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Larry King Live
Jimmy Carter Discusses President Clinton's Convention AddressAired August 15, 2000 - 0:00 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Bill Clinton takes center stage for his last big convention speech as a sitting president. Joining us at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter, and others, all next on another special edition of LARRY KING LIVE at the 43rd Democratic National Convention.
Good evening, and welcome to part two of LARRY KING LIVE. As you know, as we did in Philadelphia with the Republicans, we will do two editions of this program every night at 9:00 and midnight Eastern time. And later to come, we'll meet Senator George Mitchell. We'll also meet Captain Igor Kolosov. He is aboard the Scorpion in Long Beach, California, a former electronic weapons officer on a Russian sub. As you know, we still have that tragedy occurring. And then later, our dynamic duo, Jack Kemp and the Honorable Ann Richards.
But we start with the former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. Before we talk a little later about the submarine incident, what did you think of the president tonight?
JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought it was a great speech. I think he really livened up the whole crowd, including me and Rosalynn. I think he gave Al Gore adequate credit for the great economic success we've had in the last eight years. I think he spelled out the incredible other achievements that are now in danger, you know, if the Republicans take over and start reversing things. So in every respect, I think he was a very fine, you might say swan song for him, but he'll long be remembered, I think, for that speech.
KING: Well, what did you think of the tribute to you?
CARTER: Well, I really appreciate it. It was heartwarming to me. And then afterwards, Al Gore called me on the phone -- I was sitting beside his daughter -- and just thanked me for being here and congratulating me again. He's a very close, personal friend of mine for 25 years. In fact, he was elected to the Congress, as you may know, the same year I was elected president, so we've been very close. And the whole day has been just great for me.
KING: Was it kind of nice to come back?
CARTER: Well, it's nice. Some of the conventions have not been as eager to see me present. But I've been to the conventions in '84, in '88, which was in Atlanta, in '92. I skipped '96. And this time, Al Gore asked me to come earlier. And I didn't really want to come because the networks had dropped the coverage. And my staff was getting into squabbles about who would be on primetime. And I just thought I'd just skip the speech. So as an alternative to that, which has been very nice, as I've already said, Al suggested that we have just a, you know, a video tribute and let me do some important media like the LARRY KING show.
KING: And that tribute hit exactly at primetime.
CARTER: Oh, did it?
CARTER: I didn't know exactly.
KING: You couldn't have picked a better time. It was a little after 10:00 Eastern time, was perfect on time. You didn't come -- was there ever a rift between you and President Clinton?
CARTER: There never has been a rift but I didn't get along as well with President Clinton as I had hoped. My whole life is involved in the Carter Center now. And, you know, we were kind of excluded from a lot of things in which I thought we could be of assistance. And when I have had a problem in Washington in the last eight years, I generally just picked up the phone and called Al Gore and said, "Al, can you give me some entree into who's responsible for this particular issue in the State Department or the Agriculture Department or the Treasury Department?" and so forth.
CARTER: This hasn't been a frequent thing but Al's always been my kind of entree to the Clinton administration in Washington.
KING: Are things better now?
CARTER: Oh, very nice, yeah.
KING: He was very nice to you in his remarks.
CARTER: He was. There never has been any cross words, no animosity so far as I know. In fact, he was so gracious earlier this year, he invited me and all my young grandkids who had never seen Camp David or the White House to come and spend the night in both places. He canceled an engagement to stay there and talk to us and he's been very gracious to us. It's just a matter of, you know, the kind of -- the bureaucracy doesn't always welcome the presence of a former president.
KING: Did you call your old friend, Gerald Ford, when he was in the hospital?
CARTER: I certainly did. Talked to him, talked to his wife first. As you -- you've expressed it very well. He's one of the best friends I've ever had in my life.
KING: Amazing story.
CARTER: Amazing story, a wonderful man. We became friends on the way home from the Sadat funeral. We were commiserating with each other about having to raise so much money to build a presidential library. And during that time and even while I was -- all the time I was president, he never came to Washington, D.C. area that I didn't invite him to the White House to sit down with me, have a cup of coffee. And he helped me with everything I ever asked him to. He's been a glorious former president in helping me with -- during my four years. And since then, he's helped me at the Carter Center with everything I've ever asked him.
KING: A couple of things news wise and then we'll get into the speech and the submarine. The Mexican elections. You were there for them, right?
CARTER: Yes. We were in Mexico...
KING: You go everywhere there's an election. If there's a townhall election in Indonesia, you go.
CARTER: But where I get asked and where I'm needed. Mexico has been visited by our people consistently for the last 14 years, and we've seen the Mexican people come from a completely fraudulent election in '88 to one of the finest elections I have ever seen this year. And it was just a perfect election as far as honest, integrity, openness, participation, everything worked out very well.
And then we went from Mexico over to Nigeria to deal with other Carter Center projects on health and so forth and then back to Venezuela, which had an equally interesting election down there. We've been there for the election of '98 and again this year.
