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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Close Wisconsin Race Ends with Kerry the Victor

Aired February 18, 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 EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today the voters of Wisconsin sent a clear message. The message was this. Objects in your mirror may be closer than they appear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight John Edwards makes it a race with a surprisingly strong second-place finish in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary. But John Kerry still claims another victory. Can he be stopped in a march to the nomination? And Howard Dean finishing a distant third -- what's next for him?

We've got all the latest with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, senior political analyst Bill Schneider, Tucker Carlson of CNN's "CROSSFIRE," and later the unique perspective of "Today" show contributor Mo Rocca all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Well, it's all over but the shouting, and Kerry wraps up another victory, but it's close. Wolf Blitzer, what's the latest tally?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's put it up on the screen right now. More than 95 percent of the vote, Larry, is now in. Take a look at this. John Kerry clearly the winner with 40 percent of the vote, 34 percent for John Edwards, a 6-point split, 18 percent for Howard Dean. All the polls going in showed it would be a lot more decisive for John Kerry. Still, 40 to 34 percent is impressive. You can't argue with that.

What is very depressing for Howard Dean is that dismal, disappointing third-place finish.

KING: And we will be taking calls tonight. We'll be flashing the number. You can call in.

Bill Schneider, what happened?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: What happened was that John Edwards opened up a surprising front against John Kerry and Howard Dean on the trade issue. He expressed the anger a lot of Wisconsin voters feel about the loss of jobs in their state, over 75,000 jobs lost in the last three years. He very firmly blamed competition from foreign trade for that loss of jobs, and that message appeared to resonate with a lot of voters in Wisconsin, particularly independents and Republicans, who are allowed to vote in the Wisconsin Democratic primary. It's an open primary. The Democrats voted for John Kerry, the independents and the small number of Republicans who voted gave a lot of their votes -- in fact, a majority of their votes went to John Edwards, and that's why it was so close.

KING: Tucker Carlson, NAFTA was apparently a late-charging reason for -- for him doing well. And yet both Republicans and Democrats widely supported NAFTA. It was a major Clinton proposal supported by all the top figures in the Republican Party.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Sure. I mean, that is the Clinton legacy, probably the biggest of them all. And here you have a Democratic candidate, you know, gaining points because he opposed it. I mean, it -- the Democratic Party is changing. It's interesting. It'll be interesting to see if Kerry meets that with more criticism of his own of NAFTA.

I have to say, if you're John Kerry, it's got to be a pretty frustrating night. I mean, it looks like he's going to win by 6 points. It's not that close, really. I mean, he won. He beat John Edwards. And yet the news clearly is going to be dominated by Edwards, who really has only won the state he was born in -- not to be mean about it, or anything. But John Kerry, I mean, is just crushing everybody, and yet we're still talking about Edwards. Can you imagine how you'd feel if you were John Kerry? Pretty annoyed, I bet.

KING: Is there something also, Wolf, about Wisconsin? Is Wisconsin just different?

BLITZER: They used to say that, that Wisconsin had this independent streak. But increasingly, it's looking like the rest of the country, at least a big chunk of the rest of the country. To a certain degree, it's looking Iowa, where John Kerry won, John Edwards came in second. I think, you know, people will be drawing some parallels between Iowa, the first contest in this presidential race, and Wisconsin, in the sense that there was an important newspaper editorial endorsing John Edwards late in the game, which clearly had an impact, "The Des Moines Register" endorsing Edwards on the Sunday before the contest, and now "The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel" only yesterday endorsing John Edwards. It seems like those newspaper editorials gave credibility and gave a big push to John Edwards and made it tight.

KING: We've been talking about it earlier, Bill, and I know they talked about it on Wolf's show, but we've got a big debate coming on February 26. I'm going to host it. It's co-sponsored by CNN and "The LA Times." It's 90 minutes. It'll certainly feature Edwards and Kerry. The other two will be in it, apparently, Kucinich and Sharpton. Dean -- we'll see if he drops out or not.

Will that be a key factor that night? Because it's going to be seen in all 10 states that count.

SCHNEIDER: Yes, that will be a very important debate. It'll be a very important event. And the question is, what will John Edwards's strategy be to run against John Kerry? Important finding from tonight's -- today's exit poll was that the Edwards voters were not really anti-Kerry voters. Two thirds of them said they'd be perfectly satisfied if Kerry was the nominee. They were voting not against or to stop John Kerry, they were voting to send a message about the economy.

You know, Kerry -- Edwards, rather, may try to run against Kerry as an outsider because he's going to say, I've only been in the Senate for less than one term. I'm not a career politician. John Kerry is born to privilege. He is a career politician, a Washington insider for 19 years. But the message so far this year from Democrats has been they don't want an outsider. Howard Dean, Wesley Clark -- they were outsiders. So is John Edwards. But the fact is, Democrats want someone who can stand to George Bush and exude credibility on issues like national security, someone with qualifications and experience. That's what they see in John Kerry and less in John Edwards.

KING: Tucker, McCain fought Bush tough. It was a fight. The two men didn't like each other. But Bush still won the election. Could Edwards take on Kerry in a tough fight on the 26th and maybe harshly -- be harshly critical of him in the debate and still the party comes together?

