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Women Senators Speak Out

Aired August 3, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, they're trailblazers and policy makers, partisans searching for common ground. Twelve women of the U.S. Senate.

The dean of the dynamic dozen, Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland. From Texas, Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California. Representing same state and the same party, Senator Barbara Boxer. From the East Coast, Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican of Maine. Representing the same state and the same party, Senator Susan Collins. From Louisiana, Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu. From Arkansas, Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln.

Plus, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat of Washington state, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York and Senator Jean Carnahan, Democrat of Missouri. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We have a terrific night in store for you today. The 13 women of the Senate -- actually, 12 are here at the moment -- Senator Murray is in a special meeting of her subcommittee and we hope to have her arrive before the show ends. But we have 12 of the 13 as we start.

Remember last year, the book came out, the nine women of the Senate? It was a sensational bestseller. Well, now the paperback is coming out and they have added these four new members. So the paperback includes "And Then There Were Thirteen" and has an afterword featuring the four new members of the Senate.

So we've got 12 of them here. We're going to go right at it. Let's start with one of the new ones, Senator Cantwell of Washington. What surprises you the most?


KING: Yes.

CANTWELL: Well, we made a 44 percent increase in electing four new women. So now we're 20 percent of the caucus. And when you see that dynamic -- we're on every committee. And so the representation for America for women is even greater.

KING: In other words, you're everywhere? CANTWELL: Well, when you have every committee covered, when amendments come up you can watch things that's important. And you can bring things up on things like health care or health care research that may not have gotten the attention in the past.

KING: Senator Carnahan, what's surprised you personally?

SEN. JEAN CARNAHAN (D), MISSOURI: Well, I think the thing that surprised me personally was that there is just so little control of your schedule. That you have to do what it is preordained for you to do, so to speak, in terms of votes and meetings. And you can't start out the day and know what you're going to do. You may end up doing entirely a different thing.


KING: That surprised you?

CARNAHAN: Yes, that did surprise me.

KING: Senator Stabenow, what surprised you?

SEN. DEBORAH STABENOW (D), MICHIGAN: Well, I think that good surprise for me is the ability to really get things done in the Senate. I had...

KING: Even as a freshman?

STABENOW: Even as a freshman. I did more in four months in the Senate than four years in the House, in terms of just -- the flexibility, the ability to offer amendments, to be able to get things done. We have passed amendments in the Senate last week that would ban oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes, which is extremely important to the people of Michigan. That's something that would've been much more difficult for me to do in the House.

KING: So that's a surprise to you?

STABENOW: It is a surprise, because it's the ability to bring things forward and move and, with the support of my colleagues, really get things done.

KING: Senator Clinton, what surprised you?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I guess how much fun it's been. You know, I've had...

KING: Fun?

CLINTON: Oh, absolutely. I've had a great time, and I have to say that, you know, the people who have been absolutely great to me are the women sitting here. We've had a lot of fun together. We've come up with all kinds of advice for one another.

I've been more the recipient than the giver because I have so much to learn. But, you know, in addition to what Jean said about how I have absolutely no control over my time, which was a big surprise, I really am impressed at how hard everybody works. You know, it really is a hardworking collegial body. And you make friendships across party lines, across geographic divides. So for me, it's just been a wonderful surprise.

KING: Senator Hutchison, does this camaraderie still exist, women for women? I remember the last time you were on you said, women will not go and campaign against other women, no matter what the party. We have an allegiance to each other.

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS: Well, what I said was that I wasn't going to campaign against Dianne Feinstein, because she is my friend. And I think that that happens with men as well. When you have certain friends -- you know, Trent Lott wouldn't campaign against John Breaux. That's not so unusual.

Now, we have made some friendships, but we may have friends that are running that we have to support. We just have to take it as it comes.

KING: Do you feel a special need, Senator Boxer, to welcome the new ones in?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Oh, not a need, a true desire. I mean, I was thrilled. I remember Senator Mikulski saying when she was the only Democratic woman there, and she was the first Democratic woman elected in her own right, that -- how did you put it, Barbara? You said, "Some women..." Go ahead, take it from there.

SEN. BARBARA MIKULSKI (D), MARYLAND: Well, I said I wanted to be the first, but I wanted to be the first of many.

BOXER: But you said, "Some women look out the window waiting for Prince Charming...

MIKULSKI: Yes, and I look out the window waiting for more women to come to the United States Senate.


MIKULSKI: But thirteen women...

KING: It's a lonely life, huh, Barbara?

