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Larry King Live

Are There Hard Feelings Over Election 2000?

Aired December 14, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: an exclusive interview with Senator Joe Lieberman, who was oh so close to being the next vice president of the United States -- and then another exclusive interview: Ralph Nader, the man who Democrats say cost them the White House. Also in Washington, Ted Olson: He argued for the Bush campaign before the U.S. Supreme Court. And joining us in New York: Barry Richard, the lead attorney for Bush in Florida. And then later: Florida election official Bob Crawford with lots of behind-the-scenes stories -- and your phone calls.

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE

We begin with Senator Joe Lieberman.

I wonder, with Ted Olson and Ralph Nader there with you and Barry Richard here with us if you feel surrounded by those who defeated you, Joe.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: It's quite a reunion you have provided for me, Larry. No, but we are after those two great speeches by the vice president and Governor Bush last night. This is a time of reconciliation. So it seems appropriate that you should surround me with these three men. It's OK.

KING: Do you bear any of them -- especially Mr. Nader -- ill- will?

LIEBERMAN: I do not. Look, Ralph and I have known each other forever. He is actually from Connecticut -- and my constituents, who you can see, as a United States senator, what a tough job I have. And Ralph had his right. Look, I think, in a lot of states, if he hadn't been in there, Al Gore and I would have won, and probably, therefore, won the Electoral College. But, you know, that is America. That is democracy. And Ralph did what the system allows him to do.

KING: How do you account, Senator, for this almost immediate turnaround of friendship?

LIEBERMAN: I think -- you mean in the speeches last night and this...

KING: Yes, last night, and all statements today, and everybody is lovey-dovey. LIEBERMAN: Yes. Well, that is the American way. I mean, honestly, the system was tested this year. After all, we had the closest election in our history. It was bound to test our institutions. Some of them did well. Some didn't do so well. But, in the end, I think all of us -- particularly those of us who are involved in public life -- know we have the highest obligation to the system, to democracy, to stability in our country.

I mean, we should be proud after this very unusual year, to live in America, where we resolve our differences, you know, with elections, not with civil wars, and with the rule of law. And so, ultimately, the Supreme Court decided. I disagree with the decision. But we go on. And that involves reconciliation and working together. And I think the statements today were sincere, last night were sincere, and they auger well for the future. It's not going to be easy anyway. But they're going to help make it easier.

KING: Senator, have you lost an election in your life?

LIEBERMAN: I lost one in 1980 when I ran for Congress in New Haven. And, you know, I remember it well. It was a painful experience.

KING: Politicians face something we don't face. They face a day in November. What -- how do you deal with losing, especially after waiting five weeks to lose?

LIEBERMAN: Well, it is -- you know, it hurts. Look, my whole attitude toward this year is one of gratitude. I -- it was an extraordinary honor, an opportunity that Al Gore gave me. The American people greeted my candidacy with tremendous warmth and respect. As I said on the Senate floor today, when I was chosen by Al Gore, there was a lot of focus on the fact that I was the first Jewish-American to have the honor to run for national office.

By the end of the campaign, November 7, there wasn't even a mention of it. And that -- that is the way it ought to be. And I really think people just judged us by the quality of our candidacy. So I have very good feelings. As I said to somebody last night, I have wonderful feelings about everything that happened this year, except the result. And it hurts.

But, you know, you go on. That is the way I was raised. My mother -- who is one of were your great fans, Larry -- said to me yesterday, in words that only a mother could speak: "Sweetheart, you lost an election. You didn't lose a life." And she is right. Thank God I got up this morning. And every day is full possibilities.

KING: You spoke to Dick Cheney today, did you?

LIEBERMAN: I did. We had a very cordial conversation. Look, Dick and I were opponents this year. I disagree with him on issues. But I have respect for him. He is a very honorable and able man. I got to know him pretty well during his days in the Pentagon, particularly during the Gulf War, where I was privileged and proud to be a supporter of the Bush administration effort there. I congratulated him. I wished him well. And he told me it had, you know, been an honor to work together. The debate was a highlight of the campaign. We said that we would look forward to working with each other.

He joked that we'd probably have plenty of opportunities, because with a 50-50 tie in the Senate, he expected to spend a lot of time in the chair.



KING: Will you -- will you get together next week as will -- I know that the president-elect and Vice President Gore are.

LIEBERMAN: Yes, we will. Dick said that he wanted to come over and see me, and I think we're going to do it next Thursday. And it's all part of the spirit of reconciliation that prevails, quite appropriately, and I think we're going to find opportunities to work together, and when we disagree, I think we're going to find ways to disagree without being divisive.

