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Republican National Convention Preview

Aired August 29, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Good evening, and welcome to a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We're at Madison Square Garden in New York. It's the preview night, the night before the opening of the Republican National Committee. The Garden looks beautiful, all decked out. Protesters went by today. Scene is serene tonight. Very warm, humid night in Gotham.
We have a very exciting show for you tonight. A couple of reminders. Starting tomorrow night, we'll be on twice nightly, two live shows nightly, at 9:00 and at midnight, Monday through Thursday.

We open with a guest panel. They are, in Washington, D.C., Senator Bob Dole, a CNN contributors, the Republican Party candidate in 1996. Here in Madison Square Garden, in our booth above us, is former senator George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader. With us on our little elevated floor here, right above the main floor, is David Gergen, White House adviser to many presidents, professor of public service at Harvard.

Also with us here is Jacque Reid, an anchor on BET "Nightly News." Upstairs in the booth, next to Senator Mitchell, is Jorge Ramos, anchor for Univision, author of "The Latino Wave: How Hispanics Will Elect the Next American President."

And on the floor, our rover, Mo Rocca. He's our roving personality. He's a TV personality with the "Today" show, and he's the author of the new book, "All the President's Pets." Mo is not wound up too tight, but you got to have some fun involved with the convention.

Senator Dole, do you expect anything of a news impact to happen here this week?

BOB DOLE (R-KS), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not from the standpoint of the nominee or who's going to be the running mate. I think there may be -- you know, these -- conventions are really for the party workers. The Democrats or Republicans, they have their convention. People are really excited. They come from all across the country, and they get together. But I -- there's nothing -- there's no surprise that I know of. Maybe Ed Gillespie can tell us.

KING: He'll be on in a little while. Senator Mitchell, what do you expect?

GEORGE MITCHELL (D-ME), FORMER SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I think two themes will be emphasized. First, of course, 9/11, the war on terror, a strong leader in response to all of that effort. Secondly, the feature billing will go to Republican moderates -- George Pataki, Mayor Giuliani, Governor Schwarzenegger. You're not going to see any very conservative Republicans in the primetime first few nights, no Tom DeLay, no Jerry Falwell, no Pat Robertson. I think it's going to be a moderate Republicanism on display at the convention here, a strategy which worked in the last election and which I think they're going to try again.

KING: David Gergen, first, do you agree?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER ADVISER TO PRESIDENTS NIXON, FORD, REAGAN, CLINTON: I agree very much with that. But to me, there are going to be two central stories here. One is the president's speech on Thursday night, always important, and this time around, Larry, I think particularly important because the president wants to make a stout defense of his policies on Iraq and on the economy and then use that as a springboard to talk about the future. And many of us are waiting to see what would a second Bush term look like. So we -- and I think there's...

KING: In other words, he has to have an agenda.

GERGEN: I think it's very important for him, in terms of his -- the campaign and also in terms of governing, to lay out an agenda, so people have a clearer idea. The other piece of the story, though, is, you know, what started here today with the demonstrations. Now, there were fairly large demonstrations. I don't know what the numbers are, but I think that a lot of the news media are leading with that tonight. If those demonstrations continue to be peaceful but they're large, they're going to rob the Republicans of a little bit of their chance to get their message out. If they become messy, if there's violence, if there are a lot of arrests, then they'll backfire on the demonstrators badly.

KING: Jacque, what's this like for you? I know the Democratic convention in Boston was your first, right? So this is your second covering.

JACQUE REID, BET "NIGHTLY NEWS" ANCHOR: Oh, yes. It's just exciting for me to be here and to be a part of the coverage. I think that the news from this convention is going to be pretty laid out for us. We talked earlier about how the Republicans -- they lay out exactly what they're going to talk about. We pretty much know what to expect. I think we're going to hear from a lot of moderates, and I think President Bush is going to tout, you know, his record as protecting this country, you know, as being the president that protected us post-9/11. I think that that's what we're going to see on Monday. It's going to be a tribute to the heroes and the victims of 9/11.

But I also think that the Republican Party is going to try to bring the personality and the cultural diversity of New York into this convention. They talked to us -- we had a news conference with them, and they talked to us about having "Ceejays," convention jockeys, if you will, out around the city doing live remotes...

KING: Oh, really? REID: ... and talking about the personality of New York. You know, they'll be in definitely neighborhoods. So we'll get that vibe of New York, which I think will make it even more interesting.

KING: Jorge Ramos, how -- is Univision going to give this extensive coverage?

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION NEWS ANCHOR: Well, actually, we have a lot of reporters covering this convention, as we did with -- in -- with the Democratic convention in Boston. And of course, we're really interested in what's going on. And especially both candidates, John Kerry and President Bush, are making a specific effort to try to win the Hispanic vote. We've been talking a lot about terrorism and security, but what many people have not talked about is the fact that probably this election will be decided by Latinos. This is the scenario, where the country divided between Kerry and Bush, polarized by the war, 7 to 8 million Hispanic voters concentrated in many battleground states, among them Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, could decide who will go to the White House. So yes, absolutely, we're very interested. And we'll see, I'm sure, many, many of the speakers, including President Bush, speaking at least a little Spanish.

