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Larry King Live

Are the Democrats Having a Successful Convention?

Aired August 16, 2000 - 0:00 a.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, focus on the Kennedy clan in the same city where JFK won the Democratic nod four decades ago. We'll talk with two of the late president's nephews: Robert Kennedy Jr. and Matthew Maxwell "Max" Kennedy. That and a lot more on this special second edition of LARRY KING LIVE at the 43rd Democratic National Convention.

Lots to come tonight, a good panel later. We'll also meet the keynote speaker. We'll talk with the vice admiral about the problem with the Russian submarine. We start with Max Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. Max is on your right, Robert on your left. Max is the director of the Watershed Institute at Boston College and Robert Kennedy Jr. is the environmental activist.

What is the Watershed Institute?

MAXWELL KENNEDY, PROFESSOR, BOSTON UNIVERSITY: It's a program at Boston College where we have developed a new science curricula for inner city high schools. And it's being test run in about 12 high schools in Boston, some of the poorest high schools in Boston.

KING: And is doing?

M. KENNEDY: It's made an enormous difference in the lives of 350 kids in terms of teaching them science and also teaching the teachers how to teach better, which is, you know, one of the reasons that we're today is because the vice president is going to take these kinds of programs and make them national.

KING: Is it tough, Bob, to come to this city?

ROBERT KENNEDY JR., ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST: Not for me. Actually, my first convention was at this city when I was 6-years-old. I was here in 1960. It was the first time that I stayed up all night. And it was, I think, probably the most exhilarating evening of my life. And this convention has the same feeling.

KING: You remember it at 6?

R. KENNEDY: Yes, very much so.

KING: I asked that because your father was killed here. Does that make it hard to be in... R. KENNEDY: No. Listen, our family has always been -- felt close to the city of Los Angeles. We have lots of friends here. We have lots of family here. And, you know, things happen everywhere.

KING: You don't hold it against the city?

R. KENNEDY: Right.

KING: What's your earliest memory, convention?

M. KENNEDY: Mine would be really much more recent than that.

KING: Couple of years ago when Max was born.

M. KENNEDY: Yes, I think probably Senator Kennedy's convention speech in 1980, which is pretty late. But actually, I remember President Carter's.

KING: There was talk here -- Bill Schneider, he'll be with us in a little while -- said this is the most conservative Democratic ticket since Truman-Barkley. Accept that?

R. KENNEDY: You know what? I think that there's more unity now. You saw a lot of liberals talking tonight. You saw Teddy, you saw Jesse Jackson, and I think there's more solidarity, there's more unity in the Democratic Party right now than there's eve been before. And the reason for that, I think, is because of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. They really, I think, showed liberals and the rest of Americans that they could accomplish the liberal agenda in a different way, and essentially that we have prosperity for all Americans now, and it's a prosperity that's lifted up African-Americans and Latinos and the poorest of the poor. And I think there's recognition of that among the liberal community, and there's certainly a strong feeling that we've got to allow that to continue.

KING: Max, did they compromise anything in doing it, any of the liberal values?

M. KENNEDY: I don't think that they've compromised but the fact is there's still a lot left to be done. If we'd had a Republican -- if we'd had a Democratic Congress, we would have achieved, you know, a great deal more. The minimum wage today, if it were what it was in 1968, would be $2 higher than -- $2.50 higher than it is now. So you have tens of thousands of Americans who are working 40 hours a week and are trying to support a family and living in poverty. And that's not fair.

KING: On the basis of the environment, I would guess Gore would be the all-time top candidate for you.

R. KENNEDY: Yes. He's probably the best from an environmental point of view. Teddy Roosevelt was pretty great. That's when the Republicans used to be environmentalists, too.

KING: Then you got to leap over that, right, I mean, to emphasize it... (CROSSTALK)

R. KENNEDY: Oh, he's really -- he's authored the blueprint for the environmental agenda for the 21st century. The last eight years, he's done an incredible job for environmentalists, holding back the 104th Congress, the Gingrich Congress, those attempts to eviscerate 30 years of environmental law. But -- and during the Kyoto agreement, this administration has put more land, more acreage and public lands since -- of any administration since Teddy Roosevelt. But he's really, I think, the last eight years have really tested his loyalty. The next four, he'll be able to test his ideas with power.

KING: Do you like the Lieberman pick, Max?

M. KENNEDY: Oh, I think that Lieberman is fantastic and I think that it's, you know, it's a great symbol for the whole country.

KING: Were you surprised by it?

M. KENNEDY: I was surprised by it, frankly.

KING: Were you?

R. KENNEDY: I actually -- my -- I was surprised but I thought that it was -- I talked about the pick three days before with my friend Peter Kaplan (ph) from the "New York Observer," and we both agreed that the best picks would be for Gore, although they weren't our favorites, would be Bradley and Lieberman. And I think Gore really made a wonderful choice.

KING: You'll be active -- of course, you're running your father's campaign.

M. KENNEDY: My uncle, Senator Kennedy.

KING: Your uncle's, Senator Ted Kennedy's campaign, which doesn't seem to be a great problem in Massachusetts.

M. KENNEDY: I don't think it'll be a great problem. It hasn't been the most challenging job that I've had so far but we are working hard. And he runs for the office, not against someone.

KING: Are you going to get involved in the campaign?

