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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Recap of State of the Union Speech

Aired January 28, 2003 - 22:45   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DENNIS HASTERT (R-IL), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Members of Congress, I have the high privilege and the distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST: And good evening and welcome to a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, following this State of the Union address by President George W. Bush tonight in Washington.

We have a great array of guests. We'll be meeting lots of people, talking to them about the occurrences of the night, the events of the day. We start with Senator John McCain. He's in the Senate Gallery. Of course, if you don't know John McCain, you're on another planet, the Republican of Arizona, member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

First, your response to Senator Kennedy's statement, almost immediately following the speech, that he wants Congress to reapprove going to war in Iraq. What do you make of that?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Well, I think that Senator Kennedy had ample time during the debate that went on.

I'm not sure what has changed, except for the fact that Saddam Hussein has not cooperated in this inspections regime. So, I think Senator Kennedy, besides his sentiments against the United States entering into a possible conflict with Iraq, would have to give us some more concrete and compelling reasons to revisit the resolution.

KING: In other words, complete to your resolution, it's fine? You don't need any more information?

MCCAIN: No.

In fact, I think that, since we passed the resolution by very large majorities through both houses of Congress, that Saddam Hussein has proven to be unwilling to comply with this Security Council resolution. Remember, he went to Congress first and then the Security Council. The Security Council resolution clearly called upon him to cooperate. And to most objective observers, he has not cooperated. Now, whether we should continue to try to get that cooperation or not is a subject of debate. But there's very little debate that there's not been the cooperation that the Security Council resolution called for.

KING: What's your overall read on the speech?

MCCAIN: I think the key phrase here -- first of all, domestic issues are obviously overwhelmed by this looming situation with Iraq.

And I think the key phrase that the president used, which I think may have gotten a lot of people's attention all over the world, including Baghdad, is, America's course will not be determined by the decision of others. And I think you could interpret that to mean that we will go to the United Nations. Secretary Powell will go next week. And yet, if the United States is not satisfied that the resolution is being complied with, then I think it's very likely the president will make a decision to intervene militarily.

One other point: The president, in his speech, appealed to both our interests and our values. When he talked about the threat that Saddam Hussein poses to us in the form of the acquisition of mass destruction, cooperating with terrorists, etcetera, he appealed to our interests. But our values are also important. And a free Iraq, Iraq that is a free country, free from the oppression and repression and brutality and genocide practiced by this regime, is something that is also -- that Americans would cherish as well.

KING: Are you happy that they, apparently, are going to declassify some data; more information will be forthcoming, not only from Secretary Powell, but apparently to the Congress from the administration?

MCCAIN: Well, I think they need to, Larry. They read the same polls that you and I do, that Americans are very nervous about this. Americans were very nervous in 1991. And Americans are justifiably nervous whenever we're going to send our young men and women into harm's way.

So I think it's appropriate for them to -- in fact, it will probably be extremely helpful to provide more information.

KING: Was the term axis of evil, in retrospect, a mistake or warranted?

MCCAIN: Oh, I think, perhaps, if they had to do it all over again, they might not.

I was a bit disappointed in the president's comments about Korea. It will take a lot more than doing away with their weapons of mass destruction before that Stalinist regime has any respectability. They've got to stop starving two million of their people to death before they'll gain any respectability.

And I believe that the president should have gone one step further and say, we'll go and call for economic sanctions against North Korea, because they're clearly in violation of their commitment to us and the Nonproliferation Treaty as well.

KING: Were you, therefore, surprised that, basically, he only gave one paragraph to North Korea?

MCCAIN: No, because the administration has clearly decided to put the Korean crisis -- and it is a severe crisis -- on the back burner while -- until the Iraq situation is taken care of. I think that's a mistake.

KING: Is this new policy of preemptive action -- if that's the new policy, what do you make of it?

MCCAIN: I make that...

KING: That we will act first?

MCCAIN: I make of it an appreciation of the fact that we are no longer protected by two oceans, as we were for over 200 years. And when nations acquire a capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction in a matter of seconds or minutes, then we have to be far more aware of the threats to our national security.

I think a great debate has to go on on this issue of preemption, because, as you know, Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons. I don't think that we have to do anything preemptively there, although we hope they don't go to war with each other.

