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Interview With Former Texas Governor Ann Richards

Aired January 15, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Ann Richards, the sassy former governor of Texas, is here to give us a piece of her mind on President Bush, on the Democratic White House hopefuls, on fighting alcoholism and osteoporosis and a lot more. And we'll take your calls, too. The honorable and always outspoken Ann Richards for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.
A quick note. Monday night is the Iowa caucuses, of course, and we'll be on twice live, at 9:00 Eastern and midnight Eastern, as part of CNN's overall all-night coverage. And our special analyst for the evening will be Bob Woodward of "The Washington Post." Other guests will include former senator Bob Dole. Wolf Blitzer will be aboard, and the entire CNN political team.

We always enjoy welcoming Ann Richards to these cameras, the former Democratic governor of Texas, the author of "I'm Not Slowing Down: Winning My Battle With Osteoporosis," that book co-written with Dr. Richard Levine.

All right, first things first. Carol Moseley Braun pulled out of the race today, endorsed Howard Dean. What are your thoughts on Iowa?

ANN RICHARDS, FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: Well, I thought that was good news, Larry. You know, I've always thought that Howard was real smart. And even from the very beginning, I was kind of surprised that it was Howard Dean that really pushed the issues. Everybody else is kind of wandering around, talking about leadership, but I really didn't think that any of the candidates were -- were getting tough on the issues and recognizing the fact that this is going to be a big fight with George Bush and that they're going to -- you know, they're going to have to talk to the people.

So I think that Howard Dean is the one that has shown the leadership of provoking the issues to be discussed and the issues people care about in this primary. So I was glad to see Carol do that.

KING: Does it mean that you're going to endorse him tonight?

RICHARDS: Well, I'm going to do whatever you want me to do, Larry, of course.

KING: What do you mean...


KING: What do you want to -- are you going to endorse him tonight? Endorse...

RICHARDS: Well, I'm...

KING: If you're going to endorse him, endorse him.

RICHARDS: I'm going to -- I'm going to go to New Hampshire for Howard Dean on Sunday and make some...

KING: You're endorsing him.

RICHARDS: ... public appearances for him. And yes, if I had the opportunity to vote in any of these primaries -- and I certainly will vote for Howard Dean in Texas. I think...

KING: All right, so Ann Richards...

RICHARDS: I think he's the guy that can beat Bush.

KING: All right, the former governor of Texas endorses Howard Dean. Now, a year ago, you wouldn't have said this, would you?

RICHARDS: No, I wouldn't.

KING: Wouldn't have even thought it.

RICHARDS: No. But I think...

KING: So what did he do?

RICHARDS: But I think a year ago, I told you that I thought he was the only one saying anything. I thought he was the only one that was really talking about issues. He was talking about health care. He was talking about education. He was talking about the fact that this is going to be a really tough race and we had to talk to the American people. And he was talking about Bush's record when everybody else was just, you know, sort of dancing around.

But Larry, you've got to understand that all of these candidates for the Democratic nomination are really capable, really smart, really good friends of mine. I've got lots of friends on every side. I just happen to think that Howard Dean was the one that showed the leadership to push the issues in this primary.

KING: Has any of these candidates disappointed you a lot?

RICHARDS: Well, not -- you know, they disappointed me in the sense that I didn't think they were being strong. I didn't think they were getting tough. Now, I think they have these last few days. I think John Kerry just kind of woke up. I think he got -- he got some really good people on his staff. I think they made him recognize that he was in a really tough fight here, and he has shown -- he's shown a lot more fire in the past two or three weeks.

I think Gephardt has been as fiery as he can get. And I think that...

KING: Edwards got the...

RICHARDS: ... Edwards...

KING: ... endorsement of "The Des Moines Register."

RICHARDS: And Edwards -- everybody tells me that Edwards is really coming on strong in Iowa now, that somehow, he's -- he's just kind of caught on fire and he's gotten hot. And the last polling I saw today said that it is a four-way dead heat among those two.

KING: All right. Why...

RICHARDS: I mean, those four.

KING: There's three million voters in Iowa, 100,000 people are going to vote Monday. Why is it important?

