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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Coverage of the Republican National Convention

Aired August 30, 2004 - 21:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST, "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Welcome back to Madison Square Garden. We're going to give it to Larry King. Larry's got the first of two live Larry Kings. That's coming up. Right now remember, later tonight, we'll be standing by here for Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and John McCain. He'll be speaking later tonight, as well. In the meantime, let's throw it over to my good friend Larry -- Larry.
LARRY KING, HOST: Thank you, Wolf. As Wolf said, this is edition number one of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll have Governor George Pataki with us in this segment. We'll also meet the chief of staff of the White House. We'll also meet Julie Nixon Eisenhower and her husband David. Our regular panel is assembled.

In Washington is Bob Woodward, reporter and editor of the "Washington Post," Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. His book "Plan of Attack" remains a bestseller.

Senator Bob Dole who will be here with us tonight. Tomorrow night in person right here, the CNN contributor and Republican presidential candidate.

And with us next to me here at the Madison Square Garden scene in New York is Senator George Mitchell, former Senate majority leader, Democratic senatorial campaign committee, international peace negotiator.

Bob Woodward, what's your read on this, this heavy emphasis tonight on security?

BOB WOODWARD, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, the secret plan that Karl Rove presented to President Bush almost two years ago about how to conduct this campaign focused on the persona of President Bush, not his policies. And the characteristics were strong leader, bold action. And that's what they've been running on. That's clearly what the convention is going to be about. In fact that's what Bush is about. And you know, there is a thematic consistency here. And no one, I don't -- I haven't heard anyone saying that Bush has flip- flopped on his persona.

KING: Senator Dole, will the emphasis be on a war-time president?

BOB DOLE (R), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think so. Remember last night, Senator Mitchell was sort of listing two or three things, and he listed security, and I think they're going to, obviously Bush is going to be brought on as a very strong leader, someone you can trust when we're in a war, a global war on terror. And somebody you want to stick with for the next four years. So that's going to be the overriding theme. It's going to be his personal, his message, the fact that he says what he does, and he sticks to it, and he'll attempt to rally the American people because we tend to forget what happened on 9/11. And I think President Bush deserves re-election, and it's going to be based on his leadership.

KING: How effective will that be, Senator Mitchell?

GEORGE MITCHELL (D), FMR. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Well, it's obviously the basis of the president's campaign. Indeed, of his presidency. And he'll either rise or fall on it. This convention here, certainly tonight, will be 9/11 24/7. You're going to hear 9/11 over and over again.

KING: Now how does 9/11 relate to Iraq?

MITCHELL: Well, that's a subject of much dispute, of course. But the effort here will be to combine the two. When you hear these speeches tonight from Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain, they will be very similar in that they will be stress 9/11, and a defense -- robust defenses of the war in Iraq. They will differ somewhat in that Senator McCain doesn't mention Senator Kerry. Mayor Giuliani has a long and very sharp criticism of Senator Kerry in his speech. But the basic theme, 9/11, the war in Iraq, a defense of the war in Iraq, will be prominent in both speeches.

KING: Bob Woodward, how will it work if you're that undecided voter who certainly feels the impact of 9/11, and is concerned about terrorism, but doesn't think Iraq was involved in it?

WOODWARD: Well, I think Senator Mitchell is quite right when he says they're going to try to converge the two. And obviously we now know there was no evidence that Iraq, Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11. But the president's argument is, and people are either going to either adopt it or reject it, is simply that the lesson of 9/11, take care of threats early. Saddam Hussein was a threat. There was a belief, and the intelligence community was telling the president, and everyone else, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, so he was poised potentially to conduct something that maybe would make 9/11 a mere footnote in history.

And the president's argument is, look, given the option of doing nothing, or acting and having the military plan that they developed, it looked like it was going to be a lot easier than it's turned out to be. Obviously the president this morning was saying in the interview talking about catastrophic success. There were briefings to him before the war about catastrophic success. And that means that it might be a catastrophe because success militarily would be so fast. To a certain extent that occurred. The major combat ended very, very quickly. Perhaps too quickly. And as we now know, and I think this is one of the serious problems with the Iraq war, it was not sufficient planning for the aftermath for that catastrophic success, which actually occurred. KING: And Jacque Reid of BET Nightly News now joins us. She's on the floor tonight in the Georgia delegation. What's the mood on the floor?