MIKULSKI: No, it's not lonely. But no, when I was -- when I first came to the United States Senate, it was only Senator Kassebaum and I. We did our best on the issues, articulating the voice of women, getting women into clinical trials. We had dear friends in the House like Senator Snowe, congresswoman then, and Boxer. But it's really different. We have this incredible, critical mass now where I would say we're making a difference. And we have a little saying: Each one of us is making a difference. When we work together, we make change.

KING: Do you feel that, Senator Feinstein?


KING: Do you feel you have clout?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I feel what's always been an all-boys club, so to speak, is now open. I think the message of the group is that each of us has come at it from a different way. Therefore, for women, looking at politics, looking at government, I like to believe that we are true role models, that we say it can be done. Women can read this book. They can see we're all different. We all have, maybe, different views on issues, but that really isn't important. The important thing is that we can serve, we can serve with integrity. We can participate in the big public policy debates of our time. And, I think, do so with credibility and a lot of integrity.

KING: Senator Snowe, a special camaraderie, being women?

SEN. OLYMPIA SNOWE (R), MAINE: Oh, absolutely. I think that that bond is there and it has been created by our monthly dinners that evolved into the book. We get to share...

KING: Still do that?

SNOWE: Oh, yes, absolutely. We just did last week, as a matter of fact, because we think it's so important to be able to know one another on a personal basis. And obviously, to get to know the new members of the Senate as well and to have four additional women to the United States Senate is a real bonus, because now we're omnipresent in ever respect. We're everywhere and we can seize the moment, so...

KING: Do you feel your clout, Senator Collins?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: You know, the great thing about the Senate is it's only 100 people. So as Debbie was saying, there's a real opportunity to pursue your priorities. A lot of us have worked in partnerships on issues we really care about. Barbara Mikulski and I have teamed up on an issue involving the pharmaceutical industry and the high cost of prescription drugs. We've worked together on home health care and a host of issues. And you can really make a difference, and that's just a wonderful feeling. It's why all of us are in public office.

KING: Are you enjoying it, Senator Landrieu?

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D), LOUISIANA: Very much, Larry. And while this group looks wonderful and it's great to have 12 of us and 13, it's important to know there have only been about 30 women elected to the Senate out of about 1,950 to be elected ever.

So, while we are very proud and have every reason to be proud of the accomplishments of this group, we still have quite a long way to go. But we're having a good time.

KING: Before I go to break, Senator Lincoln, you are the youngest, are you not?

SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARIZONA: The youngest woman in the history of our country.


LINCOLN: ... who served in the U.S. Senate

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: She brags about it all the time.


KING: Do you feel like the baby?


LINCOLN: No, I'm not the baby. Kid sister, maybe.


KING: Do you respect -- I know Senator Clinton campaigned for you at times in the past. Do you respect your elders?


KING: On that note, we'll be right back. It may be the last word I got in all night. Don't go away.


KING: Let's go around, discuss some various issues as it relates. When you have a thing like the Condit thing -- and we're not going to ask whether you think he's wrong -- but basically, though, basically, does it have an effect when everybody is turning to one area? And does it take away, Senator Mikulski, from other things?

MIKULSKI: Well, actually, we pretty much focus on our own agenda.

KING: Do you feel like some of that agenda doesn't get covered enough because they're covering all of this one scandal story?

MIKULSKI: Well, you know, the American people have a great interest in the Condit story. And it's under investigation. And I think we all hope for Chandra Levy's best. What we're focusing on though, right now, is our amendments, what we're working on, coming into the fore.

This work that I'm doing with Senator Collins on a bipartisan basis is how we can control the cost of drugs without curtailing...

KING: But do you feel that that gets less attention when the media is so focused in another area?

MIKULSKI: No, I think we know how to break through. This is a crowd that knows how to break through the media.

KING: Senator Clinton, do you feel that when emphasis goes one way, it takes away from others? CLINTON: You know, I've been so impressed over the years, Larry, at how the American people really can follow issues they care about. And they can really sort through whatever's going on to find out what is happening on prescription drugs or the patients' bill of rights or any other matter that is a real kitchen-table issue.

And so for me, it's been a real joy working with my colleagues on matters that are going to make a difference in people's lives.

KING: You don't feel, Senator Lincoln, that one takes away from the other, when you get home at night and all the networks are doing this one thing?

LINCOLN: Well, every now and then, I might say, Well, I sure wish they had covered the fact that we are attempting to write a new farm bill and how important that is for rural America. And a lot of that's just because rural American sometimes doesn't get a big enough flag.

KING: So it's frustrating?

LINCOLN: Sometimes it is, but I do think that, without a doubt, Senator Clinton is exactly right. I have complete faith in the people of Arkansas and the people of this nation, that the issues that are of great importance to them, they're going to weed through whatever's out there to find the information that they need. They call our offices.