R. KENNEDY: In the Gore campaign? Absolutely, yes.

KING: Yes, go around -- whereas you will be active.

R. KENNEDY: Listen, I'm an environmental advocate, I'm an environmental lawyer. I've got 40 cases in litigation right now against big polluters. But there's no -- there's nothing more important that I can do with my time than to work for Al Gore for president. I think that's true of all the environmental advocates in this country.

KING: And you will, too? M. KENNEDY: Well, the great thing about the success that Senator Kennedy has had thus far in the campaign is that it will enable him to have the free time to work for Gore...

KING: Focus...

M. KENNEDY: ... over the next three months. And that's what he's going to do.

KING: I know you're going to the Schwarzenegger party, the Maria party.

R. KENNEDY: Hope to see you there.

KING: Well, you bet. Bobby Kennedy and Max Kennedy.

And when we come back, young man who made an auspicious debut tonight. His father was a congressman. He's the youngest congressman in the United States House of Representatives. He was the keynote speaker. Congressman Harold Ford is next. Don't go away.


SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I've been a Democrat all my life and I'm proud of it.


But I say to you, there is no Democratic or Republican way to heal a sick child. There is no Democratic or Republican way to make the right medical decision, no Democratic or Republican way to fight cancer or ease the pain of HIV and AIDS. This is not the time to play partisan games with human health. Let there be no mistake about it. Let there be no mistake about it. There is a profoundly deep difference between the Democratic and Republican nominees on this issue, this life and death issue of health care for all Americans.



KING: A dramatic view of the Los Angeles skyline, night number two is complete. We do two shows nightly at both conventions. Tipper Gore will be one of our guests tomorrow and a great panel coming later.

We welcome now to LARRY KING LIVE part two, Congressman Harold Ford Jr., Democrat of Tennessee, who's the keynote speaker tonight. He's the son of the first African-American congressman from Tennessee who was elected to the House in 1996 at age 26 as its youngest member.

You are still the youngest member?


KING: How did you get this gig tonight, as they say?

FORD: I'm blessed. I think one of the reasons this party and this candidate honestly believes not only in rhetoric but in action at the future is really where America's growth and prosperity will come from, that our best days lie ahead of us. And what better way to show it than to allow young Caroline Kennedy and myself to play such prominent roles at this convention and to have an opportunity to play a substantive role at the convention.

KING: How were you told?

FORD: He phoned me about a week and a half ago. I was out at dinner. The phone number came up on the phone as -- the caller ID as a North Carolina number. I knew he was vacationing there with his family. I think he asked would I honor him and deliver the keynote address Tuesday night at the convention. It took a good nano-second, and I said, "Yes, I'd be honored -- flattered to have the chance to that."

KING: You ran for and succeeded in your father's seat. Did he just retire?

FORD: He did. My dad was my predecessor for 22 years in the Congress and the 19 district...

KING: First black from Tennessee.

FORD: First African-American from Tennessee -- and decided not to run in '96. I was actually a law student at the University of Michigan at the time. I traveled home every Wednesday through Sunday for about 20 weeks campaigning. I announced for Congress a month before graduation. I went on to graduate and, go blue. I always have to squeeze that in. And the voters of the district, the 9th district were kind enough to send me to Congress and give me a chance. There's a lot of criticism and concern about my age and the voters overlooked that and given me a chance.

KING: So you've passed...

FORD: ... and given me a chance to speak tonight.

KING: So you passed the bar and you're...

FORD: No, no. When I graduated, I went right to Congress.

KING: You haven't had a chance to take the bar?

FORD: I took the bar and I wasn't successful. So I wound up in Congress at the time.

KING: A Michigan grad was not successful?

FORD: Don't tell anyone. I wasn't able to study, but my dean -- I promised my dean I'm going to let the school down. I'll take it and pass it.

KING: You're going to take it again?

FORD: I will.

KING: For Tennessee or Michigan?

FORD: Tennessee.

KING: For Tennessee.

FORD: I did well in the first day but the second day, the Tennessee law, I didn't quite know so well, having gone to school in Michigan.

KING: Are you looking for higher offices?

FORD: I love what I do. My focus right now is to see Al Gore elected. The purpose of this speech tonight was to try to really engage new voters and young voters and those -- in particular McCain voters who are I think disappointed with this system. Young voters, as I listen to them around the country, complain bitterly that they don't feel like they're a part nor can they be a part, nor is the system that inviting. They believe it's controlled by special interest and really a few. One of the things this campaign has done so successfully is to try to reach out, to present a new face. And Joe Lieberman being picked for this ticket, I worked closely with him as a new Democrat in the Congress. He's one that believes we have to think outside of the box, have to be willing to try new ways and new approaches. That's why I think he's so exciting and why I think he will add so much to this ticket and help us win in November.

KING: Yet polls show, especially in the Social Security area, that he young favor the Republican ticket.

FORD: I think the young are concerned that Social Security might not be around when we reach that eligible age. There's certainly a fascination with the stock market today and I'm one that believes we have to think about new ways of preserving Social Security, new ways of holding on to programs that have worked so well. It's a new day and a new era. I think Al Gore's choice of Joe Lieberman, when they disagree on -- obviously, they disagree on a few issues -- really is a sign of his wisdom and maturity, his willingness, I think, in a tangible way to show he'll think outside of the box, particularly when you contrast it to what the other side has done, reaching back into the party. So I'm excited about where we are. I'm excited about the convention and believe that we're in for a big, big treat come Thursday night. Al Gore will be...

