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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Kerry Sweeps Super Tuesday States

Aired March 2, 2004 - 21:00   ET

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

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, news that John Edwards is quitting the presidential race. He will officially drop out tomorrow afternoon, making super Tuesday a truly super night for John Kerry. President Bush has already called to congratulate him. He's all but clinched the Democratic nomination. We'll have all the latest with Bob Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential candidate, Bob Woodward, best-selling author, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, our own Wolf Blitzer, on this special, super Tuesday edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
The polls will be closing in exactly 30 seconds in three key states. John Kerry is expected to speak. He's at the Washington, D.C. old post office pavilion. This will be a major speech. And as was just pointed out very aptly, his first speech as the Democratic nominee for president in 2004.

But as the polls close in New York and two other states, we'll go right to Wolf Blitzer for projections and closing and all the latest information, and we'll be back with our guests and the introduction of Kerry -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Larry. CNN can now project a landslide win for John Kerry in New York state, the Empire State, a projected win for John Kerry in a landslide, the biggest prize, second-biggest of the night, California will close in two hours.

Also in Rhode Island, another state, the polls closing there right now, another landslide win for John Kerry, the New England senator carrying Rhode Island.

Minnesota, the caucuses have closed just now. We don't have any results yet from Minnesota. We'll be getting those results, Larry, throughout the night.

But two more wins for John Kerry. John Kerry, as you point out, the Democratic nominee, for all intents and purposes now that John Edwards has decided to drop out -- Larry.

LARRY KING, HOST: Now let's get immediate comment from Senator Bob Dole, the former senator, the Senate majority leader. He's standing by in Washington. Very complimentary article about the senator today on the front page of "The New York Times." He's become now America's pundit on LARRY KING LIVE.

Bob, what do you make of this current tonight?

BOB DOLE (R), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- no doubt about it, it's a great night for John Kerry. I think everybody thought he would win. I guess Georgia's still very close, but he's the nominee, and I think everybody thought he would be the nominee.

And now he has to start worrying about, you know, how does he keep up the momentum between now and the Democratic convention. And the big thing he has to worry about, as I remember after my winning the primaries in '96, was trying to raise money, because Bill Clinton was in the White House, he didn't have to spend any money in the primary. George Bush is now in the White House. He hasn't spent that much money.

And John Kerry's going to have to do what I did, and that's go out and raise a lot of money so he can stay in the race.

KING: Bob Woodward is in Florida tonight. He's assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post." His long-awaited book is coming in April. It's finally titled "Plan of Attack: An Inside Look at the Bush's Administration's War Against Iraq."

We may be interrupting you, Bob, to go to the Kerry speech if he comes on shortly. But what do you -- what's your read on tonight?

BOB WOODWARD, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, not only does Senator Kerry have to go out and raise this money and focus his message, he's going to have to pick a running mate, and that's a big deal. I remember talking to Senator Dole eight years ago about this when he had to pick a vice presidential running mate.

And Senator Dole then said, You have to find a 10, somebody who has the feel of a president, the experience, the likability, and it looks like John Edwards fits that bill. But I -- you know, if you look at Edwards, what, he's 50 years old. Senator Dole when he ran as -- for vice president with Gerald Ford in 1976, I think Senator Dole was 53, and I remember Senator Dole once saying he really wasn't ready to run for vice president then. He was only a seven on a scale of zero to 10.

KING: Let's let him to comment. By the way, you're seeing on your screen a young lady introducing, of course, Senator Ted Kennedy, who's gotten so much credit for the success of this Kerry campaign, standing there on the stage at the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.c.

And as soon as Senator Kerry proceeds to the microphone, we'll of course carry that speech in total from the now nominee of the Democratic Party.

What about the vice presidential nod, Bob Dole?

DOLE: Well, I think Bob Woodward had it correct. You want to try to find a 10 out there somewhere. And you -- and I don't believe John Kerry, if I know him, I know him fairly well, is not going to be in any big rush. There are upsides and downsides to picking your vice presidential running mate early. And there are probably right now, John Edwards looks good. But he hasn't won except one state, and that's South Carolina. Now, if he wins Georgia, that may help. But if he loses Georgia to Kerry, then what value is he in the South? And maybe they write off the South, maybe they start looking somewhere else for a state where someone, a man or a woman, could help Kerry win a state that they might otherwise lose?

