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Larry King Live

Republican National Convention: George W. Bush Cements Nomination, Cheney Accepts Vice Presidential Nod; Ford Hospitalized

Aired August 3, 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, the GOP convention night three. A roll call vote cements George W. Bush's nomination. Dick Cheney officially accepts the vice presidential nod.

And only 24 hours after an emotional convention tribute, former President Gerald Ford is in the hospital treated for a stroke. Joining us in Philadelphia, a close friend and adviser to Mr. Ford, former U.S. Ambassador Peter Secchia. Pulitzer Prize winner David Hume Kennerly who was President Ford's personal photographer.

CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Like me, he interviewed Gerry Ford yesterday as well. And CNN's Charles Bierbauer at the hospital where Mr. Ford is being treated.

That and more all next on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE from the 37th Republican National Convention.

We've been coming at you twice nightly on these editions of LARRY KING LIVE during the convention. We'll do the same at the Democrats'.

And we've invited Peter Secchia and David Hume Kennerly to come back. Peter was with Gerald Ford all day today. And some of this will be retraced steps. They were with us at 9:00. But late tuners in and the like, how did you hear about it this morning? And establish that you and Gerald Ford are old friends.

AMBASSADOR PETER SECCHIA, FORD FRIEND AND ADVISOR: How did I hear about it?

KING: Yeah.

SECCHIA: TV this morning.

KING: And you jumped into a cab.

SECCHIA: Oh, I not only jumped into a cab, I forgot to ask what hospital he was in. So I had to go through three hospitals before I finally found him. Every policeman on the corner I asked. They didn't know where he was.

The family tried to keep it very quiet. And I was really alarmed because I had seen him the day before and thought something was wrong.

KING: What's the first thing you saw when you went into intensive care?

SECCHIA: A man who I love an awful lot who seemed to not be the man in control as he always was, a person who knows he hasn't had a cold in three-and-a-half years. And all of a sudden, he's got a warning bell has gone off.

And he's a crusty old codger. And he wants to get well. And he wants to...

KING: Was he scared?

SECCHIA: ... I think he was scared.

KING: Are you scared?

SECCHIA: Yeah, I was scared. I was scared.

KING: Did he look...

SECCHIA: See, I'm Italian American. Betty said, "You know, you're so emotional." She said you got...

KING: You're crying now, Peter.

SECCHIA: I almost did then. Yeah, I did then. I'm not going to cry now.

KING: His speech slurred.

SECCHIA: Yeah.

KING: What else? Any paralysis?

SECCHIA: There doesn't seem to be any. He had a problem with his throat and swallowing. But everybody thought that's what he told us Tuesday after he arrived here. Monday night he arrived, he thought he had a reaction. But he knew that there was something wrong, but wanted to have it tested.

He wanted to be here for the testimonial. He thought it was just a magnificent evening.

KING: He talked his way out of the hospital the other night, right? He should have stayed in retrospect.

SECCHIA: Well, that's sort of been played that way. And some people have said he wanted to go home. And others have said the symptoms were different. And the doctors were very, very careful today to say that the symptoms that he had last night were a lot different than the symptoms he had this morning.

KING: When did you get there, David?

DAVID HUME KENNERLY, FORD WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER: Late this afternoon. I heard that he'd gone in last night. But by the time I heard about it, he was already back at the hotel. So the person who went over with him said that he was probably going to be OK. And they only stayed there about 45 minutes.

KING: Now David, we should understand, Ambassador Secchia was President Bush's ambassador to Italy. But he's been a close personal friend, advisor to Gerald Ford for many years. And David Hume Kennerly, the Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, was the personal photographer to President Ford for three years. Were you shocked at what you saw?

KENNERLY: Well, he was - I was glad because I've been in the hospital a couple of times recently and seen friends who were really in bad shape. And I was prepared to really see somebody who was in terrible shape. I was sort of relieved that he wasn't worse than he was. So...

KING: He talked well to you?

KENNERLY: ... Yeah. Even Pete and I have always had an ability to make him laugh. And so we were kidding around with him.

KING: Does he have tubes in him? I mean...

KENNERLY: A few. But nothing...

SECCHIA: Tests.

KENNERLY: ... Yeah, a lot of tests. I mean, it's like a "take a check" system up there with doctors. I think everybody wants him on their resume at that hospital.

KING: Did you notice something when you talked to him last night?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as soon as he came out, he walked through this corridor. It was right off of the convention floor. And he looked great as he was walking toward me. He was dressed beautifully, a great suit. He's tall, obviously very handsome.

But then when he opened his mouth and started to talk, there was a little bit of a slur there. There was a difficulty even before we started the interview on camera. There was a difficult in his saying certain words.

And my immediate reaction was, "You know, I haven't spoken to President Ford in some years. And obviously, he's 87 years old. He's getting older." And that's what happened.

Then when we started the actual interview, you could see he had some real specific hardship uttering words. In fact, I think we have a sample of that. Let's listen to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALD FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I never campaigned that way. When Jimmy Carter and I had a head-to-head contest for the presidency, we never got personal. I think it's unfortunate and wrong for President Clinton to get into this kind of a sharp shooting attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: You could see the way he said "President Clinton."

