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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Coverage of the Republican National Convention

Aired August 31, 2004 - 00:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to edition number two of LARRY KING LIVE. We're with you twice nightly tonight through Thursday. It's the end of the first night of the Republican National Convention at the most famous indoor arena in the world, Madison Square Garden in New York.
We have an outstanding panel through this year. They are Jacque Reid, anchor of "BET NIGHTLY NEWS," Alan Simpson, former United States senator from Wyoming, Mario Cuomo, the former Democratic governor of New York who gave that famous keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. And he's author of a terrific new book, "Why Lincoln Matters Today More than Ever."

In Miami is Jorge Ramos. He's the anchor for Univision news and author of "The Latin Wave: How Hispanics Will Elect the Next American President." On the floor here at Madison Square Garden is Mo Rocca, our roving reporter, TV personality with "THE TODAY SHOW" and a man in a toga -- it looks that way from here. Not wound up too tight. We'll go to Mo in a little while while he gets control of his senses.

And also on the floor is Candy Crowley.

Alright, we'll start with you Jacque. Sum up of this first night.

JACQUE REID, ANCHOR OF "BET NIGHTLY NEWS": Wow. Incredible. I think McCain, you know, warmed up this audience, but Giuliani hit a home run. He came out and delivered what I think Republicans wanted him to deliver, saying, you know, that George Bush is going to continue, or can continue, to lead this country post-9/11 in the fight against terrorism. And he came out strong against John Kerry, strong criticism tonight against John Kerry, I think just what Republicans wanted him to do.

KING: Governor Cuomo, he ran quite a distance over. Normally Republicans end right on time. What did you make of the former mayor's speech?

MARIO CUOMO, FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: I think that's an accurate description. The Republicans got what they wanted. It's very much like a locker room ceremony. You know, you're playing the other team, and you get your team up, and you say all the right things.

It lacked logic, frankly. I mean both speeches, both McCain's and Giuliani's started with one proposition, that Bush is doing a great job, because he's fighting the war on terrorism. And they include the war against Iraq as the war on terrorism.

Of course, the big question is, when you went to Iraq, didn't you walk away from the war on terrorism in Afghanistan? That they didn't deal with. But when you're in a locker room, and it's only your team, you don't deal with those niceties.

KING: Senator Simpson. Good to see you again, Alan.

FORMER SEN. ALAN SIMPSON, (R) WYOMING: Larry, good to see you.

Being an old jock, you know, having played basketball...

KING: Played in the locker room.

SIMPSON: ... football in college...

KING: So did Cuomo. He played baseball.

SIMPSON: Oh, he did. I've seen pictures of him, scooping them up and throwing them across.

I thought it was remarkable in the sense of the excitement, but John McCain in those last few sentences of his talk, I mean, that was meat to the tigers.

KING: The highlight to you of the night?

SIMPSON: Well, yes, but then Rudy, Rudy was Rudy tonight. And he was just this warm, wonderful guy that he does, and he was whacking on John Kerry like nobody else wants to do. You've got to have a designated whacker.

(LAUGHTER)

And he was designated whacker. They've been waiting for that.

KING: At the Democratic Convention, I think Sharpton was the only one who whacked the president, right? They really didn't whack the president.

REID: He was the first one to come out harsh against the president. And he went long, and you know, got criticized for that. I don't think anybody's going to be criticizing Giuliani tonight.

KING: He didn't go as long as Giuliani.

REID: No.

KING: Jorge Ramos in Miami, what's your viewpoint from down south?

JORGE RAMOS, UNIVISION: Well, I think you have to recognize that Republicans can deliver a very direct message. This is a dangerous world, be afraid. President Bush is the strongest candidate, at least stronger than John Kerry. That's the message. But also to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and after being part of the 9/11 report, he was (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that if you are a Republican in the Madison Square Garden, you might get the impression that 9/11 was directly linked to the war in Iraq. And, as we know, of course, Saddam Hussein had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. So it was very interesting to see from Miami what's going on in New York.

KING: Candy Crowley, what was your perspective? I know you're by the New York -- where the New York delegation sat from the floor.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First let me tell you, there's a little something happening right now. I'm going to ask the cameraman to see if he can go up to -- if you can see the stage at all. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a little preview for tomorrow, Larry, of the governor of California. Going to be another moderate to talk here.

Look, I agree with pretty much everything that's been said. I thought John McCain did exactly what they wanted him to do, as well as didn't go further than he wanted to, which is to say he doesn't want to criticize John Kerry.

I certainly agree with Senator Simpson that the last couple of moments of John McCain's speech was definitely a sort of, you know, go at them, go at them. And it really wasn't a sort of a political go at them, so much as a, "we've got to keep on with this war. Don't give up. Don't flag," which is really the case that George Bush is going to have to make. So I thought it was a really good primer moving on to Thursday.

