Skip to main content
CNN.com /transcript


CNN TV
EDITIONS

CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Is Gary Condit Still Politically Viable?

Aired August 6, 2001 - 21:00   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROGER COSSACK, GUEST HOST: Where is Gary Condit? There's a rally scheduled in his support. Will he show up? If not, who will? We'll have live coverage of that event in his district.

And joining us while we wait is Chicago former federal prosecutor and best-selling author Barbara Olson; in Los Angeles, defense attorney Mark Geragos; in San Diego, former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne; in Washington, the former chief minority counsel of the House Judiciary Committee Julian Epstein; and in New York, constitutional attorney and best-selling author, Ann Coulter. Their comments and your calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Hi, I'm Roger Cossack sitting in for Larry King. As you can tell, there is a rally tonight in Turlock, California on behalf of Congressman Gary Condit. So here's what we've decided to do. We're going to split the screen up into the big box and the little box. We're going to have it on all the time, and if anything important or anything interesting and exciting happens, we're going to take you right to Turlock so that we're able to see and watch and hear everything that goes on in that rally. But until that time comes, we're going to go ahead with our show and start with our panelists, our regular irregulars. Let me start now right away with Condit's strategy at this point.

Julian Epstein, what about his strategy?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, FORMER HOUSE COUNSEL: Well, let me tell you, with respect to this rally here, I think of the scarecrow in the "Wizard of Oz" when he said, "If I only had a brain." I think this is probably got to be about the dumbest thing I have ever seen in American politics. I mean, I cannot imagine anything that is more crass or more insensitive to a family, the Levy family that I think has shown remarkable fortitude, remarkable dignity through what can only be described as their worst nightmare. And I think this is probably one of the dumbest events you could ever imagine.

The Condit people say -- I think that they didn't schedule it, but I think that they could have canceled it, and I think they should have.

COSSACK: Barbara, what's the problem with coming out and having something like this? Look, he's been keeping quiet the whole time. His lawyers have kept him under wrap. Now is the August recess; he's back in his own hometown. What's wrong with coming out and then speaking and perhaps facing the public? Although I want to add that we don't know whether he's going to show up at this thing or not.

BARBARA OLSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: However, we do know that his chief of staff has been there, and we see all this wonderful printed signs. It looks very spontaneous. It looks as though there's people who just decided to come out.

I mean, I agree with Julian. You know, I'm waiting for the sign that says, "We believe Gary." This is, you know, another outrageous misjudgment of the situation and thinking of his political career. How can he have a rally when he had someone who he was very close to who we now know he had a very intimate relationship with who was still a missing person? There is a huge investigation and he's having a rally of support. It's Gary Condit's the politician.

COSSACK: Mark, what about it? I mean, it's always that eternal sort of fight between what the lawyer would tell him and what the politics will tell him. The lawyers probably says, you know, "Don't say anything." The politician's saying, "You got to say something."

MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, I don't think that this is Gary's rally, and I don't think that he sponsored it. I know that Barbara and Julian say that the chief of staff is out there, but my understanding is that they didn't put it on, that it's people in the district there that did it.

OLSON: Who printed the signs?

GERAGOS: As long as there -- how would I know who printed up the signs?

OLSON: They came from headquarters. We all know that.

GERAGOS: All I'll tell you...

OLSON: They come from Condit headquarters.

GERAGOS: All I'll tell you is that if it's something that keeps the public's focus on finding Chandra Levy, then it can't be a bad thing. I mean, after all, part of Billy Martin's strategy has been all along is to put -- is to keep it in the public's mind, in the eye, in the public eye in order to at least put that on.

EPSTEIN: Let me disagree with...

(CROSSTALK)

GERAGOS: I agree with you, Mark on so many things. I disagree with you here. Let me tell you why. I think Barbara's right. The problem with this rally, even if Condit didn't support this or organize it is the perception. His biggest problem today I think may not so much be a legal problem, it's the perception that he cares more about his political future than he does about actually finding Chandra Levy. And I think a rally at this point tends to reinforce that. And I think it is a disastrous mistake, and I think that his staff could have called this thing off. I think it shows a great deal of insensitivity to the family. I mean, imagine how the family is reacting to something like this at this point.

OLSON: But Julian, more than that...

GERAGOS: Julian, I don't know unless we've heard from them. Have you talked to them, because I haven't? I don't know that they're upset about this. If this is some way to keep Chandra Levy out there and keep the story alive so that there's still attention on Chandra Levy, I can't believe Dr. and Mrs. Levy would be upset about it.

OLSON: Mark, gentlemen, Mark, how about a statement by Gary? How about him to tell the truth? How about for him to come out? If he wants to help the Levys -- you don't have printed posters from your headquarters.

GERAGOS: Barbara, what is the...

OLSON: He can make a statement to his constituents. He could tell everyone what he knows.

GERAGOS: Barbara, what is the...

OLSON: He could start really cooperating.

GERAGOS: ... telling the truth and what is to really cooperate? We've gone through this so many times, Barbara.

OLSON: Well...

GERAGOS: The police have said that he's cooperated. The police have said that he has told the truth.

OLSON: Oh, and you know what the police aren't saying. You're a good defense attorney.