KING: But you'll have to convince those young people that your Social Security plan is better, right?

FORD: No doubt about it. We'll do that between now and election day. I believe after this convention, when people get to know Al Gore -- I think there's a huge swath of America that believes...

KING: Don't know a man who's been vice president for eight years. FORD: You know, it's easy. In Bill Clinton's presidency, it's easy to sort of wallow in the shadow there. He's not a more -- had a more dynamic and charismatic president. But we have to remember we're not electing a fraternity president. People have said that in the past and I don't mean to suggest anything negative about Governor Bush. He's a decent guy. But this is about electing a president. And I say the Democrats are concerned about the stiffness of the vice president. And you think things are bad now, you elect the other guy and we'll see how stiff all of us become in the coming years as we endure under another administration, a different type of president.

KING: In the past, young Americans would never have thought Social Security would be a key issue for them. They probably didn't even think about it. Now they are.

FORD: Well, because we're paying into it. And it's only natural. I mean, if we're paying into it, we would hope...

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) so far off to look down the road...

FORD: But we're still paying into as we go now, you're right. And it's so distant. It's hard for many people to comprehend us ever receiving a benefit from it. So there's no doubt we're going to have to look at new ways. And I think that the vice president's Social Security plus plan, which is the first securest Social Security that maintains or guarantees insolvency. And it allows family at different income areas to make investments and have that money matched by the federal government, which will help low-income and middle-income families, as much as it will help middle and higher income families.

KING: We'll be back with more of the youngest member of Congress, Representative Harold Ford, Democrat of Tennessee, tonight's keynote speaker. Later, we'll meet a vice admiral to talk about -- or retired vice admiral to talk about the tragedy of the Russian submarine. And then our panel will assemble, including Frank Rich of the "New York Times." We'll be right back.


KENNEDY SCHLOSSBERG: When my brother, John, and I were growing up, hardly a day went by when someone didn't come up to us and say, "Your father changed my life." I went...


I went into public service -- I went into public service because he asked me. I take great pride in knowing that one of those that he inspired to enter public service is the next vice president of the United States, Joe Lieberman.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: He's one of the leaders in the new Democratic coalition. For example, unlike your father, you supported capital gains tax cuts, right?

FORD: I did.

KING: Your father would have been against that. Constitutional amendment, protecting school prayer.

FORD: No, I didn't vote for that but the flag burning amendment I did vote for. I don't believe that we ought to have a constitutional amendment to offer that we ought to -- prayer in school is clear. It's the separation of church and state. It's not our place to be promoting any type of religion.

KING: But flag burning you would have banned?

FORD: I would have, I would have.

KING: Back to Al Gore and your friendship and he's your mentor in a sense, your father and him?

FORD: Very close. And he was a young congressman, too, so he became a role model right away when he was elected to Congress at 28.

KING: How important will his speech be Thursday?

FORD: Incredibly important. It's his opportunity to introduce himself to America. We joked a little bit that being vice president doesn't allow you to really demonstrate your ideas. Clearly, in this administration, Al Gore and Bill Clinton worked closely together. And Bill Clinton, as he spoke last night, made clear that Vice President Gore played a big role in helping to shape those policies. But it was President Clinton's administration, Bill Clinton's administration.

Thursday night, we'll get to see an Al Gore that America in many ways, I believe, we'll want to see him, we'll want to embrace. His campaign a lot of ways has gone well. We obviously want the poll numbers to move up. I believe after Thursday night, we'll see this as a dead heat where things will tighten up considerably. And after Labor Day, people will -- most Americans will begin to really become engaged in this. And our campaign, we'll roll up our sleeves and carry this campaign through all the battleground states and really across this nation. And we certainly won't -- not spend the time we'll need to spend here in California although some people think Democrats have it locked up. We know we have to work here as we do in other places across the nation.

KING: Do you have any problem with Senator Lieberman's position on affirmative action?

FORD: No. Senator Lieberman and I talked about this before he was put on the ticket. You have to understand the time when Senator Lieberman had his thoughts was when Republicans in the Congress wanted to end affirmative action. Senator Lieberman has always been a visionary and thought, "How can I work with my colleagues?" There's not a person in the U.S. Senate with a better reputation for probity and bipartisanship. Anybody can work with Bill Bennett one day and Ted Kennedy the next clearly has a knack for consensus building.

I'm satisfied with his answers. I plan to travel with Senator Lieberman very soon not only to deal with that issue but to confront all the challenges and issues that we'll face in this campaign. In the end, I think people are going to look at what do we want America to look like not in four years but in four to eight with three or four Supreme Court justices probably going to be chosen with investments and education and health care and how we use this surplus. These are the questions voters have to grapple with.

I hope all are engaged. I hope people vote Democrat. But whatever you do, I hope people go to the polls and vote, particularly young voters. If you believe George Bush has the best message, vote for him. I believe Al Gore does and I believe after Thursday night, we'll have a better impression of him, we'll have a better idea of what he will do as president.

KING: A couple of other things. Can you run for the Senate at age 30?

FORD: According to the Constitution, I didn't pass the bar but I remember that part. You can run for the Senate at age 30.

