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Analysis of Vice Presidential Debate

Aired October 5, 2004 - 23:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Thank you, Wolf Blitzer, for a -- you've done a great job tonight of on-the-scene at the vice presidential debate, a rip-roaring one, in Cleveland, Ohio, that ran late.
Let's meet our panel. We'll have other drop-ins later, but with us for the hour, Ann Richards, the former Democratic governor of Texas. She debated George Bush in the 1944 -- 1994...


KING: ... gubernatorial race. In Cleveland, at the debate hall, is Alan Simpson, former United States senator and a very close friend of Dick Cheney. In New Haven, Connecticut, is David Gergen, the White House adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, professor of public service at Harvard's JFK School of Government, editor-at- large "U.S. News & World Report." Ed Gordon, contributing correspondent, BET "Nightly News," who interviewed John Kerry for a BET special airing this Thursday, on October 7.

And that music is very loud!

Candy Crowley, CNN senior political correspondent -- I just lost my left ear, but it's OK. It's all for show business.

All right, let's try to spin a little differently tonight, Ann. We'll start with you.


KING: What did you like about Vice President Cheney tonight?

RICHARDS: I liked it that I won't work for him.


KING: No, what -- give a plus. Be a debate coach.

RICHARDS: Well, I...

KING: What did you like about him?

RICHARDS: I felt like that he did a good job to represent the president in trying to justify the president's record. I thought...

KING: He was effective.

RICHARDS: I thought he did -- I thought he had numbers at his fingertips. I thought he was sincere in what he said. And I'm still glad that he's not my boss!


KING: Alan Simpson, as a close friend of Dick Cheney's and former senator, what did you like about Senator Edwards tonight?

ALAN SIMPSON (R-WY), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Well, I didn't -- I didn't know him. I've practiced law for 18 years, and I know lawyers like that. I think he's a very, very effective trial lawyer. I would hate to -- he's like Gerry Spence, and I got my training under Gerry, and finally decided to join him instead of being on the other side. But I thought he was tremendously powerfully effective, but I think that -- that the forum of this and politics does not fit the trial lawyer image and -- but he was very impressive. And I say it from that standpoint. But he seemed to be -- he seemed to have some -- well, I'll leave it at that. That's the positives. He's a very impressive man.

KING: OK. David Gergen, now we get into analysis by the objective crew.


KING: David Gergen, how do you see it tonight?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: I thought the -- in contrast to the last debate, this fought to a draw. The vice president, to me, used arguments more skillfully, I must say, than the president. He had his facts, especially on the international side, well in order. And he made some strong comments about -- strong, I thought, pointed comments about the other side. I thought he was much more effective in attacking the Kerry plan for Iraq. I thought he also wound up humanized by the questions toward the end.

John Edwards, by contrast, did not have the electricity, nor is he as unexpectedly good as John Kerry was, but -- and he often ducked the questions in the beginning. I thought he became much more effective on the domestic questions. He was at his best when he went into the recitations that he clearly planned in advance about Dick Cheney's congressional record, for example, or about the drug companies, when he said, you know, the American people are this -- stand for this, and they stand on the side of drug companies. That's when he was most effective.

But I thought, overall, it was a draw.

KING: Ed Gordon, how did you see it, from your standpoint in New York?

ED GORDON, BET CONTRIBUTING CORRESPONDENT: I think I agree with David. I think that it -- by all accounts, was a draw. I think the vice president was very steady, very calm, paternal in a good way, if you will. I think John Edwards in the beginning was a little too eager, almost jumping at Gwen Ifill to get in at his points. But by the end of the day, I think he calmed his self, calmed his nerves and was ready to give out the points. I think he was very clear, point for point, in what, as David suggested, had been, I think, rehearsed.

KING: And Candy Crowley, who's been covering this from the get- go, how did you see tonight?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No harm, no foul. I thought they both were fine. I thought there were two things that stood out, and really only two things, because in a way, this was a debate of the understudies. You, in fact, did hear almost verbatim, in some cases, the same debate on Iraq that you heard when Kerry and President Bush went at it, albeit this by two men who are of equal ability when it comes to articulation.

I thought probably the best argument that the vice president made was when he put John Kerry's votes on Iraq in a political perspective and then said, You know, if you can't stand up to Howard Dean, how are you going to stand up to al Qaeda? I thought that was a very good line.

And when it came to John Edwards, I thought when he turned to the vice president and said, You know what? Americans can't take four more years of this.

So I thought, you know, those were the only two things that really stuck out to me, in terms of something new and something that made this, in some ways, a much more forceful debate than the presidential debate was.