KING: You expect him to speak a little Spanish Thursday night.

RAMOS: I think so. He spoke Spanish in Miami last Friday. He said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Your support is very important to me. So I expect him to speak a little Spanish. I think voters, Hispanic voters, react positively to the fact that they are making an effort to recognize a different language.

KING: Mo Rocca, what will be looking for? Where are you now?

MO ROCCA, RNC ROVING REPORTER, "TODAY" SHOW CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, I'm right by the stage. And of course, the curtain goes up tomorrow night on the 38th quadrennial Republican national convention right here at Madison Square Garden. Now, Madison, as you know, for whom this square garden is named after, was our shortest president at 5 feet, 4 inches tall. But the 4,837 delegates here are going to be standing tall all week.

Now, right now, they're in a secure location in lockdown. They've been told that 100,000-strong bloodthirsty mob roaming the streets of Manhattan is actually an overly enthusiastic welcome committee.


ROCCA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) don't know won't hurt them. Now, I will tell you that the delegates here are more conservative than the party at large, and that was the case at the Fleet Center in Boston, that the delegates to the DNC were more liberal than the party at large. I mean, at the Fleet Center, you couldn't swing a PBS tote bag without hitting a unionized Latino transsexual. I'm telling you -- and I got in trouble for that. And here, you're going to find a big representation from the so- called religious right. You'll have delegates speaking in tongues. You'll have a big contingent of snake handlers, although they'll have to leave their snakes at the front door because there's strict security here.

So and I just want to point out before we move on that one big difference here is the carpet. The carpet at the RNC is so plush! Can we shoot down at the carpet? It's just -- it's amazing. And Republicans are real loafer people, so expect them to be slipping out of their loafers to feel this carpet. It's really rich. And by the way, speaking of rich, 27 percent of the Republican delegates are millionaires.


KING: Senator Dole, do you have a reaction to that interesting commentary by Mr. Rocca?

DOLE: Well, not really. I think there -- you know, as I said at the outset, they're all going to have a lot of fun. They're not all millionaires. Maybe -- I don't know how they get the percentages, but I assume it's the same percentage of Democrats at their convention. But we've got more protesters, which I think David Gergen has it right on the head. If they overreact, it helps Bush. If they're peaceful, that's a right we have in this country. They have a right to demonstrate.

I assume there'll be some Republicans demonstrating for a fair press, and they ought to be part of this justice program. So if we can get a fair coverage, because I think one noted -- I think Mr. Thomas said that the media gives, I think, the Democrat about a 15- point edge because of their -- of their biased coverage.

KING: Bob! We'll take a break...


KING: You're just reporting.

DOLE: No, I'm reporting about everybody but you.


KING: We will take a break, and when we come back, we'll spend some moments with Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, and then back with our panel. Don't go away.


KING: This is a special Sunday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE coming to you from Madison Square Garden in New York. We welcome Ed Gillespie, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Are you nervous?

ED GILLESPIE, CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Am I nervous about being on this show or about...


KING: About this whole -- I mean, this is your baby, right?

GILLESPIE: It is. Well, it's a lot of people's baby. But I'm excited. I'm not nervous. I did the convention in 2000. I was program chairman. I know all the work that's gone into this on the part of a lot of people who are behind the scenes. And I have to tell you, I thought we had a great convention in Philadelphia in 2000. I think this will be better.

KING: New York is famous as a Democratic stronghold. How have they treated you?

GILLESPIE: They've been -- treated us wonderfully. I can't tell you how friendly people have been. And we do have a Republican mayor here, a Republican governor of New York state, and the city has been fantastic. City Hall has been great. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has met every commitment he made when he told us that we ought to have the Republican convention here in New York.

KING: So there are no second thoughts about selecting this city.

GILLESPIE: None. None. We're thrilled. David said earlier, you know, it's a -- it's a town -- actually, Jacque said it's a town that highlights diversity. We want to -- we want to highlight that, as well. You know, diversity makes us stronger. And so we're excited to be here in New York City. It is a -- it is a world-class city, and an opportunity for us to be competitive in the Northeast, in a way we haven't been as a party for a while.

KING: How close is this race, or is it too early to matter?

GILLESPIE: No, it's close, and it matters. And we've been...

KING: I mean, polls matter now?

GILLESPIE: I think they matter now. You know, the polls are -- I think it's a -- it's a unique election year, but I do think we've seen -- I am surprised where we are going into our convention. I would not have believed -- if you'd asked me three months ago, Will the president be up going into this convention, I'd have said, No, we're likely to be anywhere between 6 to 8 points down. In fact, that's what I did say. I'm glad I was wrong. But I'm surprised that we're going into this convention with so much momentum, and I'm hoping we'll come out of it with momentum because the president is going to lay out a positive agenda for the future.

KING: Why do you think, Ed, there are so many undecideds? And why is it even so hard to predict how many people will vote?

GILLESPIE: Well, I -- I believe there will be an uptick in voter participation in this election, both...

