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Larry King Live

What Does Joseph Lieberman Bring to the Democratic Ticket?

Aired August 7, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Al Gore picks Senator Joseph Lieberman to be his running mate. What does this Connecticut Democrat and Orthodox Jew bring to the ticket?

Joining us from Stevensville, Montana, the 1972 Democratic standard-bearer, former Senator George McGovern; from Boston, the Democratic presidential nominee in 1988, former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis; from San Francisco, Senator Barbara Boxer, permanent co-chair of the upcoming Democratic National Convention; in New York, Senator Charles Schumer; and in Washington, Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post," all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We will meet our panel in a little while. We'll begin by reminding you that tomorrow night, as three weeks ago when we interviewed Dick Cheney on the day he was nominated, tomorrow night from Nashville, our exclusive interview with Senator Joseph Lieberman. He'll be the guest for the hour tomorrow night live.

Before we talk with Rabbi Marvin Hier for a few moments about this extraordinary day, let's connect with Donna Brazile, she is the campaign manager for Al Gore, she joins us from Nashville.

When did you know, Donna, that it was Senator Lieberman?

DONNA BRAZILE, GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, I learned about it early this morning, I received a phone call. And I tell you, I have been excited all day with the great news of the vice president selection Senator Joe Lieberman. Democrats across the country are are very thrilled at the prospects of having Al Gore and Joe Lieberman campaign across the country for working families. So we are very excited here in Nashville and we look forward to seeing you tomorrow as well, sir.

KING: Were you -- Donna, were you part of the decision process?

BRAZILE: Well, the vice president consulted with many of us, but as you know, he said from the very beginning that this was a private process that he conducted with Secretary Warren Christopher, it was a very professional, a very dignified process. I was very excited this morning to hear the great news that Senator Lieberman would be his running mate and I'm looking forward to seeing Senator Lieberman, Mrs. Lieberman tonight, and I know the vice president is very excited about this selection. They are wonderful friends, they know each other, they have worked together in the Senate, they are mainstream Democrats, they are ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.

KING: The co-chairman of your party, and the former mayor of Philadelphia, Ed Rendell said yesterday, "If you remove the unknown factor of how the first non-Christian would do on a national ticket, Lieberman is a slam-dunk. There is no question Joe is a dynamite choice, but any time you break ground you have to think about it."

What are your thoughts on the Jewish aspect?

BRAZILE: Well, first of all, sir, 40 years ago our party nominated a Roman Catholic, John F. Kennedy to be our nominee, he went on to make history. We have broken down tremendous barriers over the last 40 years. I'm proud of the vice president's selection and what this says about our party and our nation. And let me just say that Senator Lieberman is a great American, a man of great integrity and great moral character and fiber, and we are excited to work with him and to be a part of this great historic selection, and I know that he is going to make all Americans proud, as he has made the people of Connecticut proud.

KING: Donna, I look forward to seeing you tomorrow night, and we are excited about being there.

BRAZILE: Well, sir, bring your cowboy boots. If not, the vice president will have to loan you a pair of his. We're looking forward to seeing you too, sir.

KING: I'll have him.


KING: Thank you so much, Donna. We'll see you tomorrow night.

BRAZILE: Thank you, sir.

KING: Now joining us here in Los Angeles is the famed Rabbi Marvin Hier, he is founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Museum of Tolerance. He himself is an Orthodox rabbi. He addressed the Republican Convention last Wednesday.

Your thoughts?

RABBI MARVIN HIER, FOUNDER & DEAN, SIMON WIESENTHAL CTR.: I think it is an absolutely outstanding choice.

KING: Surprised?

HIER: Shocked. It is a very gutsy move, and it ends a taboo in American politics. This is the first time and from here on there will never be a question about whether a Jew can run for the highest elective office in the country. And I think the vice president is to be congratulated, it's an outstanding choice.

KING: Do you know Senator Lieberman?

HIER: I know him very well, I have known him for many years, and I -- this morning, when I heard the news and I heard his Republican colleagues in the United States Senate heap praise upon him, that's the kind of a man Joe Lieberman is, and I think, you know, it is a great -- it's the political equivalent for Jews of landing someone on the moon, especially when you consider that he is -- that, you know, that Orthodox Jews are not the mainstream of American Jewry, and he is an Orthodox Jew who is nominated to be vice president.

KING: Like many minorities, you -- all minorities have faced the sting of racism of some form. Do you fear that, will rear its ugly head here?

HIER: Well, first of all, you have the lunatic fringe and, of course, they are going to be shocked by the appointment of Lieberman. But I think the mainstream of Americans -- after all, for centuries, for example, Jews have voted for Christian candidates, Jews did not sit out the election because Christians were running. And I think most Americans will say, let's analyze what kind of person Joe Lieberman is, a man of substance, of character, of honesty, and that will be the determining factor.