KING: Some dilemmas that may come, just one comes right up to mind, in a divided Senate. One of the big issues in the campaign was abortion. And Al Gore and you both mentioned that if Bush were elected, you're liable to see the end of Roe versus Wade.

Supposing they picked -- supposing someone leaves the court, and they pick as the replacement a jurist who is openly pro-life. Would that mean you're automatically voting against that person?

LIEBERMAN: Not automatically. But I suppose I'd say I'd put, to use a legal term that's familiar on CNN, I'd put the burden of proof on those advocating that -- that nominee for the Supreme Court. I do think that the Roe versus Wade decision is the law of the land, and it expresses a consensus in this country on a very, very difficult issue and divisive issue for the American people. But...

KING: So wouldn't -- it would be hard for you to vote for that person if you thought his vote or her vote could overturn it.

LIEBERMAN: It would certainly be a factor I would consider, but you know, in the best of all worlds, I wouldn't eliminate a person on that basis, based on the entirety of his or her record and the background that that person had.

But this -- this question of yours, Larry, focuses in on the challenge to Governor Bush. In a government that is almost evenly divided -- the Senate is actually evenly divided. And of course, there are members, not just of the Democratic Party, but of the Republican Party, who would have profound concerns about a nominee such as the one you just described.

So we're going to have to find common ground, and that's -- you know, there have been justices nominated who didn't have clear positions or records on particular controversial issues, such as abortion, and that's the kind of nominee, with a strong judicial background, that I think is most likely to make it through the bipartisan Senate.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll ask Senator Joe Lieberman what he thinks the Senate is going to be like in the next year. And then we'll meet our other guests as well after that.

This is LARRY KING LIVE. Jon Stewart tomorrow night, bring some humor back. Don't go away.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me say how grateful I am to all those who supported me and supported the cause for which we have fought. Tipper and I feel a deep gratitude to Joe and Hadassah Lieberman, who brought passion and high purpose to our partnership and opened new doors not just for our campaign but for our country.

This has been an extraordinary election.






KING: That was the scene last night as Vice President Gore and Senator Lieberman and their wives left the Executive Office Building after that rather historic concession speech.

All right, Senator Lieberman, what's it going to be like next year in the Senate?

LIEBERMAN: Well, that depends in the first instance on Governor Bush, President-elect Bush, but it also depends on all of us. Look the Senate, Larry, over the 12 years that I have been privileged to be there has become an increasingly partisan body, unfortunately. We've just come through a campaign. Campaigns are partisan, necessarily and appropriately.

Governing should not be partisan. Certainly at its best, it is not partisan, because you've got to work across party lines to get things done. Unfortunately, too little of that has happened lately in the Senate.

And the fact that it's 50-50 doesn't make it dramatically different. It just makes it harder to achieve that bipartisan consensus. In other words, the Senate more and more has been operating on a filibuster or else system. You've got to get 60 votes to pass something, because you've got to get 60 votes to break a filibuster, not just the 51. So I hope we will find ways to make some progress on some of the issues that both tickets were talking about: prescription drugs, education reform, retirement security, health care for kids, national security, defense transformation.

And the only way we're going to do that is come to the middle ground, and then work out and try to build a consensus. And I hope we can do it by picking out some issues at the beginning that will be a little easier to find agreement on and then moving to the harder ones.

KING: Do you like the idea of Colin Powell for secretary of state?

LIEBERMAN: Obviously that's President-elect Bush's decision, but I have, you know, high regard for Colin Powell, and he's widely admired in the Senate. So if he is the president-elect's choice, I don't think he'll have much trouble being confirmed by the United States Senate.

KING: The president-elect says that he's going to bring everybody together. Are you hopeful that he can now that you've seen him close up, all these past weeks?

LIEBERMAN: I don't -- I don't really know Governor Bush, but it seems to me that his inclination now is certainly in the right direction. I think the leadership -- the Democratic leadership of the Senate and the House want to reach and work with him. I think we got the message.

You know, one of the most appealing statements that I think Governor Bush made during the campaign was that he was a unifier and a bridge builder, and I think by and large that's what the public wants. I think people are fed up with all the partisan conflict that goes on here in Washington, and therefore, we have an opportunity.

Maybe out of this closest and longest of all elections, there will come some wisdom and a kind of message from the public that let's cut out the nonsense, let's not posture on each side, but let's find ways to reform education, to provide retirement security, to take care of health care for our kids, to keep the country strong militarily. Those are all within our grasp if we want to.

The country's in great shape today, peace and prosperity, and the question is whether we're going to be smart enough to work together to keep that going.

KING: Do you expect to be involved? Do you expect, for example, to see Democrats in the Cabinet?

