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Larry King Live

Did Al Gore Help Himself With His Acceptance Speech?

Aired August 18, 2000 - 0:00 a.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Great being with you every night. And this is part two of LARRY KING LIVE. We have been doing this throughout the Republican and Democratic conventions with two live shows each night. And tonight, the Democrats have wrapped it up in L.A. And accepting his party's nomination, Al Gore says that he stands before the nation as his own man. We'll talk about that and much more on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE at the 43rd Democratic National Convention.

We begin with Mark Fabiani, the Gore campaign spokesman. Later, David Halberstam, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, will join us. Then we're going to check in on the condition of Senator McCain with Dr. Daniel Coit at Sloane-Kettering. We'll get an update on the Russian submarine tragedy with the vice admiral in San Diego and a vice admiral on the phone from Norway. And then we'll have our panel gather of Bob Novak and Bill Schneider and Governor Ann Richards.

We start with Mark Fabiani, the campaign spokesman for Al Gore.

I guess you are happy.


KING: You're not going to say you are unhappy?

FABIANI: I think you could see from the reaction in the hall tonight that the vice president gave the speech of his life. He told people about the kind of man he is, the place he came from, the things that have made him the person he is today. And he told people about his vision for the future, how he wants to fight for working families.

KING: Mark, did he write it himself?

FABIANI: Absolutely. Now he got a lot of input early on from people who gave him drafts, paragraphs, ideas but he took all of those things and he's working on the plane as he traveled around the country on his laptop computer banging it out. And he was eager to give the speech tonight and I think it showed. It was a great speech.

KING: So far, nothing -- no bumps have occurred out of this convention. Do you expect one?

FABIANI: Well, we got a huge bump when the vice president picked Joe Lieberman as his running mate last week. That was received around the country with widespread acclaim. It was a bold and brave pick by the vice president and there was a huge bump in the polls, in our internal polling from that. And we've seen a continued improvement in our position right through the convention. I think this speech tonight is going to make this a very, very tight race.

KING: Within short percentage of points of each other by...


FABIANI: Well, there's so many polls out there these days, it's hard to know which ones to believe in. But, you know, the good polls that are out there, the ones that we're doing internally, show that this race is tightening up. And you can tell Governor Bush is nervous. Today, for the first time in the entire campaign, he agreed to debate, something he's been avoiding for months and months and months. They're very nervous about the fact that around the country, people don't think Governor Bush is able to talk about the issues the way that Vice President Gore is. And you saw that tonight. This was a very substantive speech. The vice president is going to win this election based on the issues. He's prepared to debate them and he's eager to do so.

KING: They've proposed, the Bush people, three presidential, two vice presidential. We haven't had that before. Is that a good idea to you?

FABIANI: The more debates the better. We think that if you have debates all across the country, people have a good chance to evaluate these candidates. Vice President Gore has accepted more than 40 debate proposals already. Governor Bush has accepted none. So we're excited today that finally, since he's feeling a little heat now, Governor Bush feels like he has to debate. We're looking forward to him.

KING: Well, I know you spoke to the vice president today. He did not refer to it in his speech. What do you make of the revelations today that there's a new grand jury investigation into the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal?

FABIANI: This election's about the future. The American people are concerned about the future, not about these things that have happened years ago. We want to move beyond that. And nothing that happens today can affect the happy moment tonight in the hall with the vice president.

KING: But do you count it odd that it would break today?

FABIANI: Well, I think...

KING: Andrew Cuomo said it's a stretch to think it was just circumstantial.

FABIANI: Well, you know, we're going to leave it to people in the media, to investigative reporters to uncover how this happened today. But it's certainly suspicious. And Americans have the right to wonder whether what went on today is similar to what we've seen for the last couple of years from the Republicans. They don't want to talk about the issues so they try to talk about scandal and events that are now years old. And people are too smart for that. They want to move on.

KING: You're not saying they were a part of it. You're leaving it up to other people to...

FABIANI: Well, I think the timing speaks for itself. Let's put it that way. I think it's...

KING: Was the vice president angry?

FABIANI: He was focused on his speech today. He was told about it and he kind of shrugged it off as we did. You know, we're going to focus on the future. We believe strongly Americans are very smart about this stuff. They see these -- through these kind of tactics.

KING: You do have a dilemma, though. You'd like the president, one would assume, to campaign for you. If he's a president under investigation, do you want someone under investigation out on the stump?

FABIANI: Again, I think Americans are...

KING: Kind of weird.

FABIANI: Americans are tired of this. I mean, it's been going on for years and years and years.

KING: So you'd like him to go out on the stump?

FABIANI: Well, I think the president and the vice president will talk about the appropriate role for the president to play during the campaign. But the vice president said it very well tonight. He said, "I am my own man. I'm going to run my own race." And that's what the country expects.

KING: Give me the immediate schedule. They fly out tonight, right?

FABIANI: The vice president's not resting for one moment. He's taking the red eye out tonight. He's flying to the Midwest.

KING: Air Force II red eye.

