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Larry King Live

Republican National Convention: Rove and McKinnon on Bush's Acceptance Address

Aired August 4, 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: Good evening. We have been doing two a night each night here at this Republican Convention. We'll do the same with the Democrats. And we'll be back in Los Angeles tomorrow night.

And we begin proceedings -- Arnold Schwarzenegger will be with us in a little while. Then the top panel will join us.

We begin with Mark McKinnon, Bush campaign's media strategist. He once worked for Michael Dukakis. And he once worked for Ann Richards. He has come a long way, as they say.

And Karl Rove, who is the campaign's chief strategist. Karl, give us a little clue as to how this worked tonight, this speech. Who wrote it? Concept from beginning to end?

KARL ROVE, BUSH CAMPAIGN SENIOR STRATEGIST: Well, the governor largely wrote it. He sat down with a yellow pad and outlined what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it, gave it to the guy, to his chief speechwriter, a marvelous fellow named Mike Gerson (ph), who is a real artist.

And Mike went away for about 10 days or two weeks and came back with a draft. That was in early June. And the governor worked on it thereafter, went through 18 drafts, exed out big paragraphs, scribbled lots of things on pieces of paper.

KING: When was it done, done?

ROVE: About a week ago yesterday.

KING: When there were no changes.

ROVE: Yeah, there were minor, little words here and there. But the governor had a high level of comfort. Mark and I were there when he first gave the speech.

KING: To who?

ROVE: Which - it was Mark and Karen Hughes, Mike Gerson, Josh Bolton (ph) the policy director of the campaign, and Logan Walters (ph) his travel aide.

KING: Were you in a room? MARK MCKINNON, BUSH MEDIA ADVISOR: We were in a very small room. In fact, there was no furniture. There was just a stair machine. And we were all sitting on the floor.

ROVE: It's a little cabin in the middle of the governor's ranch near Crawford, Texas.

MCKINNON: That hasn't been built yet. But the one thing I would say about the speech, Larry, is that it is 100 percent a mirror of the governor's soul, his humanity, his agenda, his vision. And that's why we were all so excited.

And that's why he felt so good about it because he felt that in the end it really reflected his agenda, his vision, and his heart. And I think it was a great speech. And I think America saw a president tonight.

KING: It had cadence. I guess that's what you want in a good speech, right? It moved along.

MCKINNON: Yeah, it had a great structure to it. It built. And there were different pieces. There were reflective pieces. There were humorous pieces. I think as a whole it fit together terrifically well.

KING: Two weeks ago in Austin, Texas, the governor said to me, "We will never have a word spoken after 11:00 p.m." And he made it. He got in at 10:59.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: He rushed it up a little at the end to make it. He guaranteed me.

ROVE: This is something that sort of became a concern last night because we timed out carefully Secretary Cheney's speech. And yet it went long because of the enthusiasm of the crowd and the applause.

KING: And he was still in at 11:00.

ROVE: And we were a little bit worried about the governor's speech. But the crowd was great. But the governor's timing was...

MCKINNON: In fact, we were moving the program up until about 3:00 this afternoon when we realized that we had it starting at 10:20. Then we moved it to 10:15. And we started at 10:03. And Andy Card, Ed Gillespie, and Rush Shriefer (ph) and a lot of other people are doing fantastic work at the convention, really programmed this whole fabulous...

KING: Were you happy that it was as structured as it was?

ROVE: Oh, absolutely.

KING: This is the way you conceived this? ROVE: Well, Andy Card conceived it. And it was well executed. But look, you have to have a plan or it could quickly deteriorate into a mess.

And we had a wonderful set of speakers. And people kept to the times.

KING: Oh, did they. Television in mind, right?

MCKINNON: Absolutely. We tried to make this a different kind of convention. And I think we achieved that goal.

We had real people speaking that reflected the governor's compassionate conservative philosophy. We had videos and films that reflected those kinds of programs across the country. And in the end, I think people saw a really different kind of Republican Party.

KING: We'll be right back with Mark McKinnon and Karl Rove and then Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This is LARRY KING LIVE part two. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As governor, I've made difficult decisions and stood by them under pressure. I've been where the bucks stops in business and in government.

I've been a chief executive who sets an agenda, sets big goals an rallies people to believe and achieve them. I am proud of this record. And I am prepared for the work ahead.

If you give me your trust, I will honor it. Grant me a mandate, I will use it. Give me the opportunity to lead this nation, and I will lead.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There's the scene at the finish of things about an hour ago, balloons dropping. Some balloons did not drop. This may be the most massive balloon drop ever.

But as I look back, I'd say there's still 150 balloons that didn't make it in the machine. And now, look at it now as the folks departed to a rainy night in Philadelphia.

They, Karl, did a good job, they being the city, didn't they?

ROVE: They did a fabulous job. Philadelphia rolled out the red carpet. And I know that there was a lot of concern on the national committee about coming to Philadelphia.

But they did a fabulous job. It's a great city.

KING: Now what's the move now? Will the governor take a week off?

MCKINNON: Well, actually no. We're going right into the heartland of America on a train. And we're going to travel across the Midwest here and then out to California and up the coast.

ROVE: Leave tomorrow morning at 10:00...

KING: A train ride...

ROVE: ... Fly to Pittsburgh, board a train and go to Akron, Ohio. Fly to Detroit, board a train, go all the way across Michigan making four stops. And on Sunday morning, go to church in Chicago with the cathedral. And at 1:00 in the afternoon, board a train at Joliet and hit those vital stops at Odell, Normal, Lincoln, and Springfield.

