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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Coverage of Democratic National Convention
Aired July 28, 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: Night three of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. A little rainy today but nicer tonight. Cool weather too and a lot hot things going on in this convention hall tonight, all waiting for the speech by John Edwards up coming in a little over an hour to hour.
We've got exciting guests on this special edition. Don't forget we have a second addition at midnight Eastern.
Joining us in Washington is Bob Dole, a regular contributor, former presidential nominee and former Senate majority leaders. We are pretty good on senate majority leaders, because have another one, George Mitchell, a CNN contributor and former chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and a famed negotiator, of course.
And here Boston with us is, David Gergen, the White House adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, editor at large, "U.S. News and World Report," and professor of public service at Harvard's JFK school.
And Candy Crowley is on the podium as well for reports right from there. Good to see, Candy.
Bob Dole, everyone here seems to be saying that Al Sharpton went over the top, did he?
BOB DOLE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know he went over the time limit by about 19 minutes, but I don't know about over the top. He's generally over the top. He's got a great sense of humor, but I missed his speech. I think he's pretty tough on Bush, and I think that was a bit unfair. But I think the viewers kind of sort all this out. My view is that he -- it's a free country. If he wants to get and up say terrible things about President Bush, I think that helps President Bush.
KING: George Mitchell, if you invite Al Sharpton to speak, you should expect it, right?
GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER SENATOR: That's right. I think it's unrealistic to expect at a political convention nothing's going to be said critical of the other side. Obviously, that's not been the case here. It won't be the case at the Republican Convention.
KING: You expect Republican criticism of Kerry?
MITCHELL: Oh, sure...
DOLE: We're going to be very nice at our convention.
KING: David Gergen, what did you make of the Sharpton?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: After a couple of nights of moderation, both in political tone and the orator, they're starting to take the gloves off tonight. We saw it with Sharpton, we're going to see it with John Edwards too. The early release of some of his comments, pretty tough. The headline on it, Edwards attacked Bush very strongly.
KING: Senator Dole has had experience with that.
Is that what vice presidential candidates, David, are supposed to do?
GERGEN: Traditionally, they have. They have been the "attack dog" or pitbull of a campaign.
KING: Cheney was.
GERGEN: Absolutely. Because the president wants to take the high road and he needs somebody to carve up the opposition. But, you know, we always expected in this campaign John Edwards as the upbeat optimist, and a man of contagious enthusiasm would not do that. And I've been surprised to see, I mean, he's line the speech is, the people who are running for the highest office in the land are trying to lead us down the lowest road to get there.
KING: Senator Dole, what do you make of that?
DOLE: Sounds all right to me. I think the vice president does have -- I don't see an obligation. But I remember in '76, when I was the vice presidential candidate, President Ford had sort of the Rose Garden strategy and he put me out into the briar patch. And that's sort of the way it worked. I don't know, a lot of give and take. This is, as George Mitchell inferred, this is not bean bag, this is hardball. These men in this case are running for president of the United States. And as long as they stay within bounds, it's all right to criticize. As long as it's not personal.
KING: Is the key tonight George Mitchell, is it tonight, tomorrow night or is it the debates?
MITCHELL: I think it's both for John Kerry. As I said, this convention is more important to John Kerry than the Republican Convention is to President Bush. President Bush is well defined. Senator Kerry is not. He's got to establish himself I think positive and personal. And I believe John Edwards' task tonight is twofold -- persuade the voters that John Kerry is the right man, and that he is the right man to be there alongside John Kerry.
KING: David for Edwards is this -- go ahead, Bob. DOLE: I think Kerry needs to say, I've been on this side and I've been on this side, but let me tell you tonight where I really stand. That will take awhile because he's got so many different positions. But I think it's time to level with the American people. John, tell us the facts. You're a good guy and we're friends. I think the American people deserve to know where you are on the Iraq war, the war on terror, higher taxes, you know, getting rid of the Department of Agriculture, and a lot of things like that.
KING: Does Senator Edwards tonight, David, have to make an argument to the jury? Is this a jury argument?
GERGEN: I think he has to bring the skills of going to the American people, the American voters are the jury in this election. And you know, he's made his whole life appealing to a jury. I think he has to do that again and win the case.
KING: Let's go up to the podium where John Mellencamp is singing "Small Town." Lets hear a little of it.