CARLSON: Well, the party will come together in the end, I think, unless Howard Dean goes completely insane -- and I hope he does -- and does a kind of Ralph Nader move. It's interesting, though. People -- candidates -- I mean, they're human beings, and they take this stuff really personally. Apparently -- I heard today from someone who would know that John Kerry was very annoyed by the way John Edwards spoke to him and about him in the last debate. And so it'll be very interesting to see the debate that you host, to see how Edwards handles that.

I mean, he's not running for the Senate again. He's already sort of closed out that possibility. He's got nowhere to go. He'll have to go back to representing, you know, or attacking jacuzzi manufacturers after this if he's, you know, out of politics for good. So will he attack John Kerry, thereby sort of closing off the vice presidential option? I don't know. I can't wait -- I can't wait to watch it. I hope he goes harshly negative. I think that'd be interesting.

KING: Wolf, what do you expect that night?

BLITZER: Well, I think John Edwards, there's no doubt, would love to have a one-on-one debate with John Kerry. That would give him a chance to try to score some points. If Kucinich and Sharpton and if Howard Dean, for some reason -- if they are all in the debate, then of course, I think that John Kerry would be happy because it would diminish this notion of it's simply a two-man race. And I think there's going to be a lot of negotiating going into the February 26th debate that CNN and "The Los Angeles Times" will be co-sponsoring, Larry, because a lot of people will be making up their minds based on what they see, what they feel, and that's going to be coming only days before Super Tuesday, March 2.

KING: Bill Schneider, could -- I guess they could. Could CNN and "The LA Times" ask the others not to participate? SCHNEIDER: I suppose. It's our debate, along with "The LA Times." We can invite anyone we want. They might -- they might protest. I guarantee you you'll hear a lot of protests from Kucinich and Sharpton people that they're still legitimate candidates. But you could easily argue they haven't shown enough strength to be serious contenders for the nomination. They don't have enough delegates. They don't have enough votes. You could even disinvite Howard Dean, whose -- whose showing has been rather terrible in all these races. So you could -- we could easily make this a two-person race between Edwards and Kerry, if that's the realistic options.

BLITZER: But Larry, let me -- let me just interject, Larry, there would be a possibility that John Kerry would say, you know, This is unfair to Dennis Kucinich and to Al Sharpton, and as a result, I'm not going to participate, either. And then you could have a debate with John Edwards.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Yes. Yes!

CARLSON: Imagine how boring a debate without Sharpton would be. I mean, I think it'd be bad for the Democratic Party because without Al Sharpton, it's a completely humorless environment, and I think it makes the whole party look bad. You need Sharpton in the debate.

KING: Tucker so wants him to stay in that race.

CARLSON: Yes, I do.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: And that has nothing to do with anything but, of course, your political beliefs.

CARLSON: He's promised to make me the head of Amtrak if he becomes president, so I have a vested interest in his success. But yes, I support Sharpton.

KING: We'll take a break and go to your phone calls for our panel. Mo Rocca will join us later. You're watching a special live second edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And we'll return right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Wherever we go, we're feeling the power of change that is sweeping across this nation, the desire for change to come to America. Everywhere I've been in this campaign and Teresa, the rest of us, we've seen the hurt of workers without work, the hurt of families without health care, struggling to afford it if they have it and struggling to find it when they don't, of Americans whose savings have been swept away by corporate scandal, of so many dreams that have been deferred or denied.

But I've also seen everywhere, in every community, rural in urban, all across this land and particularly in the last days here in Wisconsin, the sense of hope, the sense of the possibilities of our nation and a resolve to make a new future, to lift our country up and reach for the America that we know we have yet to become. That is what this race is about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There's the latest rundown, as we get toward 100 percent of the vote being counted, the winner Kerry by 6 percent. Before we start taking some phone calls from viewers -- and we'll go to calls -- Mo Rocca joins us at the bottom of the hour -- this for all three of you, starting with Wolf. What happened to Howard Dean?

BLITZER: You know, it's -- historians are going to look back and wonder that question. It happened before Iowa because he came in a distant third in Iowa, even though he had spent almost a year campaigning there and he was on the cover of "Newsweek" and "Time" in the weeks leading up to Iowa. There was a lot of speculation he was already picking out his cabinet, who was going to be secretary of the interior.

Clearly, the -- it was a dual reason, I think, that he collapsed, mistakes that he himself made, some of the things he said, which proved to be really, really controversial, and also he had a bullseye on his back. All the other Democrats were going after him big-time, and that combination of mistakes and attacks clearly raised a lot of questions in the minds of many voters in Iowa, and certainly New Hampshire and all the states that followed, Is this guy ready for primetime? And they clearly decided he is not.

KING: Bill Schneider, what's your read on what happened to Howard?

SCHNEIDER: My read is the voters didn't like him.

(LAUGHTER)

SCHNEIDER: It was as simple as that.

KING: They did for a while, didn't they?

SCHNEIDER: Well, they liked...

KING: Or they appeared to.

SCHNEIDER: ... the message. Well -- no, no, no. They liked the message, they didn't like the man. The message was very powerful. It says Democrats have to stand up to George Bush. It said liberals are being bullied, and we want to fight back and we want someone who's a tough guy to fight for us. They loved that message! All the other candidates stole that message. He gave backbone to the other Democrats in the race. But once they got a good look at Howard Dean, we found in polling week after week, he had -- people have a very negative response, even before the screaming episode. We also learned something important about politics, about the Internet. His Internet army never materialized. The Internet is a great way to raise money, and you can propagate a message on the Internet, but you can't sell a candidate on the Internet because politics is still intensely personal. Television works for politics, the Internet doesn't because when people cast a vote, particularly for president, they cast a very personal vote. They're going to see this person, this president, in their face for four years. They want someone they can like, and they really didn't like Howard Dean.

