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Interview With Ann Richards

Aired December 16, 2002 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, former Texas Governor Ann Richards.
From Al Gore's big announcement to Trent Lott to war with Iraq, nobody shoots from the hip like this sassy straight talking Texan. The honorable Ann Richards for the hour, next, on LARRY KING LIVE.

Just by way of noting we tapped this early this afternoon and Senator Lott has already appeared as we go on BET TV, which he taped on the afternoon. So if he said anything newsworthy, Forgive me if it's asked of Ann Richards because we don't know.

What do you make of this whole thing?

ANN RICHARDS (D), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: I think it is a problem for the Republican party, just -- it is just one of those Republican party problems. It is not just a Trent Lott problem. Black people vote for Democrats for a reason. It is not out of some knee jerk reaction. It is because that Democrats support programs that black people find helpful to their community. Things like the increasing the minimum wage, teaching -- giving more money for head start in the school, giving poor kids lunch programs and the Republican party simply does not support those things.

KING: It is a strange history though, because the party is the party of Lincoln.

RICHARDS: It should be.

KING: Had it had the most moderate liberal...

RICHARDS: Absolutely.

KING: Eisenhower had more liberal judges than anybody.


KING: Because the Republicans of the South tended be pro- integration. Until it changed.

RICHARDS: It should be the party of Lincoln and of blacks, but it is not. You look at voting record of Republicans in the Senate and the House, believe me, there are some very good Republicans and some who are my friends and people who I admire. But as a rule, the Republican party is known by black people as that party who is going to vote against the things that make their community and their lives better. KING: Even though the history of major segregationists in America, Democratic senators from the South.

RICHARDS: Have been Democratic senators from the South have been southern states and now -- I'm telling you, if a Democrat had said what Trent Lott said, there would have been no question about whether or not that Democrat would have stayed on or not. We would have had him out of that job in 24 hours or less.

But with Trent Lott, and I don't know -- I think he may go. I think they may get him, because I think the White House would just as soon see him go anyway.

KING: A strong statement they made about him.


KING: It doesn't shock you -- you mean left as majority leader.

RICHARDS: I think -- I think they just as soon have him out of both places, but I think they'll take him out as majority leader. You look at the dynamics that occur on television when you see Bush and Lott together. They don't look like chums.

KING: Why did the apology not work?

RICHARDS: Well, because he already had such a history. I mean, it is just all over the place. He said it before. And all of that old Confederate flag stuff and Strom Thurmond, who is an embarrassment anyway, and even worse embarrassment at 100 in the Senate. And for him to get up and say, Well, I was just trying to, you know, say these things because it puffed him up, made him feel better now that he's 100. Well, that's ridiculous it sounded false, sounded fake.

KING: Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, told CNN that the Republican party can't continue hour after hour, day after day to decimate itself.

You agree with that?

RICHARDS: I agree with that. I think that the thing that is really ridiculous about it is here we have somebody finally on the ropes, and the Democrats can make some hay and Al Gore gets in and makes his announcement he's going to take him off the front page. I thought, Oh, my god.

KING: That's weird timing. I will get to that in a little while because I want your thoughts on that.


KING: The Democrats' role in the Lott controversy is to what, stay out?

RICHARDS: Well, in the Lott controversy I think they pour it on. I mean, when you have a race that we just saw like Mary Landrieu's race, the last Senate race, where race was such an enormous factor. And where the Republican party did what it has been doing consistently in these races, and that is trying to repress the Republican -- the black turnout, which they did, you know, in the presidential election, they did it in the Senatorial election.

I talked to Mary today, of course, man, did she kick that woman around the lot or not, and she told me that they were handing out materials in the black community on election day that said, if you don't vote today, don't worry about it, you vote next Tuesday. I mean, that's the kind of stuff they do, Larry. So when one of them gets stung...

KING: But both parties are guilty in other...

RICHARDS: Not that racial stuff. Not that racial stuff.

KING: Will you -- all right, let's go to Senator Lott himself.

Were you surprised?

RICHARDS: No, I wasn't really surprised.

KING: Don't you think he's materially changed over the years or not?

RICHARDS: I think he thinks that -- I think he doesn't think the way he did about black people. I think he probably thinks you're going to work with black people. I think they thought they were right exactly when they divide the -- the schools were divided black and white. I think they thought they were right when they had separate water fountains when I was growing up as a kid.

