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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Analysis of Democratic Primary Results

Aired February 4, 2004 - 00:00   ET

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

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now, for the second time in a few days, a New England patriot has won on the road!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, John Kerry takes five out of seven states, as more Democratic voters make their presidential picks. But John Edwards scores a crucial win, and Wesley Clark claims his first victory. And Joe Lieberman -- well, he's out.

Here to size it all up, David Gergen, White House adviser to four presidents; Tucker Carlson of CNN's "CROSSFIRE"; plus CNN's own Wolf Blitzer and senior political analyst Bill Schneider. Also ahead, candidates Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, and an off-beat view with "Today" show contributor Mo Rocca. All ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.

Before we meet our panel members, let's go to Oklahoma City, where standing by is General Wesley Clark, who is ahead by 1,200 votes with 100 percent of the votes counted. They're going to have to certify it by next week, but he certainly...

What does it feel like to -- from your standpoint, to win one?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY (RET.), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's wonderful, Larry. I can't tell you how good it feels. This is the first election I've ever been in, this presidential contest. I've won a state, and I'm just thrilled.

KING: What about the rest of it? What disappointed you tonight?

CLARK: Well, I'm not disappointed by anything. I think we did well across the board. We came in second in Arizona. We got a second in New Mexico. We were second in North Dakota. And I'm really happy with all of the people and how well they did.

KING: What's the -- what's the next move? Where do you go from here?

CLARK: We're going to Tennessee and Virginia, and we're leaving tonight. And we're just really fired up about it.

KING: Is that, like, a battleground, you and Edwards in two Southern states?

(LAUGHTER) CLARK: I think John Kerry, you know, is there. And you know, we're going to give the voters of Tennessee a choice. I mean, I'm an outsider, Larry. I haven't been in the Senate. I didn't vote for No Child Left Behind. I didn't vote to go war with Iraq, and I didn't vote for the Patriot Act. I'm a leader. I'm someone who's not part of the Washington problem. I'm the solution to the Washington problem. And I've got values, like patriotism, faith and family, that will resonate very strongly not only in the South, but across America. And I can't wait to get to Tennessee and Virginia and lay out the case to the voters and let them make a decision.

KING: Do you expect the Patriot Act to be an issue?

CLARK: Patriot Act's an issue everywhere I make a speech, Larry. Americans are outraged with the Patriot Act and even more outraged that the president requested an extension of it in the State of the Union address, when it's never been fully reviewed, when its constitutionality's been challenged, when it's manifestly unfair and discriminatory against people who have been long-time residents in this country. Yes, the Patriot Act is certainly an issue.

I believe that we have to give our law enforcement agencies all the authority they need, but you cannot win the war on terror by sacrificing the very freedoms we're trying to protect.

KING: Any feelings about Senator Lieberman leaving?

CLARK: Well, I really respect Joe Lieberman. He's been a great friend to me. I think he's a great United States senator. He's made some crucial calls, and he's been very, very supportive of the efforts that I was in while I was in uniform, including our campaigns in Europe, and so forth. I think he's a tremendous guy.

But I think what comes through all across this country in every one of these election outcomes is that the voters are determined to take George W. Bush out. I can't tell you how many people have come up to me and said, I'm a Republican. I wanted to vote for you but I couldn't because of the primary system. I'll vote for you in the general election. I mean, there is a groundswell of support against George W. Bush from his own party, not to mention independents and Democrats. There's going to be a unity in this country that's just unbelievable.

And you know, when you look at the budget deficit, you look at the continuing problems in Iraq, you look at the continuing problems with job creation and education and health care and this economy, we're due for a change. Americans want more from a leader than what George W. Bush is giving them.

KING: Thank you, General. See you along the trail.

CLARK: Thank you, Larry. All right. Thank you.

KING: General Wesley Clark, ahead by 1,200 votes with all the votes counted. They're going to have to certify it next week in Oklahoma. Let's move into our panel. Tucker Carlson, what are you doing in Indianapolis?

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Oh, just, you know, seeing the Midwest. I like Indianapolis.

KING: Yes, but there was no primary there, Tucker. There was nothing happening there.

CARLSON: I'm getting a feel for the country, Larry. You got to...

KING: I see.

CARLSON: ... outside the Beltway and sort of take the temperature of ordinary people. That's what I'm doing.

KING: I imagine you had a paid speech in Indiana tonight.

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: I wouldn't admit it if I did.

KING: All right, what's your overview this evening?

CARLSON: Well, it's a massive win for John Kerry. It encourages, unfortunately, Wes Clark to stick around and continue running. It's obviously good for John Edwards.

I still think the most remarkable story of the year is Howard Dean, who actually lost to Al Sharpton in South Carolina, lost across the board, obviously, tonight, but not only lost but lost really badly. And though it was only three weeks ago, it's easy to forget everyone I knew, anyway, and I think it was almost a universal feeling, assumed he was going to be the nominee. And it turned out he was like an overvalued tech stock. You know, he was like pets.com in 1999, which was -- you know, had more value than GE, and then within a day became worthless. What happened to Howard Dean? I think people will be writing books on this for the next decade, trying to figure out where this juggernaut went overnight. It really is an amazing story.

