Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Aired April 20, 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, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, her first live prime-time interview since her best seller, "Living History," came out in paperback with a new update. The former first lady will cover it all -- Iraq, the November elections, Bob Woodward's explosive new book, "Plan of Attack," her own future and more. Senator Clinton is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We're all laughing. What's left to cover? That's it. Thanks for coming, and good night.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: It's great being here, Larry.
KING: A lot of things to talk about. "Living History" was the number one best seller last year.
CLINTON: I thought it was terrific. I was...
KING: Were you shocked by that?
CLINTON: I was surprised. You know, when you write a book, you have no idea if anybody is going to read it. You hope maybe your family will. But it had a great response, in part because I think people are always interested in first lady memoirs, and because some of the stories about my life and experiences struck chords with people.
And it was amazing, as I went around the country doing book signings or literally just walking through airports, people would come up and say, gee, you know, I had a father just like yours, or, you know, I really related to what you said about growing up.
KING: A heck of a good read.
CLINTON: Well, thank you.
KING: It's now out in excellent -- in trade paperback. Did a nice job for you.
CLINTON: It looks so nice. Doesn't it? I was very impressed by the quality of it.
KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), looks great.
And let's get into some things.
KING: OK. Did you -- what do you make of this whole Woodward book thing? Have you read?
CLINTON: I'm fascinated -- no, I have not read it, but I'm fascinated by it. I have followed the coverage, obviously. I know you had a great interview with him last night.
KING: Thank you.
CLINTON: And it confirms a lot of what we'd already learned about the administration.
KING: Which is?
CLINTON: That it's a very close knit, quite insular team that basically talks to itself, and has very strong convictions, which is admirable, that are not shaken by evidence or any factual differences in what they intend to do. And I think his accounting of how Iraq was on the agenda for the administration so shortly after 9/11, and in fact it corresponds what we learned from Paul O'Neill's book, from Dick Clarke's book, that they were intent upon dealing with what they saw as the dangers in Iraq.
KING: You voted for it, though, didn't you?
CLINTON: I voted for the authorization, and obviously I've thought about that a lot in the months since.
KING: Sorry you did?
CLINTON: No, I don't regret giving the president authority, because at the time it was in the context of weapons of mass destruction, grave threats to the United States, and clearly, Saddam Hussein had been a real problem for the international community for more than a decade.
What I regret is the way the president used the authority. I think that the short-circuiting of the inspections process, after going to the United Nations, and then basically not permitting the inspectors to finish whatever task they could have accomplished to demonstrate one way or the other what was there. The failure to plan is the most hard -- of all the things is the hardest for me to understand. I mean, how could they have been so poorly prepared for the aftermath of the toppling of Saddam Hussein? And there's just a number of questions that, you know, we still don't really have answers for.
KING: Do you think you were fooled, or you think they had bad information? I mean, is your feeling that they were going to go hell or high water, or do you think they just got bad information?
CLINTON: I think it's important that we figure out the answers to those questions, which is why I am supporting the 9/11 commission, why I think that the Congress and their joint committees did a great public service trying to sort this out, why the other commission that the president appointed is important.
You know, the consensus was the same, from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration. It was the same intelligence belief that our allies and friends around the world shared about the weapons of mass destruction.
KING: Had the same CIA director.
CLINTON: Same CIA director, absolutely. But I think that in the case of the administration, they really believed it. They really thought they were right, but they didn't let enough sunlight into their thinking process to really have the kind of debate that needs to take place when a serious decision occurs like that.
KING: So when you say you give it second thoughts, does this mean you're frustrated, you're rethinking?
CLINTON: No, I mean, I say -- I believe strongly that after 9/11, we have to be prepared to take action to protect our country, to protect our friends and allies, American assets around the world.
KING: So you favor us -- favor us being there?
CLINTON: Well, I favor the fact that now that we're there, we're going to have to make the best of it. I think it could have been handled differently. That's why I say I regret the way the president decided to use the authority.
And it's been bewildering to me, you know, the idea that they would reject out of hand all the planning that was done in the State Department, that they would, you know, basically ignore the warnings that so many people gave them about what would happen when the oppressive, you know, heavy hand of Saddam Hussein was lifted off. For the life of me, I don't understand how they had such an unrealistic view about what was going to happen.