KING: We will talk to you more about it tomorrow night, but what do you make of the fact that we will have a candidate who will not campaign from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday?

HIER: I think...

KING: We will not see him, hear from him, talk to him.

HIER: First of all, I think it's a great thing. I think that Senator Lieberman has said that -- for example, if he should be elected, there is a national security meeting on Saturday, he is not going to duck a national security meeting. What he will duck is if it is a political meeting, it's something that could be done on another day, he is simply saying, look, I'm unavailable, I'm tending to spiritual matters -- I think that's great.

KING: You think the public will respect that?

HIER: I think they will very much respect it, and I think those who know Joe Lieberman in the United States Senate and what he represents are going to say that he is a fine person and that they are honored that a person like that adheres to his religion -- more power to him.

KING: Were you comfortable at the Republican Convention?

HIER: I was invited, you know, by Governor Bush to talk about...

KING: He visited the museum, did he not?

HIER: Visited the museum and he invited me to speak about the programs of the Museum of Tolerance. We don't endorse political candidates, we are a non-profit institution, and of course, tolerance -- Republicans -- the message of tolerance shouldn't only be for Democrats, it should be for Republicans too, so I was happy to make that -- deliver that message. KING: It's a new millennium.

HIER: Absolutely.

KING: Thank you, Rabbi.

HIER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Rabbi Marvin Hier and Donna Brazile.

When we come back, George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, Senator Barbara Boxer, Senator Charles Schumer, and Bob Woodward will go at it. Don't go away.


SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: Presently, vice president asked me if I would do him the honor of running with him, and I said, believe me it is my honor, I'm humbled, I'm grateful, I'm proud and I'm excited because I believe in you. And, we prayed a little together.


LIEBERMAN: Thank you.



KING: Tomorrow afternoon in Nashville, Al Gore will announce that Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut is his running mate. Tomorrow night, the senator will be on this show. Two weeks ago, we had Dick Cheney on under similar circumstances.

And we welcome a panel to discuss all of this, they are: in Stevensville, Montana, George McGovern, former standard-bearer of his party; in Boston, another former standard-bearer of the Democrats, Michael Dukakis; in San Francisco is Senator Barbara Boxer of California; in New York, Senator Charles Schumer of the state of New York; and in Washington, the Pulitzer Prize-winning best-selling author and assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post," Bob Woodward.

First, Senator McGovern, am I correct? Are you somewhere near those forest fires?

GEORGE MCGOVERN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're about 10 or 12 miles away. I'm in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana. We're very close to the Idaho line, which also has raging forest fires. So we can smell the smoke here. There are clouds several thousand feet high from the burning fires.

If I have to run before the program is over, you know the reason why.

KING: We'll understand.

Governor Dukakis, what do you make of this appointment, this selection?

MICHAEL DUKAKIS (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think -- I think it's terrific, Larry. I've known Joe Lieberman for almost 30 years, when he was a young state senator in Connecticut and I was up here in Massachusetts. He's as principled a guy as I've ever worked with in public life, and I think it says a great deal for Al Gore.

This is a very gutsy decision on his part, and I think it tells you a lot about him.

KING: Senator Boxer, frankly were you surprised?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: I was surprised, and I might say happily surprised. I think not only was this a bold choice, because when you bring down barriers, you have to be bold. So thank you, Al Gore, for being bold.

But also I think it's a winning choice. He's gone to the mainstream of our party. I think he's gotten a wonderful running mate. And the comparison between his record and Dick Cheney on everything from choice to the environment to education, it just goes on and on. I it's going to be stark and the people will have clear choices.

KING: Senator Schumer, you, as is Senator Boxer, you are Jewish. Were you surprised?

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I was surprised and pleasantly so. Frankly, no one really thought that Al Gore would choose Joe Lieberman because it was such a bold choice, but the minute he made it, it just fit in every way.

You know, Larry, we have great prosperity in good part because of the Clinton/Gore team, but I think Americans worry that as prosperity continues we drift away from our values. And Joe Lieberman is a reaffirmation of really the values that have made the country great. And I think it shows that this party can be a party of prosperity and of values.

KING: Before we get Bob Woodward's thoughts and then a round- robin discussion, we'll come back to George McGovern, and what do you think, senator?

