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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Inteview With Maria Shriver, Timothy Shriver
Aired May 6, 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, Maria Shriver, the first lady of California on her new life with her husband Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, on the Alzheimer's disease afflicting her father, Sarge Shriver and more. Maria Shriver for the hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: It's a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE tonight an old friend. Always a pleasure to welcome (UNINTELLIGIBLE). She doesn't (UNINTELLIGIBLE) here enough. She's Maria Shriver, the first lady of the state of California, the bestselling author, has a new children's book out called "What's Happening to Grandpa?"
Her father is the focus of a remarkable new biography, by the way, called "Sarge, The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver" written by Scott Stossel. We'll talk about that some more later.
Maria was last on this show back in 2001. Right after 9/11.
MARIA SHRIVER, AUTHOR, "WHAT'S HAPPENING TO GRANDPA?": That's right. I remember that very well.
KING: Last June, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) led up to the book, "What's Happening to Grandpa?" Great title, by the way. This is explaining Alzheimer's to children?
SHRIVER: It is. It's talking about the disease, I hope, in a very open and inviting way. I wanted to write this book for the approximately six million people who have this disease in their family.
But I also wanted to write it for people who don't know much about it. I wanted to write it for children who have grandparents in their lives, for children who are my age who have questions, whether it be about Alzheimer's or anything else going on with aging parents.
And so I hope it will not only explain this disease but it will promote the relationship between grandparents and children, which I believe is one of the most formidable and important relationships we can forge.
LARRY KING, HOST: Did the title come from one of your children?
SHRIVER: It sure did. KING: Saying those words?
SHRIVER: Saying those words, "What's happening to Grandpa?" And I...
KING: Now, before we get into that, what is happening to Grandpa?
SHRIVER: Well, he was diagnosed with early Alzheimer's, and he -- it is about two years that we started noticing some things. But he himself wrote a letter to his friends last June...
KING: Like Ronald Reagan writing...
SHRIVER: Exactly. And he characterized it in the most optimistic terms, because that was the kind of human being he is. And he said, "For me, Alzheimer's means one thing and one thing only: it means I have a lousy memory. But it doesn't mean that I'm not going to stop challenging you to change the world. It doesn't mean I'm not going to stop challenging you to think of ways we can have peaceful resolutions to problems in the world. It doesn't mean I'm not going to stop helping my wife with Special Olympics, that I'm not going to stay continued to be engaged in the lives of my five children."
And that's my father, optimistic, hopeful, feeling lucky. And I hope that that's the tone of this book. Because, while it came from my father's situation, it's really not so much about him. It's about all of us. And I hope about the relationship between our parents, our grandparents.
KING: But that optimism does fade after a while...
SHRIVER: It does.
KING: ... along with the memories. How is his condition?
SHRIVER: He's doing really well. He's very excited about...
KING: Doing well, meaning?
SHRIVER: He's out. He was at my brother's...
KING: Does he know you?
SHRIVER: Yes, he does. Absolutely. And he's excited and he knows about his biography. He's very excited about that. He's...
KING: Does he go out?
SHRIVER: Yes, he goes out. He still goes down to the office. And -- and I think, Larry, what's interesting about Alzheimer's is that, you know, it progresses at different rates with different people.
KING: Obviously, slowly with him. SHRIVER: Yes, well, it depends also at what age you get it. We had lots of cases -- he's 88 years old now. But I, you know, in just researching this disease and talking to lots of people, we have lots of cases of early onset, people in their 40s and 50s getting Alzheimer's.
And then obviously, we have aging baby boomers and we have lots and lots of people in their 70s and 80s.
And this is really -- I look at it. It's a family disease. Because it's not just a disease that affects the person who has Alzheimer's. It affects his or her spouse. It affects the children that might -- age children.
KING: When did your kids first notice?
SHRIVER: Well, they didn't -- it wasn't they didn't notice because they weren't aware of what Alzheimer's was. They were just saying, "Oh, Grandpa's funny. He repeats this, or he just asked me that."
And I tried to kind of take a very open approach and an honest approach, which I've had to do with my other children's books, which is to sit down and say, you know, "Grandpa doesn't ask you that question because he wants to be annoying," like I say in the book. Or he doesn't want to irritate you.
It's because he has something called Alzheimer's, and it makes you forget things. It affects your short-term memory. It makes you forget things that might have just happened.
So you have to be patient. You have to be understanding. And you know, we accept the person for who they are.
And I think -- Arnold said something to me wonderful during this whole thing. He said to me, you know, "Accept your dad for who he is today, not who you want him to be 20 years ago." I think a lot of us want our dads to stay kind of permanently like they were maybe when we were growing up and we have trouble with any aging process.
And he was really right. It was accept him for who he is today. Don't try to make him somebody else. And that was a great lesson for me with both of my parents.
KING: How's your mom dealing with it?
SHRIVER: Well, she's terrific (ph). My mother is just, you know...
KING: She (UNINTELLIGIBLE). She almost lost you.