KING: And the ever present, omnipresent, Mo Rocca on the floor. Your analysis of the -- Mo, we're over here.

MO ROCCA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Larry, I'm sorry. Rudy Giuliani is next.

KING: Oh, I can't hear Mo.

ROCCA: No, Larry, Rudy Giuliani's actually still speaking right now. Forgive me, I didn't want to interrupt him right now. He's now describing how Genghis Khan's armies terrorized the steps of Russia, and somehow that relates to Bush standing in the rubble at Ground Zero. That's I guess that twelfth mention of that scene.

I have to say, Giuliani tonight make Castro seem pithy. I mean, it was a long speech. Not that I didn't like it. There were some great lines.

But for me, the highlight tonight was McCain's speech, and especially that moment with Michael Moore that generated so much attention for Michael Moore. I guess it would have been too much trouble to actually hoist Michael Moore up on to a cross and nail him to it. It was almost as good to have the whole crowd booing him. And I hope that McCain is getting 10 percent of the take from the movie, because it's about to shoot to the top of the box office again.

KING: Jacque, didn't he do what Michael Moore wanted?

REID: Exactly. Michael Moore wants attention for "Fahrenheit 9/11." That's why he's here tonight at a Republican Convention after putting out a documentary trashing President Bush, heavily criticizing President Bush. He wanted that attention. He loved it. He ate it up, if you saw his reaction.

KING: Mario, you're a great speaker. Was that good instinct on the part of McCain or not?

CUOMO. Yes. No, I thought both speeches were...

KING: I mean to go to Moore.

CUOMO: Yes. Well, it was easy shot, though. I'm sure that Michael enjoyed it, frankly. He hasn't gotten that much recognition since France. So...

KING: You represented Michael Moore, did you not?

CUOMO: I did. I represented him on the question of the ratings, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) question of the film itself, my own position was -- and I watched it three times before I represented it. I thought it raised some very interesting questions. It didn't prove a lot, the film. And I didn't think it should be taken as an attempt to prove thing, but it did raise questions about why you flew the bin Ladens out, et cetera.

KING: Alan Simpson, why is this race so close?

SIMPSON: Well, I think the American people are confounded. They didn't mention Michael Moore's name, as some people might think his name is Dig Ingenuous. But, I mean, it's going to be close because there are people that hate George Bush and hate Dick Cheney. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) campaign. I've never seen pure hate, except when they were after Clinton, which I thought was absurd with the impeachment. I thought a censure would have been quite appropriate. And that would have passed 100-0.

But this is pure hate. When you get hate into a campaign, pure hate, pure white thought, you know, hate, that throws off on the balance wheels and the little, you know, field notes and all that crap.

KING: Let's bring in Gideon Yago. Gideon is up in the upper booth at Madison -- I'm hearing Candy Crowley talk and laugh at the same time, so I'm trying to understand where I'm at. Anyway, Gideon is a key correspondent for MTV's "Choose or Lose" coverage of the 2004 campaign.

Gideon, what's your read on tonight?

GIDEON YAGO, MTV CORRESPONDENT: I thought it was the start of a big week that's all going to be at about a moderate message. In 2000, the Republicans wanted to set out that they're a party of inclusion. I think that they're going to try and bring in the swing voters by keeping their most moderate face forward. And I think, of what you heard of tonight, having the surrogates do the attacking for President Bush, and just a lot of faces of popular moderates is just what you're going to see and hear all week.

KING: That was not, Gideon, a moderate speech by Mayor Giuliani, was it?

YAGO: No, not -- he went out and he came out -- and he was doing the attacking. And I think it's good that President Bush is trying to distance himself from that and keep the campaign, you know, keep at least his rhetoric not as confrontational. But the truth of the matter is this is a nasty and bitter fight, and it's only going to probably get nastier and bitterer as we get close to election day.

KING: We'll be back with more of LARRY KING LIVE, picking right up with Governor Cuomo's thoughts. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Thursday night, by the way, three generations of Bushes. George Bush number 41, the 41st president of the United States, one of his sons and his grandson. Three generations of Bushes on Thursday night. Tomorrow night, Elizabeth Dole and others in the early segment.

And we're back with our panel. Let's start with Jacque Reid on this. Ed Brooke, former United States senator, the first African- American senator in Monday's "New York Times" said: "I see alarming parallels between the disastrous convention of 1964 and this week's convention. Now, as then, many of the candidates advisers and supporters show signs of arrogance, self-righteousness, intolerance, and of losing touch with basic values of the majority of Americans. I spent much of my political career unsuccessfully trying to bring black voters into the Republican Party. It was a difficult task. It remains so."

REID: I agree with that. I mean, the Republican Party, 1 percent of this party is African-American. Six percent of the delegates here are African-American, and the Republican Party says that they want to reach out to blacks. But African-Americans still feel a disconnect. They don't feel that the Republican Party is sincere about that.