KING: More than expected. GILLESPIE: I believe -- well, I don't know what the expectations are, but I believe that you will see higher turn-out in this election than we saw in 2000. Both parties are working very hard to get their voters out. There's a level of interest in this election at a point in August that is usually what you see at the end of September. So in terms of where voters are and their interest in the election, it's very high right now. And so I anticipate it's going to be close, but I feel good that the president is going to come out of here having laid out a positive agenda for the future.

I think there was an opportunity missed in Boston by the Democrats to talk about specific policies and get the -- things that get people excited about what's going to improve our schools or create more jobs or make health care more affordable, win the war on terror. We're going to talk about those things here in New York.

KING: The president said on this show that swift boats shouldn't be an issue. He praised Senator Kerry's bravery in Vietnam and said that all these ads should go away. Do you support that?

GILLESPIE: Of course. Absolutely. And I -- I have...

KING: Do you agree with what he said?

GILLESPIE: I do. As a matter of course, I do.


GILLESPIE: In this instance, especially, I do.


KING: You mean you have to, or that you do?

GILLESPIE: No, I do. The fact is that, you know, we argued against these 527s from the get-go, and I filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission back in March or April, I think it was, Larry, saying that, you know, they should have to comply with the same laws about taking federal dollars. They're clearly -- they're designed for the express purposes of electing or defeating a candidate for federal office. We've had and the Media Fund and Americans Coming Together. They have spent $63 million before the attention was drawn to these 527s by the swift boat veterans. But the fact is, I think that they should be -- they should have the same standards imposed on them as the parties do and as the campaigns do.

KING: Do you expect this to be a mean election?

GILLESPIE: I hope not. You know, the fact is, I think that John Kerry is someone -- he's running for president because he wants to do what's best for America. I don't -- I don't think...

KING: You don't dislike him?

GILLESPIE: I don't -- I don't dislike him, I disagree with him.

KING: Right.

GILLESPIE: That's what elections...

KING: Big difference.

GILLESPIE: ... are about. And I don't, by the way, think that what he would do and what his policies are are what's best for America. That's my right, as a free America, and that's why -- and that's why we are focused -- the president's right, we're not focused on Senator Kerry's service. We -- I've never questioned his service, and I never will.

What I'm focused on are his votes on intelligence funding, where he offered an amendment to cut $6 billion from intelligence funds only one year after the World Trade Center was attacked the first time. He says that his service on the Senate Intelligence Committee qualifies him to be president, and yet he missed over three out of four of the -- of the public hearings of that committee. He voted against the child tax credit. He voted against marriage penalty relief in the tax code. It's his policies I'm concerned about. I don't think they're the right policies for our country.

KING: How important will the debates be?

GILLESPIE: Oh, I think they're always important. They were important in 2000. John Kerry is -- you know, is a 20-year veteran of the United States Senate, the great debating body. He is...

KING: He's used to it.

GILLESPIE: He's known as being -- the debates he had with Bill Weld...

KING: Famous.

GILLESPIE: ... in their Senate race are famous. And he is -- and John Edwards is someone who made millions of dollars persuading juries on behalf of his clients. He's very persuasive. This may be the most skillful debate ticket ever assembled on either side of the aisle in the history of our country, so -- but that said, I think if they're substantive, as long as we're talking about the policies, you know, I'm looking forward to those debates.

KING: All right, a couple quick more things. And we'll be seeing a lot of you in the next few months. What do we expect Thursday night?

GILLESPIE: I think Thursday night, the president will talk about his policies because the past is an indicator -- your past is an indicator of where you would take us in the future. We didn't hear much about Senator Kerry's policies in Boston. We will hear about the president's...

KING: We will hear an agenda.

GILLESPIE: Oh, we will definitely hear an agenda, but we'll also hear about -- you know, we are running on President Bush's record. They ran from Senator Kerry's record. We're going to run on his record. But we're also -- the president will talk about new policies for a new term and a new agenda, the new challenges that face us as a nation and this war on terror in which we find ourselves, the new challenges that face our economy in a changing economy. And it will be a future-oriented speech, and I'm excited about it. I think we'll come out of here with some great things to talk about.

KING: Be seeing a lot of you, Ed. Thanks.

GILLESPIE: Thank you.


KING: I like the tie, too.

GILLESPIE: Thank you. Appreciate it.

KING: Ed Gillespie, chairman of the Republican National Committee.

By the way, an important program note. This Thursday night, we're going to have a historic first here. We're going to have President Bush, no. 41, the first, H.W. -- G.W. -- what is the -- H.W. -- I get confused with initials -- President H.W. Bush, his son, Marvin Bush, his grandson, Pierce Bush -- you must remember Pierce from four years ago -- three generations of Bushes live, 9:00 o'clock Eastern Thursday night.

We'll be right back with our panel. Don't go away.


KING: A hot, humid night outside Madison Square Garden. The protesters who went by earlier today are gone. There are 12,000 policemen assigned -- there's 30,000 policemen in New York, and 12,000 are assigned to security for this convention, working 12-hour shifts each.

We're back with our panel. Senator Mitchell, is the swift boat issue going to leave or hang around?