SHRIVER: That's right. And we call her the miracle. But she hates the -- she'd be horrified that I'd be talking about her right now. But she's continuing. She works on behalf of Special Olympics. She's back last week from Bosnia. She spent two weeks in China, Hong Kong. She is traveling the world, spreading the message. She's trying to set up a workshop in Bosnia for mentally disabled children over there. She and my brother Timmy, who's going to be on here a little bit later on, are spreading the word of Special Olympics throughout the world.
And she is very focused, to this day, on spreading that message, getting rid of the stigma, making sure that people with disabilities have jobs, you know, have acceptable health care, all the things that all of us have.
KING: Before I ask you what you tell kids what to say and how to deal with it, how do you balance? You're first lady of California.
KING: You're a Democrat married to a Republican. Your brother -- your uncle is supporting John Kerry. Your husband is supporting George Bush. Your father...
SHRIVER: I'm getting a headache. Oh, my God. This is so confusing!
KING: You raise children. How do you bounce all the balls?
SHRIVER: I think I follow my own compass. And...
KING: You don't change any of your values?
SHRIVER: No, I don't change any of my values. I'm very clear about who I am and what I believe in. And my first job is to keep my children on track. They have to stay...
KING: You're a mother first?
SHRIVER: Absolutely. And when all is said and done, I'm a mother.
KING: So that's primary?
SHRIVER: That's primary. Everything else pales. And so to me, particularly in these last several months when our life did undergo a transition of sorts, it was really important to me to keep my children in their normal routines, to make sure that they understood that what was going on in their lives was as important as what was going on in their dad's life.
I grew up the child of politicians. I grew up with people out trying to change the world all the time. And I was really adamant that I was really getting a second chance to almost redo my own childhood with my own kids.
And I really wanted to make sure that I was there as much as I could be there, and that I stayed focused on what was going on in their inner life. How did they feel about their dad? How did they feel about him spending time in Sacramento? Did they have any questions? Did they feel important? Did they feel loved?
I mean, these are all the things I think that all of us as parents are trying to engage in.
KING: Is he first their father?
SHRIVER: Arnold? Yes. I think so.
KING: That's his primary...
SHRIVER: That is. I think he's very -- and that, when he was trying to make up his mind about whether he should jump into this race, that was the discussion that we were having over and over again.
You know, "I don't want to do this if you and the kids don't feel it's OK. Because in the end, that's what matters, is my relationship with them. I want them to know that I'm involved in their life, and that I'm an important part of their life."
But we all have choices to make in our lives, and I think this was a choice that he felt very strongly that he had to make. And I think we ended up making it as a family. The job is, like, spreading to the kids.
You know, they say to me, "You didn't want Daddy to run. Why are you supporting him now?"
I said, "Well, that's the job of a family. You know, you may make certain decisions in your life that might not be what I want, but it's, I believe, the job of a family to support the people in the family."
KING: Is it very difficult when you have differing political opinions and it's political -- if Arnold was going to go to a Republican National Convention...
SHRIVER: He is?
KING: He's going to speak. Are you going to go to...?
SHRIVER: I think it's the same week as my daughter starts a new school.
KING: Good way to get out of it.
I mean, you're going to vote separately. Right?
SHRIVER: We've pretty much voted separately the entire time we've been together. But...
KING: How does that affect the marriage?
SHRIVER: It doesn't affect the marriage. Look, we have -- I'm very proud of our marriage. And I've learned a lot from Arnold. I think, hopefully, he's learned a lot from me. He's learned a lot from being exposed to my family. I've learned a lot from being exposed to people that he's brought into my life.
It is a -- you know, a relationship that's engaged, and I think that's great. I don't want to be with someone who says all the same things as I say, who believes all the same things. Because then you don't learn. You don't have a great debate. You're not challenged.
KING: He's told me how much he admires your uncle Ted.
SHRIVER: He does.
KING: They have a great...
SHRIVER: They have -- a great respect and he has, I think, an incredible respect for my dad. And I think he would credit my dad with really getting him to focus on public service and getting him to look at that he could really actually be instrumental in changing, you know, the community, a city, a state.
KING: Your uncles would have liked him.
SHRIVER: Yes, I think so. I think...
KING: John and Bobby would have liked him. He's a doer.
SHRIVER: He's a doer. And he's an optimistic doer. He's -- and that's like my dad. My dad believes in -- I think I've looked at a lot of the old tapes of Daddy, and he's all about -- he uses the word "action, action, action." Think outside the box.
And that's really, that's the same dialogue that Arnold's having today.
KING: One of the best interview subjects ever was your father.
SHRIVER: Thank you.
KING: He had passion.
KING: Our guest is Maria Shriver, the first lady of the state of California. Her new children's book is "What's Happening to Grandpa?" Now we'll talk about talking to children about Alzheimer's right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going from here to Cleveland. And from Cleveland to Detroit, from Detroit to Madison, Wisconsin, from Madison, Wisconsin, to Bomine (ph), Texas, from Bomine, Texas to Hanoway (ph). To bring back the prisoners.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: In her two previous bestsellers for kids, "What's Heaven?" dealt with death, "What's Wrong with Timmy?" dealt with disabilities. And now "What's Happening to Grandpa?" children and Alzheimer's.
