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Larry King Live

Democrats Begin Their National Convention

Aired August 14, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LARRY KING, HOST: It's day one of the Democratic National Convention here in Los Angeles. The president has arrived. He'll be speaking in about an hour and 20 minutes, being introduced by his wife in a special tape. This edition No. 1 of LARRY KING LIVE. As we did in Philadelphia, we'll be here with two shows nightly at 9:00 and midnight Eastern Time.

And among the guests in this hour will be Senator Bill Bradley. The first lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton, will join us. So will Cher. And we'll get you updated on that submarine crisis as well.

But we start with Senator Bill Bradley, the former candidate, the former United States senator. He will address this convention tomorrow.

Do you feel funny tonight being here? Do you say it could have been me?

BILL BRADLEY (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, Larry, in all honesty, I'd rather be speaking on Thursday night, but the American people decided I should speak on Tuesday night, and the DNC accommodated them. So I'm happy to be here tomorrow night.

KING: We have seen Mr. McCain wax enthusiastic for Governor Bush. Will we hear the same from you or Vice President Gore?

BRADLEY: Well, I'll be talking about Al Gore. I'll also be talking about the difference between Democrats and Republicans. I'll be laying out what I think are important things for this country to do in these times of unprecedented prosperity. And I'll have a special message for young people in the country.

KING: But it will be enthusiastically for the vice president?

BRADLEY: Well, stay tuned. You'll see that it will be very strong.

KING: Well, is it -- is it hard to run against someone, frankly, and then be for them?

BRADLEY: You know...

KING: Emotionally? BRADLEY: Well, on one level yes, on another level no. Obviously, you'd rather be there. But the point here is there is a choice for the American people, and it's a choice that I was offered between Al Gore and George W. Bush. On the things that I care about, whether it's health care for all Americans or whether it's ending poverty or whether it's campaign finance reform or whether it's helping working families or whether it's cleaning up the environment, it's not even a close call. It's not even a close call.

And so I am strongly behind Al Gore and will be in the course of the fall. I will also be campaigning for Democratic congressional people and Senate candidates.

KING: Did the Republican convention impress you at all?

BRADLEY: Well, I felt it was a little bit like the virtual reality convention. I mean, I felt that the delegates there didn't mirror what we saw on stage. I much rather have a Republican Party that was reaching out than one that was playing the race card. But at the same time, I thought there was a disconnect there.

And the real question is what are the policies that are proposed that are going to help working families in this country, a disproportionate number of whom are Latino and African-American. And I think there's no -- no choice. I mean, the choice is stark, I think.

KING: You served with him in the Senate. What did you make of the Lieberman selection, and were you surprised?

BRADLEY: I thought it was a very good selection. I think he's a measured man. He's very -- has a quality mind. He has high ethical standards. And I think he'll be an excellent No. 2. I think he will work well with Al Gore, and I think he'll work well in doing the things that a vice president has to do.

You know, it's not always easy. You have to submerge yourself in the person and agenda of the president, and I think he'll do a very good job at that.

KING: How about the Jewish factor?

BRADLEY: You know, I never think that the fear of anti-Semitism should be an excuse for denying someone of quality an opportunity, and there's no question in my mind that Joe Lieberman is a person of quality.

KING: Were you surprised at his selection?

BRADLEY: Well, when I looked at those that were in the final pool, I thought that Joe Lieberman were be a very interesting selection. I think it says very clearly that Al Gore is leading from convictions about what the country is and about what it can become. And I think it also showed that he's bolder than most people feel in the best possible sense.

KING: Is this a conservative Democratic ticket?

BRADLEY: I think if you look at the choice, Larry, you see that the kind of things that Al Gore is talking about -- he's moved toward my position in health care and education and poverty and working families, that he has taken positions that are going to be good for this country.

I mean, if we can't deal now with these issues now at this time of unprecedented prosperity when we can versus -- when can we? Versus George W. Bush, who's giving away most of the budget surplus and various tax cuts to the wealthy.

KING: Why, according to CNN/"USA Today," why do you think your ticket is 16 points down?

BRADLEY: I think that the first day of the general election is the convention. They've had theirs; we haven't had ours.

So I think after this convention, that will narrow, and I think when the issues are drawn over the course of the fall, that we'll end up winning in November. There's no doubt in my mind.

KING: Close?

BRADLEY: Well...

KING: No doubt?

BRADLEY: No doubt.

KING: I mean, a clear-cut win?

BRADLEY: Well, if you win by one point, you win: You're the president of the United States.

KING: But when you predict a victory, you've got to think more -- you're not -- you can't predict a basketball victory by one point.

BRADLEY: Well...

KING: You can, but it's hard.

BRADLEY: Well, obviously, I think that we want to win by the biggest margin possible, but we'll take one point.

KING: How about New Jersey?

BRADLEY: New jersey is one of the...

KING: Swing state.

BRADLEY: ... one of the swing states. I think Al Gore can win New Jersey. It's very close right now.