All those people thought they were right and well intentioned, but we know now it was ridiculous and they were wrong and this is stupid. I don't care whether you want to make Strom Thurmond look good or not. And it is an embarrassment to this country to make remarks like that.

So I think the Republicans have to live with it. What they need to have is a few little sensitivity seminars, just like we talk police about battered women. The Republicans need to have a few seminars talking about race, here is the history, here is what matters, here is the votes that you got to recognize are important to black people.

KING: Nobody in 2002 could be a segregationist. That would be whacked out.

RICHARDS: Well, don't kid yourself. On they could be segregationists. They're not sitting there trailing in their mama's backyard and they're going to talk about it. But they're not going to be in the leadership.

KING: You have a lot of it in Texas?

RICHARDS: We have racism in Texas, of course we do. And it usually shows itself in subtle ways. I think the shocking thing about Trent Lott's statement is it was so blatant. And it was so obvious. It wasn't one of those things that said in the quiet of someone's living room, off the easy boy lounge.

KING: Do you know Senator Lott?

RICHARDS: I know him only in passing.

KING: Because he's a really, you know, a very nice person.

RICHARDS: Well, of course he's a nice person.

KING: Very courteous why is.

RICHARDS: I'm sure he's as courteous as can be. But he just made a really bad mistake. Just a bad mistake.

KING: Irreparable?

RICHARDS: Irreparable. He will never do anything for the rest of his political career without this being added.

KING: The sad part, when he dies, way down the road, that's going to be the first paragraph.

RICHARDS: Certainly will, Trent Lott, comma.

KING: You think he'll leave the Senate?

RICHARDS: I don't know whether he'll leave the Senate or not but he's probably not going to want to be in the Senate if he's not in the leadership.

KING: Our guest is the honorable Ann Richards the former Democratic Governor of Texas. She's now with Public Strategies Incorporated, a bypartson. You wouldn't think bipartson after the first nine minutes of the show. Lobbying firm doing public relations and consulting. And she has a book coming out "I'm Not Slowing Down: Winning my battle with Osteoporosis." We'll have her back when that comes out.

And we'll talk about Al Gore right after this.


SEN. TRENT LOTT (R-MS), MINORITY LEADER: Last week, I was privileged to join hundreds of others to honor him. It was light hearted affair. But my choice of words were totally unacceptable and insensitive. And I apologize for that. Let me make clear, though, in celebrating his life, I didn't mean in any way to suggest that his views of over 50 years ago on segregation were justified or right. It was wrong and immoral then, and it is now.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: In one of the funniest "Saturday Night Lives" ever last Saturday, Al Gore was the host. He was funny. Al Franken, we understand, wrote most of the script.

Here was just one of those moments. Al and Joe Lieberman in a hot tub.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "Saturday Night Live")

AL GORE, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT: I think we need to take these Social Security funds that people have worked so hard for and keep them away from the volatility of the stock market.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I so totally agree with you.

GORE: These funds need to be protected. They need to be put aside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, in some kind of metaphorical...

GORE: Lock box.



KING: Now that's Al Gore who people really know him, though, he had a great sense of humor to do all that.

Why didn't he show that in the campaign?

RICHARDS: I don't think he knows how to do it in a public setting.

KING: Now what was more public than "Saturday Night Live"?

RICHARDS: Yes, but he's not running for anything. You know, he's kicked back. He's not worried about it.

You know, people who talk as if their voices are coming from some place else. They're not coming from in here. Well, that's what Al Gore did. It was like he was having an out of body experience when he spoke publicly.

KING: Bob Dole said his people told him in '96 not to be funny. And Bob Dole is funny.


KING: They told him not to be.

So are you saying that if Al Gore had intended to run, he would not have done what he did on "Saturday Night Live?"

RICHARDS: Well, I think it's doubtful. I really do. But maybe he's reached the point, you know, he's just saying, What the heck? I'm, you know, going to go ahead and do it. And he had a fun time and he was hysterical. Did you see him imitate Trent Lott?

KING: The whole show was great. You could be an ardent Gore foe and had to say that was a funny show.

RICHARDS: Yes, and they had him on in every skit.

KING: "The West Wing" scene was hysterical.

