CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, Andrew McKelvey, Dan Rather
Aired September 3, 2002 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight: Exclusive. Former President Bill Clinton, former Senator Bob Dole. They were rivals for the White House, now they have an inspiring announcement to make about their fund-raising for September 11 families.
And then Dan Rather of CBS News.
All that and more next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's a great pleasure to welcome -- a return to LARRY KING LIVE for both of them, the former president of the United States, the 42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton, co-chair of the Families of Freedom Scholarship campaign fund effort.
And in Washington, former United States Senator Bob Dole, who ran against President Clinton in 1996. And he is co-chair of that same group.
And these gentlemen have an announcement to make tonight. We'll defer, to begin with the president.
What have you to tell us?
WILLIAM J. CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, Larry, Bob and I decided to co-chair a campaign just shortly after September 11, about a month afterwards, so about 11 months ago, to try to raise enough money to guarantee a college education to the children and spouses of everyone who was killed or disabled on September the 11th.
And then we were told that it might take as much as $100 million to do that, because this fund will be operating for 25 or 30 years.
KING: This is for every child of the victim?
CLINTON: Yes. And there were a lot of young women who lost their husbands, and they are pregnant at the time. SO this is going to go on a long time.
Andy McKelvey at Monster.com, who will be on in a minute, was really the spark plug behind this. He got us all involved. And then we got a lot of help from big companies like CitiCorp and others, and 20,000 other people, just ordinary citizens, little kids doing projects around the schools. And now we've raised $105 million, so our campaign is complete.
And I want to thank Bob Dole and everybody else who...
KING: You have $105 million...
CLINTON: We have $105 million in cash-in-hand and hard commitments. And we believe that will enable to us to keep our word.
KING: Senator Dole, what brought you two -- how did it get you two together?
BOB DOLE, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, I think it was through Andy McKelvey. And, again, I want to congratulate him.
But I think Joe Lockhart, who was in the Clinton White House and Scott Reed, who ran my campaign were friends. And somehow we all got together. They got together and decided it would be a good idea.
And we both thought it would be a good idea that we could do something that would make a difference for the next 25 or 30 years.
And President Clinton has it exactly right. It's going to be a program that is going to last. And it's under the leadership of Bill Nelsen, the Citizen Scholarship Foundation of America, which is located near Minneapolis. They've been doing this for many years, they've got a great track record.
And it's going to be a gift that lasts. And it's going to cover, as the president said, the children of victims or spouses of victims or those who were disabled. And my view is that it was the right thing to do, and we've been successful because we've had a lot of help from a lot of people.
KING: So everybody -- Mr. President -- everybody, when that child comes of age, gets a scholarship?
CLINTON: That's right. And we determined, the people who administer the fund, determine the amount based on need. We've given 108 grants this year already, just in the last 11 months. The maximum grant is $28,000 a year for people that have no other resources that are going to expensive schools. The average grant is over $13,000 a year.
And even people with real resources who have suffered get a minimum of $1,000. SO...
DOLE: As you know, Mr. President, it doesn't need to be a four- year college. It can be pilot training, cosmetology, a two-year program. And so it's going to fit almost every need which, I think, speaks well for the program.
CLINTON: The other thing I want to say that I was really proud of is that any victims' spouses or children, whether or not they were American citizens, is eligible. We had people killed from 70 countries here on September the 11th. KING: Britain lost.
CLINTON: Yes, Britain lost a couple hundred. That was important to me and, I think, to Bob. We cared a lot about that.
DOLE: That's right.
CLINTON: And the people who gave this money, I mean, I was just amazed that we were able to raise this kind of money.
KING: Corporate and little people?
CLINTON: Yes. CitiCorp, under Sandy Weill and Bob Rubin, they have built up a huge amount of money, nearly $20 million that they were going to give. They put it into this fund. So they gave us -- after Andy came in with the leadership, they gave us a lot of seed money.
KING: Twenty percent.
CLINTON: Yes. But the rest of it was literally 20,000-people- plus. All kinds of things.
DOLE: All kinds of people.
You know, I'll put a plug in for Kansas University, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce raised $1 million.
I think we had -- I think the president has already indicated I think a total of 20,000 contributors, some 1,900 corporations, 16,000 individuals.
But the important thing is that, you know, we've written letters, we did a public service announcement, we've had a press conference; but a lot of the work, as the president knows, was done by Bill Nelsen and his crew and a lot of good people across the country.
And as a result, we can announce, as the president has announced we've reached our goal, and we hope it's going to be a great program for the future.
KING: Where were you on 9/11, Mr. President?
CLINTON: Australia. But I had an unusual experience because my former staff members Cheryl Mills and Bruce Lindsey were in Cheryl's office down in Tribeca with a full view of the World Trade Center. SO they called me between the time the first tower was hit and the time the second tower was hit and talked me through it.