KING: President Clinton.

BLITZER: You know, and Larry, he had said to me before the interview started, he said, "Please get really close to my ears and speak loudly..."

KING: He said the same to me.

BLITZER: ... "because I'm having trouble hearing." And I thought it was maybe an ear infection.

KING: Was it worse when you guys saw him?

SECCHIA: He made great progress today from this morning's Gerry Ford to this afternoon's when David arrived. I think he made vast strides. He was in control of himself. He finally realized that he'd had a scare and that he was just a human being, a wonderful human being, a human being.

KENNERLY: And he's ready to get out of there, too.

BLITZER: And Larry, he was sharp as could be as far as...

KING: I know his mind.

BLITZER: ... Yeah, he knew the subjects. He was right on top of the news.

KING: As we go to break, here's an example when we interviewed him yesterday as well. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Finally, how is your health? You're 88...

FORD: I should correct you. I was just 87, Larry.

KING: ... Oh, good, live longer.

FORD: I'm looking forward to it. But anyhow, I couldn't be healthier. Betty and I are having a magnificent life, 52 years of married life and four great children, 15 grandchildren. Everything is breaking just right.

And I'm delighted to be here at this convention. After going to so many for so many years, it's a thrill to come back to Philadelphia.

(END VIDEOTAPE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The hall is empty. And it awaits tonight for the Republican National Convention to wind things up tomorrow. And so will we. And then to Los Angeles.

Before we continue with our panel, let's go to the hospital, the Hahnemann University Hospital. And there is Charles Bierbauer with an update on the latest on the condition of the former president.

Charles.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, when I talked to university hospital officials a little while ago late this evening, they were describing President Ford's condition as serious but improving. That is the same way they described it late this afternoon at an official briefing here.

It's unchanged. But simply the fact that these briefings are not coming fast and furiously is probably a good sign in and of itself. The next briefing is not scheduled until noon Thursday.

And we were told that President Ford would probably remain here for five or six days. As you've been discussing the doctors suggest that he had one and possibly two strokes in the course of the past few days. A stroke being of course when the flow of blood is cut off to the brain.

He came in here presenting such symptoms as problems with balance and the slurring of speech. And beyond that, the hospital is really not saying a whole lot. Betty Ford has been here at the hospital with him.

And the message have been coming in I suppose pretty fast and furiously. He's hard - they have heard reports from Governor Bush, former President Bush, from President Clinton. And of course, that message delivered by the now nominated candidate for the vice presidency, Dick Cheney who goes back many years with President Ford.

And the message he delivered from the convention hall was that he wouldn't be here tonight, he Dick Cheney, had it not been for the confidence of Gerald Ford 25 years ago.

And I suppose he probably took some solace from that. There's a very close relationship between the two men.

Again, just to put the bottom line on it, serious but improving. Larry.

KING: Thank you, Charles. Serious but improving. Next conference tomorrow at noon. And that's what you feel, right?

SECCHIA: That's exactly what it was. It was serious, very serious. And he's improving. And she's been a rock of Gibraltar. Betty Ford is just a queen.

KING: You were with her when Nancy called her, right? We spoke with Nancy earlier tonight. And she said Betty was very upbeat.

KENNERLY: Right. They had a nice chat. And they talked a little bit about their - she expressed concern about President Reagan and the irony of going through the situation.

KING: Two first ladies.

KENNERLY: Yeah, they feel that kind of thing has drawn them even closer together. And last night, I was in the green room before they went on stage. And President Bush and Mrs. Reagan and Barbara Bush and everybody. And President Ford looked a little tired last night.

He wanted to get out of there. I mean, you talked to him. I guess Wolf talked to him. And other than that, I've seen him tired and cranky.

BLITZER: Hey, I was tired and cranky myself. And I'm a lot younger than 87. So it was totally understandable when we had that shot of him sitting in the VIP section listening to some of the addresses...

KING: What you're seeing now.

BLITZER: ... Yeah, and you could see he wasn't as alert as he might have been there. There he is right now sitting next to Barbara Bush and President Bush and Nancy Reagan.

But look, it was a long night. It was a very emotional night for President Ford. They paid tribute to him. They paid tribute to Ronald Reagan and to President Bush. And he was obviously emotionally drained by all of that.

KING: Do you know, Peter, if he's getting anticoagulants? Do you know what they're giving him?

SECCHIA: I think that we'll leave that to the hospital. I know some of the things that they talked about. But I'm not an expert on that...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: What about his spirit?

SECCHIA: You know, he was concerned about his Michigan football team and if they were going to beat my Spartans. You know, "How much are we going to bet?" He asked for the calendar so he could look at when the football games were.

And I think yesterday when we first detected this - I had a meeting with him over at his suite. And later, David came over when Cheney was there. And we both thought that there was something wrong. But yet that mind, like Wolf said, that mind.

