can you keep the House?
NICHOLSON: We can keep the House. We can add to the House, and we can keep the Senate. If we do that, win the White House, it'll be the first time we've done that since 1952, when Eisenhower did that in '52.
KING: And he got a -- he got nominated right here in Philadelphia, didn't he? Eisenhower in '52?
NICHOLSON: Yes, yes.
KING: This was -- the convention was here. I know I'm not -- you weren't born, Jim, but...
NICHOLSON: Thank you.
KING: ... I listened to it on the radio, it was here.
NICHOLSON: You know, the first convention we ever had as a party was right here in Philadelphia, in 1856.
NICHOLSON: Well, Lincoln was in 1860. In 1856, it was Freemont. He didn't win that year, but the party came together that year, and they came together because of their strong beliefs in freedom and liberty and equality. And now we're back in Philadelphia, 144 years later, and we feel just as strongly about that.
KING: I know you're involved in finance. Are we ever going to see finance reform from either of these parties, true financial reform?
PARSKY: Well, I think you'll see finance reform when both parties can advocate true reform.
KING: And when will that be?
PARSKY: Well, I think Bush...
KING: Both say they do, but we never see it.
PARSKY: Well, I think if you have a president that is not partisan in nature, a president that can work with Democrats (inaudible) Republicans as Governor Bush has in Texas, maybe we'll get a lot of reforms, including finance reform.
KING: And you favor that.
KING: Do you, Congressman Sweeney?
SWEENEY: Well, I do, and I think it's a question of how you get -- how you bake the pie, and I think that the big deal here is that we Republicans have said for a long time it has to be equitable, fair, and across the board. We haven't seen it because, as Gerald points out, we got a president who just wants to posture and really politicize that issue.
I think you'll see that when you get a president in there like George W. Bush, who knows how to work with a legislative body. Bill Clinton hasn't had that history, incidentally, as I don't think Al Gore has either. KING: Even though Senator McCain still considers himself apart from George Bush in that area. He's in favor of more finance reform than you are, right?
NICHOLSON: Well, yes, he is, yes.
KING: Safe to say.
NICHOLSON: He is, although we're in favor of some. We think that we ought to report all contributions every day. We have the technology to do it. And we think all contributions ought to be voluntary, and all contributions ought to be from U.S. citizens only. If we could get those things, we'd make a lot of progress.
KING: So you want unions to be able to say whether (inaudible)...
NICHOLSON: Right, unions...
KING: ... should stockholders also be able to say whether their corporation supports?
NICHOLSON: Well, I don't think it's the same, because...
KING: Why not?
NICHOLSON: ... because a stockholder can sell his stock if he doesn't like (inaudible)...
KING: Yes, but if I -- if I'm a stockholder...
NICHOLSON: ... guy can't quit his job.
KING: ... in Texaco today, and Texaco gives money to you tomorrow, I can't sell till Saturday, but you've given the money already that I put into your company. Shouldn't I be allowed to say?
NICHOLSON: Well, I think that it's very different. I think that you can sell the next day, because...
KING: The union guy could quit the union.
NICHOLSON: ... you don't like what management's doing. But a union worker would have to quit his job, and...
KING: You don't agree that a stockholder should have a say if a corporation supports a candidate?
PARSKY: I think that stockholder -- there should be certain stockholder rights.
KING: What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
PARSKY: Yes, but reform is -- takes on a whole different mantle. I think that individual freedoms need to be protected in this country. We've protected in a lot of ways. At the same time, reform should cut across party lines, and if the unions are going to be treated differently than others, then it's just not fair to the system.
KING: Do you think we're -- you think we're going to see it straighten out, though?
KING: With a Bush program?
SWEENEY: I think there's real opportunity to do that, and I think that we all recognize that the system as it perpetuates itself is just intolerable at this point.
KING: We're going to be seeing a lot of you, Jim. It's always great seeing you. Thank you, Gerald, great meeting you.
PARSKY: Nice to see you. Pleasure, nice to (inaudible).
KING: Thank you, congressman, see you in Saratoga and Delmar, two racing capitals represented here. It's a little nervous for the host.
We'll be back with more, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA BUSH, WIFE OF GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH: The president is our most visible symbol of our country, of its heart and its values and its leadership in the world. And when Americans vote this November, they'll be looking for someone to uphold that honor and that trust. You can see it in the pictures, the pictures are one of the most compelling stories of this campaign.
We first saw them on our very first campaign trip. They're the pictures of America's future, moms and dads and grandparents bringing them to parades and picnics. They hold out pictures of their children, and they say to George, I'm counting on you. I want my son or daughter to respect the president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back. General Powell will be with us in a couple of moments.