So, it's going to be a nuanced kind of a situation. It's going to require some debate. And I'm not sure we'll be ever totally clear on whether preemption is called for or not. But it's something that is a recognition and the new realities of the range and lethality of weapons of mass destruction.

KING: Senator, do you see any way out of this, other than war, I mean, the way things look?

MCCAIN: The way things look, there's always the 1-50 chance that Saddam Hussein may go to another country, as the Saudis and others have urged him. There's always the chance that he finds himself on the road to Damascus and realizes that he will go unless he changes. But his entire history indicates that that's a very unlikely scenario.

I hate to give odds, but I think the president of the United States made it very clear tonight that, unless there is some change, and pretty quickly, that he's likely to make that decision.

KING: How do you think France and Germany and maybe Russia will react to the go-it-alone statement?

MCCAIN: I think it will be very interesting to see, particularly how the French act, if we actually go.

I think it's clear what the Germans have decided, perhaps for more domestic political reasons than national security reasons. The Russians, I think, eventually will not exercise a veto. But we will have the British. We'll have the former Soviet Union countries that are new members of NATO. We'll have Turkey. We'll have other countries in the region.

And I believe that the administration will be working very hard to build that coalition in the period of time between now and if -- and the time if we decide to go militarily.

KING: Some other things. Anything in the speech surprise you?

MCCAIN: No. I think it was pretty much as we expected. I think it was very well-written and well-delivered.

And I think that the president's passion and his concern about what he's about to embark on, apparently, was made very clear. I think he made a good case to the American people and I think it will probably be reflected in the polls overnight.

KING: How about the attention he spent on -- and I don't think anyone forecast this -- on AIDS and Africa?

MCCAIN: Well, the president has realized -- and Colin Powell's influence here has also been very important, as well as Condoleezza Rice's -- that AIDS is an epidemic, that we do have an obligation.

Very frankly, there are some of us like me that regret that we allowed the genocide to take place in Rwanda, that we have neglected Africa for a long period of time. And so I was a little surprised at the emphasis, but I'm glad that he gave it that degree of importance.

KING: Senator, always good seeing you. And thanks for joining us.

MCCAIN: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona.

When we come back: Senator Bill Frist. Dr. Frist is the new Senate majority leader, Republican of Tennessee.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will consult, but let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are now joined by, arguably, the president's best friend on Capitol Hill, Senator Bill Frist. Dr. Frist is the Republican of Tennessee and the Senate majority leader.

How do you like the job so far?

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: You know, it's only been 2 1/2 weeks. But we've been pretty successful to date, so I've been pleased so far.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: All right, what do you make of Senator Kennedy's proposal, made almost immediately after the speech, that Congress take a vote again on going to Iraq?

FRIST: Well, I think the president made it pretty clear that the ultimate decision is up to Saddam Hussein. And that is to disarm or to suffer the consequences.

The fact that the president laid out that Secretary Powell will be going to the Security Council next week, making the case, left doors open. But I interpreted it that a vote was probably not in the making; at the end of the day, the president would decide what's in the best interests of the safety of the American people and lead a coalition to disarm Saddam Hussein.

KING: So, the Kennedy proposal is unnecessary?

FRIST: It's absolutely unnecessary. And I think we'll see what the response is, in terms of the American people, to the presidents statement.

But being there on the floor tonight, it was very powerful, this nexus between weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, which is so unique in terms of what we're seeing today in Iraq, was spelled out. There was some other evidence given. And I think that he was very believable. He was bold. He was courageous, and, again, said that he was going to lead -- and, yes, lead -- and there would be coalition and it would be in the best interests of the American people.

KING: Do you like the idea of declassifying a lot of information that has been classified to make both you and the House and the public more aware of what's going on?

FRIST: One of the frustrations, I think -- and I'm sure it is for the president, for the administration, and for us, to some extent, because we go into these closed-door briefings, these classified briefings.

And they have to be, because, if you start talking too much and put too much information on the table, Saddam Hussein, in this cat- and-mouse-deceit manner of hiding weapons of mass destruction, will be given information that will allow him to continue to play this game, catch-as-catch-can, as Hans Blix said.