But it's going to be -- it's very difficult, it's very tough. You have to check everybody out, make certain that you can get as close to that candidate as possible. But it's a tough job.

KING: Bob Woodward, how long do you wait? Is there a rule of thumb when a vice president should be announced?

WOODWARD: No, and there's not a rule of thumb about what the characteristics are that you're looking for. There is this old tendency to say, well, you want geographic balance and so forth. Got to pick somebody who's ready to be president from day one, and...

KING: I'm going to interrupt you a second, Bob...

WOODWARD: ... that means...

KING: ... Woodward, we'll -- hold on, Bob Woodward, we'll be coming back to you.

Let's go to Senator Ted Kennedy, the senior senator from the state of Massachusetts, to introduce the junior senator, who will be the party's nominee. Here's Ted Kennedy.

SENATOR TED KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: ... for a night for our candidate, John Kerry, and a super night for the Democratic Party. He's a super nominee. He's a super nominee. And he'll be a super president of the United States.

And tomorrow, he takes his mission out across this country to make sure to send George Bush back to Texas and put this country back on the right road.

As John Kerry says, he can't wait for election day, and neither can any of us. Are we right?

I've had the good fortune to campaign across this country with the members of the Kerry family. And what America will understand is what a magnificent family they are. And I want you to give them a great, great reception to the team Kerry-Heinz, starting off with Theresa Heinz-Kerry, Alexandra Kerry, Chris Heinz, Vanessa Kerry, and the team captain, John Kerry. He's our candidate. He's going to be president of the United States. He's my friend. Let's give him a great victory celebration. John Kerry.

KING: Senator Kerry, hugging the family, receiving the plaudits of the crowd in Washington, about to speak. He is to all intents and purposes, as Wolf Blitzer said, the Democratic nominee for president in the year 2004. He's already received a call from President Bush. Edwards has spoken to him, and Edwards will leave the race tomorrow at 4:00 Eastern time at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina.

So here now is the man you're going to be seeing a lot of right through November, the Democratic nominee, the junior senator from Massachusetts.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to thank -- thank you.

But I don't want you to stop the enthusiasm, all right.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, thank you all. Thank you to voters from coast to coast, who have truly made this a Super Tuesday.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you very, very much.

I want to thank -- I don't know how many of you here had a chance to hear it, but we heard it upstairs, a remarkably gracious, powerful, generous statement by John Edwards tonight. And I want all of us here...

(APPLAUSE)

... I want to thank -- there is no question that John Edwards brings a compelling voice to our party, great eloquence to the cause of working men and women all across our nation and great promise for leadership for the years to come. And we thank him so much for what he has done in the course of this race.

(APPLAUSE)

I believe, I believe that in 2004, one united Democratic Party, we can and we will win this election.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will build one America of freedom and of fairness for all.

For months, for months, John Edwards has been our competitor. But, first of all and always, for Teresa and me, John and Elizabeth are our friends.

(APPLAUSE)

And he is a valiant -- he is a valiant champion of the values for which our party stands.

Let me...

(APPLAUSE)

Let me also -- let me also congratulate Howard Dean. Again...

(APPLAUSE)

Again today, we are all reminded of the unprecedented contribution that he has made to our party and to our country, and particularly by bringing so many who were disenfranchised into our party and into the political process. And I know he will continue to fight to do that.

(APPLAUSE)

Tonight, the message can now be heard all across our country: Change is coming to America.

(APPLAUSE)

Before us lie long months of effort and of challenge, and we understand that. We have no illusions about the Republican attack machine and what our opponents have done in the past and what they may try to do in the future. But I know that together we are equal to this task. I am a fighter. And for more...

(APPLAUSE)

For more than 30 years, I've been on the battle lines, on the frontlines of the struggle for fairness and for mainstream American values. And in 2004, I pledge we will tell the truth about what has happened in our country. And we will fight...

(APPLAUSE)

And we will fight to give America back its future and its hope.

