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Larry King Live
Dick Cheney Discusses the Final Days of Campaign 2000Aired October 27, 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, 11 days left in election 2000. But as campaign time gets shorter, the list of toss-up states gets longer. We'll talk first with Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynne.
And then a political roundtable: In our Detroit bureau, ABC news correspondent Ann Compton, who's been on the trail with both Bush and Gore. In Washington, best-selling author, Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post." In New York, the veteran broadcaster Hugh Downs, former host of ABC's "20." And then back in D.C., CNN's senior political analyst Bill Schneider.
And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Our panel will join us later as we begin this Friday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
With us in Washington is Dick Cheney, who is the Republican vice presidential candidate, and his lovely wife and former co-host of "CROSSFIRE SUNDAY," Lynne Cheney.
We might add that LARRY KING LIVE has standing invitations out to Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman and his wife Hadassah as well as presidential candidate George W. Bush and Al Gore. And we're hoping they join us on the show prior to Election Day.
Dick, did you expect this to be as close as it is and so many states now up in the air?
RICHARD B. CHENEY (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we did, Larry. We planned that. I mean, that's the only safe assumption in running a national campaign. I think our feeling has been really since the debates that things have begun to shift our way, and we see that in a lot of the state-by-state analyses that are out there.
But we're betting it's going to be close right down to the wire, and we'll be going flat-out from now until Election Day.
KING: Lynne, is turnout going to be a key? I mean, are we going to look for signs -- if we have a huge turnout, is that good for you? What are the indicators to you?
LYNNE CHENEY, WIFE OF RICHARD B. CHENEY: Well, I think in an election this close, it will be very important for each side to get its vote out. I think we have an advantage because from everything I can tell the people on our side care more that our candidate wins then the people on the other side care if their candidates win. And I think in an election where turnout is going to be key, that that's an enormous advantage.
But again, as Dick said, nothing's taken for granted. The voter turnout effort on our side is considerable.
KING: All right, let's get into some issues. As you know, when we get into the last week things always break, and I want to give Dick a chance to respond to that story today in "The Wall Street Journal" about your former company, Haliburton's, relationship with a brutal junta government in Myanmar, which is formerly Burma, and Haliburton's involvement supporting the regime that treated its people terribly.
D. CHENEY: Well, Larry, we didn't support the regime. We were there because we had competed on a contract to lay some undersea pipeline offshore in Myanmar. It was done through a joint-venture partner. It was fully in compliance with U.S. policy, and our conduct around the world, the Haliburton operation is in more that 120 countries, and you have to operate in some very difficult places and oftentimes in countries that are governed in a manner that's not consistent with our principals here in the United States.
But the world's not made up only of democracies, and everything we did there was totally in compliance with U.S. policy, as the article made clear.
KING: Did you expect this kind of thing to come out, though?
D. CHENEY: Oh, I think so. It wouldn't be a story except for the fact that I'm running for vice president...
D. CHENEY: ... and we've had a number of things like that. We're getting down close to the end of the campaign now, and so all kinds of stuff is flying around out there. But Haliburton is a great company. I'm very proud of my association with it and the time I spent there, and it's staffed with very, very fine people doing a great piece of work.
KING: And one other thing before we get into issues. The State Department released a memo this week indicating that diplomats in Asia and Africa helped the company secure lucrative overseas deals while you headed the company. And does that fly with your saying that the wealth you received in the private sector had absolutely nothing to do with the government?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think...
KING: Even though they do that for a lot of companies.
D. CHENEY: They do that for a lot of companies. That's their job. They get paid to do that. And we paid anywhere from 38 to 40 percent of everything we earned in the form of taxes to support the government. So this debate over what the government's responsible for or not responsible for is partly a matter of philosophy.
Al Gore and Joe Lieberman are fond of saying Bill Clinton's created 22 million jobs. Those of us who've worked in the private sector have a very different attitude. We think that it's the companies out there and the entrepreneurial spirit and the hard work of the American people that really makes the economy go and that's created those jobs. And that's part of what the debate's been about.
But I -- I'm very comfortable with what I did at Haliburton. As I say, I think it's a great company, a quintessential American success story. It started 80 years ago, one guy with a handful of employees and a bunch of used equipment, and today it's the world's leading energy services company, 100,000 employees in over 120 companies.
KING: You're a former secretary of defense. Do you think the United States acquitted itself well with regard to response to the Cole?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think so. So far, the main concern I think all of us have to have is to support the families who were lost, as a reminder that it is still very dangerous in various places around the world to serve in the U.S. military. It's also important to remember that those 17 sailors who died on the Cole are all volunteers, and that the rest of us as Americans have an obligation to see to it that they get the resources they need, our volunteer forces, to do the job we ask them to do for us.