KING: What do you make of the Colin Powell thing?
CLINTON: Well, you know, I have the same questions everybody does. You read that book, and you know clearly, from what I hear, Secretary Powell has been, you know, kind of arguing for a different perspective, a different strategy inside the administration. He seems to have been pretty isolated, because the decision makers -- Cheney, Rumsfeld, the president -- were intent upon a different course.
KING: Being in that spot, though, ain't the easiest walk on the block, is it?
CLINTON: That's correct.
KING: You were there.
CLINTON: That's right. It is. It's very tough.
KING: And you can only go sometimes on what you're given, right? And if the people around you tell you, this is it...
CLINTON: Well, that's one of the reasons why I think it's important to have a president who asks a lot of questions, who is intellectually curious, who seeks out contrary points of view, who doesn't just surround himself with people who see the world the same way he does.
You know, there is no one world view that encompasses every reality that exists on this planet, and you have to have a decision- making process that pushes a lot of information up, and asks a lot of hard questions. You don't get that sense from this White House.
KING: But in this book, he does ask questions, of Rumsfeld, of Cheney, are you sure?
CLINTON: He -- very -- yeah, but in very formal settings, you know, meetings where information's been portrayed, and it's the same people he's asking over and over again. You know, if you're going to ask Cheney the same question over and over again, you're going to get the same answer, because it's the answer that he wants you to have.
KING: Lyndon Johnson had George Ball, who was totally opposed to the war in Vietnam and made that clear. Did your administration have someone whom your husband or you liked hearing, no?
CLINTON: Well, you know, it was just a totally different approach to decision-making. You know, the Bush team came in and said, we're going to, you know, have a very disciplined, corporate- like approach to solving these problems, so information has to come up through the hierarchy. We're not going to let somebody like Dick Clarke, who is in charge of counterterrorism in the NSC actually brief the president.
Well, that's not at all what my husband did. You know, he wanted people to argue in front of him. He wanted people to present different points of view. Because he at the end of the day knew he had to make the decision. I mean, the buck does stop. The president has to make a decision.
KING: On that end, how is his book coming?
CLINTON: He's working very hard on it. It's moving toward completion.
KING: Have you read it?
CLINTON: I have read a lot of it, yes. I mean, it's...
KING: What do you think?
CLINTON: I think it's going to be a terrific...
KING: You can give us an early review.
CLINTON: Well, no, I can't do that, I can't let anything out of the bag. He has -- he has taken the time to write in a very detailed way about what it was like growing up in the South during the 1950s, what it was like coming of age with Elvis and all the new music that started to sweep our country. So it's not only a story of his life. It's really a story of a life that has a real cultural context at a certain point in America.
I think it's going to be a terrific read, and obviously, it will be, I think, popular, but it will also be educational and informative for people.
KING: Coming out when?
CLINTON: I don't know, the next couple of months sometime.
KING: Is he going to examine the frailties, too?
CLINTON: I think he's, you know, a very thorough job.
KING: Is it going to be rough for you to relive those parts when they come out?
CLINTON: You know, I -- I did that with my book, and I feel very comfortable about it.
KING: You've put it away, right?
CLINTON: You know, life goes on, and you know, my perspective on the eight years that I had in the White House and to try to serve my country was -- it overall was a tremendous privilege and honor, and I'm grateful for that.
KING: If they told you you'd be senator for life, would you take it?
CLINTON: Well, the great thing about our system is nobody is anything for life. You have to earn it every single day.
KING: If they said that's your job and that will be your job, senator from New York, you'll be reelected, let's say, with the gods...
CLINTON: Let's hope so.
KING: Would you say, "that's fine by me?"
CLINTON: I love being senator from New York. I mean, you know what New York is like. I mean, it is the most fascinating, dynamic place in the world, and I get to represent nearly 19 million people who come from everywhere, with every kind of experience you can imagine. It's a tremendous honor and it's also a lot of fun.
KING: We'll be right back with Hillary Rodham Clinton. The book, "Living History," the number one worldwide best seller. It's got a new afterword and it's published in trade paperback by Scribner. Don't go away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: She has an approval rating of 62 percent, by the way, in New York state. The book, "Living History: Hillary Rodham Clinton." A new afterword is published in trade paperback by Scribner. It's great to have her with us live tonight in Washington. This is a hypothetic, but hypothetics are fair and of course, they're good.