MCGOVERN: I think that there are several reasons why this is a very happy choice. I have to confess I was surprised by it this morning. But I decided during the day there are three good reasons for it. One, as has already been mentioned, it's a breakthrough in that Joe Lieberman will be the first member of his faith on a national ticket. I tried to do something about that in 1972 when I asked Abe Ribikoff to be my running mate, but he turned me down -- said he'd rather be a senator. Secondly, I think that Joe Lieberman is a man of unquestioned integrity. If that's a factor in this campaign, here's a man that everyone who knows him says is of absolute integrity. And thirdly, while he's more conservative than I am, I think he has taken a stand on conviction on a number of things where I hardly endorse him: on environment, on civil rights, on education, on research and development in this age of computers, on labor affairs. He's a great friend to the working people of this country.

I think it's a very good choice.

KING: Bob Woodward, you have been around the trail for a long time. What do you make of this day?

BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think it's a politically smart move by Gore in many, many ways. It begins in a subtle but clear way the separation from Clinton, or the Clinton character and scandal issues, because Lieberman came out and really in the most pointed way denounced Clinton's behavior.

Some people are kind of suggesting because of that Gore went with Lieberman because Ken Starr wasn't available.

In fact, if you -- I think there is an interesting story here in this. When Clinton testified before the grand jury, as you may recall, in August of '98 he denounced Starr and wasn't contrite, and Lieberman spoke with Clinton and said, hey, look, you need to say you're sorry. Lieberman -- Clinton would not go along with that, and Lieberman said there's a lot of very dangerous self-denial here, so I'm going to go public and tell everyone you need to say you're sorry.

The day Lieberman did that I believe Clinton was in Ireland, and Clinton for the first time said, I'm very sorry. So it worked.

KING: And Clinton praised it today. I guess you're not surprised at that, or were you, Bob?

WOODWARD: No, no. I mean...

KING: And it's a smart political move, but what about the concept that there's a lot of anti-Semitism enrooted in America, that it is still exists to an extent, that there's no plus on that end?

WOODWARD: Well, I think that's kind of -- that's going to be a nonissue hopefully. I think the other thing is Lieberman's a smart politician, and if you dig under his behavior in the Senate, you see that he was kind of the back channel rabbi to Bill Clinton during lots of his other troubles.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more. We'll be including your phone calls. Bill Bennett's going to be calling in. He and Joe Lieberman are very close. They're not in the same party, but they sure share lot of the same ideals. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LIEBERMAN: So while the other party is trifling with our trillions, Al Gore has a plan to strengthen our prosperity, to strengthen our families and move to America ahead. He knows what it takes to make this economy grow. He knows how to stand up for the public interests and working families. And he knows there is nothing more important than fighting for what you believe in. And I pledge you and promise you, my friends, that Al Gore, a man of character in the White House, will fight for you and what he believes in.



KING: Governor Dukakis, Ari Fleischer, spokesman for the Bush campaign, said: "Al Gore has chosen a man whose positions are more similar to Governor Bush's than his own. The fact that Al Gore is willing to select a running mate whose positions he attacked throughout the campaign will cause many to question Al Gore's commitment to the position he takes." What's your response?

DUKAKIS: Well, it's more of the kind of nonsense, Larry, we were getting from Republicans all during their convention. Joe Lieberman is a solid, committed, progressive Democrat. On the other hand, he's a guy that isn't unwilling to take a position against things which he thinks are wrong or perhaps outdated.

But I have known him a long time, and I think that kind of comment is more of what we were getting out of the Republican convention, and we all know what that was all about.

So I think you're going to have somebody who is very much a Democrat, a believing Democrat, a committed Democrat, and his -- I mean, you've got two of his colleagues on the panel, and they can testify better than I as to the kind of senator he is and what he believes in.

KING: Senator Schumer, is Joe Lieberman what they call a "new Democrat"?

SCHUMER: Yes, he probably is. I mean, he's a mainstream Democrat.

You look on so many issues, and he -- there is a clear division, say, between him and Cheney or him and Bush. Choice: Joe is 100 percent pro-choice, Bush and Cheney 100 percent against -- gun control, same thing. On balancing the budget, Joe has been a real balanced-budget fellow, and, not been voting for all these tax cuts willy-nilly across-the-board tax cuts.

On the major issues of the day, Joe is a mainstream Democrat. And he is he is willing to break. I have stood in meetings with him where many Democrats, on education, and other issues were pleading with Joe, don't do it. And the amazing thing about Joe is that he stood right by what he believed in, but he did it in such a way of conviction and belief that no one at all was angry with him for it. So, he is right in the mainstream of Democratic values. I don't agree with him on every single issue -- probably nobody in the Democratic Party or in the country does.

That never happens. But he is a solid, mainstream new Democrat. And that is just what we need.

KING: Senator McGovern, do you agree that he puts in balance more the moral question, that one of the attacks on this ticket would have been morality question?