KING: Why do you do this?
CARTER: I enjoy it and a lot of people need it. I feel like there's no way to separate America's commitment to peace and human rights and democracy and freedom. And I look on these elections that always in doubtful circumstances where the people really call on us as part of America's commitment to democracy and freedom. We only go when a ruling party is so powerful and distrusted that their opposing parties won't participate unless the Carter Center is there. And the other times that we go are when a dictatorship is being replaced hopefully by a Democratic form of government.
Last year, for instance, we went to Indonesia, which had never had a Democratic government; they had a very fine and free and fair election. And then we went also to Nigeria, which is most of its existence as a free nation has been suffering under dictatorships. And we had another good election there. Now that's just a few of the things that we do.
KING: Our guest, the incredible former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter. This is LARRY KING LIVE, part two. Back with more after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We built stronger ties to Africa, Asia and our Latin American and Caribbean neighbors. We brought Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO. We're working with Russia to destroy nuclear weapons and materials. We're fighting head on the new threats and injustices of the global age: terrorism, narco trafficking, biological and chemical warfare, the trafficking in women and young girls, and the deadly spread of AIDS. And in the great tradition of President Jimmy Carter who's here tonight, we are still the world's leading force for human rights around the world.
Thank you, President Carter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: This is downtown Los Angeles at the completion of the first night of the Democratic National Convention. Three nights to go. We'll be doing two shows nightly. Disturbances this evening here as well. Police appear to have things under control.
We're talking with former President Carter. We've had a tragedy tonight in the Bearing Sea.
You served on a submarine for five years, right?
CARTER: Five years.
KING: You were a Rickover over guy, right?
KING: Nuclear -- you never commanded a sub, though.
CARTER: No, I didn't command. I wasn't that senior at that time.
KING: What do you make of this from what we know up to this minute, which is that there's a submarine apparently hit something, there's over a hundred men, and they're trying to figure out a way to get to them and it's turned a little on the side.
CARTER: There's about 130 men, I think. Well, that's the thing that bothers me, whether the submarine was filling up with water or whether it was vertical. If it lands on the bottom and the hatches are all horizontal, then you can put the rescue bell on it quite easily. But if it's tilted to the side, 300-feet deep, it makes it very difficult. All of us, when we went through submarine school, had to know how to escape former depth of a hundred feet without any additional equipment on us. But 300-feet for a normal submarine on the bottom is not difficult but with rough water, a storm for instance, or if the submarine is damaged internally and is leaking water or if it's on its side, it can be extremely difficult. I pray that they'll they all right.
KING: What keeps them alive? I mean, how long can they last?
CARTER: Well, our submarines can manufacture fresh air. A nuclear submarine today obviously, and even when I was in the Navy many years ago, can go all the way around the world without ever surfacing or taking in any from the atmosphere. You can recondition your air to remove the carbon dioxide and to restore the oxygen. So I think unless the equipment is all damaged or the electrical supply system is gone and the air purifiers can't run, they could stay in there and renew their own air indefinitely.
KING: How about communications back and forth? Easy or not?
CARTER: It's very difficult at that depth.
KING: I'll bet.
CARTER: Yeah. There's no really way to have radio communications. You can send Morse code, obviously, by sonar. And that's slow and tedious but it's the kind of thing that we had, you know, in ancient days anyway. So they can send signals that "We need oxygen, we need air, we have 18 people wounded or our forward compartment is flooded." They can send simple and brief messages like that but there's no easy way to communicate with a submarine.
KING: You can't train for something like this, can you, or can you?
CARTER: We went through training. As I said, I have come from the bottom to the surface in a hundred-foot deep water.
KING: Just float them out?
CARTER: You float up, your natural body buoyancy raises you up.
KING: Going through what? How do you get out?
CARTER: You just -- it'll just raise you straight up through the water.
KING: You can go out through the open hatch? You go out through the top?
CARTER: Exactly, yes, yes, just through the water. But you have to be careful to exhale as you go up and you watch the bubble in front of your eyes that come out of your lungs so that you don't go up too fast. If you do, the air in your lungs will go in your body and you get the bends, which might be fatal. So there's all kind of things -- you learn those techniques when you're in submarines.
KING: Why did you want to be on a submarine?
CARTER: I thought it was the most elite service that I could possibly do for my country. It was challenging and adventurous and a lot -- dangerous. I had a choice after I was in the Navy for two years on surface ships to either go into the Air Force or to go into submarines. And I chose submarines.
KING: Glad you did?
KING: All right, now what do you think is going on now on the part of the Russian navy? Like what are they -- what are they trying to do? What are they thinking about? They have not said no to our help. They haven't said yes. They haven't said anything, apparently.