FABIANI: Air Force...


KING: He goes to Wisconsin, right?

FABIANI: He goes to Wisconsin where he begins a boat tour down the Mississippi River. We feel that this election is going to be won or lost up and down the Mississippi along those battleground states. And we're going right into the heart of the battleground tonight and starting fresh tomorrow morning.

KING: With the Liebermans?


KING: Will they be together a lot?

FABIANI: They will be together a lot. I think people have been energized around the country. I know our campaign has by the two of them being together on the campaign trail. Lieberman has been an exciting pick. People are interested in him all around the country. These two men get along very well together. They work well together. They're going to be together a lot.

KING: Couple of other things now. Do you sort of stall a little, get an input and then wait till Labor Day, go right at it now?

FABIANI: Go right at it.

KING: Campaign begins.

FABIANI: The campaign begins. We hope and expect that Governor Bush is going to have to join us on the issues. We think he's run from the issues for this entire campaign but he can't hide from them, as Joe Lewis said. Eventually, he's going to have to come to grips with the issues. And when that debate is joined, I think this election is going to be a pretty clear choice.

KING: Are you going to concentrate in certain key states? Are you going to try to get as much places as you can? What's the strategy?

FABIANI: Well, we're going to concentrate in the battleground states, states that are going to decide this election, through the Midwest, down the East Coast, and other places around the country. But clearly...

KING: Pennsylvania...

FABIANI: Absolutely. Pennsylvania, Ohio. We're going to be in the states where we need to be. We're going to be spending our resources and using our candidate's time in those states that are going to make the difference.

KING: You looking forward to this?

FABIANI: Absolutely. It's going to be exciting. It's a historical election. Never before in history has there been this kind of surplus. And how we decide to spend the surplus is going to have a great deal to do with how this country does in the next 10 years.

KING: And how close will it be?

FABIANI: I think in the end, the vice president is going to win and he's going to win by a comfortable margin.

KING: Worried about Nader? FABIANI: Not really. I think in the end, people see that the two candidates in the major parties are not taking the same positions this year. They're very far apart. And that kind of a race, most people want to have their vote count. They want to vote for one of the two people who could be president.

KING: So you don't think Nader or Buchanan or whoever is a factor other than the two?

FABIANI: I think in the end, people are going to want to vote for one of the two people will ultimately win.

KING: Thanks, Mark. We'll be seeing a lot of you on the trail.

FABIANI: It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you very much.

KING: Mark Fabiani, campaign spokesman for Al Gore.

One of the best writers in the business joins us next, David Halberstam on edition two of LARRY KING LIVE. Bill Maher tomorrow night back at our studios. We'll be right back.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We could squander this moment but our country would be the poorer for it. Instead, let's lift our eyes and see how wide the American horizon has become. We're entering a new time. We're electing a new president. And I stand here tonight as my own man. And I want you to know me for who I truly am.




KING: That was a lovely moment. Gores have recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. Kissing before the big speech. And we welcome to LARRY KING LIVE David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, historian, bestselling author and a longtime friend of the Gore family.

How long time?

DAVID HALBERSTAM, JOURNALIST: Going back to 1956, '57. I covered the senior Gore's race in 1958 when he ran for re-election. So and I -- the first time I met Al, he was 10 years old. And Pauline's mother had driven -- we've been campaigning all day. I was covering for the "National Tennessean" and we got there to Carthage at the farm, and Pauline said, "Al, you want to come with us and campaign this afternoon?" He was cracking a big bullwhip and he said, "No, no, I'd much rather stay here on the farm. And I like to say that I knew right then and there that he'd be vice president and would be a candidate for the presidency.

KING: You knew him -- did you also know him when he wrote for the Tennessean?

HALBERSTAM: No, that was long after I left there. But, you know, he's a...

KING: You've kept in touch over the years?

HALBERSTAM: Well, his older sister, who died a few years ago, was a very close...

KING: Lung cancer, right?

HALBERSTAM: Yes. And Nancy was a wonderful friend of that generation I belonged to down on the Tennessean and I've stayed in touch with Al and the family: the senior Gore, Pauline, his mother. I mean, it's just -- it was a very happy time for me as a young reporter and the family in the end became my friends as well as just -- not just someone I wrote about.

KING: As someone who literally changed the course of the Vietnam War, you, your writing, wrote the first...

HALBERSTAM: No, no, that's...

KING: Oh, you wrote the first significant articles against -- you got banned by the White House and everything. How do you feel that will play, Gore's record of going to Vietnam?

HALBERSTAM: Well, I think he's -- one of the nice things is that something that has come around and that is that he is the first Vietnam veteran to be nominated for national office. I mean, it's not a big thing and he was a P.I.

KING: Not a small thing.