KING: And a very fair question. We'll ask Bill Schneider if he has an answer. Bill, what happened to Howard Dean?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, my answer is that the message was a good one, the man was the problem. People liked -- Democrats liked his message. His message was empowerment. He kept promising to empower Democrats who, believe me, feel very disempowered right now because they have no power. They have no power in the White House. They have no power in Congress. The Supreme Court made Bush president. Most governors, most state legislators are now Republicans. They resent the growing power of conservative talk show hosts, growing conservative influence in the media. They feel bullied. And Dean said, I'm going to empower you. The problem was, that message sold until they got a look at the man. And you know what happened? They decided they really didn't like Howard Dean. He wasn't a good messenger. And in the end, they said, He can't stand next to George Bush. He doesn't have the national or international experience. He doesn't have the temperament. And they just wouldn't buy it.

KING: Wolf Blitzer, what surprised you the most tonight?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I thought the John Kerry wins were not all that surprising because of the -- the polls in all of those states suggested he would do very, very well. I thought that John Edwards was impressive in his native state of South Carolina. The very close contest in Oklahoma -- that was somewhat surprising to me.

But I would have to go back to the dismal showing by Howard Dean. It was probably worse than a lot of us had thought he would do, seven states, different parts of the country. I thought he would do better in Arizona and New Mexico specifically, because they have those absentee ballots, people voting by mail, people voting over the last several weeks, including before his dismal performance in Iowa and his -- and his concession speech. I think I was surprised at how poorly Howard Dean did tonight.

KING: Tucker, I know as a Republican, are you surprised by Kerry's onslaught and the way he seems to have changed, almost? He looks different.

CARLSON: Well, he does -- I mean, much has been written about how he physically looks different. I'm not surprised, though, that Democratic primary voters who really want to beat Bush would choose John Kerry. He's the most -- I think the most serious one of the bunch. He's impressive. He's smart. He's tough. I mean, I think if I were a Democrat who had as his supreme goal beating George W. Bush, I'd vote for John Kerry, too. It makes -- it makes sense.

I do think that his first two victories weren't as much about him as they were about, as Bill pointed out a second ago, the collapse of Howard Dean, thousands of Democratic voters waking up one morning in a cold sweat, realizing it would be insane to vote for Howard Dean, casting about for the -- you know, the nearest adult and settling on John Kerry. But I think that's -- tonight's results show that, actually, even with sober reflection, a lot of Democratic voters think he's the best, and I think they're absolutely right. I mean, if I were in the Bush White House right now, I'm not sure I'd be panicked, but I'd definitely be concerned. He's a serious guy.

KING: We'll be right back with more of our panel. And don't forget, Mo Rocca joins us at the bottom of the hour. This is LARRY KING LIVE part 2. Don't go away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: ... we carry this campaign and the cause of a stronger, fairer, more prosperous America to all parts of our country. And we will take nothing for granted. We will compete everywhere. And in November, we will beat George W. Bush!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before David Gergen joins us panel, let's check in for a few moments with Al Sharpton.

What encourages you about tonight?

REV. AL SHARPTON, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm very encouraged. We came in in double digits. No one expected that. We doubled Howard Dean's vote in South Carolina, tripled Joe Lieberman. I think, very clearly, for those that said that I would not be able to get votes in the South, we have absolutely shown we can. We've shown national currency tonight. We picked up a delegate in Delaware. We got votes in Missouri. So we are very emboldened by tonight. This is not my home turf, and we did better than the top two contenders. So I don't think we could have asked for much more in South Carolina.

KING: What's your overall goal in all of this, Al? Is it to make a point?

SHARPTON: Well, the overall goal is to win the nomination. And the secondary goal, if you can't win the nomination, is to pick up enough delegates to have impact. We began doing that tonight. We began showing a solid national following. A lot of people that was opposed to us had to eat words tonight because people have to explain how in South Carolina, with no commercials, no mailing, just visiting churches, I was able to beat some of the contenders that spent millions of dollars there. I beat Wesley Clark here.

I heard a commentator on CNN say earlier tonight, Didn't John Kerry do well to beat Wesley Clark? Al Sharpton beat Wesley Clark in South Carolina. That's a big deal to our grass-roots network around this country, as we move into more familiar parts of the terrain that we're familiar with.

KING: Are you surprised at how well Kerry has done?

SHARPTON: No. Kerry has, in my judgment, was able to get the support of the established, organized machinery. So I thought he would do well here. I thought he would do well around the country, and I think he will increase -- increasingly do well. I think what will happen now is the field will narrow, and those that really can build an insurgent movement and Kerry will be running down the end of this.

I mean, you know, there's been a lot of talk about Reverend Jackson, Larry. In '84, it ended up Mondale, Hart and Jackson. Jackson came in three in most Southern primaries. I think we're going to start seeing a focus in this race. And as it goes north, it's going to be clearer and clearer that some of us are going to challenge on the issues and I think have a lot of influence on where this party is going. KING: Where do you go next?

SHARPTON: Michigan, and then, clearly, to Virginia, and from Virginia on to Wisconsin. We are now in this and we're active, and we've proven tonight we can get votes all over the country. There were those, Larry, that said I could only get votes in New York. Well, guess what? We got double digits in South Carolina. We did not raise the money to go on TV, not a mailing. We did it grass roots, in the churches, and we came ahead of Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Joe Lieberman. That's quite a feat for people that were told on the front page of the paper yesterday he couldn't do over 5 points. We did double digits tonight and came in third.