CARTER: I really wish that they had said -- told us. They may have done it, I haven't kept up with the news today. But I really wish that they had told us to position our rescue equipment as close as possible to the accident site. And then they may not need us to send a submersible submarine down there. It's a very small submarine that can go down and do a lot that the diving (UNINTELLIGIBLE) can't do. I'm not really familiar with the kind of equipment that the Russians have on their own, but I do know -- obviously I think everybody knows who keeps up with it, their military has gone downhill dramatically since the Soviet Union fragmented. There's been some concern even in the North Sea submarine fleet that the submarines tied up alongside the peer were not even getting adequate electricity fed in from the shore to keep them in a safe condition. And I know that some of their sailors had not been paid, for instance, for several months. There was a very low morale, which concerns us. We don't want to see the Russian military to get in such bad shape that they get desperate and lash out.
KING: And what's the danger of -- there are no nuclear weapons on that...
CARTER: This was a submarine that ordinarily carries, I think, 24 nuclear missiles. And the Russians announced that they had no missiles on the ship. It's hard for me to understand why they were having maneuvers of a very elaborate nature without weapons on the ship. But, of course...
KING: They may not be telling us the truth.
CARTER: They may not be telling the truth but they've got a -- they've got two nuclear power generators on the ship.
KING: And what's the danger from that?
CARTER: I think very slight, unless the hull was penetrated by some kind of accident into the nuclear reactor itself but that's obviously not the case in this.
KING: We're back with some more moments with President Carter on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We've got a great lineup of guests tomorrow night, including Walter Mondale, his former vice president. Ann Richards will be here, too, and Bill Bennett, Mario Cuomo. Christopher Reeve will be aboard tomorrow. Plus Congressman Patrick Kennedy's night tomorrow. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Beautiful shot of downtown Los Angeles on this Monday night. Nice to have Rosalynn Carter in the studios with us. A little bit of news. The president was just telling me that he and Rosalynn went up to where in Connecticut? Where was it that they...
CARTER: Near New London where they're putting a U.S.S. Jimmy Carter...
KING: The U.S.S. Jimmy Carter is being constructed. It will be the newest submarine in the fleet.
CARTER: And the fastest and quietest ship in the world.
KING: Now that has got to be...
CARTER: I'm very flattered.
KING: I know former president, there's a lot of things to be proud of, but that's got to be kooky.
KING: I mean, kind of like kooky. You're going to go and slam the champagne against it. It's your sub.
CARTER: My wife will christen the submarine.
KING: Permission to board the Carter, right? They're going to say that.
CARTER: Absolutely. You'll be welcome, by the way.
KING: Would you say that the outcome -- would you say the odds are against these folks down there?
CARTER: I hate to say that because a lot of people are praying for them including me. I think that when any submarine in the world goes down, even if we were at war with Russia, you would still feel a, you know, a heart...
KING: It's got to be the worst feeling in the world, right?
CARTER: Yeah, it is. And every submariner knows that that is always possible, sometimes even a threat. So my heart goes out to them. I hope they're all OK.
KING: A couple of other political things and then we'll let you get a well-deserved night's rest. Earlier tonight, you said in an interview, "The escapades of President Clinton in the White House is still in people's memories but I think time is passing by and there's never been any hint of scandal about Al Gore." Do you think by the time election day comes, Monica Lewinsky will be forgotten?
CARTER: Well, maybe not forgotten but there are three facts that Al Gore is going to have to relate believably to the American people and it's going to be a challenge. One is that he was deeply involved and deserves a lot of credit for the remarkable progress that Bill Clinton spelled out so well tonight.
The second thing is he is not involved at all and has no responsibility for the embarrassments that came to President Clinton during the Lewinsky affair. I don't think there's any doubt in people's minds that Al loves his wife and is just as loyal to his wife as I am to Rosalynn, for instance. So those are two facts.
The other fact is that if the election turns out the way I hope it will, every working family in this country will be benefited by the election of Al Gore as president as contrasted to the election of the Republican ticket.
And if Al Gore can put those three facts across in a believable fashion, then he'll win. I think it's going to be very close.
KING: That's his job, though, isn't it?
CARTER: It's his job.
KING: It's going to finally rest with him.
CARTER: You know, a lot of people don't forget that vice presidents have a very difficult role to play. I've never been a vice president but I've seen it so vividly. When Eisenhower was president, no one noticed Richard Nixon. I remember they asked Eisenhower what Nixon had done to help him be president. He said, "If you give me two weeks, I might think of something."
When Johnson was in office, Hubert Humphrey was totally dominated by...
KING: Johnson hated being vice president.
CARTER: Yeah, he did. And when President Reagan was in office, George Bush was, you know, a relative nonentity. So I think that this night is a turning point with Bill Clinton having made a superb speech spelling out all their accomplishments. And tomorrow, Al Gore taking over I'd say kind of like a butterfly hatching out of a cocoon. He's going to now be the leader of the Democratic Party, the spokesman for the millions of Democrats who look to him for leadership. And the responsibility and opportunity is going to be all his. He won't be under the shadow anymore of a president.