HALBERSTAM: Yes, but he was P.I. over there. I mean, he wasn't, you know, a combat guy the way Bob Kerrey or probably John Kerry were or Chuck Hagel or John McCain. But it is something about the country coming home to itself that I like. I think the sense of loyalty -- all of us who went there -- journalists or grunt -- we were all changed by that. And it took us a long time to come back. I said tonight in the little thing I did earlier, that I thought that many of us came back changed. We reevaluated ourselves, our country. We went through a bad time. And then when things got better, they were a little better for us and we were more appreciative because we'd been through the bad times. And I like the idea that he went there and that is part of his portfolio.

KING: So we have some lack of objectivity.

HALBERSTAM: I mean, I'm a family friend. I mean, there's some objectivity and some subjectivity.

KING: What did you make of the speech?

HALBERSTAM: Well, I was quite surprised by it. You know, I'm not a Gore insider but I was surprised by it. It was more of a popular speech than I would have expected. I think the battle lines are drawn. I think the issue that the Gore people -- and it was really said, I hadn't realized it because when I look back on the Lieberman speech. What the Democrats are saying is this is a moment where the nation is bountiful. There is this surplus. The deficit reduction has worked. The country is enormously prosperous. To what end do we use it? To whose benefit? And out of this flows a tax policy. And that's I think a very clear line that's being drawn: the HMOs, Medicare, things like that. I think they sense that the HMO is burning like brush fire in this country and I think it is.

KING: So the issues are drawn, right? They're different.

HALBERSTAM: This was -- I thought tonight, he was -- very much, quite surprising. His father and his mother's son. He was a populist tonight. I was surprised the sort of vigor of the economic stuff that he was going to...

KING: Do you expect it to be very close?

HALBERSTAM: The election? I think it's going to be an extraordinarily close election. I've never bought this idea that George Bush is ahead by 10 points anymore than Michael Dukakis at a comparable moment was the head of George H.W. Bush by 17. I think it is unformed out there. I don't think neither candidate has crystalized himself. Young Bush did not to particularly well with independents. McCain did much better. But he got the nomination. McCain, as we say later, he ran out of money. Al Gore clearly has had a shadow over him, a kind of duality of being in Clinton's shadow. Clinton is more charismatic, more facile, much more nimble. But I think Gore -- and so he's got to crystalize his definition to the American people.

KING: Couple of other quick things.


KING: What do you make of the Ray prosecution of the grand jury investigation?

HALBERSTAM: I think it's utterly -- from a distance, improper. The country went through all this. It was enormously painful. It was about Clinton's carelessness. The country sort of made its own judgment. It is time for that to be gone. To the degree that it will hurt someone, it is quite possible that it could hurt Mr. Bush because I think the country has a sense of fairness and I think this coming as it does now will be perceived as being unfair. That stuff should be over with by now. And this country went through an agonizing time. None of it fun. Clinton does not come out well. But the country said in effect, "We dislike his enemies even more than we dislike what he did."

KING: Can anyone take the Lakers?

HALBERSTAM: Can anyone take the Lakers? They're a player short. They...

KING: The Lakers are...

HALBERSTAM: I think so. I think they sort of got through but, you know, they needed to. They had no power forward and that was a great vulnerability.

KING: So they are vulnerable.

HALBERSTAM: Yes. Well, I mean, you know, anything happens to one or two players, they're gone. I mean, they really did it with 2 1/2 players and they scratched through. You know, they got a little bit here and a little bit there but they are not an entirely complete team.

KING: Can't let you go without talking...

HALBERSTAM: OK, we got to talk serious stuff.

KING: Nice to see you again.

HALBERSTAM: Thanks for having me on.

KING: David Halberstam, one of a kind.

When we come back, Dr. Daniel Coit, co-leader of the Melanoma Disease Management Team at the Memorial Sloane-Kettering in New York. And we'll talk about melanoma skin cancer. Don't go away.


KING: We're back in Los Angeles. Senator John McCain underwent a lot of tests today at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. He's planning a news conference for tomorrow. CNN is reporting that surgery will occur this weekend. In that regard, we have asked once again Dr. Daniel Coit to joins us. He's in our New York bureau and he's co- leader of the Melanoma Disease Management Team at Memorial Sloan- Kettering.

With what you, know if that's true about surgery this weekend, Dr. Coit, what does it tell you?

DR. DANIEL COIT, MEMORIAL SLOAN-KETTERING CANCER CENTER: Well, we would certainly hope that the tests that he had done today show no evidence of spread beyond what we see on the surface.

KING: Does it also mean that since it's malignant, even if it hasn't spread, you must take it out?

COIT: I think with melanoma, clearly, the best option is wherever feasible, it should be removed surgically, that's right, yes.

KING: Now they test today. They gave him heart tests and chest X-rays. For what?

COIT: A lot of that's just an assessment of his general medical condition and not necessarily germane to the melanoma itself. KING: The test lasted more than -- this is standard procedure then. You would do this after a melanoma is discovered with any patient?

COIT: Absolutely. The most important thing after recurrent melanoma is established is to see where it is, because that really helps to frame the treatment option.

KING: Is there an alternative to surgery?

COIT: When the melanoma can be removed surgically, that's clearly the best option. If it cannot be removed surgically, there are many other options for treatment, that's right.