MCKINNON: We're taking the mo, and we're going to go.

KING: Harry Truman. Truman, you going to use a lot of rail in this campaign?

ROVE: Well, not much. We'll go to California at the end of the week and ride a train, go from the south to the north, be joined by Senator John McCain, who is going to be campaigning with the governor. Fly to Oregon and Washington and campaign there.

Interesting thing about all the states we've mentioned, Larry. We haven't won, Republicans haven't won a single one of those states since 1988. And yet in every one of those states, George W. Bush is ahead except for California where he's two or three points behind.

KING: You will do what during the Democratic convention, Mark, lay low? Is that the form?

MCKINNON: Listen, it's unfortunate that the Gore campaign, the Gore's campaign managers this weekend described their campaign as a slaughterhouse full of killers. And unfortunately we saw that during this week when during our convention - there's normally sort of a gentleman's agreement that you don't attack the other party during their convention.

And not only did they attack us, they attacked us in paid media with negative attacks on air, which is very unfortunate. I think we're inclined to honor the agreement and let the Democrats have their day in the sun.

ROVE: Spent $5 million on five different television ads trashing Governor Bush in 17 states, 72 markets across the country.

KING: While you were in convention.

ROVE: While we're in convention. And I think it's a sign of the desperate straits that they feel that they're in. This positive agenda of reforming education, of strengthening Social Security and rebuilding our defenses and doing something to confront poverty and suffering that you heard tonight from Governor Bush, it scares the Gore Democrats. And as a result, they went to pretty extraordinary lengths this week.

MCKINNON: I thought it was interesting about the speech, Larry, that after the speech there was sort of this stunned silence from the Democrats. They didn't know how to attack the speech.

As good as they are at attacking, they just couldn't find a flaw with the speech. And all they were able to come up with was to attack us for the length of the speech.

It was a 55 minute speech. So I'm not - I guess they wanted it...

KING: With applause (INAUDIBLE) 35 minutes of talk.

MCKINNON: I think they were just sad that it just really cut to the hour.

KING: Where will the governor be during the Democratic Convention?

ROVE: He'll be relaxing in Crawford, Texas, at the ranch.

KING: At the ranch.

ROVE: At the ranch.

MCKINNON: And he'll be with Senator McCain. ROVE: Yeah, he's going to on Saturday just before the Democratic Convention...

MCKINNON: I'm breaking news here, aren't I?

ROVE: ... Yeah.

KING: Break it, Karl.

ROVE: We'll come in and active news on your show, Larry. Governor and Laura Bush have been invited by Cindy and John McCain to visit them at their ranch in Sedona. So they're going to fly on Saturday...

KING: Saturday right before the Democrats open.

ROVE: A week from Saturday, they're going to fly from Washington state where they'll be campaigning together and spend some time at the ranch with the McCains in Sedona, Arizona, which they're really looking forward to.

KING: So wow, who'd have thought it would come to this? Based on South Carolina, you would not have bet on this. ROVE: These are two good men. And the Senator McCain has been incredibly generous. And his speech was fabulous. His private conversations with the governor over the last several months on the phone have been great. His offers of assistance have been generous and more than we could ever expect.

KING: So the governor will be with the McCains at the McCain ranch...

ROVE: Right.

KING: ... in Sedona...

ROVE: Right.

KING: ... And then the governor will head to his own ranch.

ROVE: Right.

KING: See a lot of you guys.

MCKINNON: Thank you, Larry, appreciate it.

KING: Congratulations.

ROVE: Thank you, Larry.

MCKINNON: Thanks much.

KING: It was a heck of a convention.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is involved. We'll tell you how right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: And I believe this will be a tough race, down to the wire. Their war room is up and running. But we are ready.

(APPLAUSE)

BUSH: Their attacks will be relentless. But they will be answered. We are facing something familiar. But they're facing something new.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There's the scene as the people who - the folks who work here in Philadelphia are going to have to clean this up and get those chairs out of here as the convention is over.

Joining us now is an old friend, film superstar, active Republican, and the national chairman of the Inner City Games, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Were you down on the floor?

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, ACTOR AND REPUBLICAN: Good to see you again, Larry.

KING: Were you down there for all of this?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I was going - jumping around from one booth to the next looking from every angle...

KING: And?

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... And it was a lot of fun being here. I'll tell you that. It is really great. It makes you really proud to be a Republican when you see this convention, unlike the last two conventions that were so negative that Republicans only talked about what they didn't like and what they were not standing for.

And then this convention, it was like a whole breath of fresh air that came in there. And it was who? I think George W. Bush who led the way, the way of inclusion.

And it started out right away on Monday with Colin Powell's great speech. And it ended with a great speech by George W. Bush. And I think that both of those speeches together, I think if they pull that off of what they're promising America, I think it's going to be extraordinary.

KING: You're here with your lovely wife Maria covering for NBC. She's in the Kennedy family. Do you bring politics home?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Sure.

KING: You do? You discuss it?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Sure.

KING: Argue?

SCHWARZENEGGER: There's no - why would we argue? I mean, she believes in some things - we believe in the same things. Remember that I'm a fiscal conservative, but social very liberal and very open minded about a lot of things.