KING: What do you think we'll hear from President Clinton tonight? BRADLEY: I have not got the faintest idea of what we're going to hear, and I think it's important for the president to move on and let Al Gore take center stage here and put his message to the American people.

KING: And over the next four years, assuming a Gore administration, what's Bill Bradley's role in this country?

BRADLEY: You know, Larry, I've looked at the country for many years as if it were a three-legged stool. That's the private sector, government, and the institutions of our civil society, our community and nonprofit sector. And I'm going to make a contribution. I'm going to continue to make a contribution.

KING: By?

BRADLEY: And I'll make it in one or two of those areas.

KING: So you'll either be in government?

BRADLEY: Well, I...

KING: You might be in a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) institution. You might go into...

BRADLEY: Yes, in other words...

KING: Would you take a Cabinet post?

BRADLEY: No. Right now, I'm not thinking about anything other than looking to this election, making sure that Al Gore is elected. One of the things I have done since the campaign is write a book. It will come out in the fall.

KING: Called?

BRADLEY: It's called "The Journey From Here," and it's the answer to the question, if people want to know, well, what was that Bradley campaign all about in the year 2000, well, here it is. And I think that it's -- I'm doing it for my supporters and also for a wider audience that I hope will reed it and think about the country's future.

KING: Glad you ran?

BRADLEY: I'm very glad I ran. As I said to my wife, Ernestine, throughout, this a joyous journey. It was, and the American people, the richness of their culture and their diversity and their openness and the optimism they showed -- I mean, you'd run into people in tough times and they'd still say, you know, things are going be OK.

KING: Great seeing you as always.

BRADLEY: Good to see you, Larry.

KING: Senator Bill Bradley. More coming on "LARRY KING LIVE. Lots to cover, including that horrible tragedy regarding the Russian submarine. We'll hear from the first lady of the United States, and Cher. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on night one of the Democratic National Convention: various female United States senators and congresswomen are speaking to the crowds in advance of Hillary Rodham Clinton, the outgoing first lady, candidate for the U.S. Senate in New York. She will address the 43rd Democratic National Convention in the next hour. Her husband will be following her to the podium.

I interviewed Mrs. Clinton just a day ago. I began by asking if she felt funny attending this convention.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: I feel great being here. You know, I get to...

KING (on camera): It's kind of weird, though, isn't it, at the end?

CLINTON: Well, you know, it's bittersweet in the sense that this has been an extraordinary eight years, but I'm very happy about Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, and I feel so energized by the ticket and the differences between them and their Republican counterparts that I just want everybody in the country to sort of see Al the way that I see him and to understand what's at stake in the election.

KING: Were you surprised that Joe Lieberman got picked?

CLINTON: Well, as it got toward the end of the decision being made, I knew there was a short list, and I knew Joe was on the short list. And I've known Joe for 30 years and have admired him, and really like him and Hadassah so much.

And I know that on many of the issues that count he has been along the lines of the president and the vice president as one of the leaders of the new Democratic Party.

So I really wasn't surprised; I thought it was a great choice, and I think the country reacted so positively because it was self- evidently a good choice.

KING: The man who was going to run against you, Rudy Giuliani, told us the other night that he thinks that this selection helps you a great deal in New York. From a personal standpoint, doesn't it?

CLINTON: Well, I would hope so, because I would hope that New Yorkers really understand the differences between me and my opponent, and between Al and Joe and their opponents. And any time we can get the focus on the issues it helps me.

KING: Were you surprised at the Jewish element? I mean, that was the drawback, wasn't it? I mean, Joe Lieberman, the question was, "Should a Jew be on a national ticket? How much of America still has anti-Semitic feelings?" What are your thoughts in that area?

CLINTON: I think Joe Lieberman is eminently qualified. I believe that he was a great choice on the merits. And I think it's wonderful that in addition of his being so well-qualified to be president and therefore to be an excellent candidate for vice president, as the vice president has said, you know, we've broken down some more barriers. And as Jesse Jackson memorably said, "Every time any barrier in America is broken down, it opens doors to everyone else."

KING: And what -- what's with Hillary and the Jewish community in New York?

CLINTON: I -- I think...

KING: Reading it from afar, everyone says you're in trouble with the Jewish vote in New York, and the question is, why?

CLINTON: Well, I don't feel that. I feel very supported. Certainly, some of my very biggest supporters are standing behind me all the way. But I think it's just a question of people getting to know me, know my stands on issues here at home and abroad, particularly with respect to my strong support for Israel's security and well-being and what I've tried to do to promote that over the years.

And on domestic issues, whether it's the fact that I'm pro-choice and my opponent is not, that I am going to be willing to stand up against the gun lobby and fight for the licensing of handgun owners and the registration of handguns, and where I stand on the economy and education and health care and the environment, the issues that New Yorkers care about, I think, I will have great support across the board in the state.

KING: And you have been greeted well by the Jewish community?

CLINTON: Oh yes.

KING: Of course, you did have that problem with...

CLINTON: Well, you know, I was there as a first lady.

KING: That was ceremonial though, wasn't it?