What do you tell them about why Grandpa is repeating things and not remembering things? What do you say?
SHRIVER: I explain that that's a disease called Alzheimer's.
KING: How old are they?
SHRIVER: Fourteen, 12, 10 and 6. But I have lots of nieces and nephews.
And originally, I really wrote this before my dad announced it himself. I wrote this for myself and my own kids and my nieces and nephews. And I was content...
KING: Wasn't it going to be a book?
SHRIVER: No, it was -- I was content with the idea that it would just be for our family and really for me. It was an exercise for me to ask questions and provide some answers for myself.
And then after my dad came forward and explained his own situation, I asked him and I asked all my brothers. And it was really a family decision that we felt that while the Reagans had had, I thought, a huge impact by the way that they had handled this disease, that there was still a great stigma associated with Alzheimer's. Still a lot of confusion, still a lot of questions, still a lot of fear.
And if I could do -- help some families with this book, create an understanding, begin a dialogue, then they would be -- this would be helpful. So that's why I went ahead with the book.
KING: Isn't a 6-year-old different from a 14-year-old in comprehension?
SHRIVER: With everything.
SHRIVER: My son, the 6-year-old, can tell you about Alzheimer's today. He was explaining it. I listened to him the other day, explaining it to his little 6-year-old friend.
And he said, "Oh, Alzheimer's, that's what my Grandpa has. And it's just when you repeat things. And that's just because something is in your brain and it makes you repeat things. Don't worry about it."
And then he went back to playing. Enough said. That's enough.
KING: What does the 14-year-old say? SHRIVER: The 14-year-old reads the books and, you know, does ask a couple questions and moves on, has a sense of humor about it. Understands and loves her grandfather for who he is. And I think that's all that's needed.
And I think what -- for me, what this book is about, it doesn't have to be if your family member has Alzheimer's. It can be if you have a family member who has cancer. It can be anything.
Or it can be even if your grandpa, your grandma is great. It can be just about creating a relationship between a child and a grandparent.
The thing I really love about this book is the little girl feels involved, and she feels that she can make a difference in her grandfather's life. She comes up with the idea of making a scrapbook and trying to help him remember. And that makes her feel good about being involved in her grandfather's life.
And I think, you know, kids can come up with so many great ideas about how they can be involved in their grandparent's life.
And we're one of the only societies, I think, that don't treasure elderly people, don't work at that relationship. We put them out to pasture. If you go to Asia, there is so much reverence for grandparents and older people.
KING: There's no nursing homes.
SHRIVER: And wisdom. The wisdom they bring. And I'm a big believer. I write in the first page of this book that for Kate, which is the main character, family is everything.
And we get our history from our grandparents. We get our legacy. We get the stories of our family. And I feel very blessed to have had a relationship with my grandparents. And I think my children, my nieces and nephews have an incredible relationship with both my mother and my father, particularly the ones that live down the street from them.
KING: Do you feel it's going to get tough, though, when it gets worse?
SHRIVER: Everything always gets tough, yes.
KING: This is the long good-bye.
SHRIVER: Yes, it is. I mean, I think those are the words of Mrs. Reagan, and I think most people who have gone through this say that. And people have -- I did a book signing today where people came up to me with tears, saying -- young man came up to me and said his mother had Alzheimer's and she was 12 years in his home, and he took care of her. And you know, thanked me and kissed my hand for writing this book.
And many people have come up with, you know, that they have a parent who has it, and they haven't been able to talk about it amongst their own siblings. And that this book will enable that conversation to occur.
So I think with everybody it is unique, just like everything is. And I think you have to have the dialogue that suits your family.
I think what I've learned, whether it was my mother being sick or my dad's situation, I'm very blessed to have an extraordinary relationship with my four brothers, which I have to thank my parents for. And we work at it. And we're all there for each other.
And I think the family comes together, and you have to allow the other people in your family to process it how it works for them. You know what I mean?
And certainly, I have two brothers who live right next to my parents who are kind of more on the front lines, I would say, than myself or another brother who lives in California or another brother who lives in Florida. But I think all five of us are deeply committed to our parents and to the life they've given us and to the values they've instilled in us. And they are our priority.
KING: Were you very close, always close with your dad?
SHRIVER: I was always close with both my parents. And my dad is, you know, the most extraordinary man I've ever met. He's brilliant. He's charming. He's smart. He's inquisitive. He's passionate. He's optimistic.
KING: Your grandfather liked him.
SHRIVER: My grandfather liked him. I have never met -- I can honestly say this. I have never met anybody who didn't like my dad. Never.
SHRIVER: I've never met anybody who didn't admire my dad, who didn't think the world was a better place because of my dad. Who wasn't in awe of what my father has accomplished.
KING: Does he take the new medications?
SHRIVER: Yes, he does.
KING: Are they...