BLITZER: You know, I asked him about the news of the day. And I was a little reluctant to do it because I didn't know if he was following the news. I asked him about President Clinton's exchange with President Bush about George W. Bush and President Bush suggesting, "If he keeps it up," Bill Clinton, "in a month, I'm going to take off the gloves and go after him. I haven't done it in seven- and-a-half years. But I still might do it.""

And he was totally on top of it. You know what he said to me just before we started the interview? I said, "Mr. President, it's so nice to see you." He said, "You know, Wolf, I watch you every day."

He is on top of the news. He watches the news. And he is right there fully involved. And that's why it was a little painful for me to have that slurring of the words.

KING: Was it one of the first times, Peter, you've seen him scared?

SECCHIA: Yeah. He's a pretty tough guy. He'll probably get mad at me if I say he was scared. But I think he was...

KING: Well, a little frightened. He's got to be frightened.

SECCHIA: ... I think he was scared. He held my hand. He looked up at me. And when a wonderful person like him says, "I love you, buddy," you know, you just have a hard time. And then I thought back yesterday to the story he told us about when he told Dick Cheney in '76 after Bob Dole was chosen, "We're going to go to Russell, Kansas." And Cheney said, "No, no, it's the wrong thing to do. Don't go to this little town."

So Cheney becomes the vice president to Bush. And they announce they're going to go to Casper, Wyoming. Bush called him up and said, "Dick, no, no, it's the wrong thing to do."

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll be back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Still to come, a panel to discuss the humorous side of things and a surprising young guest. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on edition number two of LARRY KING LIVE. Jeb Bush is going to be with us tomorrow, among many others. Again, two editions tomorrow.

And we're joined now on the phone by Dolores Hope, the wife of Bob Hope, and a good friend of Gerald and Betty Ford. Have you reached Betty yet, Dolores?

DOLORES HOPE, WIFE OF BOB HOPE AND FRIEND TO GERALD AND BETTY FORD: I did, Larry. I learned that you were at the hospital. You know more about it than I do.

KING: I was there. I didn't get a chance to get in. I left a note...

HOPE: I heard that. KING: ... which was kind enough to be delivered to her by Ambassador Secchia. When did you talk with her?

HOPE: I spoke with her just a short time ago. She told me about that and was so pleased to receive your flowers.

KING: Oh, thank you. What did she say? How is he doing?

HOPE: She sounded very up on it. And it sounds like he's doing very well, thank God.

KING: Do you live near them?

HOPE: Pardon?

KING: Do you live near them?

HOPE: Well, when we're in Palm Springs, yes. We're just a few streets away.

KING: And how is Bob?

HOPE: Bob is doing fine, Larry, thank God. He's holding his own and eating well and looks wonderful.

KING: Did Betty tell you when the president might be coming back home?

HOPE: Well, she said the hospital wanted him there for about five or six days, which she didn't know whether she was going to keep him there. He's so anxious to get out. But I told her, "Betty, don't let him fly for at least five or six days."

She said, "I'm going upstairs. And I'm going to tell him you said so."

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Dolores, again, another wife with an ailing husband who hangs tough. Thank you so much.

HOPE: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Thank you. Betty, the men didn't get a chance to hear Dolores. Wolf did. But when she spoke to Betty a little while ago, she told Betty that Gerald shouldn't fly for five or six days. And so she was going right up to tell him because he wants to fly tomorrow. You understand that.

KENNERLY: That's what he told us. He said he wanted to get out of there. He was looking at his schedule. He said, "I've got a speech to make next week."

SECCHIA: He actually, right, took the calendar out and counted the days. BLITZER: He said the worst part for him right now - because I spoke to some doctors earlier who deal with stroke victims - is they're going to do so many tests on him. They're going to be poking him and CT scans and all sorts of MRIs, every kind of blood test they're going to go through.

And that's going to be painful. That's going to be hard as all of us know who've gone through all of those kinds of tests that that can be a draining experience.

But you've got to do it. You've got to make sure there's nothing else.

KING: And a stroke must be awfully frightening to know that your mind is working right, to want to say a word, they don't come out right, must be scary.

KENNERLY: You know, one of the things, the problem with his tongue didn't necessarily signal a stroke because it was not just like all of a sudden it kind of went dead. So I think it was not easily diagnosed.

KING: And the balance thing could happen with sinus attacks, right? You can have the inner ear thing.

SECCHIA: Well, and he's had some hearing problems lately. And he's such a courageous guy that he probably would never admit that he ought to be - have some help with his hearing.

KING: And how Betty handles this.

SECCHIA: She's amazing. She's amazing. She is amazing. I mean, she said, "Give him his briefcase. But don't give him his calendar." So I said, "I can't give you your calendar." So he says, "Well, give me my date book." So like a dummy, I go through there and pull out this date book. That's his calendar.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: You know, think of how he had to stand for her in her times of trouble, now she for him, Ronald Reagan for Nancy.

SECCHIA: Closer together than they've ever been, Betty and Gerry Ford. Love each other dearly, express it.

KING: What about the kids? Have you heard?

SECCHIA: Yeah, but we'll let the family announce what's happening there because that's - they want to keep it family.

KING: That family is very close, right? The children?

SECCHIA: They're a lot closer now than they ever were. They care...