I believe very much in the philosophy of what the Republicans finally have been talking about, which is inclusion, you know, to reach out to the minorities...

KING: But you disagree with them in certain things.

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... in certain things. And I think that now I think that they finally have gotten their act together. And I think that George W. Bush can pull it off.

KING: Are you going to campaign? SCHWARZENEGGER: I don't know yet. I mean, I have not (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: You've got a movie you start shooting.

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... I'm starting a movie in the fall, in September, which is going to take me to Mexico. Then we have another movie coming out in November. And then the meantime this summer I'm going to be very busy with our Inner City Games.

KING: I want to ask you about that.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Organizing that.

KING: What's the movie coming in November?

SCHWARZENEGGER: "Sixth Day."

KING: "Sixth Day." It's about cloning.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Action thriller. But cloning is the subject of it. But it's a very dramatic piece. And it's really great. There's also some great humor in there.

KING: Is Robert Duvall in that?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Robert Duvall is in it. He's playing the scientist who has invented the cloning, actually.

KING: Are you cloned?

SCHWARZENEGGER: One of us is cloned. One of us is the real guy and one of us is cloned.

KING: Arnold, you're never dull.

SCHWARZENEGGER: No, sure.

KING: What are the Inner City Games?

SCHWARZENEGGER: The Inner City Games is something that Danny Hernandez (ph) has started in Los Angeles 10 years ago. And eight years ago, I got involved with it through the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

And it was such a successful program that he is reaching out to 100,000 kids in Los Angeles and giving them after school programs and sports programs, computer programs, and so on. And I helped him with that.

And so I took the organization national. And a national level, now we have 12 cities, including Philadelphia.

And that's why I came here to Philadelphia today, to organize and hold the Inner City Games here, the kids that they graduated, they've kept their commitment. They have stayed in class a whole year. And they stayed with the computer programs, with the sports programs, the entrepreneurial programs. And today, we handed out the certificates to them that they've done outstanding jobs.

I kept my promise when I said, "I'll be back." And they kept their promise to stay in school and stay away from the streets and violence.

KING: And you do the same in LA?

SCHWARZENEGGER: We do the same in LA because the important thing is to expose both parts because the issues of when you see those kids in inner cities and the way they fall behind and the way they're kind of locked out of the system.

They don't have the parents there. They don't have mentors. They don't have the money. They don't have the education. They don't have the computers. They don't have the books. They have nothing.

So we have to make sure that those kids get pulled along. And I am the expert on this because I am a person that has been a product of the land of opportunities. I came to America with nothing. And I saw it firsthand how this land is the land of opportunities.

But not for everyone. When I travel around the inner cities in America, I see that those kid in inner cities do not have the opportunities. They're not getting equipped to get the will and the drive and the vision and all those kinds of things to become successful, to climb that ladder of success, because they don't have the mentoring and the parents there right from the beginning that I had.

KING: Too often, they're just photo ops, right? To people like yourself...

SCHWARZENEGGER: Which is a very sad story. I mean, you see politicians...

KING: ... They go in and go out.

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... a lot of times coming in there and shaking hands. And then afterwards when they walk away, they shake their heads and say, "I can't believe what I saw." Well, the fact of the matter is this is in many, many cities all over America.

And they should wake up. They should realize that this is a part of America that has to be dealt with. And as you know, eight years ago, those people were promised a bridge to the 21st century, a bridge to the future. Where is it?

I mean, you know, there's more kids living in poverty today than ever before. And I think that we have to address this issue.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and ask Arnold what he sees when he goes in the inner city. And then we've got an outstanding panel coming for you, Carl Bernstein, Tucker Carlson, Bill Schneider and Wolf Blitzer. They'll all be here to wrap things up.

We'll be back with some more moments with Arnold Schwarzenegger right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: The last time taxes were this high as a percentage of our economy, there was a good reason. We were fighting World War II. Today, our high taxes fund a surplus. Some say that growing federal surplus means Washington has more money to spend.

But they've got it backwards. The surplus is not the government's money. The surplus is the people's money.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A lot of people still remain taking pictures. They go up on the podium. Credentials don't mean anything. Security people are gone. And pictures are being taken to take back home.

We're with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

What surprised you? What have you learned most going into the inner city?

SCHWARZENEGGER: Well, I think the most important thing that you learn is that how little attention those kids get. You know, here there's an enormous amount of children out there in the inner cities who do not get...

KING: And is there a lot of talent out there?

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... There's a tremendous amount of talent...

KING: Brains and athletic.

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... There's - exactly. But these kids out there, they don't get the break that they need. And people always say that the children fail, and they become criminals, and there's all this violence in the streets, and the shooting and all this.

But then Colin Powell said on Monday that the children are not failing. It's the people - it's us that are failing by not taking care of those kids. It's the parents that are failing because the fact of the matter is those kids are like you said extremely talented.

I, for instance, escorted (ph) event of the day, the Vox (ph) Middle School here in Philadelphia. They're the national champions in chess. They hold the national champion woman chess player there.

I played chess with an eight-year-old kid. And it became a stalemate. I mean, she cornered me. I mean, she was so unbelievable smart, this girl.

You see the computers - I went through the computer camp today - how bright those kids are, how well they spell. I mean, it was extraordinary.

KING: So not going there, not using those assets, hurts all of us?

SCHWARZENEGGER: It...

KING: It's dumb not to go there.