Now what do you make of the leaving -- his not running? What do you make of that? Leaving public, he says. That's it.

RICHARDS: Yes. I'm not a bit surprised. I'm not surprised.

He's taken such a pummeling in the press. Every time he sticks his head up and the press has never liked him. And so I think he probably was really discouraging for him to -- in the few public appearances that he's made, just to get a smashing from any of the reporters that were around.

KING: Why doesn't the crowd like him?

RICHARDS: Gore has a manner about him that makes you feel that he thinks he knows more than you do. And I've said for years one of the difficulties that some of us have that have been around a long time is that you ask us what time it is and we're going to tell you the history of clock-making, we're going to tell you where clocks first came from, we're going to tell you the mechanism, we're going to tell you the brands and then maybe we'll get around to telling you what time it is. And Gore and I are both guilty of that.

KING: Will Gore have a role in the campaign?

RICHARDS: I think Gore will probably always have some kind of role, but it's not going to be a big one.

KING: Who -- what do you think of your potential nominees? Now, Joe Lieberman said a new day has dawned with new possibilities. He's going to seriously consider it.

RICHARDS: Well the one I like of the whole bunch so far is Howard Dean, the governor of Vermont.

KING: I met him a couple of weeks ago. Why you to like him of the whole bunch?

RICHARDS: Well, he's the only one saying anything. I like candidates who tell me something that is going to make a difference to me.

And Howard Dean is a doctor. He knows all about medical care. And he's talking about health care in this country, which I think is important.

KING: But I would bet 90 percent of the viewing audience right now when you say his name said, who?

RICHARDS: Oh of course, they don't know Howard Dean from Adam.

KING: Well when are they going to know him?

RICHARDS: Well, they may not know him at all. He'll have to win a primary or two. You know, that's what that primary process is all about. And if he is successful in a couple of primaries, and his message catches on, and he raises a little money, then, Yes, they'll know who he is.

I don't know today, I'm just telling you of the group that I see, today, Howard Dean is the one that has a message.

KING: OK. Let's discuss some of the others. What do you think of Joe Lieberman?

RICHARDS: Well, I think Joe Lieberman is fine. He's a good Democrat, good, you know, good voting record.

KING: Very moderate Democrat.

RICHARDS: Not the most charismatic fellow I ever saw. The charisma is Edwards, charming, good-looking.

KING: He's the new Clinton.

RICHARDS: Socially -- there will never be another Clinton. He is one in a million jillion.

KING: Apples and oranges.

RICHARDS: Yes. Anyway, Edwards...

KING: But Edward has...

RICHARDS: He's charming. He works well whether it's at the steel mill or in the Park Avenue living room.

KING: Hurt by the fact that he's a trial lawyer?

RICHARDS: I kind of doubt it. I don't think that's going to hurt him. In fact, it probably helps him raise money. And money is the thing. You know, when you talk to people about this business of -- of the law and trial lawyers, they'll tell you if they go to court, they want the best trial lawyer they can get. You know, everybody wants it when it is them. It is when it's the other fellow that they complain.

KING: Bob Kerrey.

RICHARDS: I don't think Bob Kerrey is going to run for president.

KING: Oh, I think he -- I'm sorry, John Kerry. RICHARDS: John Kerry, yes. John Kerry, very attractive, very smart. Some of the mannerisms of Al Gore, which is difficult. He's going to have to get folks here. He's going to have to get -- feel like a part of the people.

KING: Best equipped in the area of international relationships and war and peace. right? I mean, he...

RICHARDS: No question.

KING: He's been there.

RICHARDS: Globally prepared. And extremely bright. You know, we're going to have to give him warmth lessons. Those kind of...

KING: So hard to draw you out.

RICHARDS: Well, I know. I know.

KING: Gephardt.

RICHARDS: Well, Gephardt, interestingly enough is going to look like he's doing pretty well because Iowa is that early primary.

KING: That will all change this year or next year, right?

RICHARDS: What is it...

KING: You're out of balance.

RICHARDS: But New Hampshire is first.

KING: Still first.

RICHARDS: Then doesn't Iowa still comes second?

KING: I think and then the southerns come in quicker.

RICHARDS: Right. But Iowa is placed so close to Missouri that Gephardt ought to do well in Iowa. If he doesn't do well in Iowa, he's dead. I mean, there is no question about that.