KING: They've come through some tough stuff. SECCHIA: ... Well, they just, he had a very busy early life in Congress. He wanted to be the speaker. And he had to work hard and travel. And she raised the kids. And they're much - I think they're closer now than they've ever been, all of them.

KING: You've photographed them for years, right?

KENNERLY: Oh, yeah.

KING: In situations, you've followed.

KENNERLY: That's like I look back in those old photographs of him. And he's got sideburns, wears these hideous plaid suits from the '70s.

KING: Ford was falling down those stairs, right?

BLITZER: and he never got over that. And it was such a tragedy because he's a very athletic, very coordinated...

KING: All American.

BLITZER: ... probably one of the - yeah, a golfer, a skier. Yet that one picture of him slipping down the stairs. It stuck with him. And Chevy Chase and "Saturday Night Live," the humorous, the jokes, that he was a klutz and all, it never went away, which was one of the saddest things because as you well know, it was not Gerry Ford.

SECCHIA: Football player, skier.

BLITZER: All American football player.

KING: Right away, what do you think of the Cheney thing? You're a former ambassador. You're a Bush guy.

SECCHIA: I think Cheney is a magnificent human being. I heard a great line. Someone asked Keating if he wanted to be attorney general. He said, "No, I want to be chairman of the committee that picked the attorney general."

(LAUGHTER)

KING: That's funny. You know Mr. Cheney?

KENNERLY: Very well.

KING: And?

KENNERLY: And well...

KING: Do you like him tonight?

KENNERLY: ... Well, as a photographer and representing all the photographers, we don't normally like speeches.

KING: You don't (INAUDIBLE). KENNERLY: No, we sit there and listen to a lot of speeches.

KING: I'll bet.

KENNERLY: That was, he was pretty good. The great thing about Cheney is they've given him so much negative attention about his voting record and all that. And he's not a very interesting guy. But I think he's coming across very well.

KING: Were you impressed tonight?

BLITZER: He delivered an excellent speech.

KING: The Democrats are answering already...

BLITZER: Yeah.

KING: ... saying that he didn't get it. No specifics, 22 attacks on Democrats, not one single policy proposal.

BLITZER: Larry, you're not going to be surprised. And our panel is not going to be surprised to know this is going to be a brutal campaign.

KING: Really?

BLITZER: This is going to be tough.

SECCHIA: Gee, surprise.

BLITZER: You know, remember what Al Gore did to Bill Bradley? Just wait.

KING: Thank you all very much. Wolf...

BLITZER: Thanks a lot.

KING: ... see you tomorrow on the trip.

KENNERLY: Thank you.

KING: Keep on taking pictures. And you...

SECCHIA: Yes, sir.

KING: ... you're something special. You give our best when you go there tomorrow.

SECCHIA: I'd be happy to do it. They love you.

KING: Love them. Ambassador Peter Secchia, former ambassador to Italy, David Hume Kennerly, the brilliant photographer, and Wolf Blitzer, one of the best journalists in the business. We also heard from Charles Bierbauer and Dolores Hope and earlier tonight spoke with Nancy Reagan, who had also spoken with Betty Ford. When we come back, Neil Bush. He's the brother that's not elected to anything on Jeb and George. But he's got a kid named Pierce, another P. You've heard about George P. Bush, the Latin bombshell.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Wait until you meet Pierce Bush. A star is born next. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: You mentioned Dick Cheney. Were you disturbed by some of those early votes?

FORD: Not at all. I served 25 years in the House. So I know that a member of the House to get reelected has to reflect the views of his constituents.

And Wyoming is a conservative state. And they have certain resources that have to be protected. Dick Cheney was following the mandates of his home constituents. And that's a very legitimate role for a member of the House to play.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with another Bush, Neil Bush. He is the brother of George and Jeb and he's a businessman in Houston, Texas. But the main reason we've asked him -- not that we don't like Neil -- is we saw earlier tonight Candy Crowley on the floor talking to this young man. He is Pierce Bush, another P. You know about George P. Bush.

Pierce is 14 years old. He's the nephew of George W. Bush. His father is Neil. And Pierce, you've kind of burst on the scene tonight.

PIERCE BUSH, GEORGE W. BUSH'S NEPHEW: Yes.

KING: You took this convention by storm.

P. BUSH: Yes.

KING: You want to be a politician, right, don't you, Pierce?

P. BUSH: I don't know. It's a long way away. I'm only 14. I'll give you a call, though.

KING: You'll give me a call. Like you'll get booked on this show.

P. BUSH: I'm just kidding with you, Mr. King, but this convention has just been incredible for me.

KING: Why?

P. BUSH: Just to see everything. It's just amazing to watch everything go by. When you're 14...

KING: This kid is upbeat, right?

NEIL BUSH, GEORGE W. BUSH'S BROTHER: He's pretty excited.

P. BUSH: It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, although I've only -- I've already been to three conventions, so, you know...

KING: So it's kind of a thrice-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You like drinking from that mug, don't you?

P. BUSH: Yeah.

KING: How long do you have to wear those braces?