The key now is to find out who did it and then make certain that a penalty is imposed. No one should be able to launch tat kind of terrorist attack against the United States with impunity...
D. CHENEY: ... We need to be very tough and very aggressive in our response.
KING: One intelligence analyst, though, did quit over this, saying that warnings were ignored. Did that upset you, surprise you?
D. CHENEY: I don't know enough of the details to be able to make a judgment at this point, Larry. I think it's very important to go back and look and find out, was there reporting that would have led reasonable people to conclude there was a threat to the Cole? If there wasn't such reporting, do we need to do more to beef up our intelligence so that we can penetrate whatever organization was responsible for this outrage.
So it's clearly worth our going back and trying to figure out exactly what happened and where there might have been breakdowns in the system in order to improve our performance. It shouldn't be a matter here of searching for scapegoats, it really ought to be an issue to make sure our troops are safe when they deploy overseas and that we, as I say, that we find the guilty party and take appropriate action.
KING: Lynne Cheney, you've always been a political activist, so we can go anywhere with you. And your husband was secretary of defense, and he has been critical of military preparedness.
Is that fair game in an election campaign when you're telling people who may be enemies that we're shorthanded.
L. CHENEY: Absolutely. I've been dismayed by this notion that somehow it is unpatriotic to discuss the state of the American military. Of course we have the greatest military in the world, and Dick and I are both very proud of the time we've had associated with it. But, as I've heard Dick say and I've heard the governor say out on the campaign trail, the trends are in the wrong direction.
We aren't providing our troops, our voluntary troops, the support they need to do the job they want to do, nor are we making the investment in the future that we need to make so that in eight, 10 years, when we're faced with a threat, as we inevitably will be, we're ready for it. That kind of investment, that kind of readiness, are both things that the governor and Dick have talked about and vowed to improve.
KING: Lynne, it's no secret you're very conservative. Has there -- there's been some stories to this effect. Any muzzling of you? Has anybody said, Lynne -- Dick is laughing hysterically, we notice. He's lived with you. Has anybody said, hey, stay away from that?
L. CHENEY: Absolutely not. In fact, I've had a great time out on the road by myself. Out on the road last week, too, we had a great time. I was with Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Cindy McCain. We did a bus tour for a while. I mean, it's -- it's been a really interesting experience, one we're honored by, but fun as well.
KING: But nobody has said, don't say this, Lynne?
L. CHENEY: Of course not.
KING: We'll be right back with the Cheneys. They're in Washington. We're going to spend another segment with them and then meet our panel. This is LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
KING: Dick, what's your theory on how the debates played, yours and the three presidential debates? What played in this voting question this year?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think they probably will turn out to have been pretty significant, Larry. I think if you look at what happened I think going into the debates, there was a general expectation that Al Gore was a great debater, that he probably would score points through that period of time, and the Governor Bush's task was to sort of make sure that he didn't lose any traction during that period.
I think just the reverse happened. In fact, I thought the governor did very well in each of the three debates. I think when all was said and done, if you look at the evidence that's available, most of the polls show pretty conclusively that people came away from the debates with a strong feeling about the governor's believability, about their willingness to trust him, they basically like him, that those qualities they're looking for in terms of leadership are very much to be found in George Bush.
So I thought the debates were really a turning point for us. They really sort of take the deficit that I think we were in after the Democratic convention and turned that around to our advantage.
KING: Lynne, do you think Bill Clinton -- this is a -- this is a professional opinion, reportorial maybe -- should be involved more in this campaign or not?
L. CHENEY: Oh, we hope he will be. I think it's not terribly good for the vice president to remind everyone of his ties to the past administration and...
KING: Even though that administration has a 62 rating, higher than Eisenhower's, and performance?
L. CHENEY: Well, you know, Larry, the issue of character is playing a mighty role in this election. I'm out there. I see it every day. I talk to the people on rope-lines. And the whole issue of character, of having a government that we all can be very proud of is very strong, and I think that part of the Clinton administration is something that it will not serve the vice president well to remind people of.
KING: Dick, are you -- I know there are others condemning this ad, a Texas-based, not-for-profit, Aretino Industries running an ad in states like Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, accusing the Clinton-Gore administration of selling the nation's security to the communists.
D. CHENEY: I haven't seen it, Larry.
KING: Have you heard about it?
D. CHENEY: I have not. So my problem is I get out there on the trail all day long, and I'm doing events and rallies and press conferences and so forth, and organization. But this is the first I've heard about it. It sounds like an independent expenditure. It doesn't sound like anything that would have come out of our campaign.
KING: Is one of the problems, when get into the last weeks and everything is such a flurry, anything can come out tomorrow?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think that's true.
KING: I mean, any group can get together and take an ad tomorrow...