KING: Were you watching it too?
CLINTON: Later I turned it on. But I was downtown in a little town in Port Douglas where I had taken my family for vacation after the '96 election.
KING: Did you come right back? CLINTON: I did. The White House was kind enough to give me military transport, and I left the next day and got home as quick as I could.
KING: To New York?
KING: Was it difficult coming into New York?
CLINTON: Yes, it was very sad. I went down as quickly as I could, took my daughter down to the crisis center. Hillary was in Washington already at work trying to figure out what needed to be done for the state and the city.
KING: Senator Dole, where were you?
DOLE: I was on my way for a little physical checkup at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington. I had just walked out the door of the apartment building. I live in Watergate south.
And the doorman has said, you know, there had been -- a plane had flown into a building in New York. And they said, well, that's a terrible thing. And we didn't know, of course, the enormity of it until we arrived at the hospital and I learned more about it, and the second plane.
And it's sort of like other dates that we, you know, that are going to be etched in our memory forever. And this is certainly an important one.
KING: What's the first thing you did?
DOLE: The first thing I did?
DOLE: Well, the first thing -- I was at the hospital and I noticed all the people at Walter Reed were scurrying around because by then there had been the crash into the Pentagon. And they were getting ready to move a lot of the staff and other people at the Pentagon, getting ready to open up the hospital. And I was just sort of trying to get out of the way because it was a busy, busy place.
But you thought about it, you prayed about it. That's about all you could do from where I was.
KING: Do you remember what you were thinking, Mr. President?
KING: What would go through the mind of the immediate former president watching this?
CLINTON: I remember exactly what happened. Bruce Lindsey said to me on the phone, my God, a second plane has hit the tower. And I said, bin Laden did this. That's the first thing I said.
He said, how can you be sure?
I said, because only bin Laden and the Iranians could set up a network to do this, and they wouldn't do it, because they have a country in targets -- bin Laden did.
KING: Did you also think of the same time where you came pretty close to getting him?
CLINTON: Yes. I thought that my virtual obsession with him was well-faced, and I was full of regret that I didn't get him. I mean, I immediately thought that he had done it.
KING: You were obsessed with him?
CLINTON: Yes I was. Some people thought I was obsessed?
KING: Now the current president is obsessed with him.
CLINTON: Well, he should be. And I've supported everything he's done in Afghanistan. I think it's very important.
The guy is smart. He's got access to money. He's got a lot of the fanatic supporters around the world, and has to be completely defeated and eradicated.
KING: Senator Dole, do you think we're going to get him, or do you think maybe he's already been gotten?
DOLE: Well, I was going to ask the president that question because, you know, I think he may not be alive. I don't know, but there's been no sightings; maybe he'll reappear one of these days to let somebody in the world know that he's still around and still spreading terror wherever he goes.
But, you know, the last picture I saw, he didn't look well. And then he had this -- apparently had this kidney problem, maybe he needed dialysis, maybe not. But I'll bet it's 50/50 whether he's alive or dead.
CLINTON: Could be. He had a serious health problem.
CLINTON: And God forgive me, I think he's the only person I ever prayed would succumb to his health problem. And, you know, the world would be a lot safer place in he had.
So I don't know. But I think we have to assume he's still alive. And according -- all I know is what I've the press with the press reports that we have intelligence that the al Qaeda network is still trying to plan attacks around the world.
KING: You fellas fear more? Mr. President, do you think we're going to see more?
CLINTON: I think there will be, but I think our defenses will improve, too.
Look, there's never been a time or age free of danger. Bob Dole served this country with great distinction in World War II when all of civilization could have been destroyed if his generation hadn't saved us and saved freedom.
But no terrorist attack has ever succeeded, and none ever will, I don't believe.
But could there be more? Of course there could be. Can we do a better job of defense? Yes, we can. Have we learned a lot since September 11? We have.
And so I'm basically very, very confident about the long-run future of this. I just think we've got a lot of diligent, difficult work to do.
KING: We'll take a break and come back.
Andrew McKelvey, who put this whole thing together and is chairman and CEO of this organization that announced tonight they have raised $105 million to provide scholarships for every dependent victim of 9/11. We'll be right back with Senator Bob Dole and President Bill Clinton. Later Dan Rather. Don't go away
KING: By the way, the president informs me there are only 2,100 people thus far have been eligible that have been contacted for this. They need to hear from more people. And we don't have any phone numbers with us tonight but if you or someone you know was a victim in the tragedy and wants to get the benefit of this college scholarship, if you'd contact us at CNN, we'll put new touch with Andrew McKelvey, who joins us now, the chairman and CEO of TMP Worldwide. They run Monster.com. And your role in this is what, Andrew?