KING: Thank you, Reverend Al Sharpton...

SHARPTON: Thank you.

KING: ... onward as he goes to Michigan and then to -- as he said, to Virginia.

Let's bring in David Gergen now, editor-at-large, "U.S. News & World Report," professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He's in Boston.

We've asked the others, now you get your chance. What's your overview of tonight?

DAVID GERGEN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT": It's not only a big night for John Kerry, Larry -- and I think he's now -- while he's taken a couple of hits tonight, he's on the road, clearly, to grasping this nomination. But I think the more important thing is the polls that have come out in the last few days which show him now running ahead of President Bush, and even more important, that he seems to have found his voice as a campaigner. He's going to come straight out of the corner and go straight at the president.

This is not a Michael Dukakis. He's going to put up a fight. He's going to resist and resent (ph) and put a fight up against this whole Republican effort to pain him as simply a Northeastern liberal. And I think he's going to -- I think he is beginning to look -- make this look like it's going to be more of a fight in November than we thought only two or three weeks ago. President Bush is still a heavy favorite, I think, in November, but John Kerry tonight is showing himself to be a real fighter.

KING: Bill Schneider, what's he done right?

SCHNEIDER: Well, what he's done essentially is say, I have the stature to stand next to President Bush and talk about national security. He did it with a slogan, "Bring it on." That was his way of saying the Democrats are not going to do what they did in the 2002 midterm, ignore national security, say, OK, that's the president's issue. We'll talk about jobs and health care, issues that Democrats want to talk about. What John Kerry essentially did was say, I'm going to put national security front and center. And he's surrounded by veterans. He's surrounded by firefighters. He looks tough. He looks masculine. And he is signalling to Democrats, I'm willing to challenge Bush on national security, not try to set it aside, because unless we can match him on that, he says, and I've got the national and international experience to do it -- unless we can match him on that, people aren't going to listen to anything else we have to say.

KING: Wolf, at the height of Dean's crescendo, Al Gore endorsed him. And then Bill Bradley endorsed him. Why did that not work?

BLITZER: You know, it's -- people are going to write dissertations and books about Howard Dean, what happened, what didn't happen. And a lot of people say, You know what? That concession speech he delivered in Des Moines, Iowa, that hurt him badly. People forget he came in a dismal third in Iowa, long before that concession speech. He got carried away. There's no doubt about that. I hate to use that pun (ph).

But one of the things that did happen -- and you have to give John Kerry a lot of credit -- his campaign only a month or two was in deep trouble before Iowa. He regrouped. He restructured, kicked out some staffers he didn't like who weren't doing the job, he thought, for him, brought in some new people. He got an enormous amount of help from Senator Kennedy. I think Senator Kennedy will go down as someone who helped John Kerry a lot, his close senator from Massachusetts. But there was a bullseye on Howard Dean, and that bullseye began to pay off.

KING: We'll be right back with more of our panel, more guests to come, too. And Mo Rocca joins us at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tonight all of you said that protecting America means protecting American jobs, that building one America means providing opportunity to all our children, no matter where they live, no matter who their family is, no matter what the color of their skin. Tonight you said that the politics of lifting people up beats the politics of tearing people down!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: This is part 2 of LARRY KING LIVE tonight, two editions live. We're in New York.

Joining us now in Los Angeles is Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio. Why do you stay in this thing, Dennis?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH (D-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, because the unifying principle which this Democratic Party needs is not simply who can beat George Bush but the issues upon which George Bush can be defeated. And I happen to believe that I have three of them: the war, health care and trade. I've led the effort in challenging the Bush administration and its assertions of weapons of mass destruction. I led the effort in voting against -- in the congressional vote against Iraq. I led the effort against the occupation, and I actually have a plan to get out of Iraq. And of course, Larry, I'm leading the effort for universal, single-payer, not-for-profit health care. These are the kinds of things that -- and plus trade, which I believe, as the election starts to -- the field starts to narrow, the people are going to start asking about these frontrunners in this horse race what they have in their saddlebags.

KING: But you are a realist. It appears unlikely that you would get this nomination. So is it more to make points?

KUCINICH: Oh, Larry, look, you know, we're still early in this primary season, and I think that as the frontrunners are subjected to more scrutiny, people are going to ask, you know, where do they stand? For example, with all due respect to Senator Kerry -- and congratulations to him on his great stand tonight -- this issue of the war in Iraq is a fundamental issue. You know, he said there were weapons of mass destruction. He voted for the war. He's for the occupation. He doesn't have a plan to get out. And he wants to send another 40,000 troops. I mean, these are issues...

KING: But he wins five states tonight.

KUCINICH: You know what? And I congratulate him on that. But we haven't had a debate on these issues yet, and we will, and I promise you that. And I'm going to be in this race to make sure of it. And furthermore, as the debate continues, I think that more and more Americans are going to want to know who will deliver not-for- profit health care, who will deliver jobs for all because, let's face it -- let's say, Larry -- let's go right to the debates in 2004.

If the Democratic nominee standing next to George Bush said there were weapons of mass destruction, voted for the war, supports a continuation of the occupation, doesn't have a plan to get out and is for sending another 40,000 troops, what's the difference between that person and George Bush? I mean, these are questions that the American people are going to have a chance to ponder in places like California, where the actual election could be decided.