SHRIVER: I think there's so much dispute about all of the medications. And there is -- it seems to me, I pulled out two articles in the paper yesterday. It seems almost every day now there's new -- new articles about this, you know, vitamin combination, this thing with Aricept (ph), this thing with low blood pressure medicine.
And I think, once again, that there's an Alzheimer's association which I think is terrific, which helps people kind of navigate this road. And helps you particularly when it comes to care giving. That is the kind of, I think, very overlooked part of this disease.
It is a completely different journey for the spouse. It's a different journey for the caregiver. They are the unsung heroes. And there will be more and more caregivers needed.
KING: Because the caregiver, as this disease, prolonged, goes on, doesn't get back the love they give.
SHRIVER: Oh, they don't...
KING: Very hard when you're giving love to someone who is not taking it in.
SHRIVER: Right. They -- tremendous patience...
SHRIVER: ... is required. Tremendous love and devotion. And there are some very extraordinary people doing that work. Spouses and also people who have no relationship to the family, who are just caregivers.
KING: Because you can get impatient, can't you? I mean, it's frustrating.
SHRIVER: Well, you can get impatient. You get impatient as a, I think 20-year-old mother, a 30-year-old mother. You get impatient all the time.
That's something, I think, as a parent you try to work on. I know that something I try to work on all the time. You know, to be patient with our kids. And loving, and kind and accepting the person for who they are. That's my lesson.
KING: Does Sarge know -- does Sarge know about the book?
SHRIVER: Oh, yes. Absolutely. He's seen it, and I showed it to him in different forms and asked him to read it. And, you know, people have said to me, "What does your dad think about it?" I would say I've never done anything my dad didn't think was extraordinary.
KING: He loves everything you do.
SHRIVER: He loves everything I do.
KING: Every time you were on our show, he would always watch.
SHRIVER: He watched.
KING: Sometimes, he'd call me.
KING: He's watching tonight. Will he comprehend?
SHRIVER: Absolutely. My father's out and about. He does Special Olympics still. He's writing letters.
KING: Is there anything, then -- is there repetition, forgetting some things?
SHRIVER: Yes. Repetition and, you know, some of the early stages of Alzheimer's. But he is an optimistic person. He is at a celebration of his own legacy for this book. He is signing books.
SHRIVER: Yes. Signing books to my husband and our kids. And this is, I hope, this book about him I think -- I hope will reintroduce him to a whole new generation of Americans.
KING: We'll be right back. We'll talk about that book, more later. Maria Shriver is our guest, her new children's book, "What's Happening to Grandpa?"
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARGE SHRIVER: I want people with spirit in the Peace Corp. The people I think are the ones we don't are the ones that want to confirm to whatever somebody else is doing, they want to get along side them and do the same thing. Now that may be all right in this country. I suspose it is. But you have to remember that most of our Peace Corp voluteers, at least a large percentage of them are out in place where they're working by themselves, maybe two or three people. They have an internal motivation. They have to an internal conviction. They have to be people of personal committment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Maria Shriver. Her new book is "What's Happening to Grandpa?" An extraordinary book for children and adults about Alzheimer's.
Let's talk a little politics. Having a husband...
SHRIVER: Oh, God.
KING: Having a husband in politics, you didn't plan on this, right?
SHRIVER: No. I didn't. I picked the guy that was the furthest away from.
KING: Who would have thunk it?
SHRIVER: Who would have thunk it? You know, it shows -- it just goes to show you, you shouldn't have a plan or think you know what you're in control of, because ultimately you have no control. Life takes you... KING: Does he at all surprise you? Has he surprised you?
SHRIVER: That's a really good question. I mean, I've always been -- I've always believed that Arnold was one of the smartest people I had ever met. I always knew that he was incredibly driven, disciplined, optimistic.
I'm -- I'm really proud. I shouldn't say I'm surprised -- I'm surprised a little bit about how well he's done. I mean, and I'm glad that other people who thought he wouldn't do well are surprised.
KING: How about how well he brings people together?
SHRIVER: He's a people person...
KING: He uses that legislature as a tool.
SHRIVER: Yes. He is a people person. He loves people. He loves to talk to people. He's never afraid of the opposite opinion. After all, he spent 26, 27 years now in a house full of Democrats and debating, you know, Democratic philosophy and ideals and learning.
And Arnold is one of the -- my brother said one of the greatest students he's ever seen, because he's constantly learning. He's constantly trying to make himself smarter, constantly trying to evolve himself, learn everything he can.
And he is really a person of the world. In a way like my father. You know, Arnold, obviously born in Austria. He has a very global vision of the world. He has a deep abiding respect for this country but an understanding of how this country is viewed overseas, what it's like to live in a different part of the world.
And I think he brings a unique vision to California. He brings incredible optimism. He's reenergized the political process.
And you know what? The big difference about Arnold is he doesn't leave the work to the staff. He gets in. He gets his hands dirty. He sits in. He works it out. He's not afraid of working until 1, 2, 3:00 in the morning, day in, day out. He's that kind of person. I think that comes from sports, actually.