So, there's a fine line. And I support there being some unclassified -- or some declassification of information. But I think there's only so far you can go, given the fact that we've got tens of thousands of service men and women in the area now and we have a serial killer who has used chemical weapons, both on his own people, as well as invaded two sovereign countries around him. When he's in charge and he has the weapons of mass destruction, I think there's only so far you can go.

KING: Senator, Doctor, beyond his going into exile, do you see any way out of this other than war?

FRIST: Yes, I think the president is turning up the heat. There's no question that he's making the case and his administration is making the case that, at the end of the day, this man must absolutely disarm or suffer those consequences.

We are all very hopeful. We've prayed. The president didn't declare war tonight. We all hope and pray that Saddam Hussein will leave, step down, turn his regime over, and, clearly, that's what we'd like to see, and that is one of the goals of the president.

But, if not, as Secretary Powell said, as the president has said, time is running out.

KING: And what's the goal, Dr. Frist, after that? What's the after game?

FRIST: Well, I think there -- and, again, having been -- had the opportunity to listen a lot as to the post-military intervention scenario, I am very comfortable, in part because the country itself does have a lot of resources itself in terms of oil, that the -- post- war, if we go there, reconstruction will go very, very well.

I believe it has the potential for leading to stabilization in the region, stabilization even beyond the region, and maybe most importantly -- most importantly, it will separate this nexus that is so threatening us -- for us today, this nexus of these weapons of mass destruction, of anthrax, which we know he has had, of botulinum toxin, which -- we know he loaded over 6,000 liters on these warheads -- separating that nexus from terrorists that we know can travel all over the world, including right here on the soil of the United States of America.

KING: And one other thing, Senator. Did you have input into the health portion of the speech?

FRIST: You know, I did not have direct input. But let me just tell you the biggest surprise to me -- and it's something that, I think, five years from now looking back and I know 30 years now looking back, what will probably be most remarkable is this president's unprecedented commitment to combating global HIV-AIDS, a little tiny virus that, when I was in medical school, didn't exist. Nineteen eight-one was the first time we figured out what this virus was.

It is wiping out a continent. It is wiping out a people. It has killed 23-million people. This president has taken a program that just three years go, we were spending $159 million on before he took office and now going to be spending $3-1/2 billion a year in order to kill this little virus and save the lives of millions and millions and millions of people. KING: Thank you, Senator. As always, good seeing you.

FRIST: Good to be with you, Larry.

KING: Dr. Bill Frist, the majority leader of the United States Senate.

When we come back, we'll check in with Christiane Amanpour in Tel Aviv, and then meet Senators Joe Biden, Dianne Feinstein.

And later, Senators John Warner and Mitch McConnell.

all ahead on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE following the State of the Union.

Stay right there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are now joined by Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent, on the scene in Tel Aviv where she has covered the Israeli elections earlier.

What's the response there to the speech tonight, Christiane?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, no official response, although the speech was covered on Israeli television live, and, of course, here, most of the people are eager to see a war in Iraq that would unseat Saddam Hussein and disarm him.

But that's certainly not the case for the rest of the Middle East and, indeed, many, many other countries around the world.

And let's just say, while we are standing here, you know, the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and the daily images that are portrayed around the Middle East of what goes on here is responsible for inflaming passions around this world -- this part of the world and really contributing to the feeling of anti-Americanism right now.

And people are saying, you know, why does this administration so unreservedly support this side and then wants to go to war against another side. So those are the kinds of debates that are going on.

I was struck by the speech, though, that twice President Bush made clear that he was going to go it alone, if that's what it took. In two parts of the speech on Iraq, that is what he said, and I think that that is something that makes people around the world very uncomfortable. Clearly, people are going to want to see another U.N. resolution, despite the authority that the current resolution gives in terms of acting and intervention, if the resolution is violated.

But, certainly, people are going to want to see that because what they don't like is this sense of an administration that pursues unilateralist policies, says that it's consulting, negotiating, and trying to get on to a coalition, but, if it doesn't work, then it will go alone.

People are very anxious and have been for a long time under this administration because it's perceived that this administration has a somewhat finger-wagging-jump-to-preemptive-war kind of side of diplomacy when it doesn't like what's going on in the world.

