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Larry King Live

Buchanan and Nader Discuss Their Political Agendas

Aired October 2, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET

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

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, 24 hours before Al Gore and George W. Bush square off in the first presidential debate, we'll hear from two candidates who weren't invited: Reform Party nominee Pat Buchanan, and later, Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. They will make the case for third parties, just ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with Pat Buchanan, our old friend. He's in Auburn, Maine. He's the candidate of the Reform Party. He had sought the candidacy of the Republican Party, and left that scene to get into the Reform scene. He won 3 million votes in the 1996 primary. He is excluded by the commission because he didn't make 15 percent in national polls.

Is that a bad idea, Pat, 15 percent?

PAT BUCHANAN, REFORM PARTY PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Sure, they put the 15 percent, Larry, after I moved over to the Reform Party. The problem is you've got a bipartisan, Republican, Democrat, entirely commissioned which is freezing out a third party, which is being paid for by taxpayers. So you've got a situation that the American people are not permitted to hear a candidate whose campaign they are paying for, because a couple of political hacks are fronting for the establishment parties in Washington and freezing them out.

KING: What should be the criteria?

BUCHANAN: The criteria is we are an established party. I received federal matching funds. I'm on the ballot in all 50 states, although the Republicans refuse to put my name on the ballot itself. In Michigan, I have qualified. And frankly, if you take personal qualifications -- look, I was going to summit meetings in Moscow and Beijing with Richard Nixon when these fellows were in college.

I think my experience and background and knowledge are far deeper and broader, certainly, than Governor Bush, who has been in national politics for a couple of years and in Texas politics for four or five. So we have a party that is a valid, recognized party by the Congress, the FEC, we get federal tax dollars. We ought to be included in the events that decide the next president of the United States. This country is big, Larry, it's diverse, we ought to have a choice more than Phillips Andover and St. Albans.

KING: Do you think also that Ralph Nader, who will be following you later, should be in the debate as well? BUCHANAN: I frankly do. I think Ralph is up near the threshold they used to have. Secondly, I was writing editorials about Ralph back in the 1960s, he has been a national figure probably even a couple years longer than I have. He has experience, he has views and values. Frankly, he is an authentic liberal, he is a representative of a rather dynamic if smaller left-wing movement, frankly, that is similar to the one that rose up against Lyndon Johnson on Vietnam. Certainly these ideas ought to be heard.

Larry, let me just make one thing, I remember Jack Kennedy when I was a young editorial writer, he said, you know, those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable. How do the people in Washington, D.C., justify denying Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan the right to be heard by the American people?

KING: You are not saying this is going to lead to violence?

BUCHANAN: No, I'm not. But I am -- what I am saying is Americans are quitting politics, young people aren't even coming into it. People I know have dropped out, they say, "Pat, the fix is in, you know it as well as I do." Bush had $100 million going into this thing, and what you got is two Beltway parties, funded by lobbyists and corporations, they both get $250 million in soft money, but they've got the same basic agenda, because those lobbyists want the same things.

And so what we get is an identicality, you know, Xerox copies of one another, the boring vapid campaign we have had so far where, you know, Al Gore -- he goes up 10 points for kissing Tipper, and Bush trumps it by kissing Oprah, when Gore gave her a hug. I mean, what's happened to this country?

KING: What -- what the perception, then, is that -- what happened to the League of Women Voters? They used to do these things. And now...

BUCHANAN: Sure.

KING: As I understand it, these debates are put on by corporations, right?

BUCHANAN: The corporations get tax-exempt dollars for funding the Federal Election Commission -- the Presidential Debate Commission -- which is chaired by Frank Fahrenkopf, a lobbyist for the Nevada gambling industry, who's a former chairman of the Republican Party. And he was in the RNC when I was in the White House. And he is saying the American people can't hear a candidate, Pat Buchanan, whose campaign they are paying for?

KING: You called them -- is this a correct quote? -- "American elections are a fraud and a scam?"

BUCHANAN: Yes, that is exactly what I have come to believe they are, Larry. And it happened in the last few years. I mean, the amount of money -- I mean, I don't take soft money. And we get $12 million from the federal government to run our campaign. I don't get any of that $250 million. We won't take it.

But sure. I mean, you've got two candidates, again, who represent the establishments of these parties, which are funded by the same lobbyists and corporate interests in Washington who write checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is why you get a China policy that Ronald Reagan would have rejected, and Republicans today go for it.

Why? Corporations tell them: This is what we want. This why we are paying your tuition, fellows.

KING: Both candidates were on this show last week. When I asked them about the inclusion of you and Mr. Nader -- I'm paraphrasing now -- Al Gore said he would leave it up to commission. George W. Bush said the public wants to see the two of them. The public just wants to see Gore and Bush.

