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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

America's New War: Rudy Giuliani Discusses New York's Recovery Efforts

Aired October 3, 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.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, ground zero up close: We'll show you the shattered landscape where heroism and heartbreak meet.

Joining us in New York, Mayor Rudy Giuliani: He made an announcement about his political future earlier today from Washington, where he's met, with Secretary of State Colin Powell, the emirate of Qatar.

Back in New York, the chairman and CEO of Delta Airlines, Leo Mullin: What's the state of United States aviation three weeks after terrorists shook the skies?

And then New York native, Regis Philbin: His season was working in the Pentagon when the hijacked plane hit.

They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

The man walked into the studio, and everybody here applauded. Are you getting used to that?

(LAUGHTER)

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI (R), NEW YORK: No, I'm not getting used to it. I'm more used to going to Shea Stadium and getting booed. "Go back to the Bronx, you bum."

KING: And you got cheered last time, Giuliani.

GIULIANI: Yeah, I got cheered.

KING: Our guest is the mayor. I call him Giuliani because we go back away. The mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani.

I must tell you I was there today. I went to ground zero, and escorted by Tom Von Essen, your great fire commissioner...

GIULIANI: Yeah, a great man.

KING: Television does not...

GIULIANI: No question about it. No question about it.

KING: ... show that. It shows it but it doesn't show it. GIULIANI: Absolutely, no question about that. It does not -- it does not show the devastation and the horror of it. And I have taken many people there, a lot of world leaders and foreign minister. And I do it on purpose, and with the advice and the consent of the State Department and their guidance. But I take them there to get them angry.

I remember taking the president of France there.

KING: Chirac.

GIULIANI: And I mean, he was -- his mouth opened. I mean, it is -- you see it on television, you see it in pictures. And then if you go there, either walk through or go over it by helicopter, the devastation of it is unreal.

Henry Kissinger went with me yesterday, and he said it's unlike anything that he can recall from the Second World War. Worse than that.

KING: And you -- you walk through, and the smells and the -- and the jitters and the...

GIULIANI: Actually I got to City Hall at 7 o'clock this morning. New York City Hall is just a few blocks from there. It had been really overwhelmed with soot and dust, and it's now cleaned out. And this morning, the smell was awful. I got out of my car at 7 o'clock this morning, got out, smelled it, and I just got angry.

KING: Yeah, you get angry.

GIULIANI: Three weeks later this damn smell is still there. And it's horrible what these people have done. Just horrible.

KING: And it was this gorgeous day today in New York, if you're watching or listening, just a beautiful day, and to walk around (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it was -- I was...

GIULIANI: Walk around, see that devastation...

KING: I -- and I can't get it out of my head.

GIULIANI: ... get that smell, and then...

KING: How do you get it out of your head?

GIULIANI: ... and then -- and then look at the weekend and see that there are already 20 funerals lined up for Saturday.

KING: You went to a funeral today, didn't you?

GIULIANI: Yeah, I went to a funeral today. I went to several wakes. I can't go to all of them and it breaks my heart. I think it breaks Tommy's heart, too. You can't -- I've gone to every single funeral, every single wake of ever single police officer and firefighter that's died since I'm mayor, and I can't go. There are six at one time.

KING: On Saturday Night, we're going to show a lot of this, but here -- I want the mayor to look, too -- is a brief episode this afternoon with me and the fire commissioner at ground zero. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Where are we?

TOM VON ESSEN, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT: Well, we're pretty much dead center on, you know, the tragedy. This was the North Tower. That was the South Tower. As you know, the South Tower was hit first -- or hit second, but came down first. The North Tower is where we were in the early stages in the lobby. And when they realized that they had so much fire, they were pushing more and more people upstairs into it to try to get the fire out. And people just kept coming in and in and in.

And then when the second tower got hit, everybody knew that it was terrorism. At the first -- the first one, nobody was sure.

KING: It could have...

VON ESSEN: You know, we thought maybe it was a heart attack of somebody flying the plane or something. Nobody knew it was a commercial airliner with so much fuel on it. So, that began it.

It's just been an unbelievable three weeks. You can see that, where we've moved it to an awful lot of heavy construction. They've taken out, I think, 167,000 tons already. It's just -- we think we'll be here another nine months to a year really at this point.

KING: And the firemen go in every day...

VON ESSEN: Yeah.

KING: ... looking? It's not a rescue operation anymore, huh?

VON ESSEN: No. I mean, we're -- we haven't called it a pure recovery, because every day we hold -- you know, if we're not going to rescue a live firefighter or a live police officer or a live civilian, we're going to get their remains. So it's important to everybody that's here. I think it's important to the civilians that were caught here, and it's very important to the firefighters and police officers.

Just, you know, you see the weight of the steel and the debris and the amount of heat that was down there, we don't believe we're going to find anybody anymore.

When you have a collapse...

KING: You find someone.

VON ESSEN: Yeah, there's -- you know, the thing is cantilevered, somebody is dripping water, there's air, there's oxygen. You know, people can survive a long time. But with this, the compression, the weight and everything was just...

But that was -- that's what drove everybody in the beginning. Now it's -- now it's just trying to find somebody's remains is what's driving the guys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: These people are amazing, aren't they, Rudy? These people are amazing.

GIULIANI: The firefighters?

KING: Unbelievable.

GIULIANI: Of course, they're amazing. They're absolutely amazing.

Police officers?

KING: Police officers, firemen. People come from all over the country to help. L.A. Fire Department.