ANDREW MCKELVEY, CHMN. & CEO, TMP WORLDWIDE: Well, it was sort of my idea in the beginning. Right after 9/11 there were so many people talking about, we've got to give money to these kids that aren't going to be able to go to college. So through the contacts in Washington, we knew Joe Lockhart. Of course, Joe was press secretary for the president. We knew Scott Reed, who was his former campaign manager. So we contacted both of them and said, would the president, with the senator, be interested in getting together and chairing Families of Freedom. And I think it took both of them about 48 hours to simply say, when? And that's how it all started.
KING: That's an amazing feat, because you must admit, President Clinton, that things develop in a campaign, and bad feelings develop. You were running for the highest office in the land, to bring the two of you together, that's not chopped liver.
CLINTON: Well, I give Andy and Scott and Joe a lot of credit, but the truth is I've always really liked and admired Bob Dole.
KING: You liked him when you ran against him?
CLINTON: Oh God, I hated running against him because I like him so much. I hated the debates, I hated getting prepared to try to punch and counterpunch and all that.
KING: Was it hard for you Senator Dole to get together with the president?
DOLE: No. I don't think it took us 48 hours. I think we saw a cause. And we'd had conversations since the election. So I had sort of feel like -- George McGovern attended Pat Nixon's funeral when she passed away. And President Nixon was there. And somebody asked McGovern, why would come all the way out here? And he said, you can't campaign forever. And my view is when the '96 election was over, the president had important things to do and I had to try to do certain things. But we didn't have any problem. But I do have a toll-free number, Larry, if I could give it to you.
KING: Oh you do, good.
DOLE: It's 1-877-862-013...
KING: I didn't hear you, Senator, can you repeat it?
DOLE: Yes, 1-877-862-0136.
KING: I didn't hear it again, would you repeat it?
CLINTON: It's on your screen, though.
KING: Oh, now we've got it. Someone was talking to me and I'm trying to hear the number, it's 1-877-862-0136, 1-877-862-0136. We'll repeat that number again, we'll show it. If you know anybody you can get in touch with to get it, certainly -- you wanted to mention Martin Sheen?
CLINTON: Yes, I also wanted to thank him. I wanted to join Andy and Bob in thanking Scott Reid and Joe Lockhart, because they did a lot of the leg work on this.
KING: What did Martin Sheen do?
CLINTON: Martin Sheen did a PSA with me on the set of "The West Wing." And I always kid him that Martin Sheen is the only American president that's not term-limited. So he's got real influence, unlike Dole and me, he's still got the job and so he can do it.
DOLE: There's another group, Larry, called Lumina Foundation from Indiana which helped us with matching grants early on. They're also in this independent scholarship business.
KING: This is an extraordinary feat.
CLINTON: Amazing. MCKELVEY: A lot of money.
CLINTON: A lot of money and 20,000 people. I had these little kids coming to see me from a school that went out and raised $1,300, little elementary school kids, just worked their hearts out, went around and asked for money. And that's going to be a whole grant for some people. And this is a big deal. It just was amazing.
KING: It sure is, it's an amazing story.
CLINTON: But we need the rest of the people. Go ahead.
DOLE: We had a group of mothers here, one principal of a school lost her husband in the Pentagon. And the group of mothers in the area, I went to that school and they're raising money. It's a group called MOMs. And it's Mothers with a Mission. And such as the president says and Andy McKelvey knows, there are just literally dozens, hundreds of thousands of people who have made an effort and hopefully it will be long remembered.
CLINTON: I think those mothers are still selling bracelets in department stores that they made for this and they give all the proceeds.
KING: It's an historic night. By the way, a couple of other quick things. And we'll get back to you in a second, Andy. do you think of possibly giving Senator Dole advice in case Elizabeth's elected on what it's like to be married to a senator?
CLINTON: Well, you know, she's running against my former chief of staff, if he wins the primary. He's got a primary to get through. But if she wins, I have volunteered to be his campaign manager for president of the Senate Spouse's Club. Because he'll beat me if I run against him. So I'm just going to be his campaign manager.
DOLE: I have got a better plan. We'll rotate. You do it the first year, and I'll do it the second year.
KING: What's it like to be out of office, Mr. President, what is it like?
CLINTON: Well, I miss the work and I miss the people with whom I've worked. But I love having my private life again. I've enjoyed every stage of my life. And I like being able to do things like this. I have got a foundation that works in India. I'm about to go to Africa to do some work. I met with all these small business people in Harlem I am working with today. I am trying to do some things with Native Americans. So I have a really full and rich and wonderful life and I'm very grateful. And besides that, Hillary's doing the politics now, and that suits me fine.
KING: What was it like working with the both of them, Andrew?