CLINTON: It was ceremonial, and as soon as we got an official translation, I condemned what she said. But I think that most people are looking at this election as to what it's going to mean for the future.

KING: Oh, you didn't know what she was saying when she said it?

CLINTON: Well...

KING: But you've also come out now for Jerusalem as the capital, right?

CLINTON: Oh, I did that more than a year ago, publicly.

KING: Before your husband.

CLINTON: Well, that's probably right. But I did come out in a letter that I wrote; I reiterated that. But I've also made clear that we here in America need to support the decisions that the Israeli government and the Israeli people make for the best interests of Israel, and that means the security and the peace that they can seek and that we can guarantee and can stand behind.

So my opinions or your opinions or anyone here in America's opinions really don't count as much as what the people and government of Israel decide.

KING: Are you glad you're making this race?

CLINTON: I am having the time of my life.

KING: Now, that you have the advantage of hindsight, glad you did it?

CLINTON: Absolutely. I'm enjoying it so much. I didn't know what it would feel like to be a candidate because I'd never done it before.

KING: What does it feel like? What is it like?

CLINTON: Well, it's very different. You know, for 30 years I've worked on behalf of causes and candidates and particularly on behalf of my husband in his many races, and I've always enjoyed doing that, thought it was important, never really believed I would be on the other side of that line, being a candidate myself, and it takes some getting used to. There's a real learning curve. Even if you've been around it for years, as I have, once you're the person on the front line, who is, you know, making the statements and doing the interviews about not out what someone else believes whom you're supporting, but what you believe and what you'll fight for -- it's a very different feeling.

KING: So it's not "Vote for him"; it's "Vote for me."

CLINTON: That's right.

KING: How about fund raising? Some people have said the hardest thing in politics is to ask for money.

CLINTON: It's very hard.

KING: Now you're asking for you. It's thing to ask for someone else. Is that hard?

CLINTON: Well, it's hard, but you have to do it. I want to change the system; that's why I support campaign finance reform, because I don't think it's a good system for our democracy. But it is the system we have, and if you believe strongly, as I do, that we need to continue the progress of the last eight years and that it's important who is a partner in the Senate with Al and Joe, then you go out and you work as hard as you can, and that includes raising the money to make the campaign.

KING: An old friend of ours, Marvin Davis (ph), told me that you told him seven years ago you wanted to live in New York.

CLINTON: Yes, that's true.

KING: That this wasn't the -- way before this Senate jump.

CLINTON: I've always wanted to live in New York.

KING: Why?

CLINTON: Why not? I mean, there isn't any place like it.

KING: You're a Chicagoan, though. That's...

CLINTON: But I've been -- you know, I've...

KING: "Big Shoulders."

CLINTON: You know, I've had a wonderful life, because, look, I was born and raised in Chicago. I went to school in New England, and law school. I got to live in Arkansas, made the friends of a lifetime there. Got to live in Washington.

But like so many other people from all over the world, I've always wanted to live in New York. And I told Marvin, I've told a lot of people over the years that after the White House years I wanted to move to New York and have a chance to experience New York City and everything that goes with it.

KING: And when you can't -- you don't experience it as an everyday New Yorker. I mean, you have the Secret Service and...

CLINTON: Well, it's a little different, Because I used to love going and just being able to walk down the street before the White House years: going to a museum, going to a play, going out to a great restaurant. It is a lot harder for me now, but that will get easier after Bill's no longer president.

KING: And how is Chelsea enjoying being part of a campaign, Chelsea, who you've sheltered so well, who we, the public, really don't know

CLINTON: Well, thank you. Thank you and the press for giving her the space...

KING: They have, haven't they?

CLINTON: They have, and I hope it continues with all the children involved in this presidential campaign. You know, the Bushes and the Gores and the Liebermans all have young children, not adults yet. So I hope that the pattern that has started with our daughter will continue. But I am -- I'm enjoying having her with us. She has always been a part of our life, and politics has always been a part of our family. So she has been with her -- with her -- with my husband, her father, been with me from time to time. And it's been a great treat.

KING: She's enjoying it?

CLINTON: Yes, she likes it. You know, and she -- you know, she's good to have around.

KING: Not bad. The times I've known her, she's a terrific person.

CLINTON: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: We'll have more of our interview with Hillary Clinton, which we taped on Saturday afternoon right here at the convention site, at the bottom of the hour. When we come back, one of the world's superstars, the incredible Cher, will join us. Always been a political activist. We'll get her thoughts right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Back at the Democratic Convention at the Staples Center this brand-new arena in downtown Los Angeles, which hosted the world champion Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. And as we return with part one of LARRY KING LIVE -- Jimmy Carter will be with us on part two at midnight Eastern time -- we welcome Cher to our booth here high atop the stands. Cher was part of a star-studded Hollywood tribute to Bill Clinton on Saturday night.

What was that like?

CHER: It was great. It was a little nerve-wracking, but it was really great. I'd never met him before.

KING: You hadn't?

CHER: No, as I told him, too, I said, you know, I didn't vote for you, but if you are...

KING: You voted for Perot.