LIEBERMAN: I am sure there will be Democrats in the Cabinet. I know that as Vice President Gore and I began to work on transition we were committed to bringing Republicans into our Cabinet, and I'm sure Governor Bush and Secretary Cheney will want to do the same with Democrats.

The election -- the country always does better when there's bipartisanship in government. With the closeness of this election, it becomes not just an option, but in my opinion, a necessity, and I think you're going to find some good bipartisan appointments to the Cabinet. I'm confident of that.

KING: Someone mentioned prominently -- he's been on this show a lot; he was on last night -- is Senator John Breaux possibly as secretary of energy. Is that something you would ringingly endorse?

LIEBERMAN: I love John Breaux. He's one of my best friends in the Senate. We've worked together in the new Democratic movement.

I -- frankly, I'd hate to see him go. He is just the kind of bridge builder and great legislator that we need to stay in the Senate to make this work.

So I hope -- I hope Governor Bush can find another good Democrat to be the energy secretary.

KING: Now, what about Senator Lieberman? You are now...


KING: You were always a major figure in the Senate. You are now a national figure. Let's just say it's now 2004, we always do this. Are you thinking of going for it all?

LIEBERMAN: Oh, Larry, you know, it's just the day after the 2000 election, and I'm going to spend a little time now just trying to put that in perspective. This has been a joyous, an unexpected journey for me, and a very inspiring and encouraging, rewarding one. So I want to put that in perspective and then focus in on how I can use the things that I have learned in this national campaign to make me a better senator, and part of it is figuring out ways to help bring the parties together to make things work. So, I'm not thinking anywhere beyond this coming year.

KING: Well, we're not saying yes or no, then. It's just -- too early.

LIEBERMAN: Too early. My mother wouldn't let me say no.

KING: You're not kidding -- if only you had been a doctor that would be the only thing better.

LIEBERMAN: That's right.

KING: Thank you, senator. We hope to see you next week.

LIEBERMAN: Great, Larry. Always good to be with you. Have a good night.

KING: Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democrat of Connecticut. When we're back, the man who may have kept him in the Senate, Ralph Nader. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE the two-time presidential candidate of the Green Party, citizen advocate Ralph Nader. His new books is called "The Ralph Nader Reader." Before we get into some other issues, what is the book about, Ralph?

RALPH NADER, GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's basically about all the issues that we campaigned on. It's about the necessity to strengthen our democracy by giving voters, consumer, workers and taxpayers more power, to shift power them away from giant corporations and their grip on government. It has some very good proposals on how to make the county more healthy and safe in terms of products and the environment, and it gives attention to the tools of democracy.

KING: A lot of Democrats, as you know Ralph, are very, for want of a better term, ticked at you. You got 97,000 votes in Florida. Assuming that many of them would have gone to Gore, he would be president-elect tonight. Do you have any regrets?

NADER: The regret is that I didn't get more votes. I mean, after all, if you're building a new party, you want to take as many votes away from all the other candidates as possible, and bring nonvoters -- half of the voters are nonvoters -- back into the political and electoral process. That's what they all try to do to each other. And it's a bit presumptuous to have that sense that, just because are you new party, somehow you have got to work to help elect someone other one president.

KING: No, I think the question was: If one is more in line with your principles, do you feel at all a little pained that maybe more of your principles would have been expressed in a Gore victory than a Bush victory?

NADER: Not really. I think whether Gore or Bush are in the White House, they are make fewer and fewer decisions. We know who makes the decisions on the Food and Drug Administration, and on the Auto Safety Agency, Department of Defense, Treasury Department, Commerce, Agriculture. It's the 22,000 corporate lobbyists who are swarming over the city and the 9,000 political action committees that are funneling money to both parties.

KING: So there's no difference, in your opinion -- no difference. How about on the abortion question?

NADER: The similarities -- yes, there are some differences. But the similarities, Larry, of both parties moving to centralize more power in the hands of big business over our government, over our workplace, over our universities, over our environment, people feel they are losing control of almost anything that matters to them, for heaven's sake. That's one thing we saw quite clearly. Whether they are conservatives or liberals, around the country, they said: We are just losing control over our government, over our workplace. So that's the point.

Now, there are some differences. The question is: Are the differences enough to warrant their fighting for them?

KING: Right.

NADER: And, you know, the Democrats are...

KING: You didn't think so?

NADER: No, because they don't fight for them. I mean, Gore talks about fighting corporate power. And he hasn't done it. He talks about environment. And he surrendered to the auto industry and the pesticide industry and the biotech industry.

KING: Why -- Ralph, you have had a strong message and a strong following. Why didn't you do better, do you think?