JOHN MELLENCAMP, ENTERTAINER: (SINGING)
KING: John Mellencamp tearing up the audience with his rendition of "Small Town." We're going to take a break, and when we come back, we're going to meet a great American, no matter what side of the political aisle you sit. Max Cleland, the decorated Vietnam Veteran who lost both legs and a right arm in action in April in 1968. He's an early supporter of John Kerry and will introduce him tomorrow night. Max Cleland joins us right after this.
KING: Joining us now on this edition one of LARRY KING LIVE, a truly great American, Max Cleland, former United States senator from Georgia, the decorated Vietnam veteran. He'll introduce John Kerry tomorrow night. What's this convention been like for you?
MAX CLELAND (D), FMR. U.S. SENATOR: Intense, powerful, emotional, thrilling. I mean, this is something else. And the power that's going to come out of here is going to reshape America.
KING: Do you bear some bitterness, Senator, about the way you were defeated?
CLELAND: No, I bear some sadness that people have to resort to character assassination to try to win elections. Especially against patriotic people like John McCain that President Bush went after in 2000. And against a patriotic American like John Kerry. And so that's one reason why we band of brothers are gathered around John in Iowa and have been with him ever since. And it's a growing band of brothers and sisters throughout the country that will help put him over on November 2.
KING: We did a great hour once, you and I, discussing what happened to you, what occurred in Vietnam and the condition you're in. Is this a very difficult thing for you to charter here? Is it hard to get around?
CLELAND: Yes, physically it's tough. But the emotion, the support here is really, quite frankly, unbelievable. This is a very special moment in American history. And a lot of good is going to flow out of this convention and out of John Kerry's leadership and with John Edwards. I think it's going to reshape our country. It's also going to reshape American politics in a positive direction. Franklin Roosevelt said many years ago, the purpose of politics is to generate hope. And he said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. So this convention is all about hope. And that's what the American people want to hear.
KING: Should his war record, Bob Dole and Max Cleland, our panel, should the war record be an issue, Bob?
DOLE: Well, I don't know about it being an issue. I'm happy to welcome Max to the program. Hey, Max. I think you owe me a cup of coffee by the way. Or I owe you a cup of coffee but you're a great guy. It's great to see you. I wish you were on our side but that's the way it goes.
CLELAND: The feeling is mutual, Brother Bob.
DOLE: They were pretty tough on me in '96, too so I don't want to leave out -- you kept talking about how tough the Republicans have been on Democrats. But I guess that's the name of the game. If service records have been the barometer, I'd have wiped out Clinton in '96.
KING: Yes, but you didn't use it.
DOLE: Well, I think it's a very fine line. I think as Max knows and others know, you can't push it too hard. I think you've got to be very careful, because there are a lot of good people who didn't wear a uniform. And they may be offended by if you keep throwing it in their face, I did this, I did that.
KING: I'm sorry. David, what do you think?
GERGEN: I'm curious, Max, what you think the connection is between John Kerry's service, his heroism in Vietnam, and his capacity as commander-in-chief. What difference does it make in your mind whether he'd be a good or not so good commander-in-chief?
CLELAND: All the difference in the world. I think that's the real meaning here of the band of brothers. It is relevant. If you have someone who has gone through what John Kerry's gone through, he defeated his enemy, he brought his boat home safely, and he brought his crew back alive and he risked his life to do it. And I think that says a tremendous amount about his courage and character under fire and he'll do the same thing as president. He feels a sense of accountability and responsibility powerfully. He looks at all of us in America now as his brothers, band of brothers and sisters.
KING: Are you saying, Max, that Bob Dole should have introduced what he'd done in World War II?
CLELAND: Well, the great thing about Bob Dole and others, real heroes, they don't have to stand up and wear that on their sleeve. Not Bob Dole, not John Kerry, and others. And so yet with the war that came on us, September 11, and with President Bush bringing on a voluntary war, it has brought in stark relief. The sense in which we need a commander-in-chief who understands war, who's willing to go to war only when we have to, not when we want to, and take care of the troops when they come home.
MITCHELL: Larry, the most reliable predictor of future human behavior is past human behavior. If it's appropriate for someone to say I served in Congress for six years, that's part of my record or I did this in business, Why is it not appropriate for someone to say, I served my country? Not to flaunt it as Bob and Max have indicated but it is an important part of the formation of a person's character.
