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Analysis of Third Presidential Debate

Aired October 13, 2004 - 23:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: What an exciting day. What an exciting night. We're on the scene in Tempe, Arizona, the final debate for the presidency. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) days to go, starting tomorrow. Wrap-up night is November 2, as America votes.
We have an outstanding panel of guests with us. With us throughout the program will be Marc Racicot. He's chairman of the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, and Governor Bill Richardson, the Democratic governor of the state of New Mexico. Marc Racicot a former governor himself. Candy Crowley is on the scene in the debate hall. Perry Bacon will also be with us from the spin room.

And we're going to go right there first with Michael J. Fox, the noted actor who suffers from Parkinson's disease, a strong advocate for stem cell research.

Michael, were you a little annoyed that it didn't come up tonight?

MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR/ACTIVIST: No, not at all. I think that Senator Kerry has done a terrific job throughout the campaign referring to stem cells and the promise of stem cell research. So I think that his position is (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on that, and the support is very solid for him in that area. So you know, he might have had an opportunity during the answer about the Catholic church, but I think he addressed the things he needed to address, and I thought he did an excellent job. So we know -- we know he's in our corner, and we know he's the right guy to lead us forward.

KING: What are your thoughts on the passing of Chris Reeve?

FOX: Well, I -- I'm just really saddened by it and surprised, and you know, still processing it. He was -- he was a real role model to me, someone I admired tremendously. He was an articulate advocate and champion for people in his community and in the wider community of those of us who are in need of the, you know, positive outcomes of medical research. He was just a great man. He was -- he's going to be missed.

KING: Michael, the Bush supporters pointed out -- in fact, Laura Bush said last night on this program -- that his administration is the first to ever offer any federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, and they did. How do you counter that?

FOX: Well, it's very limited. It's -- he allowed it to go forward with existing lines that are polluted by mouse cells, and he -- first when he came out in August of 2001 with this policy, he said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in the area of 80 cell lines, and it turns out that there are less than 20. And those are polluted. And so even though this federal -- you know, strictly speaking, there's federal funding. It's -- it means nothing because it's just not enough -- it's not enough to do the job, and the lines that we're allowed to use are not useful.

KING: Michael, are you going to be very active in the remaining days ahead? I know, of course, you have Parkinson's. There are up days and down days with that disease. We've discussed it before. Are you going to be campaigning?

FOX: Well, I'd like to. It's funny, my symptoms are always the worst when I get in front of a camera. So it's -- it's problematic. I'm fine until the camera comes on, and then for some reason, I -- they kick up. But yes, I really believe that we -- we've really not gone as far as we should have gone in the last four years. And so I'm very much committed to helping Senator Kerry become the president, and I know that he'll make the right decisions for our community and for the country.

KING: Thanks for joining us, Michael. Always great seeing you. We hope to see you before the election.

FOX: Yes, good to see you, Larry -- or good to kind of see you, anyhow.


KING: Michael J. Fox, the noted actor, on the stump for John Kerry.

Joining us now here in our CNN set-up at Arizona State University -- boy, what a -- this campus is immense -- is former governor Marc Racicot, the chairman of the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, Governor Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico. In the debate hall is Candy Crowley. In the spin room is Perry Bacon of "Time" magazine.

I imagine, Marc, you're going to say this was a good night.


KING: That's just a guess.

RACICOT: ... a spectacular night. Yes, I think the president was strong. He was firm. He was compassionate. He talked about all of the priorities, I think, that are priorities to the American people, and he did it in a way that I think meets his -- the expectations of the people of this country.

KING: Wouldn't you say that both candidates, in all fairness, met their expectations? That is, if you weren't clearly defined tonight, I don't know what you're thinking, if you were -- there's a clear definition between the two.

RACICOT: I think -- yes, I think that's true. That's a fair statement. I don't think, quite frankly, that Senator Kerry was always accurate in his recitation of the facts, to be very honest with you. There were more than one occasion where that was a problem. But I think there's clear differences, remarkable differences. If you can -- you know, you don't take into account the fact that he's had so many different positions in reference to Iraq -- obviously, that wasn't a part of the discussion tonight. But they obviously have strikingly different approaches to how to deal with the war on terror and how to deal with issues here at home.

KING: At the bottom of the hour, Governor Richardson, we're going to have our first poll. It's just a quick poll, as we know, and it may be meaningless, but we'll have some indication. What do you think it's going to tell us, the poll on the debate?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, I think the poll will say what happened tonight. Senator Kerry won the debate on points. But both candidates were strong. But I believe that Senator Kerry scored by dealing with issues that affect the middle class. He offered specific plans on each of the domestic issues discussed -- on education, on health care, more access to every American, on protecting Social Security, on issues relating to immigration. I think he scored big by talking about an earned legalization, which I believe will help him with a lot of Hispanic voters that'll determine the race in places like Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Colorado.