D. CHENEY: Sure.
KING: ... and your -- and either side is put on the defensive in responding. D. CHENEY: Well, and I think we have to be very careful in these closing days of the campaign because that is a danger. You could have somebody out there who's simply got money, write a check, put an ad on the air without any real accountability until after the election's over with. It's partly a matter for the press to watch and monitor to some extent.
But I think -- I think the closing days of the campaign are a time now when we are seeing some activities on the other side, frankly, that we find offensive, some of the phone messages that are going out on behalf of the Gore campaign. Independent advertising, independent expenditures clearly is controversial. On the one hand, sometimes they do things that sort of pollute the process. On the other hand, you have to be careful of people's First Amendment rights and be cautious, as the courts have ruled, about telling people they can't speak their own minds.
KING: Not easy being a democracy.
D. CHENEY: No, it's not. It's a complicated process, but as painful as it sometimes is, I come away from this experience, being the vice presidential candidate with Governor Bush for these last some months, really has been a fantastic experience, certainly one of the highlights of my career.
KING: What's it been like for you, Lynne?
L. CHENEY: Well, it's -- it's been very interesting. I've had a chance to go to a lot of schools, since education has been a longtime interest of mine. Also, yesterday, for example, I went to a faith- based organization, a shelter for the homeless in -- in Kentucky, and it's a good thing to be able to call attention to people who are helping other people voluntarily. The governor places a great deal of confidence in what we as Americans can do to help each other.
He's also interested in seeing that that kind of enterprise flourishes by having, for example, letting people deduct their charitable deductions whether or not they itemize, by making sure that those institutions are eligible for government funding, for some of the programs that they do, like after-school programs.
So I've really met wonderful people. I've seen some great things going on in this country, and it's an experience I will treasure forever.
KING: What -- how's your health, Dick? Dick and I are in the same club, the zipper club, as it's called. How are you feeling?
D. CHENEY: It's been great. My only problem, I had a slight head cold for a couple of days, Larry. But I've felt very well throughout the whole campaign. It's really been a stimulating experience. It's probably taken five years off my age.
KING: Really? You mean this has been a healthy experience for you? D. CHENEY: I think it has. Sure, I -- I -- you have to be more disciplined, watch what you eat, make sure you get a good night's sleep. We have a treadmill usually in the hotel rooms so I can workout every morning. So it's been a -- from that standpoint, it's been a good experience, and as I, I've looked after my health, which I have to do, as you and I both know, and...
D. CHENEY: But it's been very positive from this standpoint.
KING: Anything, Dick, since this will be the last time before election day and we expect to see a lot of you after election day, you'd like to say to the public?
D. CHENEY: Well, say, what I mentioned earlier. This really has been a tremendous privilege. We've met some fantastic people out there across the country. There are literally millions of Americans who are engaged now in this process, going to make a very important decision next November 7th, and I'm simply proud to have been associated with Governor Bush, to have had the privilege to run.
I look forward to winning on November 7th. I think the signs are all very positive, and then we'll be happy to come back and visit on your show again, Larry.
KING: And Lynne, are you ready to be -- what is it called, second lady?
L. CHENEY: Well, I have no idea. I will tell you that the Secret Service calls me, second lady, the misses.
KING: You're the misses?
L. CHENEY: That's right. That's right. I've adapted to that.
KING: Always good seeing you both. Thanks, Cheneys.
L. CHENEY: Great to talk to you.
D. CHENEY: Thanks, Larry.
KING: Dick Cheney and Lynne Cheney, and there's a -- phew -- not much time to go, a week from Tuesday.
We'll be back with out panel of Ann Compton, Bob Woodward, Hugh Downs, and Bill Schneider.
Don't go away.
KING: Joining us now, our panel the rest of the way. In Detroit is Ann Compton, ABC news Washington correspondent, who's been on the road with both candidates, covered George Bush today. She was a panelist in the 1988 and 1992 presidential debates. In Washington, our friend Bob Woodward, assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post," Pulitzer Prize winner, best-selling author. In New York, the famed Hugh Downs, the former host of ABC's "20/20," veteran broadcaster and author. And our own in D.C., William Schneider, CNN senior political analyst and syndicated columnist.
Ann Compton, you've been on the road with both. Why is this so close?
ANN COMPTON, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: You know, we ask ourselves that every day. Right now, both of the campaigns really have kind of a rhythm and a pace that feels more like the weekend before the election than it does a weekend out. I don't know how Al Gore is going build on some of his -- I think he had 30,000 people out in Madison, Wisconsin last night.
And George Bush, who landed here in Detroit just a short while ago, is doing these little airport rallies right under the wing of the plane, and he's quick on his feet. Last night, a jet fighter flew over just as he was talking about the military. And he was quick, he ad libbed a little message to the pilot. The plane is packed solid. You can't breathe on the Bush plane it's so crowded. To me, it smells like it's coming up close to the finish. But why it's so close, maybe the voters can say.