JACQUE REID, BET NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: Oh, it is pure excitement. I mean, these folks are probably going to lose their minds once Rudolph Giuliani comes to the stage and Senator John McCain. Because delegates here, an overwhelming majority of them, more than Republican voters, believe that going into Iraq was the right thing.

So they support President Bush overwhelmingly on that matter. So, when Giuliani and McCain come to the stage tonight, and tell President Bush's record post-9/11, these folks endorse that wholeheartedly. But this is the place to be. You know, when it comes to election time, aside from election night, the conventions are the most exciting time of them all. And the Republicans are not disappointing tonight.

KING: Bob Dole, is it likely that Iraq will be the prime issue in this race? It will supersede domestic issues?

DOLE: I think so. It will be the first time in a long, long time that a foreign policy matter was the issue. I think the economy is still going to be the issue. But I think character and leadership, strong leadership are also going to be right near the top. And we shouldn't lose sight of the fact, 9/11 was a catalyst for Iraq. If we hadn't had 9/11 I don't think we would have been in Iraq.

So we tend to forget all of the thousands of people who were killed, and what happened at the Pentagon, what happened in Pennsylvania, what happened in New York City, because we kind of move on in America. We don't dwell on the past. But, we learned a lot from 9/11. And we're still dealing with it. If you look at what happened just in Russia this past weekend. Terrorism involved in two airplane crashes. So it hasn't gone away. And it takes men like George Bush to make certain that we can control it.

KING: George, you think they can successfully hook Iraq to 9/11?

MITCHELL: Well, they certainly did so for a long time after the 9/11...

KING: Even though Iraq didn't cause it.

MITCHELL: That's right. It had nothing to do with it. But if you go back and look at the speeches made by the various leaders, they were used constantly in the same sentence, same paragraph, created an overwhelming impression. That's started to dissipate now, Larry. I think it will be a much tougher case to make now than it was prior to the combat in Iraq.

KING: Hence this very close, intense race.

MITCHELL: That's right.

KING: When we come back, Governor George Pataki of New York. A possible potential candidate in 2008 will join us. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on this special No. 1 edition of LARRY KING LIVE. No. 2 comes up at midnight Eastern.

You're looking at former President Bush and Barbara Bush. Former President Bush and one of his sons, and his nephew and his grandson Pierce will be with us live here on Thursday night.

We now welcome Governor George Pataki, the Republican of New York. He'll be introducing President Bush on Thursday night. The emphasis here is so much on 9/11.

Is there a danger, governor, of a thin line between exploitation and remembrance?

GOV. GEORGE PATAKI (R), NEW YORK: Well, Larry, I honestly think that it is one of the defining moments for my generation. The world changed on September 11th. And I think it's absolutely critical that the American people understand that we are in a war. It's a war against terror. It's a war between civilization and barbarism. And it's one this president is leading the American people very well in.

KING: So it would be the same as Franklin Roosevelt referring to Pearl Harbor when he ran in 1944?

PATAKI: You know, Larry, this was a worse attack on civilians. We have never had an attack like this on civilians in the history of the United States. And we know they want to attack us again. And that's why we need the strong leadership that this president has provided for another term.

KING: Governor, do you think this race is going to come down to Iraq?

PATAKI: I think the war on terror is going to be a defining and critical issue. I think there's a very real difference between the president who's provided great leadership. I think the people understand that he's doing what he thinks is right for America, right for the people, and right for the future of the civilized world. I don't think they have any idea what Senator Kerry's real position is, because it seems he takes a poll, and then decides what he thinks America should do. And you can't do that in the face of terror.

KING: Governor, is it a war that can ever be won?

PATAKI: Certainly.

KING: Isn't a terrorist being born today somewhere?

PATAKI: But that, to me, is why it's so important that we not only go after al Qaeda and the Osama bin Laden's, but we show the world that what we believe in, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE), freedom, respect for each other's rights, is the way to a better future, and not terror and hatred. And if we can establish representative governments and the rule of law, and respect for life in the Middle East, then we will take away the breeding ground of terror. We will not only win the war against those fighting us now, but we will win the war for the future, for our values, for America, and for civilization.

KING: They're playing he military song tonight. Are you -- is patriotism an issue?

PATAKI: You don't question senator Kerry's patriotism. Not at all. What is an issue is leadership, the ability of the American people to trust that leadership. And the commander-in-chief making decisions based on the best interests of America, and not a poll at the moment.