BUCHANAN: Let me tell you something. As of last summer, 64 percent -- when I had my press conference -- 64 percent of the American people said they wanted to have both Buchanan and Nader in the debates. I have seen recent polls showing it slightly lower, at 54, 55 percent. But who are these -- this commission, entirely Democrat and Republican, not one Reform Party member, not one third- party member, not one independent -- who are they to decide whom the American people see and hear?

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we will hear some of the things that may not be talked about tomorrow night, as brought up by Pat Buchanan. Ralph Nader will follow. We'll take some calls from Pat as well. He is with us from Auburn, Maine.

This is LARRY KING LIVE. We're not with you tomorrow night because of the debate and a special town meeting. When we come back Wednesday night, we'll get analysis of the debate with Ted Koppel.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, LARRY KING LIVE)

KING: Should Ralph Nader be in? Should Pat Buchanan be in?

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's up to the commission, and the commission has decided that...

KING: If you were on the commission?

GORE: Well, I don't disagree with their judgment, because, you know, you can look at it different ways, but most people want to see a clash of ideas and a presentation between the people who really have the support of most of the American people, and they established some guidelines. I -- you know, I'm not going to say if I would establish a threshold right where they do, but we agreed to take the commission's word for this, and they are the ones that made that decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUCHANAN: Ross Perot created this party. And we are giving it a chance to grow and live. We have earned that chance, Ross. Come on out and give us a hand.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: ... Pat, that Mr. Perot has remained silent?

BUCHANAN: He is in seclusion, I think.

KING: Do you think it is over your candidacy or...

BUCHANAN: We are going to send somebody down to look for him.

(LAUGHTER)

Look, quite frankly, there's an unhappiness that Pat Buchanan inherited, and frankly, we captured the party along with a lot of good reform people and Buchanan brigades. It's a much more populist and conservative party than it was. He chooses not to endorse, that's his decision.

But Larry, let me talk about that unctuous statement by Mr. Gore that you had on just before the break. He said, we'll let debate commission -- let me tell you something. There are areas where Ralph and I agree. We disagree on a lot.

Foreign policy, we think they ought to bring American troops home from Kosovo and Bosnia and Korea, and get a post-Cold War foreign policy. Let Ralph and I debate on foreign policy, bringing the troops home, and the policy toward China, the WTO. Put Bush and Gore on that other side against Buchanan and Nader on those issues where Ralph and I agree. Who do you think would carry the day in a series of debates around this country?

KING: Do you think in this way the WTO won't even come up in the debates?

BUCHANAN: Well, they're not -- they both agree on NAFTA. They both agree on the WTO. They both agree on China policy. They both agree on Bosnia. They both think bombing Serbia was a good idea. Neither will raise the issue of immigration or bleeding borders down there in Arizona, in Douglas, where thousands pour into this country every night, cattle are killed, fences are torn up, people are frightened to death, they're carrying guns, and our government will do nothing about it and nobody talks about it in this campaign.

This campaign, Larry, is just a national -- excuse me, we're going to look back on this as a disgrace. KING: You were quoted in "Business Week" -- is this correct? -- "The Republican Party has never nominated a candidate who brings fewer cards to the table in terms of experience, knowledge and wisdom than George W. Bush." Did you say that?

BUCHANAN: Sure, name one. Name a candidate who comes to the table with less experience, knowledge, background, depth, understanding of foreign policy. He's a genial fellow, he's a likable fellow, he comes from a good family. His father had more tickets than most candidates who ever ran for president of the United States. I'm a contemporary of his father. I worked with him.

But young George, he went down there and he won a race against Ann Richards in a nice economy, and he got re-elected against a nonentity. And why is he the candidate? His name is Bush, and these fellows raised $100 million, and they came to the table and blew everybody out. And they said here's your nominee and you all are to accept him, and if Pat Buchanan runs against him, he's a thief and a poacher, he's stealing votes that belong to us.

Well, those votes belong to the American people until they're cast.

KING: Do you -- are you of the belief that the two parties are not very dissimilar?

BUCHANAN: They've ceased to be -- Larry, I came up in a time of Goldwater and Johnson, Nixon and McGovern, Reagan and Mondale. There's clarity whether you agree or disagree. You've got a real choice.

Again, I'm going down all these issues. Where is the difference in these fellows in foreign policy, in trade policy?

KING: All right. I'll give you some. All right, they may agree there. But let's discuss abortion; they disagree. You would be on Bush's side on abortion, right?

BUCHANAN: Abortion, let's take Mr. Bush. Mr. Bush appointed three judges or four judges to the Texas Supreme Court. OK? Three of them voted to overturn his own parental notification law. They voted pro-abortion. He says, "I have no litmus test for the Supreme Court." Gore will appoint Ruth Bader Ginsburg until, you know, until the end of time.