MCKELVEY: It was terrific. They just did a great job. And the amount of time they gave us was fantastic. You wouldn't realize just how much time they spent, how many phone calls they made. KING: This isn't just on the letterhead then?
MCKELVEY: Absolutely not. No, they were terrific. The president was very involved in the largest gift, which was CitiCorp. They gave a tremendous amount of money. We would have never done it without the president. So it was terrific.
CLINTON: Bob worked hard, we didn't just send letters. He made a bunch of phone calls. And you heard him say, there's no question in my mind, we wouldn't have gotten that million dollars out of Kansas if it hadn't been for Bob Dole. He worked at it.
KING: You ought to be proud, Bob. I'm not kidding. This is an historic night. And that's yeoman-like work, and at the same time you're working on that World War II thing.
DOLE: We have the money raised for that. We raised $185 million. And it's under construction. And we hope it's going to be dedicated the spring of 2004. And I know the former president will be there and certainly we think maybe 200,000 or 300,000 other people.
KING: Speaking of that, we have just a little while left, do you want to be a talk show host?
KING: My job, I signed a contract, so I'm OK.
CLINTON: I think I'll leave that to you.
KING: You're not going to do it?
CLINTON: I don't think so. You know, maybe sometime later in my life I'd like to do it.
It would be intriguing to me because I like to talk to people. I'd like to have Dole come on my show and tell me what I did wrong about things. I'd like to have Andy come on my show and explain what the future of technology is going to be...
MCKELVEY: How about Larry King? It's It'd be nice...
CLINTON: Yes, I'd like to have you come on my show. But I've got a lot of questions I always wanted to ask you.
KING: Cut that out!
CLINTON: I think, you know, you have to be here every day. And there's -- a lot of the work I do requires me to travel. You know, I'm going to Africa at the end of this month, I'm going to India at the end of November. And I really believe I should always spend more than half my time on public service, so I just don't see how I can do it.
KING: But a side of you wanted to? CLINTON: Yes, because I'm interested in a lot of different things and I like to discuss things, and I also don't like -- one of the reasons I like what you do is you have all different kinds of people on and you give them a chance to have their say and have honest discussions.
So much of the debate today in America is so harsh, and people are trying to get market share by confirming the preexisting convictions of people.
I think we all ought to be questioning all the time and learning and growing. And I think that's what we need.
But it's not my deal...
KING: Senator, would you have gone on his show, had he done it?
DOLE: Certainly. I would have gone on with a couple of Pepsi commercials and a few other things. We would have had a great time.
CLINTON: We can do a geriatric one, you and I.
CLINTON: Yes, right. Well, you're still a young man.
But anyway, I think public service -- you know one thing when you ask about leaving office, and the president knows, and I know in a lesser way, you can devote about half your time to public service, and it's the right thing to do. And, you know, people -- I think we have -- I think you have even more credibility when you're out of office. People tend to have -- to give you the benefit of the doubt. Your numbers go up and all those things.
So why shouldn't we be doing public service? That's what we started doing when we were -- well, a long time ago when we first ran for office.
KING: Senator Dole, I only have a little over a minute left. Do you think we should go into Iraq?
DOLE: I tried to outline that recently. I think he should not only consult with Congress, but have a vote, and I think I would try the arms inspection one more time, but not let Iraq delay and dither and all those things, trying to...
KING: But congressional approval?
DOLE: Congress approval, not just consultation.
KING: Mr. President?
CLINTON: I think that our policy to change regimes is a good one. We should support a new regime in Iraq. And I think we should try the arms inspection one more time, because I think we also have big long-term benefits in cooperation with our allies through the United Nations.
I don't think it will be a great military problem if we do it. You know, our guys did great there the last time, in the Gulf War. We're stronger, and he's weaker than he was then.
The security challenge will be, you can't surprise him. You've got to move a lot of people in. And if he has chemical and biological agents, and I believe he does, he would have no incentive not to use them then, if he knew he was going to be killed anyway and deposed. He's got a lot of incentive not to use them now because he knows he'll be toast if he does.
So I think the question is not whether he should go, but how, and under what circumstances.
And I agree with Bob, we ought to give that inspection thing one more shot.
KING: And congressional approval?
DOLE: I think the President -- I think he'd go to Congress too, right, and get...
CLINTON: Yes, I agree with that.
KING: Andrew, I want to salute you. Anything you want to add quickly?
MCKELVEY: Yes Larry. Can I just thank both President Clinton and Senator dole for everything that they've done? It's terrific. They're making light of it, but both of them have really -- and $100 million is a lot of money.
KING: And the phone number is 877-862-0136.
Thank you all.
Dan Rather is next. We'll be right back.
CLINTON: Thank you.
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE an old friend. It's always great to have him.