Senator John McCain, who challenged George W. Bush for the GOP nomination, speaks to this convention Tuesday night. I talked with him earlier this evening on our 9:00 p.m. show, and I asked whether he was disappointed when he was booed yesterday during an appearance at the shadow convention here in Philly.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R), ARIZONA: No, it was a lot of fun. You got to go into the enemy camp and have fun. And look, there was a lot of people that agreed with me.
You know, one of the things that was missing in the story, when I said I supported Governor Bush, there was a lot of people that applauded, there was a lot of people that didn't. That made it a lot of fun. And, look, we got to get those independent voters. We got to go out in their territory.
And basically, that's why I think Governor Bush is doing so well, is that he's going out and playing on the enemy's turf, and I think he's doing a good job at it.
KING: Were you surprised at some hostility at all, or did you expect it?
McCAIN: Oh, I (inaudible) -- it was an eclectic group.
KING: To say the least.
McCAIN: So I sure expected it. But look, it's not the first time I've been heckled, nor the last, I hope, because I enjoy that.
KING: Is it tough for you, senator, to emotionally -- emotionally, now, to support Governor Bush? Because, as we all know -- I sat between you in South Carolina -- there was a lot of hostility there. Is it hard for you?
McCAIN: No, Larry. Look, that's behind me, that's over, that's behind us. Americans don't like sore losers, and I'm not going to be one. We fought the good fight, and I'm proud of it. Governor Bush won. I've said all along I would support the nominee of the party. Our relationship is cordial. I'm looking forward to campaigning with him after the convention is over. And I'm going to do everything I can to elect him.
KING: Anything about the platform disappoint you?
McCAIN: I think the -- you know, in the interests of straight talk, the platform becomes less and less relevant. Somebody said a long time ago, it's what candidates stand on during the convention and run away from during the campaign.
So I wasn't too concerned about it. Obviously I'll continue my advocacy for reform and also campaign finance reform. But that battle's not going to be won in what's written in a platform, it's going to be won in the court of American public opinion.
KING: Do you think you'll ever see your goal attained? Do you think you'll ever see campaign finance reform in this country as you see it?
McCAIN: The problem has become so pervasive and the evil is so pernicious and so penetrating in American political life, I know we will have campaign finance reform. We have majorities in both houses. Look, there was just a fund raiser held where you could buy a ticket for $500,000. Don't tell me that people buy a ticket to a political fund raiser for $500,000 because they want good government. "The Washington Post" not too long ago said, "The office holders in Washington aren't for sale, but the offices are." They got it right.
KING: And when you're given a lot of money, frankly, you have to take the call, don't you?
McCAIN: Absolutely. And there's -- the United States Supreme Court a few months ago declared, and I think I quote accurately, "Too much money in American politics corrupts the process and alienates the voter." And we had the lowest voter turnout in history in 1998. I hope and pray we will -- do not have that same occurrence in the -- this November, but I'm afraid we will, because young people, particularly, feel they're disconnected from the process because of the influence of special interests. And guess what? They are.
KING: Were you ever interested in those stories that you were in -- you got suddenly interested in the vice presidency? Was that ever true?
McCAIN: No, Larry, it wasn't. And I appreciate the enthusiasm of some of my supporters and party elders who wanted to contact me. But when I asked Governor Bush not to consider me at our meeting in Pittsburgh, he honored that request. I was never in the process, and I'm very pleased and proud that an old friend of mine, Dick Cheney, is the running mate.
KING: Were you -- when the Cheney record came out, were you surprised at some of those votes?
McCAIN: Not really. Because when you have -- when you cast thousands of votes, as Dick had, and the circumstances sometimes were under, quote, "suspension," where we couldn't amend, look, I know of no Democrat or Republican that views Dick Cheney, when he was a member of Congress, as some kind of right-winger. He was widely respected. He was a leader of our Republicans in the House. And, of course, people will judge them on a resume.
You know, I had my voting record selectively described in the campaign, so I know what it's like. I think that there -- every person, no matter how partisan they were on both sides of the aisle, view Dick Cheney as an outstanding congressman.
KING: And in a nutshell, can you tell us what your topic is tomorrow night?
McCAIN: Well, basically three. One is, we have to reform the institutions of government, and that includes campaign finance reform. But we also have to do everything we can not to be complacent and sit on this lead here and elect Governor Bush and Dick Cheney. And third, I'm going to talk about the greatness of America, and what I learned about how ennobling it is and what this great opportunity to bring peace, freedom, and democracy to the world.