KING: New York City threw a welcoming party here Saturday night. I was honored to emcee it. And before we both got up on the podium, I asked you why young people don't vote. We never got a chance to hear the answer.

Why don't young people vote?

PATAKI: You know, Larry, I think that's a very important question. I think the honest answer is too often young people have said politicians -- they've heard them say one thing during the campaign, and then six months later they see the exact opposite. And that's one of the great tributes and assets of President Bush. When you hear him, you know he's telling you the truth. You know he's telling you what he believes. And you know when he tries to do something he means it and will try to get that done.

KING: Are you saying there will be a big, young turnout this November?

PATAKI: I certainly hope so. I think they understand that this president is leading our country well. I think they understand that when he tells them something they can trust, that he means it and he will try to do that.

KING: You expect a huge turnout in November overall?

PATAKI: I certainly hope so. This is a very important election, and I hope people across America appreciate that and come out in record numbers, and obviously I hope they come out and support our great president.

KING: Now what about George Pataki?

You don't run for re-election, right?

PATAKI: Well, I haven't made a decision on that, Larry. You know, I'm very grateful...

KING: You might run?

PATAKI: I might run for re-election. I'm very grateful that the people of New York have given me the privilege of leading this state and I'm going to do everything I can to make it a better state. KING: If you do run, will you say you won't run for the presidency?

PATAKI: You know, Larry, I have never -- when I've run for any office and that question has been asked, try to predict what may or may not happen with the future. You have to be honest with the people you're asking to support you. So, never in the past have I said that. And never in the future will I say that.

KING: Does that mean you'd be open to -- be interested?

PATAKI: Larry, right now there's two things I'm interested in. One is doing the best job I can for the state that I love and that I'm privileged to lead. And the second is to do everything I can to help this president have the opportunity to continue to lead our country in these very challenging times.

KING: And we'll see you introduce him on Thursday night. It's quite an honor.

PATAKI: It's a tremendous honor and I'm really looking forward to it, Larry.

KING: Thank you, George.

PATAKI: Thank you, good being on here.

KING: Governor George Pataki, the governor of New York.

We'll be back with our panel and later we'll meet Andy Card, chief of staff of the White House. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back at the Republican National Convention in New York City. There are 30,000 policemen in New York, and 12,000 of them are assigned to security to this convention in twelve-hour shifts; 6,000 in 12-hour shifts, then another 6,000. So they're like always on duty.

Your reaction, we'll start with Senator Mitchell this time around, to George Pataki's future at this party?

MITCHELL: He's done remarkably well as a Republican in New York, a state which has trended Democratic in recent years, and certainly voted overwhelmingly for Democratic presidential candidates.

KING: And senatorial.

MITCHELL: And senatorial. Two Democratic senators now. And so I think he has to be considered as a potential candidate in the future. He certainly has the experience and the stature, governor of New York, was the largest state for most of our nation's history. Now I think it's third largest, and done very well at attracting Democratic and independent voters. The problem he would have, of course, is the same one that Giuliani has, and others, that their positions, pro-choice, on issues like that, social issues, would make them unacceptable as a presidential candidate to many of the people here in the hall tonight. But they've shown the capacity to bridge that in their individual states. So I think Governor Pataki's certainly one of the first-line contenders of the future.

KING: Bob Woodward, could a Pataki overcome that bridge?

WOODWARD: You know, I just don't know enough about politics. But something he said really struck me. In talking about Senator Kerry, I think he made an accurate point, that Senator Kerry has not defined how he would be as commander in chief. And this presidential contest is about being commander in chief. We know how Bush has been commander in chief. And some people like it, some people don't. And the questions, I mean, just take, for instance, President Bush has taken a very direct stand on the obligation of this country to liberate people in other countries, and has said it repeatedly. In fact, apparently they were going to take -- water that down in his acceptance speech, and he said no, that's part of what I believe in.

What does Senator Kerry think about that? The questions of Kerry as commander in chief are pulsing through the campaign, and I think it's something he's got to answer much more directly than he has to date.

KING: Senator Dole, moderates will dominate the prime-time the next couple of nights. Can a moderate, in 2008, Pataki, Giuliani, can a moderate be your party's nominee?