And there is a pride in that, there is a pride in national service. I served in the army. It was one of the formative experiences of my life. I'm proud of it and I was proud to serve my country. I don't think there's anything wrong with making it a part of your record. What is wrong, and Bob Dole said it, there's a fine line, you can't go over it. But it is a crucial part of a person's life and record.
CLELAND: I'd like to offer an observation here. For 50 years after World War II, all of our presidents, Republican and Democrat, wore the uniform. That was a given. That was up front. That wasn't even a question. But now, actually Clinton broke the mold. He was the first president literally since World War II never to have worn the uniform. And had we been under attack and had national security been a top issue, Clinton may have lost to Bob Dole because that would have made Bob Dole's record powerfully relevant.
KING: What a good point.
CLELAND: Now you have September 11. Now you have a war created by President Bush in Iraq. Now John Kerry's service 35 years ago is powerfully relevant to us dealing with that positively.
GERGEN: That's a very good point, Larry. Once the Cold War ended, we had three elections in a row in which the guy with a superior war record, the guy who'd really put his life on the line, lost. Three in a row. Now we're back into this war on terrorism. And the point Kerry is trying to make is, it's time to go back to a guy who's really served. That's the point he's trying to make, I think.
KING: Senator Dole, is that a fair point?
DOLE: Well, I don't know. We can all -- obviously we want to play to our strengths and that's the strength of John Kerry. He has a good record, he ought to talk about it as Senator Mitchell said. As I said there is this fine line. I'm very proud of the title "veteran," as I know Max is and George is and everyone else. But does that mean I'm going to be a better president in war time, because I happened to be shot at or hit or whatever? I'm not so certain.
It depends on the people around you. And I look at President Bush's adviser Colin Powell and Condi Rice and Don Rumsfeld who I served with in the House and Dick Cheney. He's got a pretty solid team. He doesn't make this decision by himself.
And in all deference to John Kerry, I think he's got the record. You can quarrel about the National Guard. There are a lot of people served honorably were National Guardsmen and reservists, over there fighting and dying now for our country. But I don't think it's fair to say, Max, that George Bush created this war. I don't want to quarrel with anybody like Max Cleland but I think this is a global war on terror. And I believe President Bush has provided great leadership.
CLELAND: The global war on terror is indeed a global war against Islamic fundamentalism. Iraq was no threat. We now know that. There are no weapons of mass destruction, no nuclear weapons programs, no ties to al Qaeda. We now know that. Now we've got to get out of that situation. John Kerry's got to do it.
KING: Are you going to run for office again?
KING: Absolutely no?
CLELAND: No, I'm not in it, I'm for John Kerry.
DOLE: He'll be in the cabinet.
KING: Think he'll be in the cabinet, George?
KING: Can we say Max Cleland will be in the Kerry cabinet?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll all be in the cabinet.
MITCHELL: One of the subplots of this show is Larry's filling the next cabinet.
KING: If Kerry is elected, you're in the cabinet. Now what job do you want?
CLELAND: Secretary of offense, forget defense.
KING: Max, thank you so much. Max Cleland.
DOLE: Mitchell's going to be Secretary of State, that's a given.
KING: Ah. We've got news here tonight. Thank you so much, Max. Still to come with our panel will be Senators Joe Biden and General Wesley Clark. It's military night on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away. We'll be right back.
KING: We're back, LARRY KING LIVE, at the Democratic National Convention. The vice presidential nominee, who is not officially the nominee until he's accorded that honor later tonight when the delegates cast their ballots. Mr. Edwards will be speaking sometime after the top of the hour.
Bob Dole, George Mitchell, David Gergen are our panelists. Joining us now is General Wesley Clark, United States Army retired, former candidate for the 2004 Democratic nomination, and former supreme allied commander of NATO.
We've been discussing whether war records are fair game.
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, U.S. ARMY (RET): Well, I think in this case John Kerry's experience in car is crucial to who he is as a person and to what he can do as president. And John Kerry has proved his courage under fire. He's led a small group of people who they knew each other intimately, they were in combat every day, the most dangerous assignment in Vietnam for three months, wounded three times in action, received the medals, probably should have received more than he got for that kind of action.
And I think that whenever he makes a decision about war or peace, it will be informed by his experience as a young officer in Vietnam.
KING: David, if you were advising the president, how does he handle that?
GERGEN: How does President Bush handle that?
KING: Kerry's war record.