CLINTON: Just between us, OK.
KING: Senator Kerry says to you, run with me. Because I need you to run with me, because the party needs you, and the country needs you. what do you say?
CLINTON: You know, John, I'm going to do everything I can to get you elected because I think you'd be a terrific president but I'm not going to run.
KING: You'd turn him down. If he asked, you would turn him down?
CLINTON: Yes, because I think that I can be very helpful in, as I did last week, spending time with him, appearing with him, trying to bring people to him in every way possible, and that I think is my appropriate role right now.
KING: Why wouldn't you want to be?
CLINTON: You know, Larry, I'm so happy being senator from New York right now. I love my life. I love my job. I want to see it through, you know? The people of New York took a chance on me, and I'm well aware of that, and I said I wouldn't run and I really mean it. I'm not going to run.
KING: Do you have thoughts as to who would be a good selection?
CLINTON: I think there are a number of people who would be, but that is such a personal choice, and you know, I have a lot of confidence in John's judgment. I think he'll make the choice based on what the important criteria are. Would this person be a good president if something happened to me? That's got to be the number one reason. Secondly, is it somebody that, you know, I want to work with? I get along with? Who can compliment me, and thirdly, what can this person bring to the ticket? I think he's got some very good choices.
KING: How do you see the election?
CLINTON: I really believe that it will remain close, but at the end of the campaign, after the conventions, after the debates, I believe that Americans are going to want a new direction, they're going to want different leadership. You know, I said to somebody earlier today, this is like a job interview for President Bush. You know, he's been there for four years, and he's going to have to come to the American people and say, rehire me.
KING: This is his review. CLINTON: This is his review and we are his employers, as we are with any president, and as we go down the list, there are a lot of problems with this administration with respect to job creation and economic growth that is broadly based amongst the entire country. There are a lot of problems with health care exploding again in costs. There are many issues, whether one looks at the energy policy or the environmental policy or anything else, plus the problems that we face abroad, that I think a majority of Americans who, in my experience, are not only fair-minded but are very savvy about what's in their interest, because they're looking to see where is this going to lead for me and my family are going to vote for John Kerry.
KING: How involved will you be?
CLINTON: Very involved.
KING: Will you stump?
CLINTON: Absolutely, not only for the presidential ticket but for senator candidates. I think we have a very good chance to take back the Senate. We have some fabulous people running. We've got strong incumbents and we've got strong challengers and I think that, you know, you watch those senator races. We've got a very good chance there.
KING: Is Bill going to stump?
CLINTON: He's going to do whatever he can. He is committed to helping the ticket, helping candidates, and he's already been asked to do some things he and I did on e-mail request for campaign funds for Senator Kerry shortly after he secured the nomination. It was very successful. We're going to keep on doing whatever we're asked to do and we can think to do.
KING: We'll be right back with more of Hillary Rodham Clinton. "Living History" is now out in trade paperback. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: He needs your commitment, he needs your dedication to make sure that America makes the right decision in November, and I give you the next president of the United States, Senator John Kerry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Hillary Rodham Clinton. "Living History" is out in trade paperback with a new afterward. Let's go back to some issues staying with Iraq. The continued violence, the continued casualties. Your committee -- Armed Services Committee is holding hearings, et cetera.
What's validity of June 30th?
CLINTON: Well, it's a date that has taken on a life of its own, because the president said that was the date. And there's an argument for sticking with it, because you don't want to have -- put yourself so far out and then have to retreat from a promise of some kind of sovereignty. but for example, today in the Armed Services Committee, we questioned Secretary Wolfowitz about what does the sovereignty mean?
Who is going to be sovereign, and what is the relationship they're going to have with the military.
KING: What did he say?
CLINTON: There were to many answers. It's a staged process. United Nations is now finally involved, and they're attempting to create some kind of an entity consisting of some group of people, not necessarily the governing council or anyone who has served on it, but of course it seems to me they're going to have to have some carryover. And then this group will have responsibility for trying to move toward the selection of a transition government that will then be responsible for elections that will put into place a fully sovereign government.
But when you start asking questions, okay, well, well what is the relationship going to be with respect to the United States military?
Will we have the full right and authority to operate within a now "sovereign" nation or will we be in some ways subject to this entity consisting of whomever, we don't know.