MCGOVERN: Well, those issues have been raised. I never thought there was any -- much merit to them. The -- President Clinton did do wrong. There is no question about that. But he went on nationwide television and said that, and that he was chagrined by it and embarrassed by it. I happen to know that he has consulted with his clergymen on this, that he asked God to forgive him. He asked the American people to forgive him. And I think we ought to clarify the relationship between Joe Lieberman and Bill Clinton.

If my memory is right, Joe Lieberman was the first senator in the Northeast to endorse Bill Clinton for president, the first time he ran. He has been very close to him ever since. When he asked the president to go public with this matter, the president did so. A few days later, when the impeachment vote came up, Joe Lieberman voted against impeaching President Clinton and spoke against it.

So, I think the relationship there is very good. And I hope the Republicans won't continue to dredge up this issue that ought to be put in the past. The president did ask for forgiveness. I think the American people forgave him. The Republicans ought to forgive him. And we ought to look at this current ticket now, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, we have never had a ticket of higher integrity and greater moral principle than those two men.

KING: We will pick right up with our panel. Bill Bennett will join us by phone. We will include your phone calls too. Don't go away.


LIEBERMAN: In this case, the president apparently had extramarital relations with an employee half his age and did so in the workplace in the vicinity of the Oval Office. Such behavior is not just inappropriate, it is immoral. And it is harmful. For it sends a message of what is acceptable behavior to the larger American family, particularly to our children, which is as influential as the negative messages communicated by the entertainment culture.



KING: Senator Boxer, how about Joe Lieberman's joining with Bill Bennett and the others to attack a lot of the entertainment industry, mostly liberal Democrats, in Los Angeles?

BOXER; Joe Lieberman is very independent, as has been stated. But I think it is very important to note that I looked at his voting record and he is agreed with the president about 90 percent of the time on the issues of the day, on this economy, on balancing the budget until we get to surplus, on continuing to pay down the debt, on reducing crime by putting 100,000 police officers out there, on a woman's right to choose, on protecting this environment.

So the fact of the matter is, Joe Lieberman is definitely a mainstream Democrat. You know, I represent the more progressive part of the party. He represents the more centrist part of our party. And we are very fond of each other. And we work together 90 percent of the time. And, yes, he is going to have a different point of view, and God bless him for it. And I think the American people will love that about him. And I think Al Gore loves that about him.

And he is going to attract votes from every political party in this country.

KING: Barbara, Jewish a plus or a minus or a wash?

BOXER: I hope it's a wash. You know, you are talking to someone who ran in a state that has never elected a Jewish person to the United States Senate. And here they elected two, Senator Feinstein and myself. And we only have about 2.9 percent of our population being Jewish. And people were saying: This is impossible, how could they ever elect two women, let alone two Jewish women? And I said: No one ever said they elected two Protestant men before. This is not an issue.

And I have to say that, you know, people are rightly saying to Al Gore good for you. But I want to say to American people, good for you, too. Because if you look at the polling, if it goes back to the '40s and '50s, people have really changed. And they want to bring everybody in. And it is good.

KING: Bob Woodward, can that independence be too independent?

WOODWARD: Well, of course it can. But in Lieberman's case, it really hasn't been. What I find interesting about him as a reporter -- when I was doing one of my books on the '96 campaign, I called him and said I want to come talk to him about it and assess where the Democratic Party was. This was in 1995. And you go up and talk to him, and though he speaks well, he is not -- his conversation is not cluttered with sound bites, and he is actually willing to sit down and well, say: Let me tell you my tentative thinking.

And this is what I think the issues are. And he parses it out in a very sophisticated way and tells you things that are not necessarily the things he would get out and say in public. For instance, he did not like Hillary Clinton's health care plan and felt that it was a disaster for the party, something that probably we know turned out to be true. But there is there is a mind operating on the issues there that is really at the top tier.

KING: Senator Schumer, Bob. mentioned Hillary Clinton. Does this ticket help her in New York?

SCHUMER: Well, I think it does, in a certain way, Larry, because it has energized Democrats in this state. I have heard from people from one end of the state to the other, and when Democrats are energized, I think it strengthens Gore in our state and it strengthens Hillary Clinton as well.

KING: But she was having some problems, was she not, in the Jewish community? And now they've got a Jewish candidate. I mean, it looks logical.

SCHUMER: Well, I think, again, I think when voters look at the Democratic ticket, including Gore and Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton, they are going say that this is far closer to the way we think on a variety of different issues. They are all sensible. They are all progressive. But they also retain some basic values and some centrism, so that, yes, I think it helps Hillary Clinton in this state. It has given Democrats a boost around the country and in New York.