There are powerful forces that want America to continue on exactly the path that it's on today. And there are also millions of Americans who are hurt by the policies that favor the few, who doubt whether government once again can work for them.

Millions more live in fear every day that they will lose their jobs or lose their health care or lose their pensions. My campaign, our campaign, is about replacing doubt with hope and replacing fear with security.

(APPLAUSE)

Together we are going to build a strong foundation for growth by repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and investing in education and health care.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will cut the deficit in half in four years, and we will invest in education and health care and the creation of jobs in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

And I pledge to you with every fiber in my body and every ounce of energy that I can find, we will put the tax code of this nation up to the light of democracy and scrutiny of the American people, and we will repeal every tax break and every loophole that rewards any corporation for gaming the tax code and going overseas to avoid their responsibilities to people in the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will provide new incentives, important new incentives, for manufacturing that reward the good companies that create the jobs and keep them here in the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will fight as never before for workers protections and for environmental protections in the trade agreements of the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

And long overdue, waiting to be achieved as a matter of fundamental fairness, we will raise the minimum wage so that no one in America works a 40-hour work week and can't get out of poverty.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will meet one of the most historic challenges of our generation. We will provide a bold new initiative to guarantee that we have a plan for energy independence for the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

We will invest in the technologies of the future. And we will create 500,000 new jobs doing so, so that no young American in uniform will ever be held hostage to America's dependence on oil in the Middle East.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry.

(APPLAUSE)

KERRY: And I cannot wait to join with Senator Kennedy and with others of good conscience in the House and in the Senate and all across this country. We will complete the mission begun by Harry Truman to make certain that health care is regarded as a right and not a privilege in the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

We will fight for an America where Medicare and Social Security are protected, where health care costs are held down and your family's health care is just as important as any politician in Washington, D.C.

(APPLAUSE)

We will achieve that.

(APPLAUSE)

And on behalf of all Americans and on behalf of the other 96 percent of human kind waiting for leadership from the United States, we will -- we will rejoin the community of nations...

(APPLAUSE)

... and we will -- we will renew our alliances and we will build new alliances because they are essential to the final victory and success of a war on terror.

The Bush administration has run the most inept, reckless, arrogant and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country.

(APPLAUSE)

And we will reverse that course.

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry.

KERRY: This president -- this president has said again and again that he wants to run on national security.

Well, if George Bush wants to make national security the central issue of the campaign of 2004, I have three words for him that I know he understands: Bring it on.

AUDIENCE: Bring it on.

(APPLAUSE)

KERRY: This campaign is about the big issues and the great challenges that we face as a nation. It's about our generation's opportunity to step up and to follow in the footsteps of the greatest generation and all of those who have defined the history of our nation.

Our opponents can't campaign on jobs or heath care or fiscal responsibility. Instead, George Bush, who promised to become a uniter, has become the great divider. And just last week, just last week he proposed to amend the Constitution of the United States for political purposes.

AUDIENCE: Boooo.

KERRY: And we say -- we say that he has no right to misuse the most precious document in our history in an effort to divide this nation and distract us from our goals.

(APPLAUSE) We resoundingly reject the politics of fear and distortion. We will instead all across this nation throughout these next months, keep trust with Lincoln's idea of America as the last, best hope of Earth.

When I first led veterans to the Mall here in Washington, to stop the war in Vietnam, it was a time of doubt and fear in this land. It was a time when millions of Americans could not trust or believe what their leaders were telling them. And now, today, Americans are once again wondering if they can trust or believe the leadership of our country.

Our campaign is about restoring that faith, speaking plainly and honestly to the American people, offering real choices about the future, about leading America in a new direction, guided by the enduring values that this nation has held dear for over 200 years.

Our campaign is about building a fairer, safer, more prosperous America, the nation that is again the great light to all the world. That is what this is about.

(APPLAUSE)

There is no way that all of us together would have arrived at this evening unless we had worked together, bled together, fought together, believed together in the possibilities. And that is what unites us.

And I want to thank the most amazing woman, the most remarkable partner and wife a man could ask for. She has stunned everybody, all across this country. And everywhere she goes, people fall in love with Teresa. I want to thank her.