Yes, there are those who feel that the Democratic Party takes them for granted among African-Americans, but they feel Republicans don't try sincerely enough at all.

KING: Senator Simpson?

SIMPSON: Well, you know, I come from a state with a very low black population, probably 6, 7 percent. I have tried the outreach. I happen to be pro-choice. I believe very much that this constitutional amendment on gay marriage is a real mistake. As soon as they get away from that, the better off. And I'm not in favor of gay marriage, but for heaven's sakes, it feels like a mean spirited thing. But in the outreach to blacks, it just doesn't work. We don't get anything coming back. It's...

KING: Why?

SIMPSON: Well, you know, I just think that -- you know, you can't stereotype a wonderful group like that, but I think they just don't like Republicans. They're raised not to like Republicans. They think Republicans are monsters.

KING: When we were kids, Mario, they loved Republicans. They were the party of Lincoln. What happened?

CUOMO: Well, the Republicans stopped being Lincoln. Lincoln was a progressive. Lincoln was concerned, and this party doesn't give any evidence of that.

If you take tonight as the lead-off of the Republican Party in making its case, it did not make a very good case at all. It made one case...

KING: The war against terror?

CUOMO: It never even mentioned domestic problems.

REID: And these -- and terrorism isn't something that African- American voters are overly concerned with.

KING: They're not? They die like others.

REID: But according to our polls they're not.

CUOMO: Look, in the face of the evidence this week, more poor people than ever, the middle-class sinking, health care diminishing, 4 million more people lost their health care, not even a word. It's as though there was no domestic agenda, and if you look at the polls, the agenda is domestic first. That's what the people are concerned about.

And, also, on Iraq and terrorism, again, let me repeat: Their position is the war in Iraq was the war against terrorism. It wasn't the war against terrorism. There were no terrorists in Iraq until we went there. And we went there on three propositions, each one of which was wrong, Weapons of mass destruction, complicity and imminence of threat.

Even the president had to admit I was wrong about all three. And so to build your structure -- OK, you can rouse the troops in the locker room. But you're not going to win an argument with that kind of (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

KING: But your party's candidate says he would have gone, too, knowing all he knows now, he still would have gone.

CUOMO: No, he didn't say that. And he didn't say what Giuliani said. He did not say he was the war candidate. That was an interview with Chris Matthews. It was the first words were "Yes," in the primary, "Yes, I might be considered anti-war," dot, dot, dot, and then he explained that away. They took the dots out, the rest of the sentence they ran just the top of it. Rudy used it tonight.

SIMPSON: You and I have been through all that as public figures. That's how you splice and do it. We know that.

KING: Jorge, last night, you explained the Latino vote and the Republican Party. That was Sunday night, and some of our viewers may have missed it. You said, "Bush must get 30 percent plus of the Latino vote to win."

RAMOS: What we have seen since Ronald Reagan is that every Republican candidate who gets more than 30 percent of the Hispanic vote wins the White House. The last poll that I saw from the Washington Post said that, at this point, President Bush has about 30 percent of the Latino vote. What's interesting is that the Latino vote is up for grabs.

What we are seeing is that Hispanic voters tend to be more conservative, more religious, and therefore, they tend to side more with the Republican side in terms of values. But when it comes to issues like affirmative action, like bilingual education, and especially this emphasis on economic issues, poverty, on employment. Therefore, many Hispanic voters tend to side more with the Democrats when it comes to issues.

But, yes, President Bush needs to get at least 30 percent of the Hispanic vote to have a chance for reelection.

KING: How many Hispanics at this convention? Do we know the percentage?

RAMOS: Yes, and it's only 6 percent of all the delegates and alternates that are Latinos, which is not enough. Latinos are about 14 percent of all the people in the United States. So just to have 6 percent of Hispanic delegates, it is not enough.

And, also, when you are seeing the speakers in prime time, we are only going to have two Hispanic speakers in prime time. Brian Sandoval, who's the attorney general of Nevada, who's not very well- known nationwide. And then tomorrow we're going to hear George P. Bush, the nephew of President George W. Bush, who's been, actually, studying law for the last four years.

So what's going on with the Congressman from Miami, Diaz-Balart, or Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, or Henry Bonilla from Texas. They're going to be speaking, but not in prime time.

KING: Gideon Yago, what about the Republicans and the vote of the young?

YAGO: I think they want to hear a real platform come out of this convention and a real plan. Because the issues at stake, specifically the war and the economy, they just want answers on how it's going to get turned around.

KING: Why don't young people vote in greater numbers, Gideon?

YAGO: I think that's -- I don't know. I mean, 18 million of them voted in 2000. That's a lot.

KING: Out of how many?

YAGO: Out of about 40 million. We're hoping to get 20 million to the polls on election day. I think, you know, that's a huge number when you're talking about 55,000 in certain states, and soccer moms or NASCAR dads. You have an untapped well, this echo to the Baby Boom that's up to vote this year.

