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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Ann Richards

Aired September 12, 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: a fresh perspective on New York City one year after 9/11 from a real straight-shooter, former Texas Governor Ann Richards. The Big Apple is her second home. She was here on September 11, 2001. Her outspoken thoughts on the war on terror, as well as her personal battles with alcoholism and osteoporosis.
The Honorable Ann Richards for your hour with your phone calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always a great pleasure to welcome her to this program. The last few times have been by satellite, but we're in New York all this week, so it's great to be in her company because I grew up here, and this is her adopted hometown.

You were on an airplane yesterday, flying...

ANN RICHARDS, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: I was.

KING: ... flying back from Africa?

RICHARDS: I started to come the day before. I had gone from Africa to Austin, and then I was going to fly directly up here, and then I thought you know, 9/11, it's going to be pretty quiet in those airports. It's going to be pretty nice flying, so I delayed the flight a day, and it was.

KING: And what was it like?

RICHARDS: Well, it was -- in the Austin airport, it was like a morgue. By the time I got to DFW, though there were plenty of people traveling. The planes I was on were relatively full. But American Airlines came up, thank you for traveling on 9/11. I think they were glad to see people.

KING: And what was Kennedy like?

RICHARDS: Well, it was like it always is, except I came in LaGuardia.

KING: Oh, OK.

RICHARDS: It...

(CROSSTALK)

RICHARDS: And -- but they were a lot faster getting my luggage, and it was a lot easier you know, getting out and getting your luggage checked to get out. There's no doubt, there were less people flying, but I couldn't understand why, you know. Of all days, if somebody was going to do something, I don't think they'd pick that day, because the element of surprise is what these people, these crazy people are after.

KING: How's it like for a transplanted Texan being in New York and being here on 9/11 last year?

RICHARDS: Last year was so awesome. Awesome with a big A-W-E, awesome. I was staying in a hotel. I was looking for a place to live and an office space, and afterwards, my immediate instinct was to get to a grocery store. Isn't that peculiar? I think it's because I've been through a number of crises in Texas where we had tornadoes or we had some difficulties. And always, if you've got enough water and you've got food, you know, you can make it through almost anything.

But when I walked out on Madison Avenue and looked straight down Madison Avenue from about 79th Street, and I saw that smoke billowing up -- that continued for three days, Larry. For three days, you could look down Madison all the way to the World Trade Center and see the residue of smoke still billowing out.

KING: Would you think of leaving the city?

RICHARDS: No, oh no; not for a second, no.

KING: You are now a senior adviser to Public Strategies Incorporated, right?

RICHARDS: Yes I am.

KING: And they have offices, I think, in Washington and New York. Why did you choose to live here?

RICHARDS: I'd always wanted to live here. I'd come here so much, and I'd had such a good time. And I like the whole hubbub of the city. I like the busyness of it. Now, I have to be honest with you, I stay here less than half the time, but I go home to Texas. During the period of time I'm here, it is go, go, go, go, never stop, you know, up early, out late. And I go home and kind of rest up. So I've got the best of all possible worlds.

KING: You also can give us a unique perspective on the people of this city. Have they surprised you?

RICHARDS: I think they surprised themselves. I think that it dawned on New Yorkers how much they loved this city. It's not one of those -- you know if they had heard someone say something bad about New York, they would have reacted, but this was -- this was a threat against their town. And the result of that was that the cab drivers, everybody, you know, they were wearing American flags. They had flags out in their windows. Suddenly, there was a pride about being a New Yorker and living in New York that I never had seen before in all the years I've been coming here.

KING: Do you have thoughts on dealing with grief?

RICHARDS: I think you have to deal with grief in the sense that you have to recognize that you have it, and say that it's OK to have all the sadness. Sometimes when I'm watching television and something, an image, will come on that has to do with 9/11 or some of these families telling their stories, or children talking about drawing pictures of airplanes flying into towers, you know, I find myself still choking up. And I have to tell myself, you know, you're not just an old lady. It's OK to feel an emotional sadness about a really terrible day in American history.

KING: Maybe the most terrible.

RICHARDS: Probably, it's going to end up being the most terrible.

KING: And you were in Texas when Kennedy was killed?