People see it as a little bit aggressive, and they're very anxious, not just in the Middle East, but in China, Russia, Europe. You've seen and read the stories for many, many months now.

KING: Why does -- is -- why is Israel so in favor of a preemptive strike which, in fact, should -- should Iraq counterattack, Israel would probably be the one that gets hit.

AMANPOUR: Well, yes, they do believe that that's a possibility. The Israelis insist that they are well prepared against that. They have their own anti-missile systems. There's American anti-missile systems here as well.

But, of course, Israel has something of a score to settle Iraq. In the last Gulf War, Scuds were fired here. It didn't cause as much damage as it could have done, but there is a feeling of unfinished business.

And let's say, even though much of the world, certainly the people on the street, the population's public opinion is against military intervention in Iraq, there is similarly no sympathy for Saddam that you can discern around the world.

People are very, very conscious that, you know, he has brought a great deal of hardship to his people, certainly over the last 10 years with the military adventures that have led to the situation we're in right now.

So there's not that much sympathy that one can discern, but there is a sense of being very afraid of what a war -- another war here could lead to.

And it might also be said that really people around the world have somewhat similar views to what the Americans are saying. While a majority -- as you know, polls in America say that people are not opposed and would back a military intervention in Iraq. That number goes down quite significantly when they're asked would you support if it America went alone, and that's shaping up to be a key sentiment around the world.

KING: Thank you, Christiane, as always. Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent, in Tel Aviv.

Joining us now in Washington and our studios, Senator Joe Biden, Democrat of Delaware, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relationships Committee, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, member of the Select Committee on Intelligence and the ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information.

Senator Biden, what's your initial response to the State of the Union speech?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE. RANKING MEMBER: Well, I think, like most State of the Unions, it doesn't have much detail and -- nor is it expected to.

The most important thing I heard tonight with regard to Iraq was the president said that Secretary Powell is going to, when it convenes, the Security Council meeting, present more evidence as to why Saddam still possesses the weapons, and using the phrase that Secretary Powell has used before I translated that to mean keeping this the world's problem, not just our problem.

And so that's the most important thing I heard the president say tonight relative to Iraq. Everything else he said has been basically what he's been saying up to now.

KING: Senator Feinstein, Senator Kennedy has called for Congress to -- what's the term -- reapprove action in Iraq. Do you favor that?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), SELECT CMTE. ON INTELLIGENCE: Well, he spoke about it a little bit in the Democratic caucus today. I'm not sure about that, and I'll tell you why.

I think it would be -- if we were to lose it, I think that would be a real problem. I think, right now, the eyes should be on the Security Council.

I think one of the things the president left out is how do we work with whether we provoke the very events we're trying to prevent, and, secondly, what the endgame really is.

If he is going to go to war in a nation that -- whose history shows it has never had a democracy -- it has rival tribes. It has -- minorities often are antagonistic. Gow we are going to create a government that's going to work and function and bring about a democracy after we've destroyed the infrastructure of the country and destroyed the government infrastructure as well?

That's a hard bill to fill, and so my hope is that there will not be a unilateral attack.

Listening to the president tonight, I would say he's 85 percent there. The meeting, as Joe pointed out, with the United Nations Security Council -- I really think it's important that any actions be taken multilaterally and that the intelligence be more precise and less vague than it has been up to this point at least.

KING: Senator Biden, you had a passionate speech today on the floor of the Senate. You said Bush's choice of words and failure to clearly explain the choices we have when we do act have been dangerous to our standing in the world. Did he assuage at all your argument by his speech tonight?

BIDEN: Well, no, but I don't think this is the speech where he would assuage it. I think what he did -- he didn't use the inflammatory rhetoric.

And, by the way, the reason why it's important that we keep this the world's problem is the point that Senator Feinstein made just a moment ago, and that is the military is acknowledging it's going to require us to have roughly 75,000 forces in Iraq after we defeat Saddam Hussein for 18 months to three years at a cost of about $20 billion a year.

I don't want that to be only our problem, and I want other folks to understand that this is not just us because the truth of the matter is the Arab world would like to see Saddam go, the truth of the matter is so would most of the European nations.

But the fact of the matter is, when it appears as though we're basing it on some doctrine of preemption, people go, whoa, that's a -- that's a frightening prospect.