Dan Rather of CBS news, the anchor and managing editor. He has a new book called "What We Saw: The Events of September 11, 2001, in Words, Pictures and Video" by the whole team at CBS News, with an introduction by Dan Rather.
And one note: We're going to do a live show Sunday night. This Sunday night there will be a live LARRY KING LIVE in advance of 9/11 week. Dan will be like co-hosting it with me. And we're going to have firefighters and all people who were involved with 9/11, and we'll show scenes and pictures from his book as well.
But President Clinton wanted me to ask you, and so I will -- he's not go to do a talk show, so I'll ask you.
What do you think of this whole concept of raising this kind of money and scholarships and the work they've put together?
DAN RATHER, CBS NEWS: Larry, I am so proud of the work that all those people did to do that.
KING: Two rivals.
RATHER: Not just President Clinton and our old friend Senate Majority Leader Dole, although let's recognize that once again they demonstrated why they rose to top leadership, because character tells. And, you know, I know that people want to argue about it, but these two guys, this is the kind of thing that made them who they are today.
But beyond that are all those people who have given -- de Tocqueville said -- that traveling Frenchman who wrote so well about our country well over 100 years ago -- that anybody who comes to the United States of America and doesn't recognize the unusual generosity and kindness of this country has missed its core.
That's a paraphrase, but he said that a long time ago. And this just renews that. I mean, what a tremendous thing, $105 million. You know, even if you got money, that's a lot of money.
KING: And what a great idea, scholarships.
RATHER: What a fabulous idea.
Larry, you and I have know each other long enough, we don't need to blow smoke at one another. That was a terrific interview. President Clinton said, no, he isn't going to do a television talk show. He and Senator Dole said, look, Iraq, we think we'll try inspectors one more time, whether you agree or disagree with it, hey, you've made some news.
KING: And also his wife's going to run, and his guy may run again, his former chief of staff.
RATHER: He's got to get through the primary. It's a tough primary.
KING: And she's a favorite in that race, I'm sure.
RATHER: I think she is at the present time, and I'd be surprised if it doesn't continue to be. But that may make her nervous. You know, these days being out front is not always, this early, is not always a blessing.
KING: Something that CBS is involved with in the news that I thought I'd get to right away, the Masters Tournament. The Masters does not take women as members of their club. The Masters has announced they will no longer have sponsors. They want to apparently buy the time from CBS.
RATHER: That's what they have been doing. They've been buying the time...
KING: And then they sell it?
RATHER: That's right.
KING: What do you make of all this, because now the women's groups have announced the pressure will go to CBS and the golfers.
RATHER: Well, first of all let me say that I like to watch golf and I like to watch CBS sports, but what I know about these things could be written on the stomach of a germ. I don't, in fact, know much about this.
It does seem, now with my reporter's hat on, obvious that the pressure turns to CBS, carries the tournament. How that will work itself out, I have no idea.
I think we're beginning to understand that the Masters Tournament is unique in many ways, not the least of which is they actually control it, unlike most golf tournaments in which CBS broadcasts or NBC broadcasts the tournament and then CBS goes and gets the sponsors. In this case the tournament, in effect, buys time from CBS, it's my understanding. And it's sure that there will be...
KING: That there will be pressure put on your network?
RATHER: I think the pressure is inevitable.
KING: And do you have any way they should go with it, do you think?
RATHER: You know, Winston Churchill once said, I don't worry about countries like Cambodia and they don't worry about me.
KING: You're staying out of this one?
RATHER: I'm going to stay out of it.
But on the other hand, it's a straight question, I'll give a straight answer. I think the time when any institution, any organization can, over a long period of time, deal in discrimination, those days are probably gone.
Now, whether the Masters Tournament and the masters of the Masters can buck that trend, it will be interesting to see, but I doubt it.
What do you think?
KING: It's a forgone conclusion, I think. You know, it's the end of the rope. The time has come.
RATHER: It's a matter of when. KING: Impact -- first on 9/11, are we all -- it's funny to see some of the printed press criticize, and they they're writing as much about 9/11. But are we overdoing it? Or is there a way not to cover this?
RATHER: Well, to take the easy part of that question, the last part first, of course there's no way that you can't cover it.
Are we overdoing it? Yes, probably. We tend to overdo things, those of us in the press. And I do not except myself from this criticism.
But I think what we're all trying to do -- I know what we're trying to do at CBS News, is we're trying to do the right thing. Look, we don't always try to do the right thing. You know, we have ratings pressure, we have sales pressure, market pressure on a lot of other things. But about this, we really want to get it right.
Now, none of us are saints. I admire saints, but I know I'm not one, and I know that at CBS we aren't. But I also think that it's a mistake to lump all of the press, television, radio, everybody all together because different organizations have different ways of doing things.