And I think the party here over the next four weeks would do good to put together a concrete platform that, you know, young voters can understand and young voters see as sort of a solution to the problems of the last four years.

KING: Mo Rocca, where are you now and what are your thoughts?

ROCCA: Well, I'm right by Alabama. Alabama has my favorite state quarter. It's the one with Helen Keller on back. I'm assuming that Helen Keller was either raised in Alabama or maybe vacationed on the Gulf coast. I'm not sure about that. There's no reason she couldn't enjoy a tan. Why not?

I just wanted to say one thing. All week, obviously, if tonight is any indication, we're going to hear about 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 24/7. We're not going to hear a lot from social conservatives, it seems like, at least, right now.

And, in fact, most of the $70 million that have apportioned for security have been used for an electronic fence, an impenetrable electronic fence around the stage here. And also social conservatives will have a collar around them so that as they get too close to the stage, they'll be repelled. So that's an innovation that's just being used this year.

May I also add...

KING: Yes.

ROCCA: ... how thrilled I am tonight to be co-starring with Senator Alan Simpson. I'm a huge fun of Senator Simpson. I think he's very funny. And I loved him in the Clarence Thomas hearings. You and Nina Totenberg are the Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell of my generation.

SIMPSON: We danced together and sing together. We have done that.

KING: We'll take a break and be back. And, again, advise Mo to get the cold compress.

We'll also include your phone calls, as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Day and night one of the Republican National Convention is history. We're at Madison Square Garden in New York with two shows every night through Thursday Night. And we've got an outstanding panel with us. We'll be including your phone calls, as well.

Senator Simpson, I know you're a close friend of Dick Cheney. You fish together, hunt together, go back a long way together. He ruffled some conservative feathers last week with comments about same- sex marriage. He discussed his daughter, Mary, being gay. What are your thoughts?

SIMPSON: Well, I know him well. And some people say, I heard some of the troops out there saying that this was done so that he could break away from the constitutional amendment and this was contrived. I can tell you, Dick Cheney's a lot of things, but there's nothing contrived about him. He's authentic.

And I think he and Lynne that night, and I think it was in Iowa, and they were asked questions. They're accessible to the media. They're visiting with the media, and when they said, "We have a daughter who's lesbian," and "freedom for an American means freedom for everybody." And they really mean that deep in their gut. I've seen that.

And Mary was there. She's a marvelous woman. I've known her since she was eight years old, and her companion, Heather Poe. These are important things to deal with. Those come from your gut. They're not out of the political handbag of -- you know, let's do this. I think they just realized this was something they wanted to say.

KING: Jacque, what's the effect on the party do you think?

REID: I don't think that it's going to have a tremendous effect on the party. I don't think it will be overwhelming. I think, if anything, it might pull some more folks into the party, you know, Cheney taking a different position from the president.

KING: Were you surprised?

REID: Was I surprised? No. I don't think so. I don't think that -- I think Cheney has felt this way for a long time. We've heard, you know, hints of it, you know, before he made this statement.

KING: In the debate with Joe Lieberman, he mentioned it.

REID: Yes, he's always supported his daughter.

KING: Governor?

CUOMO: I think this is a completely phony issue.

KING: The whole issue?

CUOMO: I think the constitutional amendment's a phony issue, exactly like the constitutional amendment on abortion. The Republicans have had in their platform for years and years, since 1980, a position that they were going to have a constitutional amendment against abortion, all abortion, even to save the life of the mother. They don't go anywhere near it, and they're not going to go anywhere near a constitutional amendment on gay marriage.

KING: You're not saying Bush doesn't believe it?

CUOMO: It is a complete -- I don't know what he believes. Only God knows that. But this is complete phony as a political issue. It's used to rouse. They will not advance it. They will not vote on it anymore than they will on abortion.

SIMPSON: But I don't think they ever proposed a constitutional amendment on abortion. It's always a platform thing, but this one doesn't fit a Republican philosophy when you believe in states' rights. If Wyoming doesn't want gay marriage, they won't have it. And Massachusetts does, so let them do whatever they...

KING: Jorge, is it a big issue in the Latino community?

RAMOS: No, it's not a very big issue, but -- and, also, we have to understand that Latinos tend to be more conservative than the rest of America.

KING: Yes.

RAMOS: But, also, what's interesting is that what we're discussing right now about the constitutional amendment is portraying the Republican Party as the party of inclusion, not only about homosexuality, but also about immigration. And it's very interesting that you have Senator Alan Simpson, but I think he's responsible for one of the most important pieces of immigration and legislation in that respect in the United States.