KING: Now let's return to your biases, Ann. You going to think that Edwards was a winner tonight, or do you kind of agree that this was sort of -- it won't make any difference tomorrow in the vote?

RICHARDS: I think it is going to -- I think Edwards is going to win this in the polling because I was in the luxurious seat of being able to see the lines that ran across the screen showing what those focus groups...

KING: On CNNfn...

RICHARDS: ... how they were registering.

KING: ... yes.

RICHARDS: Yes. So...

KING: They register people's feelings as each...

RICHARDS: Yes. And I watched that, and so I feel like I'm -- it's a fairly educated judgment. The only time I saw the vice president get any spike was on the issue of gay marriage. And Edwards beat him steadily on -- certainly on medical care, on every domestic issue. Sometimes there was a ripple in Iraq. But I think that's what's going to happen tomorrow. I thought Edwards was in control of the debate.

KING: Senator Simpson, what were the pluses to you for the vice president tonight? SIMPSON: Would you imagine that I don't agree with Ann Richards at all?

KING: Shocked.

SIMPSON: Like her, but don't agree with her. Let me tell you, Dick Cheney did a marvelous job, very steady job. He is -- he is Mr. -- he is the old pro. He's that kind of a guy. And he gave that image. There's another thing about a trial lawyer, and I was one. He was doing that stuff tonight, and then the judge called him on one. Gwen Ifill called him on one about the global test, when she had to say, Here's what was said. And that's a bad thing for the judge to say to a guy who's pleading for the jury. And then when -- when Edwards said, Well, there are 60 countries that have al Qaeda in Iraq, that's one hell of a good reason to be in Iraq. I mean, there was lots of stuff. I thought he packed his lunch and he dragged the lunch bucket away.

KING: All right. We have two differing opinions. David Gergen sees it a draw. So does Ed Gordon. So does Candy Crowley. What difference will it make, David, do you think, with the electorate? What will tonight's debate mean on November 2?

GERGEN: I think it'll make very little difference among the undecideds. I think it will reinforce the views of those who are already for the president or for Senator Kerry. They will feel more strongly and more positively about their candidates, which is helpful to Kerry, but I think, in fact, it works out to be a draw. I think the attention is now rapidly going to swing to Friday night and the second debate.

This debate, frankly, ran out of electricity, Larry. I think it -- the fizz went out of it about 20 or 30 minutes before the end. I think it began to drag.

KING: And it also ran over. Ed Gordon, do you agree that this dragged a little?

GORDON: Yes, I think it dragged even sooner than David suggested.


GORDON: But I think one of the things that you mentioned there, Larry, that's interesting to me -- I think in the grand scheme of things, come election day, this won't matter much. But I think for those who are undecided, what you saw tonight is something in terms of what people tend to look for, and that is style. If you feel more comfortable with a fatherly figure, someone who seems to have been there before, that is steady, and if you're looking to that, obviously, Vice President Cheney played that to the hilt. If you're looking for new energy, effervescence, this almost naivete, in some respects, I think -- Gwen Ifill suggested that -- but you'll buy that just to have a different page, then John Edwards delivered that. And I don't think that we can give enough credence to that because there are a lot of people who are suggesting that we're giving short shrift to the idea of imagery here.

KING: Candy Crowley, if it's a draw, did -- is that a plus for Senator Edwards, since he was the unknown factor? We've all known Cheney all these years, and he kind of held his own.

CROWLEY: Yes. I mean, when I say a draw, I actually mean I don't think this, you know, come voting day, is going to have any effect one way or the other. I think this puts it all back on the tops of the ticket, all back to the Friday showdown in St. Louis and later in Tempe.

Yes, I mean, in terms of -- the baseline question tonight for voters out there was, Can John Edwards step in the job of president?

KING: Right.

CROWLEY: He showed himself to be an articulate man that had a grasp of the facts that he's been studying. Now, but you also saw the contrast, made both by the questions and then by the answers, of a man who does have 30 -- actually, 40 years of experience in government. The question is whether John Edwards made the case for a new direction, and thus a new face, or whether Dick Cheney made the case for, You need a steady hand at the helm, and that's us.

KING: We'll take a break and come back, and we'll be joined by Liz Cheney, one of Vice President Cheney's daughters. She's a member of the W Is for Women steering committee. And later, we'll be joined by Senator Joseph Lieberman, the former Democratic vice presidential nominee four years ago. Liz Cheney joins the panel right after this. Don't go away.


SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Listen carefully to what the vice president's saying because there is no connection between Saddam Hussein and the attacks of September 11 -- period. The 9/11 commission has said that's true. Colin Powell has said it's true. But the vice president keeps suggesting that there is. There is not. And in fact, any connection with al Qaeda is tenuous, at best.