COSSACK: All right, let me jump in here one second. I want to go to Ann Coulter.

Ann, you know, his political base seems to be eroding, you know, arguably. You know, Senator Feinstein came out and made that comment about him last week that certainly wasn't in support of him. Is this something that he just pretty much has to do to try and shore up his political base?

ANN COULTER, CONSTITUTIONAL LAWYER: I think this is not a good way to deflect attention from himself or to shore up his political base. I agree with what has been said. I think it looks absolutely awful. And if Condit didn't have anything to do with it, I would think that the most likely suspects would be people who really, really hate Gary Condit.

Because even if he -- if we stipulate that he had absolutely nothing to do with Chandra Levy's disappearance, if she shows up tomorrow night and is on LARRY KING LIVE, he has just been caught dead to rights having multiple affairs, going around telling women that his wife has encephalitis of the brain and she's ill and bedridden to get them to sleep with him. This isn't really a time to be having a carnival and a party atmosphere.

COSSACK: But on the other hand, couldn't you argue that, you know, horrible as it may be, he has some kind of responsibility to say something, some sort of a rally to his supporters, people who voted for him? I mean, you know, and he isn't, as Mark points out, the police keep saying time and time again, you know, he's not the focus of the investigation, he's not even under investigation. I mean, shouldn't he be free, therefore, to stand up and say something or do something?

COULTER: Well, no, that's why I excluded the disappearance part of this. He has been caught in a scandal. We know a lot more than anyone I think would like to know about Gary Condit and his sordid lifestyle and the lies he told. And I mean, just all of these little details about, you know, telling the same thing to his multiple affairs, giving them the same gifts, you can say until you're blue in the face that that ought to be a private matter. But I'm sorry, one of the risks you take when you have an affair with an intern or whomever it is that she'll disappear. And suddenly, all of the sordid little facts of your life will come out and come in public. And that isn't a time to be having this party atmosphere carnival.

On the other hand, I do agree with you that he ought to be talking to his constituents. After what he's done so far, he ought to hold the press conference and answer -- I mean, assuming he has nothing to do with Chandra's disappearance, he ought to hold a press conference and answer questions. His political career is over anyway.

GERAGOS: Well, you know, except you would be on the -- you'd be on here -- if he had a press conference today, you'd be on here saying, "This is outrageous. He shouldn't be having a press conference."

COULTER: No, I wouldn't.

GERAGOS: He shouldn't be talking -- you'd be doing the same exact thing as you're condemning him for or condemning his supporters for.

COULTER: No, I wouldn't. I've been calling on him to have a press conference all along.

GERAGOS: You'd be saying the exact same thing.

COULTER: No, I wouldn't.

GERAGOS: It wouldn't be any different.

COULTER: OK, and you'd be a kangaroo. No, I wouldn't.

(CROSSTALK)

EPSTEIN: I'd hate to have to agree with Barbara...

COULTER: If he would answer questions seriously -- wait, could I just respond to that? GERAGOS: I know -- I Julian, you need to reassess it if you're agreeing with Ann or Barbara.

COULTER: Could I respond to what I would be saying or would not be saying?

EPSTEIN: No, no, no. I mean, I hate to -- because I disagree with them. I disagree with them on a lot of things on this case, but I agree with them on this issue, Mark. I think Gary's biggest problem, Gary Condit's biggest problem right now is that he has not expressed the fact that he is remorseful, that he is personally, emotionally troubled by the fact that she is gone. I think if he could, if his lawyers would let him speak out, I think, I hope that he would say that. I think that holding a rally is the wrong thing to do because it connotes what he is attempting to do to save his political future.

What I think he should do, Mark -- Mark, what I think he should do is I think he's got to give -- I think he's got to do what Billy Martin invited him to do on this program several weeks ago, which is to meet with family. I think they ought to meet together without attorneys present, because I think the family has asked for that. And I think at some point, he is going to have to speak and explain what he did during the occurrence of this since April 30th.

COULTER: I don't think he will, but I think that would be great if he did.

EPSTEIN: I think he will. I think he will, Ann. I think that he will.

CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Roger, can we have a moment of reality here for a second?

EPSTEIN: But I think that this rally is just ludicrous. I think it is one of the dumbest things I'll ever see.

COSSACK: Cynthia, do I hear a call for a moment of reality from you?

ALKSNE: Can we have a moment of reality? As we look at the screen, why are we calling this a rally? This is the most pathetic excuse for a rally I've ever seen in my whole life. Who organized this thing? I mean, they were going to take a risk...

COULTER: Supporters of Gary Condit.

COSSACK: And, you know, one of the things we should talk about is...

ALKSNE: If they were to take the risk of putting together a rally in such a politically precarious time, for goodness sake, you'd think they'd get some people to show up. I mean, this is pathetic.

COSSACK: And so, in fact, if this is the rally and this is the most we're going to see -- and you know, we don't know who's going to show up later or what. I mean, if this is the most that shows up, what does this say about Condit's support or does it say anything, Cynthia?

ALKSNE: Well, I think Condit, it's sort of, you know, put a fork in him, he's done. So it's unclear to me why they're even making any effort. It's way too little and too late. If he were smart, what he'd do is be quiet and try to get a book advance, because evidently, I guess there's plenty of cash in that going around, because he's never going to -- he's never going to take care of his political career. He's never going to assuage those people who think that he has behaved responsibly because he has not -- no one's ever -- he's never going to convince anybody of that so he might as well be quiet and make some money, because this is not going to work. This is a disaster.