What they really want to know and the president did say tonight -- and I was very pleased. He said, look, this is a guy who waged a war, lost a war, sued for peace on the condition of essentially a peace agreement -- was called a U.N. resolution, but it's essentially a peace treaty, was you let me stay in power, I'll give up my weapons.

If we do not enforce that with the world along with us, then what we do is we make a mockery of the efficacy of the U.N. in the future, and so that's another reason why we should do it with the U.N.

The last point I'd like to make, Larry, is I am -- I know some of my colleagues think I'm too much of an optimist, but you remember, Larry, I was on your show and I predicted we would get a U.N. resolution. I predicted the president would go to the U.N.

I predict to you that with a little bit of help from the president and a little change in tactic here that Colin Powell will be able to get a second resolution at the United Nations, and that's important.

KING: Speaking of power, Senator Feinstein, are you surprised that he has suddenly joined the chorus, so to speak, and become as hawkish as the rest?

FEINSTEIN: Yes, I was very surprised, to be very candid with you. I had thought that his diplomatic skills could prevail. I thought he could bring along France and Germany, enable the Security Council to really see how important it is that they compel compliance, that they add their credible threat of force to the arms inspection, and we haven't achieved that quite yet.

And, of course, the danger -- and I know this administration believes in unilateralism and preemption and -- but it carries an enormous future danger for us, and that is that if this nation goes it alone against an Arab nation, it will create a chasm and a divide, the consequences of which we cannot begin to imagine...

KING: But...

FEINSTEIN: ... for a long time to come.

KING: But you've already -- but you've already signed off on that, haven't you?

FEINSTEIN: Well, no, I haven't signed off on it. I...

KING: You voted yea.

FEINSTEIN: Yes, I voted yea. I -- well, let me -- I voted for the Levin resolution which is two steps, going back to the United Nations.

When that lost, I did vote for this resolution because the president, a couple of weeks before, had signaled by his appearance at the United Nations and by his own words that we will lead a coalition, and I, of course, believed that that coalition was going to be through the United Nations.

And I felt that, for the first time, we had a president that was going to work multilaterally, was going to use the leadership prowess of the United States, the diplomacy talents of this great country to bring our allies together so that we spoke with one voice and that that would be the most potent way to force disarmament and force regime change, and I'll still hopeful that that might take place.

KING: We'll hold Senators Biden and Feinstein, and we'll be joined by Senators John Warner and Mitch McConnell when we come back on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE following tonight's State of the Union address. Back at our regular time tomorrow night, 8:00 Eastern.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy and it is not an option.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're balancing it out tonight as we always do on CNN. Two Republican senators earlier. Two Democratic senators will remain with us as two Republican senators join us. It will all work out.

Senator Joe Biden, Democrat of Delaware, and Senator Feinstein, Democrat of California remain, and we're joined by Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, the Senate majority whip.

Senator Warner, what -- your overall read on the president's speech.

SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA), ARMED SERVICES CMTE. CHAIRMAN: Well, Larry, this was the 25th State of the Union I've been privileged to be present in that chamber, and I was proud of our president. He was calm, he was confident.

And he took another very important step to try and keep this situation in Iraq on track with the diplomatic solution as the option we all hope will work. But he made it very clear that if Saddam Hussein does not show clear and convincing compliance with the United Nations, then Saddam Hussein brings upon himself the use of force.

Now about this Kennedy resolution, let me tell you, under the Constitution, our president has the right to conduct foreign affairs. He is doing it very carefully, thoughtfully, and consistent with his commitments when we last voted with 77 senators supporting him.

Any senator today that calls for that resolution to have a second vote on the floor of the Senate would have to show me and show the country where Saddam Hussein has changed to justify a single vote of the 77 to be switched.

KING: Senator McConnell, is it your feeling, based on his speech tonight, that, barring some unforeseen developments, war is inevitable.

SEN. MITCHELL MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY WHIP: Well, I think that's up to Saddam Hussein.

You know, for 12 years, he's been dodging the U.N. resolutions that were passed back in 1991, which he agreed to. The president cataloged all of the weapons that we know that he has that have not been destroyed, added an interesting addendum related to evidence we have of a relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda.