NADER: Well, challenging the two-party system is like climbing a cliff with a slippery rope. Just think: They control the ballot- access barriers just to get on the ballot. North Carolina, Georgia: horrendous numbers of signatures. And then they pick at them, disqualify them. The two parties control the money. They control -- command most of the media.

They command the presidential debates and exclude significant third-party candidates. If you don't get on those debates, you don't reach tens of millions of Americans. And they have a winner-take-all system. And then they start out, Larry, with 30 percent of the votes being hereditary Democrats and 30 percent of the votes being hereditary Republicans.

I mean -- but, you know, we made a good effort. It's the first stage toward a long-range political reform movement. And we have got enormous activity on college campuses. And people all over the country are now telling us maybe they should have voted for us. But I know they wanted the least of the worst.

KING: Are you therefore -- are you saying, therefore, that you are going to still be around?

NADER: Well, I'm pledged to build this Green Party effort and to get more candidates at the local, state and national level, yes. But we also have our citizen projects we have worked on for years: safer pharmaceuticals.

KING: You are not going to leave that?

NADER: No. No.

KING: All right. Let me get a break and come back. Ralph Nader's book is "The Ralph Nader Reader." It's all about his philosophy. And then we are going to meet two Americans who suddenly have become very, very prominent. We are going to exchange what happened to them during all of this: Ted Olson, who argued the Bush case for the Supreme Court, and Barry Richard, who argued for it in Florida. Both came out winners.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Let's take a call for Ralph Nader. Salado, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Since you failed to qualify the Green Party for matching fund in 2004, just what did you accomplish?

NADER: Well, we brought tens of thousands people who were turned off politics into an exciting political reform campaign, lots of new Green Party candidates elected at the local level. We I think sent a message to Democrats that they can't turn their back on progressive Democratic senators, representatives and governors, because they have nowhere to go, because now progressive people have a place to go.

I think we moved the agenda to focus something on other than harmony ideology, to focus on the excessive power of corporations over our country, keeping our country down, blocking universal health care, blocking taxpayer money going into good things for neighborhoods and communities instead of corporate welfare and subsidies, like the New York Stock Exchange just getting another billion dollars.

So there were a lot of things that were accomplished, and we hope a lot of people join this effort.

KING: Do you think, Ralph, honestly that you damaged yourself with those people who may in the past have contributed funds for your causes?

NADER: Maybe so, but I think basically the Democratic Party has got a choice now, Larry. They're going to either start becoming the party of the Wellstones and the Feingolds and Bernie Sanders or others, or they're going to continue to be controlled by the Democratic Leadership Council and by the right wing and the big corporate money that's shaped that party over the last 20 years to close out citizen groups in Washington from being able to achieve the good things they achieved in the '60s and '70s for the American people.

KING: Will you run again?

NADER: It's too early to tell, but I am very pleased to see the energy now among labor and minority groups. And just in Connecticut, John Olson (ph), the fiery and progressive leader of the labor movement in Connecticut, has been elected head of the Democratic state committee. And I think we're going to see a real energy that the "anesthesizers" are about to leave town.

KING: It is safe to say that Ralph Nader will not go away. He new book is "The Ralph Nader Reader." Ralph Nader, the two-time Green Party presidential candidate.

When we come back, two of the more famous names in law in America, Ted Olson and Barry Richard. And then later, Bob Crawford, who's up here from Florida, will join us. He's the secretary of agriculture and a member of the Florida election canvassing commission.

Barry Richard and Ted Olson are next. Don't go away. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARRY RICHARD, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: There is no evidence in this case that the ballots were ever compromised, and if the ballots were not compromised, the election was not compromised.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE two gentlemen who in a fairly short period of time become of the two better-known legal faces and names in America. Ted Olson, he is in Washington, the Bush campaign attorney, and he argued the Bush case twice before the United States Supreme Court, a winner. And here in our bureau in New York is Barry Richard, the Bush campaign lead attorney in Florida.

You -- Barry, did you two know each other before this?


KING: You had never met?

RICHARD: Not that I can recall.

KING: Ted, had you heard of Barry?

THEODORE OLSON, BUSH CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: No, I've heard of Barry. Barry's a very well-known lawyer in Florida, and I was pleased to meet him. I think I met him the first or second day that I arrived in Tallahassee. But he's very highly respected there. I had heard of him before. It was a great pleasure to work with him.

KING: First, for each of you, Barry, what was it like to be around -- and you spoke with him by electronic transmission -- Senator Lieberman tonight. Did it feel a little funny?

RICHARD: No, it didn't. He makes anybody feel at ease. He's a very easy person to talk to.

KING: So, you didn't feel like a little, you know -- I mean, you cost him the vice presidency.

RICHARD: Well, I'm flattered that you would suggest I cost it to him.


KING: You argued successfully a case he lost.