KING: Bob, what are your thoughts?
BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, there are so many undecided or persuadable people. People are still listening. Some people are just beginning to pay attention. One of my colleagues at "The Washington Post" today was saying that the candidates are having a hard time being heard, because on television the coverage is the polls, the advertising, the analysis, and the candidates will only get a sentence, if that, on the evening news. So in a sense they can't break out with a new message. It's tough.
KING: Well said.
Hugh Downs, what the your thinking? You've been around a few of these.
HUGH DOWNS, FORMER HOST, "20/20": It seems to me that the reason it's so exciting is simply because it's so close. I don't know the reasons anymore than anyone else as to why it's this close, but the undecideds are undecided because I think they know deep down that the campaign coffers of both candidates are filled with money from special interests, the same special interests. So the bets are hedged. In one sense, it hardly matters which one wins. And this may be partly why it's so close.
KING: Bill Schneider, there are Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Washington and Oregon, even Tennessee and Florida all in the mix here.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Florida, that's right.
SCHNEIDER: Well, you know, the number of toss-up states is actually going up, not going down, which is quite amazing.
I think this is close, Larry, because, you know, in any election, one of two messages always works, either you've never had it so good or it's time for a change. What's odd this year is people believe both. When we ask them, do you think this is the best economy in your lifetime, overwhelmingly they say yes. When we ask, do you think it's time for a change, overwhelmingly they say yes.
People wanted a change of leadership in the country, but they don't want a change of direction. And that's why they're torn.
KING: And we'll pick right up on that when we come back. We've established all of our guests, we'll be including your phone calls, lots of things to cover.
Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They say this election is the closest race since that one in 1960, 40 years ago. I came here last night from Wisconsin. West Virginia is positioned to make the critical difference in this race. I'd like to ask each one of you to get me one more vote per precinct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right, Bob Woodward, help us with this dilemma. Can we sum it up that the undecided likes George Bush better but agrees with Gore on the issues?
WOODWARD: Well that's what the polling seems to show. But I think -- what I was saying earlier about the candidates can't get heard, that they've got to break out, and it would be a shame if from now to Election Day, things are on kind of automatic pilot, where it was all decided in convention speeches and the debate.
And I think that the candidates in a sense being tested and that one of them or both of them are going to have to seize the moment and find a way to communicate in a different way. Say, one of them could drop off the campaign trail for a couple of days and say, I'm really thinking about a speech that's going to personalize why I'm running and explain it in a way that's different and resonates with people.
KING: Last night, Hugh Downs, a bunch of journalists whose aggregate years total over 300 all said that they thought the public wasn't excited about either one. What do you think of that?
DOWNS: Well I think they're right. I watched that, and I think they have a point. Being excited about one, as I said, the main reason is that the race is so close. And it's wrong to assume that it didn't make that much difference, because the influence of the person in the White House is enormous when you think of filling Supreme Court justice slots and so forth.
DOWNS: But on the one hand, you see polls that indicate that they think Gore may be a little better able to negotiate with international leaders and so forth. On the other hand, George Bush has got a little more money, and we're going see a lot, not only television ads but enormous, massive phone campaigns. And I think that could push it. But it's still up for grabs within the margin of error.
KING: Bill Schneider, how do you explain the shift in the CNN/"USA Today" poll, which every day seems to go this way and that?
SCHNEIDER: Well, that's a tough one. But I think it does reflect the fact that people genuinely feel as if they can support, or maybe they can't support, either one of those two candidates. I think they're going back and forth because there is a lot of insecurity about Bush -- is he really big enough for the job? But there's a likability factor, a trust factor that's not there for Al Gore. I think there are an awful lot of people there that could vote for either candidate, and they're driven back and forth. And what we're are seeing is unusual amounts of volatility in people's interest in the election, in their commitment to vote. It just has never been this volatile in the past.
KING: So, Ann Compton, when each candidate says, I'm going to win on November 7th, they're guessing like we are?
COMPTON: Oh, of course they are. And one of the things they're guessing about is women. No group has been as volatile back and forth as women. Some of the polls, not only the CNN/Gallup poll but the ABC tracking poll has shown great swing back and forth. Why? Well, we were talking about that at ABC today. Could it be because women haven't quite figured out what they want from the government?
I think their messages in this last couple of weeks has boiled down to what kind of a government do you want? George Bush says he wants a smaller government that gets out of your face, Al Gore says he wants a smaller, smarter government. Women seem to be the ones who can't quite figure out whether they want a lot of government services or whether they want government out of the way. And that has wildly gone back and forth, although basically on the ABC tracking poll, which shows Bush ahead by a whisker every day, really has been fairly stable since Labor Day.