I think the president made a very strong case tonight, and I think it's clear that Saddam Hussein is going to be disarmed. He'll either cooperate in that venture, or it will be done for him.

KING: And must it be with auth -- U.N. auth -- must there be a coalition, Senator McConnell?

MCCONNELL: Well, look, we already went to the U.N. once. It's not required that we go back. I think we will have coalition. It may not be quite as large as some would like, but there will be others helping us.

KING: Senator Feinstein, does that square with your view?

FEINSTEIN: Well, it's not really square with my view, no. I think war really should be a last resort. I think we have a credible threat of use of force. I think the world community has to weigh in.

I -- I am very concerned by the fact that the great bulk of the world is not supportive of what the United States is doing, and I think that it is true that this is a ruthless dictator, that he is not really supported by his own people, and that there should be a change.

The question is how you do it and what that means for the future.

You know, one battle isn't the war, and we've got a whole series of battles. The war on terror is far from one.

What's happening in the fundamentalist Islamic world could be a major problem down the line for the United States and the entire Western world. So you can't just consider one thing in isolation.

And the more I learn about this, the more I have intelligence briefings, the more I read about the history, I've come to the real conclusion that the heart of the solution lies with the Security Council of the U.N., and that Security Council has to rally forward, or as I think -- as others have said, it becomes a paper tiger.

KING: Senator Warner, do you agree?

WARNER: You know, I'm listening patiently to my good friends and colleagues.

BIDEN: You haven't heard a word from me, so don't...

WARNER: Yes. Well, hold on.

KING: I'm coming to Joe right after you.

WARNER: I -- and I want to give Joe the opportunity to say -- to both of you -- what has Saddam Hussein done in 12 years but, most importantly, in the last two months of these inspections, in any way to justify that we sit and wait and wait?

Time is on his side. He can distribute his current arsenal of weaponry to terrorist groups. It is not in the interest of the world to sit idle while he thumbs his nose at the United Nations. So show me what he has done to justify another resolution, another period of waiting.

FEINSTEIN: Well, I...

KING: Joe Biden.

FEINSTEIN: Excuse me.

KING: Joe, you want to respond?

BIDEN: Look, I think that's a bit of a non-sequitur. The president himself said we're not going to go alone tonight. I take him at his word, number one.

Number two, the president of the United States did not declare war tonight. He is going to let the inspectors continue to do their job. He did not end it as John's implying he ended it.

Number three, he, the president, obviously thinks the inspectors warrant a little more time, or he would have called it an end.

Number four, he said that Colin Powell's going to go on the 5th. So he's, obviously, going back to the -- not me, not Dianne Feinstein, the president of the United States, unlike John Warner, thinks we should go back to the United Nations.

So it's kind of fascinating to me this is a false argument that's going on among us here.

The fact of the matter is the president's going about it at this point the right way, in my view, number one.

Number two, the president of the United States, I believe, has the opportunity to make a much more compelling case than was appropriately to be made tonight, and I think he will do that. He will present additional evidence, other than what he had tonight, including significant circumstantial evidence as to what Saddam Hussein is doing.

And the last point I'd like to make to everyone here -- and I think we all agree on it -- is we can either do this the hard way or the easy way. We're going to do it one way or another. Everyone here would agree it's easier if we have the rest of the world with us.

It's easier in part because everyone here knows what none of them are telling their constituents. None of us are telling our constituents, nor is the president, that we're going to be there with 75,000 troops for somewhere between a year and a half and three years.

Now I think we have to pay that price, but I also think, coming from a generation that learned one thing, no matter how good a foreign policy is it cannot be sustained without the...

KING: We're...

BIDEN: ... informed consent of the...

KING: Unfortunately...

BIDEN: ... American people.

KING: We're out of time. We're going to do a lot more on this in the days ahead and expect to call on all four of you for a return visit and spend a more lengthy time with us.

Senators Biden, Feinstein, Warner, and McConnell.

We'll take a break. And, when we come back, Judith Miller of "The New York Times" and Kevin Peraino of "Newsweek." He is in Kuwait. She is in New York. They'll be with us.

And still to come, former Senators Alan Simpson and George McGovern. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUSH: Take one vile, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever know. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us now in New York, Judith Miller, correspondant "New York Times," author -- co-author of the best seller "Germs: Biological Weapons and Amercia's Secret War."