GIULIANI: Well, this -- I mean, this is the most devastating loss any fire department has ever undertaken. I mean, it's -- it's staggering. We have 343 members of the New York Fire Department missing. And we're doing burials and memorials every day. Tomorrow, we're going to have funeral of Captain Terry Hatton, who was the captain of Rescue One, who was -- I did his wedding to my administrative assistant, Beth Patrone (ph)...

KING: Oh my god.

GIULIANI: ... who's been my secretary, administrative assistant for 17 years.

KING: You married them?

GIULIANI: Yeah, I did their wedding. They were married at Gracie Mansion. And he grew up next door to Tom Von Essen.

So I mean, the -- what happened here is enormously personal. There are -- there are different emotions that emerge. Sorrow and mourning, anger, tremendous anger, and then pride, tremendous pride at what those firefighters accomplished, saving 25,000 people. I mean, they did not die in vain. They saved over 25,000 people, and they defended freedom and gave us an example of how far we're going to have to defend ourselves and fight back and end terrorism no. No ifs, ands or buts about it. We have to end it.

KING: I'm going to get to that with you.

We get word that FEMA leaves on Saturday. Is that true?

GIULIANI: I guess that's right, yeah. KING: I guess there's nothing...

GIULIANI: Yeah, the recovery -- the whole recovery operation now we can handle both with the Fire Department, the Police Department and the construction companies that are a part of it.

KING: What's gone through -- I -- you thought about possibly staying an extra three months. You were going to maybe try to get on the ballot again, all that...

GIULIANI: People -- I mean, you know, it's very emotional. I have a tremendous connection to the Police Department, the Fire Department, the morale, and people...

KING: Wanted you to say.

GIULIANI: ... begged me to stay, begged me to stay. And I understand what that's about. That's not about me. It's about they're afraid and they are worried about transition. And it doesn't reflect on any of the candidates. It's just a reality that's out there that I think a lot of people ignore.

And I thought the best way to handle it is to extend the transition. The transition is a month and a half from the day of the election to the day that the mayor is sworn in. And I tell you this honestly, from the bottom of my heart, if I were one of the candidates, I would ask for an extension. I would say, stay on for a short while longer, and then give me a chance to pick my commissioners carefully and give me a chance to learn, give me a chance to really be able to not miss a beat when I take over.

I went through this transition as a mayor. I went through it with two presidential administrations. And this one has to be done just right, for substantive reasons and to make people confident.

So, that's the reason...

KING: So what changed your mind?

GIULIANI: ... that's the reason I offered it. And I also thought we were beyond the Democrat-Republican politics stuff. I thought that -- because, although there are a lot of people that are in favor of it, some people -- some people are against it. You know, they're angry about it. They're against it.

KING: Never stopped you before.

GIULIANI: I can't do it without them. If I could do it on my own, I mean, if I could do it, I would say the best thing for the city is to remain for three more months, from January until the end of March, and then be able to finish up what we're doing and give a new mayor a chance to pick...

KING: So then you were being realistic.

GIULIANI: But I need -- I need -- I need the assembly to agree to that. And I'm still willing to do that.

What I said I wouldn't do is allow anybody to put my name on the ballot. What I said today was Mike Long, very graciously and I think for the right reasons, offered to put my name on the ballot.

KING: Conservative Party.

GIULIANI: The Conservative Party, and I called Mike. I told Mike and I told several others that I might have an interest in doing that, not to put my name on the ballot, because that would end up in court. So, that's the last thing in the world we need is to end up in court.

KING: If the next mayor asked you to stay, you'd stay and help him?

GIULIANI: If the next mayor wanted to extend the transition so that we could keep this team together for a period of time, and I believe had the wisdom to say, I need a little more time to get this ready, then of course I'd do it. I mean, I'd do anything I could to serve the city.

If they don't want to do it, then I'm not going create that -- that tension for the city right now. It's not right.

KING: I've got to take a break, but if they asked you to run the Port Authority, would you take that job?

GIULIANI: Oh, I don't know about that. I don't know. I don't know.

I'm not looking for a job.

KING: You don't need the work

GIULIANI: Larry, I don't need -- I don't need a job. I was all ready to leave. I love this city. It's devastating what's been done to it.

And I've developed an enormous expertise and a group of people about how to run it, you know, and I want that -- I want that to -- I want the city to get the benefit of that rather than just boom.

KING: Our guest is His Honor, the mayor of New York, best-known mayor in the world. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Are you -- are you finding something every day? Are there days you find nothing?

VON ESSEN: Some days we don't find anything and other days we find groups of guys, and you know, it depends. It varies from day to day. There's so much rubble.

KING: How do you -- how do you ever get used to that? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we've been doing it every other day. I've been here every other day since the attack, and the destruction here is beyond incredible. There's still like six, over 5,000 bodies still there, and we haven't found them. That's how much destruction there is.

KING: And you can smell?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can smell it, yes.

That's why they give us this. They give us the Vicks to put under the nose so we can -- it will take away from the stench.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I'm sure everybody must have lost somebody you know, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, some more. I had 34 years, so I know almost everybody. I knew 200 guys. It's like losing 200 friends in one day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has asked us, as has the president, to return to a normal kind of life, and part of that normalcy was entertainment. Here was Rudy Saturday night on "Saturday Night Live." Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIULIANI: Having our city's institution up and running sends a message that New York City is open for business. "Saturday Night Live" is one of our great New York City institutions, and that's why it's important for you to do your show tonight.

