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Larry King Live

John McCain Defends His Plan for Campaign Finance Reform

Aired January 22, 2001 - 9:00 p.m. ET


BOB SCHIEFFER, GUEST HOST: Tonight: Is Senator John McCain headed for a confrontation with President George W. Bush? The Arizona Republican joins us to talk about his No. 1 issue: campaign-finance reform.

Then, what's the public buzz on the changing of the partisan guard in Washington? We will hear from five top radio personalities: in Los Angeles, Joan Rivers, whose long list of activities include hosting a radio talk show; in D.C., Diane Rehm of National Public Radio; also in the nation's capital, syndicated radio host Jim Bohannon; in New York, radio talk show host Bob Grant; and in Austin, Texas, radio commentator Jim Hightower.

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Well, thanks for joining us. I'm not Larry King. I'm Bob Schieffer of CBS News. Larry is off tonight. And I'm sitting in.

The Bush administration is barely 48 years old and the elbowing over agenda priorities is already under way. Earlier today, former presidential candidate John McCain kept his top campaign promise. He dropped the bipartisan campaign reform act of 2001 into the hopper on Capitol Hill, along with fellow Republican Thad Cochran and Democrat Russ Feingold -- Senator McCain here to talk about his legislation tonight and its chances for a speedy passage.

Senator McCain, you have put great emphasis from the start on getting this done first. Why is it so important to go first?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I would have liked to have had it done first, because we are not doing anything legislatively for two or three weeks. That has been the case with the previous incoming administrations. But that was viewed -- and I think by some appropriately -- that it might sort of be taking precedence over President Bush's agenda.

So we are willing to wait a reasonable length of time, we think, before Congress goes into its -- the Senate goes into its second vacation period sometime in March, that we could take it up and dispense with it. We are having great difficulties negotiating that with Senator Lott.

SCHIEFFER: What do you mean? Why would that be? And let's just set the stage for this, because, I mean, to be frank, a lot of people say maybe you are just trying get in George Bush's face here, that you ran against him in the campaign, that he won the campaign, that he ought to have a chance to lay out his programs first. So what do you respond to them when they say that?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, the president and I have a very cordial relationship. I'm not interested in interfering. I'm not interested in taking precedence, even. That's why we are willing to wait. I think he could get his education percentage up and get it to the floor. And we could go immediately after that. But I will make two points. One is that, if you really are going to change the tone in Washington, you've got to get rid of the special interests -- or reduce it.

Why is it we don't have an HMO patients's bill of rights? We really want a tax cut that doesn't have a whole bunch special deals for special interests. The tax cut is already 44,000 pages long. If you really want to change the tone and reform government, you've got to have campaign-finance reform. And finally, I believe that there are people who expect us to clean up our act. There are Americans right now who are not very enthusiastic in their support of the political process. And I think, by giving them back their government and their voice in government, we could heal some of these wounds.

SCHIEFFER: You just mentioned that you are having trouble with Senator Lott already in getting this schedule for


MCCAIN: Well, we are in negotiations. I hope that we can get an agreement. I continue to hope so. But very frankly, his counteroffers have been -- well, they started out that they want to wait until after all the appropriations bills, which would have been sometime around Christmas. And then they backed off some. But there has been -- it has been difficult.

We all know that Senator Lott in the past has not only opposed my efforts, but opposed campaign-finance reform as well. I hope we can work together. And I believe that we can. I'm meeting with President Bush on Wednesday, I believe. And I think that we can work together on this. He had a campaign-finance-reform proposal before the South Carolina primary. We agree on most issues. And I think we can agree. So I look forward to that meeting and many meetings in the future as I support President Bush and his agenda.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think the problem is with the Senator Lott? Is it that he is just dead set against any kind of overhaul of the finance laws? Is it something between the two of you? What do you think it is?

MCCAIN: You know, I'm not -- it is not clear to me. Senator Lott told me that he wants to negotiate. I want to negotiate with him as well. We are just not making the progress that I hoped that we would make. For example, they want to add other bills onto this bill: a McConnell bill, a Lott bill, another bill. I mean, that is very confusing to the issue. There's others who say they want to bring up electoral reform. I'm all for electoral reform. But we know that to really reform the election system, we are going to have to go through a lot of hearings and get a lot of information. Campaign-finance reform is not a new issue. We've got to eliminate the soft money. And we've got to clean up this independent-campaign issue.