KING: Is melanoma, Dr. Coit, painful?

COIT: No, not in general, no.

KING: So you have it but it's not -- you don't feel pain in your skin?

COIT: For the most part, no, although most occurrences can be detected as a lump or bump in or under the skin, that's right.

KING: And it starts in a freckle, right?

COIT: Usually, melanoma's -- primary melanoma arise within a pre-existing freckle, a longstanding mole. They very rarely arise suddenly.

KING: And when they take out, what do they take out of the skin?

COIT: When treating a primary melanoma, it's important to remove the entire freckle or mole together with a zone of surrounding skin. When taking out areas of recurrence, it's enormously important to make sure that all of the tumor cells have been removed.

KING: And when you do that, do you know right away if you have removed them?

COIT: Yes. In the case of recurrence, oftentimes a frozen section analysis can guide the extend of removal.

KING: Thank you, Dr. Coit. As always, we'll be calling upon you again. There is a press conference scheduled tomorrow by Senator McCain. Of course, you'll see it on CNN.

When we come back, we'll call on Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin to join us again and also Vice Admiral Einar Skorgen. He's commander of the Joint Forces of Northern Norway. He's a submariner and he's coordinating the Norwegian part of this rescue effort. Then our panel will join us. We'll be right back.


KING: OK, we all know the tragedy occurring out there in the sea with the Russian submarine, the Kursk, one of Russia's most modern subs just built a couple three ago. It remains stuck on the Arctic seabed of the Barents Sea. Rescue attempts by the Russians have failed. The British mini-sub and Norwegian divers are being rushed to the scene.

Joining us now from San Diego is Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin, U.S. Navy retired, for 35 years in the submarine service. And on the phone from Norway is Vice Admiral Einar Skorgen, commander of the joint forces of Northern Norway, a submariner himself. And he's coordinating the Norwegian part of this rescue effort.

And what is that part, Vice Admiral Skorgen? What is Norway's role here?

VICE ADMIRAL EINAR SKORGEN, COMMANDER OF JOINT FORCES OF NORTHERN NORWAY: Well, my role is to see to it that the Norwegian support is as soon and quick up in the air as possible. Certainly, I always as feel as part of my task to coordinate with the Brits and the rescue submarine, the other five to see to it that we get appropriate information from the Russians in order to start safe operations on the submarine.

KING: Where are you now?

SKORGEN: I'm at my headquarters in Budanove (ph).

KING: When do you expect this to start?

SKORGEN: Well, both ships will arrive in the area tomorrow afternoon, Saturday afternoon local time. Direct or special time is not quite sure yet. Little bit depends on the weather. But as far as it looks like now, the weather is good. And early tomorrow afternoon, they will both be in the area.

KING: Any signs to you encouraging?

SKORGEN: No. There's a lot of information. What's right and what's wrong is very difficult to say. I think we will get the correct view of the situation when we are in the area. I'm not trusting too much what's coming over the media for the time being.

KING: Vice Admiral Hannifin, are you trusting what we're hearing?

RET. VICE ADMIRAL PATRICK HANNIFIN, U.S. NAVY: Well, it's a little confusing. Most recently, apparently, the entire forward end of the Russian submarine is pretty well destroyed, which meant that the control room area is also which would limit their ability to do anything from inside the submarine except those people who might have survived in the after end if the watertight doors were closed in time so that the flooding from the forward end didn't go clear through the ship.

KING: The prime minister said today the situation is catastrophic. Is that a good word as you would see it?

HANNIFIN: I think that's a pretty good word.

KING: Admiral Skorgen, is that a word you would use, too? Would you say even though the reports have been sketchy and we've had conflicting reports, chances are dim to save anybody?

SKORGEN: Well, there's always a chance. And what I'm trying to explain to the media around is that if you can save one man, the operation is worthwhile anyhow. So we should never give up.

KING: I agree. Do you have any -- has there ever been a case like this for either of you? First Admiral Hannifin. Have you ever seen a case like this involving a submarine?

HANNIFIN: No, not really. Our most recent ones where we had the escape for it back in the '30s, the Squalus (ph) operation. Nothing since that time that I'm aware of and nothing quite as catastrophic as the apparent flooding of the entire forward end of the ship.

KING: And how about in your experience, Admiral Skorgen?

SKORGEN: I'm joining the admiral, I have never been into such a situation before. And what's the problem now is certainly is to coordinate what we are doing. And we; have to learn as we are proceeding.

KING: Can we use Admiral Skorgen, inflatable pontoons? Can that work?

SKORGEN: It sounds a little bit optimistic but we should never say no to anything as long as we have technicians who can recommend us to do it. But I'm doubtful.

KING: Vice Admiral Hannifin, any danger, environmental danger of that ship being there?

HANNIFIN: I don't think so. Apparently, the reactors were shut down and once that happens, there's not going to be any leakage from the reactor compartments. The biggest problem, of course, and the biggest danger, I think -- and you have to have a great deal of admiration for those British sailors who man their rescue vessel to try to mate with the ship is lying at such an angle down there.