KING: So your favorite at this point is who?

RICHARDS: Well, I don't really have a favorite. The one I like who's saying something that is significant and matters is Howard Dean. Now, the rest of them may come up with something.

KING: Al Sharpton, serious or not?

RICHARDS: Well, I don't know whether he is or not, for God's sake.

KING: Well, wouldn't he affect the picture if he got in?

RICHARDS: I don't think much, no. I really don't. He's, you know, he is a brassy fighter, Al Sharpton is. And those fighters are people that do best at what they know best. And that is stay there in the community, raise hell and give politicians...

KING: Outside the door.

RICHARDS: Yes. It's a different thing than trying to become a candidate yourself.

KING: Should Daschle consider it?

RICHARDS: Well, I hope he doesn't because I think Daschle is valuable in the Senate. He works really well with all those senators. He knows how to bring them together in the caucus. I think it would be really tough for Tom Daschle to go out and get in this presidential race.

KING: We'll take a break with lots more to talk about with former Governor Ann Richards.

Tomorrow night, we have another interesting program in store for you. John Ashcroft and Ted Olson, the attorney general and the solicitor general of the United States on together. Kind of novel. It will happen here tomorrow.

And on Wednesday night, the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


GORE: I'm excited about the future. Of course, this has been probably the most difficult decision that I've ever made. You can probably guess a lot of the reasons for that, personal, political and all the rest.

But I am completely at peace with the decision. I believe it's the right thing for the country. I believe it's the right thing for the political party that I'm a member of and what I hope that political party will stand for.

And And I think that it's the right thing for me and my family.



KING: We're back with Governor Ann Richards. Maybe the most important topic of all, Iraq. We're going?

RICHARDS: Well it looks like to me he's going. I say "he" because I don't feel "we."

KING: You don't feel "we." What do you mean?

RICHARDS: Well when you say "we going," it would indicate "we" as a country.

KING: You don't back the commander-in-chief?

RICHARDS: I don't like this business of Iraq. I don't like the way it's been done.

KING: Explain.

RICHARDS: I want them to tell us what they know. If they do have the stuff, if the president has information that we need to have to know if we should wage war and be willing to send our children to die in it, they ought to tell us what is there.

All of this business of saying that these are evil people -- there's nobody in this country that has any love lost for Saddam Hussein. But by gosh, when you send your kid to be killed, you need to have a better reason than that.

KING: And they're going to have to tell -- you don't have faith that they would go to war without having sufficient reason? Without having proof?

RICHARDS: Well, so far, what they've said is if they don't find anything, it proves that they have it. I haven't been able to figure that one out.

So we've got, what, 100 inspectors over there from the United Nations. And so far they say they're cooperating, they're doing whatever they have to do and Hussein sent him 12,000 pages of information, they're pouring over it and translating and all of that stuff.

And so far we haven't heard another thing from the administration about what it is the administration knows that they have. I think they have to share that with the American public before they do this war.

KING: They say, the White House says Iraq will not have a second chance to detail its arms capabilities. It's now had its final opportunity to inform the world. Unclear about when the White House will have its official assessment of Iraq's report.

RICHARDS: Why does it make -- why doesn't it make just as much sense, instead of just saying they have to tell us what they have, why doesn't it make just as much sense for our leaders to say, here is what we know they have. That's what I want to hear.

KING: Are you questioning whether we know it?

RICHARDS: I don't know whether we do or not. Because the president hasn't told us. He's told us this is one bad dude and I'm ready to believe that. But I want to know what it is he knows that is going to take our kids and put them in harm's way in war.

KING: You know he's a bad dude, right? RICHARDS: I know he's a bad dude. And nobody in this country questions it. In fact, there is a bunch of bad dudes in this world. We got some bad ones over there in Korea, too. But we're not fixing to go bomb them.

I want to know -- I want the administration to come straight with us and believe that we have the capacity as people to accept what is the right thing to do if the evidence is there.

KING: Colin Powell, whom I know you admire...

RICHARDS: Yes, nice guy.

KING: He said in a London-based Arab newspaper, he said if Saddam cooperates, the basis of changed regime power is shifted because his regime has changed its policy. In other words, we're not going to try to force him out. If Saddam would just cooperate.

RICHARDS: Well, I don't know, you know, what they want him to do.