CHER: No, I actually -- no, I didn't. I was going to, but then I just thought -- I couldn't understand what happened to him. Obviously something happened to him. I had great hope for him, but then it just didn't pan out, so...

KING: So you voted against Bill Clinton.

CHER: Yes.

KING: And you told him that.

CHER: Absolutely.

KING: And what did he say?

CHER: I said, but, if you were running again today, I would vote for you. And then I sang "If I Could Turn Back Time" for him.

KING: What does it feel like to sing for a president?

CHER: Well, it just, you know...

KING: Was it different?

KING: No. Well, yes. You know, it's a little nerve-wracking, but I was excited. I'm always nervous before I perform, but it was especially nice to do that.

KING: Were -- are you always been active in politics?

CHER: You know, Sonny was the one that really introduced me to politics. Sonny went to the 1968 Democratic convention, got planks in the platform.

KING: Really?

CHER: Right, so...

KING: Then ran as a Republican.

CHER: Yes, but you know, in my heart of hearts, I don't believe that he ever was a Republican, I just think he saw a niche, you know? And I just don't -- knowing him the way I know him, I just -- I don't see how he could have been.

KING: When did you get active, though?

CHER: Well, I mean, we campaigned. I went to the White House the first night that Jimmy Carter was in the White House and had dinner with him. And it's hard -- politics is hard for me because I believe in the truth so much. And so it's a difficult thing. I mean, I'm not a Democrat now even though I believe in my heart of hearts that it's the only -- that this year, I'm a -- this year, I am a Democrat because I believe that it's -- you know, I believe that this is the party of the people and I'm so against everything that this Republican administration would stand for.

KING: Do you think stars should speak out?

CHER: I believe that -- I'm not speaking out as a star -- that my stardom gives me the vehicle, the right to be here. But I'm speaking out as a person, as an American. And I believe that I have a more important role to play under the Constitution, and that is I get to have the freedom of speech. And also, it's only an opinion, you know, but I believe it with my whole heart...

KING: You sure do.

CHER: ... and so I have to go -- I have to say something. I can't stand idly by and just do nothing.

KING: We'll never forget the night Perot pulled out. You called in.

CHER: I know. Shame, shame, shame. I was angry.

KING: He never got over that call.

We'll be back with more of Cher on this first night of the Democratic National Convention, and more of Hillary Clinton, and more to come. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back with Cher.

OK, you have always been independent; this year, strongly Democrat. What are the key issues? Why?

CHER: Well, I believe that if you are a woman, a minority, a working person, gay, anything that doesn't fit in with the Republican white, rich-guy stereotype, that you cannot do anything but vote Democrat this year. I think that there is -- it's really your duty, you know, because I think that these are the people that are going to do something for the country.

KING: But George W. Bush has said he wants to be all-inclusive. The vice presidential candidate has a gay daughter, as you have a gay daughter.

CHER: Yes, except what they say and what they do are not the same thing. You know, what they say -- it's easy to say that they're mutual -- you know, that they want to include everybody, but their record -- I mean, if you look at the record of his state, nothing reflects -- his words do not reflect his actions in the past. You know, they are not -- it's not a party that really -- it's like every time the Republicans come into office, my business manager becomes elated because he always says, oh, Cher you're going to get so many great tax breaks because that's what the Republicans are about, giving rich people tax breaks.

I'm rich enough. I don't mind working harder for my money because I can't be happy knowing that I'm making a lot of money if I know that other people are not having the benefits or they are -- or have the arena to make, you know, to make a living, to live comfortably, to live well. More people -- more women are starving in his state than any other state in the United States. More children are going to bed hungry. If you look in the Child Council, it says that it's the worst place to raise a child. Texas is the worst place to raise a child.

KING: Why do you think the Gore ticket is so far behind thus far in the polls?

CHER: Because I believe that people aren't looking behind the facade. You know, people have short memories. His father was president eight years ago. We were in a terrible place. Do we want to repeat that?

KING: Wait a minute, you're blaming the father on the son?

CHER: Yes, but it's the same -- you know, it's the same thing. It's the same idea, it's the same party, it's the same values. It's not a party of the people.

KING: Were you bothered by the actions of President Clinton, and does that have a place in this campaign?

CHER: You know what, I think family values begin in your home. If you don't teach it there -- if I teach family values in my home, then my children are never going to forget it, and nothing that anyone else does is going to change what their basic values are.

KING: So Clinton's actions...

CHER: And it's also -- you know what? It's none of my business. I don't care. He's been a great president and history will write what kind of a president he is. History always writes -- you know, when Lincoln died, people didn't like him. He was a -- he had a terrible rating. History -- I mean, if outside -- I've spent so much time outside of this country, and I'm not saying what he did was right, but it's not my business. I'm not here to -- how can I chastise him, you know? And if we're going to have Christian values, it's about forgiveness, it's not about burying him, you know? It's not about burying him.

Jesus had a best friend who was a hooker. He didn't chastise her, he forgave her and he didn't have to bury her to forgive her. So it's not my -- how can I throw any kind of stones at him, you know? He's been chastised enough. He's going to learn the lesson the hard way.