MITCHELL: I think it will hang around, Larry. I think the Republicans feel they've gotten the benefit from it now, and they would like to see it go away. I think in recent days, the tide on it has turned against them, which is one reason why they want to avoid it. But I think after this convention, we get into September, Labor Day's past -- that used to be the beginning of campaigns...

KING: Yes.

MITCHELL: ... not too long ago, I think they'll focus on the real issues, which really are the economy, health care and, of course, foreign policy, including Iraq.

KING: Senator Dole, have you changed at all your position on the swift boat issue? Because I've seen you quoted in so many directions over it.

DOLE: No, I don't -- I only have one direction. I mean, I'm a friend of John Kerry's. I even supported him on your program in the primary, when he -- when he was being attacked by...

KING: Yes, you did.

DOLE: ... a certain general. But I think John Kerry's going to have to -- if there's a question, he needs to answer it. You can't say that all these swift boat people are Republican activist liars, and I think John needs to step up to the plate and say, This is what happened, or turn over the journals that Doug Brinkley, who wrote the book, "Line of Duty" -- but I think Senator Mitchell may be right.

I don't think the tide has turned, but I don't think this ought to be the issue, except Senator Kerry made it the issue. That was the whole thrust of the convention. I think there were 73 words in his convention acceptance speech about his service in the Senate. So when you make it the centerpiece, your service in Vietnam, then some people wonder, why did you come back home and become an anti-war activist, go before the Senate -- I was there at that time -- throw your medals away, and now you've changed again, now you're running as a proud Vietnam veteran.

But I think he's -- I've never challenged his medals. I just indicate that he had no life-threatening wounds. He wasn't hospitalized for one day. He draws no disability pay. So I think John just ought to back off and talk about the issues.

KING: But you still like and respect him.

DOLE: Well, we had a good conversation. He called me the next day. I said -- he said he was disappointed, and I said, Gee, I don't want to -- you know, I've tried to be -- you know, but I was there in '71 in April, and it's never -- I've never quite gotten over the fact that he -- even though it was hearsay, he talked about these Americans who were still over there and some who had been there, who were raping and killing and all these innocent people, slaughtering innocent people, committing war crimes. That was not a good thing for him to do, and I bet he wish now he hadn't done it.

KING: David Gergen, what do you make of this whole...

GERGEN: Well, there's an awful lot of water over this dam...

KING: "The Washington Post" did a major story which seemed to support the Kerry position.

GERGEN: Listen, I -- I...


DOLE: That's no big surprise. I mean...


GERGEN: As you know, I...

DOLE: That's just like "The New York Times."

GERGEN: Yes. I have an enormous respect for Senator Dole and for -- and particularly for his record of service to this country in World War II. He was a -- he was truly heroic. And of course, he paid heavily. I respectfully disagree about the -- this whole argument about whether what happened to John Kerry while he was in Vietnam. I think it's -- I think it's fair game to go after him on what he said and what he did when he got home, but what actually happened...

DOLE: Yes, that's my point, David...

GERGEN: ... to him in battle...

DOLE: That's the point I've been trying to make.

GERGEN: And it seems to me that's a fair game. But what happened...

KING: The battlefield is not.

GERGEN: ... on the battlefield is -- well, heretofore, we've always had a tradition of respecting people for -- when they put their lives on the line for the country, and I think it's really hard...

KING: Which he did.

GERGEN: Which he did. And I think it's really hard to sort out after a battle's over who did what. But I think the larger issue here is also, for the country's sake -- this was a huge diversion at a time when we should be talking about the future.

KING: Yes.

GERGEN: And I think both candidates need to focus now on the future. The country really wants to know, Where are we going in Iraq?

KING: Jacque, was there a great impact on this story in the black community?

REID: Not really because, just as David was saying, a lot of African-Americans want to hear both candidates talk more about the issues. That's what our -- we did a BET poll, and that's what our poll results tell us. We want to hear about the issues -- our viewers, that is.

We did a story last week, and we went to talk to black vets about this very issue. And they said to both sides, Stop it. We want to hear about issues that affect vets. We want to hear about, you know, services for vets. You know, there are vets who are coming home for Iraq, or soldiers coming home from Iraq, who are homeless, who don't have health care, who don't have money to feed their families. Those, to me, are much more important issues. And with our newscast every night, we hardly talk about the swift boat ads. KING: OK.

DOLE: I don't think...


KING: Jorge, what about the -- Jorge, what about...

DOLE: I don't think anybody's homeless.

KING: Jorge, what about the Latino community?

REID: No, we did a story on a woman who was homeless.

RAMOS: The three most important issues for Latinos are jobs, education and health care. And of course, we are also very interested about immigration and Cuba, but I don't think this issue is going to be (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and I don't think we really have to do a lot with correcting the historical record and trying to find out exactly what John Kerry did or did not do in Vietnam.

What's really important, from my point of view right here, is that the only area in which President Bush really has an advantage over John Kerry has to do in his handling the war against terrorism. The last poll that I saw from the Pew Research Center says that when people were asked who would better handle, terrorism, President Bush or John Kerry, about 49 percent said President Bush and 39 percent said John Kerry.

So obviously, we are not going to be asking the question, Are we better off today than four years ago? I think Republicans are going to try to emphasize this controversy and not to respond about the fact that there are more Americans who live -- are living in poverty right now, more Americans without health care, and the family income has decreased in the past three years.