KING: Are you thinking along those lines?

FORD: I want to get him elected, Al Gore elected. I thought about running this year against Bill Frisk and decided not to. I thought it was important that all of us in Tennessee focus our energies on Al Gore, being able to travel and be ambassadors for his campaign. Bill Frisk is also a very wealthy man, so this is probably not the time to do it.

KING: And what's it like being the youngest in a body that big?

FORD: We all get the same voting card and my vote counts as the same as anyone else.

KING: Do they treat you...

FORD: I'm blessed. My dad having served for so long, many of my colleagues treat me like a nephew or a son, particularly some of the more veteran colleagues there. But I don't have a problem working with my colleagues and even reaching out and working across the aisle. My orientation was different than my dad's. He came in the Congress in the majority, regained his seat in the powerful Ways and Means Committee, whereas I came in the minority and got a great committee spot but not the Ways and Means Committee. So for me to be effective, I've got to reach out. So when you talk about new Democrats and some of the other coalitions I'm part of, it's because in order for me to be effective from my district, I've got to learn to work in a different environment.

KING: What committee are you on?

FORD: The Education Work Force Committee.

KING: And you are going to -- do you think the Democrats can get the House?

FORD: It's up in the air but I think the issues are with us. We have great candidates. I believe this prescription drug issue is going to play heavy in districts all across this nation.

KING: Good seeing you.

FORD: Thank you. And thanks to CNN for what you all do for the process, for Democrats and Republicans. We appreciate it.

KING: Congratulations on the speech, too.

FORD: Thank you.

KING: Representative Harold Ford Jr., Democrat of Tennessee, tonight's keynote speaker.

In a moment, we'll take you to San Diego. We'll talk with Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin, United States Navy retired, about the apparent real -- apparently close little doubt now of a major tragedy with the Russian submarine. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


FORD: We all recognize as Democrats and as Americans that no issue is more critical to our nation's continued success than how and where we educate our children. If we can find the will and resources to build prison after prison after prison, then surely we can find a will and resources to build new schools, to hire new teachers, to connect every classroom to the Internet.


Surely, surely we can pay teachers what they're worth and hold school systems accountable for results. America, surely we can do better by our children.




KING: We're back. Joining us now from San Diego, he was with us earlier as well, is Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin of the United States Navy, retired in 1977, a veteran of 35 years of submarine service.

Admiral, I will tell you, this just in: that rescue crews are now making a third attempt to rescue the 116 Russian sailors trapped in a submarine on the floor of the Barents Sea. Officials, Russian officials say this involves lowering a submersible manned with three to four people to the deck of the floundered vessel that was scheduled to get underway about 20 minutes ago. Officials said visibility under water was poor, only about six feet. What do you make of this, with sending people down?

RET. VICE ADM. PATRICK HANNIFIN, U.S. NAVY: Well, I think that's the routine way. The pod or the bell has to have operators in it so that when they get down there, they can make a proper seal on the hatch of the submarine and then open the doors, have the hatch open and open the hatch into the pod and let the people come up. But it takes -- it's a manned operation, just as our old bells were that we used to use.

KING: Would you put the odds at very low here of rescue?

HANNIFIN: I think so. As I understand it, the submarine is at a considerable angle and it's going to make it very difficult to get the rescue chamber over the hatch and get a good tight seal so that they can, in fact, open the cargo hatch into the submarine and get to the people.

KING: And they have not apparently -- have not heard from anybody in a while. We're seeing picture at sea now.

HANNIFIN: Yes, that is discouraging.

KING: Because they would hear from them how? By Morse code or sonar?

HANNIFIN: Well, yes, even pounding on the hull. They -- in most of the submarines, they have underwater telephones, but apparently, it's either not working or it's in a compartment that's flooded. The only other way would be to using some sort of Morse code banging on the hull and so they could hear that.

KING: Is there -- this has to be asked. There's a chance they may all be gone already, right?

HANNIFIN: I think that's a very good possibility that they're already gone already. They're -- according to the Russian admiral's report, he thought that they might have enough air to last until Friday but that really is supposition depending on how bad the compartments are flooded and whether or not they have oxygen in the tanks that they can get to and something to absorb the carbon monoxide.

KING: And a submersible, people on the submersible couldn't tell if anyone was alive -- was inside OK, right? You can't see in.

HANNIFIN: No, no, they could not unless they heard some noises coming from the submarine.

KING: All right, and finally, was this -- is the gathering -- is the thought now that it was an explosion?

HANNIFIN: Apparently, you know, initially, they talked about a collision but now I think they report that there was an explosion in the torpedo room or near the torpedo room. The first report said near it but I can't imagine what that would be, probably inside the torpedo room, could be a torpedo flask itself or gosh knows what. KING: Do you think this could affect the whole nuclear submarine concept?

HANNIFIN: I don't think so. This is about the fifth submarine the Russians have lost. We lost two, of course, the Thresher and Scorpion.

KING: Yes.

HANNIFIN: No, I think it just means that it's a different world out there and a very dangerous one. And we have a great deal of common bonds between submariners around the world...

KING: I know.

HANNIFIN: ... because we -- you know, we face the same dangers and live in a world beneath an ocean that is not very friendly.