KING: And Tucker, what's your -- without your political hat a second, what's your objective view as to what happened to Howard Dean?

CARLSON: Well, I think the Internet army did show up, at least in Iowa. I met them. And I think they scared a lot of Iowa voters, first off. Thousands upon thousands of Democratic voters really did fall in love with Howard Dean. There was a real Howard Dean movement, and they -- they enjoyed it. They loved it. It was like an adulterous affair. It was thrilling.

And yet those same voters, in the space of about a week, woke up next to Howard Dean and realized this was really reckless. This was crazy, actually, that they were gambling everything on this guy and he wasn't electable. In the end, Democratic voters just aren't that stupid. I mean, they just realized -- again, collectively -- in a very short time this guy could not win. They kind of came to their senses and ran to the nearest adult, and that was -- that was John Kerry.

KING: Wolf, do the Democrats want a candidate now or would they like the fact that this race continues, so they get more attention?

BLITZER: There are -- there are a lot of Democrats, important Democrats, who have told me in the past two days they would be very happy if this goes through March 2 and maybe even a week later, March 9, the Florida primary, March 9, for the simple reason they want to make sure nothing else comes out that could hurt John Kerry, let's say, in the long run, as he gets ready for a general election against President Bush, so the vetting process would go forward.

The other reason some Democrats would like this to go on, despite the potential for some damage in the short term -- they like the fact that John Kerry and John Edwards are getting a lot of attention and that George W. Bush is not getting a lot of attention right now. So to keep this Democratic contest going, it sort of galvanizes, brings in Democrats. So there's clearly a positive side to seeing this primary continue.

KING: Let's take a call. Chicago. Hello.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi. I just want to find out, what could Edwards do to try to finally get over the hump? I mean, I've seen him do second place, like, in so many different contests. And he should have won Oklahoma going away. And you know, I think he really is speaking from a -- is speaking from a conviction that I don't see in Kerry.

KING: All right, what -- what can, Tucker -- what can Edwards -- can Edwards overcome this, or is he -- is it just too much to hoe?

CARLSON: Well, I sort of buy the Edwards talking point that the schedule is against him, that he finishes strong and he has momentum on his side in each contest. That's the line from his campaign, and I think the evidence suggests that it's true. That said, I mean, there are 13 contests in the next two weeks, and it seems to me he's going to have to draw a pretty dramatic contrast between himself and John Kerry in order to win any of those.

In other words, he has to go negative on John Kerry. And again, as I said a minute ago, that puts his short-term political future in peril. He's not going to be picked as vice president if he attacks Kerry harshly. But if he doesn't attack Kerry harshly, he's probably not going to get anywhere. I don't know. I mean, I think he's going to have to come out pretty strong to win.

KING: Would you say, Bill Schneider, that Edwards has made an impressive first shot at national politics?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, he has made an impressive shot. People do like him. Unlike Howard Dean, they take very well to him. He's an effective speaker. He's got a charm and a style that people like very much. They like John Edwards, but they have a problem. The problem is he doesn't have enough experience. You know, he's one of the few people about whom it can be said he would be better off if he looked older. He's 50 years old. And, you know, I spoke to voters in New Hampshire, and they all said, John Edwards is a likable young man. I really admire him. But he's too young. I'll vote for him sometime down the road. And when I would say to them, He's 50 years old, they would say, Really? He doesn't look 50 years old.

The problem is, to stand next to Bush in a time of national peril, when Americans want to feel safe, he doesn't have the credentials to do that. That's what John Kerry does. And to win this, he's going to have to do two things. He's going to have to convince Democrats that John Kerry is really not an electable guy, that he's a Massachusetts liberal like Michael Dukakis, and that he can overcome the hurdle of proving to voters that he has the experience and the qualifications to protect the country.

KING: San Diego. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I want the political analysts -- my question is, will the political analysts recognize that the media created Howard Dean and the buzz around Howard Dean and also has destroyed the buzz around Howard Dean?

KING: A lot of people believe that, Tucker. Do you?

CARLSON: Not at all. In fact, it's -- I think it's just opposite. I mean, you can say that about certain campaigns I've covered. This is absolutely not one of them. In fact, the press dismissed Howard Dean until it was impossible to dismiss him at all. In other words, the Howard Dean phenomenon was organic. *It sort of grew on its own and was noticed by the press fairly late. The idea that his campaign was destroyed by the endless replaying of the scream speech simply not true. He was screaming because he had already lost. He had been destroyed in that caucus, at least relative to expectations. I think it all happened outside the gaze of the press. If anything, I think we were just slow to pick up on his rise and his fall.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more calls. Mo Rocca joins us at the bottom of the hour. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Keep up the fight for a better America. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up. Thank you very much.

EDWARDS: When I go into the White House, I will wake up every day fighting for their jobs. And I'm going to take George Bush's job away from him.

KERRY: My friends, tonight I say to all of America, Get ready. A new day is on the way. Thank you, and God bless.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. John Kerry holding that 6 percent lead. We'll take another call. From St. Louis. Hello.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: If John Kerry wins the nomination but loses the election to President Bush, who do you think will be the leading candidate for the Democrats in 2008?

KING: Who becomes the titular head of the party? Will it be, Wolf, the vice -- I think they call it that, the titular head. Will it be the vice presidential candidate on the Kerry ticket?