KING: And now we're back. That was earlier tonight with Senator McCain.
And here he is, the man of the hour, General Colin Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, chairman of America's Promise, the alliance for youth.
Did -- were you happy with this platform?
GEN. COLIN POWELL (RET.), FORMER JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: The party platform?
KING: No, no, the platform leading to the building.
POWELL: I didn't read it.
KING: You haven't read the party platform?
POWELL: No. Why would I read the party platform?
KING: Well, because your standard-bearer's running on it, right? Or they don't run on it?
POWELL: Well, it seems to have less and less relevance to the positions. I mean, the standard-bearer has been running on positions of his own. He's had a very aggressive, active agenda out there in education, on health, on so many other issues. And that's really what I've been watching, more so than the party platform.
KING: You were very strong in the affirmative action area tonight and criticized...
POWELL: I was firm -- I was strong on the inclusion part, and I use the affirmative action part as a training aid...
KING: And criticized...
POWELL: ... as we say in the military.
KING: And criticized the affirmative action given to wealthy companies that can buy their way in.
KING: That was greeted warmly by this crowd, which has denied affirmative action in its platform. Were you surprised?
POWELL: I didn't know what reaction I was going to get. I was anticipating everything from stunned silence to boos to, Get him out of here! or, Don't invite him to any of the parties!
But instead, I got a warm response. And I think the reason I got that warm response is that it's undeniable, it's undeniable that we give preferences to those who are able to find the right way into the tax code, or into some other part of government.
And so what I Washington saying is, you need to be a little careful when you see nothing wrong with that kind of preference or affirmative action, and it's fine, whether it's sugar growers in Florida or somewhere else in the tax code, but suddenly a preference system, as you call it, an affirmative action program, as I prefer to call it, that allows a few thousand kids to get an education, but this somehow is so damaging to our constitutional process that it has to become a major factor for our party and a major reason for the party to attack.
If you're going to get excited about that kind of affirmative action, and not get excited about the other kind of affirmative action -- and what I was saying to the party, also got to get excited about things like racial profiling, where they know it exists, you got to get excited about redlining and green-lining, when we're in -- getting mortgages or access to loans for minority people.
POWELL: I want to see the same kind of passions, the same kind of attacks against those sorts of problems. But we tend not to see those kinds of attacks. It's on affirmative action. It's time to get rid of the old, dead Southern strategy of 25 years ago.
KING: Not a level playing field.
POWELL: It is not a level playing field. Anybody who thinks so, then tell me why 52 percent of all the men who are in jail are black. Is it because they were born criminals? No, they became criminals, and they conducted -- they made -- they performed crimes that required incarceration.
KING: Someone asked me today, and I didn't know the answer, and we're friends for a long time, why is General Colin Powell a Republican?
POWELL: I'm a Republican for the reasons I gave in my speech in 1996. I think the Republican Party has a better set of policies and a better philosophy with respect to the free enterprise system in getting government out of the way of the energy and the dynamism of the free enterprise system.
I'm Republican Party because I think Republicans have done a better job in protecting this nation, in using our armed forces wisely and conducting our foreign policy. I think we've done a better job.
I'm Republican Party because I think that within the party, this wealth creation foundation upon which the Republican Party is based, we can reach out and show all Americans how to get into that wealth- creating system through education.
There are other aspects of the Republican Party that people, you know, push at me, which I am not supportive of. I remain a firm believer in the right of a woman to choose how her body will be used, so I'm pro-choice, and that sometimes rankles people in my party.
KING: But on balance...
POWELL: But I want it to be a bigger party. On balance, as I thought about it and as I looked at my experiences in my adult life of the people I've worked with as a national security adviser and chairman, I found that I would be more comfortable in the Republican Party, and it better suited my personal philosophy.
KING: We'll have a couple more quick questions for Colin Powell after this quick time out, and then we'll meet our panel. Don't go away.
KING: He's proud, because we named our youngest son Cannon after him, the cannon man from the Army.
KING: Miss the service?
POWELL: Not really. It was a wonderful part of my life. I was in the Army for 35 years. I loved every day. But that's over, so I wanted to close that door and move on. The only time I miss it is when I see some young GIs in uniform at an airport somewhere, and I kind of feel they're my...
KING: You loved commanding men, didn't you?
POWELL: I loved commanding, I didn't get enough of it. I spent a lot of time in staff positions and in Washington. But the needs of the troops were never far from my thoughts.
KING: And not West Point, CCNY.