RICHARDS: I was. I was in Dallas. I was sitting at the luncheon, waiting for him to come and speak. It was a -- it was such a frightening time. A lot in the sense that 9/11 -- but then, it was like the whole nation was under attack and they didn't -- you didn't know where they were going to hit next, you know. I can -- I can still talk about that day and cry. When we tried to leave the place...

KING: Did they announce at the luncheon that he had been shot?

RICHARDS: Yes. But what had happened was that we were sitting there --- we were waiting for them to serve our fruit, and people in the audience had little radios...

KING: Transistor radios.

RICHARDS: ... and they were listening to the progression of the parade as they left the airport and were making their way, and the motorcade down the street, and so the word started, "someone's been shot," "been shot." You know you could kind of hear the words moving on. And it was Connolly; I thought that had been shot. And then I looked down -- because I was about three floors up in this big sort of amphitheater place -- and I looked down, and there were people that were starting to run across the lower floor, which was the main banquet hall, and I thought this is something bigger.

Something really bad has happened here. And so, someone got up and said that there had been a shooting, that the president had been injured, and we all started trying to leave. And the way we got out of the hall was a very narrow escalator and people began to back up on that escalator, because they couldn't get out fast enough. There was so much fright and so much fear. And so, as we started backing up that escalator, there was a little panic down below. We finally got out. And my first instinct, it was the same instinct as here -- is I need to be home. I need to go home. That's what you always think of.

Whatever home is, you need to find that safe place. And you know, in my daughter's class, the kids applauded when they announced that President Kennedy had been shot. That'll tell you the atmosphere that existed in Dallas in those days.

KING: Ann Richards is our guest. She's here for the full hour. We will be taking your phone calls -- the former governor of Texas. And Peter Jennings will be with us tomorrow night. And as we go to break, a New York scene.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iraq's regime defied us again. The world must move deliberately, decisively, to hold Iraq to account. We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions, but the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced. The just demands of peace and security will be met, or action will be unavoidable, and a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And, of course, President Bush addressing the United Nations this morning. You saw it, of course, on CNN. He is the man that defeated Ann Richards and replaced her as governor in Austin.

Before we talk about Iraq, what do you -- how do you assess his overall performance so far?

RICHARDS: I think in the immediate days after 9/11, the administration acted very, very well. I liked the decisiveness of it. I liked the fact that he laid it out very clearly that we're going to be OK, but we're going to go after these guys. We're going to stay focused on al Qaeda. And since then, I can't give him any more than about a C-plus.

KING: Because?

RICHARDS: I think the domestic issues are very serious ones. The economy is not good. We don't see any signs of any immediate improvement, and we don't hear anybody in the administration talking about what they're going to do about it.

KING: The tax cut didn't help?

RICHARDS: No, the tax cut hurt and everybody knows it hurt. To pretend anything else is ridiculous.

KING: Now, what about Iraq and the speech today?

RICHARDS: Well, here's what I thought he did right about the speech today. I thought he laid out for the U.N. that you have a responsibility under your own charter, and you have invoked sanctions against this guy, and now it's time for you to put up or shut up. I thought that part of it was a message that needed to be sent, and was fine. I don't think that the case was made for us to unilaterally invade Iraq without the assistance and the complicity and agreement of our allies.

KING: And how would you advise them to do that?

RICHARDS: No.

KING: No?

RICHARDS: I wouldn't.

KING: Because?

RICHARDS: And I was pleased when Brent Scowcroft and Jim Baker, two people who have a lot of experience in foreign policy of the other Bush administration, cautioned this president to go slowly, to be certain that this is the tactic, that this administration and this country wanted to take. I thought it was an extraordinary thing that anyone from his father's administration would come out publicly and tell him, "Slow down here, kid," you know.

KING: Well, the question then is -- did he make a good case today or did he not make a good -- he made a good case.

RICHARDS: I thought the case that he made was for the U.N. I didn't think that the case that he made was for the United States, to act unilaterally without the assistance of, certainly, our allies.

KING: But you also said you would not recommend to the U.N. that they do go to war with Iraq.

RICHARDS: Well, I think that's for the U.N. to decide. I -- God knows, Larry, I only know what I read in the newspaper, so it would -- it'll behoove me to tell the U.N. what they ought to do. But I think that the United States and its allies -- and there are going to be a lot of countries in the U.N., particularly those Muslim countries, that are absolutely going to be opposed. But they ought to be able to build a strong enough case among our friends that if it is necessary to go in to Iraq, and if they see that it is necessary, well then, certainly, they ought to go.