KING: Thank you very much. Thanks for being with us. Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin, a veteran of 35 years of submarine service. Things gray there in the Barents Sea.

When we come back, we'll have three outstanding journalists join us: Frank Rich, the op-ed columnist of "The New York Times," William Schneider, the syndicated columnist and CNN senior political correspondent, and Wolf Blitzer, our podium correspondent and the host of "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER." Frank, Bill, Wolf, and yours truly will be right back.


KING: Another nice night in Los Angeles. Currently, no disturbances outside. And the second night of the Democratic Convention is history.

And we welcome Frank Rich, the op-ed columnist in the "New York Times," formerly the "Times'" chief drama critic. And William Schneider, the CNN senior political columnist and syndicated columnist as well. And Wolf Blitzer, who covers the podium for CNN and is the host of CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."

Frank also has a book coming out, weird title. What is it?

FRANK RICH, OP-ED COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": "Ghost Flight." It's a theater term. It's a childhood memoir, sort of sat around the theater, and ghosts of the past, that sort of thing, in Washington.

KING: Ghosts in Washington. Were you impressed with tonight's proceedings? We'll start with Frank and go around.

RICH: I was moderately impressed. I mean, it was interesting to see Caroline Kennedy, who is a very private person, give a speech. You know, she's not a pro. And there was something touching about that.

And Teddy Kennedy, of course, is a throwback to not only a generation of American politics, but a whole kind of oratory that's really...

KING: William Jennings Bryant...

RICH: ... yes, William Jennings Bryant, even thought of Orson Welles and "Citizen Kane," you know, it had that kind of grandeur.

KING: But other than that, a...

RICH: It was a nice night, not a...

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I thought the highlight was Caroline Kennedy giving her speech. It was a very personal speech, a very heartfelt speech. She's not a politician. And that came through. She didn't sound like anybody else.

And in a way, I kept thinking, you know, if Hillary had spoken like this, it would have been a better speech. It would have been more personal.

When Hillary speaks...

KING: Hillary should have spoken the way Kennedy...

SCHNEIDER: ... yes, because when I saw Hillary's speech, the first thought I had was she's very impressive but not entirely likable. In many ways, the opposite of George W. Bush, who is very likable, but not always very impressive.

KING: But Caroline was here, wasn't she, Wolf, as an emotional factor? Her father, her brother?

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN "LATE EDITION": Right. And Los Angeles, as you know, Larry, is a very bittersweet place for the Kennedys. I interviewed Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the lieutenant governor of Maryland...

KING: She was here earlier.

BLITZER: ... You interviewed her as well. And I asked her about Los Angeles. And I don't know if this has ever happened to you. But it was strange on my show the other day.

We were talking about Los Angeles. And I asked her, "This must be bringing back some happy memories because your Uncle John F. Kennedy got the nomination here in Los Angeles."

And she said, "Yes it does. But remember my dad, Bobby Kennedy, was assassinated here." And then she - I could see she was beginning to lose it a little bit. So she grabbed my hand. And she was holding my hand underneath this desk because she was obviously shaken by that whole Los Angeles experience.

KING: Was Hillary a disappointment, Frank?

RICH: I thought so. I thought - I sort of agree with Bill. I thought it was a bland, impersonal speech. There was no turn of phrase that you remember. There was no emotional juice to it.

There's nothing in it you can really object to. It's all for children and...

BLITZER: But one of the problems she had was when I was on the podium. They were running really late, as we all know. And they got this effort to try to end it by 11:00 Eastern.

KING: No chance.

BLITZER: Right. That was not going to happen. So by the time she got up there, it was so late already, she had to rush through. She was racing through that speech, stepping on really obvious applause lines and in effect doing a disservice to what was a very carefully crafted speech.

RICH: It was, although I don't think she's a great speaker intrinsically. I mean, I've never seen her give a memorable talk.

KING: Running late didn't slow Senator Kennedy down tonight.

SCHNEIDER: Senator Kennedy is the lion king of liberalism. And he was out there full throttle, well not quite full throttle. I've seen him full throttle, and that's quite a sight to behold.

But he was there rallying the liberals to fight for Al Gore because he's going to fight the - I never heard so much talk of fighting. It can drive you nuts.

KING: Here's the hard thing I guess, gentlemen. And this requires guessing. How do you think it played not here, out there?

RICH: I can't imagine it had huge impact. I think - maybe I'm wrong. But I think it was sort of a nostalgic trip for some people.

KING: Preaching to the choir?

RICH: Yes. And it wasn't galvanizing or exciting. I mean, they got a message across. It was I think in two words, prescription drugs. And but I don't think tonight was a real factor in this convention or the race.

KING: Are we all looking to Thursday? Is that it?

BLITZER: Well, and tomorrow. Lieberman tomorrow. And of course, Gore on Thursday night.

What they did manage to do was underline the differences in this party and the Republican Party. And they didn't hide the fact that they're not just all new Democrats, centrist, moderate Democrats. But there are a lot of old-fashioned liberal Democrats up there as well.

And they didn't hide the fact that there were all sorts of issues that may not necessarily be big vote-getting issues, but that are important Democratic constituencies.

SCHNEIDER: Well, they had to do this. This was the liberal revival night. They always have a liberal revival speech.