KING: They want him to show everything and stop any arms...

RICHARDS: We sent all those people over there to find out what they've got. I don't what else we can do.

KING: So you're saying Saddam's in the no-win?

RICHARDS: It seems to me that he is.

KING: No matter what he produces?

RICHARDS: Yes, it seems to me damned if you do and damned if don't.

But my assumption is that the team that has gone in from the United Nations is competent, they are made up of scientists from all over the world. Now, what we really hope for is if one of the scientists in Iraq will defect and tell us what he knows.

KING: That's a wish.

RICHARDS: That's a wish. That hasn't happened yet. But if the United States has information that justifies an invasion of Iraq, I think the administration needs to share that with us.

KING: Do you not believe in the president's sincerity?

RICHARDS: About what?

KING: About Iraq.

RICHARDS: I believe he believes that Saddam Hussein is a really bad dude. And I think he thinks that they have weapons of mass destruction. And I think he should share it with the American people. Other than his belief. Now, there have been elected officials who have said that they have seen things that the White House has that -- and don't think there is justification for going in. All I'm saying is if the White House has it, they ought to share it.

KING: Don't you think they're going to have to almost do that, say, the night before?

RICHARDS: Well, I don't know why they have to wait.

KING: Do you think they're going to have do it, just from...

RICHARDS: I just -- I cannot -- I just cannot imagine invading another country, the first strike and not giving the full information to the American people for doing it.

I talked to a woman the other day and I said, you know, this sounds so corny, but I was just thanking God that I -- that my grandchildren are as young as they are because I might be facing sending my grandkids to this deal. And she said, well, my son just registered.

KING: Is there still draft registration?

RICHARDS: Yes. You have to -- I guess you register in some form and you can go and volunteer but he is ready to go, she says if he needs to help his country.

KING: And what about the war on terrorism and Osama bin Laden? Where are they?

RICHARDS: Hey, you go figure. Tell me. Where is Osama bin Laden? Where is all of the -- who the enemy is that took those towers out? What are we doing there?

KING: I'll ask the secretary of defense on Wednesday.

RICHARDS: He'll tell you, you know they've got a network like they've never had before and they're doing da, da, da, da and we're still not big enough to catch Osama bin Laden, I gather.

KING: A lady came over to me last week and knew you would be on the program and asked if you would consider being chairman of the Democratic party.


KING: You got a better job.

RICHARDS: I've got a better job and besides that -- you know I've always told you, Larry, I think we need to move aside. I think young people need to come in...

KING: You like Terry McAuliffe?

RICHARDS: Yes, I like Terry. He did what he was supposed to do, he raised a lot of money.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Governor Ann Richards on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. John Ashcroft tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Governor Richards. She's now with Public Strategies Incorporated, a bipartisan lobbying public relations and consulting firm. And as we said, she has a book coming out in March, "I'm Not Slowing Down: Winning My Battle With Osteoporosis." We'll ask her a little about that in a while too.

OK, what do you make of the leaving of the top economic team?

RICHARDS: Well, they had to go. That was obvious. I mean, this country is in bad shape. Lots of people out of work. I saw a news story the other day in Baltimore, they advertised for something like 70 positions and they had 10,000 people show up. I mean, when you've got that kind of unemployment, the economy is -- it's headed south. And so far, no good coming from the administration.

KING: Now, when that happened to the president's father, his popularity waned and he lost the election.


KING: Why hasn't this president's popularity waned?

RICHARDS: Because there hasn't been any voice on the other side. I mean, all those elections that we lost in those last -- the midterm elections, Democrats didn't say anything. They didn't have any program. They were out there saying me too, but not so much.

KING: Is that because he's very popular and he acted nobly and boldly after 9/11 and ...

RICHARDS: I don't think it's that so much. You know, you -- Larry, in this country, if you've got somebody that's personable enough to look OK on television, that who can kind of stay on script and stay on message, and Bush is really good at that, and you don't have any opposition voice at all, then he's going to continue to look good. Why wouldn't he?

But I think as time goes on, things are going to be more difficult for him. Everybody said, Well, my God, look up, he now has the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judiciary. And I think it's the dog that's caught the truck. I mean...

KING: Too much -- I mean...

RICHARDS: When you got it all, you have to produce. You can't point to anybody else as being the reason it isn't happening. It's all in your lap.