COSSACK: Julian, is there anyway that he's ever going to be able to assuage his constituents about the things that he's done?

EPSTEIN: Well, I think, you know, people are more forgiving than Cynthia gives them credit for. I mean, I think that certainly if Chandra Levy turns up somewhere and/or if Gary Condit comes out and says, "Look, I made a terrible mistake. I got myself into a situation I shouldn't have gotten myself into, and I panicked. I panicked at the wrong moment and I did something that I shouldn't have done," and he goes and he expresses what happened I think in very human terms, and then hopefully, if there is a good outcome, a good finale for the story, then maybe. And I think the political pros think that the dye has not been cast at this point. But I think he has created for himself a pretty dire political situation. I think the thing he's got to do is he's got to speak publicly or something.

ALKSNE: The only political person who could survive -- the only person who could elected out of this scandal is perhaps his wife.

OLSON: Julian, you know, voters are forgiving, but don't you think at this point he's beyond forgiveness? I mean, what Ann was saying before, we now know he gives the girlfriends -- he gave Chandra and he gave the other girlfriend the same bracelet. We now know this guy calls up old girlfriends. And as Ann also said, tells them his wife has encephalitis of the brain. I mean, that's disgusting. David Dreier was told by Gary Condit that his wife was very ill. So this is a man who I think he's beyond being forgiven by the voters and Modesto voters are also very conservative.

GERAGOS: Barbara, it's amazing to me that you just keep putting out this stuff as if it's fact. None of this stuff is fact.

OLSON: Well, we've seen the bracelet and we've seen the other woman who...

GERAGOS: Well, we've seen one bracelet. We've seen Anna Marie Smith...

OLSON: Anne Marie Smith said she had the same bracelet.

GERAGOS: We've seen Anna Marie Smith... OLSON: You think she's a liar?

GERAGOS: I don't think that Anna Marie Smith has been truthful. No, I don't think she's been truthful. I don't call people liars.

OLSON: But Gary is and he's not saying anything.

GERAGOS: But I'm not telling you that anybody is being truthful or not truthful, but at the same time, you parade around a series of facts...

OLSON: Look at the evidence.

GERAGOS: ... or what you consider to be evidence, which has been belied at every turn, at every point in this case.

OLSON: Well, Anna Marie Smith has come forward. Anne Marie Smith has spoken to the prosecutor.

GERAGOS: And how about the minister and the minister's daughter?

OLSON: Anne Marie Smith is trying to help.

GERAGOS: How about the minister and the minister's daughter? How about the fact that there was all kinds of rumors that have all been paraded out?

OLSON: You know, that is interesting. That is a very interesting point because the minister came forward...

COSSACK: Barbara, I'm going to give you a chance to respond to the minister and the minister's daughter, but first, we're going to have to take a break. Stay with us. More on Chandra Levy, more on the rally. Will it ever get going? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: Hi. We're back with LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Roger Cossack sitting in for Larry King. What you're seeing is a pro-Condit rally at Turlock, California, and these are a group of supporters who have gotten together tonight to support Congressman Gary Condit. And as this rally goes ahead, we will keep you informed. And, in fact, we will even take it live and go to it when something happens. What we've been doing so far is, of course, is the little box, big box. And as soon as anything important or anything happens, we'll take you right to the rally in Turlock, California.

Mark, do you think it's ever going to be possible for Congressman Condit to get over that part of his appearance which looks like he hindered the police when he had the opportunity to come clean?

GERAGOS: Yeah, I think when he speaks out and when he talks, and when people find out that he did cooperate with the police, that he did answer their questions -- the police have said it. Nobody wants to believe the police in this case. People have denigrated the D.C. police. People have said all kinds of things, but the D.C. police have come out and said that, "He answered out questions," that, "He gave us the interviews," that his wife came and talked. Once that message gets out or once the -- enough of these leaks get out that shows that he did cooperate, I think people will forgive him. And especially people, I think underestimates the degree to which the central valley has been well served by this guy for a number of years. And I don't think that they're going to just toss him out as easily as everybody says.

COSSACK: Well, if he was so forthcoming, why did they have to interview him four times? And, in fact, there was a second or third time before they felt that he was really forthcoming.

GERAGOS: Well, the -- my understanding from the police and from police sources is that he did answer all of their questions in the first interview, but he challenged them on the one question as to whether or not they were intimately involved as, "Why do you need that information?" And that he did answer the questions in the second and third interview, all of the questions, gave them information, cooperated. And they did interview him in the very place that they searched 10 weeks later. That first interview without a lawyer was right there in his townhouse.

OLSON: Mark, wouldn't you be just a teeny bit worried if your client had to have four interviews with the police? Now come on, I know you're putting the best face on this, but you know if the police have a good interview, they don't have to come back four times.

GERAGOS: That's actually not true, Barbara. Normally, the police will interview as many times as you will let them. Most defense lawyers wouldn't let you have even one interview. And, in fact, the fact that he was interviewed by the first time without a lawyer, most lawyers would say after the first interview, "Shut it down. You're not talking to them anymore."