LORNE MICHAELS, PRODUCER, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Can we be funny?

(LAUGHTER)

GIULIANI: Why start now?

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Good timing. Is it OK to laugh?

GIULIANI: I'm really a comedian, you know.

KING: Is it OK to laugh? GIULIANI: Of course it's OK to laugh and cry. You've got to do both. You know, I've lost some very, very close friends, people that I admire, love. I was -- I saw some of them shortly before they died.

You've got to laugh. I mean, that's what life is all about. You have to -- the reason they died was to protect people and let them live. Now those people should go ahead and live, not go shrivel up somewhere, and you don't want to give the terrorists that -- that advantage.

But why -- why let them affect our lives? We've got to be brave. We've got to say to ourselves, when you hear all this stuff about this chemical-this, and biological-that, and this, that and the other thing, I can go out of this building tonight and something will hit me and kill me. I'm not going to not go out of this building for that reason.

Now, look, there are risks that we face, but we have to be brave. We've got to go ahead, we've got to live our lives, let the government work better and more effectively to figure out how to reduce those risks. We'll never eliminate them completely, but people should get on airplanes, people should go to -- should come to New York.

If you wanted to come to New York at any time in the next year, get on a plane the next couple of weeks, come to New York now, basically say to the terrorists, you're not going to make us afraid.

Or if you want to go Disneyland, go to Disneyland. If you want to go...

KING: Wherever.

GIULIANI: ... Hollywood, go to Hollywood. Don't let them stop. Don't let them stop you. You're safe. You're safe as human beings can be.

KING: I know you -- but when you stand there amid that...

GIULIANI: I know, I know.

KING: ... and you're standing -- the bodies are under you. I mean, let's be -- this is...

GIULIANI: It's very, very tough.

KING: Your optimism comes from -- whoo.

GIULIANI: Land of the free and home of the brave. Is that what it says? Land of the free home of the brave. So let's be brave. Let's get out there and do the things that we're supposed to do.

KING: They didn't deserve to die.

GIULIANI: These people didn't die so that we would let terrorists control our lives. That isn't the reason they died. Terry Hatton and Ray Downey and Pete Gansy (ph), and they didn't die so that, you know, we wouldn't go on airplanes anymore or we'd be afraid to walk around the streets or afraid to go to restaurants. They died so that America would be free, America would have the ability to function, you know, the way -- that's what they want.

And then let's prepare a response, as the president is doing, so that we systematically and thoroughly eliminate terrorism: not just deal with this issue, but eliminate terrorism all over the world.

KING: When you addressed the U.N., you delivered a very tough speech, similar in manner to the way Mr. Blair spoke in London. Did you measure that carefully? Did you say, you know, I've got a lot of people in here who may not agree, this has been a tough body, it has disagreed a lot in many areas, I'm going to deliver this, you're-with- us-or-against-us kind of approach?

GIULIANI: I checked it with the ambassador first, had him read it first. So, there's nothing I said there that wasn't consistent with the State Department, and Secretary Powell called me the next day and congratulated me for giving the speech, thanked me for giving the speech.

So I think what I said reflects how our government feels as well. I mean, I was very close to this, so there's a lot of passion involved in it. But the message is very, very simple, and I think it's a very correct one: There's no room for neutrality here. There's no room for the usual diplomatic on-the-one-hand-but-on-the-other, because this isn't about diplomacy.

KING: With us or against us.

GIULIANI: This is about murder. This is about cold-blooded, vicious, insane murderers. And unless we eliminate them, they're going to kill more people. So -- and all this, all this stuff about you have to understand how they feel, they lost the right to ask us to understand how they feel when they murdered over 5,000 people. They lost the right do that. They no longer have that right. You lose that right when you engage in mass murder of innocent people. It doesn't exist.

And if you -- if you entertain that right for people, if you entertain the right to get our attention by murdering 5,000 innocent people, we're going to have an uncivilized, chaotic world, and our children are going to grow up in a more dangerous world.

KING: What do you think about those who protest and say, you know, go slowly, and people march for peace, and members of your own church, the Catholic Church, have been very outspoken to be careful?

GIULIANI: Go slowly I agree with. I think the president has been brilliant in the way in which he has put this together.

We want peace. But you're not going to get to peace by not eliminating terrorism. You're just going to get to more destruction, more devastation.

What makes the people who are marching for that kind of irrational peace think that they're not going to do this again? These are the same people that thought we'd achieve peace by making concessions to Hitler and appeasing Hitler. And what did that bring? It brought, you know, 12 million people dead. If we had faced him at an earlier stage and dealt with him, maybe those people wouldn't have died.

So I think, I mean, I want peace. I think the president wants peace. But I think we maybe have a more mature understanding of how you get to peace. You don't just walk around carrying signs and singing songs and get to peace when there are people that want to murder 5,000 people, and maybe they want to murder a lot more than 5,000 people.

KING: You know, we're...

GIULIANI: I think they did.

KING: We're two guys from Brooklyn, and I'm still emotional over today. I -- this has carried with me.

GIULIANI: I hope that emotion -- I hope that emotion...

KING: I don't -- I don't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that way.

GIULIANI: I hope our emotion sustains us through the effort that we're going to have to make to eliminate terrorism. I -- the solidarity that America now has is the opportunity to really accomplish that.

I think every decent nation is behind us. And I saw in the eyes of the different world leaders that I brought there -- from France, from Italy, from Britain, all over the world -- what I saw in them was a recognition this could happen to us. This could happen to us. This is New York. Well, there's also London and there's Paris and there's Rome and there are a lot of other places. And these people are irrational.