KING: Jorge, if that's true, if terrorism is the No. 1 issue, why isn't the president far ahead?

RAMOS: Well, what we have seen, that in every single issue, when we compare John Kerry and George Bush -- and we did a poll with "The Washington Post" and with Univision, and we see that they're pretty much tied, President Bush and John Kerry. But when it comes to terrorism, handling terrorism, even with Latinos, President Bush is doing much, much better than John Kerry.

KING: And Mo...

DOLE: Larry, could I make a...

KING: Yes, OK, quickly, Senator Dole.

DOLE: Well, I just want to make a point that I think the fact that Jacque and Jorge are on this program speaks volumes. I mean, I think, you know, that both parties, as Senator Mitchell would agree, are competing for the black and the Latino vote. And certainly, Larry King recognizes that, and I really appreciate their being on the program because they -- they want to talk about issues that are important to them -- family, health care, nutrition, environment, jobs and taxes.

KING: And Mo Rocca, you must represent a certain element, I guess. We've got everybody represented here. Look, there he is. Mo, who do you think you represent here tonight?

ROCCA: Well, television personalities? I'm not sure.


ROCCA: I'm right here by Massachusetts, by the way, John Kerry's home state. And not a lot going on here. In fact, I don't know why the hell these people even showed up. It's not like it's -- it's like -- I have a question, actually, for Jorge, if I could. Jorge, (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

RAMOS: Let me translate that. He's saying that President Bush won more than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote in the year 2000 -- actually, you know, that's what happened. Yes.


RAMOS: Well, let me translate. Do you think -- do you think President Bush is going to get more of the Hispanic vote than four years ago? Actually, it's really interesting. Since Ronald Reagan, every single Republican candidate who gets more than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote wins the White House. President Bush obtained about 31 percent of the Hispanic vote in the year 2000, and he won. And I had the opportunity to talk to President Bush in the year 2001, and when I asked him, Do you think that the Latino vote -- in this case, the Cuban-American vote in Florida -- decided the election, he told me yes, and then he added in Spanish (UNINTELLIGIBLE), And I won't forget that.


KING: OK. Si. Let me get a break here, Mo, and come right back. And then we'll do a little hasta loago (ph). I don't know what I'm talking about.


KING: Anyway, when we come back, I'm going to spend some moments with Jerry Parsky (ph). He's chairman of the California delegation to the GOP convention. He's also been a major friend of the president's for a long time and a trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library. And then our panel will reassemble.

It's a Sunday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be on twice nightly Monday through Thursday at 9:00 and midnight with live programming.

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've accomplished a lot, but there's only one reason to look backward, and that is to determine who best to lead us forward.




KING: There's no arguing. We are in the most famous indoor arena in the world, Madison Square Garden, in the heart of New York City right on top of Penn Station, police on patrol.

And welcoming to LARRY KING LIVE on this Sunday night edition is Gerry Parsky, an old friend. He's chairman of the California delegation to this convention. He's California chairman for Bush- Cheney's reelection and trustee of the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation, been an activist in the Republican Party for a long time. And, your governor kicks it all off here Tuesday, right?

GERRY PARSKY, CALIF. BUSH-CHENEY '04 CHAIR., CALIF. RNC DELEGATION CHAIR: Absolutely. We're proud of the fact that our great governor, who's brought about a sea change in California, is going to talk to the nation and directly to Californians on Tuesday.

KING: It's been pointed out already, Gerry, there are moderates speaking. Most of the delegates are more conservative. How do you stand on this? Is this a flip/sway issue?

PARSKY: Well, no, I don't quite agree with that. I think that on a number of issues we are very together and very conservative. Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance, has made it very clear that his policies relating to the California economy will involve lower taxes, less government spending.

KING: But in social issues you disagree.

PARSKY: On social issues there is some disagreement but a famous president from California, Ronald Reagan, said if you agree on 80 percent of the things then you got friends and we should be focusing on what we agree on.

And we also should communicate that we're a party that is tolerant and that respects the fact that there may be some things we disagree on. And, one of the things we've been trying to do is to make sure that Republicans unite.

KING: Do you expect California to be closer than it was four years ago?

PARSKY: I do. I do. I think we...

KING: You do. Because everyone's predicting that Kerry is way ahead.

PARSKY: I know and as far as we're concerned we hope that the Democrats take California for granted. We've made a lot of strides. We had a deep hole that we dug for ourselves in California but we've changed voter registration dramatically.

In 2000, we were eleven points behind the Democrats on voter registration. Through hard work by the state party and reforms we've changed that to now seven and a half percent. That's a big gain.

And, most importantly, we have a Republican governor and the contrast between what a Republican governor has offered Californians on the economy and what the prior Democratic governor offered and was recalled about, I think that's a very important message.

KING: That will come up?

PARSKY: Oh, we plan to discuss that extensively because the economy is one of two or three issues that we believe will determine this election.

KING: Will Governor Schwarzenegger actively campaign in and out of the state?

PARSKY: Well, I can't speak outside the state. We're focusing on California.