And in Kuwait is Kevin Peraino, correspondent for "Newsweek." It'a already daylight there in Kuwait. What was the reaction there to the speech, Kevin?

KEVIN PERAINO, "NEWSWEEK": Well, most people slept through. It was on at 5 in the morning here. But you can predict what the reaction will be. Kuwait's an interesting place because on the one hand, there's a lot of this residual support for the Americans because of what happened 12 years ago. and officially you see it in the streets.

There are signs that say "God bless America and its allies." There are -- newspapers run full-page pictures of Kuwaitis hugging American soldiers in the aftermath of that war. i was at somebody's house the other day, a Kuwaiti man, who had a framed portrait of George H.W. Bush. So on the one hand you see that kind of support.

On the other hand, though, you do get this sense that there's a kind of creeping, suspicion of American intentions in the area and you do see a surprising amount of questioning of the Americans' purposes. And you also see some actual terrorists attacks. We've seen three shooting in the last three months. and so there is a kind of active al Qaeda sympathizer element here as well.

KING: Judith, in your area of expertise, based on this speech tonight, how did he deal with the bioterrorism issue? Is this a growing concern?

JUDITH MILLER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well I think it really occupied a large part of his speech. He talked about the biodefenses that the United States has already begun to mount, the use of air quality -- EPA sniffers, to kind of sniff the air and let us know whether or not anything usual is there.

He unveiled a new initiative, Larry. That's the $6 billion project Bioshield, which was something we hadn't heard about. That's going to be a request to Congress to give the administration $6 billion dollars worth of leeway in terms of rushing vaccines and anitbiotics on to the market if and when the nation ever needs it.

So he's really placed a lot of emphasis on this area. And when talked about Mohammad Atta, for example, you remember he said, What if he had, the people crashed into the building had a canister of deadly germs?

What's interesting to me is that the president increasingly in this administration increasing conflates those two things: weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. They speak increasingly about weapons of mass terror. And yet the link that the administration has established so far between al Qaeda and terrorism directed at us, Americans, is pretty weak, pretty circumstantial at this point.

KING: Do you think you might hear more next week though?

MILLER: No, I think we're going to hear a lot more because I think the polls show that there's a lot of concern about whether or not we're lashing out at someone who so far has not targeted the United States.

KING: Kevin, what is the mood of the troops there in Kuwait? there are over 20,000, right?

PERAINO: Yes, that's right. Well, it's pretty good. It depends who you talk to. Surprisingly there's not a whole lot to do. There's a lot of waiting around. They have these training maneuvers that are out in the desert near the border with Kuwait (sic). It's pretty bleak there. I mean, It's just sand and sky for as far as you can see.

But, you know, when you're back at base camp there's a lot of things to do to keep busy. They've got these tents with PlayStations and big screen TVs, in some cases and so -- you know, they do what they can to keep busy.

KING: Judith, what, in your opinion, is the state of readiness in this country for a biological attack? I mean, we warned the other by the Health Secretary that it's going to come.

MILLER: Well, I think nobody really knows that.

But what I think it is safe to say is that while perhaps is a nation as open and democratic as our can never really defend itself against those kinds of threats, this administration has done a lot so far to make us safer than we were before.

There are now stockpiles of antibiotics and vaccines in case there's another anthrax attacks similar to the one we had back in October of 2001. They've taken a lot of steps and made a lot of progress.

But, you know, Larry, this is the issue: if some body really wants to do this, it's very, very difficult to stop him from doing it. And that's the administrations and any administration's great challenge.

KING: And thank you both. We'll be calling on you again.

Judith Miller in New York, Kevin Peraino in Kuwait.

As we go to break, a view of the United States Capitol on this State of the Union night, approaching midnight in the East.

And when we come back, we're going to wind up this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE with two distinguished former United States senators, who grew so large they were larger than the states they represented: Alan Simpson of Wyoming and George McGovern of South Dakota.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us now, two distinguished Americans.

In Phoenix, Arizona is Senator Alan Simpson, former U.S. senator, Republican of Wyoming, served in the Senate from '78 to '97, 10 of those years as his party's Whip.