(APPLAUSE)

And I want to thank all of our children, my stepsons and my daughters. I'm so grateful to them. As anyone will tell you in public life, it is hard on families. They're thrust into it. It's not of their choosing.

But they have been the most remarkable partners in this effort, and I want you to say thank you to them for affecting their lives.

(APPLAUSE)

I want you all to join me in thanking a man who has been a champion and a conscience of the values and the causes of our party and our country for over 40 years, my colleague, Ted Kennedy and Vicky Kennedy, who have been such great friends and supporters in this effort.

(APPLAUSE)

... and a special friend who has traveled all across this nation with an extraordinary band of brothers, Max Cleland and all those veterans who have given so much to this cause.

(APPLAUSE)

To all of those in public life who took risks, joined this campaign early, hung in when it was tough and stayed with us today, and to all those who've joined recently: This is not a campaign that will measure who and when; it is a campaign that will measure what we have to achieve together over the course of these next months.

(APPLAUSE)

I want to thank, standing behind me, the greatest campaign staff in America and the greatest group of volunteers, many of whom...

(APPLAUSE)

AUDIENCE: Kerry, Kerry, Kerry, Kerry

KERRY: And I want to thank the many -- and there are many -- who have come over from other campaigns, who've become part of this great effort. We are grateful to all of them.

And I particularly want to say thank you to the people of Iowa and New Hampshire who gave me a hearing when no one thought we had a chance. And they sent us on our way. And I thank them.

(APPLAUSE)

And to all of those who have been fighting in our ranks all along the way. All of those firefighters of America who have been there from the beginning, the ranks of labor, the millions of citizens who have now rallied to our cause, and for those who want to, I invite them to come to johnkerry.com and join this effort now.

So the message rings out across the land tonight: Get ready, a new day is on the way.

Good night. God bless all of you. And God bless the America that we love so much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you and take care.

KING: First speech by the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts at the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C. They redid that whole pavilion, turned it into a super shopping mall, and obviously a good place for a gathering.

Let's get a comment in New York as well from Reverend Al Sharpton, as well a candidate for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. Al is at Ann Ruth's Restaurant in Harlem.

Are you going to stay in, Al? We know that Edwards pulls out tomorrow.

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I'm in now. We're still counting votes. The ballots in New York just closed a half hour ago.

First, I want to congratulate Mr. Kerry and his family. I think that is in order. But we are not in this just for a nomination. We're in it to make sure that people have been unheard are heard and issues that have been unaddressed are addressed.

How we'll proceed for now, we will decide after all the votes come in tonight. And we will sit down and discuss that. But we clearly are not in this just based on a nominee. We're in this based on an agenda, and that agenda must be addressed. Whether that will be a continuation of the race or not, we will determine that over the next few hours.

KING: Since that seems obvious, though, reverend, wouldn't it be -- why, I mean, what's the point in prolonging the race?

SHARPTON: Well, the point is that if you end the race for a reason, not a season, that you want to do that until those reasons have been addressed. The only way this party can win is, they must be able to address all segments of the Democratic family. And the reason to prolong the race, or to deliberate, is to see if all segments of the family have been properly addressed.

KING: All right, can we...

SHARPTON: We said that from the beginning.

KING: Can we say, then, if you don't do well in New York, you're leaning toward leaving the race? You're going to make an announcement when, tomorrow, late tonight?

SHARPTON: Oh, I don't know. I would say we're going to make an announcement. I mean, they said we'd get 5 percent of New York, and the exit polls already say we've gotten probably double or more that. So you can already rest assured we'll do all right in New York.

I'm not worried about doing all right. I'm worried about our communities doing all right, and the agenda that we want to see put forth in this party for jobs and health care and other things. That's our concern.

And we again, we'll be deliberating, and we will decide certainly before next Tuesday how we proceed. Next Tuesday are the next round of primary.

KING: All right, you hold with us, Reverend Sharpton. Going to come back to you and take a break, and Bob Dole and Bob Woodward and Wolf Blitzer may have a question or two.