KING: Was it economic -- was it Paul O'Neill and Larry Lindsey's fault?

RICHARDS: Well, they make a difference. They were the ones that's there.

And the other thing is, Larry, and, you know, I want to toot my horn and yet I don't, in what I do now, I try as best -- as best I know how to explain that the public has a larger role now than they have ever had before. The public knows and understands about corporations' business. The public is the broadest number of investors that we have ever had in this country. They pay attention. They are mindful to what is going on.

And that's what I do is to talk to corporations about the awareness they have to have about the public's influence and feelings about their business.

KING: And what does this equal, the fact that the public has more awareness means?

RICHARDS: It means that companies have got to be more mindful of the public impact on their actions.

Let me give you an example. When I was the treasurer of Texas, for two terms, it was the beginning of the time in which the people were paying attention to how pension funds were invested. You remember South Africa, and they started putting pressure on the -- and saying put -- do not invest in South Africa.

Well, now that is beginning to happen in a much broader base. So that companies are going to have to be mindful of their social responsibilities. They're going to have to be mindful how they conduct their business, i.e. Enron and the other companies who have had problems, because if they don't, it causes the government to react, and the next thing you know you're sitting there before an array of congressmen who are holding a hearing in your business.

And that's what I do. I help guide people through to be aware and improved of their public image.

KING: As I remember, though, you defended the chairman of Enron.


KING: You like him.

RICHARDS: Personally, I like Ken Lay a lot. And I still can't figure out how in God's name he could have been involved in that mess, but he obviously must have been.

KING: But as well as you know him, you would have trusted him?

RICHARDS: Oh, absolutely. Without question. Without question.

KING: Can other Enrons happen?

RICHARDS: Sure, I guess they can. But, you know, the Congress was trying very hard to pass pretty stringent rules on the SEC. Now, they passed the bill. I'm not sure how well that bill is going to be executed. They had to beat Bush over the head to get the money for enforcement money. And I don't think they've still gotten the full amount.

But if the SEC gets tough, then these corporations are going to pay attention. Bill Donaldson, you know, has just been named chairman.

KING: You like him?

RICHARDS: I like Bill. He sits on the board with me (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Former Chairman Arthur Levitt has been very critical of the SEC and how the public is being duped and what -- he's got a hit book out about that.

RICHARDS: I'm a great admirer of Arthur Levitt. I thought Arthur Levitt had -- I thought he was really tough and really strong. And the corporations are going to have to recognize and should recognize that sometimes when they lay out a bunch of rules, it's better to pay attention, because if you pay attention, you may save yourself a whole lot of heart ache.

KING: I gather you're against further tax cuts?

RICHARDS: Well, I think it's going to make the economy worse. I don't think there is any question about that. We're already seeing that homeland security, most of the local governments have not gotten a dime. Most of the states have not gotten any money to carry out homeland security. And that was what the president said was the most important thing in the last election.

So where are they going to get the money? How are we going to educate all these kids? Supposedly, education is one of the No. 1 things in the Bush administration, and so far we're not doing anything but giving them tests to see if they know something. I don't believe firmly, for myself, that tests are the way of educating a kid. You educate a kid with good personnel, good teachers, good principals who get paid a good salary.

KING: It measures in tests, though, doesn't it? How do you measure it?

RICHARDS: Actually, the schools have to teach the tests, Larry. You know, if they're going to get funded, their funding is based on how well the kids do on the tests. So what does the school have to do? It has to teach the tests. And now they are beginning to teach the teachers how to teach the tests. I talked to a guy the other day that is helping develop the materials to instruct the teaching personnel in teaching the tests the kids are going to take.


KING: We'll be right back with more of Governor Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with former Governor Ann Richards. Lots to talk -- still to talk about.

What do you make of the selection of Nancy Pelosi to be minority leader in the House?

RICHARDS: Well, of course, I'm an unabashed admirer and friend of Nancy Pelosi. I think she's going to do a terrific job.

And one of the reasons I think she's going to do very well is that they underestimate her, the press does. And, you know, that's one of the things that helped Bush is that they underestimated him and so if he did anything, he would look better.

KING: OK, we're going have a 9/11 investigation commission that had Mr. Kissinger who resigned because he didn't want to tell his clients. George Mitchell resigned because he it would be a conflict and now we have Tom Kane, former governor of New Jersey. I guess you know him pretty well.