POWELL: No, CCNY. Public school system.
KING: Who knew? Who knew?
POWELL: Larry, let's not break into our Catskill thing here...
KING: OK, we do a Catskill...
POWELL: ... we got to be serious here tonight.
KING: ... (inaudible).
Couple of other things. What are you going to do during the campaign?
POWELL: Well, I don't know, I expect I'll have an opportunity to speak for Governor Bush and Mr. Cheney from time to time, but I don't plan to be (inaudible)...
KING: Not on the hustings every day.
POWELL: No, (inaudible).
KING: OK. Everyone is mentioning that you're going to be in the cabinet. John McCain said he would have announced it now, Governor Bush told me that he would certainly consider -- would you consider the cabinet?
POWELL: Sure, of course. I would consider a cabinet position or any position in government that a president wished to offer me. But I have had no conversations with Governor Bush about this yet.
KING: None at all.
POWELL: None, or his staff. In due course, I'm sure there will be a conversation, and if I can serve him, I'd certainly consider it. But I'm not trolling for a job, looking for a job, and not being presumptive about a job coming my way. In due course, that will be a conversation we'll have.
KING: And if it does come, you have to take the cut in pay again. Could you handle that?
POWELL: Oh, that hurts.
KING: Now that you've tasted the fruits of your labors?
POWELL: Sure. I could handle that.
KING: Yes? And do you want -- do you look forward to diplomacy again? Let's say it is that.
POWELL: No, no, let's not say it's that.
POWELL: You're dragging me into the hypothetical. It could be hard, it could be GSA, who knows? Could be nothing. Could be just, Come and see me from time to time.
KING: All right. Would HUD interest you?
POWELL: No, no.
KING: No, HUD is not your ball game.
POWELL: No, we're not job picking tonight. We're -- in due course, I'm sure the governor and I will have a conversation.
KING: And finally, why do you like this governor, who you can't know too well, so well? Why do you like him so much?
POWELL: I know him reasonably well. I met him through his family, and in the last year and a half, I've gotten to know him quite well. He was one of the first governors to sign up to my work with America's Promise, and he has been faithful in pushing that throughout the whole state of Texas.
I have watched him grow enormously over the last year and a half. I was looking at a tape the other day of an old interview he gave a year and a half ago, and the growth in this...
KING: Night and day. POWELL: Yes, night and day. And what I've seen is somebody who has grown into the challenge that he has taken. It's rather remarkable that he saw, that long ago, that he could do it. And I've been enormously impressed about how he has gathered advisers around him, how he has come out with an agenda that is understandable, that's straightforward.
He isn't reinventing himself every day, he is growing every day. And that has impressed me, and I think that he is impressing the American people. And that's why I think he's ahead right now. But it's still a long way between now and November.
KING: Thank you. Always great seeing you, Colin.
POWELL: Always good to be here, Larry.
KING: See you on the trail.
POWELL: See you on the trail.
KING: And we'll do the act...
POWELL: We got to do the act.
KING: ... next summer in the Catskills.
POWELL: We got to -- And I got an agent.
KING: Good, we'll work. You don't know how funny we are together, folks. You never see it, because we're so serious.
POWELL: Thanks, Larry.
KING: General Colin Powell. And when we come back, what a panel we've assembled, three of the best journalists in the business, Tucker Carlson, Jeff Greenfield, and Walter Isaacson. They'll take a look at all of this, and they'll analyze his speech, right after this.
KING: Three of the best journalists in the business join us now. Tucker Carlson is staff writer for "The Weekly Standard," contributor to "Talk" magazine, and a CNN political analyst. Walter Isaacson is the brilliant managing editor of "Time" magazine, wrote a book about Henry Kissinger, one of the best ever. And Jeff Greenfield, CNN's senior analyst, I think the best analyzer of things, if that's a correct word, on television.
How's this going, Walter? This one day?
WALTER ISAACSON, MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Oh, this one day was spectacular with Colin Powell. It couldn't have helped the Republican Party more. I mean, he hit it right out of the park. He moved the party to the center. He made people in America comfortable with the party.
The only thing that I think was discomforting is when you saw Governor Bush do the intro, feeling a little bit awkward, and then you saw Colin Powell. Colin Powell had great stature. And also, I mean, in my mind, he is sitting there talking to you about General Services Administration and HUD. I know it's just a joke. Why didn't Governor Bush sit down with him and somehow talk him into being the running mate?
TUCKER CARLSON, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Well, I mean, it's a problem if Powell doesn't accept. I mean, at this point, if, you know, Powell doesn't wind up in a Bush administration, assuming there is one, it's going to look like a terrible sort of rebuff to Bush.