KING: Senator Hutchison, is it frustrating for you?

HUTCHISON: Oh, I think we are getting coverage. You know, we're talking about missile defense. We're talking about the president's trip overseas. We're talking about where our foreign policy ought to be. And I think it's just important that we keep focused on the things that we're trying to do for our country.

I've been working with Senator Feinstein, just lately, for a breast cancer stamp, preauthorization. That has brought in millions of dollars in research for breast cancer, because we're trying to find a cure. We teamed with Barbara Mikulski to make sure that we have mammogram standards so that women will be able to know for sure and feel good that their mammogram is accurate.

So these are the things that we're working on. And I think we are making a difference.

KING: Senator Snowe, is it a diversion that affects you?

SNOWE: No, not at all. And I think the coverage, you know, about the disappearance of a young woman is obviously appropriate. I mean it is a serious matter and I think we are all concerned about that. But the beauty of our system is that we stay focused on the issues that are important, as well to the American people. And the system keeps working, the process keeps working. We focus on the key issues, and we don't get derailed by other things.

I mean, that's the importance of the way we work. KING: Is anybody bothered by it -- Senator?

STABENOW: I think sometimes it is frustrating to me to know that we are working on the issues that people care about very much, that really directly affect their lives. And that it may not be the lead story, certainly.

We passed a patients' bill of rights, putting doctors and nurses back in charge of medical decisions and making sure that we hold those who make medical decisions accountable for how it affects individuals. It certainly got attention, but I would love to have seen it be the lead story on every channel, to let people know that we're fighting for health care and HMO reform.

So certainly, in terms of priorities, I think the things -- whether it's passing an education bill or a patients' bill of rights, or now we're focusing on Medicare prescription drug coverage -- all of those things; I think all of us would love to see be the lead stories at night. But regardless of that, we're going to keep working on the things that matter to people.

KING: Senator Feinstein, does it bother you?

FEINSTEIN: It bothers me somewhat. And I will tell you why. First of all, this goes all over the world, not just the United States. And I think for some people, it gives a very false picture of the United States Congress. It gives a very false picture of what people do with their time, how we behave.

For example, one of the things right now -- and I watch cable TV at night, and I see it just inundated. Well, we're now talking national missile defense. This is a huge issue in terms of the future of the United States. I would much rather, to be honest with you, tune into your show and see a debate on the science, on the military aspects of either theater missile defense, or national missile defense, what it means for the ABM Treaty, what it means in terms of whether this is going to be a safer world in the future.

Instead, we are all sort of captivated with what has become a huge drama. And I think the drama, in a way, belittles what all of us are all about.

KING: Senator Landrieu, what do you do when the media says: "That's what people want to watch." You know, which comes first?

LANDRIEU: Well, when I was saying the reason you see the difference here in our perspectives is because what is on the news is not necessarily what we see in our offices all day long, getting back to the schedule. I mean, our office is inundated -- Larry, in our offices in a day, we may literally conduct anywhere from 30 to 50 opportunities to meet constituents during the day. And that's, you know, roughly -- in meetings, speeches.

And they don't come in speaking about what's on the television and this particular incident, this disappearance. They're talking about health care, prescription drugs. They want appropriations. They've got economic development projects.

And I think I can speak for all of us without knowing and looking at your schedules that, you know, I haven't had one person walk in my office, really, and talk about that particular issue.

KING: Really? Let me get a break and we'll come right back. We'll pick up with everybody. You can all jump all in. Don't go away.


KING: Sen. Cantwell said something that must have been funny because Hillary was laughing. What did you say to her?

CANTWELL: Well, no, I think -- you're bringing up this point, which I think with the Internet and the advent of 24-hour cable shows, you do find these stories getting more attention and obviously going over things and absorbing time and space.

But I did read a news account. We've obviously been dealing with this energy crisis in the Northwest, and so is California. And there was one article that mentioned that during this time -- why didn't we know about the partial deregulation that was going on in California and the potential affects? And someone said, well that was the same time as the O.J. trial, and that that overshadowed the attention.

So whether that's true or not, or whether someone would have paid more attention to the consequences of how that legislation might have played out or the consequences, there is this time and space that is there and available now. And we're filling it.

And the question is, are there more creative ways that we can fill it, that are interactive with the public, that they want to hear, that they will -- that will allow us to bring government closer to the people in what we are doing and communicate with them.


KING: Barbara and then Barbara.

BOXER: We could all -- of we could just sit in a room and close the door and figure out a way to find Chandra and to find all the missing youngsters, girls, boys and the rest, that, obviously, we would drop everything and do it.