GWEN IFILL, PBS, MODERATOR: Mr. Vice President, you have 90 seconds to respond.

RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The senator's got his facts wrong. I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11. But there's clearly an established Iraqi track record with terror. And the point is that that's the place where you're most likely to see the terrorists come together with weapons of mass destruction, the deadly technologies that Saddam Hussein had developed and used over the years.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Joining us now from Cleveland in the spin room is the daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney and Lynn Cheney, a member of the W Is for Women steering committee, Liz Cheney, who just had another baby. How old is that baby now, and what did you have?

LIZ CHENEY, DAUGHTER OF VICE PRES. DICK CHENEY: Hey, Larry. I had a little boy. He's 3 months old, 3 months old on October 2. So he's getting big fast.

KING: All right, how did -- this is -- I'm going to guess this answer, but how did Dad do tonight?


CHENEY: I was so proud of him, Larry. I just -- you know, proud of him as an American, and also as a daughter. I think he made absolutely clear that, you know, when it comes to the most important issues in this campaign, whether it's the global war on terror or who's going to keep this economy growing and keep this country strong, there's just no choice, that you've got to look at Senator Kerry's long record in the U.S. Senate, in particular, voting against every major national security issue, coming down on the wrong side, you know, for the last 20 years. So I was just very proud of him. I think he was -- he did just a terrific job.

KING: His image is that of a -- not a warm person. What kind of father is he?

CHENEY: You know, it's funny because that's not what he's like at all. He is the wisest, he is the most caring, the most considerate, very funny person I know. You know, he's sort of my rock. Whenever I have to make a tough decision in my life, he's the person I call. He's a wonderful granddad. My little girls, my three girls spend the night up at my mom and dad's house most weekends, and they unroll their sleeping bags on their bedroom floor and have sleepovers. So he's -- he's just the best.

KING: What do you make out of how he handled the situation and the questions tonight dealing with your sister?

CHENEY: You know, I thought he handled it, you know, just like he's always handled it, which is to be very clear and direct and plain about what his view is and, you know, to talk about the fact that the president sets the policy and he supports the president. And you know, for us, not just that issue, but every issue in this campaign, it really is a family affair. Mary is the director of vice presidential operations, and so she's out there working hard every single day, as am I, as is my mom. You know, we're all out on the trail, working hard to get this team reelected.

KING: Do you think there was a key moment tonight?

CHENEY: You know, I think, really, just the contrast between, you know, my dad's experience, my dad's expertise, his career, looking at these issues, as well as his judgment on the issues, and his expertise in explaining why it's so important that we prevail and really contrasting not so much my dad and John Edwards but George Bush and John Kerry, pointing out, you know, when John Kerry says we're going to have a global test before we'll commit our troops to war, why that's so dangerous. So I just think it was across the board many, many moments making clear what's a very important decision November 2.

KING: Were you impressed by Senator Edwards at all?

CHENEY: I was. Senator Edwards is a very skilled trial lawyer. He's somebody who's made millions and millions of dollars arguing his case before a jury, so you know, we knew that he would be effective at sound bites. And so I think, you know, he was -- he was very skillful. I think, at the end of the day, though, you know, the American people watching it can see sort of where the substance was and could see what was real in the debate, and I think there is no question about that.

KING: Our panel here, except for Ann Richards and Alan Simpson, who have a built-in bias -- David Gergen, Ed Gordon and Candy Crowley -- have all been calling it a draw. How do you think the press is going to look at it tomorrow, Liz?

CHENEY: I don't think it's a draw. And I just heard one of the snap polls from another network I won't name that said it was a 43-35 Cheney-Edwards victory. So you know, Cheney 43, Edwards 35. So I don't think it was a draw. I think that my dad made it absolutely clear how high the stakes are and what the right choice is.

KING: Thanks, Liz. Thanks for joining us. We'll see you on the trail.

CHENEY: Thanks, Larry.

KING: And congratulations.

CHENEY: Nice to be with you. Thank you very much. Take care.

KING: Bye. Ann, what do you make of that initial poll she just told us?

RICHARDS: Sounds like Fox took a poll.


RICHARDS: I really fully expect Edwards to pull ahead in...

KING: You think he will...

RICHARDS: ... the polling they do.

KING: ... win the polls?

RICHARDS: Yes. I think that he will, just looking at the audience reaction across the screen tonight.