SCHIEFFER: Again, it is interesting. We did some calculations in our CBS News election unit. And we discovered that, to get George Bush from Austin, Texas to Washington, D.C., by our calculation, cost $446 million -- $446,870,000. He raised about $105 million in campaign contributions. Now, that is hard money that he raised. The Republican National Committee threw in $136,000. The...

MCCAIN: One-hundred and thirty-six million?

SCHIEFFER: One-hundred and thirty-six million.

MCCAIN: One-hundred and thirty-six million.

SCHIEFFER: Sixty-three million raised for the GOP convention -- for the inaugural, some $43 million. Now, some of that was soft money. Some of it was hard money. But that is a long way from Thomas Jefferson riding over on his horse, isn't it, to take the oath?

MCCAIN: Yes. For the benefit of our viewers, the hard money is the $1,000 or less. That's the contribution limits that is the law. The soft money is the unregulated money, where people have found ways around existing law to give hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars. There was a fund-raiser here in Washington in October where you could buy a ticket for $500,000. There is foreign money that has come in. There is Chinese money. You have Mr. Riady, just pled guilty and was given an $8 million fine, coincidentally, by the way, just before the administration went out.

Mr. Rich's -- who was just pardoned by the president -- wife, I'm told, according to media reports, gave $600,000 in these soft-money contribution to the Democratic National Committee. Look, this is wrong. And even whether the president's decision about Mr. Rich was entirely divorced of any campaign contributions, the appearance is terrible. But this goes on and on and on. Why is it, do you think, we don't have an HMO patients' bill of rights, prescription drugs for seniors, all these other reforms?

And the answer is because we are gripped by the special interests. And we have to break it.

SCHIEFFER: John McCain, thanks so much for coming by.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Bob. Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: We'll be back in a minute to talk to all these folks who do a lot of listening to radio listeners around the country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SCHIEFFER: Well, I think it is fair to say we have had a busy couple of days here in the nation's capital: a new president, George Bush, sworn in. His predecessor, Bill Clinton, left the White House amid a last-minute floury of pardons and a deal with the independent prosecutor. But what is the public saying about all this shifting political landscape?

We are going to turn to five talk radio personalities. And we will be taking some calls.

Joining us from Los Angeles, entertainer and entrepreneur Joan Rivers; she hosts "The Joan Rivers Show" syndicated on WOR-radio, here in Washington; Diane Rehm, the host of "The Diane Rehm Show" on National Public Radio; with her, syndicated radio host Jim Bohannon of "The Jim Bohannon Show;" and, in New York, veteran talk radio host Bob Grant, and down in Austin, Texas, radio commentator and newsletter publisher Jim Hightower.

Well, lady and gentlemen it has been a busy week, and today, George Bush, who, we were told, was going to put the first emphasis on education, signed this order, putting a ban on the use of federal money that can be used in overseas groups that promote, in any way -- have anything to do with abortion. It is already stirred up a little trouble here.

Is -- Diane Rehm -- is what's happened here what happened to Bill Clinton in the beginning of his administration, when somehow or another he got off on gays in the military and everything else kind of came to a stop.

DIANE REHM, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: It is interesting Bob, because, he overturned, actually, an executive order that had been in place. And that was in place for the whole of his term, which allowed federal funds to be used for family planning, for that sort of thing. And the first thing that George Bush does is to overturn that executive order. And I found myself wondering why.

Now, we didn't hear about that this morning on the radio program but the wonderful part about public radio is that you have this broad spectrum of listeners -- many of whom support George Bush, many of whom believe that what he is going to do for the country is just right, many of whom believe he is an illegitimate president. So, having taken this action it's going to be interesting.

SCHIEFFER: Jim Bohannon and I -- you know, some feel one way about abortion, some people feel another way, and that part doesn't interest me so much, as, the political impact this is going to have; why do you suppose that right out of the box, he started this.

JIM BOHANNON, SYNDICATED RADIO HOST: Right out of the box, I can't imagine why, Bob, except to send a signal that, in fact, he is going to try to get most of the Republican agenda adopted. I know that the calls I get, commercial radio tends to have a rather conservative audience, and the calls I'm hearing frankly are regarding the Bush theme of unity -- forget it, we would like to get what we can get. We have the White House and both Houses of Congress, however narrowly in each case, for the first time in 46 years, and let's go for it. And that may be part of what we are seeing.

SCHIEFFER: Bob Grant, let's go to you. I'm sure, speaking of conservatives, you would be happy to identify yourself as such. Do you think this will help or hurt the new president?