My view is this: The Supreme Court has become a political institution, and it's acting politically. It's imposing a social revolution. I will appoint pro-life constitutionalists and conservatives who respect the religious traditions of this country, as this court does not, and no liberal judicial activist need apply.

Now, that's a difference with Gore.

KING: Yesterday, Mr. Bush said that he would appoint people like Scalia and Thomas.

BUCHANAN: Um-hmm.

KING: Can't beat that, can you, from you your point of view?

BUCHANAN: Well, Scalia and Thomas are excellent justices, but his dad was going to do that, and we got one good one, Clarence Thomas, and another fellow, who is probably the most liberal justice on the Supreme Court, David Souter.

And look, you've got to look at a man's record. If Bush appointed four judges to the Texas Supreme Court and three of them voted pro-abortion, how serious is he? And Larry, if no one at the Republican convention can even discuss life and they lock up the conservatives in the basement while the convention's going on, how strong will he be for life when he gets into the White House if he got there by keeping his mouth shut?

Look, when people are about to abandon a position politically, they stop talking about it. And that's what the Republicans are doing. Look, even Pat Robertson is beginning to get nervous and he put all his cards on this fellow.

KING: Both candidates are kind of similar in pro-immigration. You are -- are you anti-immigration, because we're a country of immigrants, aren't we? I mean, basically the last time I looked around...

BUCHANAN: Of course, we are.

KING: ... we're immigrants.

BUCHANAN: Well, sure we are, but we've had normal immigration, which I favor, about 250,000 to 300,000 a year, which would be more than any other country. Secondly, we have to assimilate those who have come here.

We need to -- now, here's where I disagree with Bush. We've got to get rid of bilingualism. We've got to teach every American, wherever they came from, the English language so we can be one nation and one people.

Third, if we have to put the Army on the border of our country in Arizona, what are we doing defending the borders of Kosovo where -- I mean, Patton and Eisenhower never fought there. And we can't even defend the borders of the United States? This is not talked about?

Go to Douglas, Arizona, Larry. They're wearing guns down there. Thousands of them are coming in every night. And there's an invasion of this country. The character of the country is being changed.

You look around what's happening around the world and you see countries breaking up over language and culture. These things aren't even discussed. It's all, you know, it's Oprah, no, and I'll trump him with Regis.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of Pat Buchanan. We'll take some phone calls as well, and then Ralph Nader. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: ... why aren't they in the debates? Should they be?

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, I've had my wish list for debates, as you know. I pander, but...

(LAUGHTER)

I was thinking about having you be the main guy.

I think the American people want to see Vice President Gore and me go toe to toe. That's what I think they want to see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Our guest is the Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, who wants -- am I right? You want OPEC broken up?

BUCHANAN: Well, yes, I think -- look, OPEC is basically a price- fixing conspiracy designed to loot the United States of scores of billions of dollars this year, loot the West, loot Japan, loot free Asia. If the meetings were held in the United States by American companies, Larry, they'd all be locked up and taken out in handcuffs and put in jail.

The United States, if we're the greatest power in the world, cut off foreign aid, World Bank loans, IMF loans to any country that participates in this conspiracy against us. And quite, frankly, I would tell the Saudis and the others, look, you want us to defend you? Start pumping more oil or the Sixth Fleet is going.

Look, we've got to get tough. You've got to open up the ANWR. And you know, I don't know how Mr. Gore is going to solve the energy problem when he thinks our main problem is the internal combustion engine, which was invented a couple of hundred years ago.

And so I think what you need is a national policy for American energy independence, so we don't get like Europe, at the mercy of these people.

KING: How about health care and Medicare, widely debated here, Medicare, HMOs? Where do you stand?

BUCHANAN: I stand here: Social Security and Medicare we heard about a year or 18 months ago, we're both going to be bankrupt at a certain period of time. All of a sudden, you hear about these surpluses, it's all taken care of, and now, Gore and Bush are buying the people's votes with the people's money, only they haven't even collected it yet.

Before you do any additions -- prescription drugs, maybe a good idea -- before you do that, make sure the promises we made to the baby boomer generation are going to be met, that money is there, Medicare is there so that no one ever loses anything. If we got that done solid by both parties, then you start talking about ad-ons and not before.

What is being done, in my judgment, is irresponsible vote buying by both parties with the people's money.

KING: You were once -- correct? -- a free-trader. What changed you to protectionism?

BUCHANAN: What changed me to the more traditional position of the Republican Party, and frankly the founding fathers was seeing what happened, Larry. I believed in it philosophically, and I thought my ideas were correct. I was a Milton Friedman man. But I went out and I started looking, I went up to New Hampshire in 1992.

And I'll tell you a story. I went down to this paper mill, and it was Christmas. This guy had just been fired, and he came up to me and he said, you know, he looked in my eyes and he was in tears, and he says, save our jobs. He was a tough guy, about my age, probably grew up in the same kinds of playgrounds I did.