BLITZER: Well, you know, anyone -- anyone guess -- anyone's guess, but I assume most people will look at Hillary Rodham Clinton and say she becomes the leader of the Democratic Party. But that's -- it's still anyone's guess.

KING: Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Hillary Rodham Clinton versus Jeb Bush in 2008. How's that for the race we've all been waiting for?

KING: The Bush dynasty rolls on.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. And the Clinton dynasty rolls on. I mean, a lot of people were wondering about Hillary because she decided not to run this year, and they say, you know, it really isn't in her political interest for the Democrat, presumably John Kerry, to win because that would shut down the Democratic nomination until 2012. That means the Clinton administration will be 12 years in history. A lot of it will be forgotten. She'll be 65 years old, not too old to run for president, but it'll be a long time for her to wait. So it is in her interests for Bush to have a second term. And usually in a second term, but the end of the second term, the voters are just fed up with the president's party. They want change. And here comes Hillary to restore the good times of the Clinton years.

KING: Tucker, your thought?

CARLSON: It'll probably be Michael Moore by that point, I mean, given the direction that the Democratic Party is moving. I'm just fascinated by the fact that the presidential and vice presidential candidates from 2000, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, who are considered by many Democrats the legitimate winners of that contest, have totally disappeared from the party. Whatever happened to them? If you're a Democratic primary voter and you think it was stolen from Gore and Lieberman, why aren't you supporting them anymore? It's interesting. Someone needs to write a book on this and explain it all, how they've just sort of disappeared into the ether.

KING: In fact, Gore is the highest vote-getter in America history.

CARLSON: Yes, but he's -- he's a subject of ridicule among Democrats. In fact...

KING: I know, but you've asked a good question. He's the highest...

CARLSON: ... I like him more than my Democratic...

KING: ... vote-getter...

CARLSON: ... friends do.

KING: He's the highest vote-getter in America history. And Michael Moore, you made fun, but he's the No. 1 book seller in America.

CARLSON: He is, but he's -- I mean, you really ought to read his book. I mean, it's -- it's really incredibly nasty. It's actually almost unbelievable. I don't know what to say. It's as nasty as any anti-Clinton stuff that appeared during the '90s. In fact, in some ways, it's nastier and even less funny.

KING: Raleigh, North Carolina. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Yes?

CALLER: Thank you for taking my call, Larry. KING: Sure.

CALLER: I'd like to find out what -- how did Kerry get his backing from the Kennedys and those people up in that area? And John Edwards, I guess because I live in Raleigh and I know John Edwards -- he was raised in the old-fashioned way and he hasn't had that backing. Is that why Kerry's getting the more -- the -- the...

KING: Well, Bill Schneider...

CALLER: ... more votes?

KING: ... Kennedy gets -- Kerry gets the Kennedys. He's Massachusetts, right?

SCHNEIDER: He's Massachusetts. Kennedy's his colleague. They've known each other for years. You know, they get along well for colleagues of the same party, who often don't get along very well. Kennedy felt it was a party obligation to support his colleague. Michael Dukakis supported him, as well. I mean, he's got the support of the party establishment. John Edwards fashioned himself as an outsider. Remember, he's only a first-term senator. He's just been there for four years. And so that enabled him to run a campaign as someone who is not a Washington establishment figure. But it turned out that really didn't have much appeal this year.

KING: Talk about dilemmas, Tucker, who does Maria Shriver endorse, if it's Kerry versus Bush?

CARLSON: I don't know. She probably...

(LAUGHTER)

CARLSON: That's an excellent question. You ought to have her on and ask her.

KING: We'll take a break and be back. And Mo Rocca might have the answer. He'll join our panel. We'll include your phone calls, too. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EDWARDS: The people of Wisconsin spoke loudly and clearly today. They want a debate. They want this campaign to continue. They want someone who will stand up and fight for them and fight for their jobs.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LARRY KING, HOST: Another win for John Kerry on this road to the Democratic nomination with a strong showing by John Edwards and a weak showing by the rest.

We now -- let me reintroduce the panel. In Washington, Wolf Blitzer, the anchor of CNN's "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" and "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER."

Also in Washington, Bill Schneider, the man Bob Dole called tonight the best in the business, CNN senior political analyst.

In Nashville, the co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE," best selling author Tucker Carlson.

And joining us now in New York, Mo Rocca. He's become a regular here, as that familiar face, TV personality, contributor to "The Today Show," senior political -- former senior political correspondent for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

What's your analysis of Wisconsin tonight?

Couldn't give you a good cup?

MO ROCCA, COMEDIAN: No. I like this, actually. I got this at a diner somewhere.

Well, first let me just tell you, Larry, that I really enjoyed the Anna Nicole Smith interview the other night, and I want to agree with what Wolf was saying earlier, that I think she looks great after the trim spa. But she needs to eat more than the occasional chocolate. He's right about that.

Wisconsin. Wisconsin is Chippewa for Gathering of the Waters. It has 8,500 rivers and over 10,000 lakes.

KING: It does.

ROCCA: I think that a lot is being made, however, of this so- called progressive, independent sort of streak in Wisconsin politics that, you know, yes, it's the land of Lafayette (ph), but it's also the land of "Laverne and Shirley."

And I think that's relevant here. People like Laverne and Shirley, who worked in Milwaukee, worked at a brewery. And this is really about jobs and those kinds of jobs were lost.