BOB GRANT, TALK RADIO HOST: I don't think it will do either, Bob. People forget that in 1993, when Bill Clinton became the 42nd president, one of the first things he did was issue the executive order which installed the process of providing federal funds for family planning overseas. Under George Bush, the father, and under Ronald Reagan, so you had 12 years, we did not have funding with federal funds. And so, what George W. Bush did today was the same thing, except in the opposite direction, of what Bill Clinton did eight years ago.

SCHIEFFER: Jim Hightower, down there in Austin, you have watched George Bush a long time. What do you make of this start?

JIM HIGHTOWER, SYNDICATED RADIO COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he just stepped into a great, old wet cow paddy, is what he did. Irony seems to be a foreign concept to George W. Bush and we are going to see more of this -- here is a guy who, just two days ago, was telling us, that it is the national unity that he is concerned with, and we must all come together in America, and is very first action is to be as divisive as he can possibly be.

In fact, this is one of those issues that even a minority within his own party, actually supports, and the majority of his party must less majority of nation is rather dismayed, although I guess we ought not really be surprised, that he would make this concession to his far right constituency, but I think more than anything, it is not so much what it is going to do politically, in terms of his other agenda inside Washington, except that it is going to further turn off the American people, I think, to -- these guys are just, you know, serving self-interests and special interests.

SCHIEFFER: Jim, let's take a little break -- we'll get to Joan Rivers in just a moment. We will talk about the style and change that has come to Washington when we come back.


SCHIEFFER: Well, we are back with all our radio talk show hosts and Joan Rivers, I want to go to you, because we really have had a change here in Washington. As they say, Elvis has left the building -- he took his good time about it. As we all saw in Inauguration Day, but now we have the Texans come back; what do you expect?

JOAN RIVERS, ENTERTAINER: Well, it upset me. Let's go back to abortion -- I'm a woman, and I am a Republican, but...

SCHIEFFER: I must say, when I ask people hard questions, they will often try to evade the question, but I never asked anybody an easy question, and have them say, let me go back to the hard question.

RIVERS: I just want to say, I found this appalling what he did. Appalling. And immediately, the repercussions -- the first announcement was, the tax funds being cut overseas for abortions, and the second announcement came out, that the population of China has doubled. I mean, this is just madness what he is doing. I thought he was going to start with good things like changing the phones to get rid of all 1-900 numbers in the White House -- things like that.

Reversing Clinton is OK, Monica Lewinsky -- put her back under the desk, but these kind of things, very bad to do. And he is going to do a lot of splitting, and cause a lot of friction that shouldn't be there.

SCHIEFFER: What did you think, Jim Bohannon? What did you think of the speech itself?

BOHANNON: It was short, I didn't think it particularly noteworthy. It wasn't one of the great soaring speeches. It had a lot of religious mentions in it. I did note, as did others, what I thought was a parting shot at Bill Clinton about presidents being accountable for personal behavior, or personal responsibility, I guess was the phrase he used, but in the main, I thought it was a workmanlike speech. And he did try very much to unify, but what we are really finding here is that, it is going to be very hard to unify. This country has a lot of very divergent viewpoints right now.

SCHIEFFER: Diane Rehm, were you surprised that Bill Clinton also chose Inauguration Day to make a long speech in which he sort of extolled his -- all of his virtues out there at Andrews Air Force Base, and normally, when a president leaves town, he sort of leaves Inauguration Day to the new fellow, and goes quietly in the night. This clearly was not the case.

REHM: This not Bill Clinton, I mean, it is his way to simply be there until the last moment, and he said that is exactly what I'm going to do. And he said even though I left, I haven't really left. And I think the overall -- lot of people who didn't want him to leave, Bob Schieffer; you have to acknowledge that across this country there is this division, not only about Al Gore, and President Bush, but there is this huge division about Bill Clinton.


SCHIEFFER: Yesterday on "Face the Nation," Marlin Fitzwater, who was Ronald Reagan's old press secretary, says he looked at Bill Clinton as he was leaving and he said, he reminded him of someone going into a Witness Protection Program -- they didn't want to go, but they knew they had to go.

Bob Grant, do you think it was appropriate for him to, sort of, stay in the spotlight as he did?

GRANT: Absolutely not appropriate. But of course, Bill Clinton continues being an ex-president the same way he was a president; we have never seen anything like him before, and, hopefully, we will never see anything like him again.