I walked down -- go down to Manchester, and two days later I see that the American export-import bank is financing a new paper mill in Mexico. And I say, what are we doing to our country? We have to put our own country and countrymen first, all of us. And that's why I believe it's wrong to make Americans who maybe earn nine or 10 bucks an hour to force them to compete with the folks in Mexico making 50 cents an hour through no fault of their own or people in china making 10 cents or 15 cents an hour. You drive down wages.

The whole idea of the American economy is to benefit the American worker and the American family first, and second the economic independence forever of America. We don't want to get dependent on OPEC or OPEC-type cartels for anything.

KING: Some more moments with Pat Buchanan, including a few phone calls, and then Ralph Nader on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's take call for Pat Buchanan.

Springfield, Missouri -- hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Mr. Buchanan, don't you feel that if the American people were interested in what you had to say in the debate that you would be more than 1 percent in the polls? Give up, Mr. Buchanan.

BUCHANAN: I never give up, young lady. I was just down in Springfield.

Larry, look, three things drive this: money, big media -- I mean by that front-page stories -- and network news at night, the big networks and the debates.

Let me say this. If I had anything like the money of Bush and Gore, if I had anything like the front-page coverage and network-news coverage of Bush and Gore and I were in those debates, it would be a three-way race. And I believe because we've got a different message and a different agenda, which has enormous appeal in middle America, we would win a three-way race.

If you can't get the media and you don't have the money and you're out of the debates, I'm a realist.

KING: So it's a self-fulfilling prophecy there can't be a third- party in America unless some Quixote comes along, right, in a time of deep depression and cuts a swathe across America, right?

BUCHANAN: Well, Ross Perot had $3 billion. If I had $3 billion, Larry, I could buy the things I don't have. I don't have that. I don't have access to corporations. They wouldn't finance me anyhow, because I think in many cases they are no longer right for America. They no longer have the interests of our country and its working people at heart. I think a lot of them used to, but I think they don't now. So they're not going to finance me.

The debate commission is set up to keep me out of the debates. And, you're right. You know, unless you get up in the polls, you don't get the front page, and you don't get up in the polls unless you get on the front page.

KING: Catch 22.

BUCHANAN: Exactly.

KING: St. Louis -- hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi.

You know, since only Pat and Gore and Bush are the only ones getting the federal campaign money, doesn't it make you sick that Bush and Gore don't want him in the debates? I know it's -- a lot of people stomachs, it's turning.

KING: Yes, well, shouldn't they want you in, Pat, if they know that the taxpayers are paying for it?

BUCHANAN: Why would ...

KING: In a sense, the lady has a point. BUCHANAN: Why would Governor Bush want me standing there beside him, Larry? Explain that to me, as Ricky Ricardo used to say. Of course, he doesn't want us in debates, because -- look, Mr. Bush has abandoned conservatism. That convention of his was an insult to Reaganism. He has walked away from the conservative -- he is even offering to spend $700 billion more in entitlement programs, in social spending, than the enormous federal government right now.

He is competing.

KING: Well, you...

BUCHANAN: It is a me-too Republican campaign.

KING: You used to be one. Are the right-wing talk show hosts copping out then for Bush?

BUCHANAN: Well, look, what they say is -- you know, here is their argument, Larry: We have got to get -- we can't stand Clinton. Gee, he is awful. And we got to get rid of Gore. And this is the instrument to do it.

Have you heard one of these fellows sit down and say: You know, when George Bush gets in there, I tell you, America is really going to sing again like it did under Ronald Reagan?

In those days, Larry, we not only wanted to beat Carter. Everything depended on getting Reagan nominated and Ronald Reagan in there. And it turned out to be true. There isn't any enthusiasm for Bush. It is all: We got to get rid of Gore.

And everybody does -- I would want to get rid of him, too.

KING: Ellijay, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Pat, if you were elected president of the United States, what would you do to control the massive pork-barrel spending under way today?

BUCHANAN: The only way you get rid of this pork-barrel spending, I have concluded, is you got to give the money back to the taxpayers, the entire surplus. We have seen now, they're already...

KING: The entire surplus?

BUCHANAN: Larry, it is a projected surplus. And look at what they are doing. Republicans wanted to hold at $600 billion. Clinton said $623 billion. They're compromising at $660 billion. There is a bipartisan pigout going on Capitol Hill. And, you know, as I said the other day, the place has become a hog confinement, because they see all this money, and they can buy reelection.

You got to give all the money back to the American people. Clinton raised taxes. Why? Balance the budget. OK, it is balanced. Unless this was bait-and-switch, give it back. And that is exactly what I would do. I would eliminate taxes on small businesses. Ship the burden onto the Chinese -- imports from China and Japan, less on American business, get rid of the death taxes, and have a flat tax with maybe one high level for the rich.