So if we're talking about a party of inclusion, I would like also to ask him, I mean, what is this party going to do about the 8 or 9 million undocumented immigrants living in this country? They are not criminals. They are not terrorists. They are not responsible for 9/11. They are contributing more than $10 billion to the economy of this country, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

So what is the Republican Party going to do specifically about these 8 or 9 million undocumented immigrants? Are they going to include them? Are they part of America?

SIMPSON: A better question would be, what are the Democratic Party going to do? Because when you try to do that, you are in a situation where they're saying, wait a minute. We're not going to give a legal status to people who decided to leave their country.

This is not something that they were forced to do. They left their country and they've come here. And I say, if they're not legal, they're going to be exploited. And no one is going to get up on their hind legs and legalize 7, 8 or 9 million people, so don't blame the Republican Party for that. I've been in this game a long time.

RAMOS: But something has to be done, Senator. KING: What do you do about them though? They are a fact.

SIMPSON: Yes, they are a fact. OK, well then, run them through the system legally, and don't pretend that you bring them here temporarily. There's never been a temporary immigration situation. There's no such thing as a temporary person. They come here. They have families. They raise families and they are permanent.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I've got a break and I'll come -- I'm sorry, go ahead.

(CROSSTALK)

RAMOS: I just wanted to know if he's against what President Bush has proposed, these guest worker programs, the temporary worker programs...

SIMPSON: You have to have a bipartisan immigration policy. So if you're out talking about a Republican policy or a Democratic policy, you're failing.

KING: Mo, why are you dressed the way you're dressed, before we go to break?

ROCCA: Well, I thought you could tell, Larry. I'm an anarchist. Anarchists are the protesters that have been in the protester dog house for years. I mean, everyone can agree that they don't like anarchists. But I thought I'd dress up as one, a New York anarchist, a Soho anarchist.

Every since Emma Goldman inspired Leon Czolgosz to gun down William McKinley, anarchists have gotten a bad rap. It's just not fair. So I'm just trying to help redeem them.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: ...Americans. We're Americans and we'll never surrender. They will.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Home of the New York Knicks, the Rangers and the Republican National Convention, Madison Square Garden in the heart of a very secured New York City.

Let's reintroduce our panel. Jacque Reid, anchor of BET Nightly News; Alan Simpson, former United States Senator, Republican of Wyoming; Mario Cuomo, the former Democratic Governor of New York who gave that historic keynote address 20 years ago in San Francisco; Gideon Yago, Gideon is a key correspondent for MTV's Choose or Lose coverage of the 2004 campaign in Miami; Jorge Ramos, anchor of Univision News.

Here on the Madison Square Garden floor is Mo Rocca, our roving reporter, got a new book coming called "All the President's Pets;" and, on the floor as well, we'll get one more report from Candy Crowley, our CNN Senior Political Correspondent and an analyst of Mo Rocca.

Candy, has Mr. Schwarzenegger concluded his rehearsal?

CROWLEY: He has concluded is rehearsal. Here's the good news. He gave part of his speech, which they showed up on the teleprompter up here.

KING: Oh.

CROWLEY: So, he's going to talk about his immigrant roots, so maybe you should have Senator Simpson back and we can...

KING: Oh, he is going to discuss that?

CROWLEY: He is, yes, you know, the American immigrant story, that kind of thing. I mean all of these guys McCain, Giuliani, Schwarzenegger have all picked areas around which they can embrace the president and left the other things to other days.

KING: And the crowd reacted favorably tonight to both McCain and Giuliani, did they not?

CROWLEY: They did, yes, and it's interesting because certainly among the conservative base of the Republican Party, McCain had a few problems of late.

KING: Yes.

CROWLEY: For instance, he is against tax cuts for the -- in the upper brackets. He opposes the gay marriage, the amendment on gay marriage, any number of things, so they really warmly embraced him and part of that is because he did the message that George Bush needs to do, which is to say, listen, this was a right war.

This was a just war and here are the reasons why and he laid out a really credible case from a man that they all know outside this hall is well respected where they really need him to be and that's among the swing voters.

KING: Candy Crowley, as always, thank you, see you tomorrow night.

CROWLEY: OK.

KING: One of the best reporters in the business.

Let's go to a call, Santa Cruz, California, hello.

CALLER FROM CALIFORNIA: Hi, Larry. We love your show.

KING: Hi. Thank you.

CALLER: In one of the, I have to ask, in one of the keynote speeches tonight a reference was made equating Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler to George Bush and Saddam Hussein. What do you and the panel think about this comparison? Thank you.

KING: I think it was Mr. Giuliani made it -- Governor Cuomo.

CUOMO: Well, Winston Churchill, I mean, was described as a visionary who saw the problem with Germany. I don't think that history is correct. I think by the time Great Britain got into it September 19th, I think it was, or thereabouts it was very clear what the German threat was, very clear.

As a matter of fact, the British sat back with the French and watched Poland get taken, so the case was very, very clear indeed and Winston Churchill wasn't a courageous person. So, the Bush/Churchill situation, a lot of people know Winston Churchill and they also know George Bush is no Winston Churchill.