KING: Are the Russians being cooperative, Admiral Skorgen?

SKORGEN: Certainly, certainly, they are.

KING: Well, we thank you both for joining us. We'll stay right on top of the story. We'll be in touch with both of you again. Vice Admiral Patrick Hannifin of the U.S. Navy, Vice Admiral Einar Skorgen, commander of the joint forces of Northern Norway heading to the scene of what could be and possibly will be a major, major catastrophic tragedy far off from here.

When we come back, the Honorable Ann Richards, Robert Novak and William Schneider will join us to wrap up this convention and this week. We'll be back at our studios tomorrow night, regular time, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific with Bill Maher. We'll be right back with our panel. Don't go away.


KING: The Democratic National Convention is now history. And we have three outstanding guests to discuss it. They are the honorable Ann Richards, the former Democratic governor of Texas and a regular commentator for this program; Robert Novak, co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," CNN's "Capital Gang," and a syndicated analyst and best selling author in his own right; and Bill Schneider. Mr. Schneider is a CNN senior political analyst and syndicated columnist.

How did tonight go, Ann?

ANN RICHARDS, FORMER DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: I thought he did exactly what he had to do.

KING: Which was?

RICHARDS: And that was he had to draw the battle lines. He had to say, "This is exactly what I'm going to do. And here are some things I'm not going to do." And he did that very clearly because he has to differentiate himself from Bush.

I think Bush has done a pretty terrific job in mushing it up, trying very hard to appear a little of this and a little bit of that and so that he appeals to everybody on every issue. Gore is not going to let him get away with that. And that's what this speech proved.

ROBERT NOVAK, CO-HOST, CNN "CROSSFIRE": I thought that Vice President Gore had to hit a home run tonight. This has been a disappointing convention.

A lot of the Democrats I talked to going into tonight were very concerned. Tracking had shown no improvement for three nights. Thought he really had to hit a home run. He hit a weak grounder for the second baseman.

KING: That bad.

NOVAK: That bad. It was...

KING: At least he didn't strike out.

NOVAK: In trying to get away from some of the things his critics have made fun of talking about risky schemes, and sometimes doing an imitation of Jesse Jackson with the throaty voice, sometimes just seeming out of control, he was really robotic. This was a flat State of the Union Address.

There was no poetry. There was absolutely no memorable phrases. It was one program after another.

And I was out on the floor, and those delegates were dying.

They wanted to cheer him. They wanted to be for him. They cheered every little thing. But they were dying. I thought it was a terrible failure.

KING: His biggest cheer was when he said, "I'm not personality."

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: That was the punchline. It came at the end. He said, "The presidency is more than a popularity contest. It's a day-to-day fight for the people."

I think he tried to do something interesting, but he set it up wrong.

What he should have done was telegraphed at the beginning, "Here's what I'm going to do. I'm Al Gore. Al Gore is not charismatic. But you don't need charisma. What you need is an advocate, someone who will fight for your interests." Say, "Here's what I'm going to do."

KING: That should have been his opening.

SCHNEIDER: Should have been his opening. Then the audience would have been with him. They would have seen this is what he's doing, and we think it's great.

I didn't get it. I kept saying to him: "Stop. You're stepping on all your applause lines. Pause." It was very programmed and robotic. I didn't know what he was doing until the end. And when he said that sentence I just quoted at the end, the audience stopped him.

They stopped him cold. They cheered. They screamed because they said, "Now we get it."

KING: So had he begun by saying, "I'm not what he is. Here's what I am."

SCHNEIDER: We would have known what he was doing.

KING: Buy that, Ann?

RICHARDS: I think though what's going to happen is after this speech tonight and the specificity of it, the voter out there is going to make up their mind about who do you trust to do more about Medicare and Social Security, Bush or Gore? Who do you trust to put old people, prescription drugs, or child care?

Which one is going to be there first? Is it going to be Gore, or is it going to be Bush? And I think the answer is going to be very clear after this speech tonight that it's going to be Gore.

NOVAK: Let me dare to take issue with Governor Richards, who I respect. And that is I don't think Governor Bush two weeks ago in Philadelphia hid what he was about. He came out with a very conservative speech.

He came out for a one-third limit of taxation on any income. He came out with a pro-life position on abortion. You can go through the whole speech. We know where he stands.

But the problem is I really do believe that this speech is too liberal for America. And this convention was too liberal for America.

KING: But on major...

NOVAK: And I would think that one of this big mistakes he made, as I look now after four days, was picking Joe Lieberman as a moderate as his vice president. I think if he had picked John Kerry as his vice president, he would have had more leeway to become -- have a more moderate program for this convention.

KING: But on some of the major issues, health and guns and the like, don't most people -- forgetting liberal or conservative -- support the views he expressed tonight?


KING: Health care for all, patients' bill of rights. You don't think that's popular?