KING: Are you going to -- is Maine -- do you think you have a chance in Maine to win on Sunday?

KUCINICH: To win? We're going to do well in Maine, but you know, I'm finally starting to pop up above the surface of the campaign. You know, I finally got more than 1 percent in some places, 2 percent in Arizona, 3 percent in North Dakota and maybe 5, 6, percent in New Mexico. We're starting to finally demonstrate, you know, a heartbeat to the campaign. And I think Maine is the next place where we can look to have some help.

KING: Thank you, Congressman. We'll be seeing you down the road. Congressman Dennis Kucinich, one of the candidates for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.

Tucker Carlson in Indianapolis, why -- why do the Kuciniches and the Sharptons stay?

CARLSON: Well, the groupies I think are a big part of it, the dating opportunities. But more than that, I mean, I think Congressman Kucinich makes a good point. You know, he's -- he's running on a platform that he believes in. A lot of people believe in it, too. I don't know. I mean, it's sort of nice to see a candidate out, you know, articulating a vision of America -- a terrifying vision, in my view, but nonetheless a vision -- that's, you know, heartfelt. I salute Dennis Kucinich. Plus, he's the only vegan in the race, and they need representation, too. I think it's great.

KING: David Gergen, why -- why do people who apparently have no chance stick it out?

GERGEN: Maybe he's looking for -- to get a -- go out there with Tucker on the talk show, you know, get a speech on the speech circuit. Who knows? Or looking for a TV show. You never know. But it's fine. It's a free country. They can run. Dennis Kucinich has made some interesting points. I think when it -- I think America is listening to Kerry, Edwards and Clark, at this point.

KING: Bill Schneider, why -- what's your thoughts as to why candidates with apparently no chance think they have a chance?

SCHNEIDER: Because they were just on your show. That's the point. Both Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich went on the Larry King show and talked about their point of view and advertised their views and were able to appeal to their supporters. And they were -- they got on the Larry King show. That's what it's all about.

KING: So Wolf Blitzer, is it...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: ... not just ego, is it, Wolf/ They are trying to make a point, right?

BLITZER: Well, I that's fair to say, and I, like you, Larry, have interviewed, spent a lot of time with the -- Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich, and they have strongly held views that they and their supporters want to get out. They want to make a point. And even though the chances are remote, at best, that they're going to get the Democratic nomination, they want to fight and maybe fight for a future time.

KING: All right, we didn't ask David Gergen what surprised him the most tonight. We asked the others. What surprised you, David?

GERGEN: I -- the -- Tucker was right in the beginning. The biggest surprise so far has been the collapse of the Dean campaign. I thought he would show more life tonight than he did. He is fading so rapidly. I do think we're going to be asking ourselves for a long time what happened here.

Someone high in the Kerry campaign tonight told me that -- that he felt that the turning point came when Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean, that up until that time, they hadn't been able to make anything stick against Howard Dean and that the endorsement, which made him look like the presumptive nominee, brought a lot of scrutiny, and suddenly, the flaws in the Dean candidacy were exposed in a much, much rougher way in the press, and that that really was the turning point.

KING: In other words, where did we go right?

GERGEN: Right. Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We're going to take...

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: ... look for these endorsements, and they may blow up in your face. You never know.

KING: We'll take a break, and when we come back, Mo Rocca will join us, the TV personality who is a contributor to the "Today" show and a veteran of "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart. We'll reintroduce the whole panel. Back with more to come. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have a very stark choice in front of you between somebody who's actually delivered health care and balanced budgets and somebody who's a perfectly fine person but hasn't ever delivered any health care, has introduced 11 health care bills, none of which passed. We need to win Washington state. What this choice is really about is do you just want to change presidents or do you want real change in America?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Let's meet our panel.

Here in New York, Mo Rocca, TV personality, "Today Show" contributor, veteran of "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central.

Still with us in Boston, David Gergen, editor-at-large, "U.S. News & World Report."

In Indianapolis, Tucker Carlson, co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE," and author of "Politicians, Partisans and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News."

In Atlanta is Wolf Blitzer, who's anchor of CNN's "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" and "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER" and has been our election anchor all night long.

And also in Atlanta, Bill Schneider, CNN senior political analyst. Before we go back to the panel, let's go to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Standing by is Governor Bill Richards -- Democrat Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico, former ambassador to the U.N. who has been named chairman of the 2004 Democratic convention.

They're calling this Hispanic Tuesday. How did the Hispanics vote tonight in New Mexico?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, in New Mexico almost to the one for John Kerry over General Clark, who was his closest competitor. And then Governor Dean.

I think what is significant, Larry, is Arizona and New Mexico, primarily Hispanic primary voters turned out in record numbers. In New Mexico, we expected 50,000 turnout. We got 80,000. There's unprecedented turnout, which I think is bad news for the Republicans in a battleground state like New Mexico.

And like the six other primaries that happened today, huge turnouts, a great energizing of the Democratic base.

KING: How do you view tonight?

RICHARDSON: Well, I think Senator Kerry now is a clear frontrunner. He won five out of seven. He demonstrated support among Hispanics, which is a political Democratic base the Republicans are trying to snatch.