EPSTEIN: Well, but you know, Roger, I think the question extends to Barbara.

I think that in a missing person case, Barbara, it may not be that unusual to have several interviews.

OLSON: It is.

EPSTEIN: But to answer Roger's question...

OLSON: Let me just tell you it is unusual. Four interviews is.

EPSTEIN: To answer Roger's question about what I think he needs to do -- and the voters will make the ultimate decision about what he ought to do, is I think, first, he's got to express the fact that he...

COSSACK: Julian, we're going to go to the rally right now out in Turlock, the pro-Condit rally.

EPSTEIN: OK, I'll hold the comment.

COSSACK: And we're going to listen in. Let's go ahead.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

REV. ADRIAN CONDIT, REP. GARY CONDIT'S FATHER: ... of Jesus Christ, our Lord, amen.

RALLY SUPPORTERS: Amen.

CONDIT: I'm here this evening to speak to you on behalf of my son and the Condit family. Gary and Carolyn are doing just fine. Gary and Carolyn truly appreciate your support through the years, and especially these last few months. Most of all, they appreciate you for your love, your concern, and your prayers. Gary and Carolyn have been together for 34 years. And for most of those 34 years, Gary has served this valley and he's done it well.

And I believe the people of this valley know Gary and Carolyn Condit better than the news media.

And I want you to know this evening that no amount of news media rhetoric, implications or accusations, sources known or unknown will ever divide the Condit family. The Condit ties are unbreakable. Gary and Carolyn, along with all the family, have a very strong faith and deep commitment to God, and to the family and to our wonderful Lord. And I want to thank you again for your support, for your prayers, for us, from Gary and Carolyn and the entire Condit family. And I want to say also that God bless you and your family, and God bless this great land in which we live. And may God continue to lead, guide and direct us in the right direction. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you, have a good rally.

COSSACK: That was the Reverend Adrian Condit, who of course, is Gary Condit's father. No matter what you think about Gary Condit, you have to admire the fact that his father came out there tonight and stood up for him and spoke on his behalf. This must be very difficult times for the Condit family, and one must also admire, one must admire the fact that his father stands up for him and gives this speech. Let's go on back to the valley.

GERAGOS: Why Ann? You know, this is guy who's been there in Modesto for almost 18 years as a chaplain.

OLSON: I mean, this man will use anyone.

COULTER: Are we talking now?

COSSACK: I think we can go ahead and talk for a minute. One thing I think it does put to rest is the issue of whether or not this is an official Condit rally. I suppose that if his father does come out and talk on his behalf, one can assume that this was done with the congressman's approval.

OLSON: Absolutely, along with the signs. But, you know, I would think Gary would also say he doesn't want to use his father. You know, I mean, you know, he's using his father, his wife. They're his political props? GERAGOS: His father -- he's not using.

ALKSNE: Yeah, but let's give his dad a break. Everybody deserves to have a father who will stand up for him like that. Everybody deserves that.

OLSON: Sure they do.

ALKSNE: Let's not attack the father. The father didn't do anything. He's a man of the cloth.

GERAGOS: His dad has been a chaplain there at the Memorial Hospital, I think, for almost 18 years. He's very well-known in the community. He's a guy who's been a pastor for almost 45 years. That's -- I mean, to say that he's being used is, I think, unconscionable. This is a guy who's out there. He's a member of that community. He's sticking up for his son, and he feels like his family is under attack.

OLSON: Mark, of course, he is. And of course, he loves his son. And of course, he wants to help his son. But don't you think what you would say is, "Dad, this is not a good time. I know you want to help me. I know you love me, but I'm not going to have you go out and stand and talk about how I've served the valley for so many years," when we now know what he's been doing serving the valley. I would just think a son would tell his father, "Thank you, but I don't want you to go to this rally we planned and have to stand up there and say these things." There's a bit of propriety. It's like Gary Hart when he used his wife in that press conference.

GERAGOS: Barbara, I have no doubt, Barbara, that that speech -- that that is the reaction that you would have, Barbara. I mean, I understand that. I think people there in the central valley believe that this guy has done quite a bit for them over the time that he's been.

COULTER: Is there a host for this show? Is this all talking by interruption?

OLSON: Of course, of course.

COSSACK: Hey, Ann.

COULTER: Is there a host?

COSSACK: Ann let me ask you this question. You know, one of the points that's been made I think is a good point is that, you know, Gary Condit was and perhaps still is very, very popular in that area, was reelected several times, and has a reputation as doing quite a bit for as a congressman for his constituents. Now putting everything aside in terms of what else he was doing, the fact of the matter is that there is going to be eventually that bottom line of saying, "You know, whatever he did, he delivered for us." Does that mean his career is savable, Ann?

COULTER: No, his career is absolutely finished. The name Gary Condit has about the connotation of O.J. Simpson. And O.J. Simpson isn't going to run for anything either. And he was actually acquitted. It wasn't just that, you know, we don't have all the facts yet. He was actually acquitted. And O.J.'s not running for anything either. No, the career is over. And the fact -- I mean, I keep hearing people say, "Oh, you're so popular."