DOLE: I think so. I think some of the issues that really divided us, let's say even when I was running and before, are not quite front and center now. We've got bigger issues. We've got the war on terror, taxes, education, a lot of these things that sort of move to the front burner. And I remember when Senator Alfonse D'Amato sort of picked George Pataki, and people said George who? He was a state senator at the time. And as Senator Mitchell has said, he's been able to, you know, traverse all the troubled waters in New York and do a pretty good job, bring in moderates, independents, Democrats, and you know, I think he even have a shot, but it's going to be a crowded field. It's so early to even talk about 19 -- I mean 2008. But if we got a little time, you might as well, you know.

KING: Jacque Reid, are these folks tonight looking forward to Mayor Giuliani, who I would imagine most in this audience would disagree with on major social issues?

REID: They do, you're right, Larry. A number -- or the majority of the delegates here are conservatives. About 63 percent of them. But they are excited about the moderates coming to the stage here all week long.

You know, they had an opening segment here, spoof, if you will, off of "Saturday Night Live," and when Giuliani's picture came up, this crowd went wild. They love Giuliani. And I think they'll be very excited when he takes to the stage tonight. They want to hear him talk about President Bush, and his leadership of this country after 9/11.

And you know, Giuliani is the mayor of America now. Everyone loves him, you know. He's going to go on the campaign trail with the president. So these folks are ready to hear from him, and very excited about it.

KING: Good line, mayor of America. Senator Mitchell, can George Bush move to the center, which they say you have to do to win a national election?

MITCHELL: Well, in the campaign of 2000, he certainly conveyed that impression. Now, of course, he's had the experience, as I said last night, it's a strategy of campaigning moderate and governing conservative. I think it will be more difficult this time, because there is the record of the past three and a half years, which I think many will argue is not a moderate record. And so the challenge will be on both sides to make that case.

On the one hand that, yes, it is moderate. On the other, that the record disproves it. That's going to be a major issue in the campaign.

And as Senator Dole said, Iraq is crucial, but it's not going to be the only issue. The economy is critically important. Health care remains a powerful issue with millions of Americans. So there are a lot of other issues involved. And on those issues, I think the president's going to try to reach out on Thursday night to make the case a future policy that will be moderate.

KING: Because some conservative Republicans are angry over his Medicare concept?

MITCHELL: Oh, yeah, they are.

KING: Senator Dole, isn't that true?

DOLE: Oh, yeah. That he's overspent, it's not $400 billion, it's closer to maybe $600 billion. And they're a little upset with these other programs, that he hasn't been vocal enough on some of their key issues.

And I think -- I disagree with my friend Senator Mitchell just a little bit. I think President Bush is -- I think you'd probably classify him as sort of a moderate conservative. He's not out there on the far right. I think he's pretty much in the middle on most of the issues, which should appeal to independents. And he needs to appeal to independents, because right now he's trailing John Kerry with independents.

KING: You think we'll have a big turnout, Bob Woodward?

WOODWARD: You know, I tend to agree with Governor Pataki, let's hope so. It is a critical issue. Both of the candidates -- or a series of issues. On the question of President Bush being a moderate or a conservative, the tax cuts are a giant issue in this campaign. And his position was very, very conservative on the tax cuts. He led the charge. He was very insistent on high numbers for the tax cuts. And people are going to argue about whether they have delivered the kind of economy that he promised. And there is an argument that we're not there yet, to say the least.

KING: We'll take a break. And when we come back, Andy Card, the chief of staff of this White House, will be with us. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back at Madison Square Garden on edition No 1 of LARRY KING LIVE, another show coming up at midnight Eastern.

Great pleasure to welcome Andy Card, the White House chief of staff. Good to see you again. Good to see you, Andy. It's been a while.

ANDY CARD, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It is great to be here, I'll tell you. This is a terrific city, great convention. And we're going to nominate a terrific person to lead us for another four years.

KING: Glad you picked this city?

CARD: Oh, yes. This is a city that actually came together for the world. And now it's coming together for the Republican Convention. And we're very fortunate that Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki hosted us, and that Rudy Giuliani will be here tonight to deliver a great speech.

KING: You're the man that had to tell President Bush about 9/11, whispered in his ear that famous scene.

CARD: Yes.

KING: What was it like for you?

CARD: Well, you know, just before the president went into the classroom, remember it was an elementary school. These are very young students, we stood at the door right outside of the classroom, and we got word that it looked like a small twin engine prop plane crashed into one of the towers at the World Trade Center.