KING: Who runs who?
CLINTON: Who runs who under what circumstances. Very often with this administration it's unclear whether they have answers they don't want to share or they don't have answers. That's what's deeply troubling to me. Just as the Woodward book so compellingly explained, this is an administration that really believes that it's on a mission, and they don't have to answer to anybody, including the United States Congress or the people of the country. That they give as little information as possible, keep it very closely held, and I don't think it's working. I don't think it's -- it's not only not working, it is also not in keeping with our democracy. And they are laying down some very bad precedence that I don't think are in the best interests of our war on terrorism or the kind of accountable balanced government we should have.
KING: Concerning the 9/11 Commission and Mr. Clarke you mentioned.
KING: He was critical of both administrations, critical of yours as well, as well as the Bush administration in the area of Osama bin Laden.
Do you buy that criticism?
CLINTON: Well, I've actually read Dick Clarke's book. I've had time to do that. It's a very fair rendering. And he makes a couple of points. First, at least in his experience, the Clinton administration was very focused on bin Laden and al Qaeda. There was not the context that we had after 9/11 to have taken a lot of the actions that were later possible, like invading Afghanistan. The one thing he recommended that was rejected was bombing the training camps in Afghanistan, but there was a very open debate in the administration. The military had real problems with it, another members of the NSC had real problems with it. You remember that my husband did bomb one of the camps where we thought at the time bin Laden would be. But I take the criticism as absolutely legitimate. I think Dick Clarke is a very credible witness to what went on over the last years. He has a different critique that Bush administration, as you know, that they were not as focused as they needed to be. That's why the 9/11 Commission is so important. I think they are doing a very credible not just bipartisan, frankly nonpartisan job.
KING: What did you think of his apology?
CLINTON: I thought it was very moving and very obviously almost heart rending with the response that he had from the families.
KING: What are your thoughts on Mr. Tenet, who served both you and this administration?
CLINTON: I think we have to look at the structural problems. I don't think this comes down to any one person, and therefore, I'm going to wait until the 9/11 Commission comes fort with their analysis and their recommendations. We've given millions of documents to them, I think, pages of documents, and they have done a very professional job from everything I can see in kind of sorting through it, trying to get lines of responsibility straightened out, and figuring out what we're going to do going forward, because this is, yes, about the past. Have you to learn from the past, but it is much more about where we're going to be next year and the years after, and a lot of the problems that we had on 9/11 we still have, to some degree, and I'm hoping that this commission can have a unanimous report that will make recommendations that the administration, whoever they are and the Congress will follow.
KING: Do you expect it to be bipartisan?
CLINTON: I do.
KING: Unanimous maybe?
CLINTON: I'm hoping. I know that former Governor Kean and former Congressman Hamilton are hoping that it can be. It may not be. It may be unanimous in some respects and not in other respects. But they're making such a good faith effort to do that.
KING: How well do you get along with this administrations as individual senator?
CLINTON: As an individual senator, very well. I've worked with a number of members of the administration. I have a very cordial relationship with the president. I've worked on some issues with Mrs. Bush. I have an understanding of, you know, the burdens that they carry. After 9/11, I, personally, told the president that I would support him in every way possible, because we had to have a united country in the face of the attacks that we suffered.
KING: Do you miss -- do you miss the executive end?
CLINTON: No. It was an incredible experience for those eight years. And I wouldn't trade them for anything, but I'm glad that there are term limits. It is an unbelievable -- absolutely. I mean, Larry, just look at the pictures of any of our recent presidents from the day they take office as they progress through their term. The burdens and responsibilities of that office today are just overwhelming. And you know, you think about Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman guiding us through World War II and the beginning of the cold war and president Truman's case, they still took long vacations, they had time for their friends, poker games, you know, cocktail hours.
KING: They took walks.
CLINTON: They took walks. They had a human dimension of their lives. And with all due respect, there wasn't a 24-hour news cycle that required a response from the administration, you know, every 10 minutes. People could think about issues. They could digest information. We now expect this one person, the president, to be both head of government and head of state, to deal with all kinds of problems in a rapid-firemanner. It is just an incredible burden.
KING: We're going take a break and come back with our remaining moments with Hillary Clinton and then talk with Congressman Chris Shays of Connecticut, Congresswoman Jane Harman of Connecticut. Their reaction to what she just said, and thoughts on the Woodward book and Iraq as well.