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... Absolutely. It is very wise money to just spend there. And I think it's not just throwing money away. It's just that those kids need mentors because a lot of them don't have two parents at home.

They have one. And they have to go to work, so they don't have anybody in the afternoon. And this is why it was music to my ears when I heard George W. Bush today talk about that he believes in after school programs, that he believes in taking care of those kids. And I think that there could be a tremendous push now in that direction if he will get elected.

KING: Do you think you owe it back to the community to do this?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I think...

KING: Do you think other people in your position owe it?

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... I think all of us do. I think that entertainers and sports celebrities and all this stuff should not be separated. If every single human being in this country goes into the country to go out and do volunteer work, I believe that for instance the young kids instead of going to the military should go to do two years' service and to do something for their country like the Mormons are doing (INAUDIBLE).

KING: Universal service.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Absolutely. I think at the things that I learned by going into the inner cities, the things that I have learned by working with the Special Olympians, to go to China and to go all over the world to promote Special Olympics, and to work with all those disadvantaged people, it is extraordinary the things that you learn.

You see a whole other world out there...

KING: It makes you better.

SCHWARZENEGGER: ... that it makes very - of course it makes you better.

KING: Thanks, Arnold.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Thank you very much. KING: See you in LA.

SCHWARZENEGGER: Absolutely. I'll be back.

KING: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the national chair - he'll be back.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: The national chairman - when he says that, a lot of people shake a little - national chairman of the Inner City Games. A great panel is ahead next. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Our generation has a chance to reclaim some essential values, to show we have grown up before we grow old. But when the moment for leadership came, this administration did not teach our children. It disillusioned them.

They had their chance. They have not led. We will.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The 37th Republican National Convention is history, and the workers clean up the hall. They do a pretty good job here. Tomorrow, you wouldn't know there was a convention here.

We'll be back in L.A. tomorrow night with Bill Maher, and we'll be doing two shows nightly during the Democratic convention which starts one week from Monday in Los Angeles.

Let's welcome a terrific panel. Carl Bernstein, the Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist, executive editor of voter.com, and a contributor to "Vanity Fair." Tucker Carlson of the staff of "The Weekly Standard," contributor to "Talk" magazine, and CNN political analyst. Bill Schneider who is CNN's senior political analyst and, as we mentioned earlier, possibly separated at birth from Dick Cheney. We showed that the other night. It's almost frightening. And Wolf Blitzer, CNN Podium Convention Correspondent, and the host, of course, of LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER.

Carl, what did you think of the speech?

CARL BERNSTEIN, VOTER.COM EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: I thought it was a good speech, not a great speech. I thought it had a lot of platitudes. I thought it had a lot of things that Al Gore will be able to respond to forcefully. But this has been a great convention for this guy. A great convention for the Republicans. They get out of here with the message they wanted to get across. Nothing in their way. They've got a lot of thrust behind them. This has been a remarkable event for a Republican convention.

KING: Wolf, how was the speech?

WOLF BLITZER, "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER" HOST: I thought it was an excellent speech. I thought he rehearsed it well. He -- he knew the lines. His voice went up, went down when -- at the right moment. He knew -- he knew what he had to say, he delivered it, and -- and the important thing -- he brought some substance in there, not just, you know, a few good lines. He outlined a vision, something that his father always was criticized for not outlining. It was more of a Reaganesque kind of speech than a George Bush speech, and I think he did well.

KING: Was it politically on the moderate side, would you say?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Generally. Sure. A Democrat could have given most of those lines. I mean, "We shall overcome." I mean, he touched a few conservative themes, but, basically, it was very inclusive. But, most importantly, what he had to do today -- tonight was appear like a president. He had to look like a president. This was his introduction to the American people.

KING: That was the punch, the role tonight.

SCHNEIDER: Sure. Sure. The role was can people see this man as president because the chattering class raises a lot of questions about the -- the thinness of his resume. I mean, he's only been a six-year governor of Texas. I think he did a lot to lay out the agenda because he talked about some interesting, bold, new ideas that he's proposed earlier -- Social Security reform, a missile-defense plan, a tax-cut plan. A lot of those things aren't popular, but he said "That's how I show leadership. I don't follow. I lead."'

KING: Were you impressed, Tucker?

TUCKER CARLSON, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I was. I thought he looked great. I mean, for Bush, this was -- I thought he was sort of performing at the maximum end of his ability. He's not a great speech giver. I thought he gave a very good speech. No smirking. He didn't even smile actually.

SCHNEIDER: No smiling.

CARLSON: That's exactly right.

KING: Why didn't he smile?

CARLSON: Well, I think he didn't smile...

KING: I mean, even his at laugh lines.

CARLSON: ... because it's hard to smile and not look like you're smirking.

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: That's right, but also to look presidential, you have to be serious and act tough. It was interesting, though. He -- the key criticism that the Gore people make against Bush is he doesn't mean it. Bush says, "I'm different." The Gore people say, "No, you're not. You're just hiding your normal Republican stuff under this veneer of differentness," but, at a certain point, you reach the quacks-like-a-duck problem. You know, if he acts different, gives a different speech, if the convention's different, the party's different, some people say, "Well, maybe he is different," and...

BLITZER: You know, you...

CARLSON: ... I think there's hope for that.