KING: Let me get a break. We'll be back with more with Mayor Rudy Giuliani on this edition of LARRY KING. Regis Philbin will be here later. Leo Mullin, the CEO of Delta. Gerhard Schroeder, the chancellor of Germany, will be one of our guests tomorrow night. So will Governor Pataki. So will Dan Rather. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You do a funeral only if you have the body.

VON ESSEN: No. I've been to a couple funerals already that they didn't have bodies.

KING: Memorials.

VON ESSEN: Well, you go to -- you go to it thinking it's a memorial service and you get there and it's a coffin. So some people are...

KING: Burying...

VON ESSEN: ... are burying...

KING: A watch or...

VON ESSEN: ... some kind of remembrance, you know, and it gives them something to bury and a place go, I guess, to think about their loved-one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES & STUDENTS: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The president, the mayor, the governor. He's become like a New Yorker, the president.

GIULIANI: He has. He has.

KING: Ate pizza today, sat in the firehouse.

GIULIANI: Today -- today, he spoke to a group of business leaders, then he went to school with us and talked to the kids. He was great with them. And then he went to a firehouse in Little Italy and had lunch with the firefighters. We all ate pizza together, cannolies at the end. And one of the families that lost -- lost a firefighter with their two -- two girls and two boys. And he was just wonderful. He was just wonderful with them, I mean, just wonderful.

KING: I want to take a call for the mayor. Vancouver, British Columbia. Hello, are you there? Vancouver, are you there?

OK, not working. Going to bring it down.

Before we talk with His Highness, the emir of Qatar, tell me about this gentleman whose funeral you're going to tomorrow whose body you identified.

GIULIANI: Well, we found him. And we were able to find him, and last -- found him last Friday, Beth's husband, Terry. And we were able to get him identified. And...

KING: What was that like for you?

GIULIANI: It was -- it was difficult. But the fact is that it was it was wonderful to see how she felt a sense of completion by the fact that we were able to find him. And we're trying -- we're trying to do that. KING: These people are happy to find anything, right? .

GIULIANI: We're trying to do that for as many people as possible. That's why -- that's why we're doing the effort carefully. We're trying to find as many as we can. And we know, we knew from the very beginning that we're not going find everybody.

And then what we're going to do for the people that -- what we're going -- we're going to have this urn, and we're going put soil from the World Trade Center in the urn so that everybody can take something from it so they have something.

KING: Was that your idea?

GIULIANI: Actually, it was -- I think it was Rosemarie O'Keefe's idea, who runs the Family Center, which is another amazing thing. We have a family center. We have a command post, and then right next to it we have a family center. The family center cares for about 1,200, 1,300 people a day. They come in there seeking social services, counseling, religious counseling, psychological counseling, death certificates. We've done applications for 1,000 death certificates. In some chases help with their children.

And the people that work there are saints, absolute saints. They work there for 12 15, hours a day. They put it together in two days and made it a state-of-the-art beautiful facility. And it's really unbelievable work. It's very, very much the same as the kind of work the rescue workers are doing, and in some ways maybe even more difficult, because they have to deal with all of these emotional -- all of these emotional problems that people have, which are very understandable.

KING: We've got to go to the emir, and I'm going to ask you sit through this just a few minutes. Are they going to build another thing there, another building there?

GIULIANI: We're going to build buildings there, but I think first we've got to decide on an appropriate memorial. I mean, this is going to be a burial ground for more Americans than just about any other place I can think of. So and...

KING: New York will build again, won't they?

GIULIANI: ... and not just Americans, 63 other countries.

KING: New York will build again, though, won't it?

GIULIANI: Oh, New York is going to be -- New York is going to be stronger. We're stronger now than we were. We're stronger today than we were on September 10th: spiritually stronger, more together.

We've got to rebuild our buildings. We have to rebuild people's lives. And we have to rebuild our economy. But we're stronger.

KING: Let's go to Washington and standing by is Sheikh Al Thani. He is -- His Highness, the sheik, is emir of Qatar. You are a friend of his, are you not?

GIULIANI: We had -- we had a very good meeting yesterday. Very good.

KING: You are totally, Your Highness, in support of the United States in this fight against terrorism?

SHEIKH HAMAD BIN-KHALIFAH AL THANI, EMIR OF QATAR (through translator): We in the state of Qatar, we condemn this terrorist attack on New York City and Washington, D.C., and we present our condolences to the American people. And this is a message from the Qatar people.

KING: Do you also, Your Highness, intend to help in other ways?

AL THANI (through translator): Terrorism and all forms of terrorism, and we will help, and we will help (UNINTELLIGIBLE) international (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in combating terror.

KING: That would include any help you can in dismantling financial networks, in enlisting your help of funded Arabic TV station to help spread the word that the United States is not targeting the average Afghan citizen? Are those areas you're going to aid as well?

AL THANI (through translator): By trying to have total control over the various finances and the monies that go from Qatar to the outside world, and through various charity organizations, in order to avoid what happened. And we will help the various parties, and we will help others in getting that support.

KING: By the way, I might tell the audience that the emir personally has given $1 million to the Cornell Weill Burn Center. We'll be there tomorrow doing some taping in the morning. We'll play it tomorrow night. He also gave our mayor $2 million to various disaster funds.

GIULIANI: Correct, to help the families of the victims, for which we are very, very grateful.