But we know that the police have to work on that. What we need to do is what we can affect. And we can affect the electricity crisis; and we can affect the water supply; and we can affect whether our kids are honored or they're not, or they're neglected.

So, if we could fix all that, we would fix it -- in a minute. I mean, I met with Chandra's parents. I have to tell you that was a horrible meeting because I wanted to fix it, and I couldn't fix it.


KING: Put some individual...

MIKULSKI: Larry, I think our heart goes out to the families.


KING: Never interrupt Barbara.

MIKULSKI: No, but you have...

KING: The power of the Senate.

MIKULSKI: What is the job of the United States Senate? It is not to be on "HEADLINE NEWS." The job of the United States Senate is that we are supposed to wake up every day and think about the day-to- day needs of our constituents and the long-range needs of the country. And then, using the processes established by the Constitution, to work hard and go at it.

Now you asked the four new women what surprised them the most. Well, let me tell you what delighted me the most as the senior woman. I run a little workshop, teaching the new members and this time we including the guys as well -- how to get started. I have been astounded and pleased at how quick they have been to jump into the Senate, to grab hold of the committees.

They haven't been there and hour and half, and they've been offering amendments. They've been representing their states. You know, they tease me and call me the coach. I don't even have to blow my whistle anymore. They're right out there. And that's what the Senate is, out there...

KING: Senator Collins -- activists?

COLLINS: I would. And Barbara Mikulski was one of the first people who called me after I was elected. And Mary and I attended one of her workshops to learn how to get appropriations for work-well projects in our state. It's just -- she's been just wonderful to all of us in helping us be objective.

KING: Senator Hutchison, how well has Senator Clinton been accepted?


KING: I mean, not we haven't had many first ladies. You know, there's been only one.

HUTCHISON: That's true. Well, she is the first, and -- but she has been so careful to do everything that she's expected to do, not to step in front of anyone. And she has co-sponsored amendments for all of us. I mean, we've worked together, and I think she is showing how hard she wants to work for New York. And she's doing just what Barbara Mikulski says.

KING: Would all of the veterans agree that she's...

MIKULSKI: Oh, she's just a regular senator.


CLINTON: I mean, these women sitting here have been so helpful, but they've also been very willing to offer constructive criticism, as well as helpful advice.

KING: Oh, they have?

CLINTON: Absolutely. And I have to put in a special plug for my Republican colleagues, because they have been terrific to me personally and, I think, to all of us.

KING: Do you ever feel, Senator Clinton, like a come-down from being first lady to one of 100?

CLINTON: No, no.

KING: Not at all?

CLINTON: I am so honored. Yes, I'm absolutely honored to be in the Senate. And you know, that always strikes me as a strange thing to say. I mean, as Senator Byrd would say if he were here, this is the oldest functioning deliberative body in any country in the world. And you know, the United States Senate is just the greatest opportunity to serve you could imagine.


KING: All right, I've got to get a break in, and then we'll jump back in. Everybody will get in. We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: We forgot Senator Carnahan for a moment. Has it been worth it, as far as having been appointed to this job due to a tragedy?

CARNAHAN: I don't think so, really. All these ladies here have been such an inspiration. When you read the book, you'll see that a lot of them have overcome -- they triumphed over tragedies in their own life. They've overcome a number of things.

And so, I'm just one of them in that respect, because I have my own tragedy that I have to overcome every day. But I know that these ladies have done some of those same things. And they've been an inspiration to me.

LANDRIEU: But these four new ones have been really spectacular, all of them in their own right. And I think all of us though, as Jean was just saying -- have just the utmost respect for how she stepped into that role and did it. It's not something we've given her. She's earned it for herself.

And it was immediate from the first day she was here, that she had shared such a partnership that she could just step right in. And the people of Missouri very fortunate. To have that couple having represented them for all these years and she has been spectacular. And it's been an inspiration to all of us, I mean, literally every day.

KING: Senator Stabenow, you wanted to...

STABENOW: Well, I was going to comment -- before you were saying we are one of 100. Larry, I think we think of ourselves as being one of two people representing our state. I know for me, representing Michigan, Carl Levin and I represent Michigan. And when we talk about each of us, there's differences that we may find ourselves in relating to advocating on behalf of our states...

KING: But you have six-year terms. You have federal jobs, more so. I mean, the Congressman is serving to see the Medicare check gets there on time, right?

STABENOW: Well, I still feel -- I mean, I'm very concerned about the Medicare check.

KING: Do you serve individuals...

STABENOW: Absolutely. I have...

KING: I thought that was for the...


STABENOW: No, no, no. No, I don't.

FEINSTEIN: I wanted to just say one thing about Hillary, because it's been very interesting. She could have come into the Senate with very sharp elbows. She could have come into the Senate as a first lady. She didn't do either. That's been very interesting to watch, because if you're really going to be good in the Senate, you really have to get very technical and very good at some of the issues.