Every congressman is popular. Look at all these elections. The greatest -- greater turnover in the House of Lords. All congressmen are popular. Not that many people actually want the job. And if I can say something else, I mean, I just find this rally absolutely appalling to say that it's admiral for his father, the preacher to be coming out and defending his son when he's just been caught in just absolutely sordid violations of the 10 Commandments, and not just one commandment. It's absolutely appalling for...

COSSACK: All right, let's go on back to the rally now and listen to a little bit of this rally for a few minutes.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... for our constituency that has been proven in years past. And we ask for your strength, your love, and your encouragement to direct him. We look unto you as a the Psalmist, David, said in the time distress one time in his life. He said, "I will lift up mine eyes into the hills from which cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord which made the heaven and the earth." We look to you for help and strength and ask you to minister comfort and strength to each these families today in the lovely name of Jesus, we pray, amen.

JAVIER RANGEL, CONDIT SUPPORTER: Thank you very much, reverend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: We're back to the pro-Condit rally that's taking place in Turlock, California. This is Javier Rangel. And let's listen to what he has to say.

RANGEL: ... dragged along as well. You see, the media will tell you that Gary's career is over, that he should resign and disappear from the face of the earth.

But you see....

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Gary stays, Gary stays, Gary stays.

RANGEL: I agree with you, thank you. But, you see what the media refuses to understand and seemingly unable to understand and acknowledge is that Gary is not accountable to the media.

Gary is accountable, one, to God. Gary is not accountable to the media. He is accountable to his family. Gary is not accountable to the media. Gary is accountable to the 18th congressional district.

We decide, he decides, his family decides. The media does not decide. UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: We decide. We decide. We decide. We decide. We decide. We decide.

RANGEL: And as far as God's concerned, he has already forgiven him, because God is loving and compassionate. Here is the problem: The media is outraged because he has never made himself available to them. They are so outraged that they are punishing him, literally, literally, ripping him to shreds. They have tried him and convicted him. They have shown no compassion, no understanding, no tolerance, and especially, no patience. Yes, he made grave mistakes, but who among us has not? Who among us is fit to cast the first stone?

I guess the only ones who see themselves fit are the media. As with any family member who has made a mistake, we don't excuse their transgressions, but we do look at them in totality as a human being and forgive them. Gary means a lot to the central valley. He has done so much good, as will be evidenced by the people who will follow me tonight. I for one am not prepared to throw the baby out with the bath water.

COSSACK: All right, we're back and we've watching the pro-Condit rally on Turlock, California. It's for a break. More with the rally on LARRY KING LIVE when we return. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: We're back and we're watching now the rally in Turlock, California, the pro-Gary Condit rally that we have been keeping our eye on for the last few minutes here on LARRY KING LIVE. There are several speakers who, as you can imagine, are there, and in favor of Congressman Gary Condit.

Let's go to Cynthia Alksne for a minute. Cynthia, you know, there was an article today in the "The Washington Post" about Mrs. Condit. The fact - pointed out the fact that even before all of this she kept a relatively low profile. One can only imagine how this effecting her and what she has found out about that.

ALKSNE: Well, not a low profile, but she was well-loved in the district. You know, all you can do is feel sorry for her. She is a victim in any sense and I just ache for her and my heart goes out to her and perhaps she ought to be running for election instead of him.

It's hard for me to believe, I have to tell you, that he would ever run again, because can you imagine if the Levy's did, as evidently they have indicated they might do, which is buy some television time and make a 30-second or a 60-second commercial saying, you know, our daughter was missing and we called Congressman Condit when we really needed his help and he lied to us about her relationship with her, and then he was not forthcoming with the police. And then when the police wanted to look in his house, he went and threw things out in the trash, and generally has not been helpful.

The police came to interview him and he was too busy working out, he didn't have a chance, he didn't have time because of his workout schedule, to talk to the police. It wouldn't take much of a political strategist to put together a 60-second commercial which would finish whatever coffins were not properly in his coffin, put whatever nails were not in his coffin, to finish off his political career.

COSSACK: Julian, is it possible, and is it possible because of the fact or the allegation that he has been such a good congressman in Turlock that people will say, you know, whatever he did is whatever he did, I don't really care. The bottom line is, you know, is my life a little better because of Gary Condit? And enough people might say, you know, he is what he is, but he's been a good congressman to me?

EPSTEIN: I think people will ultimately look at the totality of circumstances and right now we don't have a totality of facts. So, it's hard to really know -- certainly there is no doubt that he has hurt himself in this process.

At the same time, he has been a superb congressman. I think it is unfair to start attacking his father. I think that the rally here was very, very bad timing, however. But I think the key thing, Gary Condit's future rests with Gary Condit at this point. And I agree with those who say now, at some point, some point soon, he needs to speak.

And the things that he needs to express is I think he needs to express what he went through, perhaps on an emotional level. He needs to first of all say that he cares about the fact that this woman that he was involved with is missing. He hasn't said that, and I think that's been one of his biggest problems.

The second thing I think that he needs to do is he needs to explain why it was, as Cynthia points out, that when the police asked him at first, that he wasn't forthcoming. And I think that if he says, look, he basically freaked out, he panicked, he got caught in a very bad situation, he didn't know how to react to it on an emotional level, and he did something that he shouldn't have done.