RICHARDS: Well, it's important because they have been at this business now for a very long time. And one of the ways that you tell whether a candidate is really going to be a good candidate when it comes to actually running against a Republican for president is how well they have been able to convince these people in these primaries. Now, Iowa is particularly dicey and peculiar just because of that kind of caucus fashion in which they do it. But you get the headlines when you win. You get the attention of the rest of the country when you win. And most of all, you get the attention of the media when you win.

KING: Do you think, honestly, that Governor Dean of little Vermont can beat President Bush?

RICHARDS: Yes, I do. In fact, I think the Democratic nominee, whoever that might be, can beat George Bush. I think Bush is vulnerable. I think his domestic policy is a total disaster. I think his economic policy everyone recognizes is in serious trouble. And I also think that this war has been such a terrible thing for all of us, 500 Americans dead, almost $100 billion spent. Can you imagine what we could have done with $100 billion in public education or...

KING: Yes, but you're...

RICHARDS: ... health care?

KING: You're rid of a -- of a heinous person. You've sent warnings to other people that you better be on the right track. I mean, almost immediately, Saddam Hussein gives up, and in Libya, they're already opening up their doors.

RICHARDS: Yes, and...

KING: Isn't that a good sign?

RICHARDS: And I think exactly what happened we were told by Paul O'Neill of Bush's cabinet was -- this wasn't as a consequence of 9/11. They had planned this before 9/11 even occurred. This was something that they had talked about doing, where there wasn't even any objection to the fact that...

KING: All right, but was...

RICHARDS: ... they were going to declare war.

KING: But was the result...

RICHARDS: And there's a lot of bad guys, Larry...

KING: Wasn't the -- let's say...

RICHARDS: ... just a lot of bad guys.

KING: Let's say that's the case. And we'll get to Paul O'Neill in the next segment. Let's say that is the case. Was the result bad?

RICHARDS: Of course, the result was not bad. I think the deaths of 500 Americans is bad. I think spending $100 billion when we're cutting back on public education, public health, environment, every other domestic policy you can think of -- I think that's bad, committing another $87 billion to trying to keep the peace over there. And by the way, I don't think they're going to stay over there. I think Bush is going to get out of there this summer, come hell or high water. I think he feels like he can't go into this next election with that many troops. I think he's going to declare, By gosh, we've elected all these people. We're going to turn it back over to them.

And I think we need to stay in Iraq until we get this job done, once we've gone over there.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with Governor Ann Richards. Later, we'll be including your phone calls. She has just announced her endorsement of Howard Dean -- in fact, is going to New Hampshire to speak for him over the weekend.

We'll be right back with Governor Richards. Don't go away.


KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE with Governor Ann Richards. She's in New York. We'll be taking your phone calls in a little while.

Ann mentioned Paul O'Neill, the former treasury secretary, former chairman of Alcoa. Let's watch a little clip of Mr. O'Neill's appearance on "60 Minutes."


PAUL O'NEILL, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: I went in with a long list of things to talk about and, I thought, to engage on. And as the book says, I was surprised that it turned out me talking and the president just listening.

LESLEY STAHL, "60 MINUTES": He never asked a single question?

O'NEILL: As I recall, it was mostly a monologue.


KING: Do you think, Governor Richards, that after talking to Rumsfeld, maybe he's trying to pull back a little because on "The Today Show," he hedged his bet a little?

RICHARDS: Well, I'm sure he's just caught unmitigated hell for that, Larry. I mean, he's a cabinet member, head of the treasury. And for him to come out and tell his perception of what it was like to deal with the president -- which everybody's interested in, I don't care which president it is -- it's an astounding thing. And the really remarkable thing was for him to talk about the fact that they were going into Iraq before 9/11 occurred. And 9/11 -- seemingly, that tragic and really sad occurrence gave them some form of excuse to say now they could go and have this war.

A lot of us thought, you know, that it was a bunch of old bulls with a sore tail that wanted to go in there and settle the score, and -- but this was -- this is the first, you know, serious, serious person who has told us from his perspective what went on on the inside, and that, indeed, they were going in before 9/11.

KING: Were you surprised to learn that he says in the economic area, Dick Cheney completely changed his philosophy from the Cheney he knew before to the Cheney now?