In other words, you develop your own portfolio of expertise. She's been willing to do that. And it sent a very loud message, I think, across both -- across the aisle. And I think, as a representative of the state, she has put that person foremost, which is very important to New Yorkers.

KING: Do you agree, Senator Snowe?

SNOWE: I ran into a former Senator in the cloakroom a few months ago and he served during the late '50s and early '60s. And I asked him about his observations and what he thought about the Senate of today.

And he said, the biggest difference is the fact of the presence of women on the floor of the Senate. He said that is a real big difference.

KING: Senator Hutchison, does the old rule of freshmen keep quiet still stand? (LAUGHTER)

KING: By this show, I wouldn't bet on it.

HUTCHISON: Senator Mikulski broke that one.


KING: That used to be kind of unwritten.

HUTCHISON: It used to be, because I heard about that from some of the earlier senators. But all of us have to represent our state. And the great thing about the Senate is that everyone is understands that.

So, like, I'm on the Appropriations Committee. I was chairman of the Military Construction Subcommittee, now Dianne is chairman and I'm the ranking member. But the military construction issues, we're going to agree on. We're going to work together. The same with Senator Mikulski who is also on the committee. We are here to make sure that all of our states get a fair shake, get what they need. Certain states have different needs. And there's a camaraderie, absolutely.

KING: All right, we'll get a break and come back.

I'll reintroduce the panel in case you just joined us: We have 12 of the 13 members of the Senate. This is all involved with a hit book that came out last year called "The Nine Women of the Senate" -- "Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate" was the title. They appeared on this show, all nine.

And how they are 13. And a new book has come out, the paperback of that version with a new afterword called "And Then There Were Thirteen." You are seeing 12 of them. And we'll be right back.


KING: I know this is history in the making because there has never been this many women in the Senate. And we've got them all here together, except for Senator Murray, who had legislative duties she could not get out of.

Let's reintroduce the panel. They are Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, first elected in 1986 the Dean of women in the Senate. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, elected in 1993, the first Republican woman in the Texas legislature. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, elected in '92, who co-wrote with her granddaughter, "Meet my Grandmother: She's a United States Senator."

Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, first elected to the Senate in 1992. Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican of Maine, elected in '94, the only person to serve as the state's first lady and one of its senators at the same time. Hillary couldn't top that. Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, elected in 1996. Senator Mary Landrieu; Senator Landrieu is a Democrat of Louisiana elected in '96, the youngest woman ever elected to the Louisiana legislature. Senator Blanche Lincoln is a Democrat of Arkansas; in '98 she became the youngest woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate. She was 17.


KING: Senator Deborah Stabenow is a Democrat of Michigan, elected in 2000; in '74, she became the youngest person ever elected to the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat of Washington, elected in 2000; served one term in the U.S. House, became executive for the computer -- for a major computer software company.

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, elected in 2000, first -- and the former first lady of the United States. Senator Jean Carnahan, Democrat of Missouri, the widow of Governor Mel Carnahan, who died in that tragic plane crash on October 16 of 2000. On December 4, officially appointed to an interim term of two years to a Senate seat won by her deceased husband.

Senator Mikulski, tell us about the book. How did this book come about? Where do proceeds go?

MIKULSKI: Well, the book really tells the story of our lives. It has a marvelous extra chapter on the four new women. It talks about how we get to the Senate, how we juggle our lives in the Senate. Every single woman here has incredible family demands.

Blanche has twins. Mary has two adopted children. Many of us had elder care issues that we had to deal with. Then it talks about how we stay in the Senate, how we do our job, and for interview tips. Really, tips on how to be successful.

KING: Oh, it's a how-to book?

MIKULSKI: It's about -- a how-to.



MIKULSKI: And the proceeds will go to the Girl Scouts.

So the paperback's out. It's, I think, affordable. We really -- we think that -- we are saying to a lot of folks out there. If you read the book, you learn a lot about us and our lives. But also, we think there's a lot of lessons learned for everyone juggling -- balance needs between a family and a career, and also the kind of challenges where you do run into subtle discouragement.

KING: Senator Hutchison, were you surprised at the success of this book?

HUTCHISON: I wasn't, because I think what binds us together in many ways is the obstacles that we've overcome. And I think people can read the book and see that we have overcome just about every obstacle that you could meet when you go out into the real world. So I think that is encouraging to young girls and to women, that you can overcome it if you persevere and you dust yourself off and you get up and keep on going.

KING: Anybody want to add anything just to know...