I think if he can say, and the police can back up the fact, that he has in fact since that time cooperated fully with them, the police again are also saying that he is no longer not only not a suspect...

COSSACK: Will you let me interrupt you for just a second here...

EPSTEIN: The final point, if I -- it just, it'll take ten seconds.

COSSACK: All right, let me just interrupt for both of those for a second. We've got to go out to that rally and listen to the rally for a second. Let's go ahead and listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My son and his wife had my first grandson and without Gary and his staff's support, we could have never survived that without the help of the Lord.

Our grandson, Trevor, was born with a very rare disease called rhizomelic chondrodysplasia punctata. It took me about six months to learn how to say it and while I'm saying, if you want to pass these around and take a look at Trevor's picture, feel free to do so. I'm not remotely embarrassed. Be sure to get them back to my wife, she's the only one here who is smart enough to bring an umbrella.

And Trevor was born with the world's rarest form of dwarfism. He weighed in at a full-term ninth-month pregnancy and he weighed seven pounds and approximately six ounces, and approximately three-and-a- half or four years later, Trevor died at less than 12 pounds.

It was heartbreaking, but without the help of Congressman Condit and his entire staff, my son...

COSSACK: All right, we've been listening to the pro-Condit rally and seeing the pro-Condit rally taking place in Turlock, California. Let's take a break and we'll be back with more of LARRY KING LIVE in just a moment. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COSSACK: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. We've been watching and listening to the pro-Condit rally that's been taking place in Turlock, California. Earlier today, when the rally started, there was Gary Condit's father, the Reverend Adrian Condit came out and made a strong statement in support of his son.

Well, let's now go to Don Vance. Don is a member of a group who is working to unseat Congressman Condit. Don, thank you for joining us. What's your reaction to the rally?

DON VANCE, LEVY FAMILY FRIEND: Well, I think that Gary Condit was probably born with a very severe form of dwarfism, that is moral dwarfism. Because he morally failed the people of this district. He failed the people of the United States, miserably. He's a security risk. We're here to ask him to resign.

The rally is from his supporters who perhaps cannot see this moral dwarfism in their man.

COSSACK: Don, you are working with this group. You are a friend of the Levy family. Is that why you're involved in this group to unseat Condit?

VANCE: Essentially, I am a close family friend and I've been their personal attorney for 18 years. So, I'm very close to the situation. I don't do anything as far as legal aspects of the case. Their attorneys in Washington handle all of that. But I'm trying to support them as a friend. They don't know I'm here, so, hi Bob and Sue.

COSSACK: All right, Don. Let me get more with you in that -- what exactly are you trying to do to get Condit to resign? Are you trying to pressure him to resign? What exactly are you trying to do?

VANCE: We're circulating petitions. We have a Web site, DefeatGaryCondit.org, which you can log onto. The FreeRepublic.com has been very helpful, although we're of different political persuasions, I being a liberal Democrat, they being really conservative, but we have one thing in common, we need to get rid of a moral leper, as he's called by Thomas Sole (ph), nationally syndicated correspondent and article writer.

So, that's what we're trying to do.

COSSACK: Don, you're friends with the Levy's, how are they doing?

VANCE: I haven't talked to Bob since last Monday. I think this is probably a low time for them. I would think it would be.

COSSACK: All right. Our thanks to Don Vance. Mark, your reaction to Don's group and what's going to happen, what Don's trying to do in Turlock and...

GERAGOS: Well, I've said all along that if you want to judge these actions, that's where you judge it, at the ballot box. I don't think that you do it in front of a grand jury, because there isn't anything criminal here. I don't think you do it in this kind of media circus, so to speak.

Don Vance is doing what it's his right is to do, which is to decide this and let his constituents decide. I think that's perfectly appropriate and I think the constituents will decide, depending on whether he decides to run or not.

COSSACK: Ann, I want to go back again, politically, because you do see these people who are at least attending this rally today, and eventually, as you know, as a political analyst, you know, it gets right down to going into that ballot and saying, you know, do I really care how this man lives his life if he takes care of what I need taken care of in my hometown.

COULTER: Anybody can take care of the hometown, and I, I mean, this rally, it's just one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. With all the mentions of God and the Lord. If this were, you know, a member of the Christian Coalition running, we'd be hearing about the Spanish Inquisition. But, you know, because it's defending an adulterer, this is just mind-boggling and I can't believe, you know, half of you are copacetic with it and say, oh, well, he might have a chance.

You know, Gary Hart thought he might have a chance. He stayed in a little longer, too. Gary Condit has no chance of winning reelection. His career is over.

COSSACK: Ann, what if Gary Condit's wife came out tomorrow and said, you know, we've had a long talk, we've made our peace. I understand what my husband did, obviously I don't support him. I don't support what he did, but I forgive him. Would that change your opinion.

COULTER: Right, the Clinton post-Super Bowl speech. No, I don't think so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What -- because Ann doesn't really believe in family values. Ann believes in two...

COULTER: What about...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, Ann, it's a little much -- it's a little much when you start judging what's going on in the Condit family. Why is it that the Condit family can't make these decisions on their own? Why is it that you need to insinuate yourself into the Condit family?