KING: So he knew that before he went in?

CARD: He knew that before he went in. And the reaction was what a horrible accident. The pilot must have had a heart attack or something. The president went into the classroom, seconds later I learned that it was a jetliner, Commercial jetliner. And then oh, my gosh, another jetliner just crashed into the other tower at the World Trade Center. I stood at the door and I performed a test that I frequently perform, if I were president would I want to know. The answer was obviously, yes. So I decided I would pass on two facts and make one editorial comment. And I would do it in such a way that the president could not ask me a question, and have a discussion with me. Because he was in front of these very young students, in front of a national president corps, that was not witting of what had happened. So I decided, and opened the door, walked in, saw a break in the conversation when I could walk up to his ear, right ear and I leaned over and I whispered, a second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack. I then stepped back. The president was entirely appropriate to be patient.

KING: You said the other night on this show that he gathered his thoughts.

CARD: He did not want to introduce fear to those young students. He did not want to convey fear to the national press that would then have gone all across the world. So instead, he collected his thoughts. He act with great patience. And when it was appropriate he excused himself from the classroom, without generating any angst. And stepped back into the holding room and kind of the rest is history.

KING: So, you have no doubts about the way that was handled?

CARD: I think he handled it entirely appropriately. You know, he's a very patient man who makes tough, tough, tough decisions. But he does not allow time to make the decisions for him. He makes the tough decisions in time to be implemented. But he is contemplative. He does his homework and he does think.

KING: Andy, the other day I asked him if we can win the war on terror, and he said, yes. I'm told, I didn't see it, that he told Matt Lauer, that you couldn't win the war on terror.

Is there a disparagement here?

CARD: I think there was a little bit of disconnect between the context of what the president was talking about with Matt Lawyer and what he might have said to you. You know, this is not a war like we've had other times.

KING: Not conventional?

CARD: It wasn't against a nation state. You know, we're not fighting a nation. We're fighting a group of people who call themselves terrorists, and they have frequently many different names. So it's not likely that Osama bin Laden will show up at a tent in the desert and say come, I'm ready to give up and sign a peace agreement. It's not likely that you're going to be able to get the heads of the five terrorist organizations that are of significant concern and invite them to a battleship and say, sign a document, and come help us with reconstruction. So I think this war is one where we will prevail. But I don't think there will be a single moment where there will be a peace treaty signed. So, I think that's what the president was talking about.

KING: So therefore, you will prevail, but it will never end, will it?

End-end. There will always be terrorism.

CARD: There are always be terrorists. We will have to be ever vigilant. But we will also know that the world is united in standing against these people who are really looking to invite anarchy first and to replace our system with something that is not good. And the president's appropriate when he calls it evil. It is evil.

KING: What surprises you most about your job?

CARD: It is a seven days a week, 24 hours a day burden that I am so blessed to be able to carry. The president deserves 100 percent of my effort every single day. And if I can't get it, and I can't give it to him, I shouldn't be the chief of staff. And if I don't have his confidence I should not be his chief of staff.

KING: Is it something if he's re-elected you want to continue doing?

CARD: I don't look down the road. My goal is to help him be the best president he can for the United States of America, and make sure that he has all of the resources to be able to make the tough decisions he makes and then once he makes the decision, convey the decisions to the right people at the right time.

KING: But if he asked you to stay, you'd stay?

CARD: I -- I generally believe that you should respond to the call of a president.

KING: A couple of other quick things. It's been reported today by John King, that former secretary of state Baker, has been chosen by the Bush team to be sort of the intermediary for the debates.

Is that true?

CARD: There would be no one better than James A. Baker III. I think that he has, first of all, contributed so much to this country, so much to this party, and so much to presidents, President Reagan, former President Bush and to this president. And I'd like to see him lead the effort to help decide what the format should look like and what the climate should be when presidential debates are decided. But if it hasn't been announced yet, I don't want to announce it now. But I'm leaning in that direction.

KING: We're reporting he's under consideration. Is that good way to report it.

CARD: That is a good way to put it. He's under consideration. And I would say he would be a great choice.

KING: I would say, Andy, based on this, I don't want to go too crazy that he's going to get that post.

CARD: Well, Senator Mitchell, understands how respected Jim Baker is. Secretary Baker, is one of the best. KING: All right, one of two quick more things.