RICHARDS: Yes, I think it's very surprising. But I think they had -- this administration is a very adaptable administration. That's one thing that Bush is good at, and that is, if you're -- and I might say, it's really Karl Rove is good at -- that if this doesn't work, well, by gosh, we'll switch and we will do something else.

But you look at this economy -- you know, I read these headlines that say, well, the economy has turned around. What it means is that Wall Street's doing better. It means the stock market's doing better. It doesn't mean that all of those millions of Americans out of work are any better. And the jobs aren't there. George Bush is going to be the first president since Herbert Hoover that leaves office when there are less available jobs in America than there were when he started as president.

KING: Senator Kennedy -- back to Iraq -- made a major speech the other day, said Bush "broke the basic bond of trust between government and the people," called the administration "misguided" and "arrogant." The GOP immediately slammed back, and GOP leader -- House leader Tom DeLay called it a hateful speech and that it insulted Bush's patriotism. Do you think it went over the line?

RICHARDS: Well, I think that's the usual claim that they make. If you suggest that the president or that the White House has a wrong policy or has said the wrong thing or is doing the wrong thing, you're unpatriotic. If you disagree with this administration and you think their policy is bad, something's wrong with you.

KING: But he said more than policy. He said Bush "broke the basic bond of trust between government and people." That's more than policy.

RICHARDS: And I think that Kennedy felt very strongly, and I don't blame him. And I think there's a lot of concern that when we were told that we had to go in, not because Saddam Hussein was a bad man, but because America was threatened with the presence of weapons of mass destruction, when it was not true, the proof was not there, the proof has not been there since then, then that representation made to the American people was obviously wrong.

KING: Now, are you very, very concerned about this -- there are charges that this administration is the most closed of all administrations, that it's impregnable, and that everything it deals with is politics. Does that concern you, or is that really normal grist for the mill?

RICHARDS: Any White House is going to have a lot of politics going on in it.

KING: Right, Democrat or Republican.

RICHARDS: Yes. It doesn't make any difference which administration it is. But the difference is, is what access the media has to the information and how much the public gets to know about it. You know, I've never thought there was anything wrong with politics going on in the White House. What's wrong is when you make a big secret out of it, where it's something where you keep information repressed.

You know, that was one of the tenets on which this country was founded, and that was the freedom of speech and freedom of the press and the freedom of information and the right for the public to know what's going on. And this has been, the media will all acknowledge, the most closed White House in their experience. And if they talk when they're not supposed to, they get punished and they don't get to ask questions at the next news conference.

KING: What do you make of the initiative to promote marriage?

RICHARDS: I was just -- I'm so glad you asked me!


RICHARDS: Listen, Larry, I think the two of us, who have such a great marriage record, ought to go down to Washington and volunteer to the president that we'll serve on an advisory board for him.

KING: Give him a little history.

RICHARDS: Yes, and sort of teach him, you know, how you do this marriage stuff. And we could write a report. We could issue it, and we could have...

KING: What do you make of the idea...

RICHARDS: You and I could have a press conference!

KING: What do you make of the idea? You don't think it's a good idea?

RICHARDS: Well, if they've got $1.5 billion to go teach marriage lessons, I wish they'd put it in health care, myself. If they've got that kind of money to put around they need to reinstate those afterschool programs for kids in the public schools that got thrown out after he cut their program.

RICHARDS: By the way, back to Howard Dean and marriage. His wife does not campaign.

RICHARDS: I know. I...

KING: Do you take any dim view of that?

RICHARDS: I absolutely -- I don't. I think it's really kind of refreshing, don't you, that you don't have this woman, bless her heart, sitting there dutifully smiling and nodding and kissing cheeks and all of that stuff in the campaign. I have felt for the wives of presidents over the years. My heart just, you know, went out to them. And this woman seems to be dedicated to her medical practice and not all caught up in her husband's life of politics. And I think that's what modern marriage is supposed to be about, where two people can be who they are, express their own interests, and still be in love and be married.

KING: We'll take a break. When we come back, we'll be going to calls shortly for Governor Richards. Here's the Bush response to the O'Neill charge.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I appreciate former secretary O'Neill's service to our country. We worked together during some difficult times. We worked together when America was attacked on September the 11th, which changed -- changed how I viewed the world.