And you would have a clean, simple, clear tax code. It would be the best in the world. We would attract capital from all over the world and get rid of these monstrous trade deficits we are running.

KING: Well, only got a minute left. Do you think people can get you onto the two debates remaining after tomorrow?

BUCHANAN: I -- listen, Larry, they're going to have to fight to do it. And it depends on what the debate is like. But, you know, they can -- they know the number of my 1-800-GOPATGO number. They can call us. They can call the Debate Commission. They can call shows like yours.

They can call their congressman, senator, Democrat, Republican, and they can say: Look, I don't care where you stand. We want to hear him in the debate, because he has got some ideas we agree with, some we disagree with. We want to hear him. And frankly, we may want to hear Nader, too.

KING: Thank you, Pat. Always nice seeing you.

BUCHANAN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: How you feeling, by the way? How did surgery go?

BUCHANAN: It went well. It's a hard way to lose weight.

KING: Pat had successful gall bladder surgery.

We'll go to break. And when we come back, the Green Party presidential candidate -- he ran previously in 1996 -- Ralph Nader.

First, these words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Isn't it interesting that the largest voter audiences by far, which will witness these debates starting October 3 here in Boston, that the key to the gate to those tens of millions of Americans are held by the very two parties that small parties are trying to challenge?

Imagine, in the marketplace, you get a new competitor, wants to reach its customers, and has to go through a gate whose keys are held by the two major competitors. Never again should we allow this to happen in future campaigns! Never again!

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE another old friend, Ralph Nader, the Green Party presidential candidate. He also ran on that ticket in 1996.

As I understand it, are you going to be in Boston tomorrow night? Are you going to be protesting the debates?

NADER: We're going to try to get as close as possible. We're looking for people to give us tickets so I can be right in the audience.

KING: Oh, you want to be in the audience.

NADER: Yes, I can't be on the stage. We're excluded. It's a two-party monopoly.

KING: Did you agree with what Pat had to say with regard to what this country is with relation to big corporations, this commission and debates?

NADER: Very much so. This commission is really a private company created 11 years ago to replace the League of Women Voters in deciding who gets on the national debates. And tens of millions of people watch it, and these two parties, more look-alike parties morphing into a corporate party with two heads, don't want competition. That would be disastrous in the marketplace. It would be disastrous in nature if seeds weren't given a chance to sprout. That's why the corrupt political system can't be regenerated.

KING: How is it ever going to change, however, if you need the 15 percent barrier? Don't we need a sort of knight on a white horse and a bad condition in the country to create a third party?

NADER: I hope we don't have to come to that. At the present time, the debate commission has that monopoly by Al Gore and George W. Bush because other institutions have given it that monopoly by default, Larry.

If the major television networks got together months ago and co- sponsored a four-way debate, Gore and Bush could not say no to them. If the major industrial unions in the swing states in the Midwest got together for a four-way debate, say, on labor issues, Gore and Bush couldn't say no to them. So we have by default in our society ceded the discussion about all kinds of subject matters dealing with the concentration of power and wealth in too few hands that affect workers and consumers and nullify voters' votes and bleed taxpayers for corporate welfare. We've conceded all that to the two parties, and we shouldn't do it in the next round.

KING: Ralph, I used to ask you for years and years why you never ran for office, and you always said you could be much more effective having the image you have as this crusader and defender and fighter for people and consumer activist than you would in office. Why the change?

NADER: Couldn't do it anymore, Larry. What I did 30, 35 years ago, for safer food and air- and water-pollution control and safer motor vehicles, you couldn't do it. The two parties are closing out citizen groups in Washington, who are working harder and harder in order to achieve less and less. Money is the big thing in Washington, hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate money flooding both parties, filling up both dinner fund-raising extravaganzas like in the MCI Center for the Democrats, 26 million, a few weeks earlier 23 million in another venue for the Republicans -- same fellows at the same table.

KING: If a voter were to say, Ralph, let's say, I'm a -- I like Pat Buchanan, but a vote for Pat Buchanan is taking away a vote from George W. Bush, who I like better than Gore. Conversely, a vote for Ralph Nader is taking a vote away from Al Gore. Even though I like Ralph Nader, I like Gore better than Bush. What do you do as a strategic voter?

NADER: Well, first of all, 51 percent of the people are not voting, in 1996.

KING: OK, so they don't count...

NADER: No...

KING: ... now we're down to the 49 percent who are.

NADER: No, we're actually appealing to them and to young voters. I think that's the secret reservoir of new, fresh voters. As far as the people who do vote, they've got a choice. If they like politics as usual, if they like what the country is going under these two political parties, then go vote for Bush and Gore and pick the least worst. And every four years, both parties will be worse.