In addition, I believe that the field starts to winnow down -- it's also a good day for Senator Edwards, a good day for General Clark.

But we need to start winnowing down the field. We need to start getting ready for positive messages by one candidate, a ticket, get ready for the convention in Boston, get our message of positive economic growth, not just criticism and a strong national security message.

KING: Your chairman, Terry, McAuliffe, said anyone who hasn't won a primary by tonight should drop out. Do you agree with that?

RICHARDSON: Well, I agree with the thesis of what Terry's saying, that we can't keep on bloodying each other up, going until March or April and not have a nominee when it is appearing that we have one strong frontrunner emerging.

So I agree with Terry's thesis. Nonetheless, two other candidates won primaries tonight -- they're national candidates; they showed strength -- Senator Edwards and General Clark.

But clearly, Senator Kerry is demonstrating appeal in New England, in the Southwest, in the Northwest, in the Midwest. So he's coming out awfully strong after tonight.

KING: What happened to Howard Dean? RICHARDSON: Well, in New Mexico he had a very strong organization, and actually he was even to General Clark and Senator Kerry in the absentee ballots, starting out. But then all of these ballots were counted before New Hampshire.

And what's happened is unprecedented, huge, huge momentum that Senator Kerry has generated since his wins in Iowa and New Hampshire. You can't beat that big momentum that you get from those two early caucuses and primaries.

KING: Thanks, Governor. Always good talking with you. Governor Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico. He will chair the Democratic National Convention in July in Boston. We'll be seeing a lot of him.

Mo Rocca...

MO ROCCA, "THE DAILY SHOW" PERFORMER: yes.

KING: ... welcome again to our...

ROCCA: Thank you.

KING: You were a big hit last week, and we bring you back.

ROCCA: Well, I'm happy to be back.

I wanted to ask Governor Richardson whether he was aware that the roadrunner is the state bird of New Mexico. It actually is.

KING: Yes. Why do you care? Why do you care about that?

ROCCA: I just think it's something interesting. Or the yucca is the state flower. It's interesting to know these facts.

KING: You know all these things?

ROCCA: It's fun.

KING: What's your analysis of the night?

ROCCA: My analysis -- well, first of all, let me say that Howard Dean did not do terribly in New Mexico. It was his best state tonight. And it sort of makes sense, because New Mexico is full of all those New Age-y sort of vision questers who smoke -- the sweat lodgers and all that business. Peyote smokers.

In fact, I think that, you know, John Kerry, it's not surprising that he did well. I mean, he sounds better and he looks better. And a lot of that, I think, has to do with Botox. Now I know...

KING: You think he had Botox?

ROCCA: Well, for the purpose of this show, let's just say that he has had it. And I don't think that there's anything wrong with that. I mean, the man began the race looking worse than Zachary Taylor, and he looks better than Franklin Pierce now.

And Pierce didn't have the benefit of Botox. They had to use tallow back then, or whale oil.

And I think it's been great. I don't think it should be held against him. I think if he puts forward a health care proposal that doesn't cover Botox, then I think it become germane. But otherwise, you know, I think it's great.

And Mary Beth Cahill is very smart, by the way, his campaign manager, and advised him against collagen in the lips, because she knew how it ruined Barbara Hershey.

KING: Gergen, you're a historian. Is it true that Zachary Taylor did not have any access to something like Botox?

GERGEN: Zachary Taylor is one of the most forgotten men in American politics and I...

KING: That's why Rocca remembers him.

GERGEN: Well, he does.

ROCCA: The Battle of Buena Vista.

GERGEN: What's that?

ROCCA: The Battle of Buena Vista. He went to Mexico to fight the Mexican-American War for cheap plastic surgery, I think. But it didn't work out.

GERGEN: Now, that's right.

KING: David...

GERGEN: He came in -- he came in as vice president, didn't he?

KING: He did. He was the vice president.

ROCCA: Zachary Taylor, no. That's John Tyler, the accidental president...

GERGEN: OK.

ROCCA: ... the vice president for William Henry Harrison.

KING: Stop! Stop!

ROCCA: I know, I know. I'm sorry.

KING: Gergen, did Botox -- Is Botox important here? Does Kerry's look account for -- Is that at all an issue?

GERGEN: Well, I have no idea whether he ever took Botox or not, but I'll tell you something. He was stiff as a board here in the beginning, and I think he had this kind of shield in front of him, Larry, when he went out to talk to voters. And he wasn't getting through.

And I think what happened in Iowa, in part, was he finally dropped the shield, and he started connecting with people. This guy is best when he's down. He's best when he's cornered. That's when he comes out fighting. He seems to coast sometimes, and when he gets down, that's when he fights back.

And that's...

KING: Tucker...

GERGEN: ... why I think he'll be tougher in the fall.

KING: Tucker, is he better than he was?

CARLSON: Yes, I think he is -- I think he is better than he was. He's -- I mean, as has often been pointed out, he's a bit long-winded. He has an excellent command of the language and terrific grammar. That's not always a good thing when you're running for president.

I thought part of Howard Dean's appeal was that he spoke ordinary English and people liked that.

I will say, from what I can tell, I've been to a lot of Kerry speeches lately and talked to a lot of Democrats, at the core of his message is, "I'm masculine." Bill Schneider alluded to this a minute ago.