SIMPSON: I knew you were going to (UNINTELLIGIBLE) out of there.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and Hitler was compared to Hussein, right, in that same (UNINTELLIGIBLE.)

Clarksburg, West Virginia hello.

CALLER FROM WEST VIRGINIA: Yes sir, Mr. King. Thank you for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: I'm a 28-year-old black male. I've never voted before. This will be the first year I'll vote and I've been out of a job for almost a year. All I seem to hear about is Iraq and terrorism. I'm on the verge of getting my house taken, my car taken. I'd just like to know when is somebody in the Republican Party going to help me and my family? Thank you.

KING: Alan.

SIMPSON: It's a tough, you know, I'm no wizard. You know there are a lot of -- there are white guys who are in the same situation, so I mean you can't drop that and say that that's a black issue. I know that's not what you're supposed to say.

REID: Twice as many African Americans are unemployed as white Americans, so it's -- it's a tougher issue for African Americans.

SIMPSON: And then you get to education and find out that more black Americans are failing in education.

REID: Exactly. SIMPSON: So if you don't have an education you can't get a good job and so there it goes. And then you go off into the things that divide America. That's where you go when you go with that.

KING: Are they not going to have to get to domestic issues?

CUOMO: Well, see, I think they're going to try to evade it and you know how they're going to evade and I hope the United States doesn't let them get away with it, they're going to start talking about a new program for the next four years like they finished their program for the last four years.

The one thing they don't want to do is what Ronald Reagan said you should do to justify a second term, prove that you have made this country better than it was when you got here and, if Bush -- President Bush has to take that test he fails miserably.

So, what they're going to come with is a whole new set of programs that they're going to promise you for the next four years when they're leaving this guy out of work, more people -- they have the worst record since Hoover. You better explain that because you're not going to fool Americans by saying, "Give me another shot at it. I'll be better next time around."

KING: All right. How will they answer the question, Jorge, are you better off now than you were four years ago?

RAMOS: Well, we have the statistics from the Census Bureau. There is more people living in poverty than three years ago, more people lacking health insurance than three years ago. The family income has decreased for three straight years.

So, I think we understand that we are not doing better than three or four years ago and especially after 9/11, so I think they're rephrasing the sentence and especially this idea. They're not asking are we doing better than four years ago?

They're asking the question are we safer after 9/11 and I think most Republicans, at least they want to answer and we saw it this night, they want to say, yes, we are safer with George W. Bush.

REID: And they've got to jump to the issues. They've got to deal with creating jobs in this country. They've got to do it.

KING: You say they have to do that?

REID: They have to do that.

KING: They can't just stay on a war theme?

REID: They cannot ride this wave through the end of this convention.

KING: Gideon.

GIDEON YAGO, MTV NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The last caller had it. The fact of the matter is, especially for young voters, is the number one issue out there is getting a job and how tough it is to get a job, especially when you're sinking lots and lots and lots of money into a college education that our parents and our grandparents didn't necessarily need to get a place at the table.

But if there's no real platform or proposal or plan that comes out of this, out of these next four days, I don't think that it's going to really work out between young voters and the Republican National Convention.

KING: But, Governor Cuomo, is John Kerry going to rise to that occasion?

CUOMO: He's going to have to.

KING: Can he bring the case?

CUOMO: He's going to have to. I do not believe that the Democrats can win by allowing the Republicans to lose. I think, you know, President Bush...

KING: You can't let it be a referendum on Bush?

CUOMO: No. You've got to have a positive case and I think from now, from the end of this convention until November 2nd that's the challenge for the Democrats. It's not enough to be critical. It's going to be easy to be critical to be honest. There's plenty to be critical about but you have to add to that your positive case and I'm sure that they will.

KING: Alan.

SIMPSON: Yes, it's the old game. What are you going to do, John?

CUOMO: That's right. Well, that's a legitimate question.

SIMPSON: I'd be very wary of Johnny Kerry. I served with him. I like the guy. I know Teresa when she was married to John Heinz. They're lovely friends but John was not a force in the Senate. He was there...

KING: Neither was John Kennedy.

SIMPSON: No but John wasn't -- Kennedy wasn't there that long. John Kerry was there for 14, 16 years and, of course, he was under the shadow of Ted Kennedy and the issues he was interested in were also Ted's issues, so there was no way that he could win it against Ted.

KING: So, he was a classic junior Senator.

SIMPSON: Sure but there was no interaction functioning that I ever had with him.

KING: He was not a great Senator. SIMPSON: Oh, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying he's a man that has trouble with decisions and I don't think the American people are going to look toward somebody, they may not like Bush and you can talk about Churchill and all the rest of it but they did like Churchill and they kind of got that he went to the locker room...

KING: He lost.