P. BUSH: I've had them for about 2 1/2 years.

KING: Do they bug you?

P. BUSH: Oh, they don't -- only when they tighten them, you know. But I think that I might get them off this end of the summer. Hopefully, my orthodontist is watching. He might help me then.

KING: Tell me a little, Pierce, about -- Neil, tell me about Pierce. Has he always been this way, upfront?

N. BUSH: Pierce has always been gifted.

KING: He's not shy.

N. BUSH: Clearly, he's not shy. He's an incredibly talented young kid. And let me tell you a personal story, Larry, which is -- kind of tell you a little bit about my business. Pierce has been in this school where, despite the fact that he's truly gifted, he's been having -- he had a lot of difficulty 6th, 7th and 8th grade. And he was diagnosed by some as ADD and that kind of thing. They tried to put him on Ritalin.

P. BUSH: I wouldn't take it.

N. BUSH: Pierce refused to take Ritalin. And so we took him to a place where they did a full assessment, 3 1/2 days, and came to the conclusion that Pierce is a gifted and talented kid. And I mean, it's...

KING: What were they reading wrong?

N. BUSH: Well, the schools today, private schools, public schools, all schools have this boring, you know, lecture in textbook style teaching and that doesn't get the kids like Pierce.

P. BUSH: If you might know -- already tell, his business is in education. KING: So he's telling us, he's promoting himself here, right?

P. BUSH: Well, you know.

N. BUSH: A little bit, a little bit.

KING: Have you got brothers and sisters?

P. BUSH: I have two sisters. I'm the middle child.

KING: Yeah, you love them both?

P. BUSH: You know...

KING: They're girls, right, they're girls. You got any girlfriends?

P. BUSH: I went to an all-boy boarding school so now I'm going back to my old high school in Houston, Texas. You never know.

KING: You like girls?

P. BUSH: Yeah.

KING: Yeah. What about your Uncle George?

P. BUSH: Oh, he's a great man. He's going to reform politics. He's a reformer with results.

KING: Is he a good uncle?

P. BUSH: He's a great uncle.

KING: Good to you?

P. BUSH: Very good. He's going to restore dignity in the office, in the presidency by far.

KING: Yeah.

P. BUSH: Do you want me to talk about Dick Cheney?

KING: OK.

P. BUSH: He was an incredible choice. At first, I had a little doubts about him, you know. He got...

KING: We all were a little concerned.

P. BUSH: But I didn't really know him, you know. I thought he was going to pick one of the big names, Tom Ridge, one of those guys.

KING: Yeah.

P. BUSH: Here's a great choice. He's got the float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. KING: You're borrowing from Muhammad Ali now. What about your Uncle Jeb?

P. BUSH: Oh, he's a great governor of Florida.

KING: Great governor, right?

P. BUSH: Yeah, yeah.

KING: How about grandpa?

P. BUSH: Grandpa? He is the best president living, soon to be -- there might be a little controversy in one story, you know.

KING: You liked him, too?

P. BUSH: Oh, of course, he's a great president. I mean, how can you not like your grandfather?

KING: That's right, you have to like -- and what about grandma?

P. BUSH: Grandma. Reader, summer reading lady. She always makes me do my summer reading.

KING: Yeah, she's tough on you. What about...

P. BUSH: It's what grandmothers are for. You know what I'm saying?

KING: Yeah, I know, yeah. And your mother's here. She's beautiful. And how did you get along with dad?

P. BUSH: Oh, he's my pal. Truly, truly.

KING: You like him. Truly, OK. We're going to have you back a lot.

P. BUSH: OK.

KING: We're going to make you a star, Pierce.

P. BUSH: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me. This has been a great night.

KING: I got just one bit of advice for you.

P. BUSH: Try to come out a little more.

N. BUSH: Loosen up.

KING: Try to be a little more expressive.

P. BUSH: All right.

KING: Don't be -- most kids are very shy and I know you have the same affliction. Come forward. Don't be afraid. OK. Say good night.

P. BUSH: Good night.

KING: OK, a star is born. Thanks very much.

N. BUSH: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Neil.

When we come back, we're going to meet Senator Alan Simpson, John Stewart, Ben Stein, Tucker Carlson. And they got -- never follow a kid. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I look at the administration now in Washington, I am dismayed by the opportunity squandered, saddened by what might have been but never was. These have been years of prosperity in our land but little purpose in the White House.

(APPLAUSE)

Bill Clinton vowed not long ago to hold onto power until the last hour of the last day. That is his right. But my friends, that last hour is coming.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back, I think, and we welcome to LARRY KING LIVE former United States senator from Wyoming, Alan Simpson, now in the world of academia; Jon Stewart, the host of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central. Sorry to wake you up. Ben Stein, the host of "Win Ben Stein's Money." He sat with President Bush in convention hall tonight here at the center, and he was part of the GOP convention program on Monday and was the former speech writer for Presidents Nixon and Ford. And his father was the wonderful Herb Stein, one of the great men in American journalism. And Tucker Carlson, staff of the "Weekly Standard" and contributor of "Talk" magazine.