LINCOLN: I think it's so important. We're all women, but we're not all exactly alike. You know, we certainly appreciate and are glad about our similarities, but we also respect our differences. And this book highlights, as the other senators have mentioned, the challenges. That's our common denominator: the challenges that we have met in coming into a world that was predominantly male. There are a lot of those.

FEINSTEIN: I think one of the things that we are, are door- openers. We've opened many doors. We've been the first to cross the threshold.

KING: Pathfinders.

FEINSTEIN: Yes, in a sense. And once that door is open, whether its first lady or CEO of a high-tech company or a state legislator or a mayor, or the first anything, that door remains open for all time.

And so, I think by us...


BOXER: Senator Feinstein and I were the first two women to represent a state. So...



KING: We have California.



STABENOW: You know, Larry, there are, I think, important things though that give significant changes for women, specifically that have resulted because of women in the Senate and the House, with the first wave, prior to my time in 1992, women coming into the Senate was probably the first time a focus on women's health research, led by women right here.

And now we read, or we hear on the radio about some new research project, some new information for women. That wasn't just an accident. That came about because of women saying: We're going to focus on women's health research. And surprise, surprise, we chose women as the subjects of the research.


KING: Let me get a quick break, and we'll come right back with our women of the Senate. Don't go away.


KING: Senator Cantwell, you ran a big company. Now...

CANTWELL: I was an executive of my own company.

KING: Well, and now you're with a company that's not supposed to make money. Big difference?

CANTWELL: Well, I think that there's, you know, both a public trust in delivering good service to people and delivering it well. And for us, one of our biggest challenges has been dealing with the good economic times that we've had, but now there's economic slowdown. And so there are big challenges to being good economic stewards for this country.

KING: Is that a good background?

CANTWELL: I think it is; I think it's important. We all have diverse backgrounds here; but there are more women working in the work force than ever. And I think there was a statistic, there are women who work in small business than work at the "Fortune" 500 company. So I think having somebody in the United States Senate who's had a background in that is not a bad idea.

KING: Senator Collins, is it -- or you wanted to say something?

COLLINS: I just want to make the point that we did all take different roads to the United States Senate. And one of the purposes of this book is to tell people that there is no one path, but to inspire young girls to realize that they can grow up to be a United States senator. And there's no one path. There's no one ideology; but you can get there if you persevere.

KING: That was the hope of a young girl 30 years ago didn't have.


COLLINS: Well, I feel very lucky because Olympia and I have the role model of Margaret Chase Smith. But...

KING: Your state was the only that...


LANDRIEU: Larry, I wanted to follow up on that for a minute. I'm glad Susan raised it, because as Kay said, she wasn't surprised at the popularity of the book, but I, for one, was. I mean, I kind of had to get dragged kicking and screaming to do this project. I thought, "no one is going to buy this book," but I was wrong, because of this issue. Because the stories are about how we all got to the Senate.

Barbara Mikulski is a social worker. Kay is a lawyer. Dianne was a former mayor. Barbara was a community activist and on the city council. And I could go around -- Blanche came out of the farming community, Hillary's a lawyer. And what Susan said, we all came to it.

And so when people read the book, I think that's what they thought: There's no one perfect way, there's no one right way. We can all serve in different capacities.

KING: There's something we haven't discussed, and Senator Carnahan, we know, is a widow. Is it hard not having a partner and being in the Senate?

CARNAHAN: Well, it's been said that -- I think it was Cokie Roberts' mother who was asked when she replaced her husband, someone said to her, "How will you ever get along without a wife?"

And she said, "Probably not too well." The men do have a benefit in having a wife, having someone who sees after the home and the children and so forth. Whereas a lot of the women who are not married or are separated from their husbands by distance have to see after everything. And so I admire what they're doing, because they're balancing a lot of balls.

KING: What's it like for the husband, Senator Clinton?

CLINTON: Well, I think we all have very supportive spouses, those of us who are married, because this is a job that you need a lot of support in. And I really admire Jean and others who are out there every day, you know, working hard to do this job.

You know, it's really important, I think, though, that every one of us -- to just reiterate what we said -- are here because of people who came before, and we're so fortunate. You know, I certainly look to the women who were here before I was here, women who were groundbreakers. And it's a tough job, whether you have somebody at home or not. It's a very demanding job.

And I have to say, before I was actually in the Senate, I didn't really fully understand how demanding it is, because you're really having to be two places at once. You have to fulfill your obligations here in the capital, and you have to pay attention to what goes on back at home.

KING: And do the husbands have special understandings as well, ladies? Do all your husbands, they have the -- I mean...


LANDRIEU: We're right here in Washington and...

KING: Your wife is better known than you.