KING: Couple of quick things. Were you surprised at the Lieberman pick?
CARTER: Somewhat surprised and pleased. I think Al Gore made a very wise choice just because of the basic character of Joe Lieberman. And I think he proved in a preliminary way, which he's going to continue to prove the rest of this campaign season, that he is a bold thinker. He could have very well have chosen somebody who was completely safe, noncontroversial, nobody would notice him after the announcement day. But he didn't. He reached out to a bright, young, competent Jewish leader. And I think an additional beneficial factor, which is well known by everyone, is that Joe Lieberman is known to have been the Democrat who spoke out, not in abandoning his loyalty to Bill Clinton as a Democratic president, but in condemnation of the personal problems that he had brought on himself.
KING: And what will -- how will Georgia vote?
CARTER: I think Georgia will vote Democratic. We've got a strong two Democratic senators. We've got a strong and wonderful Democratic governor. And we've got a very deep commitment basically to the Democratic Party.
KING: Pleasure always seeing you. I'll be there for the christening.
CARTER: All right.
KING: That's the U.S.S. Jimmy Carter.
CARTER: And my wife and I won't forget that.
KING: President Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States.
Before we meet George Mitchell and then Jack Kemp and Ann Richards, we're going to spend some moments with Captain Igor Kolosov, the former electronic weapons officer who spent eight years on the fox trot class sub with the Russian navy. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I just want to tell all of you here in this great arena and all the folks watching and listening at home a few things that I know about Al Gore.
We have -- we've worked closely together for eight years now in the most challenging moments when we faced the most difficult issues of war and peace, of whether to take on some powerful interest, he was always there. And he always told me exactly what he thought was right. Everybody knows he is thoughtful and hardworking, but I can tell you personally he is one strong leader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we meet Senator Mitchell, let's go to the Scorpion in Long Beach, California. We were there earlier tonight with Greg LaMotte. And joining us is Captain Igor Kolosov. Captain Kolosov was the former electronic weapons officer. He spent eight years on the fox trot class sub.
Captain, I thank you very much. You are in the torpedo room. What is the Scorpion doing in Long Beach?
CAPT. IGOR KOLOSOV, ABOARD THE SCORPION: Well, the Scorpion submarine right now on display in Long Beach side by side the Queen Mary. And we are inside a torpedo room. There are four torpedo tubes right here and also the compartment used as living quarters for up to 27 men.
KING: And you served for eight years on this class sub, right?
KOLOSOV: That's right.
KING: And what are we looking at now?
KOLOSOV: You're looking at sleeping quarters for crew member. Up to 27 people could sleep in this compartment at one time. And right there on the front over here, you can see escape hatch with escape trunk and special docking port outside of the submarine where rescue party could dock.
KING: What do you feel about your friends aboard the ship in the Bearing Sea?
KOLOSOV: Well, I feel very sorry for them but I believe everything going to be fine and I wish them to be brave and strong and wait till the rescue party will rescue them.
KING: You think the rescue will eventually work?
KOLOSOV: Why not?
KING: Well, because we're told that the ship is tipped over on its side making it very difficult for the rescue ship to latch on.
KOLOSOV: Well, anyway, you know, I believe the Navy needs a little bit more time to identify the damage and to see what they can do with it.
KING: How long can they live and breathe aboard a ship that's in trouble?
KOLOSOV: Oh, this is a nuclear submarine, top of the line. I believe they can stay underwater for a long time, weeks and months at a time.
KING: Why, captain, did you want to be a submariner?
KOLOSOV: Well, I didn't but I am happy that it happened with me and I don't want to change anything in my life.
KING: You mean you didn't volunteer? You were assigned to a sub?
KOLOSOV: No, I volunteered but I signed for surface ship. But don't like -- I become a submariner and I'm happy with that.
KING: Now the one you're on, the Scorpion, is not a missile ship, right?
KOLOSOV: No, this is a torpedo type submarine. KING: Right. It's not -- so it's not nuclear propelled.
KOLOSOV: No. This is diesel like -- big diesel electric torpedo detection (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: And we see it now from the surface of the water, your ship. Do a lot of people come and visit it?
KOLOSOV: Why sure. People can come on the submarine seven days a week. We always welcome for everybody.
KING: And again, Captain Kolosov, you are confident, more than hopeful, confident that your fellow submariners in the Bearing Sea will be rescued?
KING: Thank you very much, captain.
KOLOSOV: You're welcome.
KING: Thanks for spending the time with us.
That was Captain Igor Kolosov, former electronic weapons officer aboard the Scorpion in Long Beach, California, a Russian sub you can visit if you're ever in Southern California.
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell is next on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We're back at the Democratic National Convention.
Welcome an old friend, the former Senate majority leader, major candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, too, Senator George Mitchell of the great state of Maine.