BLITZER: You -- this was really the best speech I ever heard him deliver because, normally, if he's got to really carefully -- the debates -- you know, formal -- he came across as somewhat nervous and a little bit unprepared, a little shaky on some of the -- he was really prepared. He went through that speech well, and -- and it showed, and on those -- the substantive, conservative compassionate -- the compassionate conservative themes, you know, he -- he did outline a vision on those -- in those areas. Have you ever heard a Republican say a lot of those things?

CARLSON: I think the anti-materialist theme was amazing. Eight times, he said...

BERNSTEIN: "We shall overcome" was...

CARLSON: Yeah.

KING: That's never been said before.

CARLSON: He defined himself very well, and he defined his party very well.

KING: You said it was a great convention and, Carl, there have been a lot of harping critics, the press and otherwise, saying that it was too -- too smooth.

BERNSTEIN: Well, it was. It was slick.

KING: The Stepford...

BERNSTEIN: At times, it did look like a Motown review, and it...

KING: And that was good, you're saying.

BERNSTEIN: Well -- well, I -- yes, absolutely. I...

BLITZER: They'll do -- they did a much better job here than the Democrats in terms of keeping...

BERNSTEIN: Well, it used to be that the Democrats got the show business part right. Then George Bush, the elder, went to Japan, threw up on the prime minister's lap, and since then, they couldn't get the show business right. This convention, they got the show business right. They got their message out. They got their candidate to look exactly like they wanted him to look. Great achievement.

SCHNEIDER: And let me tell you something. The achievement was that this was the most non-political political convention I've ever seen. It was anti-political. There was no ideology. There were no debates. There was no controversy. There were very few politicians on the stage. They were making...

KING: You think it was a show.

SCHNEIDER: Well, it was a show, but they were making a point. The point was the point made by Bush in his speech. What he said was "I'm leadership. They're politics." They made fun of Clinton and Gore as totally driven by politics, and he said, "I'm a leader. I propose things like a tax cut and a -- Social Security reform that are supposed to be dangerous because I'm not like them."

KING: What do you make, Carl -- Rove just told us of this whistle stop they're starting on tomorrow, the train trip, the one across America.

BERNSTEIN: It's all very Clintonesque, you know.

KING: They're going to be in California right before...

BLITZER: Remember -- remember Clinton four years ago after Chicago on the bus trip? I was on that bus trip. It's -- it's a -- it's one of Clinton's play book...

KING: And going to the -- he's going to the McCain ranch.

BERNSTEIN: And he's moving the party to the center, or so he -- or so it would seem. That's what he's trying to do.

KING: Tucker, as a conservative, does that bother you?

CARLSON: What, the McCain part?

KING: No, that the -- the party's gone to the center.

BERNSTEIN: Well, it -- has it, is the question.

CARLSON: No, but I think...

BERNSTEIN: He wants you to think it has.

CARLSON: Well, I don't know, though. I mean, again, in politics, the symbols are reality, basically.

KING: Conservatives hate the center, don't they?

CARLSON: Well, I'm not sure they hate the center. I mean, conservatives are mean. I'm -- and I was -- must say I was glad to see some meanness tonight. I mean, finally, Bush said, "This is why the other guys are less good than I am. This is why you ought to vote for me and not them," and nobody else, except Dick Cheney, said that. It was wonderful to hear it. SCHNEIDER: The Democrats are going to try to say this a sham, and the question is...

KING: I think they're saying it now.

SCHNEIDER: They're saying it now, but is it? Because look what they've done. They've done something very clever. What -- what Bush does is he endorses conservative positions on abortion and on gay rights and on affirmative action, all -- all these issues, but he embraces their adversaries. Now that's for real.

He says, "I'm not going to sign the hate crimes bill, and I oppose gay marriage," but he welcomes gays in the party. He endorses a hard line on abortion in the platform, but he welcomes pro-choice people in the party. He has -- Colin Powell he welcomes to the convention, but he doesn't agree with him on affirmative action. Is that a sham? I think it's a genuine step towards the center to embrace the adversaries.

KING: Why do the -- why do the people want to be in the party if the party is saying we don't agree with them?

BLITZER: They're so hungry to get into the White House.

BERNSTEIN: That's right.

BLITZER: After eight years -- eight years in the desert -- after eight years, you're willing to swallow a lot and...

BERNSTEIN: And say a lot of things.

BLITZER: ... to achieve that objective, and -- and George W. Bush, though -- I will say this, that you could be cynical about all the symbolism, all the African-Americans and the Hispanics and the music that was played here and the references to Martin Luther King and -- and all of the things that you don't normally hear at a Republican convention, but I think it's positive because it does send that message out to a lot of Republicans who may not necessarily be sensitive to those kinds of symbolic gestures.

BERNSTEIN: I think he believes it, too. I -- I mean, whatever the party -- I think this is one thing about this man that we have to say from everything we see. He believes this party has made a big mistake in the past by not...

KING: I was...

BERNSTEIN: ... by not moving toward inclusion, and -- and he -- and he has done both a smart and a good thing in this regard.

SCHNEIDER: Let me -- there were several defining events for the Republican Party that they suffered from in the '90s. There was the Houston convention where the right wing took over, and there was the Gingrich revolution culminating in the shutdown, and there was impeachment. None of those things was mentioned. Newt Gingrich, who defined the Republican Party in the '90s, was a non-person at this convention. He doesn't exist anymore. Where he is?

CARLSON: I don't know. I saw him -- I saw him looming around in the hall a few minutes ago, but...