KING: We're back with Governor Ann Richards. Let's touch some other bases. What do you make about the Rush Limbaugh addiction problem? You had addiction problems. He says that it's a liberal plot to get him, about looking into medical records. What do you make of that whole story?

RICHARDS: Well, you know, my heart goes out to anyone who has an addiction, particularly in a case like this. This is a person with a high public profile. I think that the reason that Rush Limbaugh has caught such grief is because he made so much while he was on the air -- and while he was an addict -- of people who did use drugs and talking about the war on drugs as if he were above that. You know, you can't have tar all over you and call somebody else black. And I...

KING: So you think it's a hypocrisy issue.

RICHARDS: Well, yes. It doesn't anything to do with his addiction. I think that the feelings of the country go out to anyone who has an addiction or who's alcoholic. And when you go and seek recovery, as Limbaugh has done, everybody wants to give you every break they can to succeed. And I hope very much that he is successful and doesn't get back on these narcotics.

KING: In other words, if you had preached against people who drink alcohol while being alcoholic...


KING: ... we could have brought that into...

RICHARDS: I mean, everybody...

KING: What do you make of the...

RICHARDS: ... would have laughed themselves silly.

KING: Katherine Harris may run for the Senate in Florida. What do you think?

RICHARDS: Yes, well, she's not my favorite, you know? I think that -- I think Katherine's profile -- I remember those press conferences very well when she was controlling what was going to be done in Florida. But I hear that she has a lot of support down there. And then the Democrats are going to have to come up with a good candidate to take her out.

KING: How about the Bush call for the moon mission and beyond?

RICHARDS: Well, you know, Larry, at first, I was really excited because I thought that it meant that there would be a whole lot more money go to Houston, Texas, to NASA. And then I read the article, and it turns out that the money that he's going to spend, he's going to take from another NASA program. In other words, they're going to abandon all of the stuff and the science that they have been working on on the shuttle program, and they are simply going to transfer those moneys over into this other program, initially.

Now, of course, none of this happens until after George Bush leaves office. I've forgotten -- you know, if he should get reelected another four years, it's still, like, 2008, or something like that.

It's hard for me to get really worked up over those big vision programs when there are people out of work in our country, when there are kids getting a poor education, when there are seniors who don't have insurance. Forty-two million people in America without insurance. Well, I think the money would be better spent if we could get stuff done at home and then go see what we're going to do on the moon.

KING: How are you doing in the osteoporosis battle? RICHARDS: Well, really good. I'm so glad you asked. People come up to me a lot, you know, in airports and public places and tell me that they read, "I'm Not Slowing Down," it was the first time they had any awareness of osteoporosis, that they've gone to their doctor, they've asked for a bone density test, they're more aware of their diet and getting calcium into -- calcium-rich foods into their diet. So I feel really good about it. It's caused a lot of talk, and I think more and more people are going to have a chance to live with this terrible disease but know what to do about it and be able to strengthen their bones.

KING: Are there days, Ann, honestly, when you ever want a drink?

RICHARDS: There really never are, Larry. I...

KING: Really?

RICHARDS: I've just -- I'm so -- I'm so fortunate. But you know, my sobriety and the confrontation that took place to get me to the alcoholic hospital was so traumatic -- I mean, it was just like some searing thing through my body -- that even smelling alcohol to me is just like smelling poison. It's like smelling DDT or something like that. It's just like, if I touched this, it would kill me, you know? And I just have...

KING: You're lucky.

RICHARDS: I'm very lucky. Now, I'd smoke a cigarette tomorrow if I could. Boy, that nicotine addiction, that's the toughie.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and go to your calls for the former governor, Ann Richards, author of "I'm Not Slowing Down: Winning My Battle With Osteoporosis," written with Dr. Richard Levine.

Tomorrow night, we'll look at -- you know, the Jackson case continues tomorrow in Santa Barbara, and we'll follow up tomorrow night. And then on Monday night, we'll be covering the Iowa caucuses with two live programs. Normally, this program is repeated at midnight Eastern and again at 3:00 AM Eastern time. However, on Monday night, we'll be live at both 9:00 PM Eastern and midnight Eastern with Bob Woodward, Wolf Blitzer, the entire political team, Senator Bob Dole.