KING: We thank you, Your Highness. We thank you for joining us and thank you for your support. I think I could speak for the American public in showing all of our appreciation for it.

GIULIANI: Thank you very much.

KING: It's important to know that, you know, we don't label everybody one way.

GIULIANI: Absolutely. I mean, that -- that -- there should be no reaction against Arab-Americans. Arab-Americans are Americans. There should be no reaction against Arabs. There should be no reaction against Muslims. The Muslim faith is a beautiful, beautiful religion. And the reality is that these people are irrational, homicidal maniacs. And that can develop out of any tradition, can develop out of any religion, or perversion. It's a perversion of religion. It's not religion. It's a perversion of religion. Any religion can be perverted by power-seeking maniacs.

So the reality is that this should create stronger relationships with the Arab world that is seeking peace and that looks at life the way we do.

KING: Thank you, Mayor.

GIULIANI: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Thank you, Larry.

KING: Good calling you a friend.

GIULIANI: It's good calling you a friend, too.

We're going to Los Angeles...

KING: We go back, you bet.

(LAUGHTER)

Or are you -- are you going to be in it?

GIULIANI: Yeah, of course, we're going to be in it.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) same old story, sit there and dread it again.

(LAUGHTER)

When we come back, we'll be meeting Leo Mullin, chairman and CEO of Delta, and my man, fellow New Yorker as well, Regis Philbin will be joining us. Both next on LARRY KING LIVE. Thank the mayor, thank the highness, and don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: All the guests tonight are friends. We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE Leo Mullin, the chairman and CEO of Delta Airlines. He has held that post since August of 1997. Did not come from the airline industry, right?

LEO MULLIN, CHAIRMAN & CEO, DELTA AIRLINES: That is correct, Larry.

KING: We have met under better circumstances than this, Leo.

MULLIN: We sure have.

KING: Was your wife flying to New York?

MULLIN: Well, she was.

KING: At that moment.

MULLIN: This was actually one of the personally dramatic situations. I mean, I think everybody has their story. But as we watched the tragedy unfold, we immediately had to go to the operations control center to take action to bring down all of Delta's airplanes in the sky, and privately I knew that my wife was flying into New York at exactly that time. Leah. And fortunately my administrative assistant checked on her quickly, and within a half an hour I knew that she had been diverted to Allentown. But there was a moment where you think about the big question. She is a wonderful lady.

KING: Being the CEO has its very tough moments. I would imagine nothing is tougher than having to lay off a lot of people.

MULLIN: That is correct. We just made the announcement last week that we needed to reduce our staff by 13,000 people out of 74,000 at Delta. And...

KING: That is quite a hit.

MULLIN: That is a big hit. And the tragedy of it all is that on September 10th, prior to this tragedy occurring, this was not even on the radarscope. And so all of a sudden you turn from thinking about the normal strategic questions and achieving business success, and then you have to go through this. You have to deal with elements of survival. And I think there is no one the world who would have been asking about the survival of Delta Airlines September 10. But the entire industry has been really shocked by this.

KING: How bad is business right now, today?

MULLIN: Well business is still relatively poor, but it is improving. I mean...

KING: More people flying today than yesterday.

MULLIN: More people are flying. We are carrying right now about 170,000 a day. And we started off in the week after the tragedy at 120. We went to 140,000. This week 175,000. And we've got a shot a getting up to 200,000 next week. And we carry on average probably at this time of the year, 250 to 275, so we've still got a distance to go.

But I think if you look at that kind of 20 percent per week increase, it is encouraging. And you know, I heard the mayor talk in the earlier portion of this show, and he said he urged people to get back at flying. There are a very large number of people out there who are flying on Delta, and that is very encouraging to us.

KING: Are you going to be hiring people back then?

MULLIN: We definitely want to hire them. There is no question we have to go through this 13,000 layoff. We are going to go through a period probably through the second quarter of next year where traffic is simply going to be much, much lower than we had expected.

KING: Bad Christmas.

MULLIN: Through Christmas into the second quarter of next year. So this 13,000 will enable us to economically make it in a transitional way to the point traffic will return. And I have said many times that the Delta people are Delta. And you know, they are all trained. They are professionals and they love the place like I love the place. And we want them back. And we are going to -- actually, we are going to give a lot of them travel benefits during this time period, so that they can stay in touch with us. And we hope they do and that they will come back.

KING: You are not taking pay the rest of the year?

MULLIN: I have chosen not to take salary and any compensation for the rest of the year. And I think it is a gesture that was just necessary and appropriate.

KING: How important was the government guarantees?

MULLIN: The government guarantees for the industry were crucial. It has two parts, Larry. It was $15 billion program. 5 billion in grants right up front,and a $10 billion loan program. The 5 billion, incredibly, simply compensated the industry for the losses that we have incurred in September associated with this terrible accident -- not accident but terrorist act. And now as we go forward, all of us are going to be having traffic way, way below expectations. And the $10 billion loan program there is available to help particularly the organizations that might have trouble getting financing.

KING: Leo, should the government or a police agency be in charge of an airport, or should Delta, United and American be in charge of the airport?

MULLIN: I'm firmly in favor of the government taking over the entire security apparatus. First of all, I think security is something that the government really does perform well. I think the American people have got great deal of trust and belief in the government's capacities to do that.

I also think that because security right now is by far the most important element of getting people back on the planes, that will reassure people. So we are very much in favor of it. We spend as industry about a billion dollars a year in the security that is provided, and I think the industry is willing to continue to contribute that. But we would all like to see the government take over the whole thing.