KING: You going to work for this ticket?

CHER: Absolutely.

KING: You'll go out, we'll be seeing you?

CHER: Yes, I mean I can't do enough, really, to work against something that I think is wrong for this country because I love the country, I love the people. I've been working this country for 36 years, I've been in every state, I've talked to everybody, I have no ax to grind, I only want to see what I see the possibilities of this country to be. You know, I see that we have a great country, but I see the possibilities of being great for everyone, and that everyone gets a chance to do what I've done. I mean, I came from nothing and I have -- I've been able to make what I wanted in my lifetime and it could have only happened in this country. So I can't stand idly by and not see everybody have that possibility. And I think with Gore, and I see through Clinton, that the Democrats -- I mean, I'm actually even thinking about becoming a Democrat again.

KING: Thank you, Cher.

CHER: But don't tell anybody.

KING: No, we won't tell anybody.

CHER: OK.

KING: Cher -- have to tell you who she is, got big problems.

More of our interview with Hillary Clinton, and we'll get you an update on the submarine. And then old friend Sarge Shriver. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: This is the official protest area. It's daylight because it's only 6:31 here in Los Angeles. Very hot, clear day. And those -- that's the area designated for the protesters. It's right outside the Staples Center. There you see the police gathered around them, and they are protesting many things.

Now we look inside the convention center on this first night. Still to come, a tribute to Jimmy Carter, who will be with us at midnight Eastern Time.

More now of the Hillary Clinton interview we started showing you earlier in the program. I asked the first lady about the contrition comments that her husband made last week before a gathering of ministers in Illinois.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CLINTON: Well, I don't have anything to add to what he said. I think that what's important here at this convention and certainly what's important in this election is the future. And it's very clear to me that if you look at the public record of this administration, and what Bill Clinton and Al Gore have meant to America and the world, this shouldn't even be a close election. But I think we have to really get people to focus on what's at stake in their lives and what the decisions are going to be.

KING: Were you surprised, though, that he did come forward that way?

CLINTON: You know, he felt moved to speak and he did, and I don't have anything to add to that.

KING: How is that going?

CLINTON: He's great; he's doing very well and he's very focused on every day being the best president he can be. And of course, he is absolutely committed to doing everything he can to get the message out as to why Al and Joe would be so good for the country.

KING: And how, frankly, are you doing, emotionally? I mean, you went through a tough thing. The whole world knew. You know, when you see the whole -- it's embarrassing. Hard to come through? It's got to be tough. CLINTON: But you know, that's my business, and I don't talk about my personal business, and I feel strongly that what goes on in a marriage or a family should remain in that marriage and in that family. And I'm very, you know, happy doing what I'm doing. I feel very committed to making this race, because I believe so strongly in these issues. I have worked on them for 30 years. It's what I care most about in public life, and that's what I do every day.

KING: And the rest is none of our business.

CLINTON: That's right.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What about -- why do you think people hate you? I mean, lots of people love you, and a lot of people have just judged you politically. But why do you engender, do you think, so much anger?

CLINTON: Well, you know, I think some of it is because of what I stand for and what I've done...

KING: It has to be more than that. Other people stand for those things.

CLINTON: Well, I think that people who are, for example, anti- choice or against gun safety measures, they know that I really mean it. I mean, it's not just a political view for me. I mean, it is something that I've come to after my life experience that I believe strongly in a woman's right to choose as part of the Constitution, and to make it clear that I've been in countries where that right was taken away from women, and I will fight very hard to prevent that from happening here.

Or when I stand up against the gun lobby, I'm not winking. I'm not saying that I'll fight only this hard and no harder. I think we've got too much violence in this country. There are too many guns falling into the hands of children and criminals. And I'm going to fight very hard to take that on.

And there are so many issues that I have a long track record on, that I have been out-front on.

You know, back in 1983, people were upset with me because I was among the first people to say that we needed to improve the quality of teachers, and I advocated teacher testing, and I was, you know, booed and I was boycotted, but I did what I thought was right.

KING: You also changed a lot. You were a Goldwater girl.

CLINTON: I was a Goldwater girl. But you know what...

KING: But why...

CLINTON: ... I've always believed in doing what you think is right for you. And sometimes people are, you know, not in agreement with me, and I just... KING: But it's more than that: It seems that you engender -- women have written books about you with, I think they would admit it, venom.

CLINTON: Who've never met me.

KING: I know. Why do you think...

CLINTON: Well, I don't know. You'd have to ask them as I'm sure you have.

KING: Do you ever wonder about it?

CLINTON: You know, but so much of it is politically motivated. There's...

KING: Just that?

CLINTON: Well, I'm not saying all of it, but so much of it is. There's a political and partisan agenda to it. There's an ideological bent to it. A lot of the people who write those things and say those things, you know, they loved the policies of Ronald Reagan and President George Bush.

I disagreed with them. I believe we're a better country than we were in 1992. I believe that our economy had to be turned around, and we had to make some very tough decisions.