NOVAK: This was a big government program. Look, Bill talks about it all the time. About half of the people in this country have made up their minds for Bush.

There's about half the people in the country who have made up their minds for Gore. And there's an edge on the 10 percent in between who are now for Bush. And that's why he's got a lead.

And they're not interested in programs. They are interested in personality. And that was a dud personality you saw tonight.

KING: Is that a fact of life? True, it isn't the program, it's the person?

SCHNEIDER: Sometimes it's the person. This year it appears to be the person because, look, the issues seem to favor Mr. Gore. If you ask people, "What are the most important issues facing the country?" they'll say education, health care, Social Security, gun control...

KING: They won't list foreign affairs or the military.

SCHNEIDER: ... never foreign affairs or the military. Now on those issues, the people who are voting those issues, I would say they prefer Gore. But most Americans are not voting the issues. That's why Bush is ahead.

It's not an issue election. There's no crisis in the country.

KING: Ann.

RICHARDS: Well, it's because we haven't focused yet. I really think -- and I've told you a jillion times -- the women called the last election and the one before that. And they're going to call this one.

KING: And Bush is way ahead. RICHARDS: And women are busy taking care of kids. And they are going to start paying attention. And when they do, women pay attention to issues. They don't pay attention to who's the cutest or who's got the best personality or who's the captain of the football team. They say, "Tell me what you're going to do about my kids, my parents that I'm having to take care of, the fact that I don't get equal pay for equal work."

And one thing I want to say, Larry, and it is really hard because I resist always talking about women. But these guys can't possibly do that. It's that freedom for us began in America when we got the pill. It allowed us to go to work. It allowed us to have freedom from big families...


KING: You've shocked Mr. Novak.

NOVAK: You're really embarrassing me.

RICHARDS: ... And part and parcel of all of that, part and parcel of all of it is reproductive freedom. And if you don't think that women don't care about the right of women to terminate pregnancies, you are dead wrong.

NOVAK: Let me just say something.

KING: Quickly, because we've got to go.

NOVAK: Yes. The Democrats are skating on very thin ice. They are a party of minorities. They are a party of the African-Americans, the Hispanic-Americans, and a certain percentage of the women. And they are -- they require a tremendously skilled politician as their candidate and a very stupid Republican campaign. They don't have either one of them this time.

KING: Are you saying they had that two times before?

NOVAK: You bet.

KING: We'll be back with more of our panel. We'll ask about the news today about grand jury investigation, a new one into Clinton- Lewinsky, and what effect it might have on the race. Don't go away.


GORE: We will honor equal rights. And we will fight for an equal day's pay for an equal day's work.


And let there be no doubt. I will protect and defend a woman's right to choose. The last thing this country needs is a Supreme Court that overturns Roe v. Wade.


KING: It's all over but the shouting. In fact, even that's over. The fat lady has sung.


Bill, the sidebar story of today is we learn of a grand jury investigation. Shocked by that? And the effect on the race?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it is surprising. I mean, we don't know what he's going to go after, although our legal analysts that he has to be seeking criminal indictment, otherwise why is he calling a grand jury? It can't be just housekeeping.

If he's seeking criminal indictment, that's pretty explosive because that means he thinks he can get an indictment of the president after he leaves office. And that would just be a tremendously dramatic issue.

First thing you want to ask both Bush and Gore is, "If you were president, would you grant a pardon to President Clinton for any criminal acts?"

Now, President Clinton has already answered that in a way because he said he wouldn't accept one. And he's gotten Gore off the hook on that.

But look, the immediate repercussions on the race is that people want this over. They don't want to hear anymore about this. If they believe that electing Al Gore is going to perpetuate this drama and bring this whole story back, they just don't want to hear from him anymore.

KING: Bob.

NOVAK: I'm not a bit surprised by it because Mr. Ray and the other lawyers over there, they've hinted that they wanted to bring a trial, indict the president after he leaves office.

KING: How about it breaking today though?

NOVAK: Breaking today is very interesting. The only person I think it can hurt is Bush because it makes -- possibly there would be a backfire effect. The one thing I'm sure of is that the Bush people didn't break it.

Who broke it? I haven't any idea. Don't forget, this was filed at the courthouse. There are all kinds of people running around the federal courthouse. It could have leaked any number of ways. It could have been leaked by somebody who wanted to hurt Gore, somebody who wanted to hurt Bush, somebody who was just mischievous.

KING: It could have been anyone.

NOVAK: Anybody. KING: But it started July 11. Why break it today, Ann?

RICHARDS: It's absolutely ridiculous to suggest that the breaking of it might hurt George Bush. I mean, we saw what happened in South Carolina. We saw what happened in New York in the McCain race.

And I'm going to tell you that the Bush people are really good. I've been there, done that, felt that. And they leak that stuff like crazy and then stand back and say, "Oh, my, my" how badly they feel about that, that should never have happened. And you will never find their fingerprints on it.

KING: But if it looks that way to the public, as Bob points out, couldn't it reverberate against Bush? If the public tonight believes they did it...