It was Cuomo in 1984. It was Ted Kennedy in 1980. It was Jesse in 1988. It was Bill Clinton in 1992 and '96. And he didn't preach the old time religion. But they needed this because this is the most conservative Democratic ticket in at least 50 years. You have to go back to Harry Truman and Alvin Barkley (ph) to get a ticket this conservative.

So they had to spend a night rallying the liberal base. And they had to hear Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson say, "Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are OK. Liberals and old-fashioned Democrats can support these guys."

KING: Let me get a break. And we'll come back with our panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We're with you twice nightly. Tipper Gore will be here tomorrow. Don't go away.


EDWARD KENNEDY: Forty years from this night, may a future generation look back on this time and this convention and say it was here under the leadership of Al Gore that we set forth to secure for all citizens the fundamental right to health care, that here, that here we kept the faith on the journey of hope and America dared to dream again.

Thank you.



KING: Underrated downtown Los Angeles. People here never talk about it. It's pretty. Nice job, nice subway service here too.

How did Bill Bradley do, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: I thought he showed a lot of energy. I mean, it was an unusually energetic speech for Bill Bradley. He's famous for being sort of slow and thoughtful. It was a good speech.

It was his acceptance speech. I mean, he mentioned Al Gore at the beginning. And then he talked about his agenda, which was big ambitions, big plans. He tried to rally a liberal opposition to Clintonism, and he didn't get anywhere.

KING: Something, Wolf, McCain did not do.

BLITZER: Right. McCain conspicuously avoided in his speech endorsing George W. Bush, the signature issue on which he ran, campaign finance reform.

KING: Never mentioned it.

BLITZER: Never mentioned it. Bradley mentioned all the stuff that he used to hit Al Gore over the head with. KING: Is that one of the differences between the Democrats and Republicans?

BLITZER: Obviously.

KING: That the Republicans will unite quicker?

BLITZER: The Republicans are so anxious to try to recapture the White House for eight years, they're willing to swallow a lot. The Democrats are willing to swallow a lot to hold on to the White House. But in this particular case, McCain was clearly told or decided it wouldn't be appropriate to talk about campaign finance reform, on which he and George W. Bush disagree.

KING: As the man who was the most important critic in America, and the only critic that really hurts people is theater critics, I mean movie critics.

RICH: Right, well, maybe restaurant critics.

KING: Maybe restaurant critics. Television critics, irrelevant. If you don't like it after you've seen it, forget it. How would you review this convention?

RICH: Well, interesting, it's exactly the opposite of the way drama should work because last night was a huge dramatic crescendo in the very first scene.

KING: Don't put it all in the first act.

RICH: Yes, don't put it all in the first act. Then we have this sort of somewhat low-key (ph) second act.

And now I guess we have some suspense about what will be the fourth act on Thursday night. That's where all of the suspense is.

KING: And does the third act count? Is Lieberman important tomorrow or not?

RICH: It counts. But I don't think it counts as much as the media thinks it does. I think it's still vice president. It is a historic nomination, obviously. But...

SCHNEIDER: It's historic, but I'll give you the rule. Dan Quayle proved for all time people do not vote for vice president.

KING: Except Lyndon Johnson won Texas.

SCHNEIDER: That was the last time it mattered. And it mattered because of his state, because of the state of Texas.

BLITZER: But I think Al Gore helped Bill Clinton four years, eight years ago.

SCHNEIDER: Well, he made Clinton look better...


SCHNEIDER: ... because it was a different kind of decision. He sharpened the message. And Gore gets credit for inclusiveness. And that, by the way, is one way he's selling Lieberman to liberals, because liberals don't agree with Lieberman.

A lot of African Americans don't agree with him on affirmative action. But they're not going to criticize someone who is a symbol of inclusiveness. That's what Jackson told them tonight.

RICH: By the way, another bit of suspense is how quickly Bill Clinton is going to be forgotten. Did anyone mention him tonight?

BLITZER: They deliberately decided - you know, they did that symbolic handoff in Michigan today, Bill Clinton handing off the torch.

KING: Yes, but his name wasn't mentioned tonight. Ted Kennedy said, "There's only three presidents I've supported wholeheartedly, my two brothers and Al Gore." What did that mean?


RICH: Yes, well, there's been an effort at de-Clintonization in this party. And we've seen - that's why I think Al Gore invited Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter, a living Democratic ex-president, wasn't even invited. Gore wanted him because Carter is the symbol of integrity and honor and decency and very much a different character.

BLITZER: And in most recent Democratic Conventions, they've tried to run away from Jimmy Carter. But the reason they invited him, I'm told, is when he discovered Al Gore that the Republicans were paying tribute to Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan and George Bush.

He said, "We have a living ex-Democratic president as well. Maybe we should pay tribute to him, not let him speak, just as the Republicans didn't let their former presidents speak."

SCHNEIDER: He was also a symbol of all the qualities that are not Bill Clinton. It's decency and honor and integrity.

RICH: Right. A famous marriage and everything.

BLITZER: But don't you think that some people still remember the high interest rates, the high unemployment, the hostage crisis, the 444 days? It still brings back a lot of the...

SCHNEIDER: You know, when we asked people in our poll, "How do you think George Bush did as president? How did he handle the economy?" Most people say the economy was great.

RICH: I mean, this country is great because people have no memory. You know, Dick Cheney, I think most people don't really associate him with the Persian Gulf War. They don't remember he played a role in it.