KING: Well, where are you going, Mo?

ROCCA: Jobs. I'm talking about jobs and I'm talking about outsourcing. I mean, I think all of us here are lucky. I mean, pundit jobs have not yet been outsourced. Although I'd love to do the LARRY KING LIVE show from Guadalajara. I think it would be nice. But we're not there yet.

KING: What -- Why did Edwards do so well, do you think?

ROCCA: Because Edwards -- Edwards is a fresh face. He's on -- you know what? Wisconsin's also a "Happy Days" place, and Edwards is really the Richie Cunningham of this race.

Or I think people are maybe a little worried that John Kerry is too Fonzie-like. I mean, I think it's clear that Howard Dean is definitely a real Potsie at this point, and I guess Al Sharpton would be Ralph Malph.

And Kucinich is Mork. Mork actually came in at the end. Sort of freaky character.

And there are no Asians in Wisconsin, so nobody's going to be the Pat Morita character, Arnold.

Anyway, no, I think -- I think...

KING: Mo has a unique way of looking at things.

ROCCA: Yes. I think -- I think that -- that yes, I mean. I think yesterday -- you know, yesterday was Presidents' Day. And Larry, as you know, I'm a big collector of presidential themed memorabilia.

Here I have a Gerald Ford Frisbee. Isn't that something?

KING: Yes, and I remember that. I remember that.

By the way, what was Rutherford B. Hayes' middle name?

ROCCA: Birchard. Yes. Rutherford Birchard Hayes. From Fremont, Ohio. Spiegel Grove is the house where he -- where he lived. It was the oldest, actually, presidential library. It's got an 80- foot long front porch, 20-feet deep. I've been there. It's a beautiful house.

KING: Tucker, what do you think we should do with Mo Rocca?

TUCKER CARLSON, "CROSSFIRE" CO-HOST: That's an excellent -- I mean, I -- This is a man who is crying out for a game show, as far as I know. I mean, I'm impressed by trivia.

First of all, you ought to go on game shows. But you ought to get your own. Truly, some kind of political "$20,000 Pyramid" type thing.

ROCCA: Yes. Big audience out there, I know.

KING: Bill Schneider -- Bill Schneider, will you admit that Mo Rocca makes you think?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He certainly does. Makes me think about a lot of things I don't really want to think about. But they're fun to think about.

ROCCA: I think it's -- I think these issues are -- are relevant. Sure. No, there's -- let's get a caller. That would be nice.

KING: I will, right away.

Wolf Blitzer, what do you -- how do you think his book will do on animals in the White House, animals that have lived in the White House?

WOLF BLITZER, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" HOST: I -- here's what -- here's what worries me. I...

ROCCA: Yes.

BLITZER: ... understand completely what Mo Rocca is saying. I understand every nuance, every reference to every obscure...

KING: Oh, my goodness.

ROCCA: Wolf, that's why I...

BLITZER: Let's do a little test, Mo, right now.

ROCCA: Sure.

BLITZER: You know I'm from Buffalo, New York.

ROCCA: Yes.

BLITZER: Name two presidents, two presidents from Buffalo, New York.

ROCCA: Well, that's a little bit of a trick question. And you know, viewers, this is not a set up. Because right here I'm about to flash a Millard Filmore hot plate that I got in East Aurora, New York.

East Aurora -- this is absolutely true. You can't really see it. East Aurora is a wonderful bedroom community outside of Brook -- Buffalo. And by the way, if you're getting a beef dinner (ph) -- in Brook -- in Buffalo, go to Schwab's -- Swabbles (ph). That's the best place to get it.

Grover Cleveland's the other one, even though he was actually born in Caldwell, New Jersey. But...

BLITZER: He is correct. He is correct, Larry.

KING: He knows everything. You see, Mo knows everything.

Let's take calls now for the panel: Blitzer, Schneider, Carlson and Rocca. Sounds like a law firm in Des Moines.

Atlanta, hello.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Yes.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: This is for the panel.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I'm on Medicare, and I'm trying to follow Medicare. Would they please tell me how John Kerry and John Edwards feel about Medicare and who is the strongest?

KING: Bill Schneider, do we know? Has that been an issue in this? I don't think it's been an issue in the primary, has it?

SCHNEIDER: It hasn't been an issue at the primaries, because all the voters are very, very critical of the Medicare reform bills passed by the Congress and signed into law by President Bush. That bill will really not go into effect until 2006.

Democrats are going to try to make it an issue. They're going to try to argue that this bill is inadequate. It's not completely funded. It can force a lot of seniors into, they argue, into managed care plans. It's going to create a lot of trouble for traditional Medicare.

What seniors will get in the next year, of course, is a discount card for prescriptions. But Democrats scoff at this...

KING: But it hasn't.

SCHNEIDER: ... and say it's pretty meaningless. But you see, the Congress and president were pretty clever in making sure that the provisions that are going to be very controversial do not go into effect for another two years.

KING: But Mo, Kerry and -- and Edwards agree on it, don't they?

SCHNEIDER: Yes.

ROCCA: On Medicare?

KING: Yes.

ROCCA: Sure, absolutely. Absolutely.

You know, I think -- can I bring up something that I know is a little bit of a sketchy topic here about John Kerry? You know, no one in the mainstream media was really talking about this, sort of was all over the tabloids.

But I wonder if there were some character issues raised, allegations for instance, of John Kerry had had an affair. And these had been, I think, pretty soundly repudiated. But had an affair with an intern who is in Africa.