GERGEN: I think he respects it. He doesn't say a word against it. I think he stands on his own record as commander in chief after 9/11. That's his greatest asset going into this, the period before 9/11 -- after 9/11 and before Iraq. That period.
KING: That he plays that part?
GERGEN: But I think there's an interesting question here. We were just talking with Max Cleland about how the -- going under fire how he turned his boat around and brought his men home safely, how important that is to leadership. How do you square that sense of being decisive and strong, though, with what Bob Dole has been talking about, his reputation for being indecisive in making decisions about policies?
CLARK: I think you've got the right balance in John Kerry.
KING: Bob Dole wants to say. Go ahead, Bob.
DOLE: How do you explain what he did when he came home and made the statement before the committee that he'd witnessed, you know, Vietnamese people being killed, ears being chopped off? I mean, he made a complete 180 degree turn.
One day he was doing what he should do, he's a war hero, and the next day he was denigrating the United States of America. And I don't see how he's going to sell that to the American veteran. Maybe he can sell it to generals, but not many privates, corporals and second lieutenants.
KING: You're having fun picking on General Clark, though. You weren't going to be a general, though.
DOLE: I always wanted to be a general.
CLARK: I think there's a very good answer to this, Bob. And I think that what John Kerry did was something that look a lot of moral courage. He spoke his mind. Not everybody agreed with what he said. But you have to respect his ability to say it. He said it clearly. Those were the views he held at the time.
DOLE: At the time?
CLARK: And I respect his moral courage.
DOLE: But he's had that same problem on everything else. He has one view at one time, and another view at another time. And I think -- I say I think it's going to be difficult. I think this is one advantage that President Bush has.
And again, I'm sort of a skunk at the lawn party here, but why doesn't Kerry release his war records? I there any reason -- he ought to make them public, I'd think.
CLARK: I think he has released them. The other thing I'd tell you about President Bush is, he's not a guy who flip-flops in just what he says, he flip-flops in what he does. His policies have changed on dozens of issues.
And what John Kerry is, is a thoughtful man. He's got courage, physical courage and moral courage. He listens to people. He evaluates the issues, then he makes a decision. That's what we want in a commander in chief.
KING: George Mitchell, step in a moment.
DOLE: Yes, get in there, George.
MITCHELL: No person in public life for any period of time is without contradiction. Anybody who has the same policy on everything forever doesn't know what he's doing, because times and circumstances change. Times and circumstances change.
Look, you can take John Kerry's record, you can take President Bush's record, you can take my record, you can take Bob Dole's record, and you can find changes over time as circumstances change. So I do want to agree with one thing Bob Dole said earlier, a military record is one factor to be considered in a person's life. It is not the only factor. It is not by itself decisive. But by the same token, you cannot say it's irrelevant, that it doesn't matter. You can't dismiss it. It's a significant factor, and particularly where it demonstrates tremendous personal courage in adversity.
KING: I want to spend just a quick couple of minutes with General Clark. Did you want to be the vice presidential nominee?
CLARK: I'm really happy that John picked John Edwards. I think John Edwards is the right man for this party and the right man for America.
KING: What do you expect him to say tonight?
CLARK: Well, I think he's going to talk about his vision and John Kerry's vision for the country. And he's going to talk about how he admires John Kerry, and talk about John Kerry's potential as commander in chief.
KING: Thank you, General. Good seeing you. General Wesley Clark.
Joining us next half hour, we'll go up to Candy Crowley on the podium, We'll hear from Al Sharpton. And Senator Joe Biden will be joining us. Don't go away.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE in Washington. Former Senator Bob Dole, former majority leader -- here in Boston, former Majority Leader George Mitchell, and a non-majority leader, David Gergen, White House adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton.
And joining us in a little while will be Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.
Now, let's go to the podium and Candy Crowley, our lady on the scene. Candy, how late are they running now with Sharpton running over?
CROWLEY: Well, he was about, let's see, 14 minutes over. So they're running 10 to 15 minutes over. But they still think John Edwards, obviously, is going to show up in prime-time, and they can sort of quicken the pace of this. There are a lot of worried John Edwards aides, though, sort of running around. And we've tried to sort of grab one of them and say, hey, you know, are you going to get him on on time? And they are running off to talk to someone else. But they'll get him on.
KING: Ideally with the networks carrying him tonight, do they want it like 10 after 10:00?