Were you on the short list?
GEORGE MITCHELL (D-ME), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: No, I was never on any list. As far as back July 2nd, I told Warren Christopher that I didn't want to be considered, so...
MITCHELL: Well, personal, family reasons.
KING: You didn't want to be vice president. You didn't need the headaches, right?
MITCHELL: No. Well, I -- it's not that. It's just -- it was the wrong timing for me. Personal matters.
KING: What did you make of the speech? Very good speech. MITCHELL: Very effective speech. Of course, we've all known he can deliver a good speech. But the real compelling part of it are the facts. As the old trial lawyer said the key to winning cases is to have a good case. Bill Clinton's got a great case on the economy, and he delivered it very skillfully tonight.
And let me tell you I was there, Larry. I was the Senate majority leader at the time his economic program came before the Senate, one of the toughest fights we had. Every single Republican voted against it. They denounced it. They said it, "If this passes"...
MITCHELL: ... "doom. Inflation will be up. The deficit will be up. Unemployment will be up. Economic growth will be down." It passed, and the opposite has happened, and so he has, I think, the right to take some credit. Listen, if the economy had gone sour, as they said, do you think anybody would now be saying, "Well, he had nothing to do with it." Of course not. They'd be pinning the blame on him.
KING: Why is the Gore ticket so far behind?
MITCHELL: Well, I think it's a combination of things. I think Governor Bush deserves credit. I think he's conducted a very skillful and effective campaign so far, put on a good convention, solidified his base, reached out to the center. I think, in the end, the bump that he got from that convention will be temporary. Gore will get a temporary bump from this convention.
I think when people focus on the issues, they'll find, as the polls have consistently said, that, on those matters of concern to the American people, the policies of the Gore-Lieberman ticket find favor with the public. They like those policies. They're going to elect Al Gore for that reason, I think.
KING: Was Dick Cheney a good pick?
MITCHELL: Yes, I think Dick Cheney was a good pick.
KING: Joe Lieberman?
MITCHELL: Very good pick. Very good pick. Both of them, I think, good picks.
KING: Was it surprising? Both of them.
MITCHELL: Not so surprising in Cheney's case, but I think surprising in Lieberman's case.
KING: What about the Jewish factor? Do we know...
MITCHELL: I think...
KING: ... what effect -- what -- what's -- how does it play? MITCHELL: I don't think it's a factor.
MITCHELL: No. I'm Catholic. I remember Jack Kennedy's election. After it was over, everybody said, "What was all that about?" It's -- it is -- I think it's a non-issue. I -- I don't think it will affect many votes in this election. I think anybody who votes against Al Gore because Joe Lieberman is Jewish would not have voted for Al Gore in the first place.
KING: Should -- fairly enough, should morality be an issue?
MITCHELL: Of course it's an issue, yes, and it always has been, always will be.
KING: Republicans -- the Republicans are right in bringing it up, right?
MITCHELL: Yeah. They have the right to bring it up, but I think, in the end it won't be the dominant issue because -- look, Al Gore is running, not Bill Clinton, and -- and that issue is uniquely personal. It has nothing to do with policies. It has nothing to do with administrations. It has nothing to do with others. It was a uniquely personal mistake for which he should have been and was condemned, but I don't think you can blame others for that, and I don't think the American people will blame Al Gore for that.
KING: Where is George Mitchell? Are you a new Democrat? Are you a centrist? Where are you in this...
MITCHELL: No, I'm...
KING: ... changing -- ever-changing party?
MITCHELL: I'm not a hyphenated Democrat. I'm a Democrat, plain and simple. I'm not too much on these -- on these so-called slogans. No, I understand there's no more overworked or overused word than "new." Everybody attaches new to everything. I'm a Democrat.
KING: Why is Lieberman so well liked?
MITCHELL: Well, he's a good person, and I think he has a high level of integrity. I think he's got good judgment. He's experienced. He's...
KING: I mean, Republicans were praising him.
MITCHELL: Sure they are because -- for those reasons, and he has, I think, been willing to reach across the aisle to work with Republicans on many effective issues. So I think he's been an effective legislator, and I think he will be an effective candidate and vice president.
KING: Now what kind of campaign are we going to see? MITCHELL: It will be a tough, rough, close campaign. I think that this election is going to go down to the wire, and I think it will be decided in the large industrial Midwestern states. I think Gore will carry California and New York. Bush is likely to carry Florida as well as Texas. Those are the four largest states. And then you get into the large...
KING: So we're talking Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois...
KING: ... Michigan...
MITCHELL: ... and New Jersey. I think those...
KING: That would be the belt along the way.
MITCHELL: Yeah, you've got -- if each side has a base that will produce about 175 electoral votes -- now I said on one of your earlier shows no Republican in American history has ever been elected president while losing the two largest states. George Bush could be the first. It would be -- it would...
KING: To lose California and New York and win.