KING: Alan, what do you think the polls will show? SIMPSON: I don't know. I never did many of them. I really didn't. I figured that -- well, of course, in Wyoming, it wasn't like Texas. Where Ann had, you know, millions, I had only 475,000 people. So I figured the poll was my mail.


SIMPSON: But I don't put much -- I don't put much -- much in them. You know, when you had one last week that said that Bush was ahead by 13, that's a laugher of the century. That can't be true. And yet that was a Gallup, so I -- and then those ones that Ann's watching -- I've watched those things, and I never -- I don't understand them. You know, they -- they ask the guy on the corner, and he's sitting there like that, and then they ask the woman over there. I don't know. Doesn't -- but -- but I just think it looked like Mr. Steady versus a very nice, affable, excitable -- now, don't -- don't throw anything here, now -- he's almost like Dan Quayle would get. He'd get excited about something, and then kind of miss the -- and then go back to the old theme. How many times tonight did he say, I want to go back to -- somebody ought to go look at that because he -- he -- it meant he hadn't finished...

KING: Yes.

SIMPSON: ... what he wanted to say and he wanted to get in the last lick.

KING: Let me...

SIMPSON: And that's a trial lawyer doing that.

KING: Let me get -- let me get a break, and then we'll get the thoughts of Senator Lieberman. And then the last half of the show, for the full half, our panel will be Ann and Alan, David, Ed and Candy and your phone calls. Senator Joe Lieberman will join us right after this.


EDWARDS: He voted against the Department of Education. He voted against funding for Meals on Wheels for seniors. He voted against a holiday for Martin Luther King. He voted against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. It's amazing to hear him criticizing either my record or John Kerry's.

IFILL: Thirty seconds.

CHENEY: Oh, I think his record speaks for itself, and frankly, it's not very distinguished.



KING: Joining our panel now from Washington, Senator Joe Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic vice presidential candidate who debated Dick Cheney four years ago, Democrat of Connecticut. How did your fellow senator hold up tonight?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: I thought John Edwards did very well tonight. I thought he built on John Kerry's strong performance last Thursday night.

Look, Dick Cheney did well too, but my own feeling is that John Edwards gained the most, because a lot of people really didn't know who John Edwards was, besides his face. And he showed tonight that he's bright, he has convictions, and he stood in there with a guy who's been in government for a long time.

KING: What was it like for you four years ago, and how important is the vice presidential debate in the scheme of things?

LIEBERMAN: Well, of course it was a thrill to be part of it. I was very proud of that debate. Dick Cheney and I disagreed on a lot of things. I mean, I was defending the Clinton-Gore record and talking about how much better a Gore-Lieberman administration would have been, as opposed Bush and Cheney, but we disagreed without personally attacking one another. And I was very pleased with the reaction to that debate.

Ironically, the critics after the debate were from the conservative side, who said Dick Cheney didn't attack Al Gore enough. Tonight, he certainly didn't avoid going after John Kerry.

KING: And how important is it?

LIEBERMAN: You know, as a former vice presidential candidate, I'd like to say it's just about the most important thing, Larry, but you know, it depends. And I think we're at a very close election this year, so that everything counts. Obviously, the most important thing is how the presidential candidates do, but John Edwards tonight continued the theme of change, and he did what a challenging vice presidential candidate has to do, which is to hold the incumbent administration accountable for its record. So I think he helped the ticket tonight.

KING: David Gergen, how important is a vice presidential debate?

GERGEN: Well, it's rare that a vice president swung an election one way or the other. The last time you can really say that that happened was in 1960, when Lyndon Johnson I think put John Kennedy over the top as vice president. But as Joe Lieberman knows better than anybody else, or knows as well as anybody else who's ever run for this office, the vice president's job is to help support the top of the ticket, but it's the top of the ticket that most people vote on at the end of the day.

I agree with Senator Lieberman, and I think that Senator Edwards tonight reinforced the case for John Kerry among his supporters. I am just very doubtful that he brought many undecideds in. I think because it was a draw, in my judgment, I don't think it changed the dynamics of the race this time. All attention is going to shift very quickly back to the presidential candidates.

KING: Ed Gordon, do you think anybody votes based on the vice president?

GORDON: Probably not, Larry. I think whatever bump you get from the vice presidency in terms of with voters, happens when you announce it. And they're on board with you. In terms of undecideds, I don't think they look to this debate to make their decision.

KING: So you think Friday night -- Candy, anything you want to ask Senator Lieberman? It's your beat.

CROWLEY: Senator -- absolutely. You know, one of the -- it seems to me that there were two questions coming in. One, can John Edwards be a heartbeat away from the presidency, is he ready? And two, is Dick Cheney Darth Vader? You know, is he this mean guy we've seen out there. Did the two of them pass their particular tests?