RICHARDS: I hope very much that's what happens.

KING: ... then it would reverberate against them.

NOVAK: But I don't think they're dumb, Ann. I don't think they're stupid. And it would be stupid for them to leak that because the one person it's not going to hurt in my opinion is Al Gore. How does that have a bad...


KING: One at a time.

RICHARDS: Who at the Bush campaign has tried at every opportunity to resurrect whatever they could about Bill Clinton and the escapade with Monica Lewinsky? It certainly hasn't been the Gore campaign, for God's sake.

SCHNEIDER: I don't think it connects Al Gore in any way to this. But it just leads people to say, "My God, this thing will go on and on and on. And if we elect Al Gore, it will never stop."

NOVAK: Can I say a word about President Clinton? I thought President Clinton got this convention off to a bad start on Monday night with a brilliant speech.


KING: Bad start with a brilliant speech.

NOVAK: Exactly, because if he had been the kind of person he ought to be, he would have made a speech praising building up explaining Al Gore. Instead, he is so full of his own ego, he made this speech celebrating himself. I think he got the convention off to a bad start.

KING: We'll ask you to rate this convention among those you've covered. We already know what Mr. Novak thinks.


A ground ball to second. Unless Chuck Noblock (ph) fielded it.

We'll be back with more. Don't go away.


GORE: For almost eight years now, I've been the partner of a leader who moved us out of the valley of recession and into the longest period of prosperity in American history. I say to you tonight, millions of Americans will live better lives for a long time to come because of the job that's been done by President Bill Clinton.




KING: OK, Bill, overall, temperament, mood, getting the point across, crowd reaction, television, how does this convention rate?

SCHNEIDER: I don't think it was the triumph that Gore needed. He needed a real triumph. And there's only been two conventions in my experience that I've covered that were real triumphs.

One of them was Clinton in 1992, which was helped by Ross Perot getting out of the race, endorsing Bill Clinton, a huge bounce for the ticket. And Clinton surged into the lead. He had been running third before that convention.

The other was Bush in 1988. And there's an interesting story there. The press misreported that as a catastrophe for George Bush because of the Quayle appointment.

But what George Bush very clearly did is face a test under fire. The press became a howling mob going after Dan Quayle. George Bush stood by his man. And he was really tested for the first time and showed some strength.

And he came out ahead. And he turned the race around.

KING: This didn't do that.

SCHNEIDER: No, nothing like that. And that's what Gore needed.

KING: Ann.

RICHARDS: This convention had to energize the delegates that came here. I think they came and they were dispirited.

And it's peculiar, you know, that we could have such disparate views of the same events. But I was down there on the floor with the Texas delegation. Of course, the Texas delegates are down because Texas is Bush country. And they were energized. They were excited. They were talking about they were going to go home and what they were going to do. So for the purposes of energizing the delegates and feeling good about Gore and being excited about Lieberman, I thought we did that.

NOVAK: I think if you grade it on that basis, Governor, I'd give him a B-plus. I think if you rate it on the really important thing that the convention has to do is present a really positive view to the country of a candidate that's running behind, it was probably a failure.

I thought each night it didn't quite succeed in doing what it was supposed to. The worst night, as was shown by some tracking I've seen, was Tuesday night where they had all these left-wing special interest groups, which Ann might energize those delegates down there. But they don't energize the people who are the swing voters.

KING: Are the Kennedys history?

SCHNEIDER: Well, there are always more of them.


You don't write off the Kennedys, ever.

KING: Ever.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, I mean, Kennedy is a very special thing in the Democratic Party. Kennedy means tough liberal. And there aren't very many of those. If you defied Bobby Kennedy...

KING: Is Ted the last warrior of the Senate?

SCHNEIDER: ... Of his generation, he is the lion king of liberalism. But there are a lot of younger Kennedys out there, and some stars. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend obviously one day is going to run for governor of Maryland. And she can be a star.

There are a lot of younger ones. And some very attractive...

RICHARDS: Patrick Kennedy.

SCHNEIDER: ... Patrick Kennedy.

KING: Do either of you agree with Bob about Lieberman maybe turning out not a good choice?

SCHNEIDER: I think it was a good choice for Gore. I don't know what future he has in the party because he's so out of phase with what Democrats really believe.

I mean, look, they sold Lieberman in an obvious way, the inclusion message, breaking barriers. Democrats love that. So they were willing to overlook some problems on vouchers and some problems on Social Security and some problems on tort reform and some problems on missile defense. NOVAK: They had to emphasize their liberal bona fides on those positions.


RICHARDS: Here's the message...

NOVAK: I have some advice for the Democratic Party, which they won't take from me. I think the Democrats are going to come to the realization they are a minority party in this country and are getting smaller and smaller.

KING: So your advice is?

NOVAK: I think they've got to go more clearly toward the middle, not just by saying "we're new Democrats," but by changing their big government positions.

KING: But the Republicans have moved to the middle too.

NOVAK: They sure have.