Over the weekend we'll repeat our programs on "8 Simple Rules." That'll be Saturday night. And Kim Novak on Sunday night.

We'll be right back with your calls for Governor Richards. Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to be perfectly honest, things are not looking very good for me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or me, Joe Lieberman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or me, Dennis Kucinich.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or even me, Dick Gephardt. See, despite our best efforts, Howard Dean continues to be the Democratic frontrunner. Sure, he was successful as a governor, but how hard can it be to run for a month? You wake up, have some Ben and Jerry's, check out the maple syrup plant and go to sleep.


KING: That's "Saturday Night Live" taking off on the campaign. Governor Ann Richards is our guest, and she has endorsed Howard Dean tonight and she'll go to New Hampshire to campaign for him over the weekend. We'll go to your calls for the former governor of Texas. Boston, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Governor Richards, how can you support someone like Howard Dean who is such a hothead, when he's so much like George Bush that it's not even funny?

KING: All right, is he a hothead, a little too hot, do you think, Governor?

RICHARDS: Well, you know, I kind of -- I like a man with a little edge to him, Larry. I think in this campaign, you're going to have to have somebody that has a little passion. All of this business about talking about leaders and how leaders act and how leaders behave and how leaders are always cool, I like somebody who's a little bit angry about what's going on in America. I feel...

KING: How do you think the debate...

RICHARDS: I feel so much frustration about it. You know, it's not an anger, it's a frustration and I think that shows in Howard Dean.

KING: How do you think a debate would go between Dean and Bush?

RICHARDS: I'd just love it. You know what's going to happen, and I'm going to call it. If Dean can win this thing, and he goes up against Bush, they are going to begin a month out talking about, oh, poor George Bush, he just doesn't really know how to debate. You know, he's such a great executive, and he's such a personable and likable fellow, but when it comes to debate he doesn't have all that experience.

I mean, they will low rate it so if he can just stand up and say his name, he's going to look like he's really smart. So Howard Dean, I think, is their worst nightmare, because Howard is going to take this fight to the White House, and he is going to fight George Bush toe to toe, and I think he's going to force Bush to have to answer.

KING: Redondo Beach, California.

CALLER: Hi, Larry and Ann Richards. I have a comment and then a question. Ann Richards, I want you to know that I respect your honesty and your smarts as a politician. I think you're lovely and the naive Americans, they need to listen to your smarts, because you're just great.

You're wonderful. My question is, have you ever thought of running for president and if not, why not, and you know what, we need you. We really need somebody like you and I really wish you would, because I'd sure back you 100 percent. Thank you.

RICHARDS: Well, that's really nice, and no, no, no. I've never thought about being president. Just not something on my dance card, you know? I've always said the worst thing that can happen to you when you run for something, you might win and then have you to do it. I can't imagine anything worse than being president of the United States.

KING: How far are we from a female president?

RICHARDS: Not far at all. I don't know whether it's going to be Hillary. I certainly would support her if she ran. If she was running today I'd probably would support Hillary, but it isn't going to be long, Larry. There are too many smart and able and experienced women now that are coming up that have the ability and, I think, will have the desire to be president.

KING: Fort Worth, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Ann. I supported you. I campaigned for you, and I really value your opinion.

RICHARDS: Thank you.

CALLER: What I'm a little concerned about is that Howard Dean, sadly, doesn't come across on TV, and we know that in our society, people are elected through TV.


CALLER: He just doesn't come across. Would you be willing to possibly work with him on his appeal?

RICHARDS: I'll call him up and tell him you suggested that.

KING: How is he on television in your opinion?

RICHARDS: I think Howard's really intense. He wants to focus -- he wants to hone in on the discussion itself. He's sellable. He's thinking more about the argument and the issue than how he looks delivering the message, and...

KING: Is that good or bad?

RICHARDS: Well, sometimes you got to pay attention to the drama of it. Don't forget Ronald Reagan. Don't forget Arnold Schwarzenegger.

KING: John Kennedy.

RICHARDS: A little actor in you never hurts.

KING: Fort Smith, Arkansas, hello.

CALLER: Hi, both of y'all. Ann, I think we might be distant cousins on the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) side but if we're not, I'm still proud of you.