KING: In the state will he?

PARSKY: In the state no question about it. I only assume the chairmanship of the campaign and this delegation, after meeting with Governor Schwarzenegger and basically asking him if this is what he wanted, he said yes. He became honorary chairman of this delegation and he said to me and to the public that he's going to do everything he can to help elect President Bush in California.

KING: You're a very successful businessman. Why do you do this?

PARSKY: Well, I happen to believe that if you've been fortunate and good things have happened, you have a responsibility to try to give back to your country and to your state and I happen to believe in Republican principles. I may disagree on certain things but I really believe very strong in principles.

And I believe very strongly that we are a party of Lincoln and Bush and Bush and Pataki and Jeb Bush and Giuliani and that's a message that I think we lost in California. So, if I can volunteer some time to help bring that message back to Californians, I think it's a worthwhile cause.

KING: Is this going to be a rough election?

PARSKY: I think it -- I think unfortunately many of these elections have kind of moved to too much on person and not enough on the issues, so I think it will be rough but there are a number of us that are really committed to showing that there is a real choice in this election.

The issues, the economy, the war on terror and leadership are three issues that we think will dominate this election and there are real choices on each of those and I think the American public will see that the president offers on the economy frankly what Arnold Schwarzenegger offers, namely keeping taxes down and making sure that spending is under control, getting your economic house in order.

And John Kerry offers many of the same policies that Gray Davis offered. Someone said to me that in one sense John Kerry is Gray Davis like. We'll have to see whether that holds true but we're going to communicate that message.

KING: So, this is the new hook. John Kerry is Gray Davis.


KING: Like. We'll be seeing a lot of you Gerry.

PARSKY: Thank you, Larry, very nice to see you.

KING: Gerry Parsky, he's chairman of the California delegation. That's the largest delegation, right?

PARSKY: Yes, the largest delegation, right.

KING: And we'll be back with our panel and more of LARRY KING LIVE for this Sunday night. Don't go away.


KING: Senator Dole is with us. He's in Washington, our CNN contributor. Senator Dole will be here on Tuesday night. It will be nice to see him in person. His wife will be one of the guests Tuesday night.

George Mitchell is here with us in Madison Square Garden, former Senate majority leader as well, as is David Gergen, White House adviser to many presidents, professor at Harvard; Jacque Reid, anchor of BET nightly news; Jorge Ramos, anchor for Univision; and down on the floor our roving reporter Moe Rocca.

Senator Dole, what's -- is this going to be an issue oriented campaign? Do you expect it to get down to the things you mentioned before?

DOLE: I think so.

KING: You do.

DOLE: The reason I'm not there is I couldn't get a room. You know, here eight years ago I was the nominee. Tonight I can't get a room in New York, so I'm here.

KING: That's life in the big leagues. DOLE: Yes, how soon they forget. In any event, I think Jacque said it and I think Jorge and Senator Mitchell and David, we'll all agree, I think by Labor Day you're really going to kick off on the issues and there are issues out there that separate the two candidates.

There's always this talk every four years. This time it's going to be on the issues. I think we've had enough of the personal National Guard and Vietnam and the American people are ready for the issues. And there are always about, as I understand, ten or 12 percent out there who really tune in about Labor Day or even a little later.

KING: Yes.

DOLE: So, they're the ones you want to go after, the Independents and the undecided Democrats and Republicans can make a difference.

KING: George Mitchell, how do you see it?

MITCHELL: I think that's about right, Larry. I don't think the campaigns will focus on the issues because they'll want to concentrate on those things that they feel are to their advantage, selective issues. I think the public will make their decisions based on issues and, of course, part of that is personal as well.

Character is an issue, what one has done in the past, what one is likely to do in the future. Those are all issues and I think the voters will make their decisions on that basis.

So I think as I said earlier, the economy, particularly healthcare, job creation, the expansion of the economy and foreign policy, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Middle East generally, policies around the world, I think those will all be issues in the campaign.

KING: David Gergen, who is undecided? Give me a prototype of the undecided person.

GERGEN: I think the undecided vote is right now is certainly small, six to eight maybe ten percent of the public.

KING: That will swing the election though.

GERGEN: It could. There are some people who are still swayable. I mean there's been some movement over the last three or four weeks from Kerry to Bush. That's why President Bush is bringing some momentum into this convention, which is extraordinarily important for him.

I do have some disagreement about whether the election is going to be decided on the issues. It seems to me that the Republicans have been very successful about moving the issue back to leadership and character and on those kind of issues President Bush does very well and John Kerry has taken some real hits here over the last few weeks.

KING: So they got to bring it back, what, to Iraq?

GERGEN: It seems to be John Kerry has in his convention let these issues slip away from him. He didn't deal in a way that really commanded the attention of the country about what he's going to do on the economy. I mean it's really hard to understand where he's going on the economy.

KING: Does he have to do it now, tell you?

GERGEN: I think once this convention's over he better go back on the offense of what he -- where he's going and use the debates for that because President Bush is stealing the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). I think the Republicans have been very successful these last three or four weeks.

KING: Will there be a big black turnout Jacque?