CROWLEY: Well, yeah. They would like it, you know, as close to the top of 10:00 as they can get it, as long as it's in that 10:00 to 11:00 hour. But remember, there's sort of a roll-in. You'll see Cate Edwards, she is the older daughter in the Edwards family. Then you'll see Elizabeth Edwards, the wife, and then John Kerry (sic), and then they'll bring out the whole family and the little kids and all that stuff. So they'd like to get all of it within prime. And they think they will at this point.
KING: George Mitchell, the Democrats had been running right on time this year, they've been running a Republican-like convention until tonight.
MITCHELL: Well, he'll be on time, don't worry, he'll be between 10:00 and 11:00, I guarantee you that.
KING: They'll move things around?
MITCHELL: Oh, yeah, sure. This is very important, this is a big speech. That's prime-time.
KING: Senator Dole, you remember your vice presidential speech in the night. What's it like for Edwards tonight?
DOLE: Well, it's a big moment for John Edwards, a great opportunity. I mean, he's articulate. He's a good looking guy. And if he just voted right, he'd be a great senator. And -- but this is a big night for John Edwards. And I'm happy that Candy found her mike, too. I'm glad we could locate that. But no, it's going to be a big, big night for John Edwards. And I wish him well up to a point. He's from North Carolina, where there -- a friend of mine served in the Senate, and I wish him -- I don't want him to have too much luck, but I want him to do a good job.
KING: David, what's it like for him tonight? What does Edwards have to do?
GERGEN: Well, one of the things he's got an advantage of, you know, Bob Dole and others were selected right at the time of the convention. They didn't have much time to get ready for tonight. And it makes a big difference. He's had a chance now to write this -- he's apparently gone through some 30 drafts of this. He wrote it out himself in longhand. He's been practicing and practicing.
That's a big -- Bob Dole will tell you, that's a big -- that helps you a lot to get ready for a night like this. But there's no question. A lot of people have seen John Edwards in segments, little bits and pieces of John Edwards all during the campaign. Tonight, he gets a chance to talk to the whole country in an uninterrupted way. He's never had that before. This is his moment on the national stage.
KING: George, do you address the convention or the television audience?
MITCHELL: You address both, but the television audience is by far the most important. Everybody in this hall, with a few exceptions, except for people not delegates, are going to vote for Kerry and Edwards. They don't have to persuade them. They've got to persuade the people watching on television.
KING: They're preaching to the choir here.
MITCHELL: That's exactly right. The audience plays an important role. You feed off it. It's very powerful. You stand up there, you see 15,000 people, there's a lot of emotion. He has to both feed off it, but control his own emotions.
KING: Senator Dole, is it difficult up there?
DOLE: Oh, yeah. If nobody's applauding, you think maybe you came in at the wrong time or something. You know, you get up there, and you get people -- the juices flowing and people are jumping up and down, you really get the enthusiasm. And you make a much better speech. But it kind of takes your breath away when you walk up there and look out and people as far as the eye can see, to your right, and mostly to your left in this convention, but you look around, right, left, center, and it's going to be a great evening for John Edwards.
KING: David Gergen, is it a little like a jury? We asked that before.
GERGEN: Absolutely. I mean, the adrenaline rush -- the adrenaline rush of coming out there and speaking to this kind of crowd, with this kind of enthusiasm -- it can also be addictive, Larry. A lot of people really get -- they get -- they get turned on by this. And they miss it. They miss the roar of the crowd. It's (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in your ear.
KING: Are you implying something about Senator Dole?
GERGEN: Not at all. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one of the people, I think he's handled it very evenly in life.
KING: He sure has.
GERGEN: But you can see some people -- I've seen some people go through this. It's hard to put down, because the adulation, the sense of energy you got, all those people looking at you and the adrenaline rush that comes with that, that's a high.
DOLE: But I...
DOLE: I consulted Senator Mitchell on how to handle it, you know, on your -- on the way down, and he helped me a lot.
MITCHELL: Because dealing with him, I've been down for so long.
KING: We're going to take a break, and when we come back, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. He is a key foreign policy adviser to the Kerry campaign, will join the panel. Don't go away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: He will address the convention tomorrow night. He is the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee. The famed Democrat of Delaware, Senator Joe Biden. What's your role in this campaign?
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), DELAWARE: My role is occasionally talking to the nominee and campaigning for Democratic Senate candidates, and anywhere John would like me to show up to campaign. I did a couple of Democratic dinners for him that he couldn't attend in Pennsylvania and a few other places, but...