If they want that kind of logic, they're free to do it. If they're fed up with this kind of cash-register politics, the way our country's being held down in so many ways from filling its potential, from giving tens of millions of people a livable wage, universal health insurance with an emphasis on prevention, ending all of these hundreds of billions of dollars of corporate subsidies in handouts in order to invest back in the neighborhood to repair America and to abolish child poverty, provide public transit and rebuild our schools.

If they want those, they'll vote for the Green Party, for the Nader-LaDuke ticket. They will, in effect, vote for a watchdog party after November, Larry, that will say to the two major parties in Washington, if you don't shape up for the American people, you're going to shrink down. Because millions of progressives in this country now have a place to go: the Green Party.

KING: Aren't many, many, many people saying things ain't bad?

NADER: When I go around the country, I verify the Department of Labor statistics, Larry, in real human terms. The majority of the workers in this boom economy are making less today in real dollars and working 160 hours longer a year than they were in 1979 or 1973.

The federal minimum wage today is $5,15. In real purchasing power, the federal minimum wage in 1968 would be $7.30. Instead of the minimum wage being double, since the economy is doubled in per capita GDP, people are making, 10 million of them just for starters, are making less now than their forbearers made in 1968 by $2.15 an hour. And 47 million workers are making less than 10 bucks an hour, $6, $7 an hour in Wal-Mart McDonald's, Burger King, Kmart.

Those are not living wages, and all this economic growth is not leading to economic progress or justice for the majority of hard- working Americans in this country.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more Ralph Nader, the candidate of the Green Party.

Again, tomorrow night we won't be with you due to the presidential debate, and then Wolf Blitzer will host a town meeting in Tampa, Florida, following the debate. So we will be back with you Wednesday night with Ted Koppel back at our usual time slot.

Back with more of Ralph Nader, phone calls, too, right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

NADER: Throwing away your vote is throwing away your vote in the direction of the two major parties that have wasted our democracy, that are excluding competitors on the presidential debates, you know?

You know, I hear -- I hear young people saying -- I hear young people all the time -- and this Green Party is going to get a lot of young people's votes -- I hear them all the time saying I'm not turned on politics. What I say to them, right down to the air you breath, the water you drink, the health insurance you don't have, if you don't turn on politics, politics is going to continue to turn on you.

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: Good for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was Ralph on "Letterman," and he's with us tonight.

What statement do you hope to make? I mean, let's be logical, Ralph. It would be improbable that you would win unless all of these other 51 percent turn out and you get the entire youth vote. What statement are you hoping to make to both parties and to the country?

NADER: We are trying to move the agenda to the central issue in politics, which is the concentration of power, and how our political leaders are going to go to shift power from giant corporations -- which even "Business Week," in a cover, thinks is too much -- giant corporations, back to the voters by public funding of public campaigns, they will have a voice. And money won't rebut or still their vote.

Back to workers, by repealing Taft-Hartley law and other restrictive laws to allow tens of millions of workers to come out of poverty, and by the kind of shift to consumers for universal health insurance that every Western country provided its people back in '50s and '60s, and into taxpayers so they can challenge some of these enormous boondoggles in Washington, and the huge amount of money that is going to giant corporations in subsidies, handouts, giveaways and bailouts, while neighborhoods and communities are crumbling.

Stadiums rise with tax dollars. Schools and clinics crumble in the same city. Grotesque.

KING: Do you think, Ralph, it is a plot to keep you out of this? Do you think that they -- that it's nefarious, or that they are not just saying: Look, these are two people the public wants to hear from, this is what we are going to put on?

NADER: Oh, of course, it is two parties who have the cushy relationship, taking money from the same corporate interests, dominating the Debate Commission. Why should they compete? It is an instinct. Monopolists don't like to have any competition. Al Gore doesn't want me to take him apart in terms of the dismal record.

As he goes around the country saying he is going to fight big business, he has had eight years of -- on his knees to big business. And he has taken money from the same HMOs, and oil companies, and insurance companies and drug companies that he is telling the American people he is going to fight. If he is going to fight them, why doesn't he give the money back?

KING: But if you weren't running, this -- as I know you...

NADER: Yes.

KING: If you and Pat weren't running, I believe, Pat would vote for Bush and you would vote for Gore. That correct?

NADER: No way.

KING: No way?

NADER: Oh, no way. No way. I would never vote for any party headed by any candidate that has sold our government to the highest corporate bidders -- both have -- that have relinquished our sovereignty -- local, state and national -- to the WTO and NAFTA in their autocratic, secretive governing situations. And they have.

And I would never vote for any two parties headed by candidates like Bush and Gore, who, basically, are very unfair, in taking advantage of the American people, who, 64 percent of them in a recent Fox poll, want a four-way debate with Nader, Buchanan, Bush, and Gore, because they want exciting issues that are not being discussed. They don't want to fall asleep in front of the television set watching the drab debate the dreary.