KING: He's also said if you have a -- you're a powerhouse in this administration. That is, you're not some lady out twiddling with the flowers. You're involved in the administration. Is that true?
SHRIVER: Well, I think we're involved in each other's lives, and that's the way we've always been.
KING: So you discuss with him legislation?
SHRIVER: Oh, yes. I discuss with him everything. And I think -- I hope we're beyond the place where people wonder about first ladies, their spouses. Do they talk? You know, it used to be, like pillow talk, does the wife actually talk to the guy at night in the privacy about what's going on? I think -- I hope we're out of that.
You know, women are talking to guys, you know, full blown out in the open. And you know, the great thing about Arnold, he's always asked my opinion. I ask his opinion on everything from what I'm doing at home to what I did in my job to how to handle a social situation. And we have that kind of relationship.
But he's running the show. He's the one that was elected. And he knows what he wants to do. But the great thing, as I said, about Arnold is he'll ask a lot of people their opinions.
KING: We know about Carville and Madeleine, the liberal Democrat, the hardcore Republican. Would you and Arnold argue about Kerry and Bush?
SHRIVER: No, we don't argue.
KING: Do you disagree? Spirited discussion?
SHRIVER: We have lots of spirited discussions about everything, about where I'm hanging a painting to...
KING: It's your uncle is Kerry's...
SHRIVER: ...to Bush and Kerry to...
KING: Your uncle is Kerry's biggest supporter.
SHRIVER: Right. He is.
KING: Had a lot to do with getting him the nomination.
SHRIVER: They're both from Massachusetts, obviously. And John Kerry is a friend of ours. And...
KING: Of Arnold's, too?
SHRIVER: Yes. And we, you know, lived down the street in Sun Valley (ph), at Christmas. And Arnold's known him -- I think actually Arnold has known John Kerry longer than he's known me, which is 20- some years.
SHRIVER: But Arnold is very, you know -- he's a Republican and he's supportive of the president. And you know, that's his job.
KING: Is it -- I don't think I've ever asked you this. Is it tough being a Kennedy?
KING: I mean, all the family... SHRIVER: It's the only thing I know.
KING: I know, but it's all the family's given, and all that's been taken from them. I mean, it's the classic tragedy-success story.
SHRIVER: You know, Larry, I've met families where, you know, they're growing up without a mother, without a father.
KING: But that wasn't assisinated on the front page.
SHRIVER: Well, you know what? Yes, but you know what? I spent time with the Tillman family, and their son was killed in Afghanistan and it's on the front page. And all of these other families that are losing loved ones in Iraq...
KING: So there's a lot of loss.
SHRIVER: ... who should be on the front page. And they're all experiencing loss, and they're all having to, you know, rebuild their lives.
So I think, you know, I've been very blessed to grow up in the family I've grown up in. And I think the greatest thing about that family is the family loyalty. It sticks together, no matter what.
KING: Thick and thin.
SHRIVER: Thick and thin. No matter what, no questions asked. Everybody comes together. Differences are aside. The family is what's important. And I hope to pass that on to my children, that they understand that, you know, they are together through thick and thin. That involves their cousins, their first cousins once removed, their second cousins.
And also I think that, you know, that they understand a little bit. I don't want them to be undone by their legacy. Because you know, my daughter said the other day, "We have the Kennedy thing, the Schwarzenegger thing, the Shriver thing." I was like, yes, I know, so did I. But I think, and I really hope for them that they're able to craft their own journey, but that they understand that there's a responsibility to give back to their country.
KING: We'll be right back with Maria Shriver, and in the last two segments of the show, we'll be joined by her brother, Timothy. He's the second son of Sargent and Eunice -- and Eunice, rather. And he's president and CEO of Special Olympics. And he will talk a little bit about this biography we've discussed, just published about Sarge Shriver, one of the great people.
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: I want to thank her. I want to thank her for the love and the strength she's given me. I want to thank her so much for being the greatest wife and most spectacular partner. And I know how many votes I got today because you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARGE SHRIVER: Extremly happy this morning to announce my candidacy for president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with Maria Shriver, the first lady of the state of California. Best selling -- I want to ask about that, a minute. His new -- her new children's book is "What's Happening to Grandpa?" In awhile we'll talk about the biography of her father.
As an onlooker, is this going to be a brutal political campaign, as everyone seems to be forecasting? As an observer and someone who grew up in politics, is this going to be one of the...
SHRIVER: Well, I think the press keeps telling us that.
SHRIVER: And so the people then believe that when the press keeps saying, "Oh, my gosh. It's so brutal. Oh, my gosh. Here it comes. Here it comes." And I think that that has a lot to do with how people then perceive it.
And I think the nation seems to be quite polarized. And I think one of the great things Arnold has done in California is to really talk about what we have in common. That we should not be at polar opposite ends of the world, that there is such a thing as a fusion government. That we have more things in common than we do to separate us. And let's find things that we agree on. And stop running around with the label Democrat, Republican. But what can we do to strengthen our state, strengthen our country?