I said California, didn't? I...
CLINTON: It is California.
KING: I thought I said it. Anyway "Living History" by Hillary Rodham Clinton and it's with a new afterward published in trade paperback. We'll be right back.
KING: We're back with Hillary Rodham Clinton, these are our remaining moments, and then we'll meet Congressman Shays and Congresswoman Harman.
Egypt's Mubarak said today, "The United States is now the target of unprecedented hate in the Arab world." I guess that has to do with the agreement with Sharon. What did you think of that?
CLINTON: Well, first of all, I regret the statement by President Mubarak, because it is -- it's a problem for us. We've got to figure out how we're going to both communicate more effectively and deal with many countries around the world. Specifically, with respect to the decision that Prime Minister Sharon made, I think it grows out of frustration on the part of the Israeli government that they don't have a partner to negotiate with in good faith, and it's a unilateral decision that as I understand what the prime minister and both President Bush said is not set in stone with respect to a future negotiation that might finalize all of the issues between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
But I think that it's understandable, and I support, you know, an effort to move forward. Unfortunately, it's not in the context of any larger process, and I think that's going to turn out to be a problem.
KING: Is it solvable?
CLINTON: Oh, you have to believe that it is. The prospects are just too grim for the children of Israel and of the Palestinians, not to believe it's solvable. You know, there have been a lot of terrible problems in our world that we've lived through in the last century that people didn't think were solvable, that yielded to hard work and faith and patience, and I think we have to bring the same to bear in the Middle East.
KING: You think 9/11 was preventable?
CLINTON: Oh, it's hard to know whether it was or not, but certainly clues were missed along the way, actions were not taken that might have made a difference. I'm hoping we can sort that out through the 9/11 commission, and then learn whatever lessons there are and apply them to the future.
KING: Patriot Act?
CLINTON: We're taking a look at it now. There were some necessary changes that it made in how we conduct surveillance, and the tools available to law enforcement, and then there may very well have been some parts of it that were not necessary, and there may be some additional changes that would be merited, but I think that the administration may be asking for, you know, some authority that is troubling. For example, to go ahead and give the opportunity for warrantless searches without a grand jury or a judge signing off on them.
KING: So you're not sure?
CLINTON: I think there are some parts of it that I'll be able to support, and other parts of it I'm not sure I can.
KING: Do you think it will change?
CLINTON: I don't know yet. And there is opposition to different parts of it from all sides of the political spectrum.
KING: Tom Ridge, get along with him? Or what do you think of how he's doing?
CLINTON: You know, he's a very decent person who has been given an overwhelming job. I disagree with their strategy. I don't have any disagreements with Secretary Ridge, whom I found to be quite responsive to my needs.
CLINTON: You know, I don't think that they've sorted out what are national responsibilities, what should the federal government be doing in our ports and our borders, what are the responsibilities at the local level, which means we should get the money directly to our first responders, our police, our firefighters and others at the local level. What, for example, is the responsibility of the private sector. You know, we have a lot of chemical plants in this country that are very vulnerable.
There's just been a lack of a clear, understandable strategy, with lines of authority and responsibility, and appropriate allocations of resources.
KING: A couple of other things. With what happened in Spain close to their election...
CLINTON: Right, right.
KING: ... do you fear something happening here at Boston or in New York?
CLINTON: Well, you know, Larry, I worry about terrorism every day. You know, I represent New York. I -- I go into the city. I go downtown. I meet with survivors, with family...
KING: You think about it a lot?
CLINTON: I think about it...
KING: Every day?
CLINTON: ... every single day. It is never out of my mind. You know, sometimes I try to think like a terrorist, to be honest, you know, say what is it they would do? You know, what are our vulnerabilities? What do we need to do to be more prepared? How do we be more vigilant to take care of ourselves?
And it's not just the responsibility of government. It is the responsibility of all of our citizens to, you know, be more vigilant, and to report suspicious activity.
So yeah, I worry about it, and you know, I don't -- you know, I don't let it interfere with my going about my daily business, I don't change any of my routines. I don't, you know, refuse to go places. You know, obviously.
KING: Do you feel safe?
CLINTON: I feel safe because I refuse to feel unsafe, but intellectually I'm constantly thinking about what more we need to do.