KING: All right, the World Trade Organization, endorsed by all the big countries, endorsed by most major leaders in the world, what's your rub with it? NADER: It turns progress around on its head in this country. When we progressed in this country in labor -- abolishing child labor, trade unions, environmental protection, consumer protection -- we told corporations: You are number two to these priorities. You are going to have to adjust your commerce, your profits, to these priorities for human beings in this country.

WTO/NAFTA, Larry, twists that completely around. It is consumer health and safety, environmental, workers standards, that get on its knee -- on their knees -- begging before international commercial. And that is a complete reversal. And when you add secrecy -- you couldn't go as a reporter, Larry -- you couldn't go with your microphone to those courts in Geneva.

They are closed to the press, closed to all citizens. No public transcripts. And if we lose, we have got to change our laws to conform to this autocratic system of governance called the WTO -- which no one elected -- change our laws or pay them fines until we are in compliance.

KING: But nationalism is going away, isn't it, Ralph? Isn't internationalism? Just logic: With the Internet, the world is closer together. You have to think globally.

NADER: Well, let's have trade agreements, Larry, that lift standards up toward our level, instead of allowing brutalized child labor to produce products with modern equipment and ship it to this country against our workers, who are playing by the rules. In other words, if we are going to have trade agreements, let's have them -- basic, labor, consumer, environmental standards, so that standards are pulled up around the world, rather than what they are now, pulling our standards downward.

We have lost five out of five country challenges to our environmental standards before those tribunals in Geneva.

KING: Do you have an argument with Al Gore on the environmental issues?

NADER: Yes, I wish that he would mean what he says. He talks about environment all the time. Look at his dismal record. He's very soft on pesticides. He gave the biotechnology crowd a free ride. He caved to the auto companies, and didn't propose one fuel efficiency standard, bleeding billions of dollars out of family pocketbooks and filling the air with pollution as a result.

And he is for WTO and NAFTA, which are very antithetical to environmental concerns, as well as a host of other betrayals, including the poor people in east Liverpool, Ohio, who when he was campaigning in 1992 said that incinerator next to that elementary school will not be built, and he betrayed them along with Bill Clinton.

So I think it's time that Al Gore take a stand, at least promote solar energy and stop supporting millions of taxpayer dollars for the nuclear power industry. KING: We are going to get a break, come back and take some calls as we did for Pat Buchanan, for Ralph Nader, the party of -- the candidate of the Green Party, he's going to be in Boston tomorrow night, he's going to try to get into the debate. That won't be dull. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "QUEEN LATIFAH")

NADER: It's really a corporation running for president, disguised as a person. That's one.

(APPLAUSE)

And Al Gore is the great pretender, he's going around the country, you know, talking populist talk like he's going to fight for us, he's going to fight big oil and big drug companies and big HMOs. For eight years, he surrendered to them. How can we believe him?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are back with Ralph Nader, he's in Hartford, Connecticut tonight. And we go to Amherst, Massachusetts, hello.

CALLER: Yes. Sir, I would like to know having never been a politician before, how can you expect a young swing voter like myself to vote for you as opposed to a viable option for president like Al Gore?

KING: You have never been in politics, Ralph, that's a point, no experience.

NADER: It's very simple: if you are in Massachusetts, Gore is so far ahead of Bush that you don't have to worry about Gore losing Massachusetts, what you have to worry about is an Al Gore in the White House without a Green Party watchdog supported by millions of voters to keep these guys honest, to hold their feet to the fire.

KING: To Salt Lake City, Utah, for Ralph Nader, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Mr. Nader. My question is this: What is your response to Al Gore's gain of rating points, especially among women, as a result of his kissing Tipper at the Democratic Convention? It seems like a very frivolous way to acquire votes.

NADER: I really don't think that kissing Tipper actually changed things. I think what changed things was in his speech he adopted a populist anti-big business abuse posture, which unfortunately some liberals swallowed.

If you want to see the contrast between Al Gore's record and what my record has been for 37 years, fighting for the American people against the abuses of big business and big government, which is their servant, our Web site is votenader.org, or votenader.com, and you'll see difference between the two candidates and the reality of their record and what they stood for, not the rhetoric.

KING: Are you saying, Ralph, you agreed with what he said in that speech in Los Angeles?

NADER: Yes, I do agree that a political candidate for one of the two parties should defend the people against the power of big business, but I don't believe him.

KING: So...

NARRATOR: I don't believe him, and if anybody believes...

KING: You mean, he's...

(CROSSTALK)

... knowing he's not telling the truth?

NADER: Yes, because he's had eight years to convince us that he's not to be believed. I mean, if anybody believes Al Gore on standing up to big business, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell them, Larry.

KING: Wait a minute, Ralph. He's a vice president. What policy can a vice president produce?