He is really running the manliness campaign. I mean, the point of much of what he says appears to be, "You could imagine me with the megaphone at Ground Zero." I think that's the point of his going after Bush's, you know, time in the National Guard, really sort of an appalling attack.

And I think it's why he says things like, "I know aircraft carriers for real," et cetera, et cetera. I mean, the point is...

GERGEN: It's (UNINTELLIGIBLE), isn't it?

CARLSON: It is. It's a little low. I mean, who -- in the end, really, what does that have to do with anything, really? I mean, particularly, the president's positions on issues...

KING: I think -- I think because that's the day he said -- is that the day he said it was over?

CARLSON: No, that's a totally valid argument, to argue that the war in Iraq was wrong or that it wasn't over at that point. But to say, you know, "I've been on aircraft carriers for real. I'm a bigger man than you." I mean, that's -- it is pretty third grade.

Democrats are -- the ones I know, anyway -- very open about it. You know, "He's a manly, tough guy." Finally, we don't have a wuss as a candidate. That appears to be what a lot of Democrats are thinking.

That's -- I mean, that's why Wes Clark was put up to run, because you know, he had the military background. He wasn't going to be Dukakis. He turned out to be a terrible candidate, as you know.

KING: We'll -- we'll continue, get Wolf and Bill's thoughts and more from Mo Rocca on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: For me, it is now time to make a difficult but realistic decision. After looking at the returns and speaking with my family and campaign team, I have decided tonight to end my quest for the presidency of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Wolf Blitzer, you buy the manliness idea?

BLITZER: I think the manliness idea is good. Certainly, it's something that's worthy of discussion. There's no doubt that John Kerry brings a lot to the table, and certainly the fact that he is a legitimate warrior, going back to Vietnam, will help him a great deal.

I know you've been speaking about Botox with Mo Rocca, Larry. Did you notice -- and Mo is sitting right across from you -- he covers his forehead with his hair?

ROCCA: Yes, exactly.

KING: So, Wolf, you've hit on something.

ROCCA: Yes. It's a hairline implant, and it just hasn't healed yet. I'm sure.

KING: Admit it. Admit it.

ROCCA: Yes, true. Absolutely.

KING: OK, thanks.

ROCCA: This has got to be the world's biggest Lite Brite board. I mean, it's amazing.

KING: What do you mean Lite Brite? It's a map of the world.

ROCCA: I mean, but you know the Lite Brite? It's a toy. I know.

KING: Why do you know so many inconsequential things? Why do you care?

ROCCA: Yes. No, it's good. I -- I just feel -- I just feel terrible for Howard Dean, how he's been so domesticated. I mean, the real -- the big losers tonight, I think, are Al Gore, because it's clear that he was the kiss of death, and Madonna, because she endorsed Wesley Clark. And look, Oklahoma, that's great. I love the musical; it's great. But it's not that big a prize to spend all that money on.

And you know, I think Madonna was hoping to continue her reinvention. She wants to go from the Material Girl to the cowboy thing. I think she was hoping to become a political boss. She would have looked great chomping on a cigar in a smoke-filled room. But I think her hopes are dashed also.

KING: So you think she was looking for a spot in the administration?

ROCCA: I think she would have been a really -- sure. I think she would have been terrific as a super delegate, I think, also. But...

KING: Yes, she would.

ROCCA: She's been let down (ph).

KING: Bill, you buy this manliness thing? I think you introduced this tonight.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, I did. I think there's two great oxymorons in American politics, contradictions in terms.

One is a tough liberal. That's not supposed to exist. The other is a nice conservative.

A tough liberal is the king of the image. For decades, Democrats were yearning for another Kennedy. You know, you messed with a Kennedy, you ended up in the morning missing an important body part. You know, that's what Democrats saw in Mario Cuomo, a tough liberal.

KING: Yes.

SCHNEIDER: And that's what they see in John Kerry.

Conversely, when Republicans come up with a nice conservative, not Pat Buchanan, not Phil Graham, not Bob Dole, but Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, they've got a winner.

So I think Democrats look at John Kerry and they say, "He's a tough liberal. That's what we need."

KING: Agree, Mo?

ROCCA: Yes.

GERGEN: Larry?

KING: Yes, David?

GERGEN: There's another part to this. I think Kerry is using the tough liberal to inoculate himself against the assaults that are coming. You know, what's happened in this race so far is that two people have been under assault. One was Howard Dean, and he went down under all those attacks. The other has been increasingly George W. Bush, and he's -- his approval ratings are now below 50 and he's suffered some in these last few weeks.

But we all know what's coming. The Republicans are going to bankroll over $100 million, and they are going to go after John Kerry as a Michael Dukakis clone. Senator Kennedy, they're already calling him the conservative senator from Massachusetts. John Kerry is the liberal senator, has a higher ADA rating than Kennedy does.

And they're going to use that $100 million to paint him in ways that he has never thought of before.

KING: And -- and...

GERGEN: And they're trying to inoculate themselves before they get there.

KING: But they can't paint him, Mo, as the little guy in a tank?

ROCCA: Well, no, they can't. They can't. But first of all, I was going to point out, by the way, that Goldwater was a pussycat, also. They let him out of the list of nice conservatives.