REID: I think there will be. I know in our network we've talked a lot with the whole hip hop community that effort out there to register voters that they plan to take it beyond that. They plan to use, you know, modern technology and text message people that they register and get them out to the polls.

But when it comes to who they're going to vote for, you know, the poll that we did this summer at BET showed that almost 90 percent of African Americans dislike Bush and do not want to vote for him. It's a visceral thing. I was saying earlier they dislike him.

DOLE: Well that's about the same though.

REID: Yes, well they dislike him now according to our poll because of what happened in 2000 mostly. They think that he stole the election and then and Senator Dole can speak to this because the Republicans talk about this effort to reach out to African American voters but then they talk about things like healthcare, jobs, issues that both parties or all groups want to see improve. But when it comes to specific issues like disenfranchised voters...

KING: They don't talk about it.

REID: They don't -- they don't make a move on it. They don't develop issues on it.

DOLE: Well, I don't know.

KING: Do you want to say something quickly Bob?

DOLE: Well, quickly, you know, I managed the Martin Luther King bill, holiday bill, on the Senator Floor, as Senator Mitchell knows and very proud to do it but if you ask most African Americans, they wouldn't know that Bob Dole had anything to do with it.

So, I think sometimes we're not getting our message to African Americans and to Latinos. We're doing better with Latinos than we are with the African Americans. REID: Yes, I think...

KING: All right, Jorge, what will the Latino turnout be like?

RAMOS: Well, it's going to be in between seven and eight million Hispanic voters going to the polls.

DOLE: A lot.

RAMOS: But both parties are doing three things very important to try to win the Hispanic vote. First, both candidates are trying to speak Spanish, not very successfully but they're trying to, well they're trying to speak Spanish. If you put both of them together, Kerry and Bush in the same room speaking Spanish they couldn't understand each other.

The second thing they're trying to do is they're spending much more money in Spanish language advertising, about $10 million in this campaign, three times more as in the year 2000.

And the third thing that they're trying to do is to address some of the issues. Both have addressed the issue of immigration and Cuba but they have to address the issue of Hispanic unemployment, poverty and the lack of health insurance, among many other things.

KING: Yes. Mo Rocca, how will television personalities vote in this election?

ROCCA: Well, I'm not sure about television personalities, Larry. We're a pretty split group but it is clear that Republicans have historically reached out to Lebanese Americans.

Here I'm wearing this Lebanese Americans for Reagan/Bush button that I stole from Jamie Farr at a 1980 fundraiser in Toledo. I think that one way that they'll try to reach out, we've discussed this already, is that the array of speakers is going to be very moderate.

KING: Right.

ROCCA: I think certainly Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rudy Giuliani and, let's face it, you'd have to be Hercule Poirot to figure out that Michael Bloomberg is a Republican. I mean the guy's not, you know, a Republican.

OK, oh sorry, somebody's talking to me through here. I did want to say one thing about -- one more thing about the delegates and how they're experiencing New York. New Yorkers have mixed feelings about Bush and the Republican Party to say the least but...


ROCCA: But people who sing and dance in Broadway shows are reliably Republican voters and last night the delegates of this convention returned the favor by visiting a variety of shows, "The Lion King," "Aida." Some went to "Beauty and the Beast." Rick Santorum did not allow the Pennsylvania delegation to go. He wasn't sure about the nature of the relationship between the beauty and the beast.

But Dick Cheney as part of his outreach did buy a whole block of tickets to "Naked Boys Singing" which is a big Off Broadway show. The Alabama delegation went to that and they turned to pillars of salt, so unfortunately they are going to be here but they're going to be propped against the chairs because you can't get pillars of salt in a seated position.

KING: Let me -- let me get a break, Mo.

DOLE: How about the Kansas delegation?

KING: Cold compress, Mo, cold compress. We'll be back with some more moments. Don't go away.


KING: It's time to look ahead with our panel. We'll start with Mo Rocca this time. Mo, what do you expect the rest of the week?

ROCCA: Well, I think it's going to be exciting. I'm always interested in talking to the specific delegations, like South Dakota. You know the state bird of South Dakota is the Chinese ring-necked pheasant. It's kind of funny. You wonder how those ring-necked pheasants got from China all the way to South Dakota. I mean were they coming to look at Mount Rushmore? I don't know.

I'm interested also in the Kansas delegation, particularly representative -- sorry, Senator Sam Brownback. He'll be speaking here. Senator Brownback and his wife Mary have five children. Senator Brownback is a leading opponent of cloning. We don't know how Mary feels about it. She would have had to work a lot less I suppose if cloning was more available.

DOLE: Some of those are adopted children.

ROCCA: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) well, paperwork, paperwork Senator Dole. I mean adoption is paperwork heavy.

KING: Dole, forgive him, Senator Dole. The man is not well.

DOLE: I know. He's doing a -- he's doing a great job. I like -- I like to listen to him.

ROCCA: Good, OK, well I'm available on DVD somewhere, all the stuff that...

KING: Mo, wrap it up, Mo. Where are we going the rest of this week?

ROCCA: We are going to a wonderful place. I'm excited about the Bush daughters. Jenna and Barbara will be speaking for a brief bit and that will be very important because, you know Larry, Jenna and Barbara Bush represent the two sides of President Bush. They complete the picture.