I think I can say with confidence -- I know can I say that at CBS News we're trying our best to strike not only the right amount of time on the air with this, but also the right tone. And a lot of other people in journalism aren't.
So I just encourage people to judge us, you know, one at a time, individually.
I'm like you, I get fairly amused that our friends in the print press write big front-page stories on how this thing is being overdone. But it was ever thus.
KING: We'll be right back with more of Dan Rather. We'll be including your phone calls as well.
Tomorrow night we're going to have the widow of Mr. Ricci, Angela Ricci. You know, he's the only suspect, if he could be called that, in the disappearance of that young girl in Utah. Angela Ricci is his widow now, and she will be with us tomorrow night.
Don't go away.
KING: On that wonderful scholarship fund, again that number is 877-862-0136. That is toll free: 877-862-0136.
Dan Rather is our guest, the anchor and managing editor of "CBS Evening News." His new book is "What We Saw:" -- there you see it's cover -- "The Events of September 11, 2001, in Words, Picture and Video" by CBS News. He wrote the introduction. We'll talk a lot more about it Sunday. But what does it, in essence contain?
RATHER: Well, basically what it is, Larry, is an effort -- you know, Phil Gramm once said news is the first draft of history.
What we tried to do with this book, "What We Saw," is put a book together and a DVD -- a DVD of the...
KING: You get both...
RATHER: ... the most important images of that day are included with the book.
And our hope was to put something together at this early stage that families might want to put away and say, you know, I hope there'll come a time when the children and/or the grandchildren, when they ask themselves, what really happened then, will have an idea.
And I want to emphasize that in many ways this book -- I'm like King James in the Bible -- my name is on it, but a lot of other people contributed: Karen James (ph) at the times, Pete Hamil (ph) -- two terrific pieces -- Maureen Dowd (ph).
We tried to take some of the best pieces of the best writers written about the day and put it together with some of our own reporters -- young Byron Pitts (ph) did a wonderful piece, Scott Pelley (ph) did a great piece and it -- along with the DVD.
And this book is mercifully short. And the whole idea is to give people a sort of coherent first draft of the history of that time.
KING: We look forward to it. We're going to talk more about it.
That's going to be some night Sunday when we've got all those people here.
RATHER: I look forward to it.
KING: What do you make of the president not going to do a talk show? Would have been your network maybe.
RATHER: I'm not surprised that he's not going to do it because, you know better than most, perhaps better than anybody, Larry, that a television talk show, first of all, you've got to show up every day. No way to phone it in, no way to mail it in. Yes, you can tape it occasionally, but not very often. And he's smart enough to know that.
I know there's some interest. I want to look at the transcript, but I don't think he ruled out the possibility of doing a radio show. I'm not predicting he's going to do one, but I wouldn't be surprised if somewhere in the back of his mind he isn't saying well, you know, with radio, when I go to Africa, when I go to India, I can take it with me. You don't have to have studio, lights, camera and all of that.
But I'm not surprised that he said no, and I wouldn't be surprised in the end if he doesn't do radio or television, a talk show because...
KING: You know he loves the public stage.
RATHER: Oh, he would love it. And I think he'd be good at it, but it's very confining, and I think he knows that. So that I wasn't surprised by.
KING: Were you surprised at them agreeing, Dole and Clinton, on the Iraqi situation?
RATHER: Well, there you made news; another place you made news.
Surprised, no; perhaps a little bit in Senator Dole's case. But I think it's worth underscoring that both of them, each of them said in their own way, it isn't a question of whether to deal with Saddam Hussein, it's a question of when to apply force. And they each are in favor of giving the inspectors, quote, "another chance."
Now, you and I know that there certainly is a circle of people around President Bush who say, listen, we've had it with the inspectors thing, we've had it with Saddam Hussein, we've had more than 10 years of this, and that they're really dedicated to the idea that we should do it now and that every hour -- never mind every day -- that we wait is giving Saddam time to put more weapons of mass destruction at his disposal, perhaps nuclear weapons.
So while I'm a little bit surprised with Senator Dole, not all that much, I also think we need to balance it out and say that President Bush is getting a lot of advice from a lot of people, and many of them close and around him are of the opposite view. They want to go.
One must take Vice President Cheney seriously when he goes before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, lays out the case as hard as he did -- I suppose you'd want to say as specifically as he did. This is serious. There's no question that we are poised to invade Iraq. The question is when and if President Bush reaches that decision to say, OK, it's a go.
Now, we had a development today that Tariq Aziz, master diplomat, whatever else you think about him, was at the meeting of the leaders in South Africa saying once again, well, we've got another idea about how this inspector thing should work.
So there's a lot of maneuvering around, but I don't think any American should, for one moment, think that President Bush is bluffing. I, for one, don't think that he's bluffing.