KING: We'll be back with more of our panel, reintroduce them for you, take some calls, get into more issues and have them jump in as they see fit right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 1992, they crossed our country -- they being my opponent and his friend, our president. They crossed our country ad they said, oh, just give us a chance. We'll do something about Medicare. And you may remember, in 1996, they had to say it again. And here we are now, eight years after the initial promise was made, and they're still saying it. And the message of this campaign is, we're tired. The vice president says, you ain't seen nothing yet. Well he's right we haven't seen anything yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Hugh Downs, do you think Ralph Nader will hold at 4 to 5 percent?
DOWNS: You know, I often think about Nader when I think of something Adlai Stephenson said. I also think of Harry Brown as a Libertarian Party. Stephenson said once tragedy of the American presidency now is that in order to become president you have to do that which renders you unfit to be president. Now neither of these candidates have accepted tainted money. That's why we don't hear their stands on the issues as often as we ought to. I think that's one of the problems. I don't know. In answer to your question, I have no idea whether Nader will cross that magic line and that will have some profound consequences, I think, if he does or if he might even at the last minute -- I doubt this -- throw everything toward Gore. That remains to be seen. That's why it's such a horse race.
KING: Bill Schneider what states could Nader give to Bush?
SCHNEIDER: Washington and Oregon because he's very popular there and they're very environmental minded. Minnesota, surprisingly, it's a steady Democratic state, but right now it looks like Bush may have a slight edge because Nader is getting 10 percent of the vote. Maine, a small state, also very environmental, but a critical one would be Michigan.
And there are special reasons why Nader is getting a lot votes in Michigan. One is that a lot of union voters in Michigan still don't trust Al Gore on the labor issues. Second of all, Pat Buchanan is not on the ballot in Michigan, so Bush has the whole conservative vote to himself. And most important, Nader is Arab-American and he's getting pretty strong support from Arab-Americans in Michigan which is the largest concentration of Arab-Americans of any state in the country.
KING: Ann Compton, why is Florida close?
COMPTON: That's a great question and Jeb Bush hasn't come up with an answer. Governor Bush was down there for a couple days this week. They seem to be going in there every 25 minutes to try to build up, especially along that corridor. There's an interstate that cuts across the center of the state and Bush went through in a bus cavalcade trying to talk to voters, and is telling them to come here. He really pushed hard on military families.
He also brought character witnesses with him. He brought John McCain with him, whose family lived in Florida while McCain was a prisoner of war. He brought Colin Powell with him up to Pennsylvania. Bush seems to be trying to recruit a lot of kind of character witnesses that his is the right way to go, but Florida is a problem for him an unexpected one certainly from the beginning of the year.
KING: Bob Woodward, Bill Clinton is going to be in here California tomorrow and apparently will do some campaigning along with a visit to a major charity. The Carousel of Hope for Juvenile Diabetes is the purpose of his visit, but he'll do some campaigning. Where has he been?
WOODWARD: Well, I think it's pretty much been decided that he's not going lead the Gore charge, that Gore has to lead that, and they understand the downside of that. If Clinton gets out and actively and passionately with all of those marvelous communications skills he has, says you've got to elect Al Gore, there is a possibility he will bring out the anti-Clinton vote against Gore because people are going to look at that and say, oh, wait a minute.
I remember. I'm reminded. I don't like Clinton, and the reality is there are all these people out there who are registered to vote who aren't going vote and what's going bring them to the the polls? What's going to energize them? I'll tell you, a Clinton passionate kiss and embrace of Al Gore will get a lot of people to vote against Gore. Bill Schneider is shaking his head, yes.
SCHNEIDER: Yes, well -- look, the impeachment issue is the one issue nobody is talking about, but it hangs very heavily over the campaign because people believe that Clinton for all his good works and for his skill and talent, was not very honest and trustworthy. And that's an image that has gone over to Al Gore as well. He rates very low on honesty and sincerity.
Look, the biggest story of this campaign was John McCain. If you ask me what Americans really want in a president, they want John McCain. What did he offer? Straight talk, something they weren't getting from Clinton and you know, you've got Al Gore. They don't think he's a straight talker and you've George Bush who doesn't seem to be able to talk straight.
COMPTON: Larry, there's a flip side to this to, on Clinton. There's a flip side on Clinton because he's going to do a big radio address on Monday. He's going reach out to blacks and Hispanics and I think the president is going to be out on the West Coast in California at the end of next week trying to work some of the kind of grass roots minorities, and if he can help Al Gore that way, it'll be a big plus. But I'll tell you, the Bush campaign can't wait to see Bill Clinton back out on the road. George Bush calls him the shadow, meaning the shadow behind which Al Gore hid until this year.
KING: Explain that Hugh Downs, since Bill Clinton's performance rating is 62, Al Gore didn't have a relationship with an intern and Bill Clinton, from a performance standpoint, is more popular than any recent president?