SIMPSON: He did lose and so did Sadat.

KING: After the war.

SIMPSON: And so did -- well after lost in a big way and so did Gorbachev. A leader makes enemies and so Bush is a leader and he's made enemies. I don't think John Kerry would ever have enemies because he would try to assuage one and the other and the other and the other.

CUOMO: Let me be fair to Kerry. He had -- John Kerry. He has promoted a very big number. He can take $1 trillion back into the budget and spend it on things like health care and education if you take it from the $200,000 and up.

That's $1 trillion over 11 years and that's his position. Now, the Republicans say that's a tax increase. It would be on about two million taxpayers and it would serve the rest of the country.

He also has a health care plan and the health care plan is significant, so it's not as though he hasn't offered. And, as to outsourcing, he did make arguments about how you could reduce the jobs being lost by outsourcing and so he's made a positive case.

KING: Let me ask...

CUOMO: He has to build on that from the end of this convention to Election Day.

KING: When we come back we'll ask on the value of the debates and the importance of the debates. Mo Rocca, your comment as we go to break.

ROCCA: Well, I just want to take exception to something Governor Cuomo said and a lot of Democrats have said it comparing Bush's jobs record to Herbert Hoover's. Herbert Hoover was a native of Iowa, the only president from Iowa.

It's an unfair comparison. Let me explain why. Herbert Hoover was a true internationalist. The man spoke Chinese. He helped to arrange China's entire railway system as head of the American relief commission at the outset of World War I.

He was responsible for the safe passage of 200,000 Americans that were stranded in Europe and he also arranged for the food relief of up to 18 million French and Belgians that would have starved otherwise, so Herbert Hoover was really, really an impressive man and so this comparison I think is really unfair. KING: All right. Mr. Cuomo, Governor Cuomo, stands humbled and corrected.

And we'll be back with more after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDOLPH GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: We're just not going to let the terrorists determine where we have political conventions, where we go, how we travel. We're Americans, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: There are the balloons, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) balloons that didn't come down in Boston. Will they come down Thursday night in New York? Key questions to be answered later this week.

Another call is from Dallas, Texas, hello.

CALLER FROM TEXAS: Hi, Larry. I'm just wondering do you think the two party system or Electoral College system might ignore certain votes or issues which might otherwise be recognized in a popular vote?

KING: Ah-ha and what paper called, I think it was the "Post" or the "Times" called for a...

SIMPSON: "Times."

KING: "The New York Times," what do you think of that Gideon, just a popular vote, no more electoral vote?

YAGO: Sure. I think you'd see a lot more national issues get pushed to the forefront and you'd hear the big debate about big issues. Right now the debate is being pushed on issues like gay marriage, specifically to divide or create divisive environments in key swing states.

I think that would change if you had a national electorate as opposed to an Electoral College where your whole platform would be, "What am I going to do that's going to serve the nation at large" as opposed to these, you know, boutique interests that affect a certain strategy that's going to help win the house of cards for one team or the other.

KING: Jorge, would the Latino community favor an end to the Electoral College or not?

RAMOS: I don't think so because if we would have a different system to vote, then many of the issues that we can discuss right now because Latinos are concentrated in just a few states, many (UNINTELLIGIBLE) states, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, might not be discussed at all. For instance, the issue of Cuba, Cuban Americans had about three percent of the Hispanic population and these might be a deciding factor in Florida. Maybe Florida will decide again this election and maybe the issue of traveling to Cuba that, by the way President Bush has restricted to only one trip every three years, might be the deciding factor but if we were to change the system, then these issues wouldn't be discussed.

KING: Governor.

CUOMO: Yes, no, I -- he makes a good and interesting point. I think overall, if you had a referendum in this country, people would vote overwhelmingly for the popular vote. It's just, you know, it feels easy. It feels more sensible. The point just made is an intelligent political point but I don't think it would sustain a victory in a plebiscite of the whole people.

REID: And especially after what -- what happened in 2000 and I mean among those disenfranchised voters, a large number of them African Americans and we were talking earlier about what, you know, the Republican Party can do to outreach to African Americans.

And, you know, we were saying that, you know, Republicans often talk about things like health care, jobs at election time, general issues but when it comes down to specifics like disenfranchised voters, I mean two million African American voters, you know, were left out of the process they feel.

Will the Republican Party step up and bring in federal monitors for this election? That's something that members of the Congressional Black Caucus are, you know, they're calling for.

SIMPSON: Well, you know...

REID: That's something that blacks are passionate about and, if Republicans would step up on issues like that, affirmative action.

SIMPSON: Well, I tell you the Democrats have told them that all the time and never deliver so, you know, what is to be expected of nine percent of the Republicans who vote for, you know, try to help the black party, the black community and we get nine percent of the vote every single time. It doesn't matter what we do, so what are you laying it on us for?

KING: Back to the popular vote question.