I guess I was struck by -- there was a long piece in "The New York Times" about how the delegates to this convention tend to be more conservative than average people.
KING: Than the platform.
CARLSON: Yes, they're sort of scary right-wing troglodytes, was the implication. And yet, here Powell gets up and basically scolds the Republican Party, and is cheered for it. It was interesting.
KING: Yes. Is it -- do you think it's the power of him, or that they were saying, We agree with what you say?
CARLSON: I think it is. I mean, he was pretty rough. He said after to Judy Woodruff, you know, the party is, quote, "approaching the 15-yard line" on race. I mean, that's a rough thing to say.
KING: Jeff, what's your read?
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: A lot of what they did was probably effective. I was -- I thought Laura Bush's debut was in some ways more interesting than Colin Powell's, only because we've seen Colin Powell before. He spoke at the '96 convention. I thought this kind of shy, a little bit nervous, very authentic person talking about very down-to-earth things, kids, grandchildren -- I mean, it had everything but a -- what we call in the trade a (inaudible) super saying, I am not Hillary. But without any rancor, you know?
And... but -- but what I -- and I also thought General Powell's speech was a -- you know, was certainly inclusive, and yes, Bush -- but the -- but George Bush's appearance on these giant screens and on our screen leads you to think, I think, the first glimmer of, Watch it. And the Watch it...
KING: Why, that didn't work?
GREENFIELD: No, no. Well, it probably worked for tonight. But the Watch it is this. You know, there's a study that just came out that says if you feed your kids food that is too clean, if you're so busy, you try to get all the dirt off, the kids may get sick, because they have -- they need a little grit. And I think even in this day and age, when people tune in to conventions, they are expecting something approaching a political event.
I have been watching conventions since, I think, I was not yet born. I've never seen a convention where nobody was allowed to hold up a sign saying, like, I Don't Like Gore, you know, Dump Hillary, Go Home Democrats.
ISAACSON: And the fact that it's all on time, incredibly scripted -- I know you say this...
KING: Exactly on time, they didn't miss a beat tonight. They ended at 11.
ISAACSON: Well, you know, Jeff, every four years, kind of says, I remember '48 or '52 or whatever the days were, and it was messier. But it does, it gets neater and simpler each time. And you almost don't believe there's a campaign happening.
GREENFIELD: But that's my point. It doesn't have to be a divisive, eight-ballot nomination. But let's have some sense that this party doesn't like what the other party's doing.
CARLSON: Sure, shed some blood. I totally agree.
KING: There's no negativism.
CARLSON: Well, I don't know, politics is about, most of the time, what you're against. I'm, you know, for this, mostly because I'm afraid of the other side. And that's the way most people vote, that's what motivates people to vote. And there is something kind of disingenuous, phony, about pretending that, you know, I agree, I'm a member of this party because I'm so in love with its ideals. Most people don't feel that way.
KING: So (inaudible) conservatives...
ISAACSON: But you know, tonight...
KING: ... were disappointed?
CARLSON: Well, I mean, I like people, you know, smacking each other around and, you know, yelps of pain.
CARLSON: Oh, sure, I like that stuff, you know.
ISAACSON: Well, it -- tonight, the whole theme was, We're not all that different from the Democratic Party, we're really nice, we're not going to attack, there's not going to be...
KING: We're good too. ISAACSON: And I don't know that it really is going to energize the party in the long run not to stand for things as clearly as it used to. But as I said at the very beginning, you know, I think it's very helpful. I think a country having more of a comfort level, and Colin Powell can bring that, is important.
GREENFIELD: I don't disagree with the fact that they need to be saying things about what they're for, that they certainly need to move away from the kind of rhetoric of, you know, Phil Gramm in 1992 saying, "If Michael Dukakis were president, the Berlin Wall will be standing." (inaudible)...
KING: Buchanan in Houston.
GREENFIELD: Pat Buchanan, Marilyn Quayle, that whole kind of snarl. But, you know, there was a fellow -- I think his name was Reagan -- who could get up and give a speech in which he took the other party to task, but with a sense of gentleness, a little humor, a little bite, a little more in sorrow than in anger. And he still said, Folks, we're right and they're wrong. They're not evil, they're just wrong, and we're right, and here's why.
And this isn't nostalgia, honest to God. I don't expect to see walk-outs and, you know, fist-fights. Sorry.
CARLSON: But -- no, but Reagan was dismissed as a snarler, as an extremist, as a whacko.