KING: Are you specifically used in the area, I mean, in foreign policy?
BIDEN: Well, so far that's what -- I mean, when I go out to campaign for him, I just am making the broad case for John Kerry. But most of my conversations with John are about foreign policy and how to react and respond to...
KING: Senator Dole's criticism tonight?
BIDEN: Pardon me?
KING: Senator Dole's criticism tonight, that he goes back, you don't know where he stands.
BIDEN: I know where he stands, Bob. Hell, I don't have any problem knowing where he stands. He, just unlike George Bush, thinks about it, and then makes a decision.
DOLE: I want to be nice to all you fellows because you outnumber me. But if you've got Joe Biden as a surrogate, you've got a great speaker, I'll say that honestly, Joe. I'll never forget the night -- the day I left the Senate, you sent me a note. You said -- all you said was "Bob, Good Luck, Joe." That meant a lot to me at the time. Still does.
BIDEN: You were running for president. You would have made a hell of a president. I mean that sincerely.
KING: You mean that?
BIDEN: I give you my word. He would have made a hell of a president. I was for Clinton, he was the incumbent president, I like him. But if I had to pick -- I mean it sincerely, if I had to pick a Republican to be president, it's Bob Dole.
KING: You would too?
BIDEN: I mean that sincerely.
KING: What kind of president would he have been, David?
GERGEN: I think he would have been very much in the Jerry Ford tradition. Jerry Ford, reach out and asked him to be vice president. I think they represented much of the same tradition in the party, a sense of decency and honesty and telling it straight, plain speaking. I think Jerry Ford looked better and better in hindsight in history, and I think Bob Dole would have been much of the same kind of president.
BIDEN: Bob Dole has backbone like a (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: What does Edwards have to do tonight?
BIDEN: Look, I think Edwards has to (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Look, I think there's two things going to happen. One, you're going to find out Edwards is smarter than you. You're going to find that out. And the second thing -- not, I mean, you personally.
KING: No, he's smarter than me.
BIDEN: And secondly, this guy's not all fluff. This guy's a quick learner. This guy's a serious guy. He's the kind of guy -- he didn't win all those jurist awards because he didn't know what he was talking about.
GERGEN: The early read on it is, people have looked some aspects of the speech of what they released, taking some hard swipes at the president,
Is he going to go down that road instead of being the (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?
BIDEN: I wish I could say I was inside on that strategy. I really don't know. But I suspect as vice president, that's part of the responsibility. Cheney is doing it very, very effectively.
MITCHELL: Has there ever been a vice presidential candidate in history who didn't at some point say something about the other side? It's really unrealistic to think a candidate vice president is not going to say anything about the policies of the other side.
KING: Is it a thin line, Joe?
BIDEN: Well, I think it's a thin line in only one place. I'll try to say this in a nonpartisan way, which is ridiculous here in this setting. But I really think that there's a thin line between being critical of Bush, and being appearing to be rooting for failure. This is the first election I've been involved in where the average American understands, this is the most important election of their life.
We always say that, but I really truly believe, Democrats, Republican, Independents, think is a big deal. Because all of the events that George Bush is trying to deal with, if he fails, the American people are badly hurt. If we fail in Iraq, they're badly damaged. If we fail in the economy, they're badly damaged. If he fails -- and so there's a very thin line, at least for me, when I criticize the president's policy, which I think has been incredibly mismanaged since the statue of Saddam has fallen off that pedestal, I think has been an incredible mismanagement. You've got to be careful that you don't sound like you are assuming there's no possibility of redeeming this, even though it's getting harder to redeem it.
KING: You want Iraq to be successful?
BIDEN: Absolutely. There's not one of us -- but to the extent that you really lay on the legitimate criticism, you can run the risk of getting to the point of sounding like you're rooting for failure. And that's the thin line I think, because so much is at stake. The American people and Joe Biden want George Bush to succeed, because we can't afford to have him lose in Iraq. We can't afford to have him lose on the economy. And so that's why it makes a little more difficult.
KING: How do you handle that, like Senator Dole, you wanted Clinton to do well, didn't you?
DOLE: Yes, but the economy was roaring. Am I supposed to get up and say, I want people to lose their jobs? And you know...
KING: I know.
DOLE: You can't do that. But I think Joe is exactly right, and I've already written his name down for a possible cabinet post in the Bush administration.