SCHIEFFER: Well, you know, Jim Hightower, that is an interesting point, and I think we are going to see a lot of Bill Clinton, because he is the first president since Woodrow Wilson who is going to live here in Washington. What do you think he is going do with himself? After all, he is the same age now that Ronald Reagan was, when he ran for governor of California, of all things.

HIGHTOWER: We got to get him something to do, because he is going to be in our face otherwise. You know, I mean, this was classic Clinton, on this Inaugural Day to do that. I mean he just -- it is like he can't help himself, you know; it is -- I don't think there was any kind of particular intent it in. He just can't stop it, and, you know, I don't doubt that he probably has packed up White House stationary and is going to continue doing it.

SCHIEFFER: All right, we are going to break here. We will be back with more of this with all of our radio talk show hosts in a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Here is George Bush, as he was coming up to the White House, as for what can sometimes be one of the stiffest and most awkward moments in American politics. And that is when the outgoing president meets the incoming president. I always recall that when Eisenhower came to the White House, he wouldn't even get out of the car, he disliked Harry Truman so much, but apparently, George Bush and Bill Clinton just got along famously during this meeting.

Joan Rivers, what do you think they talked about in there and what do you think what are the changes we are going to see now with Bill Clinton, at least, moving up the street, and George Bush in the White House?

RIVERS: Well, I just think that we have to be so careful now, because as Diane said, this country is so split, and I think they've gotten off on such a bad footing to begin with, but, Clinton isn't going anywhere. He is like the boy -- I'm leaving, I'm leaving! No your not! He is hanging on, they don't want to go anywhere, those two. Unfortunately, I think they are going to be around and...

SCHIEFFER: What will the style in Washington be? What will be...

RIVERS: Very conservative. Just look at her skirt. You know, the skirt length tells you everything. Look what the -- Laura Bush now is wearing a very long conservative skirt; you wear a conservative dress to the inauguration, it's going to be family values, family values, family values -- which is fine, but I think this country needs that, to a point; to a big point.

SCHIEFFER: One of the things that we were talking about and it's kind of -- it was kind of amusing in one way, to watch Bill Clinton, as he sort of, just hated go, and clearly he did. And some do say it was fairly inappropriate -- I'm one of them who thinks, perhaps, that it was to be quite honest about it. But I think we also need to add that he leaves with a very high approval rating. REHM: 65 percent, as high as that to Bush as he comes in to office, and as far as style is concerned, I must say, I have to comment that I thought Laura Bush looked absolutely beautiful. The color looked good on her. You know, we here in Washington, tend to be, sort of, mavens of fashion, and who are we to make those kinds of comments? She comes...

RIVERS: I think I'm allowed to say, Diane, that I didn't like her dress. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard a woman say. "We in Washington" -- well, we in New York or we in Chicago thought her dress was very dowdy, and they kept bragging about all these wonderful unknown fashion designers doing their clothes, and we took a look at their clothes; that is why they are unknown. I thought it was a very dowdy looking dress. Excuse me, Diane.

REHM: I'm sad to hear Joan say that, because I think we women somehow criticize other women to the extent of putting them down for the clothes they wear. She is a lovely woman, she comes with graciousness and grace and I think she is going to bring a lot to the White House, so Joan, forgive me, but I have to disagree with you.

RIVERS: That's fine. Forgive me for saying that I'm just one of those shallow bitches that wants to look at her dress -- stupid me, to think a woman wants to look pretty.

REHM: I think she did look pretty.

RIVERS: I shouldn't be on this show, because you are all so serious. Let's lighten up everybody, and say, let's hope that Laura Bush's young and she has brought two young pretty girls in, and let's hope they are nice parties and hope there is family values, and there are not secretaries under desk, and what is so terrible about saying Laura Bush, who is a young woman, shouldn't be wearing the dress of old librarian. She was wearing an old lady's dress, that I should wear, not her -- she has got great breasts.

SCHIEFFER: Let's hope that she does not show up in some garbs they wear to the Academy Awards -- having said that, we will talk about something else. Jim Bohannon, what is going to be the problem for this president? What are people saying? What do they want from him? What do you think is possible for him?

BOHANNON: A lot of people are asking for the whole conservative agenda, and I think that that is probably is reflective of a good many people on Capitol Hill. And I think that there will be times, I believe, when President Bush may have to depend on Democrats to get things through this Congress. If he really hopes to hew a middle line, a unifying line to reach compromises, I think there are people up on Capitol Hill in his own party, who are not inclined go that way.

SCHIEFFER: All right, we will talk about this some more when we come back with all of our radio hosts in just a minute.