GREENFIELD: No, I don't think anybody thought he was a snarler, Tucker. They thought he was an extremist or not bright enough, but nobody -- he had a human face. He was benign. Right after Buchanan spoke in '92, Reagan came out and gave one of the one -- the (inaudible) -- this wonderful, That fellow Clinton says he's Thomas Jefferson, well, I knew Thomas Jefferson. He knew how to do that. And John Kennedy knew how to do that.
And somehow the fact that they have taken out of this convention -- I mean, look, maybe they'll go 8 points in the polls, I don't know, and the polls don't mean anything. But there's got to be some sense in a campaign that you are engaging the other team. And what did you see tonight? Was it effective for one night? Yes. My point is, if they keep this up for three more nights, I think they got a problem.
KING: Now, Governor Bush told me that they will keep this up. You -- they may see a little bite or two, but he is not going to attack Gore, and neither is Dick Cheney. They're not going to attack, they're going to talk about what they're going to do.
CARLSON: That's -- and if there's one thing I think we're learning about Bush is that, you know, he means it when he says stuff like that. And they're going to enforce it. They are -- the Bush people apparently are mad, for instance, at John McCain for, you know, going on television on Monday, today, because today wasn't his day. You know, today's not your day, that's all. Message, you know, you're messing with the theme. I mean, this is -- it's very disappointing to people. ISAACSON: You're not going to say that in the Democratic convention. It's going to be a very attack-oriented convention, I predict.
KING: Attacking, even though they're the incumbent.
ISAACSON: No, attacking the Republicans and attacking Cheney's record and attacking conservativism. And, you know, people complain about negative campaigning, people say they hate attacks, but I tend to think it's pretty effective.
KING: Bob Dole was with us earlier, and as we go to break, we're going to ask these gentlemen about who the Democrats might pick for vice president. Here's what Bob Dole thought about Mr. Cheney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB DOLE, 1996 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to put a smile on the face of the Republican Party, and that's what the Bush- Cheney ticket will do, because people will look at us, if we're smiling, if we're scowling, they're going to turn around and run.
And I think -- a great opportunity, and it -- The thing about Cheney is that not only in the campaign, but he'll be a big, big asset when it comes to governing.
KING: He'll be a cog in that government?
DOLE: Oh, he'll be a big cog. I mean, he -- you know, my view is, he could be chief of staff and vice president, why not?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, former president, two former presidents, Gerald Ford and George Bush, tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, two editions again tomorrow, 9 and midnight.
When we asked Bob Dole what Democrat he feared the most, who would be the most impressive Democrat to be vice president, he answered immediately, Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska. What's your reaction?
GREENFIELD: My reaction is that I understand the thinking. He's -- first of all, he's a very impressive fellow, you know, won the Medal of Honor, small businessman, got elected governor and then senator, from a basically republican state, has reach very independent of Clinton, to the point where he once called him "an unusually gifted liar," endorsed Bill Bradley in the primary. And he gives them that.
Now, you know, there may be a John McCain problem that he's very much his own guy. He gets off message a lot. But it's an interesting -- I heard from Jack Kemp, he also thought Bob Kerrey was an interesting choice.
ISAACSON: And John McCain says that Bob Kerrey would be the best choice, (inaudible)...
KING: Getting a lot of (inaudible) votes.
ISAACSON: ... not sure that you can be taking advice from Republicans for the Democratic nominee and who they want. But yes, if you take Bob Kerrey, and you have two people who actually served in Vietnam running against two people who are big hulks but never served in Vietnam, you're going to get a, you know, (inaudible) say, you know, you get a big boost that way.
KING: How would -- Tucker, how would you react if Bob Kerrey were his selection?
CARLSON: Oh, it would be wonderful. I mean, he's an amusing...
KING: Wonderful for the country, you mean?
CARLSON: ... guy -- No, be more important, he'd be wonderful for the press. You know, he's an amusing guy...
CARLSON: ... and he's candid. But I think -- you know, I've talked to a number of Gore people about it, and they say, No way. You know, first of all there's no affection at all between Gore and Kerrey. And second, Kerrey has a reputation, apparently deserved, for being unusually hard to deal with for...
ISAACSON: I mean, yes, is it that long corporations (ph)...
ISAACSON: Right. And to -- and the fact that they could hold a debate between Gore and Kerrey on Social Security, I mean, because they disagree so much on it, you could at least -- you know, you may end up with the other Kerry.
KING: But Gore could say, I'm open to all ideas, and...
GREENFIELD: That's what it does, it says, You see, I'm not this automaton.