It is a courageous choice, just as Bob mentioned -- that Joe Lieberman had courage to go to floor of the Senate and say what he did. Al Gore had courage to choose Joe Lieberman. I think he has put to rest this idea that he is a cautious, you know, finger-to-the-wind politician. So it is a bold choice. And it's the right choice. And it makes so much sense, the day he announced it, that I guess everyone is surprised no one focused more closely on Joe beforehand.

KING: We will take a break. And we will go to your phone calls as well. This is LARRY KING LIVE,

And don't forget, tomorrow night, an exclusive hour -- his first interview -- with Senator Joseph Lieberman, who tomorrow will be the vice presidential candidate of his party. Don't go away.


LIEBERMAN: Look on the other hand, at the other party. Look on the far right hand at the other party and what they have to offer -- I know they sometimes say "read my lips," and maybe listening to that convention last week, it's because all they did was pay lip service to some genuine human needs across our country.


KING: We're back.

By the way, as a reminder, all next week at the Democratic convention, we will do two shows nightly at 9:00 and midnight Eastern, two separate and distinct shows, two live editions of LARRY KING LIVE.

We'll also be live this Saturday night from the Staples center with kind of a preview of the Democratic convention.

Let's go to some phone calls for our panel.

Chesapeake, Virginia -- hello.

CALLER: Yes, hello. My question is for Bob Woodward. KING: Yes.

CALLER: Mr. Woodward, can you tell me where Senator Lieberman is on campaign finance reform? Would he have any kind of appeal to these independents the Democrats -- and I am a Democrat -- would like to bring over?

WOODWARD: It is. And interestingly enough, again, swimming a little bit against the tide during the campaign finance investigations, Senator Lieberman was on Senator Thompson's Senate committee investigating that issue, and Lieberman was very tough. In fact, he came out publicly on the issue of the controversial Chinese plan to funnel money to the congressional campaigns and elsewhere at Democrats. And Lieberman said, yes, there was such a plan.

So he's for campaign finance reform, but in a way that's more interesting than most people. Again, it's not just the sound bite. He thought it out, and he said it wrecks the political system. And he doesn't like it, and he says that in a way that's quite passionate.

KING: We'll have the full record tomorrow, but then we assume he voted for McCain-Feingold.

Do we know that?

WOODWARD: I should know that and I don't.

KING: Do we know, Senator Schumer, did he? Senator Schumer, did he vote for McCain-Feingold?

WOODWARD: I'm not -- he must have. He must have.

SCHUMER: He voted for McCain-Feingold, and not only that he just passed, it was his law, probably the most successful thing we've done on campaign finance in the last few years, which was closing down these 527(a) accounts, which are people could give unlimited money with no disclosure, and they were really even worse than the present law. Joe Lieberman put in the bill to change it, and with McCain and Feingold's help and the help of a few others of us, he passed it. It's become law. The president has signed it. So he is actually responsible for the best thing we've done on campaign finance and actually accomplished in the last few years.

KING: Seattle -- Seattle...

BOXER: And, Larry -- Larry, he's a real leader on campaign finance reform. And I think the McCain voters are going to be drawn to him, and that's going to be good for our party as well.

KING: Seattle -- hello.

DUKAKIS: Barbara, as a matter of fact -- I'm sorry, Larry. As a matter of fact, Senator McCain today praised him very warmly. So I think that was kind of significant, as well.

KING: Oh, he did? I didn't see his quote. DUKAKIS: Yes.

KING: Seattle, go ahead -- hello.

CALLER: Larry, this question is for the whole panel. Don't you think that this choice is a huge opportunity to make it clear to the country that as far as the morality question is concerned, it's not Clinton that's running for election here, Gore's morality has not ever been questioned.

KING: Senator McGovern, do you agree with that?

MCGOVERN: I didn't understand the question.

KING: He said that the morality question ends with this nomination, because no one's questioned Gore's morality.

MCGOVERN: Well, I think that's right. And I don't think anyone's questioned Joe Lieberman's morality. And so that being the case, I think it's a dead issue.

KING: Didn't we question, though, did we not, Bob Woodward, Gore's, morality with regard to fund raising?

WOODWARD: Well I don't know about morality, but he was investigated in the campaign finance scandals, and there was no independent counsel appointed. But that issue involving him is still pending at the Justice Department, where a lawyer over there who's in charge of the -- ongoing, perhaps endless, investigation has recommended that Janet Reno appoint a special counsel to look at Gore.

KING: Will we have days, Governor Dukakis, in this campaign where the vice presidential nominee will disagree with his standard bearer?

DUKAKIS: Well, I don't think when you run with somebody, Larry, that you're going to see that. And as a matter of fact, these two guys are very compatible. I'm sure that Al Gore thought a lot about Joe's intelligence and his integrity and his record, but I understand that they've known each other for a long time, they get along well, and that fits very important.