RICHARDS: Yes, I do. I know Tom Kane.

KING: Good man, right?

RICHARDS: Yes. Good guy.

KING: And Lee Hamilton is going to be the vice chairman.

RICHARDS: And Lee Hamilton, wonderful guy.

KING: So is that to your liking?

RICHARDS: Well, I don't -- you know, I don't really know. The difference is going to be made in how much support and how much money that commission is given to do its investigation. If it's given half- hearted support, well then nothing's going to come out. And if they really do their job and there's a lot of support from the administration, then we may learn a lot.

KING: Are you hopeful?

RICHARDS: Yes, I suppose so.

KING: You think there is a lot to learn.

RICHARDS: But you know what? I don't really want to get into some blame calling. I think if they have a commission like this, it ought to be meaningful in the sense that we learn something, so that if anything like this ever should occur to us again, we are better prepared than we were before.

If the FBI can learn something or the CIA or the fire departments or the police departments, something of value that will be productive -- but if it is one of those to finger pointing deals, I don't have much interest in that.

KING: Anything to the allegations that charity money from the Saudi princess and the wife of the Saudi ambassador got to the hands of the hijackers?

RICHARDS: I have no -- you know, I have no idea. I think it is important to remember that the majority of those people came from Saudi Arabia.

I think that probably the wife of the ambassador probably didn't know jack. She probably signed checks and said, You know, what a sad story and I'm happy to help somebody from my homeland and all that. But I would think that it was a very good ruse. It would be a very good shield and a cover to be able to distribute money that way.

KING: We're catching up on things with Governor Richards. What do you make of the Cardinal Law and Catholic Church and this mess?

RICHARDS: Well, of course, I'm just horrified. Just horrified. I can't even -- I can't even begin to understand it.

And it was obviously, Larry, in reading all of the newspapers with Cardinal Law, there was enough of it or so much of it that it was just one of those ho-hum, well, you know, everybody does a little...

KING: But how do you explain that? You see them harming a boy and you reassign them.

RICHARDS: I just think it's absolutely hocking and disgusting and makes you so sad that these guys up there get up and pontificate and have people kiss to him in their robe and participate in that kind of thing.

KING: Can you find any rationale for a...

RICHARDS: I really can't. I can't find any at all.

But you have to understand that I have a kind of personal kernel here in me on the issue of a woman's right to choose, whether or not she's going to bear children or not.

That those guys, who have not borne children, who have not been married and had a family they had to support, can't possibly know what it's like for poor women who go through pregnancy after pregnancy, to tell us that somehow it is God's law that we can't get an abortion.

KING: You think the church is ready to clean house?

RICHARDS: I think that -- no, I do not.


RICHARDS: Absolutely not. I don't think they're ready to clean house. I think they've done what they absolutely had to do in this case and I'm really glad that they did it. But I think the country -- I know that the country is horrified and sickened by having a lot of Catholic friends who just feel absolutely terrible about it. But there's no religion -- here is no religion that is free from it. What was that guy's name, that evangelist on television. Swaggart, you remember him?

KING: Jimmy Swaggart.

RICHARDS: Yes, you know, and what her name? And what's her name? You had her on here with the big eyelashes.

KING: Yes, but they were above age, at least.


KING: Yes. At least the people they dealt with...

RICHARDS: Yes, but they said one thing and did another.

KING: Oh, hypocrisy.

RICHARDS: Yes, makes me sick.

KING: When are we going to see a female president?

RICHARDS: In my lifetime.

KING: How old are you, Ann?

RICHARDS: I'm 69. I'll be 70...

KING: Me too.

RICHARDS: year. I know, we've just begun.

KING: In our young lifetime, we're going to see a woman president?

RICHARDS: I think so. I think we are. I'm not sure who it is. But, yes. She'll come along.

KING: From either party?

RICHARDS: From either party. Absolutely. In fact, I think if Bush drops Cheney, which he's likely to do, I think Bush might be looking for a woman this next time.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Governor Ann Richards right after this.


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Governor Ann Richards. I mentioned Colin Powell earlier saying if they did everything, comply, we don't want to throw Saddam out. But now he's become the first senior Bush administration official to say publicly that there are problems with Iraq's declaration to the United Nations about its weapons program. And a news conference in Washington, he said, we said at the beginning we approached it with skepticism and the information I have received so far is that skepticism is well founded.