COULTER: Why is it that you need to talk constantly and not let anyone else on this panel talk? I mean, it's...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've heard you talk. I've heard you moralize...

COULTER: If you would -- really thought you could just, you know, persuade people by the force of the arguments, you might let other people, you know, have a chance to talk. And no, I don't think it would make a difference...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just -- answer my question. Why do you have to...

COULTER: ... if Mrs. Condit came out tomorrow. This whole cast of characters, I mean, from beginning to end, is just looking sad and pathetic, but we know what Gary Condit has done and, like I say, Gary Condit now sounds like O.J. Simpson. His career is over and nothing can save it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I disagree...

COSSACK: I'm going to jump in here for a second and take a break. When we come back, we're going to be talking to more of our guests and find out what's happening with that rally in Turlock. Stay with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I want you to know this evening that no amount of news media rhetoric, implications or accusations, sources known or unknown, will ever divide the Condit family.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

QUESTION: Anything you want to say this evening, you think?

SUSAN LEVY, MOTHER OF CHANDRA LEVY: I have nothing to say this evening.

QUESTION: Fair enough.

S. LEVY: I just want my daughter home (UNINTELLIGIBLE). America can pray.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mrs. Levy.

S. LEVY: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSSACK: All right, we're now seeing the rally in Turlock. Apparently, the police are removing a protester now, who was a, I can't tell whether or not he was pro or anti, but whatever he's done he's found the wrath of the police officer and he's out of there.

It has been estimated that the crowd at this rally is somewhere between 100 and 125, and of course the rally started off with Gary Condit's father, the Reverend Adrian Condit, standing up and a very emotional and moving speech, supporting his son.

Cynthia Alksne, I want to follow-up a little bit more on what we were just talking about. The idea of what would happen to Condit's political future if his wife came out tomorrow and forgave him.

ALKSNE: I don't think much. I think many, some people would think that's very nice of the wife. Many would feel sorry for her, but nobody would want to vote for him. I just think he's so done it's hard to believe. And my one comment about this rally, which isn't much of a rally, because if they think there's a hundred people there, probably 40 of them were press and 10 of them were there to watch somebody else in the rally, so there really weren't that many people, but I didn't hear in the rally any, any prayers for Chandra Levy or for the Levy family. You would think they would have the good sense to say, in addition, boy, you know, we're supporting our man Gary, but we sure ache and ache for this family. And I didn't hear it. Maybe it was there, I didn't hear it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cynthia?

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Reverend said a prayer for Chandra.

ALKSNE: Good for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was at the beginning of the speech...

ALKSNE: Good for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... when they put it on and you couldn't see him with the placards there, but he did say a prayer for Chandra.

ALKSNE: Excellent. And she needs it.

EPSTEIN: You know, Roger, if I could just disagree a little bit with Ann. Ann said that anyone could deliver in the district the way Gary Condit has. I think that's incorrect and I think that Republicans and Democrats will say he's been an outstanding congressman, not withstanding, I think, his very, very serious failings in this case.

But, I continue to think that this rally is insensitive to the family. I don't see how any of this cross-fire that's going on on the streets of Modesto in any way provides comfort to the family or in any way helps us find the whereabouts of where Chandra Levy is. In fact, I think it's even a little bit crass to be focusing the entire conversation on the man's political future, when what's far more important is trying to discover where Ms. Chandra Levy is.

I think, you know, having said that, the political future, Cynthia and others, I think depends on a couple of things. I mean, I think it depends on whether the police continue to say that he's not even a central figure in this matter and if he comes out and explains exactly what happened...

COSSACK: Julian, we're going -- Julian, we're going to interrupt and go back to the rally for just a second and listen to the rally. Let's listen for just a moment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I also import foreign goods for my company and they called me with my first shipment from overseas and said, "What is your RN number"?

When I said, "What is an RN number"? they probably knew that we were in trouble, and so for two days I tried to find out how to get one. I finally gave up and called the Washington office, told them my problem. I said, "I have to have an RN number. I think it's Trade and Commerce. I tried two days."

He said, "Give me your fax number. Give me your phone number. One way or another we'll get back to you within one hour."

And I mean, within one hour the form came through the fax, who to fax it to, who to call, and what to do, and I had an RN number within one hour, and that's a three week process. The director called me up and gave it to me over the phone.

It's just things like that that his staff, and I have had 30-some people work under me at my previous job before I went out on my own, and I can tell you, I know good staff from bad staff. They are absolutely wonderful at both places. And the good thing is, they don't have any turnover. You don't have to walk in there and start all over with the same people, I mean with different people. You have the same ones that have been there from the beginning, and they absolutely can relate to you. They say, "We understand," they write it down, I mean they're just absolutely wonderful.

For a small business person, they are absolutely the answer and I can tell you that as far as our senator, our two female senators, that's hopeless. I have never -- our local people, I could probably show you just stacks of letters, material I have used to contact them. It's absolutely...

COSSACK: All right, we've been -- we're going to take a break now. We've been watching constituents of Congressman Condit speak in praise of him and in support of him. Of course, this rally was started off by his father, the Reverend Condit, who spoke very movingly of his son. Let's take a break, more with our panel and the rally when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COSSACK: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Roger Cossack sitting in for Larry King. What you're seeing now is a pro-Gary Condit rally that is taking palace in Turlock, California. There have been several of his constituents who have gotten up and spoken in his favor. Of course, the rally began with the Reverend Adrian Condit, his father, speaking very movingly about his son.