Now, the other name that was floated actually quite bluntly for a while by at least one very high-up old-timer in the Clinton administration was Leon Panetta. The theory -- and there was a -- I mean, apparently the Gore campaign has no interest in this. But the fee -- because I think they think, Wait a minute, Clinton's chief of staff, how does that get us anywhere?
Well, but what it gets you is this. A Republican turned Democrat, an experienced congressman...
KING: Italian-American. GREENFIELD: ... House Budget Committee, Italian -- yes, first Italian-American on the ticket, who was very critical of Clinton in the early phase of the (inaudible)...
ISAACSON: But it also has a Cheney smell to it. I mean, former chiefs of staff...
GREENFIELD: I say, you know (ph).
ISAACSON: ... you know, (inaudible)...
GREENFIELD: You understand here, we are not this -- we are not designing a -- you're not designing a...
GREENFIELD: ... scientific experiment.
KING: ... let's ask you this way. Do you think, Tucker, it will be a surprise pick?
CARLSON: I think there's a lot of pressure on Gore to go the good-guy route, which is one of the reasons I think Panetta's name came up. I mean, there's this sense that Gore needs his help with his personality. And I don't think Panetta makes sense except under those conditions.
So I think, yes, people are pressing Gore to, you know, get someone to (inaudible)...
KING: Who do you think it'll be?
CARLSON: ... sort of sad. I think the conventional wisdom is usually right. Unfortunately, it probably -- John Kerry, who -- you know, who sort of meets that criterion to some degree, you know.
ISAACSON: Want to know a hilarious thing about a jar (ph) -- this is John Kerry, the Massachusetts senator. Another Vietnam (inaudible)...
KING: Threw away his medals.
ISAACSON: Threw away somebody's medals.
KING: Some (inaudible).
ISAACSON: But, I mean, but the point is, they're talking about it as if this was a generational challenge, OK? John Kerry's 57, Dick Cheney's 59. And I'm thinking, This is a fairly short generation. But it's true, you put the two of them together...
KING: Hey, look, hey, look...
ISAACSON: ... it's a father-son banquet, no doubt about it.
I think (inaudible) -- you know what I just realized? I know it's late. Maybe Cheney was picked for the fitness challenge among us (ph). All these other guys -- very clever, they (inaudible) day, you know, and maybe...
ISAACSON: ... maybe they want to see some guy who's, you know, (inaudible)...
KING: Who's a little overweight...
ISAACSON: ... overweight, a little, little (inaudible)...
KING: Had heart surgery.
ISAACSON: ... a little sartorially challenged. He looks like an assistant principal.
KING: "Welcome Back, Kotter," hey?
ISAACSON: Yes, something like that.
KING: Walter, who do you think they're going to pick?
ISAACSON: I think they'll pick John Kerry. I think it makes sense. He beat Bill Weld. He's a much better campaigner than some people give him credit for. I think he brings you the Vietnam stuff. I think you're right about the generational thing, it ain't much of a generational difference. But he does seem to bring some vigor, as well as gravitas, (inaudible) to the ticket.
I think Bob Kerrey would be better, more interesting. Tucker's absolutely right, it'd be great for the journalism, because it would just be really fun. And I don't quite see sort of that Joe Lieberman or Bob Rubin or somebody too much of a surprise. I don't think he needs to pull a surprise.
GREENFIELD: Haven't a clue.
KING: Haven't a clue.
GREENFIELD: Haven't a clue. Because if I were back in my old life as a political consultant, you know, God forbid, I think -- I'm projecting -- this is no source whatsoever -- that in -- 3:00 in the morning, Al Gore and Bob Shrum are sitting there saying -- they're racking their brains for something that's -- that will be a -- Oh, my God, isn't that an interesting choice?
And so I think they won't give up. I think the Dick Durbin, Bob Graham, who -- John Kerry thing, that's where they may come to. But I think they're looking through that deck saying, There's got to be somebody who changes the equation.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Tucker Carlson, Walter Isaacson, and Jeff Greenfield on this second edition of LARRY KING LIVE for this opening night. Gore will name his vice presidential one week from, now it's today, Tuesday the 8th.
We'll be right back.
KING: We don't know yet, of course, (inaudible), but is the public watching, Walter, do you think?
ISAACSON: You mean, focusing on the campaign? Yes, I think this week they focus on Bush, and he's got a week to get a good message out, help define himself. I think they really have to help define Cheney, because I think that's a problem. Cheney...
KING: But they went up since he was announced.
ISAACSON: Yes, but I think -- well, (inaudible)...