LANDRIEU: Well, but Frank moved here to Washington. He's been terrific. And I think in many ways, he's been a role model. Our spouses have had to, you know, make different decisions, and each family's made a different decision. But he's been here and he's been wonderful. Some of us commute. We're back in our state...


STABENOW: Larry, I was just going to say, I'm not married, but family, as a whole, has to be extremely supportive. I have a very supportive mother who lives just a few miles from my home back in Lansing, Michigan, who watches out for things.

And even though my children are now 21 and 25, I mean, they have been terrific -- my brothers and their families. It really becomes a family affair. And if you have people that are really supportive around you, just like with anything, any goal that you try to achieve, it's important that your family be supportive.

KING: Senator Lincoln, are you well-supported at home?

LINCOLN: Absolutely.

KING: What does your husband do?

LINCOLN: He's a physician, so his schedule is quite demanding as well. But it requires choices, just as other people across this great nation who work make choices every day, too.

Some of them are difficult; some of them are not so difficult. But he's extremely supportive with our children, and our aging parents, as Senator Mikulski mentioned -- I'm kind of in that sandwich generation between my small children an my aging parents.

But my husband's been enormously supportive, not only here, but getting here as well. Because the campaign trail is unbelievable.

KING: They have to take a back-step, though, don't they, Senator Hutchison, the husbands?

HUTCHISON: Well, my husband, I guess, in a different category. He is a preeminent municipal finance lawyer, a partner in a major law firm. He has his own life and he is respected for himself, which I think is very important.

KING: I've got to get a break. We'll pick right up.

It's not easy folks, trying to get everybody balanced time.

We'll be right back and Senator Snowe is next. Don't go away.


KING: We're back. We only have two segments left, so we're going to try to get through some of the issues.

Senator Snowe, was it tough when Senator Jeffords -- when it happened?

SNOWE: Yes. And a surprise, and obviously very disappointed. He's a friend -- and just didn't expect it. You know, I had wished we could have worked it out.

KING: You became in one second a double minority -- a woman and a minority member of the Senate.

SNOWE: Right, and sort of saying -- you know, being a -- yes, that's true, minority, minority, minority. Being a Republican and a moderate sometimes is like being a member of "Survivor."



SNOWE: You get a distinct feeling you're no longer welcome as a member of the tribe. But anyway...


KING: Senator Boxer, how well are you working with the new president?

BOXER: Well, I'm looking for common ground, Larry -- looking for common ground. I tell you, I work, really, with my colleagues more than with the administration. For example, Sue Collins and I have a bill to make the Environmental Protection Agency a cabinet-level position. We think it's going to happen. And so, I really focus more on getting things through the Senate.

KING: Is this bipartisan, as you two seem to be, with this approach?


COLLINS: It is indeed. We're working very closely on the bill, and I think, because we're working together in a bipartisan way, that we're going to get it through.

KING: Do you think we'll ever see, Senator Clinton, true campaign finance reform?

CLINTON: Well, I hope so, you know...

KING: We keep hearing it, but...

CLINTON: Well, you know, the Senate did its job. We worked hard to pass a good bill and send it on to the House. And I really hope that the leadership in the House will let there be a vote on true campaign finance reform. I think would be great for the country.

KING: Senator Hutchison, what do you think the president's going to do about stem cell research?

HUTCHISON: Well, I think he's really agonizing about this decision. He realizes it's so important and he is reaching out to every scientist, every doctor, the pope, we know -- so I think he is going to try to make a decision that is right. And I think it's probably the toughest decision he's going to -- has made, at least up until this time.

BOXER: Didn't he, in the campaign, say he was against embryonic cell research? So he's really rethinking that now?

KING: I think he said that.

BOXER: Oh, he is rethinking. OK.

HUTCHISON: But the issue is more defined now, I think.

KING: This is a tough moral issue. Have you ever had, yet, to -- have you all had to compromise?


KING: You do that all the time? Isn't that hard to do when...

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Democracy is about compromising.

KING: But you're strong individuals. Isn't it hard to...

STABENOW: It's not about compromise principle. We compromise among in appropriations committee...


STABENOW: But you know, it's not about principles. It's really compromising in terms of meeting needs of various parts of the country, various parts of your state. A variety of priorities that people have in trying to find some common ground.

LANDRIEU: Larry, one of the examples is going to be energy. You know, we're developing an energy policy for the nation, and you could look around at each of our states and know that there's a particular piece of this energy policy that is very important. Debbie, the Great Lakes in Michigan, you know, in the Gulf Coast region, producing natural gas. Dianne has been working on CAFE standards. And so it's going to be a negotiation to try to fashion a bill that...


KING: ... new world in the Senate, to compromise value?