NADER: One, he was put in charge of the whole environmental portfolio directly by President Clinton. He was put in charge of reforming or reinventing government directly by Vice (sic) President Clinton, and he's never dissented from vice -- from President Clinton's policies since he was nominated and presumably was free.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments with Ralph Nader on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Ralph Nader. Longview, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Ralph?

KING: Yes.

NADER: Yes.

CALLER: What is your position on all the illegal aliens coming into the United States?

NADER: Well, I don't think people should come to this country illegally. I think that people who want to come to this country should come on work permits to do jobs that Americans are not willing to do, and that's what the new president of Mexico, among other things, has proposed.

I think the border is in a shambles of smuggling, pollution, contagious diseases. Clinton and Gore promised that if NAFTA got through Congress, that they would put money to clean up the border and make it safer. They have not done so.

I do disagree with Silicon Valley that wants to drain brain computer scientists, physicists, and physicians, and others into this country by paying them more. That is keeping all those skilled people from staying in their countries and building those Third World countries rather than coming here just because they can be paid more. That's a brain drain aspect of the immigration debate that's not being discussed.

KING: What can a president do about OPEC?

NADER: Well, first, I would break up the collaborators with OPEC: that is I would never have allowed Exxon to merge with Mobil or Shell to takeover Texaco.

KING: But wait a minute. How can a president stop that?

NADER: The antitrust laws, and Clinton-Gore allowed these giant oil mergers to occur, which increased the pricing power over our consumers and which allowed them to jiggle refinery capacity and close down refineries, et cetera, that jacked the price of gasoline and home heating oil high.

And also, Clinton-Gore just blew eight years, Larry, in not strengthening the fuel efficiency and energy efficiency standards for home appliances, lighting, air conditioning, heating, and motor vehicles. And so we're paying more for fuel and getting less work out of it.

KING: Do you think we're ever going to have campaign finance reform?

NADER: Oh, yes.

KING: I know both you and Pat are not taking soft money.

NADER: We're sending.

KING: Do you think we're ever going to have it?

NADER: Yes, we're setting an example not taking all that corrupt money and we're getting no credit for it by "The New York Times" or "Washington Post."

The McCain-Feingold bill was cut back from its original. We'll probably get a modest reform next year, because both Republicans and Democrats have got to do something, so disgusted are the American people and the editorial writers and "20/20" and programs on LARRY KING with the corruption of money in politics.

But we're not going to get full public financing of public elections the way we really should. That is what respects the voters' vote and eliminates money nullifying the votes of millions of Americans. And that's what people voted for Ross Perot, they voted for John McCain, they voted for Bill Bradley, for these kinds of reforms, and I like to think that the Nader-LaDuke Green Party ticket is carrying these reforms on behalf of all those millions of Americans through to the November election and beyond in a major reform effort.

KING: Phil Donahue said on this program last week concerning you that the people can get you and Pat maybe into the next two debates, the one after the one tomorrow night, by contacting enough people, including the commission. Do you think that can happen?

NADER: I think it would help just to contact the national TV networks, including CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox. I think if they get together, they can break that logjam, because Bush and Gore can't say no to them. If there's a massive peaceful demonstration tomorrow in Boston, where the whole world is watching, maybe Al Gore and George Bush will be shamed into at least having one debate with a four-way discussion of important issues that they are deliberately disregarding, because it steps on the toes of their big corporate paymasters.

KING: In 1980, didn't Ronald Reagan have a debate with John Anderson where President Carter didn't appear?

NADER: Yes.

KING: And Reagan fought to have the third party on?

NADER: Yes, indeed, and John Anderson is supporting me along with many other leaders in our country. But you're right: John Anderson went from 1 percent to 21 percent in the polls because he got on the primary debates that were televised, and then he went independent and he got on a debate with Ronald Reagan. It shows you, just like Jesse Ventura was at 8 percent, won the governorship when he got on the debates.

People want to hear these issues. They don't want people excluded who represent significant third-party choices.

KING: One quick thing: Are you glad you're doping this? Are you enjoying this?

NADER: I'm enjoying it, Larry, because it's important to do. I don't like to see the civil society, the heart of our democracy and social progress shut out by two parties becoming look-alike, beholden to the same moneyed interests. That is a hijacking of our democracy, and just for that reason alone, both of those candidates, Bush and Gore, should be rejected, by the people of America.

KING: Thanks, Ralph. Ralph Nader, the party -- the candidate of the Green Party in the election of 2000. He and our earlier guest, Pat Buchanan, not part of the debate tomorrow night.

Speaking of debate, we will not be on tomorrow night. The debate will air in our time slot, and then Wolf Blitzer will host a town meeting. We'll be back Wednesday night with Ted Koppel.

CNN "NEWSSTAND" talks about Napster next. Good night.

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