GREENFIELD: There's a poll out on him, just looked at the wires, there's another poll not so good. I mean, anybody who follows these things in the middle of the summer, you know, ought to be, like, investing in the (inaudible).
KING: So none of it means anything.
ISAACSON: But these two or three days, I think they're going to start -- so people tune in...
ISAACSON: ... Bush and Cheney, look at these people, and (inaudible)...
KING: Does Cheney have to be super Wednesday night?
CARLSON: I don't think so. I mean, I don't think -- you know, I don't -- I just am not convinced that a vice presidential nominee makes that much difference, unless he comes out for Satan or does something insane. I mean, really...
KING: Well, Lyndon Johnson elected Kennedy.
CARLSON: Well, sure. But, I mean, that -- you know, there's so many other factors. I mean, Kennedy, I mean, at the time was considered, you know, light and callow and inexperienced, and that was part of the appeal of Johnson, apparently.
KING: All right, so where does it go from here? Anything get interesting in the next three days?
GREENFIELD: The acceptance speech.
KING: With George W. Bush Thursday night.
GREENFIELD: I mean, even in this day and age, you know, that we are so rhetorically challenged. I mean, oratory as a form is -- it just -- it's an endangered species. But the one time that a candidate for president has to step up is that Thursday night. I mean, George Bush in 1988 turned it around with his acceptance speech. Ronald Reagan in 1980 did a powerful acceptance speech, and Jimmy Carter's acceptance -- and Bush's in '92 was a terrible speech, because it was -- it reflected the administration that was at sea.
Those events, I mean, 30, 45 minutes of sustained argument, even in this day and age, argument makes a heck of a difference.
ISAACSON: But, you know, Governor Bush is not great at reading a speech. He's a good speaker, but if he has to read this one, it's going to be (inaudible).
CARLSON: Well, that's why he needs to take the Liddy Dole lavalier mike, you know, cruise around the audience doing the (inaudible)...
KING: Walk the stage.
KING: Doesn't have a podium, he's got a stage.
GREENFIELD: There's one other thing about what you were asking, are they starting to pay attention? This year, uniquely, I think, it's going to be a stuttering interest, because it keeps getting interrupted. The conventions are late, the Olympics take up two and a half weeks of all the air out of the room. And what, is it the last two (inaudible)...
ISAACSON: September, and then October.
GREENFIELD: And then you've sort of got, to those of us who care, you know, baseball players. So then you're really looking at a thing, we got the conventions, and basically then you have, assuming they (inaudible), debates. So in my view, the acceptance speeches set the tone for the campaign, and then we get to the debates, and that's maybe it.
CARLSON: And McCain's going to give a good speech (inaudible) tomorrow. He's got, I think, the best speechwriter in politics, and I think it's going to be, if you like speeches and you like, as Jeff said, oratory, it's going (inaudible).
KING: Next week, they run out hunting. We learned tonight they're going to whistle-stop California, McCain and Bush together.
CARLSON: That's right. I mean, the famous Bob Shrum plays it, you know, a political rally in California is three people and a TV set. It's sort of nice to see somebody, you know, get out there and do actual campaigning there.
KING: Close election as of this point, would you say close, guys?
ISAACSON: Of course it's going to be close. I mean...
KING: Of course it's going to be close.
GREENFIELD: Unless it isn't. (inaudible), you know, I just...
GREENFIELD: ... I mean, I've been burned too often. Is it imaginable that one of these two guys tanks, where the people begin to see him as unacceptable as president? Yes, it is. And in that case, I don't know what close means, you know, 8 points in this country is a very hefty margin. Clinton's never -- Clinton did that against Dole, not even against Bush.
So, I mean, I'm sorry, I am just, you know, I (inaudible)...
ISAACSON: ... close simply because (inaudible) it is not going to even be focused upon until October, so anybody can win.
KING: Thank you all very much.
GREENFIELD: It's not McGovern-Nixon, it's not Johnson- (inaudible)...
KING: Didn't ask you to make a prediction.
GREENFIELD: You just did.
KING: No, I didn't. I just said, is it going to be close (inaudible)...
GREENFIELD: You don't even listen to yourself.
KING: ... is it going to be close? That's all I asked.
GREENFIELD: This is how you make a living?
KING: Beats work, right?
Tucker Carlson, Walter Isaacson, and Jeff Greenfield, who may be back. I'm kidding. We thank you all very much. We'll see you tomorrow night at 9:00 and midnight. Hey, other things happening in the world today. We'll get you caught up on that following this. Thanks for joining us. From Philadelphia, good night.
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