KING: Are you saying, unquestionably in your mind, you fly a Delta plane, tomorrow you are safe.

MULLIN: I do. I feel -- I feel so safe on Delta. Between Monday and Sunday of this coming week, I will fly six times on Delta. And I think it's normal to feel apprehension when you get on the first time. I did. I looked around and I felt somewhat different. It was like riding a bike, though, after 25 years. After you did it for a few minutes you felt really good about it.

I think that the steps that have been taken to really improve the security are very important, because, you know, flying was very safe before. We carried 650 million people in each of '98 and '99 and never had a fatality. And now we have lost our reputation for safety and we've got to get it back. And this -- these new measures will help us to do that.

We have -- in my judgment, we have moved the risk of any kind of incident like this to the absolute rock bottom minimum.

KING: Thanks, Leo.

MULLIN: Thank you very much, Larry. It's great to be with you. You are a wonderful guy.

KING: Leo Mullin, chairman and CEO of Delta Airlines. When we come back, another old friend, another fellow New Yorker: Regis Philbin. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The schedule that we have is overwhelming. On Sunday we went to two funerals. Dave Weiss, who used to work with us (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and then a guy chief parker. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) And then Monday I had to work, Tuesday I had to work. Wednesday we are here. Tomorrow we have another funeral to go upstate to, then tomorrow night I have to go back to work and Friday night I have to go back to work. That is what we do.

KING: You say night. You work what hour? All night?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. So it seems to me that all we do is work and go to funerals and go back to work, back to funerals again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're in New York, and it is New Yorker night. And we welcome Regis Philbin, the host of Regis and kelly -- "Live with Regis and Kelly," and of course "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?". Where were you when this happened?

REGIS PHILBIN, HOST, "LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY:" I was in the make up chair, getting made up, and I was watching...

KING: You were getting ready to go on live.

PHILBIN: Right. The news came out at five to 9:00. You know, they have a little news cut-in. And sure enough we captured it. ABC had a helicopter up over the city and saw this thing go into the building. And boy, I suspected something right off the bat. '

KING: Did you go on?

PHILBIN: Then we went on, and pretty soon ABC -- the network took it away. But we were on long enough to see the second plane go in, too. And then I knew that this was... KING: What was going through you, Regis?

PHILBIN: I knew it was a horrible tragedy. But I didn't think the buildings would fall, you know? And so they did. And it was just a terrible day for New York City.

KING: Your son was where?

PHILBIN: After the show, I called him up. He works in the Pentagon, in the Defense Department. And we were talking about what had happened at the World Trade Center. And he said, you know, I'm hearing people running down the hallway. I'm hearing a lot of noise. I better go. So he left. And I continued to watch. And then all of a sudden the Pentagon has been hit, too. And I thought that, well, you know, he's in wheelchair. Didn't know whether he was...

KING: He's in a wheelchair?

PHILBIN: He's in a wheelchair. I didn't know whether he was going to be OK or not. But I had a feeling he would be, because he had heard something and yet it wasn't that close to him that he could make out what it was. So he got out. He got lucky.

KING: As a New Yorker, hit home harder?

PHILBIN: Very hard, Larry. I'm glad you are back in New York. I wish all the guys and everybody who left New York and went to Hollywood to do their thing would come back.

KING: Stop it.

PHILBIN: Come back. We need you now. We need guys like you here with us. I mean that. Glad you are here.

KING: What do you think of the mayor?

PHILBIN: I think he's the greatest. The greatest we have ever had, and...

KING: Do you think we ought to keep him on (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

PHILBIN: I really do. But of course, there are state term limits and all of that, and there are a lot of politics involved...

KING: If you were the mayor coming in here you would say, "Hang around a while."

PHILBIN: I definitely would. Yeah. He's good for the morale. He knows the situation better than anybody. He gets things done. I think he has got a terrific career beyond this, coming up some day. But I would keep him around New York City as long I could.

KING: Have you been down there to ground zero?

PHILBIN: Yes, I have.

KING: I was there today.

PHILBIN: Yeah.

KING: What was like it for you?

PHILBIN: Well, you know...

KING: Words are hard, by the way.

PHILBIN: I went down a week after it happened. I couldn't get that close to it, you know, because -- it was awesome. It was overwhelming. It was more than I thought it would be. You know, you could see it on television. You can see the pictures. But until you get there and you see those tremendous mounds, and a week later it was even bigger -- you know, the debris was even more than it was now. Unforgettable. Unforgettable.

I still think that, you know, these guys got lucky. I don't think they even thought they could bring those buildings down. And they did. And that is what created all of the deaths.

KING: How about your friends, the firemen and the cops and the...

PHILBIN: They're amazing. They are amazing guys. You have to well up in tears every time you see them. And there have been so many wonderful portraits of them. And I will never go by a firehouse again without realizing who is in there and what they do for a living and how they take good care of us, you know. Great.

KING: Lives will never be the same.

PHILBIN: No.

KING: What about Regis Philbin? You are sitting on top of the world, right? You have got a tremendous hit show. You've got a wonderful wife. You've got a great life.

PHILBIN: Yeah, but all of a sudden it kind of depressed me, you know? I had a terrible time getting back on the air and being Regis Philbin again, you know what I mean? It was tough. Fortunately, we were off through the week because the network kept it all the way through. Which was OK with me. Then to go back on was a tough situation. You just didn't feel like talking about the trivial things that we deal with every day.