KING: Were you surprised when President Clinton said that the first thing he thought of was Osama bin Laden?
RATHER: No. Not at all. Because we now know what we suspected for some of the last years of President Clinton. While one might argue that he and the rest of the United States government, including our major intelligence agencies, were slow on the uptake after the first bombing of the World Trade Center, there was little doubt in my mind, and I think most reporters who covered Washington believed -- I could be wrong about this -- in the latter stages of the Clinton administration that actually President Clinton was in many ways pressing to do something about Osama bin Laden.
But, number one, he didn't know what to do. Number two, he did find some resistance, people saying, look, you know, you want to be a little careful because we don't quite know how this is going to go.
So no, I wasn't surprised to hear him say that; and also to say candidly that he's in defense of his presidency. He wants to make the very best case he can about being alert to the danger of Osama bin Laden.
But I believe him.
KING: Mr. Fleischer denied any conflict inside the Bush administration over Iraq. Where are all these reports coming from that...
RATHER: Well, some of them come from CBS News.
I really respect Ari Fleischer. But I will say this, Larry, that if you believe that, you will believe rocks grow.
KING: That's a Texas comment: rocks grow.
RATHER: Also, it wouldn't be healthy.
KING: There should be disagreement?
RATHER: Absolutely. With this kind of decision, a decision of war and peace, you want there to be an active, yeasty discussion, debate within the administration.
I want to make clear I have no criticism of Ari Fleischer. He's a good man, he's doing what he's supposed to do.
But of course there are divisions within the administration about what to do, when to do it. Even such things -- and we had a hint of this today -- of the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who has an outstanding record so far post-9/11 saying, in effect, you know, the military has brought me the numbers they think would be required to crush Iraq if President Bush says he needs to do so. And it was my understanding the secretary of defense said, I'd like to zero-base those numbers. Maybe they're too high.
But, you know, I think debate is healthy under these circumstances. But I don't believe for one moment that there aren't differences of opinion in very closely around President Bush.
They may or may not fall along the lines as popularly thought: Colin Powell is more reluctant, and that Rumsfeld and Cheney are the people pushing it. That may or may not be true.
I will say that you certainly expect the secretary of state to put forward the international, the global viewpoint. KING: And the diplomacy viewpoint.
RATHER: Absolutely. And you expect the secretary of defense to put forward the military viewpoint. It's all part of the process.
KING: ... one place, right?
And while it appeared that President Bush had pretty much made up his mind earlier this year, even perhaps mid-summer, I'm puzzled, interested, intrigued in what's happened since mid-summer. And that is, some of the people closest around his father, Bush '41, have begun to speak out and say, we don't think this is a good idea.
I have no notion of what's going on on the inside. But from the outside looking and listening, you would say that President Bush the elder may have some reservations, not about the end goal -- certainly not about that -- but about how swiftly things are moving toward war.
But all we can do is guess. But it's a really interesting situation.
KING: As we go to break with Dan Rather -- we'll be back with more -- here is Mr. Rather on 9/11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, CBS News)
RATHER: This is CBS News continuing live coverage of the apparent terrorist attacks today here in New York City and in Washington, D.C.
It's important to say these things at the very beginning: There is much that is not known about what is happening. The second thing is that the word from almost everybody who's trying to deal with this situation, the word of the day is "steady." "Steady."
Yes, there have been some terrible things happening, but until and unless we know the facts, it's very difficult to draw many conclusions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Dan Rather. The new book, "The Events of September 11, 2001, In Words, Pictures and Video," "What We Saw." It's by the whole CBS News crew, and additional commentaries as well. And a video goes -- DVD goes with it. The introduction is written by Dan Rather.
Let's touch some other bases. Corporate scandals. Is that going fast enough? Is the Justice Department moving quickly enough, in your opinion? RATHER: Again, I'm not a lawyer, but I am a reporter. And I can say, I think, with confidence, that not just a majority, but the overwhelming majority of the American people don't think it's moved fast enough.
Listen, if a kid from the wrong side of the tracks steals hairspray from the local department store, they have him picture- taken, fingerprinted and in a line-up certainly within a week, usually within hours.
Now, if there have been crimes committed at the corporate level, things have certainly moved far slower than they would against other people.
Now, having said that, the prosecutors certainly have a problem. These are complicated cases. And one can only hope that what they're doing is methodically going through the morass they have to go through, and in the end that they will hit hard, and very hard, at those who have committed these crimes. Because I don't think one can overstate, Larry, the importance of it to our overall economy.
I mean, the economy is something else I know less about than I can put behind your fingernail, but it's pretty obvious that one of the things it's hurting is the economy, is people have lost confidence, they think the game is fixed.