MITCHELL: That's right. And win. If he -- if he does it, he'll be the first Republican, and it's possible that he might.
KING: If it's this close, could we have an electoral majority for one person and a pluratic majority for another?
MITCHELL: Possible but not likely. It's only happened once in American history, and because we are now such a homogenized country, the power of television has made this one country, despite our diversity, I think it's unlikely but possible.
KING: Will the debates be important?
MITCHELL: They'll be very important. I think Gore will clearly do well. Unfortunately for him, in recent years, how well you do depends not on the objective result but how well you did against expectations, and the Republicans will try to low ball the expectations.
KING: Gore's a big debater and...
MITCHELL: A great debater. He is a great debater. He knows the issues extremely well. He can deliver a message on that. You've seen him. You actually...
KING: Up close.
MITCHELL: ... presided at one of his best debates. I think he'll do very well but probably not win by as much as the expectations suggest.
KING: Want a job in the Cabinet if he wins?
MITCHELL: I don't think so, Larry. I like private life.
MITCHELL: Well, why should I decide -- are you offering me one, President King?
KING: Well, did you want to be commissioner of baseball? The best job in the world. Nobody sits in front of you.
MITCHELL: No, that's right. That's right. No, the...
KING: You didn't want that job?
MITCHELL: You know the job I'd like? The Larry King interviewer. Boy, you get to talk to everybody on television every night.
KING: You want this job?
MITCHELL: You sleep late in the morning.
KING: I've got a great staff. You want it?
MITCHELL: You do have a great staff.
KING: See you.
MITCHELL: Thanks, Larry.
KING: Senator George Mitchell. Good guy.
When we come back, two good guys, Jack Kemp and the honorable Ann Richards. They're our dynamic duo at all these convention get- togethers, and they're going to go at it right after this.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Don't let anyone tell you this election doesn't matter. The stakes in November are biggest for the littlest among us.
What will it take to make sure no child in America is left behind in the 21st century? It takes responsible parents who put their own children first. It takes all of us -- teachers and workers and business owners and community leaders and people of faith.
And, you know, I still believe it takes a village. And it certainly takes Al Gore and Joe Lieberman. They have what it takes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: At the Republican convention, they were not together. Jack Kemp was with us in Philadelphia, and Ann Richards was in Washington. Now they're together, the honorable Ann Richards, the former Democratic governor of Texas and the political commentator for this program, and another one of our regulars, Jack Kemp, co-director of Empower America and a former vice presidential candidate.
Before they go at it, let's go outside the arena to our Martin Savidge who's covering events outside of Staples. Martin, what happened there?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, there was a fairly serious confrontation that took place between L.A. -- Los Angeles police dressed in riot gear and the remainder of a crowd that had gathered to listen for a concert tonight. That crowd had been ordered to disperse after the concert was suddenly canceled, the electricity turned off.
Then, as you saw, as riot police moved in -- there was also L.A. police mounted on horseback -- there was a barrage -- many, many barrages of tear gas that was fired to the crowd. Also, we believe that there was rubber bullets that may have been used and other non- lethal devices, trying to get that crowd to disperse, to get out of the area because it was realized that, of course, once the president was finished speaking, the delegates would be exiting the building.
But it all began, actually, earlier in the evening. There was a very large crowd that had gathered to listen to a concert from Rage Against the Machine. Several thousand people. A very small, isolated group up close to the fence, about a hundred feet away from the entrance to Staples Center, began trying to scale the barricades there. They were hurling things at police and occasionally even setting fires. Police initially tried to disperse them using pepper spray.
That's when it was determined -- or somehow the electricity was shut off to the concert stage, and police officials announced that the crowd was immediately ordered to disperse. Many people heeded that warning, but there were several hundred people that did not. Since they weren't moving quickly enough, police moved in. They chased them out of the demonstration area but then moved them into the streets in the immediate area, and there was an ongoing confrontation that lasted for about another half-hour.
It is quiet outside of Staples Center now, Larry.
KING: And, Martin, one other thing. Any injuries or arrests?
SAVIDGE: Well, we are not clear on arrests.
We have talked to -- there are attorneys that are working out here during these protests that are basically volunteering their time. They report to us that there were a number of injuries, people apparently either hit by rubber bullets or some that were trampled by horses, not serious enough apparently that they required hospitalization.
They have not heard of arrests, but we understand that there will be news briefings later this evening to give us more information.
KING: Thank you, Martin Savidge, on the scene at a now quiet area outside Staples.
Now we're with Jack Kemp and Ann Richards. Since everything's been praise tonight, let's start with Mr. Kemp, if you will allow me.
What did you make of the speech?
JACK KEMP (R), 1996 VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Good speech.
KING: You liked it?
KEMP: Yesh. Good speech. He had a great line about Joe Friday's "And just the facts, ma'am," you know, and...
KING: And he had a case to sell, and he sold it.