But you know, Kerry is going to be difficult. Only twice in history have sitting senators won the presidency. Kennedy was one of them and Warren Harding. And each was unique in his own way. Kennedy was our youngest elected president, was fresh and had moderate ideas. Was strong on defense and lowered taxes.

And Harding had the biggest feet of any president, 14 and a half. Seven inches.

I'm not making some cheap sexual joke, but it's kind of interesting.

KING: Mo...

ROCCA: He had no kids, which is kind of ironic. That we know of.

KING: Mo?

ROCCA: Yes.

KING: You're truly not well.

ROCCA: I know.

KING: I mean, you're funny.

ROCCA: Well, I'm voting for the guy with mental health coverage, then.

KING: Who knocked the crib over as a child?

ROCCA: It was...

BLITZER: Hey, Larry?

KING: Yes, Wolf.

BLITZER: I wonder if Mo would be interested in sharing some thoughts on the -- one of the big stories this week, the Janet Jackson Super Bowl halftime controversy.

ROCCA: Yes, let's talk about that. First of all, let me -- by way of that, let me tell you first of all, last night great show. Angela Lansbury, a class act. And I hope Janet Jackson was watching, because you know, you didn't have any wardrobe malfunction with Angela Lansbury.

KING: No.

ROCCA: To promote her movie on Hallmark tomorrow night. And you didn't see her reaching across, pulling off one of your suspenders "by accident." None of that kind of business.

I think -- I think also it's interesting, is Howard Dean, part of his long train of big mistakes is yesterday -- and this is absolutely true -- he made a statement criticizing Michael Powell of the FCC for promising action against CBS. So he was de facto, you know, defending what happened between Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.

That's troubling to me, because I don't want to think of President Howard Dean doing the same kind of thing to, say, Madam Megawati of Indonesia. I mean, we have enough problems with the Islamic world...

KING: Do you think he'd do that to Madam Megawati?

ROCCA: Yes, and she probably wears a sari, so the whole thing would come right off. I mean, it's -- it's a bad situation.

KING: OK. Well, you think that was a big deal? What happened last night, what happened at the Super Bowl Sunday night? Do you care?

ROCCA: No, actually, I really don't care very much. But I mean, no, it's fun to talk about. Yes.

You know who I really like? I like Teresa Heinz, because I like the whole idea of this beautiful European woman raised in Africa. You know that Meryl Streep's going to play her in the movie. Because who in the hell else can do a Mozambiquan accent? I mean, she's -- yes. She's, you know.

KING: Are the women important in this, Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, they are. And that's the first thing you learn when you run for president. It's all about who you are personally. That was Dean's downfall. People just didn't like him personally.

His wife, as Mo called her last week, is -- he called her funky crunchy.

ROCCA: She's super crunchy. Oh, my God. She's the best. All my fantasies are ruined. I just wanted...

SCHNEIDER: That's the perfect characterization.

ROCCA: She's out -- she grew out ...

SCHNEIDER: Everything private is covered. Everything private is covered. That's the first thing you learn when you run for president. That's been true ever since 1960.

When Kennedy ran for president, you know Teddy White wrote his book about everything in that campaign. Not everything. There were some things we didn't know about.

But over the years, everything has become public.

KING: Tucker, does anything go?

CARLSON: Does anything -- is anything off limits?

KING: Yes.

CARLSON: Yes. I mean, generally the kids, you know. If a candidate has flaky children, and a lot of them do. A lot of children of political figures, you know, smoke a lot of dope or get in car wrecks. Generally, the press doesn't report it.

I -- A number of times, just living in Washington, you know, you hear about some senator or even someone at a higher level who's -- one of his kids is out of control. And you don't -- you don't write about it.

I think that's a good thing. I mean, people don't necessarily need to know that. You always feel sorry for the person.

ROCCA: Kucinich couldn't find a woman.

SCHNEIDER: Larry, let me give you an example. Suppose we discovered that John Kerry had denied that he used Botox. A doctor shows up and says, "He actually did."

KING: Right.

SCHNEIDER: Now that would be an explosive issue, because then he's another Clinton. But...

ROCCA: Even more explosive, that same doctor has given him a breast enhancement. That would be a big problem.

SCHNEIDER: He never denied that. CARLSON: But it would be an interesting story. I don't think it's actually frivolous at all. I mean, if you're running as the guy, as Mo put it, with the biggest feet, which is essentially what John Kerry is running as, you know, the -- truly! I mean, the manliest guy in the pack.

And all of a sudden, not only did you go to boarding school in Switzerland, right? Not only are you sort of effete, but you use Botox?

ROCCA: Yes.

CARLSON: I don't know. Why is that not a big deal? I think it is.

ROCCA: And two words, two words are going to come back in this campaign, especially if Kerry's the nominee, is naked wrestling. Because he and Bush were both part of Skull and Bones, the elite Yale secret society...

KING: We don't know what goes on.

ROCCA: ... which purportedly includes naked wrestling. Now, they were members in the 1960s. Just be thankful that they weren't members in the 1870s, because then they would have been naked wrestling with William Howard Taft, who was a member then. And that's really ugly.

KING: And on that note, we'll come back in a moment with our final moments. It's getting late. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know this president, this president doesn't even mention veterans in his State of the Union message.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boo!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boo!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boo!

KERRY: And then he offers a V.A. budget that the VFW calls a sham, a disgrace.