KING: And there is a lot more to do?
CLINTON: There is a lot more to do. That's why I say I've been unsatisfied with the strategy that the administration has followed with respect to homeland security.
KING: Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
CLINTON: I'm optimistic, you know.
KING: Despite all you see?
CLINTON: Absolutely. You know, I think that's one of the great gifts of being an American is that we're fundamentally an optimistic people. We have a lot of hope about the future, we think tomorrow can be better than today and yesterday.
That's the way I was raised. That's how I feel in my own life.
And I'm worried, because I have a sense that there's a little bit of fatalism creeping in to some of the remarks I hear from the president and others. I mean, it seems, you know, like you know, we live in a dangerous world. People have always lived in a dangerous world. Our dangers may be of significantly greater proportion because of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare, but people have always had to live with dangers and risks.
And not only that, we can do things to deal with those. For example, one of the Woodward revelations about the gas prices and Saudi Arabia, I mean, that should be a wake-up call for our leadership and our citizens to say, you know what? We are not going to be dependent on any country and their oil supply. We are going to immediately move as quickly as possible to as much energy independence as we can have.
You know, we are Americans. We can solve problems because we are optimistic, we are smart. We are entrepreneurial, and that's the energy that we need to be unleashing in this country again.
KING: Does Bill miss it?
CLINTON: No, he's having the time of his life, you know, being back in private life.
KING: He is?
CLINTON: He really is, yeah. His foundation is doing fabulous work. You know, they've negotiated these low prices for generic drugs, helped more people...
KING: But he is so political.
CLINTON: Yeah, but he's now -- you know, he's now doing things like getting lower prices for drugs to make sure that people get help with HIV/AIDS around the world.
KING: Would you allow importation from Canada? CLINTON: Absolutely. Absolutely. I also think it was a big mistake not to let Medicare negotiate drug prices.
KING: As always, thank you.
CLINTON: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. The book, "Living History," the phenomenal number one worldwide best seller. New afterword is published by Scribner.
And when we come back, two frequent guests. Always good to see them. Finally good to be with them, Congresswoman Jane Harman of California, Congressman Chris Shays of Connecticut. Don't go away.
CLINTON: Good to see you there.
KING: We're back. Two frequent guests. Always good to have them with us here in Washington, Congressman Chris Shays, Republican of Connecticut, chairman of the government reform sub-committee on national security and in Washington as well is Congresswoman Jane Harman, Democrat of California, ranking Democrat on the permanent select committee on intelligence. Congresswoman Harman, what do you make of Senator Clinton?
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: She's fabulous. She has started a new career fairly recently, proved herself in New York. I think she's a very popular senator there, her appearance on the show tonight shows the depth and breadth of her knowledge. I think it is really impressive how many lives she's already led and there's more to come. One thing, we were talking about as we were listening to her is what a good job the Clintons did of raising their daughter, Chelsea.
REP. CHRIS SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT: You know, I think every Republican should take her very seriously. She's a very articulate politician. She represents a huge state, and every time people come up with who do they want as their second choice for president on the Democratic party, she's the one who shows up.
KING: Do you buy her statement that she would turn down John Kerry if he asked her?
HARMAN: I think one would never know that until it happens and I don't know whether he's going ask her, but I certainly think she's qualified, as are many women, to be president, vice president and cabinet secretaries in this administration.
KING: Like you.
HARMAN: Well, I'm flattered to think some people would believe that.
KING: Chris, you think...
SHAYS: Well, it will be tough, Massachusetts and New York, I think there will be some Republicans who would like her to say yes.
KING: Would you like to see her on the ticket, selfishly, do you think you would have it easier?
SHAYS: I really don't know. I want George Bush to win, so whoever they can put on the ticket that George Bush can defeat I'd like.
KING: What do you make of -- you're both mentioned in the Woodward book. OK, Shays, you're mentioned in connection with a September 26, 2002 White House meeting between Bush and House members. Bush said he didn't want to put troops in harm's way and he hadn't given up on diplomacy. Remember that meeting?
KING: And Jane, you're mentioned in terms of a White House meeting on February 5, 2003, shortly before the Powell presentation to the U.N. You're quoted as calling the case against Saddam strong but you want to know what is the threat to the homeland. That true?
KING: What do you make of the book?