I mean, I had the great good fortune to run with Lloyd Bentsen, and it was a terrific relationship. He was great. We worked well together. And the chemistry is every bit as important as whether you happen to agree on every issue.

But, you know, Joe is a good politician. He's not going to disagree with a guy that nominated him, and they're going to work well together and campaign together.

KING: Richmond, Virginia -- hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry. I have a question for the panel and particular Mrs. Boxer. The question is, I understand this is not a Clinton ticket, however she made the comment that a majority of Lieberman's votes, 90 percent is what she quoted, I believe, agreed with Clinton's viewpoints. So if we're led to believe that we're not having the same administration in office, then what are we getting different that we did not have with Clinton?

BOXER: That's a very good question. Let me answer it this way.

I think it's very clear that what Joe Lieberman has said is that he felt the president was absolutely wrong in his private conduct. But he has lauded the president for this economy.

Let me give you a sense of it. We've seen the creation of 22 million new jobs. We have seen every single graph go the right away for us. Unemployment is way down, home ownership is way up, small business starts are doing well, the deficit is no more. We now have a surplus. We have an opportunity now to really invest in our children, et cetera. Joe Lieberman has been part of that. He wants to keep reducing this debt. He is against...

KING: So he's...

BOXER: reckless tax cuts. So...

KING: So what you're saying is he's going to support, in the main, what Clinton has supported?

BOXER: Well, he has already. Ninety percent...

KING: So if you like Clinton, you're going to get more of the same.

BOXER: If you like the way this economy is going, if you like the fact that crime has never been lower, yes, he is going to continue those policies. He's going to be pro-choice, he's going to move for sensible gun laws with Al Gore. So yes, I think the...

KING: All right...

BOXER: ... distinction we're making is between the private conduct and leading this nation into some very good times.

KING: In a moment, we'll get into the political aspect of this. Both selections were choices from small states who don't help the ticket from the point of view of electoral votes.

We'll ask about that right after this.


RICHARD B. CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Does anyone, Republican or Democrat, seriously believe that under Mr. Gore the next four years would be any different from the last eight?

If the goal is to unite our country, to make a fresh start in Washington, to change the tone of our politics, can anyone with conviction say that the man for that job is Al Gore?

They came in together. Now, let us see them off together.



KING: Before we go to our next call, Bob Woodward, and then anyone can chime in on this, the vice presidential nominee of the Republicans is from Wyoming, the vice presidential nominee of the Democrats is from Connecticut. They're both considered safe states with no major electoral vote count. What do you make of that?

WOODWARD: Well, it's truly a national campaign. And people who are making the selections, Gore and Bush, look out and they say there's no magic bullet there. There's no way to seize on one person who's going to fix it.

You know, another thing about Lieberman as the rabbi of sorts in the Democratic Party is that he's kind of a morale officer. After Clinton lost the Congress and the Democrats lost the Congress in '94, Clinton used to call Lieberman late at night -- now Lieberman, like a sensible man in his 50s, goes to bed early. Clinton stays up late. And I think Lieberman used to joke he felt like he was a fireman because the call would come at 11:00 or midnight, and it would be Clinton complaining about something. And at one point, Lieberman said to him, look, don't worry about '94. Lots of people have not given up on you, and it may dramatically flip the other way and you'll win in '96. It turned out to be true, and I think it was also a lift to Clinton.

BOXER: Larry...

KING: Yes.

BOXER: ... on your question, about, you know, the states being small states, it's very interesting. And I think Bob's right that this isn't about one particular state. This is an election about who gets the swing voters, because I think when all is said and done, we will see the differences in these candidates, and each side will have relatively the same number of voters. And then it's the swing voters.

And I think when you look at Lieberman's personality, the independence that he shows, campaign finance reform, the fact that he's pro-environment, pro-choice, pro-sensible gun laws, pro-continued deficit reduction and getting this debt paid down, I think that will appeal to swing voters, across the board. And I think that will help Al Gore appeal to those swing voters.

KING: Are you saying he'll get a lot of the McCain vote?

BOXER: I believe he will. I think he is the ideal person -- and, you know, it's funny, because as everyone said, we were so surprised at the pick. But the more you look at it, you kind of say it makes sense.

KING: What's -- what's -- does anybody have an opinion on a downside to this? I mean, we all can't be 100 percent. Senator Schumer, is there any downside to the Lieberman choice?

SCHUMER: Well, you know...

KING: Do you see any -- I mean, honestly?

SCHUMER: You know, they will say that, well, he's bringing up some of the problems, the one big problem that Bill Clinton faced. But I think it's a way of looking it in the eye -- we all know it's there -- and saying we can transcend it and overcome it.