And I think that, you know, people are sick -- when I was going up and down the state of California, people were telling me they were tired of the bickering on the national level and on the state level. They want somebody to get in there and just get the job done. Stop the fighting.
KING: Would you describe Arnold as a moderate?
SHRIVER: Yes, I would.
KING: He's certainly not a hardcore conservative.
SHRIVER: No. I'd say he's a moderate Republican, and I'd say he's an open man. And by that I mean that he's always open to people's opinions, and to...
KING: Rigidity is absurd in the thinking world. SHRIVER: Yes. And I think, you know, he's about making things happen. He's about bringing relief to people. He's about making the state a better place to live in. He's about letting people know that the government is working for them, as opposed to against them. And I think that's what people respond to. They -- you know, they look at the fighting in Washington or Sacramento or wherever it would be, and say, "You know what? That doesn't affect me. I want someone to fix the pothole. I want someone to get the regulation out of my business. I want someone to make it possible for me to run a business, start a small business. I want a government that works either as a partner or who doesn't, you know, make it impossible for me to work in the state.
That's what people want.
SHRIVER: Honesty. And I think Arnold -- one of the great things that, you know, he was on "Meet the Press" a couple of weeks ago, and he said, you know, I made a mistake in an area.
And people came up to me for weeks afterwards and said, Oh, my God. I've never seen anybody in public life say, wow, I made a mistake.
KING: I was wrong.
KING: That's the least said word by a politician.
SHRIVER: Right. And I think people really appreciate it. Who's perfect in this world? Who doesn't make a mistake? And that's one of the things I try to tell my kids over and over, make mistakes. That's how you learn. There's no perfect human being.
KING: Your uncle said it at the Bay of Pigs.
KING: Take the rap.
SHRIVER: Take the rap.
KING: Now what about you and NBC? Are you back with NBC?
SHRIVER: No. I don't work for NBC News.
KING: Oh. Explain this.
SHRIVER: Well, I am still with NBC. I can do pieces for NBC Studios or NBC Productions. I'm going to do this interview with Roy Horn. We're going to do a 90-minute special coming out of the Olympics about what is his remarkable recovery from the tiger attack.
KING: That's a prelude to the big show you've got coming.
SHRIVER: Yes, exactly.
KING: A cartoon show.
SHRIVER: And I had been working at trying to get that interview while I had been back at work, after Arnold was inaugurated, before I left. Are you with me?
KING: Yes, I'm with you. But they won't have you interview the mayor of Chicago?
SHRIVER: No, they won't. No.
KING: And is that, OK, with you?
SHRIVER: Well, it is what it is.
KING: Or did you think, hey, I can be a balanced reporter?
SHRIVER: Yes, I did think so. I had been, I felt, a balanced reporter for 26 years.
KING: You always were.
SHRIVER: And I think that, you know, your ethics and your morals are in here. Your compass is in here. It's not because you work for a specific news division. You are who you are. So even though, like, the Roy Horn interview may be done under NBC Productions, I still approach it as a news journalist.
KING: As the news.
SHRIVER: And I approach this job as a first lady as a news journalist.
SHRIVER: Because everywhere I go, I ask people questions, I take down notes. I try to find out what the real story is. I do the who, what, where, why, when. I write it up. I deal with it the same way. I just don't have an avenue, like NBC.
KING: Do, you present pieces to Arnold?
SHRIVER: I present stories.
KING: Here's a piece?
SHRIVER: I suppose. I present stories at the dinner table, to my kids, to Arnold, to anyone who will listen to me.
KING: Do you -- do you miss working in journalism?
SHRIVER: Yes, I do. Yes.
KING: Will you go back to it when Arnold leaves office?
SHRIVER: It depends where working journalism is when Arnold leaves office. You know, it's changed a lot since I first started, and if there's a place for me, I'm certainly open to it. I was over visiting at NBC today, and my picture's still on the wall. So that's a good sign.
KING: What do you make of 24-hour news and all that's going on?
SHRIVER: Well, I think I have -- I mean, I think I'm mixed. I mean, I think we're so blessed to have a free press, and I think I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world. I worry about trying to fill so much airtime and where it's going. And you know, the stories that I got into journalism to do are few and far between now. And I think we tend to be so caught up in the news of the day and then we throw it out and we don't come back to it. I think, you know -- I was at the Tillman funeral.
KING: I saw your speech, it was brilliant.
SHRIVER: Thank you.
KING: You were brilliant.
SHRIVER: Thank you. And what I thought was so interesting was this was a young American who died in Afghanistan, and people were saying, wow, I forgot we were even in Afghanistan. You know, unbelievable to me.
And so I worry about that. I worry about the immediacy of news and then the way it's just thrown off the front pages for whatever is coming up next.
KING: We'll be right back, and when we come back we'll be joined by Maria's brother, Timothy, and talk more about the incredible Sargent Shriver. Right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I speak rather rapidly. Some people, then, think that makes -- gives the impression of just being glib. If one speaks in a very slow way and with a very grave tone of voice and look as if you've given a tremendous amount of thought to it right then and there, you know, especially if you have a German accent, then you're very profound.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. Maria Shriver remains with us. Her new children's book, "What's Happening to Grandpa?"