RICHARDS: Well, I hope so.

CALLER: Well, you know, this Howard Dean, I'm with you on him. I want you, I'm so worried, you know, like the redistributing, not only in Texas, but elsewhere, what about the House and even the Senate? Now that's a worry.

RICHARDS: It's tough. It's just -- there is no getting around it, and in Texas they went in and redistributed. I mean, they've made districts that look like needles. They are so long and thin if you drove with your car doors open, you'd hit every constituent in it.

It really is amazing what the Republicans have been able to do with the courts, of course, with the Republicans on it saying it's OK. So those -- the House is going to be very difficult to win this next time. I think that the focus has to be on the presidency, and it has to be on targeted races. We've got to learn to quit spending money on a bunch of races where people really don't have a chance to get elected, and put it in the races where we've got a good chance to win.

KING: Houston, Texas for Ann Richards, hello.

CALLER: Hey Larry and Ann. Ann, I just want to tell you I had the honor of meeting you a few years ago at a function here and I'm a backer of yours and I admire you greatly.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: If offered a position in the Dean administration, which hopefully will be here soon, would you accept it?

RICHARDS: Oh, Lord, oh, gosh, I don't know.

KING: That's a fair question.

RICHARDS: Oh, yes, but I just have such a good life. I don't really hanker to go back to public life. I don't hanker...

KING: Suppose that he's elected hypothetically. You've endorsed him. He might owe you something for that. He might say would you like to be secretary of such and such. You have to consider it, don't you?

RICHARDS: Oh, yes, you always have to consider those things, but I would doubt very seriously, Larry, that I would do that. I've got a really good life and I love getting to see my children and travel and it just -- it just doesn't appeal to me, and besides that, Washington, you know, it's a rarefied kind of atmosphere and I don't hanker to get back into that.

KING: Atlanta, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Ann.


CALLER: I've enjoyed you ever since the Democratic convention when you spoke.

RICHARDS: Well, you know, I think so much about Atlanta, as a wonderful memory of that convention, when I got to deliver that speech there.

CALLER: I was tickled that that was George's silverfoot. I have a short statement and a question. With all due respect, I don't think Howard Dean can beat Bush, and I wondered if you've ever taken a close look at Wes Clark. His credentials are impeccable.

RICHARDS: Sure, I know Wes Clark and I like Wes Clark, and if Wes Clark is the nominee, I'm going to be out there money marvels and chalk trying to help him. I also hope that Wes Clark is not serious about saying he would not accept the vice presidential position, regardless of who the nominee is. If it is someone other than Wes Clark, I think he would make a terrific vice president, especially with a president that would empower him with some strength in foreign policy.

KING: Tampa, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Yes, Larry, my question for Ann Richards is regarding foreign policy. When it comes to reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, what are your thoughts about putting so much money forth to rebuilding these countries when we need it so much back here at home when we need our foundation rebuilt?

RICHARDS: I agree with you but I think we've created a system -- situation in the world now, is that we have given so much credibility to our enemies, who vilify us over the actions that we took in Iraq, and that we continue to be there in a military presence, that I think we have got to continue to stay there and stay the course, and put the money that is necessary to bring that country to what George Bush says is a free and open democracy.

I think we pulled out of Afghanistan, we've got lots of troops there, but Afghanistan, if you saw that wonderful piece, Larry, that Christiane Amanpour did on CNN on Afghanistan, and who is running Afghanistan now, it frightens you to think that we might pull back early this summer in Iraq, and do the same thing. And just, you know, dust our hands and say, well, we're done now. I think once we're in there, we have to finish the job.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more calls for Governor Ann Richards. You're watching "LARRY KING LIVE." Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Governor Richards.

We go to Bastrop, Texas, hello.

Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.

KING: Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Larry and Ann, so honored to get through and speak to both of you. Ann, we've always been so proud of you here in Texas. I've been so proud of you. Got to meet you one time at a clerk's conference. but you probably already answered my question. I've heard you before, but we'd love for to you come back here and run for governor. We need you.

KING: No chance.