RICHARD: Well, as he is, he was very gracious about that when we talked off-camera and...

KING: And Ted, you were right there with him. What was it like?

OLSON: Well, I have great respect. I've met Senator Lieberman before and my wife worked with him in the United States Senate and she told me how much she respected him and he was always kind to her. He's a great American and a man of great principle and I think all people in America, whether they voted for him or not, have great regard for him.

KING: How are you dealing, Barry, with this now-found national recognition?

RICHARD: Well, it's been an exciting experience.

KING: Doing your hair-do. I mean I know you when you were 15 -- when you were little kid?

RICHARD: I told my wife I knew I'd reached celebrity status when she got a call from a newspaper asking me how I did my hair and she said all he does is wash it in the shower.

KING: Are you enjoying it?

RICHARD: Yes, it's been fun and it's been fun to get back to touch with old friends like you which happened because of it.


KING: It's been a long time. Ted, what's it been like for you and, of course, we've seen Ted Olson on television a lot debating things, but certainly nothing like this. What's it been like?

OLSON: Well, there's really nothing like arguing in the United States Supreme Court and I don't think there are very many cases in the history of my lifetime like these two cases that we had the opportunity to argue in the United States Supreme Court.

I feel very honored to have been a part of Governor Bush's team and working with Barry and the other lawyers. There were so many lawyers that were involved. Barry and I are here on your program, but there were a lot of people on our team and a lot of people on the team for the Democratic Party -- very fine people -- and it was a privilege. There was some very fine lawyering going on, I think, and I was glad to be a part of it.

KING: Same question for each of you. First to you, Barry. How did you get this?

RICHARD: I had represented Jeb Bush -- I think actually it goes back to the time that I ran for attorney general and lost to Jim Smith, who at the time he and I ran in the Democratic primary and he later became a Republican and was not only attorney general but secretary of state, and then hired me in some litigation he had with Bob Crawford who's...


KING: He will be on later.

RICHARD: ... and is also extraordinary person. We have a lot of nice people we're dealing with here and Jim then recommended me to Jeb Bush who I had represented as campaign counsel... KING: So, who called you to hire you to represent the president -- now president-elect in this?

RICHARD: Originally, it was some of the Jeb Bush team who I think recommended me to George W. Bush, and the rest for me is history.

KING: Did George W. Bush personally hire you? Did he get on the phone and say come aboard?

RICHARD: No, my experience is that he was not that directly involved in the legal strategy or formulation of policy. It was primarily James Baker who spoke for him, but he did call twice to thank me and to congratulate me. The first time he called, Allison (ph), my wife and I were in the kitchen, and she answered the telephone and said, this guy says he's George W. Bush. In fact it was and he began by apologizing for calling me at home.

KING: Didn't go through a secretary, right? It was him.

RICHARD: He apparently just dialed the telephone.

KING: The kind of guy he is. Now, Ted, I don't like to get personally involved in any of this, but I was involved in your hiring because we flew together to the West Coast and you never stayed in L.A. an hour. What happened? How did you get this?

OLSON: Well, you and I happened to be on the same plane, and of course we knew one another. We were chatting a little bit. While I was on the airplane from Washington to Los Angeles, I checked my voice mail from the airplane telephone and I had a telephone call asking me to come to Tallahassee. This was two days after the election. It was Thursday. So, I got off the plane in Los Angeles and turned -- I couldn't get to Tallahassee that evening so I turned around and went back to Washington and then went to Tallahassee the next morning.


KING: And who hired you?

OLSON: Well, I was hired by the campaign and governor bush and -- the telephone call that I received was from Ben Ginsberg and Michael Toner, who were the two general counsels that had work with the campaign right from the beginning, both of whom I've known and worked with and have great respect for. They were the ones who -- both of whose voices were on the telephone when I checked my voice mail and both of whom I worked with a great deal.

Ben Ginsberg was someone I think a lot of Americans saw on television a lot and who spoke for the campaign as a lawyer down in Tallahassee. He's a fine lawyer. He works here in Washington, but he's had more experience, I think, with election law than any other lawyer in the country.

KING: Ted, what did you think of the job Barry did? OLSON: Barry was fantastic. In fact, I admired that his capacity to be what I think was everywhere -- there was so much litigation going on in Florida, I watched him a lot on television. I couldn't be in the courtroom with him because we were both engaged so heavily, because there was so much litigation going on and I was handling the federal cases and he was involved in, I think, all of the state cases, so -- but I saw him in the office.

We talked a little bit, not as much as I would have liked with respect to briefs and so forth, but I -- what I admired his work in the courtroom, he was always prepared, he was always very direct, and I was -- admired someone that handled that much litigation day in and day out all day long, it's a tremendous amount of work. It takes a tremendous amount of toil and to be able to get up the next morning and to be able to face all of this -- and it went on for a long time -- I think he did an unbelievable job.