You know, I do agree, Larry, with what Barbara said on the issues, but it's beyond that. I think lot of swing voters, they want to vote for the Gore-Lieberman ticket because of the prosperity. Look, you don't change horses in midstream. You showed Dick Cheney there saying to a bunch of very conservative people, do we want change. Most Americans are pretty happy with what happened in the....

KING: Then why is he 19 points ahead?

SCHUMER: Well, I think because our message hasn't gotten out. And it will. And I'm not sure it's that high. But you wait until after this convention and after people look at the Gore-Lieberman ticket.

What I was saying is the one little anxiety that people have is, are we drifting away from the fundamental values that have made this country great? And I couldn't think of a better candidate, Democrat or Republican, whose embodies those values. It doesn't matter that he's Jewish or Christian or anything else. He's a God-fearing man, he's a religious man. He stands for these values. He's been called repeatedly the conscience of the Senate.

So what could be better choice to voters in middle than somebody who both has been part of the prosperity but who also stands for the values that many Americans fear are drifting us from. That's been the theme of the Republican side, and I think he's a great antidote.

WOODWARD: Larry...

MCGOVERN: Larry...

KING: One at a time. Senator McGovern and then Bob.

MCGOVERN: Larry, Senator Schumer and Senator Boxer have done a good job outlining the Clinton-Gore agenda and where Senator Lieberman fits into that. They've mentioned the prosperity that we've enjoyed. One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that in the 12 previous years of the Reagan-Bush period, we rolled up a national debt of $5.5 trillion. We were running enormous deficits every year. Now, after eight years, we are beginning to pay down that debt. We have a balanced budget, we have a surplus, and so we've reversed what was a spending binge that went on until 1992.

KING: But, Bob Woodward, if you watched the Republican convention, it seemed every night like there's unhappiness in America, and they're 19 points ahead. Is there unhappiness?

WOODWARD: Well, I feel duty-bound to identify a potential negative, and that is that if you look at Bush and Cheney, they have a dozen, 16 years of executive experience, Bush as governor of Texas, Cheney as defense secretary, then CEO of the oil services company. The president of the United States is the chief executive officer.

If you look at Gore and Lieberman, their experience is basically legislative. They do not have -- they are not rich in the essence of what the presidency is, which is running things, running large organizations and making tough decisions for groups of people, not just as a senator voting.

BOXER: Larry, can I jump in here a second...

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more...

DUKAKIS: Larry, Larry...

KING: Hold it, hold it. We'll take a break and come back with more. Hold on, hold on. We'll take a break and we've got a caller.

We'll be right back. We'll be back with the panel after these messages.


LIEBERMAN: I am proud, I have been proud, to stand with Al Gore as a fellow senator for four years, to work with him in his extraordinary leadership as vice president over these eight years. And I will be proud to stand with him every day, just as I am proud to stand with you.


KING: Before we take another call, Governor Dukakis, I think you wanted to say something about what Bob just said.

DUKAKIS: Well, I want to say two things, Larry. First, nobody is 19 points ahead in this race. And you're hearing that from a guy who, you remember, was allegedly 17 points ahead after his convention. This race is about 30 to 30 right now, with 40 percent undecided in my opinion. And these poll numbers are absolutely meaningless.

Secondly, respectfully, Bob, I don't think it makes a particle of difference whether one of these guys ran an oil company and the other guy happened to be the governor of a state which historically has a very weak governorship.

Al Gore's been the vice president of the United States for eight years. Joe Lieberman was a damn good attorney general in the state of Connecticut, if you want executive experience.

What this race is going to be about is what these folks stand for, what they're committed to, where they are on the key issues that face this country. And that's why I think this ticket is going to be such a success.

BOXER: Larry...

KING: Calgary, Alberta. Hold it, Barbara. Hold it. I've got to let a call in.

Calgary, Alberta, hello.

CALLER: Thank you. Doesn't a Gore-Lieberman presidency create a nice obstacle, even a threat to the U.S. ability to mediate in the Middle East?

KING: Aha. The Middle East. What's -- who wants to deal with that? Charles Schumer, do you want to take it?

SCHUMER: Yes, I think here again...

KING: Can we assume that Joe Lieberman will be pro-Israel?

SCHUMER: Yes, and you can assume that Al Gore is pro-Israel as well. And I think that Lieberman's experience here -- and again, we've worked so closely together on Middle East issues -- is a great asset. Joe Lieberman has stood strongly for the peace process, and yet at the same time has realized the difficulties that it takes to bring about peace. But someone who is so well-steeped in this process -- I much rather have a Joe Lieberman, somebody who knows this issue well, than George Bush and Dick Cheney, who have shown very, very little experience.