KING: Do you not fear the worst from Saddam Hussein?

RICHARDS: Actually, I'm more afraid of the al Qaeda and the terrorists and their seeming ability to reorganize and pull themselves together. Here's the thing I can't understand about the Iraq part. If we're going to go in there, what are we going to replace him with? Are we going to be in the same situation we are in Afghanistan, where we've got our soldiers over there acting as a police force to protect the guy that we put in office? Are we going to have to...

KING: Yes, let's say it is that. So?

RICHARDS: Yes, and so, we have to pick somebody else and prop him up and make it our government and then...

KING: Isn't that better than...

RICHARDS: Oh, I can't argue that it is. How many places can we do this in the world, Larry?

KING: And how many places are building weapons of mass destruction and threatening with them?

RICHARDS: I think in that sense -- there was a guy this morning on the "Today Show" that talked about how had been a weapons inspector and he didn't see the justification for doing what we're talking about.

KING: He's on "AARON BROWN" tonight.

RICHARDS: Yes, so since there is disagreement, and an honest disagreement -- this isn't politics. This is war. Then, I think we have to be extremely cautious before we dedicate human life and American life to another war and our soldiers on more foreign shores. We have a serious problem in the Middle East that we can barely keep the lid on. You know I think Napoleon learned that you're fighting on too many fronts at once...

KING: Yes.

RICHARDS: ... can be your undoing.

KING: Let's touch some other bases. What's going on in Florida?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: My former home state can't do an election.

RICHARDS: You know I said -- I came back from Africa. I was so serene. I hadn't seen TV. I hadn't seen the newspapers. And I get back home and things are just the same. They still can't count votes in Florida!

KING: What do you make of that? Is that going to hurt Jeb Bush, do you think...

RICHARDS: Well, it's going to...

KING: ... along with the welfare scandal?

RICHARDS: Here's what I suspect. I suspect it's going to energize the Democratic vote. It's just a reminder of what occurred in counting votes in a presidential election.

KING: Are you disappointed that it apparently is not Miss Reno that will be seeking those votes?

RICHARDS: Well, yes, Janet is a friend of mine. I respect her. I like her a lot. But from the beginning, I thought maybe that was an ill-fated journey. And I talked to her on the telephone some months ago, and I said, "Janet, if you feel passionate about this, and you really, really want to do it, but you recognize that you just get all the fun out of it you possibly can, take all the strong positions that you want to, get it said, knowing that you may not come out successfully on the other end, well, then, go ahead and do it." KING: Our guest is Ann Richards, the former Democratic governor of Texas. We'll be taking your calls at the bottom of the hour. We'll touch some other bases with our always outspoken lady right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(AUDIO/VIDEO GAP)

RICHARDS: ... a bunch of hot air.

KING: What do you make of Martha Stewart's travails?

RICHARDS: Well, I think -- I don't know what Martha did, but she sure had a good lobbyist. I'll say that. When those guys in the Congress punted to the attorney...

KING: And they did punt.

RICHARDS: Oh, was that a punt or was that a punt? Did they suggest the attorney general investigate? He's already investigated. What a joke that response was.

KING: The congressional races going to be close?

RICHARDS: Yes, they are.

KING: How about the new Senate race in Texas?

RICHARDS: Well, of course, I'm excited because Ron Kirk used to be my secretary of state, and I think he's an outstanding man. And he was an outstanding mayor of Dallas, and I think he's going to make an incredibly able senator.

It's an interesting time in Texas, Larry, because we have a black candidate, Ron Kirk, running for the Senate. This is Democratic ticket now. We have a Hispanic, wealthy banker from Laredo, running for governor. We have a really sharp politician named Shaerk (ph) running for lieutenant governor. The mayor of my city, Austin -- Kirk Watson's running for attorney general. It is a stellar ticket, so the combination of the fact that we have all of the racial diversity on the ticket should mean that the Democratic base turns out in an unprecedented manner. And if it does, we win.

KING: In a very conservative state.

RICHARDS: In a very Republican conservative state.

KING: Do you ever fear -- ever fear -- drinking again?

RICHARDS: Oh, Lord no. It never occurs to me.

KING: How long have you been sober?

RICHARDS: Twenty-two years, this year.

KING: And you just stopped cold?