SIMPSON: You don't vote for us. You don't care.

KING: We don't want to gang up on Alan.

REID: Oh, no, no, no, I'm not ganging up on Alan.

SIMPSON: No.

KING: Yes, you are.

REID: No, I'm not. He's saying that they're reaching out and I'm saying we don't' see the hands reaching out.

KING: OK.

SIMPSON: Well, how about the black people must be awfully tired of listening to the gibberish from the Democratic Party about what we're doing for you and they don't do it when they have the power.

REID: Yes, but when a party embraces someone like a Trent Lott, it's hard for I think African Americans to feel that they're welcome.

SIMPSON: How about Jesse Jackson? If you want to talk about hypocrisy, try Jesse. I mean you got your own. Try Sharpton. I mean, you know.

KING: Mo Rocca, as we go to break, what do you think of the idea of having a popular vote, the end of the Electoral College?

ROCCA: Well, I love the Electoral College because, if you live in New York like I do, which is a lock (ph) then you never have to see a campaign ad, I'm serious. It makes it great.

Can I just say for a moment here that I've been waiting to talk about Kentucky. Kentucky has my two favorite Republicans. It has Abraham Lincoln and it has Loretta Lynn, Loretta Lynn, of course, married at age 13. She had seven kids by the time she was 15.

Her husband gave her a guitar one day for her birthday. She started plucking out tunes and she became a star and that is a great story and something we can all be inspired by.

KING: And has nothing to do with the Electoral College but it's nevertheless interesting.

ROCCA: No, but it's a nice little factor to tuck away. But I also wanted to...

KING: Quickly.

ROCCA: ...talk about the few sort of Republican stars that there are. There's Vincent Gallo. There's Stephen Baldwin. But one question I have for Jorge is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Bush or Kerry. And to translate that very quickly, to whom will -- for whom will Ricky Martin shake his bon-bon, Kerry or Bush?

RAMOS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE.)

KING: Let me get a break and then Jorge -- Jorge, think about it. Don't answer quickly Jorge.

RAMOS: All right.

KING: It could get you in trouble with much of your community. As we go to break, part of the 9/11 tribute tonight. We'll be right back.

(Performance of "Amazing Grace" by Danny Rodriguez) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Just a couple minutes left. What do we expect tomorrow night, Gideon, from Arnold Schwarzenegger? What do you expect?

YAGO: Oh, I don't know. Maybe he'll bring the Predator and Jesse Ventura out there. You know, here's hoping. I think, you know, he'll -- it's just going to be more moderation, more accessibility, which differs a little bit from President Bush's campaign message but that's the face that the GOP wants to put on for this week.

KING: Jorge, what do you expect from the governor of California?

RAMOS: You know for Latinos it's going to be very interesting because this is an immigrant who ran an anti-immigrant campaign to become governor of California, especially what has to do, yes, especially what has to do with driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. Governor Schwarzenegger did not support that measure.

Right now the assembly and the Senate, both in California, have supported a measure that would provide driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants and he has threatened to veto again the measure. So, it's going to be really interesting to see what kind of message he's going to give to other immigrants since he just said no to them.

KING: Governor, what do you expect tomorrow from the governor?

CUOMO: I think he'll probably be impressive. He's a -- he's a professional speaker. He's an actor. It raises the question though, you know, Giuliani and then him and then, you know, Pataki all believing things that the Republicans don't believe and what are you telling us?

KING: Alan, what do you expect? We've got less than a minute.

SIMPSON: Speaking to the public, no. It's -- I get a kick out of all this that, you know, nobody seems to like hearing the Republicans be moderate. What the hell is wrong with being moderate? I'm a moderate. I mean this is bizarre.

REID: Is Giuliani moderate?

CUOMO: But, Alan the problem is they're not moderate.

SIMPSON: But the majority of us are.

KING: See they are.

SIMPSON: That's the key.

KING: They're not in this hall.

CUOMO: Did anybody tell the president?

SIMPSON: No but that is the key. That is the key. KING: Mo, you want to sign it off for us? Mo, what do you think of all this? Sum up the night in 20 seconds.

ROCCA: Sum up the night in 20 seconds. Well, I'm still waiting for Jorge to tell me for whom Ricky Martin will shake his bon-bon. Will it be for Bush or for Kerry?

But it was a wonderful star-studded event and I look forward to tomorrow night to Arnold Schwarzenegger and to Laura Bush. I think she's going to have a very big announcement, which I would tell you about if we had more time. Do you want me to tell you?

KING: You are -- yes, quickly Mo, what?

ROCCA: She wants out. She's a moderate. She wants out. Laura, listen to me. If you're listening right now you got to make a plan. If you need a place to crash, I got a cold water flat.

KING: We're out of time. Stay tuned. We're going to repeat highlights of the evening and I'll see you tomorrow night. Good night.

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