RICHARDS: No, don't put me in that briar patch. Yes, we need a good governor in Texas, and I hear that there are some people coming along, and it makes me feel really good that we've got some young and dedicated people who are giving statewide office a real look, and to you, Larry, by the way, and to all of my former staff, and my former supporters and good friends, today is the 13th anniversary of the day I was sworn in as governor of Texas. And...

KING: Wow!

RICHARDS: Yes, every January the 15th I stopped and remember that great day, when we marched up Congress avenue to take back the capitol for the people of Texas. It was a fabulous day.

KING: Las Vegas, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I love your show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: I'm very familiar with Ann Richards, mainly through your show.

My question is, what is her opinion about John Edwards?

RICHARDS: Well, I know John Edwards, and he's a smart guy. He's a very able and sharp young man. And they say that he's doing very, very well in Iowa, particularly, you know, right in minute at a time when it's important at the end of the campaign in Iowa to do well. He's been in the Senate a short time, but I think he's learned a lot on the campaign trail, and if he were the nominee, I'd be happy and proud to support him. The things that are good to be said about John Edwards, for a political reason, is that he comes from the south, and it might be possible that we could win a couple of southern states if we nominated a southern man. He's able. He's attractive. He's energetic. He's got a great family. And so if he wins, I'm going to be there to help him.

KING: In another area, what do you make. The upcoming trial of Martha Stewart?

An associated press poll says half of those surveyed think she'll be convicted, far fewer expect convictions of either Michael Jackson or Kobe Bryant.

Does that surprise you?

RICHARDS: Well, I don't know what to think about the polls. I would be very surprised if Michael Jackson or Kobe Bryant were convicted, and in Martha Stewart's case, I would be surprised if she was convicted as well. Everything that I read, and everything that I see says that the young man who was working with her on investments that she had the telephone call with is a crucial witness in this case. And I would assume that it is his testimony that's going to make an awful lot of difference.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments and more phone calls for Governor Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. 13 years ago today she took that office. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Governor Ann Richards.

Chicago, hello.

CALLER: Yes, hi Larry and Ann.



CALLER: I would like to know what happened to the invasion when they first went into Iraq, what happened to all the thousands of dollars or millions of dollars that they found and why can't that be used to rebuild Iraq instead of the Americans doing it?

KING: I think that money is being used, isn't it in

RICHARDS: Yes. The money could be used. But I mean, we're talking about a drop in the bucket here. We've already spent $100 billion not million, $100 billion on this war, and we have committed another $87 billion, and there wasn't enough in a treasure chest in Iraq to put a dent in that.

KING: To Somerset, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: Yes, thank you for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: My question is about healthcare for senior citizens.

RICHARDS: Yes, ma'am.

CALLER: I'm a 62 years old woman and I was diagnosed with cancer and I've taken chemotherapy. I have a problem with insurance because I have a very limited amount of that, and I just wondered, is there any strong candidates in the Democratic party that would have, that would press for healthcare for seniors?

RICHARDS: I will tell you seriously, that I think any of these Democratic candidates are going to tell you that they're going to work very hard to do something about healthcare in America.

KING: All of them are. I'm going to cut you off for a second because we have a special caller on the phone.


KING: Is this Governor Dean?

GOV. HOWARD DEAN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via telephone): Yes, this is.

RICHARDS: Oh, Howard, my God! Where are you?

DEAN: I'm in just outside Sheraton Island, a big bus called People Powered Howard.

RICHARDS: Listen, get out of that bus and quit talking to me and go talk to somebody that can vote for you.

DEAN: We're going to be doing that in about five minutes. Ann, I first wanted to thank you for your generous endorsement.

RICHARDS: You bet.

DEAN: Secondly, I want to tell that lady from Somerset, Kentucky, that we're going to get healthcare for her just like we did for everybody in Vermont. And thirdly, I want to say I really appreciate your advice. I'm going to come to you for some of that media training, because I agree I need some, too.

RICHARDS: Listen, Howard, keep smiling.

DEAN: You are the best.

KING: Governor, she says she's coming to New Hampshire this weekend. Are you expecting her?

DEAN: Isn't she great? I won't be there. I'll be out in Iowa, but I really appreciate Governor Richards going up. Because she is a real draw. We admired her enormously when she was Governor of Texas and we were in the National Governor's Association together.