RICHARDS: No, I went to the -- I went to the drunk hospital. I -- we called it drunk school.

KING: Drunk school.

RICHARDS: I spent a month in the drunk school in Minneapolis, Minnesota. And, of course, I thought it was the end of my life. I thought, well, this is it, you know. I'm going to die here. And it's the best thing that ever happened to me. I think of -- I think of that period as being absolutely joyous. It was like -- it was like life going down the road and just taking a 45-degree angle turn and -- who knew? Who knew that life could be so good? And so, it could be so clean, and that the air could be so clear?

KING: It must have been pretty bad, then?

RICHARDS: And that I could still be funny.

KING: Because it must have been pretty bad, right?

RICHARDS: Well, sure, it's always bad when you're a drunk. It's always bad. And there's no gradation, to me. There's no difference between the alcoholic who is a housewife and the alcoholic that is lying under a bridge or in the gutter. It's all the same thing.

KING: They're drunks to you?

RICHARDS: Yes, they're all drunks, and they are -- their lives have become dependent on alcohol. Alcohol has taken over what they do, and the way they think. And it's just a wonderful thing to be sober.

KING: You've also been very outspoken on osteoporosis.

RICHARDS: Yes.

KING: I know that you are a paid consultant for Eli Lilly and their drug, Evista, right?

RICHARDS: Yes.

KING: They pay you?

RICHARDS: Yes, they pay me to make speeches.

KING: To make speeches about the drug or about osteoporosis?

RICHARDS: No, about osteoporosis.

KING: Which is what?

RICHARDS: It is a disintegration and a softening of the bones.

KING: Affecting women only? RICHARDS: No, it affects men, too. So had you look up and you see a man who's walking like this, friends of yours who get older and they begin to shrink in stature, it has to do with the softness of those bones and the collapsing of that spine.

KING: Do you have it?

RICHARDS: Oh, I do have it, but since I started on medication -- and I've taken lots of medication, including Evista -- and I started lifting weights at the gym, I started walking a lot, paying attention to what I eat, my bone density is now normal in my spine.

KING: How many people have it?

RICHARDS: Oh, I don't even know the answer to that, but millions.

KING: Millions?

RICHARDS: Yes. And women can lose 30 percent of their bone mass just like that after they go through it -- they go through menopause, because it is the loss of those hormones that begin that whole softening process.

KING: It's not a killer though, is it?

RICHARDS: Oh, absolutely, it is a killer.

KING: It is?

RICHARDS: Yes, I was in a conference in Portugal this year and Camilla Parker-Bowles talked about her mother's death and her grandmother's death, that her mother had become so stooped and so collapsed that she was unable to ingest food, and prayed to die. So absolutely, it can kill you.

KING: Are you and Liz Smith, your fellow Texan -- you ever going to do that radio show?

RICHARDS: Well, I hope so!

KING: Really, where is it?

RICHARDS: We can't slow down long enough to get the darn thing organized! But we've got...

KING: What will it be, two women talking, dishin'?

RICHARDS: Dishin' and kickin' and you know...

KING: Scrappin'?

RICHARDS: You know I told you we're going to have a call out show, because we continue to want anybody calling us.

(LAUGHTER) KING: We're going to take a break, come back and go to phone calls for the former governor of Texas, Ann Richards. Tomorrow night, Peter Jennings. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're ready to go to your calls for Ann Richards. She's going to talk about Africa in a minute. She just got back. Celebrated her birthday there in a kind of unique way.

Let's get to some calls for the governor.

Hampton, Virginia -- hello.

CALLER: Hello.

RICHARDS: Hi.

CALLER: Larry, Ann, I love you both and I think you're wonderful.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Ann, I would like to ask you, what was your turning point, or what was the thing that made you realize that you were an alcoholic and what helped you? I need to know that.

RICHARDS: I had a very close friend who realized that I was out of control, and she went to a counselor to ask that counselor how to intervene, which is an expression that's used among alcoholics, drug addicts, overeaters; people who need to be confronted with their problem. And she organized an intervention.

I was called over to a friend's house. I thought I was going over there for something to help this friend, and I got over there and, in the room, sitting in a circle, were several of my closest friends and my husband and two of my children. And one by one they went around the room, and they said to me, "You did this," or "You did that. And I know you would not have done that if you had not been drinking."