KEMP: He did. Look, he's -- he's making a case that things are better than they were in '92. We went through a recession. But it's a little tough to make the case that the facts suggest, that everything great started just with President Clinton's tax increase and so-called deficit-reduction package.
KING: Senator Mitchell said every person voted against that budget...
KEMP: They did, and wisely so.
KING: ... bill and said it would be disastrous and there was no disaster.
KEMP: Wisely. We -- wisely so. We are the most overtaxed at the family level in peacetime in this century. So to suggest that raising taxes led to the recovery -- the facts are the opposite. He signed a cut in the capital-gain tax, pushed by a Republican Congress. He signed an increase in Roth IRAs where you can put $2,000 into an IRA and not pay any tax on the sale of an asset out of that retirement plan. He signed NAFTA to cut tariffs. That's a cut in taxes. Tariffs are taxes. He signed the welfare bill that was pushed on him by the Democratic -- by the Republican Congress. And, very frankly, Alan Greenspan brought interest rates down and...
KING: So he has nothing to...
KEMP: He has a lot to be proud of as a Democrat, and I think -- I have a lot to be proud of as a Ronald Reagan-George Bush Republican. I'm...
ANN RICHARDS (D), FORMER GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: I'm accustomed to revisionist history working with my friend, Mr. Kemp, here.
KING: Where is he wrong?
RICHARDS: Well, he hit the -- he hit the ball out of the park tonight, and everybody in the place knew it, and Jack Kemp does, too. It was an incredible speech, and it was done with simplicity. It was not complicated. It simply pointed out that, if you're looking for a party that is pro-family and a president that has been pro-family, you look no further than the Democratic Party and what Bill Clinton and Al Gore have done, and it was very convincing and -- and no question about it.
Now they can quibble about which tax here and which tax there, but the other part of the speech was that at -- in 40 years, the tax burden on the middle class has never been less than it is now, and he said that. So you can, you know, dicker around with it, which the Republicans love to do, but the reality is things are better.
KING: Did he help Al Gore tonight?
RICHARDS: He helped Al Gore in that he talked about the future, and now Al Gore's job is to come to this convention on his own two feet and say, "Here's where we're going to go in the future, and here's what I'm going to do with the basis that Bill Clinton and I have laid.
KING: So was it for them, as you would say, a good first night?
KEMP: Yeah. I thought I said that. I -- I recognize...
KING: You also were quoted in the paper, I read the other day, of liking -- not only liking Joe Lieberman -- was that quote correct -- you wouldn't campaign against him in Connecticut.
KEMP: Oh, I've said many times I would never go to Connecticut to campaign against Joe Lieberman. He and Hadassah are good friends of ours, and Bill Bennett is a good of theirs. He's a great guy.
He's got to backtrack a little bit because he really wants for an individual retirement account system for part of Social Security, he really wants for some form of experimentation with school choice and vouchers.
He really was for allowing -- in fact, he is a co-sponsor of an old bill that I had co-sponsored with Bill Gray and Charlie Rangel to eliminate the capital-gain tax in urban areas. He's a co-sponsor. So you can't really say that he thinks only the rich are going to do better, and that -- I don't like to see class warfare from the left, and I don't practice it from the right. I think everybody should have an opportunity to rise up on that ladder that we call the American dream.
KING: We'll find out what Ann thinks about selection as well, and we'll be right back with the duo after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I ask you -- let's remember the standard our Republican friends used to have for whether a party should continue in office. My fellow Americans, are we better off today than we were eight years ago?
You bet we are. You bet we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I find this hard to believe, but they really like each other.
What about Lieberman, Ann?
RICHARDS: Well, I think Joe Lieberman was an inspired choice. I thought it was an amazing choice...
RICHARDS: ... and I was so thrilled with the reaction to it.
KING: By the Republicans as well?
RICHARDS: By everyone. And -- and the reality is, you know, you're so powerful in this medium, this television medium, that it doesn't matter whether it's a good choice or not, if television tells you it's a good choice, then that's what the country thinks, and that was what was said just uniformly across the board.
KEMP: And he's liked on both sides of the aisle.
RICHARDS: And let me tell you something. You know, I'm involved in Brandeis University. Brandeis was created because, back in the '40s, Jewish kids could not get in the Ivy League schools, and they created Brandeis so that they would have a really high-quality school. It thrilled to me to think that those kids at Brandeis University are finally going to see someone on the Democratic ticket who is Jewish in this country.
KEMP: It's good for America. It's good for America, and the result was also...
KING: It's a step forward.
KEMP: It was very nice that he -- I think it was powerfully symbolic as well as profoundly important, as Ann said, to have a Jew, unapologetically, unambiguously proud of his faith, proud of the country, proud of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, use Chronicles from which to launch his campaign. I mean, I say that...
KING: That didn't offend you in any way as a...
KEMP: Absolutely not. Absolutely not. And he's a great guy. And he's going to have a -- some problems, though, because he's got to now move left to support Al Gore, and...