DOWNS: It shows an enormous ability on the part of the public to separate personal behavior from what they might consider statesmanship. I don't know, that's something that did surprise me, but it's a fact of life that they judge Bill Clinton as a president. They judge him very poorly, maybe, as a man in control of his passions but that apparently in the public mind didn't mean that he wasn't fit to govern and he's very popular.
KING: And why has that, Bill Schneider, why has the bad part which -- Al Gore didn't have an insipid relationship. Why has that worn off on Gore?
SCHNEIDER: Well, people haven't forgotten one thing, Bill Clinton embarrass the country. He embarrassed the country. He did his job.
KING: But Gore didn't.
SCHNEIDER: Americans haven't forgotten that. That was Clinton, but Gore defended him and Clinton never had a kind of public shaming. He would argue impeachment was certainly enough of shaming, the second president ever to be impeacher, but yet - they see some of the same qualities in Gore, not of course the inability to control his passions. Gore is very much in control himself.
But I think what they see in Gore is a man totally driven by politics which is the same thing they see in Clinton. They see that to some extent in Bush, but not as much as Gore, driven by political calculation and look, he's associated with Clinton. He's Clinton's designated successor and that's a very heavy burden. Clinton is going to California for a reason. He's very popular in California. There's another reason.
The second biggest blemish on Clinton's record after impeachment is, of course, the loss of the House of Representatives. California has 52 seats and Clinton is going to be campaigning to take back the House because on November 7th, he not only wants to get Gore elected, but he wants the House of Representatives to go back to Democrats to erase that blemish.
KING: Could California do that, Bill? Could it swing it back to the Democrats, the House?
SCHNEIDER: Oh, yes. Yes. There are about six or seven contested seats in California plus California is going to be drawing district lines for more than 1/8 -- more than 1/10. It's about 1/8 of the seats in the House of Representatives. So if the Democrats control everything as they do now, they could draw lines that ensure Democratic control of the House for the next 10 years.
KING: We'll be back with more. We'll include your phone calls. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Maureen O'Hara tomorrow night. Monday night, a full week of politics next week, Katie Couric will be talking with us. We're going to talk with governor George Pataki as well on Monday night and others. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GORE: If the big oil companies and the chemical manufacturers and the other big polluters were able to communicate a message to this state, they would say vote for George Bush or, in any case, vote for Ralph Nader. They would say, whatever you do, don't vote for Al Gore, because he's the one that we know has 24 years of experience, a burning passion in his heart to solve this problem. That's why I'm asking for your support. I need your help, Wisconsin!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Before we go to phone calls, Bob Woodward, there's Texas- based not-for-profit organizations, Artino Industries, they're running a TV commercial in key states accusing the Clinton-Gore administration of selling the nation's security to communist Red Chinese in exchange for campaign donations. It includes a countdown and a nuclear explosion. The print on the screen says, don't take a chance, please vote Republican. The Bush team is asking to have it pulled. Can this have an effect?
WOODWARD: No, because, I mean, that's on such a low-road ad that it's below the surface, and I think people will acknowledge that and see that. But it shows what can come out in a campaign, and some people might believe that. There were suspicions of that, but there was never any evidence, zero evidence that would convince anyone who's neutral anyway.
KING: Similar to the reminder of the Goldwater ad, Lyndon Johnson. I think it only ran once.
COMPTON: Larry, it actually ran four times, once each on four small stations, an ad buy of, I think, less than a thousand dollars. Where it's getting all its air time is on CNN and ABC and in the newspapers and all the people who are covering it.
KING: I get you. San Diego, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question to the panel touches on Bob Woodward's comment about getting off the campaign trail. I have been a voter for over 20 years and have never once seen a candidate on the campaign trail. I get my information, since we're in the information age, on TV by watching both candidates together on the debates or independently in different venues, such as LARRY KING LIVE. What is the purpose now of the campaign trail? Can't they get more information across on TV?
KING: All right, Bob. Why go on the trail?
WOODWARD: Well, because those states are so highly contested, and as soon a presidential candidate goes into one of the states, they get the kind of media attention that you just cannot get on a national level. But what I'm -- the reason I'm saying this, it really is hard for them. If you had Bush or Gore here, and said, "Can you get your message out right now if you want to add to it or change it?" I think they would honestly tell you it would be very, very difficult. So somebody may have to do something dramatic to break this cycle we're in where the coverage focuses on things that are ancillary to the candidates. KING: Hugh Downs, you used to sit next to Jack Parr in the old "Tonight Show." George Bush is going back on it again Monday. Gore's been on it. They've been on "Letterman."
Does this make sense? Last night, our journalists didn't like that idea.
DOWNS: Well, no, they didn't like the idea because that sort of makes campaigning and politics generally showbiz, but that's kind of a fact of life. We watch television. We are influenced by television one way or the other.