And Senator George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, former United States senator from South Dakota.

Senator Simpson, what was your read on the speech on tonight?

ALAN SIMPSON (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, I've been to a few of those, Larry, and I know George has. George was in the Senate when I came, obviously.

And the difference is it was good -- they're always good, because they cover what the president thinks is necessary. But the difference is is the hopping up and down. You know, we didn't see as much of that in those early years. And a lot of it's done with a great glee and a great fun of games. And they leap up, you know, hoping to see that the Democrats don't jump up or the Democrats jump up, hoping to see the Republicans sitting on their hands, and that is really a glorious bit of spectacle.

But I thought he covered what he had to cover. He got into the power of it all toward the end with Iraq. But, as others have commented, his comments about AIDS and what a frightening spectacle that is through the world, and dedicating resources to other things which I think we are a surprised to some.

KING: Senator McGovern, what -- what did you read?

GEORGE MCGOVERN (D), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Let me begin just very quickly on four proposals the president made tonight that I thought were praiseworthy.

No. 1, health care plan that includes prescription drugs.

Secondly, his proposal to develop hydrogen to power our automobiles.

Thirdly, the proposal to provide support for the 30 million people suffering from AIDS in Africa, 3 million of them children under the age of 15. I would hope that would also include support for prevention of AIDS. And then finally his proposal for $6,000,000 in new money to deal with drug addiction here in the United States. I hope that drug addiction includes alcoholism which is far and away serious drug addiction in the United States. Those are things I want to commend him on, later on I'll have some criticism.

KING: Well, we don't have a lot of later on, so we'll get to what -- Senator Simpson is it preordained? Does it look like war to you?

SIMPSON: But the key right now is, Colin Powell. His transformation, if you will, is dramatic to many. I have know that man, he is one of the most extraordinary public servants I've ever know. But he is going to present the case. It is going book page and hem number as you can get without being up their in room 406 or where ever it was where we went and the debugged it all.

And then we come out and the media would be all hanging around like poor relatives. And of course, you couldn't tell them everything and can't. But he is going to come forth. He knows and the president knows that with a good package of solid evidence here, that the U.N. will be back in business hopefully. And whether they go back for another resolution, I don't know. But certainly the American people would know more and be more supportive.

KING: Senator McGovern is there a lot more you want to know?

MCGOVERN: Well, yes, there is. General Schwarzkopf speaks for me when he says in todays press, and this and article from the "Washington Post." "I want to give peace chance." Says he hasn't seen enough evidence to convince him that we should go to war in Iraq. That's they way I feel. I just haven't seen the evidence yet that Iraq is really a threat to the United States. I think we can contain any threat that is there especially as long as have a large team of the United Nation inspectors in the country to tell us everything going on.

What's the big hurry, the rush to war? All the expert says it may take up to a year or more for these inspectors to complete their work. I don't see any sense to this rush for war, particularly when it appears when we have very little support form other countries.

KING: Alan.

SIMPSON: Well, I think this is where this remarkable man George McGovern, is a man of peace and that's so real. That is his persona. But I'm one who believes, I guess an old cowboy from Wyoming, that there really is evil in the world. Evil and as the president said tonight, if these things he described aren't evil, then evil has no name.

People don't believe in evil like they don't believe in hell, as an old friend of mine said. But it's there. If this isn't evil this is rattle snake venom and human fangs. I met this cat in '91. He hadn't done a lick since '91 when he got his (UNINTELLIGIBLE), because it was just like a shooting gallery out there. So everyone wanted to stop and should. But this is different. This is evil the blustering personification of evil and you have got to stamp it out one way or the other.

KING: Senator McGovern, do you think that no matter what you think, there will be war?

MCGOVERN: It looks we are drifting that way. We are getting mixed signals. The president has said about North Korea, that we are going to try to negotiate and understanding there.

KING: You only have 30 seconds left, senator.

MCGOVERN: Saddam Hussein denies that he has any nuclear weapons. That seems to be what the U.N. team is finding. North Korea said yes, we got nuclear weapons. We are ready to go. And yet we are concentrating are attention on Iraq.

KING: We are out of time. Thank you both so much. It is always good seeing you.

Senator Alan Simpson and George McGovern, two great Americans.

This has been a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

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