Alan, I guess you're proud of Mr. Cheney, a Wyoming guy on the ticket.

ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Very, very proud. I must say I was very moved because I went to see the girls. The girls -- when we first ran together in '78 -- had their little wicker baskets with little blue and white Cheney buttons and they danced around the street. And I went over and squeezed them both. You know, they're wonderful young women. I was very emotional. It was very powerful for me.

KING: Jon, what do you think of a Wyoming man on the ticket?

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": First of all, that kid with the braces stole my wallet.

(LAUGHTER)

Second of all, that kid is a terror. He's the artful dodger. I don't trust him for a minute. When he got out there, they unzipped the little kid suit and a 50-year-old little man walked out of there smoking a stogie. He goes, "How was that, God? Good business."

KING: Wyoming man, Cheney.

STEWART: Cheney. I was -- as you know, I'm not politically affiliated with any party and I was not sold.

KING: Stein doesn't believe that.

STEWART: I'm a Norman Thomas man. I think everybody's the same as (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But when he said that they were going to renew America's purpose, boy, I was sold.

KING: That did it. Ben, were you impressed?

BEN STEIN, HOST, "WIN BEN STEIN'S MONEY": I thought it was a very positive speech and it's been a very positive convention. Jon and I did a -- well, I think it was a hilarious spoof of a talk show earlier tonight where I was against Robert Reich and I was saying Clinton was a child molester, and he was saying the Republicans are all Nazis. And it was all kind of a silly thing where people go to such fictitious extremes on talk shows. But the truth is this is a very upbeat convention. The Republicans have invited minorities in a giant way, a way that nobody would have thought possible 30 years ago.

And I can remember vividly the conventions of '64, '68. Nobody would have ever thought both political parties would have been this open to non-white minorities, pleading, begging with them to get involved, having them involved with the highest reaches.

TUCKER CARLSON, "WEEKLY STANDARD": They don't have a choice, though.

STEIN: Well, maybe not.

STEWART: I think they're just sick of losing.

STEIN: For whatever reason, this country has truly become a multi-racial democracy under law. No other industrial country ever has.

KING: Were the Republicans late to discover this, Tucker?

CARLSON: Yeah, maybe. You know, they would do a multi-cultural, I mean, they...

KING: Democrats could say they've been multi-cultural. CARLSON: They do it pretty heavy handedly, you know. You sort of expected the cast of "Rent" to come out. I love the Cheney speech. It was like a cool rain. I mean, it was nice, sort of...

STEWART: Right.

CARLSON: It was. You want politics in a...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Did you like the line about hope to New York, from hope?

CARLSON: Definitely. Maybe it'll be spun as, you know, vicious or something.

STEWART: I've got a bombshell.

CARLSON: After all this, after all the kindness and stuff, I loved it.

STEWART: Gee, I've got a bombshell.

KING: A bombshell?

STEWART: I don't want to drop this because it's late and clearly, everybody but my family is asleep right now.

KING: Not in California.

STEWART: Republicans have pledged...

STEIN: I like his jokes.

STEWART: Republicans have pledged not to leave any children behind, and it's a good pledge. But I have it from a source high up at the RNC, there are actually seven children they're planning to leave behind. I have their names. It's little Jimmy Peterson, seven. They've leaving him -- they don't care for his attitude.

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: How about -- I think they can leave that kid with the braces behind.

KING: What's happened to your party, Alan?

SIMPSON: We're growing up, maturing.

STEWART: You're only 150 years old.

SIMPSON: But we stunted. We went stunted. And this is a very important thing that's going on in here, not only with -- I was here when Buchanan spoke. I was stunned.

KING: Houston. SIMPSON: I was here when women sat there as delegates with femi- Nazi hats on. I was here when homophobia was rampant. And now, I see a party growing up. We've learned from the Democrats.

STEWART: Is the party growing up faster than the delegates, though, because my sense of the delegates was that as minorities came to speak on stage -- because there are much more opportunities for minorities within the Republican Party now. I think of the 11 African-American members of the Republican Party, seven of them were speaking here this week. So that was nice and two were singing, plus there's Alan Keyes.

STEIN: See, here's the...

STEWART: But the thing that I really think is it looked to me almost like an educational seminar. The delegates sat there and went, "OK, that's a Jewish guy. Oh, that's a Samoan. That's neat. You see the Samoan, honey? Take a picture of the Samoan."

STEIN: See, that's your condescending take on it. The fact is...

SIMPSON: That's very funny but that's not funny.

STEIN: The Republicans...

STEWART: What?

SIMPSON: That's not funny. When you make fun of people, that's not funny.

CARLSON: It's humor.

STEWART: Where was I making fun of people?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: He wasn't making fun.

SIMPSON: Humor is universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life but humor is poking fun at yourself. This is a party that's trying to find itself and...

STEWART: They're trying to win.

SIMPSON: I know.

STEIN: No, no, but...

STEWART: They're trying to win.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: One at a time. One at a time.

STEIN: I'm going to report you to the Larry... STEWART: All right.