And I really appreciate her outspokenness. And she knows better than anybody, the only way to beat George Bush is to stand up and say what you believe, and we're going to do that together.

KING: Do your private polls tell you it's very close in Iowa as it reported today.

DEAN: It's very close. It's essentially a four-way tie and it's going to come down to whoever has the best organization.

RICHARDS: You go get 'em, Howard.

KING: You're agreeing it's a four-way tie?

DEAN: I think it is. I think it's a four -- the polls don't mean much at this point, because there's a whole bunch of high school kids that can go to the caucuses for us, because we have a ton of people out there.

We can't tell who is going to win. All we can do now is work our you know what's off to get the vote out, and that's what we are going to do.

This is about taking power back from the special interests and giving it to ordinary Americans, ordinary Iowans, ordinary Texans. By the way, Ann Richards, you sure have a lot of friends down in Texas, because I've been down there and we got one of the biggest rallies we've ever had when we went down in San Antonio and Austin.

RICHARDS: That's good. I'm glad to hear that. You get off the bus and get to work, Howard.

DEAN: Yes, I will. Yes, ma'am.

RICHARDS: Give them hell.

KING: Thank you, Howard.

DEAN: Thank you.

KING: Are you surprised that this race has gotten so close?

RICHARDS: No, I'm really not, and I watched the dynamics of the race all along. And you know, Howard was one that was really fired up and he was taking very strong stands, and I thought really what transpired, the dynamics of it were that all of the other candidates said whoa! you know, we better get out here now, because this guy is suddenly attracting all of this attention.

The amazing thing about Howard Dean, and you know, he is the Governor of Vermont, five times he was elected up there, but the unbelievable thing is that he raised more money than anybody, and that he put the best organization together.

So I don't know whether he's going to win Iowa or not. I think he's going to win New Hampshire. I want to try to help him up there. But the important thing to remember is that this country needs to be given its power back to the people, and to do that, a Democrat has got to win in November.

KING: When you served with him in the Governor's Conference was he as forceful a personality then as he appears now? RICHARDS: Yes, he was. And that's really one of the reasons that I endorsed Howard, is he's an old friend, a long association when we served together as governors, and I admired what he did, and I admired particularly that he got healthcare in Vermont for everybody. That 97 percent of the children of Vermont have healthcare. That's what we ought to be having for the whole United States, and we need somebody to do it.

KING: When I say forceful, usually at governor's conferences governors from small states don't tend to dominate, do they?

RICHARDS: No, but Howard has always been one of those that was creative, had lots of ideas, was very programmatic in saying, well, you know first we can't do that, let's put this program together, and let's take that to the White House or to the Congress, and see if we can't get some support for it.

KING: Will the party unite behind whomever is chosen?

RICHARDS: I don't think there's any doubt of it.

KING: Despite the bitterness?

RICHARDS: I think this will be a great motivator for our organization this fall.

KING: You're saying that despite the bitterness of this primary? And it has been bitter.

RICHARDS: Oh, yes. And this is the process, Larry. But in a way, you know, it's like tempering steel. This kind of heat is the kind of thing that it takes to make a candidate that can go the distance in the fall. So while it's not a pretty process, you know, Democracy is a messy business.

KING: Thank you, Governor. As always great seeing you. You look great.

RICHARDS: OK now Larry, don't forget, we're going to go down there and advise the president about that marriage stuff, just the two of us.

KING: I won't. Governor Ann Richards, the former Democratic governor of Texas, author of "I'm Not Slowing Down: Winning My Battle With Osteoporosis," written with Dr. Richard Levine. Endorsing Governor Howard Dean of Vermont tonight for the Democratic nomination. And the Governor called in to thank her for the endorsement.

I'll be back in minute to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: Michael Jackson is arraigned tomorrow. We'll discuss it tomorrow night. Governor Ann Richards tonight endorsing Howard Dean. And Howard Dean calling in to thank her for that endorsement. Now we swing to New York. Ha ha, delightful balmy New York.


"NEWSNIGHT" is next. I'm going to recommend a movie for you. I don't mean to rub it in. The movie is called "The Cooler."


KING: It's terrific.


BROWN: Thanks. If it were any cooler here, we'd all be dead. Thank you Mr. King.

KING: Carry on, Mr. Brown.



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