And they were all scared to death. But they had gotten their instructions. They had prepared what they wanted to say on a little slip of paper, and they virtually read their little pieces to me.

There were 12 people there. It was, you know -- it was like the last supper. It was a large intervention. And when they got through, of course it was terribly emotional. A lot of them were crying. I thought, you know, well, you're a bunch of hypocrites. Most of you were drinking with me. And I said, "Well what do I need to do?" And they said, "Well, we've consulted this hospital, and we have reservations on a plane this afternoon." And I said, "Well, let's go."

Now, the truth is that I was so relieved that someone had intervened, that someone cared enough about me to attempt to save me because I really didn't know what to do myself. It was an awful and a wonderful experience.

So if you know of someone, someone you care about, by all means, get in touch with an alcoholism counselor, get in touch with AA and tell them you'd like to learn how to do an intervention.

KING: Santa Clara, California, for Governor Ann Richards, hello.

CALLER: Hello. How are you, Ann?

RICHARDS: All right, how are you?

CALLER: I'm just interested. If Daddy Bush had done his job when all of our servicemen and women were over in Iraq years ago, do you think we would be going through all of this now?

RICHARDS: Well I think, you know it is hard always when you have hindsight your vision is so much better than it is when you're caught up in it. I always try to give as much benefit to an office holder as I possibly can because I know how hard it is to be there. And I am sure that President Bush Sr. did what he thought was right at the time.

I think what's going on now, frankly, is that there is a serious concern about this guy. They are obviously very much afraid of him. And I think that the argument is -- and it is a legitimate one -- we have contained him now for some 10 years. Why is it suddenly we can't contain him anymore?

I think that it is going to be debated over a period of time. And I think the fact that Bush's - the father Bush's advisers, Baker and Scowcroft, have cautioned this president is going to slow this thing down so that there is honest and good debate before we do anything.

KING: Mount Holly, New Jersey -- hello.

CALLER: Hello. I had such a wonderful opportunity to meet Ann Richards when I was working for CWA. And I am so happy to meet her and I have a wonderful photograph of the two of us together.

RICHARDS: Great.

CALLER: But what I'm asking you about is you seemed so committed to women's health issues at our conference. And I was wondering, beyond talking about osteoporosis, what is your agenda for dealing with women's health issues and wellness in the future?

RICHARDS: Well, you know my number one cause has always been that women's reproductive health needs to be protected. And I guess if I have any disagreement with this administration, it could not be greater than the tact that they take about family planning, pregnancy prevention, abortion, the opportunity for women to protect their health and to protect their right if they choose not to have children. I think that that's a fundamental right to any woman.

The second thing is that I believe and always have and have always spoken out for it, that women ought to get equal treatment with men in the health care system. Until the early '90s, that is the Clinton administration, Donna Shalala, and Bernadette Heely (ph) at the...

KING: NIH.

RICHARDS: Yeah, NIH. The testing that was done -- you're not going to believe this Larry, but all of the testing that was done was done on men. The word at the NIH was that even the lab rats were white males.

The opportunity for testing of drugs and their efficacy for women was always with men. We now have corrected that and, as a consequence, there's a lot more money spent on breast cancer, there is a lot more money spent on heart disease and the effect of that on women.

So while osteoporosis is my particular cause because I have it and I can speak with some authority on it, equal money for women when it comes to health care is number one.

KING: What happened in Africa on your birthday?

RICHARDS: Oh my God, you wouldn't have believed it. We had this dinner. There were 12 women on this trip and we were out in the middle of the African bush. They had prepared just a wonderful dinner; they brought in a birthday cake. And then I look up, and here were these Masai warriors in their red togas and their (UNINTELLIGIBLE) hair, and they were holding sparklers that some of the women had brought for the birthday party.

These Masai warriors had never seen a sparkler before. And they came dancing. And you know how they dance? They jump straight up about three feet off the ground. And they are dancing and jumping around that birthday table. I said, man -- I said, "This ends all birthdays here."

KING: Did you like the visit?

RICHARDS: I absolutely loved Africa. Oh I just thought it was the most remarkable thing.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more of Governor Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Ann Richards.

Pittsburgh, hello.

CALLER: Hi Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi Ann.

RICHARDS: Hi.

CALLER: God bless you.

RICHARDS: Thank you.

CALLER: And I hope the Lord stays with you and your sobriety.