SCHIEFFER: Welcome Back. Bob Schieffer here sitting in tonight for Larry King, getting the public's take on the weekend presidential inauguration and the aftermath of election 2000. We are taking your calls. And we are talking with Joan Rivers, whose radio show is syndicated on WOR Radio Network, Diane Rehm from National Public Radio, syndicated talk radio host Jim Bohannon, one of talk radio's most controversial voices, Bob Grant, and in Austin, radio commentator Jim Hightower.

Well, Jim Hightower, let's talk a little bit about George Bush and how we -- how he got here. And what do you expect of this administration?

HIGHTOWER: Well, he had himself forklifted into the presidency, the same way he was forklifted into the governor's chair right behind me here at the Texas state Capitol. And that is by very large, powerful money interests. And those money interests are really who is going to govern in this administration, just as they governed in his governorship here in the state of Texas.

This is a guy who not only amassed the money that you and Senator McCain were talking about earlier, but has consistently been a prostitute for those very interests, and willing to do whatever


SCHIEFFER: Now, just a minute. That is a little strong, isn't it?

HIGHTOWER: Well, you know, Bob, I'm right here in Texas and watched five years of George W. Bush, where he talked, you know -- had very nice rhetoric about serving all of the people and "Leave no child behind." But when push came to shove -- as Willie Nelson says it always does -- he was there for his money interests against the interests, say, of children.

For example, he opposed financing of kindergarten for all children in our state. He opposed extending health care to 300,000 children in Texas because he wanted that money instead go to tax benefits for his campaign contributors. Now those same contributors in fact were financing the inaugural at $100,000 dollars a clip and financed his presidential campaign. And you see this reflected in the Cabinet that he has put in. We hear all about this diversity. We have got four women. We have a Hispanic-American, a couple of African-Americans, a Japanese-American, etcetera.

But wait a minute: The one thing that they all have in common is a lifetime of loyal service to corporate interests.


HIGHTOWER: Including four CEOs and a corporate lobbyist being in the Cabinet itself. This is who is really going to govern.

SCHIEFFER: Let me cut in. Let me cut in. I think I do take your point.

Bob Grant, do you think Jim Hightower down there is taking it a little beyond where it ought go here?

GRANT: Oh I'm not surprised at Jim Hightower. After all he is a former Democrat office-holder. And he has been carping on the same line as long as I can remember. It is interesting that he has all those things to say about the financial aspects behind George W. Bush, when this administration has just had scandal after scandal when it comes to campaign finances, when it comes to illicit money coming into campaigns, the Buddhist temple all that.

But I want to say something, Bob, that really concerns me here. And that is, I heard Diane and I heard Joan talk about how divided we are. I don't think it is that serious. This is America. We are used to arguing. We are used to having divergence of opinion. So we shouldn't let that overwhelm us. But why is it, Bob -- why is it, if a conservative wants to follow a conservative agenda, he is being divisive, but if a liberal wants to follow a liberal agenda, why, that is perfectly all right?

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let's take a call here. Let's get in a call.

As Larry King would say: Go ahead, Tokyo.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Yes. I would like to ask the panel if they think George W. Bush will be making the crucial decisions himself, or how much he will rely on his advisers to tell him what to do? I mean, how much will he be really taking a hands-on roll?


BOHANNON: He's going to run the show, but...

REHM: Vice President Cheney, as he now wishes to be called, I think will hold a great deal of responsibility. But we have seen increasingly through the years vice presidents take over more of the responsibility as presidents become CEOs.

SCHIEFFER: Yes, but I think it is fair to say that this may be the first vice president with the real job. I mean...

REHM: With the real job.

SCHIEFFER: He is obviously the operating officer. Do you think that can last, Jim?

BOHANNON: No, it will not last, and for one very simple reason: I think that George Bush, frankly, has heard quite enough about how he is going to be the president with training wheels -- and seen the political cartoons. And, frankly, I wouldn't want to be Dick Cheney the first time he overreaches in one of those private White House sessions. I think that George Bush will make it clear he is in charge, even though he may rely a lot on their advice. But I think he feels it incumbent upon him to make it clear he is the guy.

REHM: Bob Schieffer, may I make a point about Bob Grant's statement that, after all, we are a country that comes together? We have to remember that the electorate was divided. And that is what makes this election different and what makes people's attitudes different about this election.

SCHIEFFER: I think that is a good point. And we are going to go to a break now. But we will talk about it some more when we come back.



WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: It's time to say goodbye. I guess the dance party is finally over for once and all.




RENO: I like your dress, Janet.

FERRELL: Thanks, Janet. I like yours, too. Oh, Janet, I can't believe I have to say goodbye. What do you do when you get sad?

RENO: I just dance. Now hit it!



SCHIEFFER: Well, you can say what you want to about this campaign and the coverage of it, but the comics are back. "Saturday Night Live" is back. That skit, of course, was from Saturday night. This was the campaign where we began to play what Letterman had to say, what Leno had to say on the evening news.

Joan Rivers, the comedy was just better than ever at this campaign. I wonder why.

RIVERS: Oh, are you kidding? It was -- they just gave you a -- everybody. I mean there was so much on both sides. Where do you want to start? You know, the extra four weeks before we decided who was going to be president was great for Bush, because he had four more weeks of home education. And that was very good.

Then you go over to Clinton. And you say they have just changed back the eagle. It's going to go back to being the bald eagle instead of the spread eagle. I mean, you just -- wherever you look, there's a joke.

SCHIEFFER: You know, Jim... RIVERS: And it's -- in a way, it's wonderful because we could air what we thought and make a joke. And it is out in public. And then you move ahead.

SCHIEFFER: You know, Jim Hightower, I was thinking about this as I was listening to Joan say this. Humor is one of the things that sort of is missing now in modern politics. In the days before television, when politicians had to have a kind of a something to draw people out to see them talk, they were much funnier much of the time, weren't they? And it is kind of good to see these comics come back.

HIGHTOWER: Oh, totally. And I think what happened to politics is that the consultants took over. Instead of candidates being real people who had their own sense of humor and that that could be expressed freely, now it is speechwriters and focus groups and etcetera. So the candidates themselves are totally controlled. So you don't get that storytelling tradition, which has been so rich, not only in the South, but in Boston and, you know, New York, ethnic areas that are heavy with culture.

We are losing all this to this kind of bland, made-for- television, corporate-driven, money-soaked campaigns.

RIVERS: Jim...


RIVERS: Jim, do you remember the first -- the first presidential debate? They obviously had figured out a red tie is the tie to wear.


RIVERS: I mean, it depressed me so much. Both men sat there in the correct tie focus groups said they go for the most. I mean, that -- it is frightening.


SCHIEFFER: I was just going to say -- and I think this may be the worst thing you can say about this campaign -- is that, while we tend to forget those first debates, we can all remember the debates that were on "Saturday Night Live."


SCHIEFFER: I mean, that is the parts of this campaign that you remember.

HIGHTOWER: Well, and the joke is on us.

BOHANNON: Of course, at the second debate, Gore lost the coin toss. He had to wear the blue tie.


SCHIEFFER: The one thing we missed in this campaign was Ross Perot.


SCHIEFFER: You know, and hearing some of the imitations of him.

REHM: But part of it is because it is so serious. I mean, you've got the nomination of John Ashcroft still out there, still very serious in the minds of many. Joan was talking about abortion earlier. And certainly that is a concern.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let's talk about that a little when we come back...

REHM: All right.

SCHIEFFER: ... in a minute.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Appreciate your service to the country.

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Nice to see you. Thank you all for coming.

BUSH: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.

BUSH: You're a good man. Tell them hello in West Virginia.



HOLLY HUNTER, ACTRESS: You're getting more of an education than ever, I'm sure.


SCHIEFFER: Well, there you are. Joan Rivers was talking a moment ago about the dowdy dress in Washington. Here are some pictures we have of one of the inaugural balls. And you will get opportunity to see that this doesn't -- oh, wait a minute. I'm mistaken here. This is not -- this is not the inaugural ball. This is the Golden Globes Awards last night. And Joan Rivers was out there covering them for E!.

Well, Joan, we will take a little break from politics for a minute here. What was the dirt out there last night?

RIVERS: Just that everybody looked beautiful. Now, do those dresses look bad to you? Truthfully? I thought Rita Wilson just looked gorgeous. I thought so many of those dresses were absolutely beautiful. And...


RIVERS: Go on.

SCHIEFFER: So I was just going to say, how do you think -- compare what you saw out there last night to what you saw in Washington. Is there really a difference?

RIVERS: Well, Washington, I just think -- you know, and I feel sorry. It's like being a minister's wife. It's like being -- a politicians wife, you can't offend anybody. And it's very sad -- when Nancy Reagan that time wore that one-armed dress, that beautiful, gorgeous Galanos, and they took her to task that she shouldn't have worn that.