And joining us in Washington, D.C., is Timothy Shriver, the second son of Sargent and Eunice Shriver, the president and CEO of Special Olympics. Their father is the focus of a remarkable authorized biography, "Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver" by Scott Stossel.
Give me a review of this book, Timothy.
TIMOTHY SHRIVER, CEO, SPECIAL OLYMPICS: I think it's spectacular. First of all, it's the full-blown story of his life, and it's a page-turner. I mean, the good news is it's big, but it's a page-turner. You go all the way, the beginning of the century and the stories of Civil War heroes, that left legacies in Maryland, through battle scenes in the Second World War, right through the most intense and most important political debates of the 20th Century.
So I mean, not only is it an important book but I think it's a really fun read.
KING: Is it also critical when it has to be? Nobody's perfect?
T. SHRIVER: Well, I think the message of the book in so many ways is more like why it's important today, is this is a guy who worked for things way ahead of his time. But the same things that he worked for are the things that are important today.
If you think about issues like globalization. How do we deal with a complex world? He was on the issue of globalization, you know, when no one was thinking about it. When you think of the issue of working for peace in a time of conflict, let's not forget, he launched the Peace Corps, you know, right before the Cuban Missile Crisis during a kind of intense nuclear fear.
When you think of resolving conflicts, among different -- people that are different, how you fight poverty, work for social justice. He was introducing Head Start and Job Corps and legal services at times when there were riots and racial tension and conflict and all types of -- so you know, a lot of people sit around today saying, "What can I do?"
It seems all kind of despairing a lot of times today. And people are left to believe that division and conflict and tension are the only sources that we can look for in the future. And yet, my dad's career was all about looking at those problems. Looking at tension, looking at conflict, looking at division and saying, let's solve that problem. Let's use our imagination. Let's reach out and fight, but at the same time work for resolution.
KING: How do you react, Maria, when...
SHRIVER: Beautifully said.
KING: ...of all the Kennedys, the Shrivers are the most stable?
SHRIVER: Well, I think that's -- a couple of people have said that. I think we're all very stable. And I'm very proud of my cousins, you know the work that they're doing.
KING: But it's the Shrivers that have had less problems.
SHRIVER: Well, I think we're -- we're very united. And we're very committed to both of our parents, as I said to you. We're very committed to each other, the siblings.
All of my brothers work in nonprofit. As you mentioned, Timothy is the head of Special Olympics and has brought that movement to a whole new scale around the world.
My brother Bobby works with Bono to eradicate AIDS throughout the world with data.
My brother Mark runs Save the Children, which deals with poverty in this country.
My brother Anthony runs a group called Best Buddies, which forges relationships with people with mental disabilities and non-disabled people, to promote understanding to people with disabilities jobs.
So all of my brothers, I think, are really carrying out the Shriver legacy, which is a legacy of optimism, of passion, of action, of a can-do spirit. And I think, as Timothy said, all of those programs that Daddy started, they came out of his brain. They came out of his passion, his drive. Are working and assessing people as we speak. As we speak.
KING: Timothy what -- you have four brothers and one sister, right? What was that like, Timothy, growing up? What was she like?
T. SHRIVER: Well, I was prepared for this question. You can see what she's like. Still the same. Tough as my mother, as fun and lively and optimistic as my dad.
Well, Maria is right, you know, we had a wonderful time growing up. Lots of rough and tumble, lots of tussle, but I think at the end of the day what my dad did and what my mother did, too, and what they still do today, gave us each a sense that we could make a difference.
You know, that if we went out and tried, that was -- that was enough to make a difference. Work hard, give us your best and you will matter. I mean, my dad sent me to the Peace Corps when I was 16 years old in Guatemala, not speaking a lot of Spanish to lay bricks for houses that had been destroyed in an earthquake.
And we were out there, not saying, "Wait till later," not saying to despair the fact that there was a terrible earthquake in Latin America, not watching the news and sitting back and saying, "There's nothing I can do."
It was all about out the front door, out with your brothers, out with your sister, make a difference, find a strategy, have a good time, but get engaged.
And you know, when I talk to people today in Special Olympics, I mean, we have this platform all over the world. We have 150 countries united behind the theme that people with intellectual disabilities should have a chance. They're united in the belief that these people with intellectual disabilities can bring people together.
So you know, these are messages that we all had. And I just wish people had them more today from political leaders, frankly.
KING: Special Olympics your mom's idea, Eunice?
SHRIVER: Yes. She started it in our back yard. And her belief was that people with mental disabilities could do the same sports as those who didn't. And people told her she was crazy and so she did it in the back yard. And it grew, and it grew, and it grew. And now Timothy runs it, and it's the most important, successful, sports organization in the world for people with disabilities.
But Larry, I think what Timmy's point is, I think daddy's legacy is more important today, I think, than ever. Because what I think daddy understood perhaps more than any other political leader is that, you know, the world is a big place. And that there are difficult cultures out there, different religions. And that if you're going to go to different parts of the world, you need to understand the traditions, the religion, the culture that you're going into.