BERNSTEIN: I've got to tell you...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: No, he was on FOX a lot, but I...

SCHNEIDER: What sort of...

CARLSON: It was a shame, though, I thought, that nobody mentioned impeachment. It was sort of weird. I mean, it's like...

KING: It never was mentioned.

CARLSON: I know. That's too bad.

BERNSTEIN: You know, the interesting thing about...

CARLSON: I enjoyed it.

BERNSTEIN: ... that -- for the first time today in a poll, it showed that impeachment is beginning to figure in this and that impeachment may be working in favor of Bush.

CARLSON: Oh, my word. Of course.

BLITZER: Well, the subtext...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: It didn't work for the Republicans during the impeachment.

SCHNEIDER: The other thing is...

CARLSON: Well, it got rid of Nixon. It's the gift that keeps on giving, basically, is what you're saying.

BERNSTEIN: Bush left himself open, though, to charges of recklessness. That's what Gore will go -- go after, which is sure -- sure...

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: You've got a compassionate message, but it's risky, it's reckless, you don't have a program that guarantees these things.

CARLSON: Right. Like he said, "Damn the consequences. Hand me the pen."

BERNSTEIN: That's right.

CARLSON: I'm sure that will be in an ad. BERNSTEIN: There's one other great unknown about this, that there are going to be two really important speeches at the Democratic convention. There's going to be Gore's speech, and there's going to be Clinton's speech.

KING: Clinton goes Monday night?

BLITZER: Monday night.

BERNSTEIN: And Clinton's speech might be the most important speech of that convention. He...

KING: Right.

CARLSON: It will be the longest.

BERNSTEIN: He -- but he might be the person that can really, you know, answer this stuff better than the candidate.

KING: Karl Rove says that they don't expect much of a bump off tonight because they -- they already...

CARLSON: I know. He's always saying that. "No, it's going to be a very close race." I mean, that's...

KING: No, no, no. He said he doesn't think the bump -- because they've already got like 92 to...

CARLSON: It's a caricature of expectation lowering. Of course, they expect a bump off tonight, and they're going to get one, absolutely. They just...

BERNSTEIN: With this convention, they're going to get a bump like very few have ever gotten.

SCHNEIDER: Assuming people are watching. Assuming people are watching. They don't have to watch.

BLITZER: Yeah, but the people who vote -- the people who vote are watching. Fifty percent of the American voters never vote, so you don't care if they don't...

KING: The average...

SCHNEIDER: They don't have to watch.

KING: We'll have Bush ahead by how much?

SCHNEIDER: The average bump -- I can answer this with authority -- 6 points. That's the average bump. I think it will get a little bit bigger than that.

KING: So if he gets 8, that will make him how much ahead?

SCHNEIDER: Well, he's about 6 points ahead now. If he gets 8, he'll be 14, 15 points ahead, which is pretty good, but then, of course, Gore will get a bump. You know, the argument against the big bounce out of this convention is that he didn't get a big audience. The ratings are not good. But the argument for it is that people didn't know George Bush. So a lot of people are going to at least talk about it, watch the news, hear the clips. It will get some buzz because they're genuinely curious, "Who is this guy?"

BERNSTEIN: It's all a new media configuration. You -- you can't go by the old judgment. The Internet and sites like ours at voter.com -- a huge role.

KING: Do we know how many people -- how many -- what percentage of the people who are going to vote are not decided?

SCHNEIDER: About 20 percent.

KING: So -- so they're going to -- they're going to decide this election.

SCHNEIDER: Of course.

KING: Eighty percent...

SCHNEIDER: People who decide last are the ones...

KING: Eighty percent of America knows how they're going to vote.

BLITZER: But remember, Larry, it's only in a few states. If Gore wins New York and California and Bush wins Texas and Florida and most of the South, it's going to be Mi -- it's going to Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, a few critical Midwestern states. Maybe New Jersey. Maybe Washington state. But there's not that many states where -- and in those states, it's still pretty close, although Bush is slightly ahead.

KING: So you could win the popular and lose the electoral in this.

BLITZER: It's never happened, but it's theoretically...

SCHNEIDER: Oh, it has happened, but -- a hundred years ago.

BLITZER: All right. Bill Schneider, the expert.

KING: Bill knows.

BLITZER: He knows.

SCHNEIDER: It happened.

KING: All right. We're going to take a break and -- and get this expert panel's thoughts on who Mr. Gore should select. That announcement coming Tuesday. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: If my opponent had been there at the moon launch, it would have been a "risky rocket scheme." If he'd been there when Edison was testing the light bulb, it would have been a "risky anti-candle scheme." And if he'd been there when the Internet was invented...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: OK. Wolf Blitzer, how do we know there's a short list, and how do we know who's on it?

BLITZER: Because they leak that information.

KING: They being?

BLITZER: The Democrats, the -- the -- just like the Republicans did. What they're interested -- interested in doing now -- what the Gore campaign is interested in doing now is -- they're going to make their announcement on Tuesday. So they want to start getting the final list out right away to start stealing some of the publicity, get some buzz going. Within the next day or two, we're going to know who the finalist is. Probably Saturday, I'm guessing.

KING: Finalists?

BLITZER: No, the final person. So that...

KING: You mean they're going to know by Sunday?

BLITZER: We probably will know -- just -- by -- I'm sure by Sunday, maybe even by Saturday, we'll know who that person is. So then they dominate the news Sunday, Monday. And, Tuesday, they make their -- their big announcement. But there's also...