RICHARDS: Thank you.

CALLER: And I would like to ask you, did you ever relapse? And if you did, did you ever go to a center -- a rehab center for help? Or did you quit on your own?

I think I've heard you say that you stopped on your own. But I also want to ask, do you think that the alcohol has had any effect on the fact that you have osteoporosis?

And one other thing, I have a 33-year-old son who has been in and out of rehabs at least four times, and the same thing, he comes out and goes back to it. And...

KING: All right we get the gist. Let me run them down.

First, did you ever fall off?

RICHARDS: Yeah -- no, I never did.

KING: Do you know why certain people keep going back?

RICHARDS: Yeah, because we're human and we're slow learners. And sometimes it takes longer for people. I've known a lot of people who relapsed and who had to go back into the hospital or who had to go to another center.

Don't give up on your son. I know that it's hard, but believe me, something happens that just a light kind of goes off and they suddenly realize, well, OK, this is it. I've got to do this thing.

But the other thing I want to say to you is that you can't sober up for him. You've got to lead your life and you have to get help for yourself. And I urge you, if you can, to go to Alcoholics -- not Alcoholics Anonymous, but...

KING: Al Anon.

RICHARDS: ... Al Anon, because it will be so much help to you...

KING: Relatives are there.

RICHARDS: ... in learning -- yeah -- how to give up and let him lead his life.

KING: Do you think the osteoporosis leads to this?

RICHARDS: I know that my alcoholism affected osteoporosis. And I was also a smoker. Smoking is very bad for your bones. So absolutely it is a factor in my osteoporosis.

KING: To Jonesboro, Arkansas -- hello.

CALLER: Hi. I want to ask you what job do you think or position do you think Bill Clinton should take to best utilize his talents and his, you know, expertise in whatever?

RICHARDS: I think all of us feel like he's such a smart guy and he's such an able guy there's got to be some role that he can play. But the truth is, he's got an awful lot to do. First, he's got a book to finish, he's got all that money to raise to build his library down there in Arkansas. He's got a lot of unfinished personal business that he has to deal with.

And then I have a feeling, you know, that Bill is going to figure this out. And probably he has the seeds and the beginning of what he's going to do in mind. I think that he will probably follow in the genre of Jimmy Carter. I think he's going to be one of those who wants to make a name for himself as a humanitarian, and it will probably be in the area of civil rights. I don't know, I've never talked to him about it.

KING: He's going to Africa next week and then Europe. Some major speeches and some conferences and a book. And he said here, sitting here a couple of weeks ago, that he would like to balance it between speaking and going around and helping, you know, in the Carter mode.

RICHARDS: Yeah.

KING: Sort of a balance of both.

RICHARDS: And I think he will. And I think he'll be welcomed internationally wherever he wants to go.

KING: Dallas, hello.

CALLER: Well hi, Ann.

RICHARDS: Hi.

CALLER: I have a question for you.

RICHARDS: Yes?

CALLER: When are you planning on going back into political life? Maybe for president. We're looking for a good candidate in 2004.

RICHARDS: Aren't you nice? But I'm not crazy. I never thought that looked like a very good job. I love being governor; I thought I did a good job as governor. But I really had no aspiration to go beyond that. And I certainly didn't think that the White House looked like a place that you'd want the job.

But you're sweet to call. And I'm out there, I'm busy. I'm helping people that I believe in and I care about. I'm going to go help Erskine Bowles down there.

KING: In Carolina?

RICHARDS: Yeah, I'd like to see Erskine win that. I think he's smart and good and able.

KING: Elizabeth Dole is favorite, though.

RICHARDS: Probably so. She's got the name ID. But I'm still going to help Erskine because I like him and believe in him.

KING: I remember on this program when you told us -- maybe one of the first to say it -- don't estimate George W. Bush.

RICHARDS: Yeah. Oh, listen, I have to give those people a lot of credit, those Bush people. And I'm talking about the young George. They (UNINTELLIGIBLE) message, they decide what that message is going to be, and you're not going to hear another word.

And they have learned that bloody pulpit is one that they can deliver what they want to deliver. You are not going to hear a word about Medicare, Social Security, any kind of health care, prescription drug for seniors, the environment, certainly the economy. You're not going to hear a word on any of those subjects this year.

You're not going to hear a word out of that administration about anything but war. And they're good at it. They are really good at it.