I remember when George Bush was asked about Middle East policy, he said, well, Israel they're our buddy. I'd say Lieberman's experience is a little deeper than that.

BOXER: And you know what...

KING: But Senator McGovern, don't we -- Senator McGovern, don't we require that -- we're the country of balance, that Arafat should feel that we are as equally interested in his position as we are in Barak's, and will Lieberman affect that?

MCGOVERN: Well, I think that's the position that President Clinton has taken, and I believe Joe Lieberman understands that. He's a thoughtful, judicious man with a sense of history, and he knows if there's going to be a settlement in the Middle East, each side has to make some compromise.

There have been some compromises already made. We'll have to see more of that before peace can come to the Middle East.

KING: Barbara, you wanted to say what?

BOXER: I want to say two quick things. I think Joe's personality is very dynamic and it's very winning. And I think in any negotiation, whatever part of the world, we're dealing with he'll be a help. But I also have to say to Bob Woodward, I thought his analysis of experience was so off-the-mark, with due respect, because, as Michael said, we have in Joe Lieberman a man with executive experience as attorney general, and my goodness, a man who was in an executive office, vice president, the most active vice president, you know, probably in history.

And I want to make one last point: George Bush doesn't have one day, not one hour of experience on any national issue. It's really remarkable. I have 17 years in the House and the Senate. He has had five and a half years in a weak governor state. So I just don't see the comparison of the two tickets.

KING: Well, Governor Clinton...

BOXER: Real quickly, I mean, I said that it is -- is all of the Democrats were saying how all of this is wonderful. And there are many aspects of this. But to think as the Republicans are going to think, one of their potential arguments is going to be that their ticket has more executive experience. That's just a matter of fact. And...

KING: I've got to get a break.

MCGOVERN: Can I say a word on that?

KING: I've got to get a break, and we'll have our closing -- hold it. We'll have our closing comments from everybody right after this.


KING: By the way, panelists, Jack Kemp, who's a regular contributor to our program, said earlier today, told out producers that "Job Lieberman is a good friend of mine. Al Gore couldn't have picked a finer man. He's not only a new Democrat; he's co-sponsor of my enterprise bill. I would never campaign against Joe Lieberman in Connecticut."

That from Jack Kemp. Our closing remarks: George McGovern, you wanted to say something.

MCGOVERN: I wanted to just speak on this issue of the executive versus legislative experience. I think Bob Woodward is right, the Republicans will try to trump it, the executive experience of their candidate. But we need to remember that Harding, Coolidge and Hoover, who were not exactly great successes, had a world of executive experience and no experience on the legislative side, whereas in 1960 the Democratic ticket was John F. Kennedy for president, Lyndon Baines Johnson for vice president, one of the strongest tickets we ever had. Neither one of them had executive experience. Both were products of the United States Senate. Both became very strong chief executives.

KING: All right, Michael Dukakis, how big a plus is Lieberman?

DUKAKIS: I think he's a big plus, and let me add just one additional thing, Larry. You know, we heard during the Republican convention in Philadelphia repeatedly, we heard it again tonight from Cheney, that he and Bush are going to restore integrity and stature to the White House, right? These guys must be suffering some -- from some form of severe amnesia. Have they forgotten the fact that over 100 top-ranking officials of the Reagan administration had to leave office in disgrace and in some cases under indictment? Have they forgotten Iran-Contra? Have they forgotten the fact that George Bush, before he left office, pardoned every single person who had been indicted or convicted by the special prosecutor in the Iran-Contra case?

Suggesting that these guys are going to restore integrity to the White House it seems to me is really beyond the pale.

KING: We're close on time. Senator Schumer, how big a plus on a scale of 10?

SCHUMER: It's a big plus. I'd say it's a nine. It's a great choice the for party and for America. I think people -- the more people look at Joe Lieberman, the more they will like him, the more they will see what a great choice it is.

KING: Bob Woodward, what are the analysts? What are the op-ed people going to say tomorrow? What are the pundits going to say?

WOODWARD: Don't know, but one of the big problems coming out of the Republican convention for Gore was the Republican claim that really you're going to get, with Gore, it's going to be kind of half the Clinton administration and that the change is with Bush and Cheney. Now Gore can quite, in a very powerful way, get up and say, now it's Gore-Lieberman. And that really will be a change from Clinton-Gore.

KING: We're out of time. Sorry, Barbara, we'll get another comment next time with you. We've got to close it. We'll see you tomorrow night in Nashville with Senator Lieberman, his first exclusive interview with LARRY KING LIVE. Thanks for joining us.

Good night.



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