KING: How do you make that little -- as the mayor said, you've got to laugh.

PHILBIN: Yeah. Well.

KING: Laughter is your stock in trade.

PHILBIN: He gave us all the right to go on and be ourselves and have those laughs. But the first day we were back, well, I showed the tape just as you did, from where our vantage point I had with what I saw and who I met. And we kind of eased our way back into it. And then the second day, I said, "you know, we are here really to keep everything's spirits up. That is what we do every day of the year anyway. So we're going to continue to do that now. And from that moment on, sure I hold the headlines and we talk a little bit about it. But we don't dwell on it.

KING: How about your anger?

PHILBIN: Furious, absolutely furious. How dare these guys come and do this? You know? And leave us in this kind of a situation. And threaten to do it again! And again and again. It is an unbelievable situation.

KING: Politics aside, what do you make of the president?

PHILBIN: Well, I think he has done a wonderful job. Don't you?

KING: He's become like a New Yorker.

PHILBIN: He was here again today with the kids and with firemen, eating pizza. It is great to have him in town. He boosts the morale, and so far, you know, I frankly thought he was going to go in and make a strike right away. He hasn't. The more I thought about it, the more I'm thinking he is doing the right thing.

KING: You were -- Dan Rather will be here tomorrow night.

PHILBIN: Yeah.

KING: You were the second guest with Letterman...

PHILBIN: Yeah.

KING: When Letterman came back.

PHILBIN: That was a very emotional night.

KING: Rather went on. What was that like, that night?

PHILBIN: Well, you know, I had been booked on the show for six weeks.

KING: Regular booking.

PHILBIN: Yeah. Every time I go on with Dave, there is another crisis. He is going to the hospital, he's coming out of the hospital, this happens.

KING: It's always you.

PHILBIN: It's a coincidence!

KING: No, OK.

PHILBIN: So this case it was coincidence. But so I called him that day. And I said, you know, what kind of a show are you going to do tonight? And I could tell by his mood it was very somber. He said it was going to be very serious, he was going to talk from his guts. And then we would, you know, guests would come out and do it. When it go there, I realized he had booked Dan Rather, which was terrific, because Dan had been covering the story for the entire week before, before the Letterman show came back on the air.

But this was the first show that came back in its regular time period, do you know what I mean? All the talk shows. And so -- David was very somber when he came out. He expressed himself eloquently, I thought, even though he thought he was terrible. Telling me during a commercial break, "Why did I do this?"

KING: Why am I on?

PHILBIN: Exactly. And then Dan Rather went on. You know Dan, probably overworked, overwrought -- just talking about it for the first time without reading somebody's news.

KING: What was the audience like there that night?

PHILBIN: They were very, very quiet, too. And everybody was very reflective at the -- to see Dan Rather, you know, sob, affected a lot of people.

KING: What do you make of those who criticized him? We will ask him about it tomorrow. That that wasn't -- a journalist shouldn't do that.

PHILBIN: You had to be there to understand the pressure that he was under and David was under as well. And we were all under. And I understand it perfectly. So I don't think there is any criticism due. So then after Dan left, then it was my turn to go out there, you know? And I -- and he is sitting there, and of course it was like, 40 minutes into the show.

KING: You didn't try to...

PHILBIN: No. I just sat there, and he said, "When are you coming back?" I said, "We're coming back tomorrow morning. We haven't been on the air since."

And so he decided to lighten things up, so he said, well, you bringing Kathie Lee out? Is she coming with you, you know, see how you smiled? You think Kathie Lee and everybody, it is a smile. So, I said -- but you know, no, she is not going to be there. But you know, if you want to get this thing over in a hurry, send her over there. She will get it straightened out. Because for 15 years I was saying Kathie Lee, you know you want something done, it never rests. It will get it done. And so the audience laughed and that kind of broke the ice. And then we just went from there.

KING: Our guest is Regis Philbin. This is Larry KING LIVE. We will be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get used to it when you're in here. It's like dead bodies, it's like (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You know, you say, "Well, I'm used to it." But you know, you take it home. We were talking about it last night. Every time you go home, we come back, you go home. You've got to come back and see it again. You look at it. Then you look over and you look back, and every time, it is (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The thing that really surprises me is how well all these agencies work together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FEMA has done a phenomenal job here working with the fire department and the police. Best fire department and police department in the country, by far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: That is a live shot of the Empire State Building.

PHILBIN: When I looked out of my window that night, Larry, I could see the Empire State Building but I don't see the Twin Towers. And it looks kind of lonely up there to me.

KING: It's now the tallest building in New York, again.

PHILBIN: Um-hmm.

KING: Amazing how this town holds up, though, you know?

PHILBIN: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

KING: They're back it, boy.

PHILBIN: Absolutely.

KING: So, Regis, we have about five minutes left.

PHILBIN: Yes, Larry.

KING: The mayor said you do me.

PHILBIN: Larry King, go ahead.

KING: You want to host this show, don't you?

PHILBIN: I do.

KING: I know you do. How would you handle it?

PHILBIN: Sit right there with my suspenders, you know? And I'd talk to people just like you.

KING: You take calls.

PHILBIN: Yes. Come on, let's go.

KING: What -- do you still pinch yourself over "Millionaire?" Remember the night before "Millionaire" came on? You came on this show. Who could forget that night?

PHILBIN: And I said I was going to...

KING: Save the ABC television network.

PHILBIN: Did I?

KING: And you did.

PHILBIN: You got it, baby.