You know, you go back to the kind of vitriol that really greeted both Bill and me when he began to run for president. It is hard to explain, except if you look...

KING: Because you basically were moderate, right?

CLINTON: Of course, but we were very intent upon changing things, and now I'm intent on preventing those positive changes from being reversed.

You know, just think about it, Larry: We worked so hard as a nation to get our economic house in order. If you look at what George W. Bush and my opponent, for example, are supporting, the Republican economic plan, it doesn't add up. The arithmetic is just not there, and the result would be to send us back to deficits and disinvestment.

Now, it's perfectly fine if somebody wants to believe that's the right thing to do, but I have a right, and I will fight with every fiber of my being, to say, "That's not good for America."

KING: Do you expect a very close, tough race?

CLINTON: I think races in America today are all close and tough.

KING: Do you know Rick Lazio?

CLINTON: I have met him, but I don't know him.

KING: Just perfunctory meeting.

CLINTON: Yes. I mean, I've learned a lot about his record, which he doesn't seem to want to own up to. So I'm going to be...

KING: Are you ready for debates?

CLINTON: Absolutely, I can't wait for them. I've challenged him to do even more than he's agreed to, because I want people to see me not as some kind of mythological figure that other people talk about, but here I am, here's what I believe in, here's what I've stood for, here are the values I was raised with, here's why I am doing this. I have worked on these issues since I was a young woman. I've never stopped working on them. I took my concerns for foster children and poor education and inadequate health care with me into the White House, where I kept working on it.

I want people to know that I am a consistent, strong voice for what I believe in, and if someone goes into a polling booth to vote against me, I want them to know what they're doing. I want them to understand, not what some, you know, paid-for talking head has to say about me...

KING: What did you think of the Republican convention?

CLINTON: Well, I thought it was a show that didn't have a lot of substance, that tried, and effectively did, mask the differences that exist within their party, and the very strong policies that they have put forward that have not been good for the country, and the Congress that the president and the vice president and others have had to beat back.

I thought that they tried to blur the distinctions between the Democrats and Republicans, and it was a bravura performance, but it didn't have much to do with the substance or policies of their candidates or their party.

KING: See you in New York.

CLINTON: Yes, you will.

KING: Yes, we'll, after Labor Day, we're going to see a lot of you.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, first lady of the United States. It's her last convention as first lady. She might be here as a senator. One never knows.

CLINTON: Hope so.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: When we come back, Sargent Shriver, and then an update on a tragedy of a Russian submarine. Also portions of a tribute to President Carter, who will be with us live tonight at midnight Eastern.

Sarge Shriver's next. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Before we talk to Sarge Shriver, they're showing a video tribute to former President Jimmy Carter. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... people of the United States of America (UNINTELLIGIBLE) conclude this historic ceremony by signing the treaty of peace as a witness to the signatures of President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This act of Congress reaffirms our commitment to the environment. We were determined to preserve portions of Alaska: 56 million acres of that state can now stand pristine.

As governor and as president, this has been one of my most difficult political challenges, and throughout my life and future, it's a challenge that I will continue to meet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CARTER: When we left the White House, Rose and I were still quite young, comparatively speaking, and we had a great interest in problems that afflict people. So we thought that we would try to devise a system to promote peace and human rights, and it was that cause that made us evolve the Carter Center over a number of years.

As we go into the most difficult situations, tackle difficult problems -- immunizing children; eradicating Guinea worm; planting corn, wheat, sorghum, millet; or to stop human rights abuses -- It's been a delightful and life-expanding experience for me and Roslyn to become deeply involved with people who really appreciate who it and who, in the absence of the Carter Center, might not ever have a helping hand.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jimmy and Roslyn Carter have done more good things for more people in more places than any other couple on the face of the Earth.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP) CARTER: Well, it's hard to look back on an entire life and say, I would like to be remembered for this or that, but I would say in very general terms I would like to associate with my name maybe the words peace and human rights. That would be my preference.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: A stirring tribute to former President Jimmy Carter and a standing ovation for President Carter and his family seated in the box. And the president will be with us tonight at midnight Eastern Time on portion two. And there you see a beaming, youthful Jimmy Carter and the plaudits of the crowd.

Speaking of veterans of the Democratic Party, we welcome for a few moments with us up here in the booth Sargent Shriver, George McGovern's running mate in 1972, first director of the Peace Corps. He was the coordinator for JFK's West Virginia and Wisconsin campaigns.

What -- do you come to all of these?

SARGENT SHRIVER (D), 1972 VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I have been to all of them for about 40 years, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Do you -- do you miss the political day in, day out?

SHRIVER: I do, yes, but I've got a great job, so I don't worry about it.

KING: What are you doing?

SHRIVER: Well I run something called Special Olympics International.

KING: Oh, that's your baby.

SHRIVER: I...

KING: I thought it was Eunice's.

SHRIVER: Well, it is Eunice's baby, but she handed the baby over to me. And we're up to 160 countries with 1.250 million enrollees in it. We've got communist countries like Cuba, China are in it. Conservative countries are in it. Everybody's in it.

KING: You started the whole thing.