I think however, it's a bit -- although they may have been repudiated, some questions remain, outstanding presence of an intern...

KING: Like what?

ROCCA: Well, for instance, is she a Hutu or is she a Tutsi? I mean, I think those things are important, you know, this intern in Africa.

Anyway, this is something I care about. She's in Kenya. It wouldn't make sense. Hutus and Tutsis are in Rwanda. Anyway.

KING: Mo -- Mo.

ROCCA: Yes.

KING: The white wagons are on the way, Mo. They're on the way.

To Akron (ph), Missouri. Hello.

CALLER: Hello?

KING: Akron (ph), Missouri. Yes, go ahead.

CALLER: Hi. First, I want to thank you all for going to have -- going to have the debate. I'm really glad that you're going to do that.

KING: It will be on the 26th.

CALLER: Great. Edwards, you know, he has much more natural talent than Kerry and Hillary combined. And you know, Lincoln wasn't in Congress too long, I don't believe.

And also, I believe if you're going to have this debate, come on. Give David, I mean -- yes, David a chance against Goliath and make it a two-man race. You know the two that are really way ahead, and that gives us a real chance to compare the two.

KING: It's certainly what everybody wants. Would you agree, Tucker, with -- James Carville said that James Edwards -- John Edwards is the best campaigner, including Clinton, he's ever seen.

CARLSON: I think he's good. He does a good interview. He's more human than the others. If you tell a joke, he'll actually laugh. He has a sense of the absurd. He has a sense of irony about himself, which is -- is lacking, as you know, in politics.

On the other hand, I'm not sure how well he wears. I mean, there is a kind of televangelist quality to his speaking. It's a little grating after awhile, to be honest.

I mean, I, like everybody else in the press, want to see this race go on. It would be boring if it ended now. I'm not sure it would be good for anybody. You want an airing of the real issues.

KING: Right.

CARLSON: But it is pretty much a shtick, if you know what I mean. At some point, you've got to say, "Who cares if your father was a mill worker? Who cares what your parents did? This is not a race about your parents. It's a race about you."

And I don't think populism ever wears well in the end. And that includes John Edwards.

KING: Mo, you think... SCHNEIDER: One thing he would...

KING: Yes?

SCHNEIDER: One thing he would do is drive the White House crazy, because he's a trial lawyer. And Republicans, particularly this White House...

KING: They hate trial lawyers.

SCHNEIDER: ... despises trial lawyers. That's where he gets most of his money.

KING: Wolf, people want a one on one, Kerry and Edwards, don't they? Same way the media does?

BLITZER: I think that would be exciting, Larry. It would be -- and I know you remember this, as well. You remember the Al Gore-Ross Perot debate over NAFTA. That was a...

KING: I could not forget that, Wolf.

BLITZER: Who would have thought -- who would have thought a debate over trade would have that kind of excitement? I think if there's a John Kerry versus John Edwards debate, that you're hosting it, you're moderating it, together with the "Los Angeles Times," I know that Ron Brownstein will be one of the panelists.

KING: Yes. And he is.

ROCCA: Larry?

BLITZER: I think that could be pretty lively.

KING: Me, too. Mo?

ROCCA: Yes, I just want to advise that I'm excited about the debate, too. But just don't ask that Kitty Dukakis question. Just don't use that one again.

KING: You mean about if your wife were raped, what would you do?

ROCCA: Yes. Right.

KING: How would that get in?

ROCCA: Yes, I know. That was a big -- got a lot of attention, but I just wouldn't reuse it for the debate.

KING: I don't plan to.

ROCCA: OK.

KING: OK. OK. We'll take a break and be back with more calls. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOWARD DEAN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Finally, Democrats in Washington have learned that they can stand up to the most right-wing president who we've had in my lifetime. And that, guess what? If you stand up and you say what you believe, the voters actually like it.

We are not done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Back to the calls. Stradago Island (ph), Washington. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: I watch your show all the time, and I love it.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: I also think that you and Mr. Schneider are very fair.

However, the target you were talking about on Dean's back, it was small to the rest of the candidates. Got very large when it got to the media.

And Tucker on "CROSSROADS" (sic)...

KING: "CROSSFIRE."

CALLER: You -- I mean "CROSSFIRE." I'm sorry. -- were very unfair to him.

And you know...

CARLSON: Aww.

CALLER: ... I don't mean...

KING: What's your question?

CALLER: My question is why have you guys set out to destroy the man instead of just a candidate?

KING: Do you think they're out, Tucker, to destroy Howard Dean?

CARLSON: I loved Howard Dean. I love a candidate with limited self-control. And this was a candidate with limited self-control.

And I also thought -- I mean, I admired him. I mean, he wasn't running on his background. You never knew where he came from. Good for him. He wasn't running on his personality, of course. He couldn't. He was running on ideas, or what passes for ideas. And I admire that, absolutely. I mean, he came out of nowhere, from Vermont. I mean, there was a lot to admire about Howard Dean. You wouldn't -- you wouldn't want him, you know, anywhere near the nuclear button, obviously.

But I think he, if anything, got a pass, really. If you took Howard Dean seriously, if you really thought he was going to be president, you know, it would be scary. I thought people were pretty nice to him, given what he was saying.

KING: Mo Rocca, what do you think?