Let's go around the horn, if we can. Barbara Olsen, I know that we've talked about this a little bit more, but what one of the things I am -- one of the things I am moved about, to be honest with you, and yes you can say this is all a planned event, and obviously these speakers are there in favor of Condit. But what they're obviously trying to do is get across this notion that, look, he may be a bad boy, but he's our bad boy. And assuming that he is not somehow connected with the murder or the disappearance of Chandra Levy, which the police say that he isn't, and assuming that he can somehow work out his marital problems, don't you think that in a year from now he is going to be tough to defeat? I mean, there are plenty -- he is a very popular congressman.

BARBARA OLSEN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I want to start off first by saying I agree with you. I think his father spoke eloquently of his son that he loves, and that obviously came across. I think similarly the article earlier that we were talking about today on his wife, it made you have a lot of empathy for his wife. And these people that are talking, obviously, Gary Condit and his staff have done a lot of good work in the district. That's why he got his 70 percent reelection. He's been a good politician.

But I think the things that he has done, I think the actions that he has taken, will live. And it is the totality. He is now back in his district for the next month. The Congress has let out...

COSSACK: Barbara, let me interrupt you for just a second. We've got to go out to Gary Tuchman, who is at the rally, CNN's Gary Tuchman.

Gary, come on in and tell us what's going on. I understand there's a little hostility towards the press there.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Roger, between 100 and 125 people, I would say, are pro-Condit supporters. There are also about 10 anti-Condit protesters outside the fences of this parking lot. But what's happening, you've heard it, while you've been watching snippets of this rally, there is a very anti-news media mentality here.

And what's been happening is a lot of people participating in the rally have been holding up their sings in front of the cameras, saying, "We don't want the cameras taking pictures of the rally. This rally is for the supporters, it's not for the news media. We blame the news media for Gary Condit's problems." That's kind of the atmosphere here right now.

COSSACK: It's sort of a blame the messenger for the message. Is that right, Gary? TUCHMAN: Well, Roger, we've certainly seen that before. I've been in the business a long time, I've seen that many times and we're seeing it again today.

COSSACK: Gary, we saw someone who was attending the rally being escorted off the premises by the police. Do you know what that was all about?

TUCHMAN: Yes, that was an anti-Condit protester. The anti- Condit protesters are supposed to be outside the fence here at the Civic Club. He was inside and he was holding up an anti-Condit sign and a pro-Condit supporter tried to rip up the sign, they scuffled a little bit. The police came and they basically took him out, not to arrest him or anything, basically to protect him.

COSSACK: All right. Thanks to CNN's Gary Tuchman. Let's to go Cynthia Alksne now. Cynthia, we were talking about the idea that in a year from now, after this, after some time has gone by and perhaps in fact it ends up that Congressman Condit was not involved in the disappearance, that just on the nature of the fact that he has been perceived as a good congressman, that he's going to be tough to beat. Your feelings?

ALKSNE: I don't think that's possible. I don't think he'll run because he won't be able to handle the questions. Look, that almost looks like Robert Blake testifying there for him. I'm a little nervous for him. We've been wondering where Robert Blake was.

But no, I don't think that, I don't think in the end he'll run, because who wants to do the rounds of interviews? Certainly not Gary Condit, answering questions about why, on a very important investigation, because this constituent had disappeared, he lied to her family, he was not helpful to the police, he, you know, was too busy exercising. I mean, I -- it just seems outside the realm of possibility to me and my guess is, you know, at some point the media will die down and then there'll be a statement issued saying he's decided not to run and spend time with his family.

COSSACK: Mark, does he have problems? Let's say he doesn't have problems in terms of being proven to be complicit with the disappearance of Chandra Levy. But there is these obstruction of justice issues that are around and seem to be hovering around him; the idea that perhaps he told Anne Marie Smith not to cooperate. The idea that he wasn't forthcoming. Does he have problems in that area?

GERAGOS: I don't think so. I mean, I've gone through it before. With Anne Marie Smith, based on her statements, that's never going to be an obstruction. With Michael Dayton and the other statements with the, with his high school friend, Michael has denied it. She made the first phone call. We've gone over this ad nauseum. I don't think that's an obstruction. Throwing away a watch case isn't an obstruction of an official investigation because it isn't relevant. So, I don't think that that really is going to become an issue.

And you've heard the father say, and he said tonight, that the family and that Carolyn is strong and she's not going to be torn apart. He's said it a couple of times. You and I were looking at each other as he was saying it and we were touched and moved to some degree, I was, by the kind of the emotion that he conveyed about the strength of the family.

And I just don't think that you're in a situation, where these people in the central valley are, I think, are going to say this is between he and his wife.

COSSACK: All right, Mark, you get the last word. That's all the time we have tonight on LARRY KING LIVE. Tomorrow night Larry will return. I'm Cossack, sitting in for Larry. Thanks very much and good night.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

 Search   




MARKETS
4:30pm ET, 4/16
144.70
8257.60
3.71
1394.72
10.90
879.91
 














Back to the top