SHAYS: Woodward is someone who seems to get access to whomever he needs to get access. But I think it's interesting that Tenet said it's a slam dunk. People should hear that and say this is what the president was hearing, and believe him when he believed that there were weapons of mass destruction. That's a very important element to be mentioned.
KING: Isn't that a key part of the book? Congresswoman Harman? I mean, the CIA director says slam dunk.
HARMAN: And I was surprised at that statement, assuming it is true. By the way, I've known Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein since they were rookies in Washington. That goes way back. If George Tenet said that, knowing what he knew about the national intelligence estimate, he was exaggerating the case and I was surprised to read that and I'm not sure what he believed at the time or what the president believed at the time. I guess we'd have to ask them more. I assume -- I guess I assume he believed what he said but it didn't reflect the underlying intelligence and that's a big problem.
KING: Do you have any doubts now Chris Shays on when you hear $700 million moved from one place to another? Do you question?
SHAYS: No, what I am actually certain of is that we wanted a regime change in Iraq. I mean, that was our goal. It was the goal in the Clinton and under Bush. So there's no surprise there whatsoever. Did I think that we might have to go into Iraq after Afghanistan? Absolutely, and would I want us to have planned for it? Without question. The interesting thing for me, is we planned so well for the war but we didn't plan as well for the aftermath of the war, and that's very regretful. HARMAN: But that wasn't the issue here. Congress had appropriated money for the war in Afghanistan. That was a war that had international support, we all supported it. Here without telling most of the people in his own administration he instructed Tommy Franks and Rumsfeld to reprogram money to a war he was thinking about that no one else knew about, I think that really violated the deal with Congress and frankly budgeting by supplementals is a very dangerous practice and especially budgeting almost all of our terrorism expenses by supplementals as well.
KING: You were just there, right?
HARMAN: I think Chris just returned yesterday. I've been there several times, I was recently in Afghanistan, Libya, all the garden spots.
SHAYS: A few observations. One, we're going to have a rough few months. I'm more convinced that the transfer of power needs to happen. The Iraqi people are expecting it. And it's kind of like collective bargaining or when is the session going to end. You got to give a deadline and just do it. It's not going to be any easier eight months from now, two months from now, eight months from now, just get it done.
KING: What surprised you?
SHAYS: What surprised me was that some of my previous observations were confirmed. I knew intuitively that allowing the Iraqis to diss (ph) their country under our supervision was a mistake. I now have significant concern that basically saying that we're going to abolish the government, abolish the army, abolish the police and we left such a void and I don't think we got anything from it from the Shias. So I think it was a huge mistake and I think we're paying for it.
HARMAN: I think the post-war planning was extremely poor, a lot of wishful thinking, no real practical thinking, and we're paying for that hugely. I agree with Chris that the deadline which I think we set for political reasons nonetheless should be kept. The Iraqis have bought into it. Frankly, if we could sooner move to transfer some of the governing authority to an international group, especially the U.N./NATO, I think that would be better for the Iraqis.
KING: What do you think of Spain, Honduras and now I understand the Dominican Republic tonight, they only had 300 and they pulled out.
SHAYS: I'm not surprised. I mean, Bremer told me that they haven't been as supportive as we'd hope they would be and not as effective as we'd hoped they would be. The bottom line is the Brits and the Americans are carrying the weight.
HARMAN: No international coalition. We never pulled it off. I think we disrespected the people we wanted to join with us. I think that was a big mistake. We did a much better job in Afghanistan. The good news is that we're doing in Iraq what is being done in Afghanistan. Brahimi is the same guy, he's putting together the same kind of group to transition to elections but we haven't had them in Afghanistan either yet. This is a dicey deal. I hope we get there.
SHAYS: I have a little bit of sympathy for the administration. You come to the Oil for Food program and you realize how involved the French were, the Germans, and the Russians in a $10 billion ripoff. We knew if the French had stuck with us in January like they said they would in December, Saddam would have known that he needed to cooperate. He didn't think we would attack him because the French, the Germans, and the Russians weren't supportive and I think we have an indication of why, part of it is the Oil for Food.
KING: We'll be back in some more moments, maybe get a phone call or two right after this.
KING: Both want to make some points. Let's get one quick call in.