KING: He was that way in high school.

What did you think of Ted?

RICHARD: Ted and I had a -- we had a great relationship. It was interesting, because when this began I don't think any of us anticipated what was going to happen. And Ted and I began working together on the federal case, and then the state case mushroomed immediately -- within a couple of weeks, we had 30 cases, ultimately 46 cases, and it became rapidly apparent that we were going to have to begin allocating responsibility, and Ted had been brought in to do the federal work, and he and I just parted ways and he did his job...

KING: He described your ability; what in your opinion is his outstanding ability?

RICHARD: Well, he just has an exceptional ability to put the case together and to communicate it effectively to the court, and I have argued before the Supreme Court several times and it is a unique experience, there is nothing like it.

In the first place, as was apparent, you can't really prepare a structured presentation because they start firing questions the minute you stand up there; and second, unlike most appellate arguments where you study the court's prior decisions, with the Supreme Court, you have nine justices who are there for life and every one of them has an agenda that he or she is going to follow forever, so you have to know every opinion, every one of them as written that has any relevancy.

KING: And, Ted, we have to break for commercial, do you have to agree with the side you represent?

OLSON: No, you don't have to agree. As a lawyer, you represent a client, and therefore, you represent the position and viewpoints of the client. It so happens I have no trouble agreeing with my client in this case and the issues that we were presenting, I thought that was one of the easier jobs I had.

KING: But could you have represented the other side? OLSON: I don't know whether I could have represented the other side or not, I don't think that was ever in the cards. The arguments...

KING: No, but I mean, could you have -- if they -- I don't know whether they had hired you?

OLSON: They -- let me say this, that the legal arguments they were presenting were respectable and I must say they were exceedingly well prepared. There is nothing wrong with the legal arguments they were presenting and I think most lawyers could stand up in court and represent those arguments. I think ours were the right arguments and the Supreme Court agreed on two occasions, but they certainly made respectable, proper and intelligent legal cases.

KING: Barry, honest response, could you have defended the other side, represented?

RICHARD: Well, sure, I could have represented them, but sometimes appropriately representing a client means telling them you think they have a weak case. I don't know what I would have told Vice President Gore had...

KING: Really?

RICHARD: It's difficult in retrospect to look back and know what you would have said, and I don't think I would have presented the same case, although I think that David Boies did an excellent job.

KING: You agreed, though, with what you were saying in court?

RICHARD: Well, I always agree with what I'm saying. I would -- you know, I would always give either side the same legal advice. You can represent two sides, but I don't think you can represent them by saying the opposite thing, because, you know...

KING: You have to be honest.


KING: Ted Olson and Barry Richard.

Later, Bob Crawford -- what a night.

We'll be right back.


RICHARD: The court is the great leveler in the sense that it doesn't make any difference whether we are talking about school teachers and laborers, or presidents and kings, the rules are the same. And the rules in this case are very clear. There are two questions that this court must answer: was there substantial competent evidence in the record below to support the judge's findings; and did the judge properly apply long established law?




KING: Tonight: It ain't over yet. Will Bush or Gore be the president-elect?

Day 10 and still no final decision.

Election Day plus 20 and the Bush team is still in transition mode.

Day 24 of election 2000 standoff.

On Day 35, the nation waits for United States Supreme Court. Nine justices could hold...


KING: And so it goes.

Ted, in all of this, what was toughest part for you?

OLSON: Well, I will say the most exhilarating part is to stand before the United States Supreme Court. I think one of the wonderful things that has come out of this is that so many of Americans got to hear a live transcript. Well, it wasn't live, but it was a shortly delayed transcript of the actual argument in the United States Supreme Court. So many people have told me that they were so impressed with the justices on the court: how prepared the justices were, how involved they were in the arguments, and how penetrating theirs questions were.

That was -- I guess I would say that was the toughest part, but the most exciting and most gratifying part. And I think most Americans feel it was wonderful to see how the Supreme Court works, and how they approach the issues that they are involved in deciding.

KING: Even though many are saying today -- well, not many, but a good -- a percentage are saying that it was a political decision. You don't agree, obviously.

OLSON: No, it was not a political decision. No one who read the opinions of the various justices could say that. There are different professional legal points of view that were expressed by the justices. But the wonderful thing about the United States Supreme Court is that they explain legally why they come to the conclusions that they did. And seven of the nine justices agreed that the equal-protection clause was violated by the system that the Florida Supreme Court had created for these recounts.