BIDEN: Is that the Bush administration?
GERGEN: We've got two secretaries of state sitting up here, right here, right now.
BIDEN: This is the guy. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) one in each administration, yes.
KING: You're saying he should be secretary?
BIDEN: This is the single most talented person I've worked with in my party. This guy -- I got permission from Clinton to ask him whether he wanted to be on the Supreme Court. I wish he had done that.
KING: You turned it down?
BIDEN: This guy would be in fact, I'm sorry (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but this guy is qualified to hold any job in government, and he would be an incredible, incredible secretary of state.
KING: Why did you turn down the court.
BIDEN: I'm sorry if I blew that.
MITCHELL: No, no. Thank you, Joe. No. I turned it down, Larry, because we were working on healthcare at the time, and I thought it more important that I stay and try to pass healthcare reform. And in retrospect, we didn't get it passed but it was a worthy objective and much more important than what happened to me.
GERGEN: I was there and Bill Clinton thought it was one of the most selfless acts he'd seen in politics, that he turned it down, turned down the Supreme Court to help him on the healthcare plan.
MITCHELL: But I do think Joe has had tremendous experience in foreign policy, been chairman of the committee, ranking member. He knows every world leader. Knows the issues very well. John Kerry is smart to get Joe involved in this campaign. It will be a brilliant stroke to get him involved in his administration.
KING: Bob Dole, you're a young 80.
Did you want to be involved at all in this administration?
DOLE: Which, the Clinton administration?
KING: The Bush.
DOLE: Oh, the Bush. Bush. No, I was -- they had asked me about being ambassador to Italy, and I said, well, if I were 20 years younger it would be a great opportunity. But no, I really didn't have any desire, because I was working with Senator Mitchell, and you can't go any higher than that when you have worked with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) George Mitchell.
MITCHELL: We were involved working together, and I couldn't get along without him.
KING: How did you two get along?
DOLE: We could tie up the law firm in 10 minutes, you know, it's like the (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
MITCHELL: I told you, this is absolutely true. Six years I was Senate majority leader, six years he was Republican leader in the Senate. We disagreed almost every day on almost every issue. Never once did a harsh word pass between us in public or private. It is possible to discuss politics in a competitive yet civil way in the American system.
GERGEN: Now they've got a hotline between the same two offices and they haven't used it in a year and a half.
We'll take a break and be back with more moments of LARRY KING LIVE, then at the top of the hour Wolf Blitzer will take over and you'll hear from the about to be vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. In Boston, we'll be right back.
KING: We're back with the remaining moments of edition number one of LARRY KING LIVE with this roaringly excited convention. It's been a very up night. There's been some criticism by pundits on behalf of Al Sharpton but he sure regaled this crowd tonight. And he was preaching to the choir. The choir was in the church. Is that well said? I thought that was well said.
GERGEN: I think that's absolutely right. I'm not sure they wanted the cameras in the room.
KING: Joe Biden, what are you going to talk about tomorrow night?
BIDEN: Foreign policy. I'll talk about my view of what I expect the Kerry administration to look like. I mean, it's seven minutes, no one's going to be listening but I'm going to be making the speech and...
KING: They'll pay attention to you.
BIDEN: I'm going to talk about American foreign policy and what I think the Kerry administration would do in broad terms differently than this administration.
BIDEN: Well, I'm excited about -- look, I've been to a lot of these conventions. I know enough to know no one's going to pay attention. I'd never make much of a cabaret singer, I'd have trouble singing while they're talking. That's what you've got to kind of be here. It's an important speech. I'm not sure that I'm capable of capturing this in seven minutes and doing it well.
KING: That's the point I would make.
BIDEN: That's what I've been asked to do and we'll see what happens.
KING: What did you say, Bob?
DOLE: I've never seen Joe get harmed up in seven minutes.
BIDEN: That's my problem. I know that, Bob. That's my problem.
KING: You are going to face the Sharpton problem.
DOLE: They ought to give him more time. There's not a better speaker in the convention than Joe Biden. Take a little of Kerry's time, he won't mind.
KING: Yes, run over. What are they going to do to you?
BIDEN: There's one guy that used to be in the delegation that's right behind us. Obviously, Arkansas has lost its status. I mean, sitting behind, you can't see the floor. Before it used to be sitting right up front. I remember that guy. Remember the first time before he was president?