LIEBERMAN: Those are two very relevant questions, and I would say that both of them passed the test. I mean, I think John Edwards, again, probably gained more than Dick Cheney, because fewer people knew him. And I think he showed tonight that he's got the substance and the convictions to be vice president.

On the other hand, Dick Cheney showed a human side to himself, and that he's not -- he's not Darth Vader. You may disagree with him on issues, as I do, but this is a solid person who has a point of view, and believe it or not, has a heart too.

KING: And Ann Richards, was he better than the president?


KING: Dick Cheney.

RICHARDS: Oh, he was far superior to Bush's performance. You're talking about last Thursday? No question about that. But you know, that's not much of a hill to climb.

KING: Alan Simpson, what do you think?

SIMPSON: Well, Ann, it's just, I don't know where she gets those things. No, I thought, I thought it was a calming -- that Dick Cheney did a calming kind of a thing. Kind of like I want to go see my dad if I know I'm in trouble, and I want to -- I trust him. And I think that that's what I saw tonight. All the stuff comes through this calming, steady influence of a guy who's not running for president. He threw that little one in. It had a floater to it, and Edwards kind of gulped a couple of times, but you can see that he's waiting in the wings. You want to hear those old footprints, and certainly Kerry is hearing them.

KING: Ann?

RICHARDS: Well, you know, we all see, I guess, what we're predisposed to see. As much as I love Alan Simpson, I felt like I got called to the principal's office listening to Cheney. You know? I really -- I thought he was one tough number. I don't think he looked like Darth Vader -- he had on the wrong color -- but I think the scary part of Dick Cheney is that he does have so much influence.

KING: Senator Lieberman, are you going to be campaigning for this ticket the remaining days ahead?

LIEBERMAN: I am, Larry. I was in Florida. Interesting that they sent me to Florida, isn't it? Last Sunday. And I'll be around the country as they want me to be in the next few weeks.

KING: Always good seeing you, Joe. Thank you.

LIEBERMAN: Good to see you, Larry. Take care.

KING: Senator Joseph Lieberman, the vice presidential nominee in that incredible race four years ago. When -- and he got more votes for vice president than any man in American history. You can write that down.

When we come back, our panel will remain. We'll include your phone calls. Don't go away.


CHENEY: You also have a situation where you talk about credibility. It's awfully hard to convey a sense of credibility to allies when you voted for the war and then you declared "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time."

When you voted for the war, and then you voted against supporting the troops when they needed the equipment, the fuel, the spare parts, and the ammunition, and the body armor. You're not credible on Iraq because of the enormous inconsistencies and you have cited time after time after time during the course of the campaign. Whatever the political pressures in the moment requires, that's where you're at.



KING: (AUDIO GAP) presidential debate.

Let's reintroduce the panel and go to your phone calls. Here in Los Angeles, Ann Richards, the former Democratic governor of Texas, in Cleveland, Alan Simpson, the former United States senator of Wyoming.

In New Haven is David Gergen, the White House adviser to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, professor of public service at Harvard's JFK School of Government. Ed Gordon, contributing correspondent is in New York, of "BET NIGHTLY NEWS," who interviewed John Kerry, an interview that will air this Thursday night.

And, also in Cleveland, Candy Crowley, CNN's senior political correspondent. Let's include your phone calls.

Orlando, Florida, hello?

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Thank you for taking my call.

KING: Sure.

CALLER: My question to the panel is that the moderator tonight ask both Cheney and Edwards what qualifies them to essentially be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

John Edwards, being an articulate trial lawyer, other than identifying that he served for a short time in government and visited a few countries throughout his tenure so far, in my opinion didn't identify any specificity qualifications for the office. And I'd like to know what the panel has to say.

KING: David?

GERGEN: I think that's basically right. He did not, because he's -- you know, his governmental qualifications are thin. There's no question about that. And I thought what he did do is come back and say long experience and a long resume does not equal strong judgment in his criticisms of the other side.

KING: In other words, then, you could have long experience and it's bad experience?

RICHARDS: Well, the interesting thing was that when George Bush ran for president the last time, that question was raised about George Bush, who had obviously been governor of Texas but had no foreign policy experience at all. And when they asked members of this cabinet, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, the answer was, "You don't need experience. You need judgment." And so...

KING: It all depends on whose side you're on.

RICHARDS: It comes back to bite you.

KING: St. Cloud, Florida, hello?


KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Yes. My question is: Does the panel think that it should be a bigger priority within the debate itself that we're a nation more divided now than united, and it was promised by this president when he went in?