Two of the justices disagreed. And they disagreed for reasons that they stated. We have a wonderful institution in the United States Supreme Court. And I think Americans saw that. There are some people, I think, in the media that are doing a disservice to our system and a disservice to the United States Supreme Court by pretending that this is a -- or characterizing this as a political decision. It was a legal decision. It was a constitutional decision.

And whether we agree with it or not, the Supreme Court acted very honorably.

KING: And knowing you, Ted, you would be saying the same thing if you had lost there, right?

OLSON: I have lost in the Supreme Court. And I have always said that. It's disappointing when you lose, but this is -- and all of those justices, from whatever political persuasion they come from, they are very, very bright people. They work exceedingly hard. They are right there. More than any other American political institution, they are present and accountable, because they explain in writing their decisions. So you can agree or disagree.

KING: Barry, what was the toughest or most exhilarating for you?

RICHARD: The toughest thing actually wasn't the part that I think most people thought was the toughest, which was when they were seeing me in different courtrooms on different days and all on the same day.

KING: That wasn't?

RICHARD: No, the toughest part was the beginning, when we had 25, 30 cases filed in five different cities, and as soon as the case was filed, there would be an emergency hearing. I had one day when I was arguing in my office by telephone with Judge Labarga in Palm Peach County the decision that ultimately was affirmed by the Florida Supreme Court that threw out the so-called "butterfly ballot." And as soon as I finished that argument, I excused myself and ran into other office, where an associate was holding another judge so that I could argue by telephone in that case.

So in addition to that, we had -- many of the cases were being filed without naming Governor Bush as a defendant, so we would have no notice. So we had to have clerks stationed in all the possible courthouses where things could be filed. We had to have lawyers ready to go in at a moment's notice.

That was the toughest part of the case. By the time, it was all centralized in Tallahassee it was easier.

The most exhilarating part of the case I think was the second Florida Supreme Court argument when my wife, Allison, was there and it was our anniversary and it was just a lot of fun that day.

KING: We'll be back with more of these two outstanding lawyers on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE, and then after the next portion, another well-known face, Bob Crawford will join us. Don't go away.


KING: Ted, what was it like to work with Jim Baker? OLSON: Jim Baker is fabulous person to work for. It was one of the privileges of my lifetime.

He is a -- he's a prominent, successful lawyer. He was a chief of staff of the White House. He was secretary of treasury, secretary of state. He is smart, intelligent, disciplined, and it was a privilege to work with him.

One of the things that Jim Baker does and abides by is that everything he says, he thinks about the integrity of not only the message that he is bringing, but as a spokesperson for Governor Bush: Are we saying the right thing? Are we saying it in the right tone? Are we being properly respectful of our opponents and of the institutions that we're dealing with?

And he presented a very cogent, understandable, disciplined message in a short period of time, and I think he provides a lesson in how to handle something like that. He was also extremely capable of understanding all of the issues and all of these lawsuits that Barry has talked about, and participating in them, but I think he gave the lawyers a lot of flexibility and latitude to handle their cases.

But he was involved and knew everything that was going on. I was very, very impressed.

KING: What was it like for you?

RICHARD: I find him to be -- have an interesting combination. He carries himself with great dignity but he's also very human. He's got a good sense of humor.

KING: Yes.

RICHARD: Another thing that I think speaks well of him is I dealt directly, worked very closely with two of his partners in Baker & Botts (ph), Daryl Bristow and Irv Carroll (ph). And you would have expected that two lawyers who are senior partners in one of the major law firms in the country and the partners of the man who is essentially running the show -- he was the spokesman for the client -- would be somewhat pompous. They were utterly unpretentious.

They were just -- they came in and they were easy to work with. They made it clear that they did not want to be in anybody's way. They asked for instructions, and I think that speaks highly of Secretary Baker.

KING: All right, we are going to take a break. We will take a call coming in, but we'll take a break. And when come back, we are going to meet a man a lot of Americans got to know: Bob Crawford. He's the agriculture commissioner of the state of Florida. But he was involved because he took Jeb Bush's place on the Florida Election Canvassing Commission, and was there for that historic announcement by the secretary of state. Bob Crawford joins us after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We have had quite a show tonight. And joining us now in our remaining moments, with Ted Olson and Barry Richard, is Bob Crawford, the Democrat who voted for Bush, the state agricultural commissioner of the state of Florida, who got called on by the Canvassing Commission when Jeb Bush recused...

What was this like for you?

BOB CRAWFORD, FLORIDA ELECTION CANVASSING COMMISSION: It was quite a -- we kind of went from agony to ecstasy. It was intense. It was -- the pressure, at times, was unbelievable. For this much intensity to be shown in such a short period of time was something I never anticipated.

KING: How did you feel watching Messieurs Olson and Richard?