ROCCA: I feel badly for him. I mean, it's got to really hurt to get -- be disendorsed or unendorsed. He's had all these endorsements stripped from him. I mean, it's like when Milli Vanilli got his Grammy taken away from him. But he deserved that.

I mean, I don't know. Somebody should just give him some delegates or -- I feel badly for him. And everybody's being so condescending towards him, all the other candidates saying, "Oh, he contributed a lot. Oh, he was really great."

KING: Yes.

ROCCA: "I think he brought a lot." Like he's, like, the little kid who brings home, you know, some scrawl, crayon scrawl on a piece of construction paper and you put it on the refrigerator and say it's great art.

I don't know. I feel badly.

I love Judy. You know how I love Judy Steinberg Dean. I mean, I have fantasies about her wearing a beeper on her inaugural gown and tearing out of the front portico of the White House in a hybrid car to make house calls.

Advising visiting first ladies who are sick to maybe stay off of solids, maybe start something, you know -- maybe start with some Cream of Wheat gradually, you know, to get it settled.

KING: Parump (ph), Nevada. Hello.

CALLER: Good evening, Larry. Thank you for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: This evening, Judy Woodward (ph) read an article about the taxpayers paying President Kennedy -- I'm sorry, President Bush to go different places. Aren't we paying our senators that are running now?

KING: No. I don't think so.

Bill, how does it work? If Bush makes a trip that's political, then the Republicans have to pay for it. If it deals with the government...

SCHNEIDER: Then taxpayers have to pay for it.

KING: ... taxpayers have to pay. The taxpayers don't pay for Senator Kerry flying to California tomorrow?

SCHNEIDER: No, they do not. No, they do not. It would have to be an official Senate visit or Senate trip pertaining to his official duties. And the campaign would not apply to that.

When the president of the United States travels to Florida, he can travel as president. He can travel as a candidate. If the trip has a dual purpose, than the cost of the -- the trip is split between the campaign and the taxpayers' money.

So there's always an argument about what the legitimate purpose of the trip is. And of course, drawing that line between politics and policies is never very easy. And you can argue about it forever.

KING: How do they draw it, Wolf? Let's say he goes and he spoke today to troops? Is that political or presidential?

BLITZER: They have a White House counsel -- same thing in the Clinton administration -- who in the Bush administration, they take a look at these trips and they decide what's political and what's government related.

For example, if today when he went to Fort Polk, Louisiana, to meet with National Guard personnel there, that was clearly not a political trip, although there were political overtones, to be sure.

He was going to meet with troops who were on the way to Iraq or just coming back from Iraq, including meeting with families of troops that had died in Iraq.

So that was clearly a government sponsored trip. The federal government was to pay for it. U.S. taxpayers, you and me, all of us, we're paying for that.

If at the same time he made a side trip to New Orleans, which he didn't do, to do some sort of fundraising luncheon or dinner or something like that, that may -- the Republican Party of the Bush- Cheney campaign would pick up the expenses that were related to that.

As far as the Secret Service protection, no matter where he goes, what he does, the federal government pays for that.

KING: And on the use of Air Force One, they pay it per mileage? In other ways, if it flies to New Orleans, what it costs to fly?

BLITZER: Well, most of -- most of Air Force One, no matter what he does, goes to taxpayers.

But there is some sort of formula they use, and it's the same during a Democratic administration, a Republican administration.

KING: All right.

BLITZER: That allows the Republican Party or the Bush-Cheney campaign, in this particular case, to pick up some of the costs. But a lot of it just goes to the taxpayer no matter what.

KING: Speaking of that, Tucker, does Cheney remain on the ticket?

CARLSON: Yes, he does for some reason -- I don't know if it's an Internet rumor or where it's coming from. But there seem to be a lot of people about the country convinced he's going to be dumped for, say, Bill Frist. I haven't heard that.

In a lot of conservations with people from the White House, I don't think that's even under consideration. Obviously, Bush didn't pick Dick Cheney for political reasons. There are no obvious advantages of doing that. And I don't think he's going to dump him for political reasons, either.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more and some more phone calls, as well. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I want to thank so many across Wisconsin and across America who have given this campaign their help and their hearts.

My friends, tonight I saw to all of America, get ready. A new day is on the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, the date of the "L.A. Times"/CNN debate, which I'll host is February 26. It will take place at the University of Southern California and will air at 9 p.m. Easter, 6 Pacific for 90 minutes on that night, featuring the Democratic candidates, or what's left of them.

To Mosquito (ph), Wisconsin. Hello.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: And how -- Larry, how are you?

KING: Fine.

CALLER: Good. The question that I have, I guess, is listening to the candidates, I never heard anybody talk about the immigration problem that we have in this country.

And I want to know if that's ever going to be addressed. KING: Bill?

SCHNEIDER: Bush -- Bush talked about the immigration problem. He brought up a program for the -- a kind of temporary amnesty.

He doesn't call it an amnesty, but it's allowing temporary guest workers who are here to get work permits. But it doesn't make them citizens.

He proposed that idea, and it was instantly controversial. Even Republicans didn't like it. And I think he got burned by it. And I noticed in his State of the Union speech, it kind of got dropped. He didn't talk about it anymore.

KING: And it hasn't come up in the primary...

SCHNEIDER: It wasn't very popular.

KING: ... the Democratic primaries, has it?

SCHNEIDER: No. Democrats feel defensive about it, as well. Many Democrats felt Bush didn't go far enough.

Because they're both cultivating Hispanic voters. But these ideas are so unpopular with non-Hispanic voters that both sides are afraid to touch it.