He scored big also on his discussion about faith and bringing the country together and staying positive. One thing that bothered me about the president is almost every question was, Here's Senator Kerry, here's his record, it's bad. But he didn't offer any solutions. He didn't come up with any new ideas. It was just a defensive effort, and clearly, on domestic issues, I do believe that Senator Kerry is much stronger. And he won this debate narrowly because both were strong and both were good.

KING: Candy Crowley, how did you see it?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I must say, my initial reaction was that it was kind of a wonk fest. I mean, the first hour or so, I think people were out there being bombarded by numbers that, clearly, both men had boned up on and came into this debate wanting to put out there. Having said that, I thought it was a wonk fest interrupted by some real genuine moments. I think one of them, when John Kerry talked about his mother. I think another, when George Bush talked about his faith. I thought that for a moment there, we saw a little peek into both of them, in between all those numbers flying around.

KING: You regarded it, then, as boring?

CROWLEY: I regarded it as probably not anything that -- that sitting out there in TV-land, people watching, would be able to follow all that well. You know, it was, like, You voted for this 86 times. No, I voted for this 433 times. I think that tends to get very confusing. I think when they -- a lot of what these debates are about, Larry, are about showing you who they are and how they think. And I think that comes through a lot more clearly when they talk about what brings them to...

KING: Yes.

CROWLEY: ... decisions and what has been meaningful in their life.

KING: We'll take a break, and when we come back, our panel remains with us, and Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York joins us. Don't go away.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Children across our country don't have health care. We're the richest country on the face of the planet, the only industrialized nation in the world not to do it. I have a plan to cover all Americans. We're going to make it affordable and accessible. We're going to let everybody buy into the same health care plan senators and congressman give themselves.

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to remind people listening tonight that a plan is not a litany of complaints, and a play is not to lay out programs that you can't pay for.



KING: Most of the crowd has cleared out here from this huge campus, Arizona State University, just outside of Phoenix, in Tempe, where the Oakland As, by the way, play their spring training games and where Arizona State University and the Arizona Cardinals play football. A lot of students still behind us, however.

We told you Rudy Giuliani -- he'll be in us in the next -- with us in the next segment. Marc Racicot, Governor Richardson, Candy Crowley remain. And we're joined now from the spin room by Vanessa Kerry, one of John Kerry's two daughters.

What'd you think of your dad tonight?

VANESSA KERRY, SENATOR JOHN KERRY'S DAUGHTER: I thought he did amazingly well. I think he continued to show that he's ready to be president of the United States, he's ready to be our next commander- in-chief. And I think he continued to prove that the American people deserve better than being misled by our president today.

KING: How do you explain his kind of comeback in the last three weeks?

KERRY: You know, I don't think it's a comeback as much as it is just staying the course. These debates have been the first chance for the American people to see my dad unfiltered. And I think what they saw is somebody who is full of integrity, somebody who has real ideas that are going to invest in America, somebody who is going to not lie to the American people. This president said, for example, tonight that he's taking care of our veterans. Well, I just met a veteran in West Virginia named Greg Brannon (ph), who came back from the Navy. He just told me that he went to apply for his veterans' benefits and was told to come back in five years because there was no money. In Ohio, for example, this president says he's improving education. Parents are having to pay $500 for their children to be involved in extracurricular activities in over 100 school districts.

I don't think that's investing in America. I think this country deserves better, and I know my father is ready to do that for this country.

KING: Former governor Marc Racicot is with us, Vanessa. He is chairman of the Bush-Cheney reelection campaign. Why, Marc, is there such division in this country?

RACICOT: Well, there has been...

KING: Like, five -- about four years ago, when it was 50-50.

RACICOT: Yes, I think it was...

KING: Now it's...

RACICOT: ... evenly divided then. You know, it's a very complex world, and these issues are extremely difficult. There's small margin for error, and of course, since we've been attacked and we have been under siege in this war on terrorism, it's made it very perilous, as well. So it's complex and it's dangerous, and that, I think, give rise to people having strong views and a certain amount of anxiety about the future.

KING: Is it possible, really, Bill, honestly, to forecast this, when it's this close and it's up to 10 states? Can anyone decidedly say, We're going to win?

RICHARDSON: Not right now. It's very close. I believe that these debates provided Senator Kerry a great platform to show that he has the strength, the character to be commander-in-chief. But beyond these debates, it's now going to be up to turn-out, mobilization, to voter registration, to turning out your bases.