Now, you can say, well, hasn't it always been fixed? Look, people go to Las Vegas and they know the house is going to get a certain cut. But taking that into account, after the house gets its cut, people think the game is on the level. If somebody tells them the dice are loaded, they leave.
Now perhaps that's an oversimplification, but I don't think much. I think people believe, Wall Street, that yes, the big boys are going to get some of theirs. But once the stench got out that some the game is fixed, it really shook the confidence of the individual investors.
KING: And is the administration very aware of that, do you think? Some say they were slow to pick up on it.
RATHER: Well, they may have been slow to pick up on it, but I think they have picked up on it. Now, dealing with it is something else. And anybody who thinks it won't be a factor in this year's election just simply doesn't know politics.
KING: How has CBS dealt with -- and you're the guy, the buck stops with you -- the stolen child summer?
RATHER: Well, the answer is not very well. And the buck does stop with me. It's a collaborative process, but in the end, when push comes to shove and a decision has to be made, the CBS style is to say, the person who brings you the news is the person who makes that decision. And I'm that person.
Not very well. We've overplayed some stories. I think one can argue and say we've overplayed a lot of stories. On the other hand, human interest stories such as missing children is not a new development, that they're of great interest to an awful lot of people. And so, having said yes, I think we've made mistakes, and I've made mistakes, I hope there's some understanding that one is always trying to balance what is important against what you think is interesting.
The best news story is one that's both important and interesting. When it comes to these child kidnapping and child endangered stories, certainly to the people involved, and to many people who have children who are not involved, these stories are not always interesting, they're also important.
So it's one of the most difficult lines to walk, that edge between overdoing it, overplaying these kinds of crime stories and fulfilling your responsibility as a news organization that tries to deal with not only just the important, but the interesting.
KING: Is determining the lead each night often very difficult?
RATHER: Well, during the summer, less so.
Look, it's one reason I continue to do the "Evening News." And I love doing the "Evening News." It happens every day. We play every day. And the debate, the cut and thrust about what we're going to lead with.
I'll give you an example today, this day, I frankly wanted to lead with the economy. The stock market down 350-plus, boy, for me that's a strong candidate for a lead. On the other hand, we at CBS had a strong investigative report about how all this talk about, we're going to tighten up airline safety, a lot of it is just frankly designed to try to get people flying. So we debated that.
RATHER: I was in the minority. I thought the economy should be the lead, but I saw the strength of the other argument and we lead with the investigative story.
KING: You could have overruled them though, right?
RATHER: I could have, but I didn't.
KING: Back with our remaining moments with Dan Rather on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Dan Rather.
We know how much you love it; have you signed a new contract?
RATHER: I have.
KING: Oh, you have, because... RATHER: I did this summer.
KING: ... it was indefinite. And how long for?
RATHER: This is an extension which will take me for an additional four years.
KING: And is that going to be it?
RATHER: Well, I hope not. If God smiles and I get a little bit lucky, that won't be it because I love news.
I'm not saying I'll be anchoring the "CBS Evening News" or working "60 Minutes II," but as long as I have my health and as long as anybody will work me, I'm going to be doing news somewhere, somehow.
KING: Do you ever look at yourself and say, did I ever think I'd make this kind of -- have this kind of position, make this kind of money?
RATHER: Almost every day. And the answer is, no, never, not in my wildest dreams. And I've said to you before, and I'll say it again: I can I be dumb as a fence post about a lot of things, but I'm at least smart enough to know how lucky and blessed I am to have this work, work that I really love.
My only question all along was, could I could make a living doing it. And for a long time that sort of swung in the balance.
KING: Did you almost come to CNN?
RATHER: I did. Absolutely. I tried to get to CNN. I wanted to come to CNN. It was just a bridge too far.
It probably worked out for the best.
KING: Do you think there's ever a possibility the two networks will join on something?
RATHER: You know, we've talked about that before, and I've always said before, yes, I think it's a possibility.
RATHER: It's doable.
Whether it will get done or not, I can't say hope fades, but I think the prospect is not as good today as maybe it was a year or two ago.
But you know, what you and I have learned -- Larry, we've been around long enough to know what you most expect often doesn't happen, what you least expect often occurs. And who knows, it may in this case. I would love it if something could be worked out. Two great news brand names like CBS News and CNN would be terrific. KING: And we never say never.
KING: Thanks, Dan.
RATHER: Thanks. Larry, thanks a lot.
KING: Dan Rather.
And he'll be back with us Sunday night for a live edition of LARRY KING LIVE with some of the heroes of 9/11, and we'll talk more about his book, "What We Saw."
I'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night right after this. Don't go away.
KING: Tomorrow night Angela Ricci joins us, the widow of the gentleman who passed away in Utah who was the prime kind of candidate to be a suspect in the disappearance of Elizabeth Smart. That's tomorrow night.
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