You're watching a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE on a historic night, a new candidate is born. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. The only close race tonight is Georgia, where Edwards has been leading pretty much all night long, 45 percent to 44 percent, 142,000 to 136,000. And Howard Dean has won Vermont, John Kerry has won everything else.

With us in New York is Reverend Al Sharpton. With us as well is former senator Bob Dole in Washington, down in Florida is Bob Woodward of "The Washington Post," whose book, "Plan of Attack," comes next month.

And in Atlanta, Wolf Blitzer, the anchor of CNN's "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS" and "LATE EDITION WITH WOLF BLITZER."

Bob Dole, you have a thought or a comment or a question for Al Sharpton?

DOLE: Well, I think Al's really livened the place up if -- when they had 10 in the race, I always kept my eye on Al Sharpton. I sent him a note (UNINTELLIGIBLE) may not have gotten it, Reverend Sharpton, about what a great job you did on "Saturday Night Live."

But I think you have to make a decision here. You can't -- and, of course, you know the Democratic politics better than I do. But there is a -- there comes a time you need to make a decision, otherwise you may get in the way of some things and may not get some of the things done that you'd like to do for you and your community.

SHARPTON: Well, I think you're right, and I think that one of the responsible ways of making decisions is talk to the people that you both have struggled with. You (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just great odds and no money.

We've been able to have impact in New York tonight, in Detroit, Washington, and other places. We want to see Bush defeated. But we also want to see our constituency dealt with. And how that will play out, we'll know in the next day or so.

KING: Bob Woodward...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... I'll come back to Bob Dole in a minute. Bob Woodward, do you have a thought or a question for the reverend?

WOODWARD: Yes, yes, sir. Reverend, on the enthusiasm meter for Senator Kerry, if he's the nominee, and it looks like it's -- it -- this is going to happen, are -- where on that meter would you be personally in terms of supporting him and going out and encouraging everyone to be at the high enthusiasm level for him?

SHARPTON: Well, I think a lot would do it as we talk agenda items. On the enthusiasm level to beat George Bush, I'm at a 10-plus- 10. And if he's the nominee, he would be the beneficiary of that.

But there must come with that principles and things that we want added to the agenda. That's all I'm saying. And I think that's what anyone's saying. It's easier for Edwards, who probably wants a job, than for me that's trying to make sure people get jobs, and that people are regarded.

So we're trying to deal with an agenda. Now, I would hope that over the next day or so, we can discuss how we do that, and whether that means proceeding getting delegates to do it, or whether that means meeting with the nominee.

I don't know. We're still counting votes in New York.

KING: Is your gut instinct to meet with the nominee?

SHARPTON: My gut instinct is that you're Larry King, and I'm cutting -- counting votes in New York.

KING: Senator Dole, you have another comment or question for Al?

DOLE: Well, I think what Reverend Sharpton wants is a seat at the table, which makes a lot of sense to me.

KING: That true, Al?

SHARPTON: Well, I thank you for your note, Senator Dole. But I think that first we've got to see what's on the table, and then talk about seats. But again, tonight Senator Kerry should be congratulated. And I think that the party ought to do what it should to get ready for Bush, including address all of its constituents.

KING: Thank you, Reverend Al Sharpton, coming to us from Harlem in New York.

The biggest surprise, and we'll get back to Wolf Blitzer in a couple minutes too, what's, what, Bob Woodward, is the biggest surprise in all of this since it began to you? Is it Edwards' move? Is it what happened to the governor of Vermont? Is it the Kerry story? What's the biggest surprise?

WOODWARD: Well, clearly it's the Kerry story. But if you take the snapshot today, March 2, the Democratic Party appears, underlying appears, to be truly united. And if you listened to Kerry's speech, that was a very rousing speech. I thought -- I think the most important line in what he has to say is, when he just declares emphatically, I am a fighter. I think people want to see a fighter, and they're going to look really carefully to see if when those moments come, he proves it.

KING: Senator Dole, what is the biggest surprise to you in this whole machination?