KING: This of course is industry, television, like that, it eats it up, spits it out, gone tomorrow. What happened then? That was long ago. The Gulf War is ancient, right?

BLITZER: Short attention span.


KING: Very short attention span. We'll be right back with more of our panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE twice nightly through the convention. Don't go away.


BILL BRADLEY (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... essential that we get behind Al Gore. I support him, I endorse him, I'll work hard for him. Our country needs a Democratic president, a Democratic Congress, and most important, a Democratic conscience. Electing Al Gore and Joe Lieberman is the right thing to do for our country.



KING: Frank, you're a New Yorker. How is Hillary doing? And who is the "Times" going to endorse?

RICH: Oh, that's - you'll have to ask Kreskin. I don't think that decision has been made yet.

I guess the cliche about the race is that she cannot go above a certain level. And she needs about six more points.

KING: Can Lieberman get that for her?

RICH: I don't know. Certainly he doesn't hurt. And he may help a bit. And I know she's behind a bit in the Jewish vote. But if she's six points behind, I don't know if that's enough. There has to be a big turnout for that ticket. And it would have to be a turnout from lax (ph), too.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) behind, she's ahead, but not enough ahead.

RICH: Ahead but not enough, right.


BLITZER: She's ahead. But not as much as Chuck Schumer was ahead of Al D'Amato.

RICH: Right. She's not a the threshold she has to be it.

SCHNEIDER: Something simple about New York you've got to remember. There are two million more registered Democrats than Republicans in New York. And that shows up in a presidential year. I don't think she would have a chance in a non-presidential year.

KING: So she's going to need Gore-Lieberman.

SCHNEIDER: Presidential year in New York is big-time Democratic.

KING: Gore-Lieberman is going to get more votes than her, right?

SCHNEIDER: Oh, yes. Gore will get more votes because she's so controversial. And they will carry New York. And that's why in her speech she took great care to latch on to Gore's coattails.

That's how Bobby Kennedy won. He carried New York by 700,000 votes the same day Lyndon Johnson votes carried New York by 2,700,000 votes.

KING: Does she have to attack Lazio more?



BLITZER: No, I think she will underscore the differences between her positions and Lazio's positions. But I don't think she's going to necessarily succeed if she becomes just an attack dog or anything like that. That's not going to necessarily store a lot of points for her.

SCHNEIDER: Let me give you a scenario.

BLITZER: She still is the first lady.

SCHNEIDER: Gore loses, and she wins and becomes senator from New York, I don't know of any other Democrat in the country who can compete with her for a national following. She will be the leading Democrat in the country.

KING: Agree?

RICH: Yes, it's a very interesting scenario.

SCHNEIDER: Is Gray Davis going to compete with Hillary? She said, she told New Yorkers on your forum in Buffalo that she would not run for president in 2004 if she got elected. It's going to be a lot of pressure on her because she'll carry the Clinton mandate if Gore loses.

RICH: Yes, and if Gore loses a very weak bench in the Democratic Party.

BLITZER: Although you have to - there was a story in the AP the other day noting that the Iowa delegation, perhaps the New York delegation, is already beginning to hear from some Democratic politicians four years early that if Gore should lose, is Joe Biden positioning himself or Dick Gephardt positioning himself?

KING: You're kidding, right?

BLITZER: Yes, there was a story like that on the AP.

RICH: You know what? That's a weak bench.

SCHNEIDER: And is Joe Byden and Dick Gephardt going to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton? And also, if they both win, if Gore and Hillary both win, they both carry the Clinton mandate. If he's president and she's senator from New York and an issue comes up and they don't agree, boy that's going to be interesting.

KING: How key are the debates, Frank?

RICH: In the presidential race?

KING: Yes. Today's change (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

RICH: I think they're extremely important. And I know the conventional wisdom is that Gore will demolish Bush because he's been such a successful debater. I'm not sure I agree. I think they could be really up for grabs.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, Gore will go in with very high expectations. If you've watched Gore debate, he's a killer. I mean, he is.

KING: I've sat right next to him.

SCHNEIDER: He is a killer. And people know that. They've seen it happen. Remember Ross Perot and Jack Kemp...


SCHNEIDER: ... and Jack Kemp. People don't expect much from George Bush. The first debate will be crucial.

George Bush simply has to get through the debate without embarrassing himself, saying something foolish, so that people get a sense that he's up to the job.

BLITZER: And George W. Bush did go through a lot of debates with Republicans, with McCain and other Republican candidates. And he came through without a scratch.

RICH: And for all of Gore's preparation and his assurance about the issues, he's capable of a Michael Dukakis moment, of having a flat intellectual answer to a question where he has to be himself and show some emotion and some personality. And I think that's the big fear about him no matter how well prepared he may be.

SCHNEIDER: The big problem he has is that everything he does - start with Elian Gonzalez - sounds like a political calculation. And people don't like that.

KING: You can't change image in midstream, can you, Wolf?

BLITZER: It's very hard. It's going to be very hard. I'll be anxious like all of us to see the speech Thursday night because this is his opportunity once again to introduce himself to the American people. How many times can he introduce himself?

SCHNEIDER: Well, four or five so far. I mean...

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Frank Rich and Bill Schneider and Wolf Blitzer. Don't go away.