Do you trust Colin Powell?

RICHARDS: I like Colin Powell. And all I want him to do is to tell us what they know. Just -- don't allude to things. Don't just say, well, they didn't -- they're evil.


RICHARDS: Just go ahead and tell us. What is it you got?

KING: Why did you go to Cuba?

RICHARDS: I went to Cuba -- this is the second time this year. I went with a group called the Center for National Policy. And the purpose was to look at the effects of the embargo on the Cuban people and write a report.

KING: Forty year embargo.

RICHARDS: Yes, 40 years of the embargo and, of course it was supposed to bring Castro down, it didn't, and It isn't going to. And the result of it is that there is some sort of sad and severe things going on in Cuba that that embargo effects. Health care for children, for example, it is kind of heart breaking to see.

And I think slowly but surely we ought to re-examine that policy. Jimmy Carter went down and came to the same conclusion that there are pieces of that embargo that we could lift. During the last hurricane we lifted the food stuff embargo. And we should be doing that in piecemeal fashion until...

KING: Are they a healthy country?

RICHARDS: I like the people very much, very much. You don't see any rich people. You know, and you don't see any destitute people. They're all just a -- all economically the same.

KING: Communism.

RICHARDS: What breaks your heart is that it is such a jewel, Havana is so beautiful. The architecture just takes your breath away. It is just crumbling, you know, really sad.

KING: How are you doing with osteoporosis?

RICHARDS: My spine now is normal as a consequence of medication, exercise, and diet.

KING: You improved. RICHARDS: I have improved it.

KING: Are you saying Osteoporosis is curable?

RICHARDS: I'm saying Osteoporosis is something that you can do something about.

KING: Briefly define it.

RICHARDS: Well, it is a softening of the bones and as you age.

KING: More affects women, right?

RICHARDS: Women after menopause because of the loss of estrogen. Men get it too, though. And a lot of cases I will be hairline fractures, you'll see people who are sort of bent over stooped.

KING: Curvature of the spine.

RICHARDS: That's a consequence of those little hairline fractures. But weight-bearing exercise can build bone, build strength and that's what I do. I was in a gym this morning.

KING: Are they good drugs?

RICHARDS: There are very good drugs. I take one drug and I make speeches for Eli Lilly about the drug I take which is Evista. There is another one called Fosamax and Actonel. And all drugs can do wonders. And of course, you have to drink milk. I have coffee with milk in it to trick myself into trick myself into drinking milk because I don't like the stuff.

KING: You won't take a drink?


KING: How long?

RICHARDS: Twenty-two years. I got my 22-year chip just last week.

KING: Chip?

RICHARDS: Yes, after every year you can go to an AA meeting and they give you a coin.

KING: You still go to meetings?

RICHARDS: Yes, sure I do.

KING: Although you're not anonymous.

RICHARDS: I don't go very often but I go.

KING: What do you think of your former fellow governor winning the Nobel Peace Prize? RICHARDS: I just loved it. Didn't you love that?


RICHARDS: Didn't you love that, seeing him out on that balcony and all those people -- where is it, Stockholm, I guess.

KING: Oslo.

RICHARDS: I know, he absolutely loved it. I saw him here the other night. He -- we gave him an award from Apsen Institute for the Henry Crown Fellow Award, and he was terrific.

KING: What do you think his place is in America?

RICHARDS: Well you know...

KING: I mean, no one says what a great president he was.

RICHARDS: No, because I think because he paid so much attention to detail. But -- well, he certainly is the most distinguished of our former presidents because of his good works since he left the White House. He's slowly moving toward Mother Teresa and sainthood.

KING: Yes, these are good words. Your a good lady.

The honorable Ann Richards. The former governor of Texas. The guy who beat her was a fellow named Bush. And she now with Public Strategies Inc., and has a book coming out called "I'm Not Slowing Down: Winning my Battle With Osteoporosis."

Tomorrow night, the attorney general and solicitor general together, John Ashcroft and Ted Olson.

And Wednesday night, the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. And Thursday night, Mariah Carey. Not a bad week.

Stay tuned now for Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT." I'm Larry King for Ann Richards in New York, good night.


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