I think politician's wives should look beautiful and glamorous. We still remember Jacqueline Onassis. And she represented so us wonderfully when we she was Jackie Kennedy. It's nice to have glamour in the White House.

SCHIEFFER: Well, we're seeing some pictures -- we're seeing some pictures now of Laura Bush. And I must say that I think she looks absolutely beautiful. I would also...

RIVERS: I think she is a beautiful woman. I think she could really look snappy. That looks like her mother's dress.

SCHIEFFER: I would also say that I give her very high marks for staying out of George Bush's way on the dance floor, because of the many talents that he may have, one of them is clearly not dancing.


SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, let's -- let's get back to talking about more serious things. We were talking just a minute ago about John Ashcroft being Bush's nominee to be attorney general. I think this was a nomination that surprised a lot of people, even in George Bush's camp.

Bob Grant, he's getting a lot of heat from a lot of people on this. Do you think this -- what did you think of having John Ashcroft? My sense is that you probably think that's a really good idea.

GRANT: Well, I think John Ashcroft has a lot to commend himself to be attorney general. After all, he was attorney general for eight years for the state of Missouri, two-term governor for the state of Missouri, United States senator. John Ashcroft has a fine reputation. And I think that the interesting thing about this nomination is, it never would have happened had not John Ashcroft been so gracious and pulled out of that contentious Senate race in the state of Missouri.

You know, according to the Missouri Constitution, you are supposed to be living in the state, a resident of the state at the time of the election. Well, clearly, Mel Carnahan was not a resident of the state, having died on October 16 in that tragic plane crash. And there were many people who wanted John Ashcroft to contest the election, which, of course, was given to -- the seat was given to Jean Carnahan. But John Ashcroft said: No, the woman has suffered enough. I think we ought to let it go.

Had it not been for that, John Ashcroft would not be available to be the attorney general-designate.

SCHIEFFER: I agree with you on two counts there. I think it was a very graceful thing to do. And I also agree with you that I do not believe that George Bush would have nominated him had he not been so graceful in his concession.

BOHANNON: A couple of things here, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: But -- Jim.

BOHANNON: I'm from Missouri. And I know John a little bit. First of all, he was not the first choice. Governors Racicot and Keating apparently were first up for attorney general. Second, there is no bigger straight arrow in American public life than John Ashcroft. And I really believe that if he says that he will enforce the law, however much he disagrees with it, this is one person with the integrity to pull that off.

SCHIEFFER: Well, there was a sort of a Paul-on-the-road-to- Damascus feeling about those hearings, because a lot of the things that John Ashcroft has said he was absolutely opposed to -- he said, at those hearings, for example, he would not attempt to overturn Roe versus Wade. And he went through a series of things.

REHM: Right.

SCHIEFFER: Diane Rehm, do you think can he hold to that?

REHM: Well, the other aspect is what listeners feel. And listeners to National Public Radio across the country are not only concerned about his being an upstanding human being, but concerned with his appointments to the court, his influence in appointing people to the court, his influence in urging the solicitor general to perhaps take on a case that goes to the Supreme Court that has to do with abortion. So I think there are a lot of reasons to be concerned -- at least, that's what listeners seem to say.

SCHIEFFER: All right. We will come back in a minute with more on all this as we talk to our radio talk show hosts here on LARRY KING LIVE.


SCHIEFFER: And we are back again on LARRY KING LIVE. Bob Schieffer sitting in. We want to try to get in a couple of phone calls here. Let's take a call right now.

San Diego, go ahead. CALLER: Thank you for taking my call. With Clinton's two unprecedented farewell speeches, do you think he is going to be a more outspoken ex-president -- and perhaps divisive?

SCHIEFFER: I think he is going to be quite outspoken. I'd take that call myself.

REHM: But I don't know how divisive.

SCHIEFFER: The thing you have to remember is Bill Clinton's age. He is 54 years old. And he has got a long, full life ahead of him.

BOHANNON: He will run for the Senate. I really believe he will.

REHM: I'm not so sure.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let's talk about that. Who thinks -- who thinks Bill Clinton is going to run? You think he's going to run for the Senate, Jim Bohannon.

BOHANNON: I think he will run for the Senate.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think, Diane?

REHM: I think he's going to make a lot of money making speeches. His wife is in the Senate. They have got that stature. But they need money.

BOHANNON: They need money. But all Bill Clinton has ever wanted was public approval at the polls. He never wanted to practice law.

REHM: But he's got it.