KING: But isn't the announcement then...

BLITZER: No, but there's also one failsafe purpose of all of this. If, let's say, they decide on Mr. X and there is something that they didn't vet, there's some -- the "National Enquirer" has some picture, something like that, they can say, "Oh, we never -- we never made any announcement."

KING: Nothing ever comes from that.

BLITZER: So it gives them -- no, they...

BERNSTEIN: They've got two days to get to try it out.

BLITZER: And they also get publicity in...

CARLSON: Right, so the press can do background checks on the guy.

SCHNEIDER: And given the timing...

BERNSTEIN: While the "National Enquirer" does its work.

CARLSON: Right, exactly.

SCHNEIDER: Given the timing, it steps on Bush's bounce, so maybe -- Gore is lucky in that because he will -- Tuesday is exactly the same time that Bush named Cheney, so he can say," I'm naming him in advance of the convention," the same thing.

KING: Who will it be?

BERNSTEIN: I'll tell you who it won't be. Warren Christopher.

BLITZER: Dick Cheney was the veteran.

BERNSTEIN: One thought. The person who is not on the list that I think can do him the most good is Bob Kerrey. You know...

KING: Oh, everyone...

BERNSTEIN: You know, Kerrey -- Kerrey -- Bob Kerrey can get up at that war memorial in Nashville where they're going to make the announcement and say, "Dick Cheney, while you were getting your four deferments for being the student, I was losing a leg."

BLITZER: Well, John Kerry had...

SCHNEIDER: And there's not -- there's no bad blood between Al Gore and John Kerry of...

BERNSTEIN: I know that...

SCHNEIDER: But there's a lot of bad blood between Al Gore and Bob Kerrey.

BERNSTEIN: ... but Bob Kerrey is...

KING: Well, apparently, he's not on the list.

BERNSTEIN: ... a really gutsy -- a really gutsy choice and could be a great campaigner.

CARLSON: No, and -- and some of the choices are so lame that they're almost just padding. John Edwards of North Carolina. And Jeanne Shaheen. I mean, no way.

BERNSTEIN: She is not going to be chosen.

SCHNEIDER: You don't want someone who's...

KING: She is not going to be -- the governor of...

SCHNEIDER: You don't want someone who hasn't been around. You don't want someone who's really not been around the track, like John Edwards. I'll tell you the most interesting name.

KING: So who is he?

SCHNEIDER: I don't know who it is, but I'll give you the most interesting name I've heard, is Joe Lieberman of Connecticut.

CARLSON: Amen.

BERNSTEIN: That's the one that's...

SCHNEIDER: Now that's interesting because remember back in September of 1999, he -- or 8 -- '98, he was the first Democrat to stand up in the Senate and condemn Bill Clinton's behavior. In the end, he voted to acquit the president, but he was very strong in his denunciations. If you want to cut your ties to Bill Clinton in a sort of conspicuous way at least at the...

KING: And, Tucker, he's co-chairman with Bill Bennett of...

CARLSON: Yeah. Plus, he's a great guy. He's funny. He's nice. He's...

KING: And how about the Jewish angle? Is...

BERNSTEIN: Oh, that's...

(CROSSTALK)

CARLSON: Yeah, he would be, but he's -- now he says he's -- he's Orthodox, which is impressive to evangelicals especially, but he now says he'll work on Saturday. Plus, he won the Washington celebrity comedy contest a couple of years ago.

BERNSTEIN: He and Sandy Koufax.

KING: Carl, does it work? I mean, it's kind of weird, but every time you knock him, you're going to have to say, "I'm not anti- Semitic."

BERNSTEIN: That's right. I'm interested in -- it seems to me that there is an urban Jewish vote that could make a difference in a number of places and that, indeed, Lieberman would be a good pick for...

BLITZER: Except that's New York and Florida, maybe Los Angeles.

BERNSTEIN: Cleveland. Boston.

SCHNEIDER: The major states...

BLITZER: But if Gore is going to be in desperate need of that vote, he's in -- oh, he's in deep trouble.

BERNSTEIN: Well, actually, he -- I think that this party has made huge strides with Jews in the past 12 years.

SCHNEIDER: It makes a statement about religion. It makes a statement about...

KING: Is it a gutsy thing? SCHNEIDER: ... Clinton. It's a very gutsy pick because it's a different kind of pick. No Jewish candidate -- I'll tell you one thing it might do. It might help elect Hillary in New York.

KING: Who's the safe pick, Tucker? John Kerry.

CARLSON: Yeah, John Ke -- I mean, doesn't he look like, of all of them, the most vice presidential? I mean, he -- you can picture him standing at a state funeral in the back.

SCHNEIDER: I'll tell you one problem with all these picks. They all come from states with Republican governors and they're senators. John Kerry has a Republican governor. Joe Lieberman. Bob Graham from Florida has a Republican governor. So if any of them get selected, the Republican governors will put a Republican in the Senate and Tom Daschle will -- who is the Senate Minority Leader and wants desperately to have a Democratic majority, will complain.

BLITZER: You know who -- and you know who the other wildcard is? Dick Gephardt in the House.

BERNSTEIN: I would say that really is one to look at seriously.

KING: Let me get a break, and we'll come back with our remaining moments from the Republican convention.

Again, with Bill Maher back tomorrow night in Los Angeles.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Wo, when I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: And one name we didn't mention was Senator Bayh of Indiana.