KING: Mo, how about another issue? Is gay marriage a fair issue in this campaign?

ROCCA: Well, you know, I think it's a obviously very emotional issue. I mean, but I think most people understand that it's a state issue.

I mean, that said, there's going to be some people that are obviously for it and then other people who say, you know, "Look at the break-up of David and Liza. That just proves that same sex marriage doesn't work."

I mean...

KING: Good point. I didn't think of that.

ROCCA: Yes.

KING: Hillsborough (ph), Missouri.

ROCCA: You know, I didn't tell you. I've got to tell you...

KING: Yes. Hold on, Hillsborough (ph). Yes?

ROCCA: Hillsborough (ph) -- Scott Peterson's guilty. Bank that for a later show.

KING: OK. You're going out on a limb.

Hillsborough (ph), Missouri. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.

KING: Yes.

CALLER: I enjoy your show every evening.

KING: Thanks you.

CALLER: I would like to ask Bill Schneider, how do you think the Democrats are going to respond to Senator Kerry when there is more information about what his voting record brought out?

Not just on the recent NAFTA's or the Medicare or the wars, but his overall voting record?

KING: Well, as Bob Dole said tonight, Bill, he's had 18 years in the Senate. If they're 18 years as with Dole and he served, you'll find some -- a lot of things to pick on.

SCHNEIDER: There's a lot of things. Start with this. He voted against a Persian Gulf War and he voted for the war in Iraq. So that's the first thing that's going to come up, as a very strange pattern of voting. He will defend that, of course.

Look, he's been voting in the Senate for 18 or 19 years. He's got thousands and thousands of votes. I can assure you there are platoons of Republican researchers looking into every scrap of his voting record, when, how he voted on everything.

There's going to be a huge controversy about that. Because, look, Republicans want to make him into Michael Dukakis and to -- and into a "Massachusetts liberal."

Kerry's answer to that is he's going to fight back. He says, "I'm not Dukakis. Bring it on." That's the slogan of his campaign. I mean, which is a way of saying, "I'm not Michael Dukakis. I'm going to fight these charges."

And you know, a vote is a vote. And some of them are going to be -- they're bound to be controversial.

BLITZER: That's why governors general do well, right? There's no voting record.

SCHNEIDER: That's exactly right. That's -- I'll tell you what's the most damaging thing. Now, Larry, this is just between you and me. I know a very dirty secret about John Kerry, which I'll share with you.

KING: What?

SCHNEIDER: He speaks French. He went to a Swiss boarding school. He actually speaks French. And...

KING: You told me that. SCHNEIDER: ... when that comes out, it's over.

ROCCA: Larry, I have...

KING: Yes?

ROCCA: Yes. Bill Schneider has gotten two questions so far, and I have not gotten one.

SCHNEIDER: I have a question for -- I have a question for Mo.

KING: Go ahead.

SCHNEIDER: My question is this.

ROCCA: Hi, Bill.

SCHNEIDER: What do you think about Teresa Heinz Kerry?

ROCCA: Oh, I'm glad. We talked about her last week. I love that, you know, she speaks about seven languages. She's -- she's my favorite prospective first lady from Mozambique. I mean, you can't beat it.

She would be our second foreign born first lady. Because John Quincy Adams' wife was born in England. That's the only other one that's foreign born.

KING: How do you know all this? Why do you care?

ROCCA: I have -- I have a disk drive stuck right behind my right ear. No. I have special -- I don't know how.

KING: Tucker is right. You've got to be on a quiz show or host a quiz show.

ROCCA: ... it relaxes me.

KING: Tucker, if you would, couldn't it -- "Presidential Quiz." You couldn't...

CARLSON: Are you kidding? Yes. Regis Philbin for the Mensa set. You know, I think you could make a ton of dough. Get a good agent.

KING: Yes, I'm not kidding, Mo. You're in the wrong -- you're in the wrong -- wrong league here.

ROCCA: We'll talk -- we'll talk afterwards about it, the whole thing.

KING: All right. One quick call. Denison (ph), Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hi.

ROCCA: Denison (ph), Texas is where Eisenhower was born. CALLER: Yes, at that.

KING: Of course, he's right. What's the question?

CALLER: I'm one of those people that are terrified of Bush's new announcement on the immigration policy. I'm independent, and I was very pro-Bush.

But now I'm looking at Edwards. I will not vote for Kerry, because he scares me, because he will turn us over to the U.N...

KING: OK. Well, we've only got...

CALLER: ... and let them defend the union.

KING: ... 30 seconds left.

CALLER: I want to know how Edwards stands on Iraq, finishing what we started.

KING: What does Edwards -- all right, well, we've run out of time almost. But where does he stand on Iraq, Wolf?

BLITZER: He voted for the resolution in October before the war. He voted for the resolution. He says, like Senator Kerry, that he wanted to give the president the strength, the political backing to go to the U.N. and get the U.N. to get the job done.

He says he didn't vote, necessarily, for a war.

KING: We're out of time. Thank you, Mo Rocca. Thank you, Wolf Blitzer, Bill Schneider and Tucker Carlson for being our special guests tonight on the second edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Tomorrow night, we'll look at the Green River serial killings. And Wednesday -- Thursday night will be Barbara Walters. And Friday night, Regis Philbin. Stay tuned for Wolf Blitzer, hosting the complete wrap-up of the night in Wisconsin. Good night.

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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