KING: There's the balloons. They're going to come down Thursday night. I don't know if there's as many as were in Philadelphia where George Bush claimed there was a record for balloon droppings. But we'll have totals for you tomorrow.


KING: Record for balloon droppings.

BLITZER: I have some inside information.

KING: Oh, Wolf knows.


BLITZER: I'm told by Democratic...

KING: Insiders.

BLITZER: ... Convention officials, they had 150,000 balloons in Philadelphia. They have 200,000 balloons.

KING: And not all came down in Philadelphia.

BLITZER: That I didn't know.

KING: Why do we enjoy something that has no suspense?

RICH: Because...

KING: We don't know how the play is going to come out. We don't know who's going to win the game. We do know who's going to be the nominees here.

RICH: ... Right. But we don't know if he's going to win the game and how it's going to come out. And this is an important scene.

KING: Is this spring training? Was it pre-season?

RICH: It's sort of the opening of the season, isn't it?

KING: Opening day.

RICH: Yes, it's opening day.

KING: Football more like. How do we get off on the ground, right?


RICH: Yes.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, there's an old saying among political consultants that people don't pay attention to tire ads until they have to buy tires. People don't pay attention to...


KING: Very well said.

SCHNEIDER: People do not pay attention to politics until they have to buy a president. So now they start.

KING: And is it now or Labor Day sort of?

SCHNEIDER: Well, the conventions catch people's attention. They see something of them.

BLITZER: They say whoever is ahead Labor Day is going to win the election, which is usually true.


KING: Will the Olympics create later interest?

SCHNEIDER: It's going to back load. You know, there was front loading. The whole primary season took place in February. And now the whole general election is going to take place in October.

All four debates are scheduled for October. Nothing is going to happen until after the Olympics, which are later than they've ever been, the second half of September.

KING: Debates, we know the dates, but we don't know the formats, the hosts. We don't know anything about that. We do know the cities.

SCHNEIDER: We know the cities.

BLITZER: We know St. Louis, Washington University once again is one of them. I think they have decided the dates on the cities.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, they have the dates and cities but not the formats.

KING: And you think they're going to be telling.

RICH: I think they have to be, and partially for the reasons Bill said, because it's all loaded into that period after the Olympics and before the election.

SCHNEIDER: Just remember the prize for winning the debate is not becoming president. I mean, you can win the debate and people say, "But I don't like him." That's not the prize.

(CROSSTALK) RICH: ... subtext more than text.

KING: Vice presidential debate. How important?

RICH: Not important. But it will be very interesting between these two guys. I think two smart guys with radically different views of the world basically, and articulate.

SCHNEIDER: Lloyd Bentsen, the greatest line in the debate when he talked to Dan Quayle...

KING: Greatest line of all the debates of that year.

SCHNEIDER: ... Absolutely. And what difference did it make?

BLITZER: Though they're both very smart guys, Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman. And it will be a good debate.

KING: And we haven't asked this, so we should. How - what effect with the Judaism factor have, Wolf?

BLITZER: I don't think it will have much effect.

KING: Won't know.

BLITZER: In some states where there's a big Jewish population like New York state maybe, it could have an effect. But I don't think it's going to have much of an effect.

RICH: I totally agree. I just think it's not really a huge factor, pro or con.

SCHNEIDER: I don't know. I mean, someone asked me...

KING: Look at the Internet, you get scared.

SCHNEIDER: ... Yes, of course. Someone asked me at this network, "Can you do a survey of the hidden anti-Semitism vote?" The answer is, "No, of course not."

KING: Because they're not going to answer you honestly.

SCHNEIDER: They're not going to answer you honestly. And people who aren't going to vote for him because he's Jewish will find 1,000 other reasons they're going to not vote for the ticket. So we really don't know.

You know, no one ever blamed Geraldine Ferraro for Walter Mondale's loss because it was so decisive. If Al Gore loses in a very close race and we see lower than usual turnout of certain groups, then they're going to debate was the anti-Semitism a factor. So all I can say is we really don't know.

BLITZER: You know, there are 11 Jewish senators out of 100, including from states like Oregon and Minnesota and Wisconsin where there are not big Jewish populations. They had no trouble, these senators, getting elected or reelected.

So my inclination is that the hidden anti-Semitic vote out there is so small, so inconsequential, it's not going to have much of an effect.

SCHNEIDER: And president, it would be different.

RICH: Exactly. That's part of it right there.


KING: President different.

RICH: Totally.

KING: Jesse Jackson still a factor?

BLITZER: He will be a factor in getting out the African American vote. For Gore to win, he needs a huge African American turnout all over the country. Jesse Jackson can help turn those voters.

RICH: That's going to be tough.

SCHNEIDER: There's only one person who can really do it...

KING: Running close.

SCHNEIDER: ... and that's Bill Clinton.

RICH: Bill Clinton, absolutely.

SCHNEIDER: Bill Clinton can get that vote out.


SCHNEIDER: African Americans love Bill Clinton. And they will vote for Gore because he's Clinton's man.

KING: Frank Rich, William Schneider, Wolf Blitzer, we thank them all. Stay tuned now for Jim Moret as he takes over, anchors the desk right here at the convention center. He gets us up to date not only on convention news, but all news around the world, including more on that submarine.

Thanks for joining us. We'll see you tomorrow night. Good night.



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