STEIN: The Republican Party was the first multi-racial party. It was the party that asked for blacks and fought a bloody war to give blacks equal rights. Then under Goldwater, it lost its way, I think, for a little while. Nixon was the one that desegregated the schools. That was a giant accomplishment of Nixon that he's rarely given credit for. He desegregated more schools than anyone else.

STEWART: But he had to drive through Wallace to do it.

STEIN: But he did it, but he did it. And then it lost its way for a while. But now, we have an open political process, open to everyone. There are lots and lots of blacks there. I'm at a hotel filled with delegates, lots and lots of them.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll come back and pick up with more. We'll try to cool Alan down from getting -- don't get mad at Jon. He's only kidding. And we'll also ask Ben Stein one of the key questions: What did he say to the former president? Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back in Philadelphia. Tucker Carlson...

STEIN: That's so funny, Ben.

KING: Tucker Carlson doesn't like some aspects of...

CARLSON: No, I do like it. It's just -- I mean, there's this -- it's lacking in a certain subtlety. I mean, I don't know, by the fifth Mariachi band, you say, maybe this is a little bit condescending, a little bit over the top, and maybe the point of a Republican convention is to say, "This is what he party believes. This is what the other party doesn't believe. This is why you ought to vote for us." I mean, it becomes a little sort of sickly sweet after a while.

KING: Trying too hard?

CARLSON: Way too hard. I mean, it becomes almost a parody of itself, I think.

(CROSSTALK)

STEIN: They really can't win, according to you and Jon.

CARLSON: Well, sure, they can.

STEIN: If they try to invite and involve...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: One at a time.

(CROSSTALK) STEIN: If they invite in the blacks and Hispanics and Asians, they're being condescending. If they don't, they're being racist. I mean, they're clearly trying their best to open the political process to everyone who cares to be...

KING: What were you going to say, Alan?

SIMPSON: No, no, I love humor. I'm a...

STEWART: Are we back getting mad at me again?

SIMPSON: No, no.

STEWART: Because you're funny, Alan.

SIMPSON: Well, yeah, but when you try to be funny you're not funny. So you're either funny -- it's like Bob Reich and I did a show together called "The Long and the Short of It," and our wives watched it and loved it and people loved it and they said, "Just don't try to be funny and you guys will do OK." And it's really true. It's that way. When you try to be funny, you're not funny.

KING: Is there anything funny about this convention?

SIMPSON: No.

STEIN: Can I say something? When you're done, I want to say something.

SIMPSON: No, go ahead, because I, you know, I'm here to talk about wholesome, good old humor not, you know...

CARLSON: Not (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SIMPSON: No, no. The difference between humor and cutting a guy up.

STEWART: Who did we cut up?

SIMPSON: I just say humor is a two-way story.

KING: What did he say wrong?

STEIN: He was belittling the delegates.

SIMPSON: Without question, in my mind, you were.

STEWART: No, no, I was belittling the process of calling for -- I remember, when Senator Dole...

SIMPSON: "When is the black guy coming up? Who's the next guy?" What the hell do you think that is?

CARLSON: You can do something in an amusing way...

STEIN: Can I make a respectful... (CROSSTALK)

STEWART: When he said, when he said, so Bill Clinton was going to go home to New York, that's belittling Bill Clinton using humor.

SIMPSON: Have you seen Al Gore's speech when he took the vice presidency?

STEWART: That's not the point.

SIMPSON: He cut George Bush to shreds. I've got a copy of it in my pocket.

STEWART: Well, I'm glad you're not holding a grudge.

SIMPSON: No, but why clap about it.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: One at a time.

STEWART: I was 16 I think when that happened.

STEIN: Can I...

KING: Ben, hold it. Maybe this is -- let's show Ben with President Bush and maybe this is what you were talking to him about.

STEIN: I think this is right.

KING: Now let's watch Ben Stein here. What were you saying?

STEIN: Well, I said a whole bunch of things that I guess I shouldn't repeat because it's between us. But one thing I said was, I love the fact that they're passing round beach balls at the convention. I know if you saw it. They were throwing around beach balls. And people are dressed in kind of party outfits and funny, spangly out -- and I love the fact that there's this lighthearted, cheerful beach party quality to the conventions, both conventions. That it's not a group of commissars clapping till their hands bleed. I read that under Stalin, people would have to go see their doctors after they went to the party meetings because they'd all been clapping so hard that their hands would start bleeding because no one wanted to stop clapping first, because they'd be thought to be anti-Stalin.

But there's a wonderful, cheerful, lighthearted, infectiously gay quality, gay in the old fashioned sense, about these -- both political conventions.

KING: Does he have a point? Do you like conventions?

CARLSON: I think they're infectiously gay, yeah. I mean, I love conventions. But again, I mean, it's nice to...

STEWART: I do, too.

CARLSON: I like more straightforwardedness.

KING: Schreiner's convention.

STEWART: What's good enough for Schreiner. I'm just saying we all shouldn't be -- I don't think this is necessarily an event where 15,000 journalists should descend on 2,000 delegates. I think this is an event, it's a pep rally, they're rallying the troops. The atmosphere here is...

KING: Which they have every right to do.