KING: And it hasn't gone to your head, has it.

PHILBIN: Not at all. No, we had a good time and a good run. We are on two nights a week now. They cut us back. They want to give other programs a chance to develop.

KING: You kill yourself doing that show, don't you? We see it as an hour, but how long does it take?

PHILBIN: 2 1/2 hours, three hours to do it, sure. But they wanted to give other shows a chance to develop and see what they have. And so they brought out some new shows this year. And we are going to find out. Now we are on Monday nights before Monday Night Football and Thursday night at 9:00 at night.

KING: You knocked the competition, every one who came out against you...

PHILBIN: It was fun. It was...

KING: Are you scared of any of them? Truth.

PHILBIN: No, not really. No, we're right back in fighting gear now. We took the time period Monday night. "Weakest Link."

KING: You like "The Weakest Link?"

PHILBIN: I like it. I think, you know, I know what she is doing, it's a...

KING: It's a gimmick.

PHILBIN: Sure. We all have our gimmicks, but we won Monday night, so we are very pleased about that.

KING: Why in retrospect -- and I saw you in South Africa, by the way. I saw "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" when I was in South Africa.

PHILBIN: They've all got one.

KING: They give away different money. It was really funny. I blew the hundred dollar question. What's the largest mountain. Who knew? I wasn't on the show, I just watched. The guy dresses like you.

PHILBIN: Sure. They all want to be me.

KING: Why is that show successful?

PHILBIN: You mean -- the format. It's got to be the format. It was just right for a show like this to get back to television. 15 questions, a million dollars which is everybody's dream. To acquire that in 15 minutes, in a night, my gosh, you know, it is -- the potential is fabulous.

KING: Have any changes been made?

PHILBIN: No, we didn't make any changes, no. They are going make a little set change over in England and then we will be allowed to do it here. But all of our orders come from England.

KING: That's an England-based company.

PHILBIN: Sure.

KING: When you got that, when you were on cocky, "I'm going to save the network." Did you really believe that show couldn't miss?

PHILBIN: No. You know, I meant that as a joke. I said that to David Letterman, I said that to you the next night. I'm going to save the ABC network. It was funny, I thought. It just happens that it worked out.

KING: What did do it for you, though? This kind of -- you have always been successful.

PHILBIN: It was something different than what I did. Larry, I've been doing that morning thing now for how many years in Los Angeles and here. So it was something else to do. And it a was change of set, a change of show, a change of format. And I loved it. And I still do.

KING: Now, of course, as we have about two minutes left.

PHILBIN: Yes.

KING: Your explanation to the world. Notre Dame football. 0 and 3.

PHILBIN: Isn't it something the way it worked out?

KING: You gave them a lot of money, Regis.

PHILBIN: Yeah, and I don't...

KING: You didn't give it for football players.

PHILBIN: No, I gave it for a cultural arts center. Which is fine, and I'm glad I could give back to them and my high school up here in -- Cardinal Hays (ph). But the football. The football. It's a mystery. It is just a mystery. I don't know. They won nine games and lost two last year. All of a sudden they've lost the last four. The bowl game and the first three this year.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

PHILBIN: Maybe it is very difficult for private schools to put out winning football teams now, you know? There are certain requirements that they have that other schools don't have. So the more gifted athletes who maybe are not as bright as other kids don't have a chance to get in. And it's difficult to recruit them, and maybe that is the basis of it all. I just don't know.

KING: You going to do any "Millionaire" shows with firefighters?

PHILBIN: I brought that up to ABC. I said, "Why don't we get five firefighters and five policemen, put them together, and let them win money for their charities, and let ABC match it?"

KING: What did they say?

PHILBIN: So far no one has said anything, sorry to say. But you asked and I'm telling you. I hope they come around, but maybe it's got to go through the channels. But I hope we do a show like that.

KING: What would be the argument against that?

PHILBIN: I don't know.

KING: The suits, maybe

PHILBIN: I don't know.

KING: That is so logical.

PHILBIN: Yeah. It makes a lot of sense.

KING: Not only that, the world would watch.

PHILBIN: Yeah. Yeah. I'm hoping that they heard you.

KING: All right. The offer is on the table, as they say.

PHILBIN: That is on the table. Larry King and I put it right here on the table. We would like to see a show.

KING: We will put some money. Regis, I don't know what to say except counting you as a friend is one of the blessings. You are one of the -- you know, there are a lot of nice people in this business and you are right up on the top of the list.

PHILBIN: Thank you. I feel same way about you. But I'm glad you are back in New York. I know you are going to be here more often.

KING: We are going to come back...

PHILBIN: We're going to help build the city back, right?

KING: You bet.

PHILBIN: Take care.

KING: Regis Philbin. The host of "Regis and Kelly", and of course, "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?" You will see him again tomorrow morning. You will see him on "Millionaire" on Thursday night.

We have been ending each show every night -- by the way, we'll be back right after this -- with a kind of musical tribute. Various forms and recordings and people appearing. And tonight we have chosen Barbra Streisand over a montage, watch.

(MUSIC, BARBRA STREISAND SINGING)

KING: By the way, we want to thank Barbra Streisand for sending that tape over to us to play tonight. We appreciate that. Tomorrow night, Gerhard Schroeder, the chancellor of Germany will be with us. So too will Dan Rather and Governor George Pataki and others. We turn it over -- it's finally good to be with him. We keep crossing countries and missing each other -- to Aaron Brown, who will carry on. Aaron, good to be with you.

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


 
 
 
 


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