This going to be a very close election?

CARD: I think it will be a close election. But, you know, We came into this convention with more momentum in the positive direction than the pundits predicted there would be.

KING: Right.

CARD: And I think we will come out of this convention with even greater momentum. So I feel it could be such that there will be a great surprise, and the president will have a great victory. But we're going to work very hard to make sure that all of those electoral votes that have a chance to go with the president will go with the president. And there are some tough states.

KING: Will it be mean-spirited?

CARD: You know, People say every campaign is the most mean- spirited campaign. I think the worst campaigns in terms of mean- spiritedness were probably in the late 1800s.

KING: Yes. (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

CARD: That was before television. But, you know, I think this campaign is one where the president will be talking about the future. I think John Kerry out in Boston at the convention had a great tendency to talk about the past. And I think the American people want to talk about the future. And the president has laid a solid foundation for economic growth. He's doing something to make sure that every single child gets a good education so that they'll be able to have a good job in the 21st century. And he'll talk on Thursday night about what he'll do to help inspire greater hope for this world.

KING: So we'll hear an agenda?

CARD: It's going to be a great speech. You'll find that the president will touch on all of the things that are important to the American people because this president is talking about the future.

KING: Good seeing you, Andy. We'll see a lot of you.

CARD: Thank you very much, Larry.

KING: Andy Card, the chief of staff.

When we come back, Julie Nixon Eisenhower and David Eisenhower. Then back with our panel. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back. Later in the midnight show, former senator Alan Simpson, former governor Mario Cuomo and others will go at it. Our panel will rejoin us in a little while. But let's spend some moments with two old friends, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the younger daughter of Richard and Pat Nixon. She's a bestselling author and public speaker. And David Eisenhower, Julie's husband, the grandson of Dwight David Eisenhower, bestselling historian, great baseball fan and director of the Institute for Public Service at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. You look more like your grandfather every day. It's getting remarkable.

DAVID EISENHOWER, GRANDSON OF PRES. EISENHOWER: I'm surprised.

KING: I feel like I'm with Ike.

EISENHOWER: There are easy ways to look like my grandfather, I think.

KING: How long have you two been married now?

JULIE NIXON EISENHOWER, DAUGHTER OF PRES. NIXON: Thirty-six years.

KING: It will never last. I told you it wouldn't last. Your first convention, you were 12 years old.

NIXON EISENHOWER: 12 years old. And that was the famous convention at least for my father, when he said, "when Mr. Khrushchev says that our children will live under communism, let us say to him, your children will live in freedom. And that was...

KING: 1960.

NIXON EISENHOWER: ...30 years later the Iron Curtain fell. But I remember it very well. I was 12, but, you know, the excitement in the hall. You can feel that here tonight.

KING: What was your first convention?

EISENHOWER: My first convention was 1968. Julie and I were engaged at the time, and we were talking about it on the way over, and how times have changed. Julie and I, in Miami, probably sat in the room with the ultimate nominee of the party, who for the last time ever in American history did not know with the opening of the balloting whether the nomination was his or not. We sat in the room in Miami, with aides all around the room, on the phone, the delegations...

KING: Nixon/Rockefeller, right?

EISENHOWER: Nixon/Rockefeller/Reagan.

NIXON EISENHOWER: And Reagan was in there, too.

KING: That's right.

EISENHOWER: So we don't have nominating conventions now. What we have is really the equivalent of day three and day four of the convention.

KING: Right. This is affirmation. EISENHOWER: This is affirmation, yes.

KING: Do you still like coming?

NIXON EISENHOWER: It's always exciting. And this year we have some students from the University of Pennsylvania with us. I think young people are interested this year, Larry. There's a real intense interest in the issues, and we really see an interest with the young that we've come in contact with.

EISENHOWER: Other than that it's involvement. I watch these things at the University of Pennsylvania. There were a number of students involved in the 2000 campaign but this year I would say twice as many in both camps. That is Republican and Democrat. So certainly at the college level, I haven't seen this kind of activism for years.

KING: You think there should be more mentions and salutes to your father and father-in-law?

NIXON EISENHOWER: No. They're old history.

KING: Really?

NIXON EISENHOWER: Yes. I mean, I think that you can talk about them when you want to talk about some certain achievements. But, the focus has got to be on this year. There are a lot of important things happening in the country. And I think the public really wants to hear from Kerry about what his vision is and what Bush's vision is.