BOHANNON: He spent two years at a law firm in Little Rock doing nothing but calling around the state trying to be a reelected governor.

HIGHTOWER: If he wants to have public approval at the polls, as an ex-president -- you know, he's young, as you say, Bob. He is very vigorous. Why not give him a hammer and a ladder and let him join Jimmy Carter in building some homes?

REHM: Absolutely.

BOHANNON: Not good enough. Every impeached president has gone back to the Senate. I mean...

SCHIEFFER: Bob Grant, what would you like to see Bill Clinton do?

GRANT: Well, I would like to see Bill Clinton get a radio talk show.


GRANT: I think it would be great. RIVERS: No, no, no.

GRANT: No, I think it would great.

HIGHTOWER: He would be.

RIVERS: No, he should be host of "Temptation Island."


SCHIEFFER: Well, I -- we will pass these suggestions right along to Bill Clinton, because I'm sure he would want to consider each and every one of them.

Let's go around the horn. What do you think is going to be -- Diane Rehm -- the accomplishment of George Bush, let's say in the first 100 days? Do you think he will get anything done?

REHM: Well, I think he will go directly to education, as he has already said. But he's changed the vocabulary. He is no longing using the word vouchers. He's got to get into it with John McCain on Wednesday talking about campaign finance. So it depends on how willing he, George Bush, is to compromise with the folks on the Hill -- taxes are up there, too.

SCHIEFFER: I must say, I thought John McCain seemed a little down tonight about the chances of getting this done.

REHM: I understand, yes.

SCHIEFFER: I think that he can do this. I think this might happen. And I think we might see it this year.

Jim Bohannon, what do you foresee for Bush in the first 100 days?

BOHANNON: He'll get some kind of tax cut. And he'll take credit for all of it even if it isn't all the $1.6 trillion that he wants.

REHM: He will change the vocabulary and say: We got what we needed.

BOHANNON: This is just what I had in mind, yes.

SCHIEFFER: Jim Hightower?

HIGHTOWER: Well, I -- you know, Bush is basically going to push things like the tax cut, special-interests legislation, pretty much under the scene because he will have support of conservative Democrats. And that's why I think the real issue is not Bush and the Democrats and the Gore -- the closeness of the Gore-Bush race, but the fact that we had 100 million people not vote in the last election. That's the real crisis for our democracy. And I think most folks are looking at Bush and the Democrats and saying just: a pox on both of your houses.

SCHIEFFER: Bob Grant? GRANT: Well, the best thing I liked about George W. Bush's inaugural address was when he asked people not to be observers, but to be citizens, to be participants. I liked that. And I think he will go for the tax cut. And I would like to respectfully remind Senator McCain -- whom I admire a great deal -- Senator McCain, George W. Bush is the president, not you. I don't see why people are always expecting the president-elect to make the compromises when maybe there ought to be little give on their side, too.

SCHIEFFER: Joan Rivers?

RIVERS: Well, I certainly hope he'll bring the country together the way he promised he would. I hope we will get the tax cuts. I'm one of those women that say: I want a tax cut, please, God -- education. And I hope he installs a new thing called bring-your- father-to-work day.


SCHIEFFER: Well, he brought his father to the inauguration, didn't he?


SCHIEFFER: The first father to see a son, by the way, be inaugurated as president.

REHM: Yes.

SCHIEFFER: John Quincy Adams, who was the only other son of a president, his father was too old.

REHM: Was not there, yes.

SCHIEFFER: John Adams was about 90 years old. And he was still up in Massachusetts when that happened.

Well, it's be been a lot of fun to have all of you all together here. I think we've kicked it around pretty good here tonight. It's amazing what we have seen here: a very unusual election.

Jim Bohannon, what do you think is going to be the impact, though? News media organizations are covering recounting votes down in Florida. Al Gore, let us not forget, got the highest -- got most of the popular vote. He won the popular vote. What if it winds up that the news organizations say that he got the most of the votes in Florida? Will that be a problem for George Bush?

BOHANNON: Oh, not a problem. We know it's a close race. I would like to think that would be something of an incentive to change our system of voting: get rid of the Electoral College. But I doubt that. Based on the last census, you have six states with three electoral votes, seven with four. And that's the 13 states needed to block it.

SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, we have to leave it there. A lot of fun to have you all here.

REHM: Thank you.

SCHIEFFER: Ann Richards will be here tomorrow night for the entire hour on LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Bob Schieffer. It was a lot of fun to be with you. Good night.



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