And when Bush doesn't have anything to say, they are good at pulling him back and allowing, you know, Cheney to talk or somebody else to talk. And here is where I discredit the Democrats. There is no opposition voice.

There's no one on the other side saying, "Well, wait a minute." But every once in a while you'll hear John Kerry (ph) speak up, Tom Daschle speaks up. Usually he talks about procedural things in the Senate. I heard that he came on more strongly today, and I didn't hear him.

KING: So your own party disappoints you?

RICHARDS: So my own party, they don't take after this guy. And I think the sensitivity is that they're scared to death that they'll appear unpatriotic in a very sensitive war time. And that's the White House still keeps talking war.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Ann Richards, as once again we attempt to draw her out. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Touch some other bases with Ann Richards.

Do you agree in the Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security? RICHARDS: Well, I think, and I'm pretty sure the administration thinks, that Tom Ridge has been a terrible disappointment, and they're really relieved they didn't put him on the ticket. That's what I think.

KING: Palm Beach, Florida -- hello.

CALLER: Ann, would you accept a position in the Bush administration?

RICHARDS: What do you mean, the honest opposition or something like that? No, I don't want to be in any administration.

KING: When you say Tom Ridge has been a failure...

RICHARDS: I just think he's been a serious disappointment.

KING: ... what clout did he have to do what?

RICHARDS: He really didn't.

KING: So...

RICHARDS: And I think it was a fantasy to think you were going to put something together in homeland security, where all of these various agencies were going to give up some of their power and some of their clout. It was ill conceived, and so it's not fair really on my part to pick on Ridge.

KING: So do you favor a Cabinet-level new high streamlined department?

RICHARDS: They're not going to do it. I don't care whether you put him in the Cabinet or anywhere else. There's too much ingrained power in these agencies. And they're going to hold on and protect every ounce of that that they have. So who is going to make them give it up and how long is it going to take? I think it's an impossible task.

KING: Age of terror. Are you concerned civil liberties?

RICHARDS: I am worried to death about civil liberties. You know that things called TIPS?

KING: Yeah.

RICHARDS: Terror Information Program, or whatever it is. When John Ashcroft came out and he said we are going to authorize teamsters and truck drivers and plumbers and TV repairmen -- or I think then later Bush said there were no TV repairmen -- to report on Americans and what they're doing and anything that they see that's suspicious...

KING: That's not a Justice Department program he said.

RICHARDS: Well, so whose program is it? Ashcroft is the one that talked about it. Ashcroft is the one that said that they were going to get the information.

KING: But in an era of terror...

RICHARDS: I don't care, Larry. This country was founded and conceived by people who had experienced this very kind of thing who left the country and sailed treacherous seas to get here, fought to stay here, based on religious liberty and individual liberty. And I am very afraid that in extreme times those liberties get infringed on. And I think you have to be really cautious and resist it.

KING: Is it a delicate balance sometimes?

RICHARDS: It's a very, very delicate balance. But you and I lived through the McCarthy days.

KING: I did.

RICHARDS: And it was not just that people were accused of wrongdoing. Those people were brought before the McCarthy committee if they were a friend of someone that was accused of wrongdoing. That's when the balance got way, way out of whack. And I think all of us have to speak out about how our important our individual civil rights are.

KING: And how concerned are you about more terror, more attacks?

RICHARDS: I think that we're probably doing everything that we can possibly do. Now I saw a television show the other night, and you can ask Peter Jennings about it, because it was on ABC, where -- and I got in on the tail end of it -- they were able to put something on a ship and get it into this country and get it delivered that should have been caught, because they were trying to prove that the country has really got holes in it and not say.

But this is a free country. This is an open country. And in its freedom and openness, it's greatness.

In trying to protect ourselves physically, we don't want to lose the concept of why we were created and why we were founded.

KING: As always, great seeing you, governor.

RICHARDS: You too, my dear. And I'm going to come out to your house in "Architectural Digest" and I'm going to spend the weekend, because I saw that (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and it is fine looking. You are high living, Mr. King.

KING: Oh, I'm humbled. I guess I'm just a little Brooklyn boy.

Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. We'll come back and tell you about tomorrow night right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, Peter Jennings will be our special guest for the full hour. And of course we'll include your phone calls. We're here in New York, so it's always great to share the same space with him.

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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