When I pledge, I pledge that when I am president, I pledge to those who have worn the uniform of our country and to those who wear it today that I will be a champion for them in the Oval Office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: I know it will interest our panel to know that Mo Rocca is writing a book on animals in the White House, history of animals in the White House, and that Calvin Coolidge had 35 animals in the White House.

ROCCA: That's right. And it included a wallaby.

KING: He had a wallaby in the White House?

ROCCA: Yes.

KING: It's going to be a big book, Mo.

ROCCA: Well, listen, hey...

KING: This could be giant.

ROCCA: Yes. I hope so. It's a change.

KING: Gergen, you mentioned $100 million. When does that onslaught begin?

GERGEN: I think within 30 days.

KING: They're going to start?

GERGEN: They're going to start in on ads. I think they'll start early. But already, Larry, you can see a few -- listen to Republicans talk about him around the country, as they go on television. Now they're already citing facts about his A.D. -- his Americans for Democratic Action rating, his liberal rating.

They're starting -- they're starting to punch holes here. They're trying to paint him already. It's not going to take long. They know what they're doing. They've done this before.

And we saw this with Lee Atwater running the campaign back in 1988 against Dukakis. They used brass knuckles.

And what's been so interesting to me is how Kerry is coming out of his corner with his own brass knuckles. He intends to fight. Actually going to make it a much more interesting race this fall.

KING: Tucker, isn't the war aspect of Kerry's record going to help him?

CARLSON: I don't know. I mean, yes, it will make it more it more difficult...

KING: A genuine hero.

CARLSON: ... as some sort -- well, he's absolutely a genuine hero. I do wonder at a certain point if A, it doesn't seem unseemly if you're -- he is a genuine hero. A genuine hero talking about his heroics, however, does grate on people a bit.

McCain avoided doing that, I thought, pretty successfully. One hopes Kerry will, too.

I think one thing Kerry has going for him, he is liberal, quite liberal and his voting record obviously demonstrates that. He talks a pretty good centrist game, though.

I remember a conversation I had with him about a year and a half ago, in which he was telling me about how abortion bothered him so much. And he didn't come out and say, "I'm against abortion," but he sort of sounded like he was opposed to abortion. Of course, his votes, you know, entirely on the pro-choice side in a very aggressive way.

But the point I'm making is he can sound like a centrist. He does it, actually, pretty well. And I think you'll start hearing him talk that way...

KING: Bill...

CARLSON: ... much more frequently.

KING: Bill Schneider, is he a big favorite in Michigan?

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think he is very strong in Michigan. He got a very big union vote today.

You know, the thing about John Kerry is he is not a niche candidate. He gets support across the board, from blacks and whites, from union and non-union voters, from seniors and from non-seniors. His support is widely spread, as opposed to his competitors.

Howard Dean gets his support only in the niche of the left wing of the party. So he has to go find states like Maine and Wisconsin where that -- where those forces are strong. Or Al Sharpton, with African-Americans. Or General Clark, who has the national security issue, in places like Oklahoma, where it's strong.

They have to fight against Kerry from their various niches.

KING: Yes. Wolf, what do you hear about Washington? Anyone favored there?

BLITZER: Not yet. It's hard to tell. I think that Kerry's going to do well.

I will say this on what you're discussing, Larry. The Democrats by all accounts, they're getting ready to take off their gloves. This was evidenced the last few days. Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the DNC.

Ann Lewis, who works at the DNC, earlier today here on CNN. Raising this whole issue of -- and old issue, four years old, of the president -- what was his military service really like when he served in the Texas international guard.

Was he missing for some period of time?

They're going after him too.

KING: And Mo Rocca, what are you predicting? Are you making a prediction? ROCCA: I'm not making a prediction. But I think -- I think he's got to take this show on the road. I'll be your second banana. We can throw a brown wig on Nancy Gray. She'd be like Dorothy Lamour. It would be a great act. Great show.

KING: Like the "Road" pictures?

ROCCA: Yes. Like "The Road to Tikrit" or something like that.

KING: So in other words, be you -- I'm Crosby, you're Hope.

ROCCA: Sure.

KING: And Nancy Gray is Dorothy Lamour with a wig?

ROCCA: Yes.

Who's Angela Lansbury endorsing? She's smart. She held out.

KING: You liked her, didn't you?

ROCCA: Love her. She's a class act. Great.

KING: So are you. Thank you.

Thank you, panel. They'll all be back, Mo Rocca, David Gergen, Tucker Carlson, Wolf Blitzer and Bill Schneider.

Speaking of coming back, I'll be back in a couple minutes to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night at our regular time, 9 Eastern, 6 Pacific, Ed Bradley of "60 Minutes" will be our guest. "Sixty Minutes" doing a feature on yours truly, tomorrow night on "60 Minutes II" at 8 p.m. on CBS.

But right now, it's time to turn it over -- it's 1 a.m. in the morning. Hey, he carries on. He's live, folks. This is not a repeat.

AARON BROWN, "NEWSNIGHT" HOST: Nope.

KING: This is "NEWSNIGHT WITH AARON BROWN," next.

BROWN: Yes.

KING: I like the light look. I like the depth. He's been here today for 17 and a half hours, working on this show. It better be good.

BROWN: It better be. Thank you, Mr. King, I think. Sure you don't want to do another hour?

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com




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