I must say to you, the late-night talk-show hosts seem to blast both sides. They don't seem to be overly weighted one way or the other. But it is one way of learning some things, through humor, I suppose. I'm not that much against it.
KING: Jackson, Michigan, hello.
Bill, I'm sorry. You were going to say something.
SCHNEIDER: No, I was just going to say, the old saying in politics is you go hunting where the ducks are. You've got to go to where the voters are. The voters, unfortunately, are not watching the news shows in the huge numbers they used to. They're watching the talk shows. If that's where the voters are, you better go get them.
KING: Jackson, Michigan, hello.
CALLER: Yes, thank you, Mr. King, for taking my call. I'm concerned, or rather I would like to have the panel's opinion, on Clinton's action or lack of action in Yemen so far as pursuing whether terrorists were involved, the country was involved, and how that bears upon the political race as it is right now. Is Clinton doing something or not doing something based upon his guy running for president?
KING: What do you know, Ann?
COMPTON: Well, we know that both George Bush and Al Gore have come out very strongly saying that whoever was responsible has to be punished, both of them taking, obviously, the obvious position that they will be strong, they wouldn't let that happen on their watch. I'm not sure it really has that impact on the presidential race. It is a black eye for Bill Clinton.
KING: Bob Woodward, you have a book coming. When is it coming, by the way?
WOODWARD: The book is coming out November 14th, called "Maestro," about Alan Greenspan and the...
KING: "Maestro," it's about Alan -- that sort of leads into my question. It's about...
WOODWARD: It's about the money. KING: ... Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve, and show me the money. OK, since the money is so healthy today -- there's never been an economy like it -- why isn't Gore way ahead?
WOODWARD: Well, I mean the polling shows that people don't associate him with some of the successes of the Clinton administration in the economic area, and he has made kind of intermittent efforts to say this is part of what I have done.
You know, in addition, what -- what Gore has done is he's attacked the pharmaceutical companies and a lot of businesses, and that has made business people nervous. So he has not set himself up as somebody...
KING: Yes, but...
WOODWARD: Go ahead.
KING: But the corollary is it's been his administration that made these businesses healthy.
WOODWARD: Well, but he's only the vice president and people know that vice presidents don't make those decisions, though, in fact, the record shows he was a significant actor.
SCHNEIDER: You know, Larry this is a recovery. The economic boom is something unlike any recovery we've seen in the last 50 years. It's not being driven by a war, like the recovery of the 1940s, or by a big program of public works spending like we had under Eisenhower in the '50s, on education and highways and the GI Bill. It's not being driven by a big tax cut like under John Kennedy. It's not being driven by a defense build-up, like we had under Ronald Reagan.
So a lot of Americans, when you say, "Do you think Clinton and Gore deserve credit for the economy?" they wonder exactly did they do. Well, they did do something, I think. They helped balance the budget. That economic bill of 1993 was a big step in that direction, but unfortunately, it wasn't very popular and the Democrats paid a big price for it, because it involved a tax increase.
KING: We'll be right back with more on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe when it's all said and done, America will realize my opponent's campaign is a fitting close to the Clinton-Gore years.
They're going out as they came in. Their guide, the nightly polls. Their goal, the morning headlines. Their legacy, the fruitless search for a legacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: silver, North Carolina, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Larry. How are you?
CALLER: Listen, I'd like to know what your panel thinks of the Medicare and prescription, Medicare prescription plans. I've heard both opponents. I'd like to know what your panel thinks.
KING: How is this playing, Ann?
COMPTON: Well, it is confusing. Both candidates are promising, don't worry, we're going to take care of you. And when you got beyond that basic problem, I don't think anybody really understands what each of their plans is going to do.
It's a great issue. It's something that audiences love. Both candidates are hammering hard, but I'll be darned if I could explain it in 45 seconds.
KING: Hugh Downs, can you?
DOWNS: I couldn't explain it in four hours. It's extremely confusing.
KING: Bob Woodward, you've got a read on it?
WOODWARD: Well, I might be able to do 40 seconds, but you lose your audience.
WOODWARD: But what both candidates are saying about prescription drugs is this that this would be their proposal. This is their idea. Once it got through Congress, should that occur, it would be completely different. And what goes in is not what comes out. So in a sense, it's a kind of a five-page paper on some ideas and hopes that I have on this issue.
KING: Bill Schneider, there are -- this was murmuring. I started asking it a couple weeks ago, now a lot of people are -- Could we have a popular winner and a different electoral winner?
SCHNEIDER: It could happen, Larry. And, in fact, those of us in the news business say, wow, what a story that would be, It hasn't happened in over a hundred years. It happened in 1888 with Grover Cleveland, who was president, won the popular vote, lost the electoral vote. Happened once before that in 1876.