SHRIVER: Eunice, my wife, started the whole thing.

KING: And you're the father in law of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

SHRIVER: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

KING: Is he a good son-in-law? SHRIVER: Yes, he is. He's terrific, he really is. And he's very bright, very intelligent.

KING: A couple of things, Sarge, what do you make of this ticket?

SHRIVER: I think the ticket is terrific, I really do. I think the Democratic Party has done a glorious job in selecting the candidate for president and vice president. That's the best two-man ticket in a long, long time, both of them are qualified to be president.

KING: Is this close to the historic of your brother-in-law, who was the second Catholic ever nominated and the first Catholic ever elected?

SHRIVER: Well, I thank God for the Jewish person who's going to be on our ticket this time, because Jewish people have contributed immensely, in my judgment, to the success of the United States of America, in many, many ways. So I think it's great to have a Jewish leader on the ticket. And this one is a political leader, too. So he's got both qualities.

Jack had the same thing, although he was a Catholic.

KING: Much younger, too.

SHRIVER: Much younger. That's right.

KING: How old are you, Sarge?

SHRIVER: I'm -- do you really want to know?

KING: Yes.

SHRIVER: In two months I'll be 85 years old! How many guys do you know who are 85 years old? I don't know any.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: And you've lost all your enthusiasm, too. Well, that comes with aging.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Thanks, Sargent.

SHRIVER: I think you're right. Good luck.

KING: Always great seeing you.

SHRIVER: Thank you.

KING: Sargent Shriver, a very special American, the first director of the Peace Corps. There's a tragedy occurring far away from here. The tragedy is way under the water in the deep seas of the Barents Ocean (sic). And there is a Russian sub. In that connection, we're going to take you to a Russian sub here in the United States, the Scorpion off Long Beach. We're going to meet Greg LaMotte, our CNN correspondent. He's going to talk with the man who runs that sub. And Tom Clancy -- remember "The Hunt for Red October"? -- will join us as well. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There is a much bigger story going on today, bigger than this convention. It involves a Russian submarine. In that connection, we're going to go to two places: to Long Beach, California, down the road apiece, where Greg LaMotte, our CNN correspondent, is standing by on a Russian submarine, the Scorpion, and to Calvert County, Maryland, the home of Tom Clancy, the bestselling author, whose latest novel is "The Bear and the Dragon." Tom wrote "The Hunt for Red October," which involved a Russian submarine.

Greg, can you describe for us where you are and what's happening?

GREG LAMOTTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are onboard the Russian submarine Scorpion. It's Russian-made. It's diesel-powered, and it first sailed in 1972, but it was decommissioned in 1994. This was an attack submarine that carried about 22 torpedoes fired primarily at other subs and ships. It was used extensively during the Cold War era.

We are in the engine compartment area of this submarine. I think if we can quickly take a look around, you can see that while this is one of the bigger compartments of the submarine, it is certainly tight quarters.

Believe it or not, this is one of the largest compartments on this submarine.

When it was operational, the engine room was heaven or hell. In the Arctic, it was the place to work, because it was warm here. But when the submarine sailed in tropical waters, they had to change shifts every 30 minutes because it was so hot.

We're going to attempt to take a quick tour, Larry, as we go across this vessels, which, by the way, is 200 feet shorter than the nuclear-powered sub in trouble in the Barents Sea. It's about 10,000 tons lighter than that one.

You'll notice how cramped the quarters are here, my cameraman being extraordinarily careful as we maneuver through low overhangs and steps, and move down hallways.

Over on the left-hand side, you'll see that this is a kitchen area that was used when this submarine was operational; again, tight quarters. We move on down the area here and, again, to the right and -- well, we missed that. KING: You know, Greg, I was on a -- I cruised with the USS Ohio. We went down. And oddly enough, while that looks very cramped, it's very -- they manage to make incredible use of space, wouldn't you believe? -- would you agree?

LAMOTTE: Absolutely. In fact, if -- I think my cameraman's turning around right now and I think you can see, like, for instance, the living quarters. This is where they crew members would sleep, bunk beds obviously throughout; extraordinarily tight use of bathrooms, for instance. And as we move on down this area through here, if I spread my arms out at all, I'll hit either side of the wall.

Now, these nuclear-powered subs are much bigger...

KING: Yes.

LAMOTTE: ... and are certainly friendlier to the person who is walking through them.

KING: And the hatches you walk through. Let me...

LAMOTTE: But these portals that they...

KING: Yes. Greg, now...

LAMOTTE: These are the portals that they go through, and there's many of these in which these former Russian submariners would have to go through in order to get from compartment to compartment.

KING: Now, Greg, you hold it right there and let me bring in Tom Clancy, who's fascinated by submarines and has written, of course, about them. In "The Hunt for Red October," one of the kind of sub- plots was the Russians, in lying to us, said that they had a submarine in distress, right? and they didn't want our help. That was not true, but that's what they told us. What do you make of this, Tom?

TOM CLANCY, NOVELIST: Well, this is obviously not a fake incident. Something really happened and it's very unfortunate. We have the lives of 100 human beings that are at risk right now. That's not a good thing, Larry.