DOLE: Well,I think Bob Woodward's right, the big story is John Kerry's the nominee. The biggest surprise was Howard Dean just sort of evaporating in thin air in Iowa, finishing a poor third. I mean, I watch all these things, and I thought Howard Dean was hot, you know, politically, and he was going to connect, and he might well be the nominee. But then I can't explain what happened. But I think obviously it's a great night for John Kerry. He is the Democratic nominee unless something happens out there in the next few weeks. But he's got a lot of work to do. He knows it. It's going to be a tough race.

I think it's good to say, I'm a fighter, but there's a fine line there between being a fighter and being a little over the edge in some of the comments you make about your opponent.

I always considered that President Clinton not the enemy, but my opponent, and I think there's a difference. If you go after George Bush as the enemy, then I think you make a mistake and you hurt yourself.

WOODWARD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KING: Wolf Blitzer, what in all of this has been the -- and then we'll go back to Bob Woodward in a moment -- what to Wolf Blitzer has been the biggest surprise in this whole scenario?

BLITZER: I think the biggest surprise, and I totally agree with Senator Dole, the rise and fall of Howard Dean, how quickly he rose from relatively obscure position as the governor, the former governor of Vermont, and all of a sudden he became this icon in the Democratic Party, the Deaniacs running all over New Hampshire, running all over Iowa, seemingly all over the place, on the cover of the major weekly newsmagazines.

And then all of a sudden collapsing as quickly as he did. That's -- I haven't seen that kind of meteoric rise and that meteoric collapse in -- at least in the years I've been covering. I don't know if Bob Woodward and Senator Dole agree with me on that. But I -- it's an amazing -- that was an amazing development, from my perspective.

KING: Bob Woodward, have you ever seen anything like a rise and fall like this of Dean?

WOODWARD: Well, it was, it was really high to the top and then very, very quickly to the bottom. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KING: And what happened? What did it?

WOODWARD: You know, I think he obviously did not connect. There were some moments where he seemed to go over the top. That hurt him.

And he, you know, the word that Kerry used about Bush's foreign policy, which I had wondered whether that's what Senator Dole was referring to, when Senator Kerry said that Dole's -- or said that Bush's foreign policy is reckless. Is that over the line? Is that making the other side the enemy and not the opponent? Or is that within the boundaries of political discourse in this era?

KING: Good question...

DOLE: And Howard Dean...

KING: ... Bob Dole, is that over the -- out of bounds?

DOLE: Well, I don't know, I think we could debate that. But I think Howard Dean was -- he was a fighter too, and I think people (audio interrupt). But then there came a point as, what else is he besides somebody who can get up and make caustic remarks about President Bush?

I mean, I think even Democrats as well as hard-bitten Republicans find a tolerance level. And maybe John Kerry's going to be able to find that and stick with it. But it's very difficult. Just -- it's going to be a very tough campaign, very intense. John Kerry doesn't have a lot of money now. He's got to catch George Bush in the money race.

I notice he's smiling more, he's not frowning at all any more. He's happy. But there's still a lot of work to do.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. Bill Schneider will give us his analysis. More of Bob Dole and Bob Woodward and Wolf Blitzer, CNN's continuing and best coverage, we think, of election 2004. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I also want to take a moment and congratulate my friend Senator John Kerry. He's run a strong, powerful campaign. He's been an extraordinary advocate for causes that all of us believe in, more jobs, better health care...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: California polls will close in about an hour and 15, 16 minutes. We will be back with a second edition of LARRY KING LIVE at midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific, with more guests and more discussion about this big night in American political history, the Democratic Party has a nominee.

Bill Schneider, CNN's senior political analyst, joins us from our big Atlanta election central tonight.

What's your read on this whole mishegas?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: On the whole thing? Well, first of all, you were talking about Howard Dean and what happened to him. I like to describe Howard Dean as the ultimate bad Internet date. He sent out a message which Democrats saw was thrilling. They got very excited. You got to stand up to Bush. You got to show some backbone. You can't let the bullies of the right wing push you around.

The message really sold. It was so effective, all the other candidates stole it. But in the end, when they got a close look at Howard Dean, when they finally met their date, they said, You know, you're not at all like what we imagined. It turned out he didn't have the experience, the qualifications, to stand next to President Bush and make an argument for keeping the country safe. He made a series of misjudgments, really starting with when he said, immediately after Saddam Hussein's capture, when the country was overwhelmed with relief and satisfaction, he said America is no safer.