CALLER: My question for your two guests is with the United States focused on the war on terrorism and the situation in Iraq, could this have the United States lose its sight on North Korea or even a sleeping giant such as China?
SHAYS: Absolutely not. As we're fighting the war in Iraq, we dealt with Libya. We got the Chinese pushing the North Koreans and the way we got that to happen, we told the Chinese if North Korea gets nuclear weapons, Japan will get them and China doesn't want that to happen and they stepped right in. We're able to deal with more than one thing at the same time.
KING: I think you disagree.
HARMAN: I'd say yes. While we've been doing this, al Qaeda has been regrouping. Iran is much more dangerous. There's a good story in Libya, but we have to keep on it. And as far as North Korea goes, we don't know exactly how dangerous it is but it's been getting exponentially dangerous. Abdul Qadeer Kahn was proliferating weapons of mass destruction, while we were in Iraq allegedly removing the weapons of mass destruction..
SHAYS: That happened before. And I think the good thing is, Larry, we exposed where Pakistan was doing. We connected them to Iran, Libya, and Iraq. And so I think that's been, you know, some progress.
KING: To Bellvue, Nebraska, hello.
CALLER: My question is for Representative Harman, and Larry I want to say I'm a huge fan of yours. I watch your show all the time. My question is, do you he believe there's weapons of mass destruction to be found in Iraq?
HARMAN: I think it is highly unlikely. The president has now morphed his statements into program of weapons of mass destruction, program related activities, whatever they may be, but I think David Kay had the answer awhile back and it was we were all wrong. And on that point, a number of us in the house have written to the president urging him to scrub the WMD estimates for every other country if they were wrong in Iraq, they might be wrong in Iran and North Korea and elsewhere.
KING: This new coalition, the State Department is in charge of this?
SHAYS: Right. As soon as there's a transfer of power, you end up with the State Department being our major contact with Iraq. And I think that's good. One of the challenges is, we've had the State Department, the Defense, we've had basically the White House, all kind of involved in these sphere's of influence. And I think it would do good to get the Defense back on the political side and the State coming in on the political side. Ultimately this is a political, not a military effort.
HARMAN: We could have done this at the beginning. A year ago. The State Department wrote a detailed planning document, ambassador Jim Dobbins who had done the nation building exercises in five countries the last 10 years, was helpful and this administration sadly ignored all of that advice, did it wrong for a few months and brought in Jerry Bremer who is truly talented, and working his heart out. And he's a diplomat's instincts. And he's done what he could but it's too little too late, and we're paying for it.
I just wan to make one other comment. As I think what's going on here, I see unfinished business, tax cuts, Iraq finishing the war he daddy started are two of the big priorities here and I think, sadly, the eye is off the ball. The threats of the 21st century are different from the threats of the '80s and the '90s.
KING: What's the election going to be like?
SHAYS: I think it's going to be close. No president has had a majority vote. The first George Bush won by less than a majority. Clinton won both less than a majority. Clearly George W. didn't get a majority or popular vote. I think this will be very close.
KING: Connecticut will go which way.
SHAYS: I don't want to have to say it.
KING: Say close, too?
HARMAN: Very close. The driving issue will be a woman's right to choose. 100,000 or so women and men are going to be marching in Washington this weekend. If Bush gets a second term, we lose the Supreme Court, we lose the right to choose that, will motivate thousands, millions of voters.
KING: Do you think they'd over turn Roe vs. Wade?
HARMAN: With a different composition on the court, I do.
KING: Where do you stand it?
SHAYS: Well, I'm definitely pro choice. I believe in Roe vs. Wade. And a majority of Republican support Roe v. Wad.
KING: So, the administration -- you're not in concept with the administration?
SHAYS: No, I don't agree with everything in the administration. I do on the war on terror and the economy and those are two key areas.
KING: Thank you all.
HARMAN: Welcome to Washington.
KING: Thank you, it's good to be back home for awhile.
HARMAN: Good to see new person for once.
KING: Thank you. Our guests, Congresswoman Jane Harman and Chris Shays of California and Connecticut respectively, earlier, Hillary Rodham Clinton. We have an exciting-to-show tomorrow. I'm going to tell you about it in two minutes. Don't go away.
KING: Remember the show the "Apprentice"? Tomorrow night we have the winner, the runner up and four other of the finalist. Six apprentices -- apprenticide (ph), plus the man.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com