FEINSTEIN: Well, there are big issues and there are small issues. There are big issues. I mean, many of us here, a big issue, for example, is a woman's right to choose, for many of us. That is a big issue...

KING: So you would never compromise in that area?

FEINSTEIN: Well, again, it depends. But you've got to look at the issue. Now, I think part of being successful in what we do is knowing when, as I say, to go to the wall and really fight for something straight out, and when not to, when to compromise.

KING: Got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. FEINSTEIN: Exactly.

KING: We're going to take a break. We'll be back with our remaining moments. We're going to try to get a word in from everyone in these final moments of our panel of 12 of the 13. The book is "Nine and Counting: The Women of the Senate." The paperback is now out with an afterword, "And Then There Were Thirteen." Don't go away.


KING: Senator Landrieu has just made me an offer to follow them all around for a day. Well, first: Could I keep up with each of you? Because you're all going in different directions.


UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Wear comfortable shoes.

KING: That would be impossible.

OK, a show of hands: anyone want to be president?


KING: No one wants to? Senator Mikulski, did you get over to see that train accident? Was that weird?

MIKULSKI: Well, Baltimore was hit by both a terrible train wreck, as well as some issues with Johns Hopkins. I say hats off to the fact that we had such brave firefighters and emergency management. And quite frankly, under President Clinton, we were (UNINTELLIGIBLE), so we had all of the standby and everything ready to be able to protect lives and property.

KING: Did you head to the scene?

MIKULSKI: I was on the phone with the governor and the mayor. I think that you can't show up and be showbiz. Those firefighters had to do their job, not be with Barbara Mikulski. They had to be in the tunnel. And so my job was to be on the phone with the mayor and the governor to make sure that we were having the right resources at the right time.

KING: Do you all try to go home every weekend? Do you go home at the same time?

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Every other weekend.

KING: Every other weekend. Is it tough having two residences?


MIKULSKI: I commute everyday.

KING: Oh, that's right, you drive.

MIKULSKI: I'm a commuter.

FEINSTEIN: And the length from the West Coast is a tough commute...


KING: I'm sorry?

LINCOLN: Try taking a husband and two kids and a dog home with you when you go, traveling back and forth.

KING: Is it essential to touch base at home?

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: Oh absolutely. That's our job.

SNOWE: It's also nice to get back to home because it's a breath of fresh air, getting back to a normal lifestyle.


COLLINS: And it reminds you of what's important and what people really care about. And often that's different than what people in Washington are talking about.

KING: You have the furthest trip, don't you? Yes, you do.

CANTWELL: Well, I think, you know, California is probably about five-and-a-half, six hours on a plane, depending on what the headwinds are like. But I think that you go because you find that there is actually more commonality than you would think, if you go and you talk to people about issues.

I said I was going to go to every corner of the state every year. And what I found is by going there and talking to them, you actually come up with the ideas that are part of our legislative agenda. There's solutions to some of these issues for a framework.

FEINSTEIN: There is an inside-the-Beltway mentality.

KING: No kidding?

FEINSTEIN: Yes. And so when we go home, and you say -- you talk to -- well, real people about real issues and you can bring back stories and anecdotes and suggestions, it is really helpful...

KING: Senator Clinton, do you miss the trappings of the White House?

CLINTON: Well, you know, Larry, being in the White House is a privilege that is just unique, and I enjoyed it. I'm grateful for that chance, but I love being in the Senate. And part of what I love about it are the people who are in the Senate. And not only the other senators, but you know, there's really hardworking, dedicated staff people -- professional staff who are there year-in and year-out, no matter who's in the majority. You know, it is a very impressive enterprise. And one thing I hope I can convey to people is how important the work is and how difficult and challenging it is. There isn't enough understanding of that these days. And I'm very proud to be a part of this extraordinary body.

KING: Is it still the best job in the world, ladies? Someone said that once. It was a male senator, I think, but...

UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: No, I want your job, Larry.



KING: You've been bucking for it for a long time.


UNIDENTIFIED SENATOR: She'd be very good.

KING: Senator Snowe?

SNOWE: The reason is because you have the ability to move heaven and earth to do something -- to right a wrong. And I think that is the value of this job. And it's unfortunate today that public service has been devalued, because -- and it has.

KING: You've shown that here tonight. Thank you all. We've run out of time. I tried to give everybody an equal shot. Thank you Senator Carnahan, Senator Clinton. Thank you all very much.

The book is available right now. It's in paperback, "Nine and counting: The Women of the Senate" with the afterword "And then there were 13." We're sorry Senator Murray couldn't join us. The other 12 were here.

Thank you for joining us. Stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT." And for all the women of the Senate, good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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