BLITZER: Evan Bayh. Very attractive former governor. Very popular. He's someone definitely on the short list and, you know, it's certainly someone who -- who's possible.

KING: What's the Democratic convention going to be like?

SCHNEIDER: That's a really...

KING: Will they be off at 11:00?

SCHNEIDER: No.

BERNSTEIN: They will not be off at 11:00, but they are going to attack both the record -- and they're going to cast some aspersions on this man's character. They -- they're -- he -- they are going to picture him as not quite as sterling a character as -- as we've seen -- seen here.

You know, I think, though, there's something we totally missed in this discussion, and that is this extraordinary picture of the former president of the United States looking at his son, you know, being nominated to be president. I'm not sure that -- that John Adams was alive when John Quincy Adams was...

SCHNEIDER: Yes. He died, I think, very...

BERNSTEIN: I mean, this is something we've never seen, and it's going to -- it's going to play in this thing. We don't know how, but it's...

CARLSON: Well, that's -- it's hard to see how it works against him, I have to say.

KING: It will work for him.

SCHNEIDER: Well, it's -- it should work for him because his father's a brand name, a character, a dignitary.

KING: Even though defeated?

SCHNEIDER: Even though defeated. You know, when people think of George Bush now, it's with fondness and admiration because they thought he had character and he had dignity and, or course, the Gulf War is still a very strong memory, and what's interesting is the Democrats are going to try to talk about the bad, old days under George Bush, but that was a long time ago.

KING: But don't the Democrats have a lot to say about the last eight years? I mean...

BLITZER: And, look, the most important thing -- it's still after all, when all is said and done, the economy, and the economy is -- is pretty good right now. The economy is -- low unemployment, low inflation. The stock market's in pretty good shape.

KING: They mentioned tonight it's prosperity.

BERNSTEIN: Well, it's really amazing to hear -- to hear what the...

BLITZER: Prosperity With a Purpose.

BERNSTEIN: ... to hear the Republicans say that we have this great economy, but the Democrats don't want to use it to good social purpose.

CARLSON: Right. Well, that...

BERNSTEIN: This is quite -- this is quite remarkable. CARLSON: But that was -- it was almost like Ralph Nader, and Bush, give him credit, has been making this point for almost a year. It's interesting.

SCHNEIDER: Except that...

CARLSON: And the point is that it's not enough to be rich, that you ought to do something virtuous with your money. It's not the -- a point that Republicans...

KING: This sounds reversed.

CARLSON: It's so interesting, but the Democratic party is really the party of -- of -- you know, it's -- of the corporate interests. That's the point they're making.

BLITZER: But the bedrock -- the bedrock Republican issues that unify the base with -- you heard him talk about tax cuts, and he gave specifics, eliminate the death tax, eliminate the...

BERNSTEIN: For the farmer. For the farmer instead of -- instead of the guy who owns a million shares of stock in...

BLITZER: I mean, he did -- he did have a bedrock issue.

SCHNEIDER: There was one strange comment that Dick Cheney made in his speech that really struck me. He said, "Does anyone -- Democrat or Republican -- believe that, if Al Gore is elected president, things will be any different over the next four years than they've been for the past eight?" and the delegates said, "No!" meaning, of course, too much politics. But I wonder -- if Al Gore asked that question, he might get a different answer because...

KING: You might say yes.

SCHNEIDER: ... people would say, "Yeah. If things are no different under Gore than they've been under Clinton" - things are pretty...

BLITZER: You see, if Al Gore starts asking "Are you better off today than you were eights years ago when there was a Republican administration?" people would say, "Well, maybe I am."

KING: Anybody going to the Reform Party convention?

BERNSTEIN: We -- we're covering it.

(CROSSTALK)

BERNSTEIN: Yes, we will be there.

CARLSON: It's just too weird. I went -- I went last -- last time. It was one of the strangest...

SCHNEIDER: It's the only convention where there's a story. Can they stop... CARLSON: A story? I could never figure out what the story was. It was so insane.

SCHNEIDER: Can they stop Buchanan? Can they stop Buchanan?

BERNSTEIN: Can Pat Buchanan finally be put out of public funds?

KING: Is it -- is it next week?

BERNSTEIN: Yes.

BLITZER: Buchanan will be on LATE EDITION, by the way, this Sunday.

CARLSON: Oh, my gosh.

SCHNEIDER: Wow.

BERNSTEIN: Aha.

KING: Who's running against him?

BLITZER: John Hagelin.

CARLSON: John Hagelin, a transcendental meditation guy from Iowa. I'm not kidding. I interviewed him once.

(CROSSTALK)

SCHNEIDER: ... qualification is he's not Pat Buchanan.

KING: Thank you all very much. Carl Bernstein, Tucker Carlson, Bill Schneider, and Wolf Blitzer.

Hey, the Capital Gang could be in trouble after this. Let me tell you there'll be a whole new theme starting here.

BLITZER: That's right. The White Male Gang.

KING: We hope you've enjoyed our coverage. Other things have --

The White Male Gang.

Other things have been in the news tonight, and we'll get you up to date on that.

And, of course, more coverage through the weekend. LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER on Sunday with Pat Buchanan.

We'll see you tomorrow night with Bill Maher.

From Philadelphia, I'm Larry King. For all of our panel and all of our guests and all of our crew, thanks for joining us and good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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