KING: Alan, I'll start with Alan Simpson on that.

Do you think this divided could have come up in this debate?

SIMPSON: Well, I think this division business is something -- you just had Joe Lieberman on. He and Hadassah became great friends of Ann and myself. Pat Leahy was here tonight. I haven't seen Pat for a while. He and Cheney had a wonderful articulate Anglo-Saxon exchange. It was just a dazzler. And there is something going on in this trip. Don't blame it on George Bush about dividing the country. Go look at your city council. Go look at your county commissioners. Go look at your school boards. Go look at television. Everything is smart and sarcastic and divisive and nasty and cutesy. You can't blame that on the president of the United States.

KING: Ed Gordon, are we a divided, divisive country?

GORDON: I think the senator's right about that. I think everywhere you look we are divided, particularly in a tense political time that we see now. But I think we have to be honest about what these debates are, in terms of specificity and what you're going to get, particularly with the rules of engagement we see now.

Ten percent of the time, I think, we see grand philosophical differences. But most of the time what we're hearing from these candidates in this debate and, I think, what you'll continue to hear the next two presidential debates, is that, "We're for education. We're for kids. We're for the troops, God, and American pie, or apple pie." But you're not really how we're going to fix what's broke.

KING: And, Candy Crowley, also, we are -- if you listen to talk radio in America, punch any dial, all you hear is anger.

CROWLEY: Absolutely. And I actually Senator Simpson was on to something, because you see it -- it's in pop culture. It's in the movies. It isn't, you know, just specific to Washington at this point.

I will point out that there also was a question about that, and this is -- there are about a zillion questions you can ask. And that was put out there. But I also think it's not -- it's a much broader question as to where our culture is going.


KING: Tustin, California, hello?

David Gergen, want to comment?

Hold on, Tustin.


GERGEN: Just very briefly. It is true, of course, we're divided in many, many different ways, as Alan Simpson said. But I must tell you. Whoever is elected, the first task is going to have to be to heal the wounds, both at home and with friends overseas. Because, otherwise, you can't get anything else done.

And I think it's a fair question to each candidate: Will you reach out? Bob Dole, for example, would urge George W. Bush, if he's re-elected, to reach out and put some Democrats like a Sam Nunn in his cabinet. And John Kerry needs to do the same thing. And I think it's a fair question. OK, we've heard your agendas. How are you going to get it done? Who are you going to appoint? You know, how are you going to turn the page here? Because, to me, it's one of the major looming issues for the next president, no matter who's elected.

KING: One would wonder why anyone would want the job.

Tustin, California, hello?

CALLER: Hello, this is certainly a pleasure, especially to speak to a panel with Ms. Richards on it.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: My question has to do with the elections that are due to come up in Iraq. When last week, when the visiting dignitary was here, everyone talked about the upcoming elections. But later, the very same afternoon, the secretary of defense spoke about the partial elections taking place, and parts of the elections as good as -- better than no elections at all. I wonder how you can explain that to where every vote should be counted?

RICHARDS: Well, I think it's a very peculiar thing. Just discounting Democrats, Republicans in this election. The suggestion that we are going to take the visual image that you see on television on the news every night and somehow turn that in four months into some peaceful, placid group of people standing in line to go to the polls when you could drive a truck or a car with a bomb in it or do any number of evil things to people out in the public, standing in line to vote, is very peculiar to me.

I don't see how that's going to happen. And then to suggest, on top of that, that there are parts of the country that are so unstable that you can't hold the election, that you'll just hold it where you can have it and then call it democracy. It's crazy to me.

KING: Candy, you want to comment?

CROWLEY: Well, I was just going to say, I thought -- just sort of bringing this back to the debate -- that that's where Dick Cheney and his experience was in one of its more effective modes. And that is when he said, look, I was out in El Salvador when they had elections," and, you know, bombs would blow up at the voting polls, and everybody would scatter and then they'd go away, and voters would come back.

So I don't think that they have ever expected this would be a violence-free election. I did think it was a fairly good moment for Cheney.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with more phone calls for our panel. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EDWARDS: The vice president and president like to talk about their experience on the campaign trail? Millions of people have lost their jobs. Millions have fallen into poverty.

If family incomes are down, while the cost of everything is going up. Medical costs are up the highest they've ever been over the last four years. We have this mess in Iraq.

Mr. Vice President, I don't think the country can take four more years of this kind of experience.



KING: We're back on this special late edition of LARRY KING LIVE, which started at 11:00. Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" at midnight. We'll do it again on Friday night.

Back to the calls. Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, hello?