He may have been right, and Americans actually agreed with him. But it was the wrong time to say it.

And time after time, Howard Dean just sort of faded, because Americans looked at him and they said, We just don't like this guy.

Iowa set the pace. Iowa determined this result. Remember who came in first, Kerry, second, Edwards. They were the ones who stayed with it. And since then, really, Democrats have rallied behind John Kerry in state after state. This is an enormously unified party.

KING: Bill...

SCHNEIDER: In major states, there really was no campaign. Larry?

KING: Bill, what did John Kerry do right?

SCHNEIDER: He essentially told Democrats, I can talk about international affairs, I can talk about the military, I can stand next to President Bush and make a credible argument that I can keep you safe.

This was not a year when Democrats were looking for an outsider. Three candidates ran as outsiders, Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, John Edwards. They all failed. That sometimes works. It worked in 1992. It didn't work for Senator Dole, he was not an outsider, of course, in 1996. People were looking for someone who was not an insider. In 1992, Clinton was an outsider.

This year, this year they wanted someone with experience, credentials, and qualifications, and that's what they saw in John Kerry.

KING: Bob Woodward, the electorate saves money this year. Both of these campaigns will not accept matching funds. So they're both going to spend their own money and whatever money they raise, but the government won't have to match it, and Mr. -- the president starts spending it tomorrow or the next day in Ohio and a sweeping -- he's got to spend all of it before the election, because this is preelection, and, I think, understand this is money for running.

What is that blitz going to do?

WOODWARD: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- well, not only is it follow the money once again, but it reminds us that politics is television. And whoever masters it in terms of their personal communications skill and then delivering an advertising message is quite likely to win. I -- one of the things, in listening to Kerry's speech, the Democratic Party, like the Republican Party, but maybe the Democratic Party more so, has all these tentacles and factions. And if you listened to that speech, Kerry was quite skillfully, it seems, reaching out, talking about Harry Truman, some of the Clinton issues like health care, cutting the deficit in half, some of the rhetoric of John Kennedy, having Senator Kennedy there.

You can see he's trying to sort of look at, well, where is this party, where are the elements, and how do we get them all under the same tent? And at least he's starting down that road with a lot going for him.

KING: Bob Dole, what are Kerry-Bush debates going to be like?

DOLE: I think they're going to be pretty tough. I mean, it's going to be -- they -- it's just -- you watch the preliminaries, and it's -- you can tell it's going to be tough. It's going to be about national security, maybe the National Guard, maybe Kerry's service in Vietnam.

But it's going to be primarily about the economy and jobs, unless something big happens in North Korea, Iraq, the Middle East.

But on that -- and that can be a plus too for President Bush. So when I say something happens, it doesn't mean it's a negative. It could be a big plus for Bush.

So who can tell? We're, what, eight months away from the election. I mean, one day can make a difference in politics, not just election day, but one day between now and the election can make a big difference.

KING: Wolf, help me out...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: ... lot of...

DOLE: And that's a lot of ketchup, you know, to win this race.

KING: Wolf, there are three presidential debates, is that true, and one vice presidential debate, is that the formula?

BLITZER: You, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the last time there were two presidential debates and one vice presidential debate. They can do whatever they want. Normally the incumbent goes for the two presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.

KING: Nothing locked in yet?

BLITZER: As far as I know, nothing is locked in. Their campaign chairmen, their manages, will meet, they'll debate, they'll discuss, they'll come up with a format. And they could do many, they could do just a few. They'll do at least two presidential debates. That's almost certain. At least one vice presidential debate. But if they want to do more, they can do more.

KING: We'll be back with more, speaking of more, right after this. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So great feeling tonight.

HOWARD DEAN (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, I really feel very indebted to Vermont voters. You know, we didn't really campaign, but there were a lot of people who did campaign for us. There's a wonderful piece in this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) something.com, and Sam Osborne and a lot of really terrific people, Bill Stetson, worked really, really hard and many, many others for us. And I just really appreciate that. Means a lot to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this symbolic, or does this mean you're going to get back in there?