KING: Right. And what would you guess could cause something like this? I mean, these are very well-made ships.

CLANCY: There are two versions of what happened out in the media at the moment. One is that the ship was conducting exercise -- you know, fleet exercise and was firing a torpedo and they flooded their torpedo room as a result of some malfunction. The other one is the ship was rammed. However, the Oscar Class submarine is a very robust structure. And if you want to be on a submarine that's going to get rammed, I'd pick the Oscar before I'd pick an American boat, frankly, because of the way she's built.

KING: So this is one tough cookie. What -- why -- all right, put it simply and we'll go back to Greg in a second. Why can't -- what's the difficulty in getting them out? Is it the depth?

CLANCY: Well, I can show you this. This is a model of an American fast-attack submarine that was actually given to me in Seattle a couple of weeks ago. The problem, Larry, is that the ship is over at an angle, 60 degrees off the vertical, about like this.

Now, on the back of this model is also a model of the DSRV, the deep submergence rescue vehicle, which is a mini-submarine which is used to go down to a submarine in distress to mate with the escape hatch and then to shuttle back and forth to the surface to get the crewmen off.

Now, if the submarine is over at an angle like this, mating with the escape trunk is going to be extremely difficult. So it's -- and this is probably also the reason why the ship shuts its reactor plant down, as reported, because at an angle like that, the control rods in the reactor have -- on the Russian-designed reactors, they can't go up and down and they can't regulate the reaction in the nuclear pile.

KING: How long could the men hold out?

CLANCY: That's a function of how much air they have and, you know, they are trying to get an air hose down to them now. It's a big boat. The crew is only about 100. I should think they've got air for several days.

KING: Greg, what are they saying there in Long Beach?

LAMOTTE: Well, I was told, on a submarine like this one, that if all power was shut down, that they would probably be able to stay under water at a certain depth for anywhere from 15 to 26 days. They have candles that they say they actually light up that provide oxygen. They also have canisters that have chemicals in them that they can light and open up, and that exposes oxygen to the crew members, they say about 26 days. And this is a very small submarine in comparison with the one that's in the Barents Sea.

KING: Can you imagine, Greg, what it must be like for them.

LAMOTTE: I can't. It's impossible to begin to imagine.

KING: And they're tilted sideways, as Tom described it, Greg. They're tilted sideways.

LAMOTTE: Yes, I can't even imagine. I talked to a guy here who was on a U.S. submarine for the U.S. Navy and spent up to six months. Asked him the same question, he just shook his head and said, I can only imagine that they are, right now, anyway, hoping and praying that these rescue subs will get them out of there. Minus the rescue subs, then, this same person said that's when they begin talking to their fellow crew members about their lives and about what it meant to them.

KING: Tom, why do you think they're refusing aid of the United States?

CLANCY: Well, the aid's been offered. I don't know -- it has not been accepted yet, but that's not quite the same thing as a refusal.

KING: OK.

CLANCY: You know, the Russians certainly have a sense of amoire proper (ph). I mean, they have a sense of pride and we don't want to violate their sense of pride. And so we'll give them a chance. You know, certainly they have people in their own naval service who know how to deal with emergencies and let's give them a chance to show what they can do first. If they need us, we'll offer -- you know, the help has been offered. If they really need us, we'll give them the help they need.

KING: And President Carter, who will be with us at midnight and served on a sub for five years, told me that they were trained to swim out through the torpedo hatch from 100 feet down.

CLANCY: OK, not through the torpedo tube.

KING: I'm sorry, through whatever.

CLANCY: That's a bad piece of information, Larry.

KING: Well, I'm sorry, that's mine. I was -- he told me they were able to swim out from 100 feet down. He didn't say torpedo hatch. I thought torpedo hatch.

CLANCY: I actually checked with one of my friends today. You could do a free-ascent from 600 or 700 feet. The problem, again, is the ship is canted over at such an angle, they may not even be able to use their escape trunks because, you know, because the degree to which the ship is tilted prevents the hatches from opening. I mean, I -- that's speculation on my part, but you can do a free-ascent from that depth and expect to survive.

KING: And Greg LaMotte, are there any Russians there in Long Beach?

LAMOTTE: There are some Russians here in Long Beach. One's associated with the Scorpion, including a captain that was on board this particular vessel. He -- we had hoped to be able to get him as a guest for this evening, but he has got some child-care issues that he needs to deal with, and we certainly understand that.

KING: Greg, I thank you for the report.

Tom, thanks for allowing us into your home. Tom's latest novel is "The Bear and the Dragon." And, of course, CNN will be covering this story around the clock as best we can. As you would imagine, it is rather difficult.

Lots to come. Bernie and Judy and the gang will be here to host into the next hour. We'll be hearing from Hillary Clinton and from the president of the United States.

I'll be back at midnight with Jimmy Carter and Jack Kemp and Governor Ann Richards. Thanks for joining us. I'm Larry King. Stay tuned for lots more from Los Angeles.

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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