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Hi. I'm an undecided voter right now, and there's a question that -- I've read several things on both parties and trying to decide. I was wondering why the Bush administration is putting so much emphasis on tort reform when the -- I read that somewhere that the National Center for State Courts found that malpractice lawsuit filings have been falling.

And, also, I was wondering, Karl Rove, I've read a lot about him. I'd like to know who he is, and I read somewhere that he used to be a consultant for Philip-Morris tobacco company in Texas while George W. Bush was...

KING: Are you sure you're undecided?

CALLER: Yes, I'm undecided.

KING: You don't sound too undecided. OK.

David Gergen, tell him who Karl Rove is.

GERGEN: Karl Rove has become the mastermind of Republican political fortunes. He's probably the best strategist in the Republican Party, someone who cut his teeth in Washington working with Lee Atwater, who was one of his mentors, went onto Texas and built up a Republican fortune, starting with George Bush, but has helped to transform Texas from a Democratic state to a largely Republican state, a man who dropped out of college for a while and is one of the best read people in American politics.

And when he moved to Washington, Larry, he brought 54 boxes of books with him. KING: Did he represent the tobacco industry?

GERGEN: I don't remember whether he represented the tobacco industry. I'm sure he would not have been -- I'm sure he would have been proud if he did it, but his real record, of course, has come in working with George W. Bush, and he is -- I think he's, you would have to say, within the White House circle now, he has become closer to the president than almost anyone else. And he's really -- he's sort of the Louie Howe that FDR had.

KING: Yes.

GERGEN: And he's a dramatic, important figure.

KING: Do you know him in Texas, Ann?

RICHARDS: Oh, sure. Oh, I was on the receiving end of Karl Rove. He cut his teeth on me.

KING: Las Vegas, Nevada, hello?

CALLER: Hi. I'd like to ask a question of my friend, David Gergen. I think the wild card in this election is the huge number of brand new voters who are completely new to this process. How do you think -- what impact do you think they'll have? I'm not convinced they're represented in the polls.

KING: I keep hearing that there are tons of people being registered all the time not being polled. David?

GERGEN: Well, it's a terrific question, because it's one of the great mysteries of this race. All these people who have been flowing into the registration voting rolls now -- the pollsters simply don't know how to measure them, Larry. They don't know how to figure them into the polls. It makes, I think, this race, no matter what the polls say three or four days -- I don't think we're going to know the outcome until the actual vote.

I was with Al Gore and Bob Dole a few days ago in Texas. And Al Gore said afterwards, you know, coming down the home stretch of that race in 2000, he was about five or six points back in the last ten days, and yet, at the election, he won, of course, he got the popular vote, while he lost the election.

So I think the caller put her finger on exactly one of the questions -- the big, big questions all of us are wrestling with. Who are these new people registering and will they actually vote? Because if they do, it could upset all the calculations we've been making all year.

KING: Ed Gordon, might this be then a poorly read pre-election? Might pollsters be wrong? Might pundits be wrong? Are there things we're not seeing?

GORDON: Oh I think, without question, Larry. And I think there are a lot of young voters. I think there are a lot more African- American voters who are going to go to the polls this time. These people are where pollsters typically aren't.

And I think the caller before this one hit it on the head, though she said she was undecided. She seems to be wanted to educate herself. And I would ask that all new voters, old voters, just voters in general, start to educate themselves. And not just listen to talking heads, but really listen to what was said.

I think that, when you heard Vice President Cheney say that he didn't know the epidemic numbers for African-American women and AIDS in this country, I think African-Americans have to listen to that. When you hear the idea that Kerry and Edwards are suggesting that we might be able to pull troops in six months and bring an alliance together might be a little naive, and you have to start really listening and reading between the lines, and not just listening to what we say.

KING: Alan, could this be a year where we're misreading everything?

SIMPSON: Oh, I really do think so. I see young people voting, registering. I used to mail them. I'd say, you know, we gave you the right to vote and only 15 percent of you use it.

I used to say to them, "Do you vote?" "No, I think politics and partisanship is ghastly." I said, "Well, then, move to a country where they don't have any politics and partisanship, and write me a big letter and tell me how much fun you're having." Either take part or get taken apart.

But I want to tell that young lady out there that if she really wants to know something, she needs to know that James Carville is helping Kerry, and you don't have to worry about Rove at all, because Carville...


SIMPSON: ... will be punching the lights out of George Bush, and they'll be -- they talk about the Oz and the green emerald. I mean, wait until little Jimmy gets going. And he's cooking now.

KING: Candy, have we got any stories on new voters?