KING: OK. They say we have a problem with your mic.

NIXON EISENHOWER: I was saying I think the public wants to know what the vision of these men is. I don't think they want the old history. You know, there are too many important things happening in the world today.

KING: David, you're a political pro. You've seen these things. Is this going to be a very vituperative campaign?

EISENHOWER: I think that they may be getting out of the system right now. This convention is an opportunity to say a certain phase of this campaign is over. And now it's incumbent on both candidates to lay out an agenda for the future. I think that's what people are waiting for this week at the Republican convention I think that this is something that the campaign is really going to bring to light.

KING: Your father was part of the first major presidential debate.

NIXON EISENHOWER: Yes.

KING: That affected that election. People who heard it on the radio thought your father won, on television looked like Kennedy won. How important will these debates be?

NIXON EISENHOWER: I think they'll be key. KING: Might they decide it?

NIXON EISENHOWER: I think so. Didn't you think -- I think 2000 it was key. We saw both men up close. And there were some surprises. And I hope they do debate. I hope they have a series of debates.

KING: You expect a very close election, David?

EISENHOWER: You know, actually, Larry. I think -- my hunch this year is that we're going to see this election break one way or another.

KING: Really?

EISENHOWER: That's what -- we do a lot of polling at the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

KING: I know.

EISENHOWER: In fact, the largest, I think, private sector poll there is. And I was talking to the chief of that poll the other day, and she flatly predicted that we would have a winner, clear winner this year. That is...

KING: But not who?

EISENHOWER: Well, she would not say who. So...

NIXON EISENHOWER: You know who we're rooting for. It's looking good.

KING: Gore won Pennsylvania. It's now rated even. How do you see it?

EISENHOWER: It's a tough state. I was talking to Pennsylvanians last night, and they say that they feel that President Bush's up-side is quite large because right now he's not running very well on what we call the "T." The "T" is a conservative part of Pennsylvania. They feel that this is a part of the state that could be brought back by this convention and by presidential visits. So they're very optimistic. In other words, Kerry is as good as he's going to get in Pittsburgh and in Philadelphia. The "T," he's better than expected. So, that's the balance of power.

KING: Julie, it would be great to have your father around just to hear an analysis of this because no one was better.

NIXON EISENHOWER: Well, he loved foreign policy as you know. And that's what energized him and kept him going. So -- well, Bill Safire seems to know what he's thinking. You know, every once in a while he writes a column.

KING: He talks to him.

NIXON EISENHOWER: Talks to him, right.

KING: Good seeing you, David.

EISENHOWER: Very good seeing you.

NIXON EISENHOWER: Thank you, our friend. Good to see you.

KING: Julie Nixon Eisenhower and David Eisenhower. Our panel returns right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with our panel. Let's get down to the floor. Jacque Reid of BET Nightly News is in the Illinois delegation. Any talk about the Senate race?

REID: Not really down here. I did want to mention something. A bit of controversy brewing down here on the floor, Larry. That is some of the delegates, a few of them walking around with band aids with little Purple Hearts on them. They say it's symbolic of talk that when Senator Kerry was over in Vietnam he was not seriously wounded. Now, Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of the DNC had this to say about that. "I call on," I quote, "Giuliani and McCain before they speak to disavow these tactics. I call on these two men to use their power to call on delegates not to disrespect or mock the service of soldiers."

So it's a controversial thing that's going on down here. And we'll have to see what happens from here with that.

KING: Thank you. Very important.

Bob Dole, do you have a reaction to that?

DOLE: Yeah, I don't know why they're doing it. But you can't control delegates. Somebody gets some bright idea that he thinks is going to save the party and save the world, and pretty soon he's peddling it or she's peddling it. And I'm certain there's no possible connection. The last thing President Bush or anybody in the camp wants to do is stir this thing up.

But how are you going to stop it? I mean, I imagine the Democrats had the same thing.

KING: Bob Woodward, what did you make of what Andy Card had to say about winning the war on terror, and the definition differs between what president said to us and what he said this morning on "The Today Show?"

WOODWARD: Well, there is kind of a difference, and, in fact, the president and Vice President Cheney have said this is going to be a war that will last our entire lifetime. But it's true, and there's kind of a nuance here. And I really don't think is particularly significant.