KING: What did he do? Oh, a guy named Clinton.
BIDEN: He ran over an hour and a half and it made him president.
KING: That's where he said, "in closing," and the entire audience stood up and cheered, right?
GERGEN: Seriously, real quickly, a lot of us are having a hard time understanding why Kerry would be different in terms of substantive foreign policy. We can see the tonal difference, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and everything but we can't tell, what's the new direction?
BIDEN: I think the fundamental direction is he's going to have basically a preemption policy substituted for a prevention policy. There is no way in which this administration -- let me say it this way.
I think this administration has squandered the greatest asset that has led us through every crisis and that is ideas and our ideals. Military power is necessary but not sufficient to win this war that deals with fundamentalist terrorists who are Muslim-based, who have an audience of a billion people, 200 million people, about probably 2 billion and receptive to the audience, and military power won't get to that.
And Kerry I think understands. Franklin as a friend of ours -- Walter Isaacson said, "Ben Franklin went to France and didn't say, you're either with us or against us and if you're not you can't trade with us." He printed out thousands of copies of the Declaration of Independence and appealed to their higher principles.
I know that sounds so simplistic but there's a major piece of our foreign policy that's been sliced away because Powell's not been listened to, because other voices in this administration have not been listened to. I think John understands the real power of America.
My conservative friends like to quote the Bible all the time. The Walls of Jericho came down because of some trumpets. The Berlin Wall came down not because of an M-60 tank, they came down in part because as (UNINTELLIGIBLE) told us in your office, because of Radio For Europe, Radio Liberty, our values.
We've squandered that. I think John Kerry understands the totality of our strength. I'm going to try to talk a little bit about that and point out that Bush has, I think, squandered some incredible opportunities.
KING: In our remaining moments. Start with Senator Dole. Why does half the population not vote?
DOLE: I don't know. I've obviously been your candidate. You look at and say, maybe it's the media, maybe it's the candidates, maybe people think we're all alike. I think we have to have a competition of ideas. We have to have a strong two-party system in this country if we're going to get anywhere. There are good ideas in both parties, good people in both parties. I don't know. It makes me wonder why we can't do better. Every time -- every cycle the media says, this time we're going to talk about the issues. But seldom do we get into the issues. It's always who can run the nastiest TV and destroy the other person. Maybe that's why. Maybe people are tired of these negative ads and negative speeches and negative (UNINTELLIGIBLE). But on the other hand, it gets attention. I don't know.
KING: What do you think, George?
MITCHELL: There is no one reason. Because there are many people and they don't all act in concert. I agree with all what Bob said but there's one other factor. Too many states have historic barriers to voting. They make it tough to vote. A few years ago we in Maine changed that to make it easier to vote. Some people said, you can't do that, there will be a lot of fraud. We are now right near the top in participation. You have to make it easier for people to vote. Not make it harder.
KING: Is it easier to vote now in America?
MITCHELL: No, it is not. No, there are barriers everywhere. Time frames, places, so forth. People are busy. That's one factor. Lack of knowledge, another. Lack of interest, another. Turned off on politics, another. Cynicism. You can add them all up. Don't think there's a silver bullet here. But I don't -- don't discount the difficulty of voting for people.
GERGEN: I'll bet this year goes up. I think we're going to have a higher turnout because people are energized on both sides. The Republicans are putting an incredible amount of money and effort into organizing to get out the vote. Democrats are starting to do the same thing. I think they need to catch up to Republicans. Both sides, there's going to be an intense effort to get out the vote.
MITCHELL: But there's still going to be an unconscionably high number of people who don't vote.
GERGEN: I agree. But it will be higher this year than...
KING: We have 30 seconds. Why do you think...
BIDEN: I think they'll vote this time because they know what's at stake.
KING: 60 percent will vote?
BIDEN: I don't know 60 percent but I think probably 6 percent to 8 percent more than voted last time.
KING: Thank you all very much. Thanks very much Bob Dole. Thanks to everyone on our panel. I'll come back and toss it over to Wolf in just a couple of moments. Don't go away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: It's day three of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Everything winds up tomorrow night. In the coming hour, the future Democratic nominee for vice president, John Edwards, will address this convention and the country.
I'll be back at midnight with part two of LARRY KING LIVE with more guests and your phone calls.
Right now we turn it to our man on the scene who'll carry through right through the rest of the night until Aaron Brown takes over in an hour. Here's Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.
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