CROWLEY: You know, we have. I mean, it's not just this same old Republicans and Democrats going out and registering voters. There are a lot of these 527 groups that have actually paid people. So they have people who are going into states like Ohio. I mean, they're very targeted in where they're registering new voters, and they're going to door-to-door.

And, again, the key question is, you know, do you actually have a way of getting them out to vote? It's one thing -- I mean, we see a lot that there are many more registered voters than ever go out to the polls. So the question is, were these people, you know, saying, oh yeah, great idea. And will they find something else to do?

But I think there's absolutely no doubt that we do have people out there that are not being polled that are registering and do have every intention of voting. I just don't know the numbers of them.

GORDON: But, Larry, I think Candy...

KING: I'm sorry.

GORDON: Sorry, I just wanted to say I think Candy hit it on the head. It isn't so much who's going to be registered but who's going to actually use that and go out on November 2nd and vote.

RICHARDS: Here's the difference this time, Larry. The Democrats and the 527s began a concerted effort ten months to register voters. And they can compare by ZIP codes now where the registered voters -- I mean, where the registrations are coming from. The Democrats are out- registering the Republican areas be 200 percent in the states that are going to decide this election.

KING: So why isn't that showing in the polls? They're not being polled?

RICHARDS: Well it is because they are in areas where there are young people. They're using cell phones.

The second is, do you know that 90 percent of the people that are called on the telephone will not give an opinion?

KING: Ninety percent?

RICHARDS: Did you know that? Absolutely.

KING: How do they know who's...

RICHARDS: Now, in a race like this one -- in a race like this one, it might be more that are willing, but it is a very high percentage.

KING: How do they know who's the most likely voter?

RICHARDS: They ask them. And they also look and see if they have voted before from the polls.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments. Don't go away.


CHENEY: Your hometown newspaper has taken to calling you "Senator Gone." You've got one of the worst attendance records in the United States Senate.

Now, in my capacity as vice president, I am the president of the Senate, the presiding officer. I'm up in the Senate most Tuesdays when they're in session. The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight.



KING: Champagne, Illinois, hello?

CALLER: Hi, good evening.


CALLER: During the debate, Ms. Ifill posed a question about gay marriage to Vice President Cheney. He gave a standard campaign response, and then afterward, Mr. Edwards gave a good response about how the constitutional amendment against gay marriage isn't needed. But then when offered a rebuttal, Vice President Cheney just basically said, "Thank you for saying nice things about my family."

KING: Right.

CALLER: Isn't that basically saying that the Kerry-Edwards position is the right position?

KING: Well, David, that's an area where the vice president disagrees with the president, isn't it?

GERGEN: Yes, he's in an awkward situation there, Larry, and I think that he appreciated the understanding and support that John Edwards showed there. I thought it was one of the most humanizing moments of the whole debate. I think it showed the warm side of both of them.

But when it came to the constitutional amendment, he's simply not for this constitutional ban that the president supports. He is for leaving it to the states. It's a very different position, and he's gotten himself into some trouble with conservatives on that.

But I do think that it's an area where Dick Cheney has also shown his integrity. I give him a lot of credit for standing up for both his family and his own beliefs and taking on the party on an issue where, you know, John Edwards made some very effective points coming back, and Dick Cheney decided I'm not going to argue this. Thank you.

KING: Sort of like he stood pat?


KING: Alan?

SIMPSON: I thought that was the most authentic thing on both of them. Because Kerry looked down and Mary was there, with Heather, her companion, a wonderful woman, Heather Poe. I know her. I've known Mary since she was eight. He looked down when he said that. He was very real. And Dick Cheney's response was very real. That was a very powerful moment on an issue which is so sensitive that none will ever know unless we have loved ones who are gay or lesbian in our family.

KING: That is so right.

Thank you all very much. Ann Richards, Alan Simpson, David Gergen, Ed Gordon, Candy Crowley with us earlier. She's got to skeet over to "NEWSNIGHT."

I just want to say a word here, a moment to pay our respects to the family of Rodney Dangerfield. A great comedian passed away today here at UCLA Hospital after going into a coma after heart surgery.

He may not have gotten respect, but I'll bet he's getting it now. We loved you, Rodney, a guest on this program on a number of occasions. Rodney Dangerfield, another great one goes.

I'll be right back.


KING: By the way, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens will be our special guest Thursday night. And Friday night, we'll be on at 11 o'clock again, following the next presidential debate.

And so, following us, as he always does every night in this new time because of the debates, is Aaron Brown, a happy Aaron Brown, because the Minnesota Twins won tonight...


KING: Debates come and go. The Twins won. That counts.

BROWN: Yes, that's right. There's always another debate


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