Jenna is the pre (UNINTELLIGIBLE), the savage, wild (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bush whereas Barbara is the post-40th birthday hangover Bush, the more self possessed, the more tightly wound Bush and together I think they're going to give us an idea of who this man really is.

KING: Thank you, Mo Rocca.


KING: Mo Rocca on top of the scene. By the way he was just as rough on the Democrats four weeks ago.

Senator Dole, what do you expect the rest of the week, any fireworks?

DOLE: I'm just sitting here thinking and I think first of all there are more protesters probably there and then the press is next and then probably the Republicans are about third as far as numbers are concerned. So, I don't know. We'll probably have a lot of fun. There are 12,000 policemen. I don't know how many delegates there are but...

KING: Five I think.

DOLE: Yes, I think so but it's going to be -- it's going to be a lot of fun. I mean as I started off the program, this is really for the main delegates, as Senator Mitchell knows so well and people I know in Kansas, they have a great time.

They go to New York. They love the city and they're also very serious about politics and most of these people pay their own expenses. They pay their own hotel bills, so it's going to be very, very exciting.

KING: George, do you agree, do you like conventions?

DOLE: Yes, he likes them.

MITCHELL: It's like anything else, Larry, after a while it gets old but I think first the size of the demonstrations is significant. I think it will dominate news coverage, at least for the first day. More than 100,000 people according to the estimate I've seen demonstrated peacefully today.

Secondly, as I said earlier, it will be moderates on display each night. That worked in 2000. I think the Republicans are hoping that it will work again. And then finally, the press will make a strong statement emphasizing 9/11, leadership, strong defense.

That's the theme. That's what I think they'll follow through. I think it will be carefully organized, well scripted and I think it will help the president in the campaign but I don't think it will have a lasting impact. I think when you get past Labor Day they're dead even that's about where they're going to be for the rest of the way and I think it's going to be a very close election.

KING: David, what's the Dick Cheney role this week?

GERGEN: It's very important. You're going to be -- it's going to be really interesting to see whether he goes to the more moderate kind of conversation or speeches we're going to hear on Monday, Tuesday, or whether he goes with his much harder brand conservatism and I imagine he's going to stick to who he is.

KING: He'll be the toughest conservative speaker in prime time, right?

GERGEN: I would think so. He always does it with a very moderate voice but when you look at the -- listen to the message it's very tough. It seems to me the real wildcard here are the demonstrators.

We just don't know where this is going to go. There's a -- while they were peaceful today there's a lot more anger among those demonstrators than is evident. You talked to them today. They're pretty angry people, so that's the big wildcard but I do think the Cheney and especially the Bush speeches are the big headliners.

And finally, we're all going to be looking do they get a bounce because the Democrats didn't get a bounce. If the Republicans come out with a bounce, that's going to be bad news for John Kerry. They will really have momentum at that point.

KING: Jacque, what are you expecting?

REID: Well, I tell you what would be interesting to watch and that will be to see, you know, the Republicans talk about reaching out to African Americans. Who they have coming up to the podium, I know Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele will be speaking and maybe he's the Republican's answer to the Democrat's Barack Obama. And, you know, but where's Alan Keyes, you know? He's running against Barack Obama.

KING: Is he going to speak?

REID: No, he's not. He's not.


REID: And, you know, we're just wondering where those -- those black stars are and even Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele he's not speaking in prime time, you know.

I had a meeting again with the Republicans just asking them about, you know, what are they going to do specifically to make our audience, African Americans, feel included in this convention?

And they said, "You know what, we'll talk to you about that a little bit later." We were with, you know, we're part of CBS and we were meeting with CBS and the Republicans and, you know, we haven't heard from them yet.

KING: Are there Latino speakers and what do you expect Jorge?

RAMOS: Well actually, yes, they have two Latino speakers in prime time, Brian Sandoval, the Attorney General for Nevada. He's not very well known nationwide and, George P. Bush, the nephew of President George W. Bush.

But, if Republicans want to highlight diversity in this convention, they got to do much better. Only six percent of all delegates and ordinates are Hispanic. Only 17 percent of all delegates are minorities. So, if they really want to reach towards minorities, Latinos and African Americans, they're going to have to do much more better.

The last poll that I saw said that John Kerry is going to win the Hispanic vote 60, with 60 percent about of preference against the 30 percent. Of course, the challenge for President George W. Bush is to get more than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote and so far I think he has it.

KING: Thank you all very much, Jacque Reid and Jorge Ramos, great pleasure having you aboard with us.

REID: Thank you.

RAMOS: Thank you.

KING: And Mo Rocca down on the floor and, of course, back with us tomorrow night Senator Bob Dole and Senator George Mitchell. They were the two, in fact, had the strongest held posts in the United States Senate on either side of the aisle. And the ever present, always popular David Gergen.

Don't forget the three generations of Bush's Thursday night, President Bush No. 41, Marvin, his son and Pierce, his nephew.

Coming up next Wolf and Judy and Jeff. We'll see you tomorrow night with two editions of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay tuned for them. Goodnight.



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