It could happen, let us say, if George Bush piled up huge majorities in Texas and in southern states, and then Al Gore won some critical large states outside the Bush area, California, say, New York by tiny, tiny margins, Michigan, Pennsylvania so that Bush won the popular vote, Gore won the electoral vote.
And if that were the case, I can tell you, the electoral college would be a dead letter. It would be erased. A hundred years ago, we didn't have the same concept of popular sovereignty. But now the voters would be in outrage. Imagine someone like Bush taking office when he came in second in the popular vote.
KING: Yes, but you can't change the rules in mid-stream, so he would take office.
SCHNEIDER: No, he would take office, no question about it. The electoral college would be changed very quickly. I think the sensible way to do it, frankly, is to have -- you know, a state -- California has 54 electoral votes, one for each district and two for the two senators. Why not give the electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district, and if you win the state you get two more? That way, both candidates would go into California, because right now Bush has no real incentive to compete in California because he doesn't look like he's going to win it. But if he could win 20 or 30 electoral votes by carrying congressional districts, then he'd have an incentive to go to California, which isn't seeing any campaign right now. And that would be, I think, a big plus.
KING: Makes too much sense, therefore, has no chance.
We'll take a break and come back with our remaining moments, get another call in, too.
Don't go away.
KING: Get another call in. Philadelphia -- hello.
CALLER: Yes, I'm a swing voter from Pennsylvania, and I want to ask your panel, do they feel that the George W. Bush administration will mirror the father's?
KING: Yes, good question -- Ann?
COMPTON: Well, I covered the father's administration. I think in a lot of ways it probably would. But the economic times are different, the international times are different. There's no way to duplicate it or mirror it.
KING: But some of the same people will be in it?
COMPTON: Unquestionably -- well, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell was in the White House working for George Bush Sr. I mean, you even look at the advance teams, the guys who take us on and off the plane tonight. This is a repeat, but as to what a president does and the policies -- and your listener's question asked about what a president would do, it's a whole new ballgame.
KING: Any forecast, Hugh Downs, before we get to Bill -- Hugh? DOWNS: Well, no. I was just thinking, I doubt it will mirror the elder Bush's administration, but I think that one of the differences that bothers me a little bit is that George Bush Sr.'s ability to handle platform points in the party that he might not have agreed with might be superior to what George W.'s are. And that bothers me a little bit.
KING: You've got a forecast, Bob Woodward?
WOODWARD: No, I don't. I just -- I wonder about this issue we were talking about earlier on voter volatility, which is being measured in the polls. And I wonder how real it is, whether really millions of people are changing their minds from one day to the next or one week to the next. And in a sense we're forgetting human nature. And I know sometimes if somebody asks me something on a Tuesday, I might give one answer, and not necessarily for a good reason I would give a different answer on Wednesday. And I wonder if that's not what we're measuring, the volatility of human nature.
KING: Bill Schneider, someone said if you're undecided you're dumb. Do you agree that?
SCHNEIDER: Well if you're undecided at this stage, you probably haven't given the campaign a lot of thought. And there are only a small number of undecided voters, and they're overwhelmingly tuned out of the election. So I do think there are people out there who genuinely are of two minds about this election and really could vote for either one, or in many cases they're probably not happy with either candidate.
You know, the caller asked about George Bush and his father. There was one debate question I was dying to ask, and Jim Lehrer never asked it. Someone should ask Governor Bush, you know, his father was in office and didn't have a very successful economic policy. I wonder how he would answer the question, what of his father's economic policies and programs does he disagree with? I mean, because his father was turned out of office because people didn't think he could handle the economy very well. I'd like to know what he thinks his father might have done wrong, or does he support everything his father did in running the economy?
KING: Ann, you want to predict the turnout?
COMPTON: Oh, I think it's really not going to be quite that close at the tail end. I think you'll begin to see some diversion. What really surprises me, Larry, is the number of states that both candidates now adding into their schedule at the last minute. Instead of narrowing things down, we're getting more undecided states adding in every step of the way right up until Election Day.
KING: Bob, do you think 50 percent of Americans registered to vote will vote?
WOODWARD: You know, it's quite possible that it will not happen. What I -- I keep going back to this theme, somebody's got to energize this campaign and get it off the track that it's in. Maybe one of the candidates can go out and give what could be called a reverse Checkers speech. Nixon's Checkers speech was "keep me on the ballot because," and I would be really interested in hearing more from the candidates about why I am on the ballot.
KING: We're out of time. Thanks to all of you for a terrific discussion and to the Cheneys earlier.
Stay tuned for "NEWSSTAND." This is Jeff Greenfield's turn. He does it every Friday night. Stay right with him.
Tomorrow night. Maureen O'Hara.
George Pataki and others on Monday.
From Los Angeles, good night.
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