And all my brothers and I have been very active in promoting his legacy, his vision. We've given this book out to all the legislators in California, because I believe that every person in public service should know about daddy, should know about his legacy and should know that when they say, "It's not possible," that that's rubbish.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with the Shrivers, Maria and Timothy. Two books to tell about, "What's Happening to Grandpa?" the children's book by Maria, and "Sarge: The Life and Times of Sergeant Shriver" -- Sargent Shriver by Scott Stossel of the "Atlantic Monthly."
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, as we meet in this room, there are, let's say 13,000 volunteers all over the world letting their actions speak. Letting their actions speak for their hearts and for their minds and for this country. Trying to show the poor people of the world that we are really on their side.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Maria Shriver and Timothy Shriver.
Tim, how are you handling the Alzheimer's thing?
T. SHRIVER: Well, I'm with my -- you know, my dad's in the office every day. It's -- there are certainly great challenges associated with the disease. But you know, the thing that he comes in almost every day and, you know, you hear the people with Alzheimer's repeat themselves and time and time. And that obviously is true.
But the question he asks most frequently is, "What can I do to help?" He knocks on my door, he comes down, he buzzes me on the phone, "Is there anything I can do to help?"
And my answer to him is "Just be yourself, Dad. Just be who you are." And the force he brings to out movement, to the Special Olympics movement, everybody he touches, you know, surprisingly remains extraordinary.
And so, you know, we cope and we change. But as you heard Maria saying earlier, there's one thing about this family that's not going to change, and that is that we're going to find the bright side of things. We're going to look for the best in whatever cards we're dealt. And we're going to do the best we can to have a good time and continue to try to make a difference.
And that's what we're doing with Dad, and what he continues to do.
KING: Paul Newman said that anybody who's successful in life and doesn't use the word "luck" is a cop-out. Everyone's had luck. You were lucky with your parents.
SHRIVER: Absolutely. And my dad always says he's the luckiest man in the world. And he gives all the credit to my mother. My mother gives the credit to my father. My brothers give the credit to each other. I mean, we're lucky. I feel very blessed to have been raised the way I was raised, to have the brothers that I have.
SHRIVER: To have the parents that I have, and to have the legacy that I have.
KING: And good genes, right? Long genes?
SHRIVER: I hope so.
KING: Timothy, what do you think of your brother-in-law, the governor?
T. SHRIVER: Listen, Maria has spoken so well about him. You know, the exciting thing about Arnold is just that he's brought such a fresh voice to politics. I don't see the Republican-Democrat thing as relevant in his case. I kid him that I think he's a Democrat, a closet Democrat and he'll come out soon enough.
But he's done just a fantastic job just by being who he is. You know, at the end of the day, he's -- politics -- people follow people. They don't just follow policies.
People are following Arnold. They like his ideas. They like who he is. They like what he tells them about themselves.
The same thing that we've seen in my dad's career. People followed my dad because they loved him. They loved the idea that he could make them better. They loved the idea that he looked inward for strength but didn't impose his own vision on others, just inspired them to think differently. That's what Arnold's doing. I think his career, as Maria said earlier, is a great tribute to my parents, you know? Because he came to this country, worked for wealth, worked for fame, worked for influence. And then he met my folks, met Maria and was so incredibly influenced by her he also understood how much fun it could be to make a difference and help.
And when I asked my kids on the way before coming down here, my children, what should I say about Grandpa, they said, "Well, just tell everybody he helped people." Arnold has brought that spirit to political life. And I'm a huge admirer of his and only wish that he'd let me have more time with my sister.
KING: All right.
SHRIVER: I think what Timmy said is that there is, and I think Clinton has said it when we gave Daddy the Medal of Freedom, there has been no warrior for peace like Sargent Shriver. And his story should be known by every young person in this country.
And I think, you know, his voice is a call to action. We can all serve, particularly, I think, now when we have so many men and women serving in the military. It's a very good time to ask ourselves what can we do here at home? How can we make this a better country, a better state, a better community?
Leon Panetta was telling me out in California that they did a poll, and something like 80 percent of young people today said no adults in their life had ever talked to them about a career in public service. That's got to change. People have got to feel obligation to their country, to their state. They have got to give back.
We can all make a difference. A 5-year-old can make a difference picking up trash in the street. There are all kinds of ways that we can raise our children to believe that they can make a difference.
KING: Sarge did a great job. Timothy, thank you so much, and your continued great work with the Special Olympics.
And Maria, as always.
T. SHRIVER: I'm proud of him.
KING: Great to see you.
SHRIVER: Thank you so much.
KING: Maria Shriver's book, "What's Happening to Grandpa?" A great book, available everywhere. And the new biography of Sargent Shriver, simply called "Sarge."
Our guests, Maria Shriver and Timothy Shriver. And I'll be back in a minute and tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE with Maria Shriver and her brother Timothy Shriver. Stay tuned now for more news around the clock on your most trusted name in news, CNN. Good night.
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