DEAN: No, I'm not going to get back in it. But I think having, you know, some delegates is great, and that gives me (UNINTELLIGIBLE) opportunity to go down and -- You know, I've always said that if the reset of the country were as good as Vermont, the country would be a lot better off. So...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, enjoy the game..

DEAN: Thanks very much.

KING: ... of Vermont voting for their former governor? Bob Dole?

DOLE: Yes, I think that was very -- well, I think it's a nice thing to happen. I mean, you know, this guy's been beaten up when he was the front runner, and now he's gone on to oblivion, almost. But to have your home state say, you know, We still have confidence in you, means a lot to the person. It may not mean a lot in the race, but it means a lot to Howard Dean.

KING: Bill Schneider, what are your advance teams and your prognosticators tell you about how close this race is going to be?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Larry, it could be very close. It looks close. The country's closely divided. But, you know, there are lots of events that could happen. Tragically, you know, there could be, gee, a terrible international incident, Americans get killed overseas. You know, somebody could show up with Osama bin Laden. We all hope for that. There is also likely to be -- how about this for a monkey wrench -- the trial of Saddam Hussein. We're all waiting to watch that.

And the American public has said if that's on the air, they're going to watch that with great attention. And that will be a recitation day after day of atrocities, like the Nuremberg trials, in real time. You can bet that that would do President Bush a lot of good, if Americans sit there transfixed with the recitation of what Saddam Hussein did to his country.

KING: Bob Woodward, do you anticipate any October surprises that might happen in September?

WOODWARD: Well, people who write about presidential contests, they have this what they call the law of the dominant issue, that you have to figure out what it's going to all be about, what people are going to focus on. Clinton, memorably, the -- it's the economy, stupid. Well, what's it going to be?

We certainly don't know. I don't think the candidates really have any idea. I think Bill's got -- he's onto something there about the trial of Saddam Hussein. That could be a spectacle and be the kind of theater, you know, we're in an environment where the Iraq war is a big issue, a big question mark, weapons of mass destruction (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as everyone asserted, have not been found.

If Saddam Hussein and people were there and this was truly an evil leader who did some horrendous things, if that got into a trial on television, that could become one of those things that would become the dominant issue, particularly if it's not in August but in October.

KING: Couple of notes here. Bob Woodward's book, everyone's been waiting for it, it's called "The Plan of Attack: An Inside Look at the Bush Administration's War Against Iraq." It'll be out late April. And Woodward will return to this show, and they'll be on, of course, Woodward and Dole will be on following major debates and major occurrences throughout this campaign. Of course we look forward to them on election night as well.

Bob Dole, do you expect a very, very close race?

DOLE: Yes, I think it's going to be close. I think one thing we ought to remind everybody that, you know, not many Americans are really focused on the presidential race yet. I mean, we talk about it, and it's a big thing to the Democrats. They've had the TV and radio and newspaper attention for the last several months.

And now it's really going to be a race. And again, the American people aren't there yet. I don't know what percent, Bill Schneider would know to the percentage point, are really tuned in to what's happening.

So it's a little early to say, Well, it's going to be 1 point, 2 points, 5 points. But again, any event can change the outcome for...

KING: Thank you, Bob Dole...

DOLE: ... (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

KING: ... we'll be looking forward to many appearances. Great having you with us.

DOLE: Thank you.

KING: Former senator Bob Dole, and Bob Woodward, the assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post." And Bill Schneider will be answering those questions when Wolf hosts the upcoming hour. And I'll be coming back in a couple of minutes to tell you what's going to happen on LARRY KING LIVE later and tomorrow night, and to turn it over to Wolf. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Well, it's been quite a night. We'll be back at midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific, with Bill Schneider, Wolf Blitzer, Tucker Carlson, and our new friend Mo Rocca will be with us.

Tomorrow night on LARRY KING LIVE, Bill Maher will be here with his analysis. On Thursday night, a special guest, Katie Couric.

Speaking of things special, Wolf Blitzer returns with more complete coverage on your most trusted name in news is CNN. Stay right there.

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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