RICHARDS: As usual, if you had a black person or a Hispanic person sitting at this table, this conversation would be different. And it would be different because we would hear a different perspective.

You're always going to hear the perspective from white males that it's not going to be so favorable to Democrats because they do not vote in a majority with Democrats.

SCHNEIDER: Let me give you a different perspective. And I think I'm right about this.

The agenda is friendlier to liberalism today -- you probably disagree -- than it's been for the last 35 years. Trust in government is up. The issues on the national agenda are issues that are favorable to Democrats.

KING: So if you don't label them liberal...

SCHNEIDER: Republicans, what do they have left? The Cold War is over. Crime is down. The economy is good. The budget is balanced. They don't have anything left to run on really.

Tax cut isn't selling. The agenda is very friendly to what the liberals want. Why is Gore losing? Because people aren't voting the issues.

NOVAK: You're quite correct, I do disagree with that. And I really do believe that there is a tremendous hostility toward government. Government doesn't work.

And the hostility, this is the danger for the Democrats, Governor. It's starting to creep into the African American and Hispanic American communities. KING: We'll get a break. And we'll be right back with our remaining moments for this show and this convention. Stay tuned. Of course, lots more coming with Jim Moret and late world news as well. Don't go away.


GORE: I know one thing about the job of the president. It is the only job in the constitution that is charged with the responsibility of fighting for all the people, not just the people of one state or one district, not just the wealthy or the powerful, all the people, especially those who need a voice, those who need a champion, those who need to be lifted up so they are never left behind. So I say to you tonight if you entrust me with the presidency, I will fight for you.




KING: A few minutes remaining. Ann Richards, what kind of campaign?

RICHARDS: I think it's going to be a tough one. And I think Gore is going to go after Bush.

KING: Dirty?

RICHARDS: No, I don't think it will be dirty. I think it will be on the issues. But I think he's going to hammer him on the issues.

KING: A lot of interests? Big turnouts?

SCHNEIDER: No, I don't think there's any -- there is no crisis out there. I mean, people may -- if it's close, people may get excited. I don't think we're going to really know what's going on until after the first debate because Bush has to cross the threshold that people conclude finally that he's OK and he's capable of being president.

KING: Does Bush have to do a home run in that debate?

NOVAK: No...


NOVAK: ... he just has to survive. I think -- I'll make a little prediction. If the polls -- when is the Gallup poll going to be finished, Saturday night -- it's going to come out showing a continued lead by Bush.

KING: By how much?

NOVAK: Five points. Six points. SCHNEIDER: That's what I'd guess. I'd guess that.

NOVAK: And that's a disaster. Coming out...

KING: That's close, though, isn't it?

NOVAK: ... No, it isn't.


NOVAK: It's a disaster for Gore. And he's going to do exactly what Governor Richards said. They're going to turn to try to destroy Bush. And it's going to be a very dangerous tactic.

RICHARDS: Well, five points I think would be a great success for us.

SCHNEIDER: He needed to turn it around.

RICHARDS: I don't understand it...


RICHARDS: ... You usually have...

KING: Four points is the margin of error, right?

RICHARDS: ... Yes. Yes.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, it is. But he needed to come out ahead after the convention in order to gain...


RICHARDS: Oh, there was no way. There was no way that we were going to come out ahead after this convention.

NOVAK: Some polls after the Houston convention in 1992, not the Gallup poll, but some polls, had Bush ahead of Clinton just briefly for two points...

KING: Wasn't Mondale...

NOVAK: ... He should come out of it...


KING: Wasn't Mondale even with Reagan?

SCHNEIDER: ... Geraldine Ferraro. One thing Bob said I think was absolutely true. Gore resisted the temptation tonight to go negative. And that's because he knows he's least attractive when he's negative.

He is a killer, particularly in debates. When he goes negative, look, no one, no one has ever called Al Gore a happy warrior. So we don't want to see that.

KING: More timid.

RICHARDS: I'll take it. I'll take it.

KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be seeing a lot of you on the campaign trail.

Our guests have been the honorable Ann Richards, the former Democratic governor of Texas; Robert Novak, the co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" and CNN's "Capital Gang," syndicated columnist; and Bill Schneider, also a syndicated columnist and CNN's senior political analyst.

Jim Moret is next with a complete recap of the news and final recap of this convention. And I want to take a moment here to salute my staff. They do a great job, all the girls and guys who are a part of LARRY KING LIVE who not only came out here to Los Angeles, but to Philadelphia, and who worked as well in Washington and the LA bureau and of course out of Atlanta.

And I especially want to salute our executive producer, Mary Gregory, who did such a great job talking to me in my ear and handling all of the ins and outs that go into this under Wendy Wentworth, who is our senior producer.

And we congratulate Mary Gregory, who on September 9 will marry someone she knew when she was 4 years old, a very lucky guy named Mark. And our best wishes to Mary Gregory on the big night of betrothal. Got a beautiful gown too.

Stay tuned for -- these are things you need. Stay tuned for Moret. Good night.



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