KING: But all vice presidents...
KEMP: ... with all due respect to my friend, Ann Richards, the burden of taxation, regulation, and poor schools hits the middle-class family, the working family, harder than it does rich folks. So we've really got to do something in this country, and they've got to stop defending the status quo.
RICHARDS: I agree with that, and I think we should pursue exactly what Bill Clinton said tonight and give a tax cut that benefits the middle class. We don't need to do it for the rich.
KING: Does Gore have to hit a home run Thursday?
RICHARDS: I think that this speech is the most important speech, and -- that I have ever known of in a -- in any convention.
KING: Any convention.
RICHARDS: Any convention. Because what happened was that Bill Clinton laid the predicate tonight. He said, "We have built the bridge to the 21st century, and now Al Gore's got to walk across that bridge, and he has got to be the presidential Al Gore, and he has got to talk to the American people about the issues and where he stands on those issues for working families.
KEMP: We know -- we know where he stands. He stands pat on what has happened in the last eight years, and he can say we're better...
KEMP: You can say we're better off in some ways. I agree with that. I really do. But we're -- our schools are not better off. The military is not better off. The tax code is not better. Education is not better. I mean, we've got some real problems, and -- and, frankly, the bridge has a lot of tollgates along the way for...
KING: Good line. Good line, Jack.
KEMP: Thank you.
KING: We'll get a break and come back with our remaining moments right after this. The bridge has tollgates.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Tonight, we can say, with gratitude and humility, we built our bridge to the 21st century. We crossed that bridge together, and we're not going back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: How important will the debates be, Ann?
RICHARDS: Well, I think they'll be important, but I'll tell you how -- here's how it will be played out in advance, because I know what Bush did to me. He will start building up what a fabulous debater Al Gore is. I heard that "Oh, man, Ann Richards. How in the world would we -- we'll never be able to stand up to her in a debate. Oh, my God," but, you know, by the time the debate took place, I was supposed to be 15-feet high, and they will be doing the same thing to Al Gore, and that way, if George Bush can just stand up and say his name without slipping, you know, everybody will say, "Well, he did better than we thought he was going to do," you know, and so they will set up the dynamic, and that's -- that's why I have a healthy respect for these Republicans. They know how to -- they know how to stage stuff, you know. They...
KING: You told us a long time ago...
RICHARDS: They really do.
KEMP: It is amazing, you know, that Ann Richards could talk about Republicans staging stuff after what we saw tonight and in the last eight years. Now, with all due respect, are you -- I should stop saying that. That's a crutch.
RICHARDS: That's a -- yeah.
KEMP: But to my friend, Ann Richards, look, it's going to be a heck of a debate. Al Gore is disciplined. He's been in a lot of debates...
KING: You know it better than anyone.
KEMP: ... and there's -- and he -- with -- and George Bush has a right to say Al Gore is a good debater because he's very disciplined and he is quite...
KEMP: I was going to use the word "ruthless," but I won't. But he's tough, and I respect that. Bush has a demeanor that, I think, is Reaganesque. I think he's going to be well prepared. He's going to do what I didn't do. I waited much too long to prepare for my debate with Al Gore. Now -- George W. Bush will be prepared, and I frankly think that -- I believe with all my heart the facts are on the side of George W. Bush, both in Texas and for the 21st century.
KING: What would you tell...
KEMP: It will be determined by the people.
RICHARDS: What were you going to ask, Larry?
KING: What would you tell Al Gore if he asked you for a bit of advice going in to the debate?
RICHARDS: Don't get too complicated. Keep it -- keep it simple because Bush will simple you to death, you know. He -- he's got the -- he's -- he's got these -- he's got these darts, these quick lines, two or three lines, not any more than that, and I'm not...
KEMP: You know, they said the same thing about Ronald Reagan.
RICHARDS: I'm not downgrading him for that. I'm telling you they feed him a line, and he goes out, and he can deliver every single time.
KEMP: Ann, that's -- that's somewhat underestimating...
KING: We have 30 seconds.
KEMP: ... him in that he's been -- you're going to say that you were a good governor and we're going to say that he's a good governor, but here's the point. He's got a good case to make, but we as a country have some real problems in education, in...
KING: But he's got to be able to make it, right?
KEMP: ... Social Security, Medicare, and...
KING: He's got to make it.
KEMP: ... sometimes a simple idea, a simple statement can have a profound consequence.
RICHARDS: So that's what I'd tell Al Gore. I'd say keep it -- keep it very...
KING: Keep it simple.
RICHARDS: Keep it every simple. You bet.
KING: Thank you very much both very much as always.
We have the best, the honorable Ann Richards, former governor of Texas; Jack Kemp, the co-director of Empower America, former vice presidential candidate of this party.
Jim Moret is here with a late wrap-up and lots of news.
Thanks for joining us, and good night.
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