CRAWFORD: I was fascinated by it. I have always admired Barry Richard. And I felt he was one of the top lawyers, particularly that they had in the Florida cases. And, basically, while they weren't representing the Canvassing Commission -- we had our own attorneys -- most of the time they were defending our position that we were following the law. And that's what we maintained all the while, Katherine and myself. And I think the Supreme Court finally said we were right.

KING: Mr. Olson's work?

CRAWFORD: Fantastic. I went to the Supreme Court. And it is a very tense place to be. And the rapid-fire questions were what surprised me. And he handled it fantastic.

KING: Ted, did Katherine Harris get a bum wrap?

OLSON: Oh, I think it was awful what people tried to do to her. She is a wonderful person. I don't know her personally at all. But she has had a fine professional life. It was a -- I felt very, very badly that a part of American politics has to be savaging a decent, honorable person like that, that was trying to her job.

And I was just appalled that people would not only attack her integrity in ways that were totally unjustified -- and I'm not going to get into the things that were said, because they were totally indefensible -- but also to attack her personal appearance, the way she dressed, the way she combed her hair. I think that's beneath respect in American politics. I don't know who was responsible for that. But whoever was responsible for that ought to be very, very ashamed.

KING: Barry, you do know her.

RICHARD: Not really well. I got to know her as a result of this


RICHARD: I have known her in her position. But I haven't known her... KING: Was she bum-wrapped?

RICHARD: Oh, I think so. As a matter of fact, I called and left a message for her tonight. I wanted to wait until everything was over. And I told her that I should she carried herself with considerable dignity under a great deal of pressure, and that is how I fell.

KING: It was hard, though. She was in a -- she was in a no-win, right, Bob?

CRAWFORD: It was a no-win, no matter. If she would have been a Democrat, the Republicans would have been leery of what she was doing something. And she had to be something, because we were all Republicans and Democrats in this. But she put on a nonpartisan hat, in my opinion. She followed the process. She's a great lady.

I've known her since she was 16 years of age. She's very independent, very bright. And I saw her this morning, and she was doing pretty good.

It's taken a toll on her, as it has all of us.

KING: Speaking of bum rap, the Seminole County judge, they ranted to recuse her. She got bum-rapped. She turned out to be a pretty good judge, didn't she, Barry?

RICHARD: I told everybody from the beginning that she was going to be independent. She is a great judge. She's bright. She is nobody's puppet. She was going to do what she thought was right. Of course, I think she did because she ruled for me. I also think she did because it was correct.

KING: All right, gentlemen, Ted, you're an outsider in this. These two are Floridians. Are we going to change -- and obviously, something has to be done with the system of counting and judging votes.

OLSON: Yes, I think we can...

KING: I mean, nine justices on the court agreed with that. Something's wrong.

OLSON: Well -- well, nine -- we were before the Supreme Court twice. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in our favor 9 to 0 the first time and 7 to 2 on the fundamental issue the second time. I think one of the problems that we have now learned about in American elections is that we have to develop systems to evaluate ballots that are relatively equal and relatively fair, and put those systems in place before the election and not try to change them after the election. That was a big problem here.

KING: And Bob, and are we going to do that, Bob?

CRAWFORD: I think we are going to do it. As you know, Larry...

KING: Jeb called a special...

CRAWFORD: Jeb -- Jeb has launched a major, major initiative in the state of Florida to look at our whole election system. He believes, as I do, that every vote does count, and we want to make sure that we don't have problems at the ballot box. If people take the time and they come to vote, which many don't, they ought to be able to walk away with the confidence their vote was counted.

KING: Ted, we only have 30 seconds. Did you lose any clients while devoting so much attention to this?

OLSON: Well, I hope I didn't. I certainly had to ignore a few of them. But I hope -- I hope that some of them thought that we did a fairly good job in the Supreme Court and they'll come back when this is all over, which I think it is.

KING: Barry.

RICHARD: No. As a matter of fact, my clients were wonderful. I received phone calls and e-mails telling me that they thought I was doing a good job and I shouldn't worry about it.

KING: Fun being agriculture secretary again?

CRAWFORD: It is, and I lost a lot of sleep, and we need to get back to our day jobs here. So we're looking forward to it.

KING: Thank you all very much. Ted, it's great knowing you, good seeing you again.

OLSON: Larry, thank you.

KING: Barry, great seeing you again. Spent a lot of time when Barry was a little kid. He used to come on my radio show. You did OK.


And Bob Crawford...

CRAWFORD: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Thank you all, and thanks to Ralph Nader and Joe Lieberman earlier.

Jeff Greenfield is next. Jon Stewart tomorrow night. From New York, good night.



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