STEWART: ... completely -- they have absolutely every right to do. But please don't pass it off on the viewer as a change of heart because it's basically platitudes and cliches. And until I see action...

(CROSSTALK)

SIMPSON: You know, what a wonderful stereotype of the Republican Party.

STEWART: I'm not talking about...

SIMPSON: Well, you're talking about some kind of state fake...

STEWART: No, I'm talking about conventions.

SIMPSON: You're talking about something fake. We're not fake.

STEWART: Yeah, but not just this one. The Democratic one, all of them.

CARLSON: I think (UNINTELLIGIBLE) politics. None of this matters. I mean, phoniness actually -- you know, in a funny way, politics is real, the sort of... phony things you put forward means something.

STEWART: But what I'm saying is that's what's driving 120 million people not to vote because what happens is...

STEIN: Well, I...

STEWART: Please, Ben, you're a very funny man and I'll have you over for a seder, and we will have a nice time. But the thing is...

SIMPSON: You've got to take an outsider to seders so I can come over.

STEWART: You can absolutely come.

KING: Let me take a break and come back with more. We'll have analysis of this at the end of the hour. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Move around a little. Who will Gore pick as his running mate?

SIMPSON: I don't know. He'll have to sort it out after tonight because he knows that Cheney's going to be formidable. When I heard Jim Carville -- he and I love to kick it around -- we usually get into (UNINTELLIGIBLE), he said -- Begala said last night that he and Carville when they heard it was Cheney, just threw back their head and laughed. I bet they ain't laughing tonight. They got to find somebody.

KING: Do you have someone in mind?

SIMPSON: I think the toughest one for us would be George Mitchell.

KING: George Mitchell.

SIMPSON: Or Joe Lieberman.

KING: Ben, from a standpoint of the best man they could pick would be?

STEIN: Gosh, I must say I had not anticipated the question. I don't know. But manage to say something -- I was backstage when a whole bunch of these African-American, Hispanic people were about to speak. They weren't fake. They were extremely excited and emotional about the opportunity to speak. It was very meaningful to them.

STEWART: You're absolutely right. I cannot believe what a racist I am. And I clearly have just gone over the edge.

KING: You're apologizing.

STEWART: No, I'm not at all. You know, here's the thing. When you tell me -- I'm in show business. I'm a comedian. My mandate is to make jokes. When you tell me show business is fake and filled with falsehoods and superficialities, you know what I say? Couldn't be more right, absolutely. But when I see the same principles of show business co-opted to put on a political convention that should by all standards rise above that mandate, that's dispiriting.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: It shouldn't rise above it because conventions are about symbols and symbols are in a strict sense...

STEWART: No. Conventions are about winning.

CARLSON: Hold on, let me finish. They're about symbols and symbols are strictly speaking phony but that doesn't make them insignificant. They mean something. They say something...

STEWART: Absolutely right.

KING: Significant phoniness.

CARLSON: Exactly, that's exactly right. STEIN: It's like the World War II movies where there would be an Italian guy, a Polish guy, a black guy, Jewish guy. But it portrayed an idea...

STEWART: And it glorified war.

STEIN: ... that a -- they glorified the idea that America -- in America everyone is equal no matter what your background. And I think this convention -- it's true, I agree, it's show business. I'm totally with you on that. But it's show business putting out a very good message and America...

STEWART: They're hard to watch, I think.

KING: You got a minute left. Who should Gore pick?

CARLSON: Well, he should pick the candidate who's the most open to the press and the most interesting to cover, which would be probably Bob Kerrey.

STEWART: I would go -- let's say let's make this whole thing show business. I think he should pick Mr. T and Gore and the A-Team should hop in a van and drive across the country fighting crime.

KING: That would be a big boost.

STEWART: Either one of the Kerreys, I think would be a fine choice.

SIMPSON: With music, as we say in the old day.

STEIN: I think Kerrey is an incredibly powerful choice.

STEWART: I think so, too.

KING: Would that scare the Republicans the most?

STEIN: He's a scary choice.

KING: Because he's...

STEIN: Well, he's a war hero. He's extremely articulate. He's very charismatic in front of a crowd. He is a terrifying choice.

KING: Alan, do you forgive Jon as we come to a close?

SIMPSON: I do. Jon, I'm going to come up and I'm going press you to my bosom.

STEWART: Alan, I need a hug. I need a desperate hug. You have no idea. The only reason I came on tonight was to meet you.

SIMPSON: Oh, my god, I feel like a slob.

STEWART: Sign my yearbook.

SIMPSON: I will.

KING: He came in and said, "Is Alan really on the show?" You heard him.

SIMPSON: Now I feel like a piece of crap.

STEWART: Me and Pierce are going clubbing.

KING: Ben, thank you.

STEIN: Thank you very much.

KING: Tucker.

CARLSON: Thanks.

STEWART: Pleasure, sir.

KING: It's one of the first panels where Tucker reigns supreme.

STEWART: What?

KING: No, I'm not voting. We'll see you tomorrow night with two shows. Stay tuned -- there's other news happening in the world. We'll let you know following this. Thanks for joining us. From the gang, good night.

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