I would be interesting in Senator Mitchell's view of this. I mean, if you look at this convention, and the Iraq war, I was talking to a couple of Republican CEOs recently who were critical of the president on the Iraq war and said here was a war conducted on the basis of weapons of mass destruction threatening us. It turns out not to be the case. And they made the point, in the business world, when you're the CEO and you get that wrong, you don't continue to hold your title.

We are not -- it's very interesting, we're really not having that debate now, and there is -- certainly not at this party, but there is that issue about whether -- which we'd talked about before -- was this a good war or a bad war, a necessary or an unnecessary war?

KING: George?

MITCHELL: Well, obviously there are many issues involved, Larry. First is, when he ran in 2000, President Bush said he would never send American troops abroad unless there was a clear exit strategy. He ridiculed Clinton and Gore for nation-building. Of course, there is no exit strategy in Iraq.

KING: There was no 9/11.

MITCHELL: There was no 9/11. Larry, you're reading my mind. 9/11 occurred, and everything changed. And, in fact, it's had a profound effect on our society, and this convention is based upon that bedrock. That the world changed in 9/11, and what was unacceptable before will be acceptable now, indeed necessary. That's the essential argument that is being made, and therefore, based on that record, the president should be re-elected for another four years.

That's the issue that the American people will be deciding this fall.

KING: Bob Dole, though, does Bob Woodward have a good point when he talks to CEOs who say a CEO doing the same thing would be fired if he based on one principle that wasn't true? No matter where he got the information?

DOLE: Well, I don't know of any CEO that's been fired the last few years. Some of them should have been fired. But they weren't.

But I think what we've got here is everybody believed that this guy had weapons of mass destruction, Democrats, Republicans, President Clinton now, Vice President Gore, John Kerry. I think what's lacking in this so far is for John Kerry to tell the American people what his plan will be in Iraq. I mean, he missed an opportunity in Boston. And I think, you know, I know he's not going to take my advice. But sooner or later, he's going to have to say, this is what I will do if I'm elected. People want to know. Because 9/11 did change the equation. And I really believe that President Bush is strong -- he's got a strong hand. And unless John Kerry really spells it out to the American people, he's going to be in trouble on election day.

KING: Bob Woodward, do you agree that John Kerry's going to have to get more specific on Iraq?

WOODWARD: Well, not only what he would do, and he's addressed some of that, but the question is, what -- about what would a commander in chief, a President Kerry do in the war on terror? What would he do when confronted with situations which are very much like Iraq? What would the role, which has been extensively discussed, what would the role of his vice president be, or his national security adviser, or his secretary of state in making these decisions?

He can answer those questions. But I agree with Senator Dole that a core function of the presidency clearly at this time is commander in chief. And you can't not answer those questions. It's like a dozen years ago, when Clinton was running against Bush Sr., the issue was the economy, and everyone said, OK, what's your plan for the economy? What will you do? And Clinton was very specific. I will reduce the deficit. I will increase taxes on the wealthy. Which he did, and so forth. So the specificity is necessary here.

KING: George, we have less than a minute.

MITCHELL: One point, once again. There is a difference between the war on terror and the war in Iraq. Kerry did not create the mess in Iraq. He must come forward with a clear statement in policy, but he didn't create it. The war on terror was started by others, and we're going to finish it. Whoever the president is. And that's a key issue that he will address, as well.

KING: Should Kerry criticize the war on Iraq?

MITCHELL: I think the most important thing now is how do we get out of the mess there, not how we got there.

KING: Thank you, guys. We'll see you all tomorrow night. And Senator Dole, you'll be with your wife tomorrow night, as well.

And when we come back at midnight, I'll tell you about that, because we have some exciting guests as well. And I'll be turning things over to Wolf Blitzer and his group right after this words. So ends edition number one of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Big hour ahead. I'll be back at midnight. Among the guests will be Senator Allen Simpson, former senator, and former Governor Mario Cuomo.

Right now we turn it over to big hour ahead, as we said, to Wolf Blitzer and his crew -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Larry. Good hour.

KING: Thank you.

BLITZER: We'll be looking forward to midnight with you as well.

This hour, we're standing by. Right now, we're about to hear from John McCain, the maverick Republican, the senator from Arizona, the former POW. He is being introduced by Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina right now. Once John McCain starts speaking, we will go to the podium live. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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