And I think one of the reasons the country is so divided, besides the war, which has really divided this country, is that the president has only played to his conservative base, not to moderates, not to independents, not to Democrats. It's all right-wing ideological conservative initiatives in the Congress, and I believe that's why you have an electorate so divided and Democrats so enthusiastic about turning their vote out and changing direction.

KING: Before Vanessa comments, Marc wanted to say something.

RACICOT: Yes. Well, that's patent nonsense, with all due respect to my friend, Bill. The fact of the matter is, this president has worked in an extraordinarily, I think, unusual fashion with Democrats and passed historic legislation. It doesn't matter what the issue, whether it's trade or Medicare, tax reform, education. I mean, he has reached out time and time again, and that's the reason there's been such great progress.

KING: Vanessa, if we don't know what the turn-out's going to be and we don't know how -- what percentage of young people are going to vote, can we honestly, anyone, predict this?

KERRY: You know, I don't think anyone can predict it. This is one of the closest races in U.S. history. But I think as we go into these next weeks, people reflect on these debates and they really ask themselves what these candidates stand for and what they've done, they're going to realize that this president has basically made the wrong choices for three-and-a-half years. And if they want more of the same, more unequal pay for women, more underfunding of education, no health care plan, not fighting the real war on terror, not buying up loose nuclear weapons in 4 years versus 13, as this president has suggested, I think then they should go vote for George Bush. But I think that America wants a change in leadership, and I think you're going to see that on November 2.

KING: Do you think, Vanessa, you will get a big turn-out?

KERRY: I think we will get a big turn-out. I think you're going to see voting in record numbers. And I think you're going to see it among young people. I think you're going to see it among people who haven't voted in years. I think you're going to see a lot of people because this election is divided. This country is divided. And we are on the cusp of some extraordinary change, but I think people feel that. This is not about the next four years, this is about the next decade, the next hundred years. This is about the next generations, and I think people really have a sense of that.

KING: Thank you, Vanessa.

We've received initial polling results. We'll get the comments of Richard Wolffe in the spin room and Bill Schneider in Washington. But here they are. This poll does not reflect the views, of course, of all Americans. Reminder that the -- after the debates, the views can change in 48 to 72 hours. We asked tonight, "Who did the better job in this debate?" Kerry 52 percent, Bush 39 percent. In the first debate, it was Kerry 53, Bush 37. In the second debate, it was Kerry 47, Bush 45. And tonight, the third debate, 52-39. The sampling error plus or minus 5 points.

Richard Wolffe, Washington correspondent for "Newsweek," what's your reaction?

RICHARD WOLFFE, "NEWSWEEK": Well, it doesn't surprise me. You know, John Kerry I thought took this one by points. The president really needed to get a big victory tonight, and he fell short of that. You know, he beat himself in the previous debates, but that really wasn't good enough. And John Kerry has looked more presidential and more personable as these debates have gone on.

KING: So you think -- you agree with the poll. You think Kerry won this tonight.

WOLFFE: Absolutely. And you know what? What's been interesting about these polls, as time has gone on, is that Kerry's wins have got bigger. What turned out in the second debate as a fairly narrow win in the instant polls grew over time as people looked at the clips, maybe watched it on the morning news or on the nightly news. So you know, you got to take all of these together. As you know, TV is about impressions. It's about impressions of people on that. I think the impression of John Kerry's improved.

KING: Yes. Bill Schneider in D.C., our CNN political analyst, what's your reaction?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this was a decisive win for John Kerry. It was just about as decisive as his win in the first debate, which everyone agreed was a blow-out. The first debate he won by 16 points. This debate Kerry won by 13 points, according to the views of the viewers polled immediately after the debate, so they had no chance, really, to be influenced by the spin.

What we found in the first debate, as Richard just said, was as the course of the next few days proceeded and people talked at their office over the water cooler, discussed what happened, read the newspaper accounts, by the end of the second day after the debate, Bush -- Kerry had won by 38 points. Well, in this debate, we may see that margin grow, with more and more people hearing or concluding that Kerry won.

KING: So Bill, you agree with Richard not only with the polling, you agree with that the fact -- your opinion he won.

SCHNEIDER: Well, I think he did appear more presidential than the president, which is exactly why he won the first debate and why he won this debate. But let me caution, winning a debate is not the same thing as being elected to office. Many candidates have won debates and have failed to win election to office. But I think there's no question that in this series of three debates, the race has tightened up. Kerry has turned out to be the clear winner.

KING: Thank you very much, Bill Schneider and Richard Wolffe. Vanessa Kerry, the daughter of John Kerry, your reaction?

KERRY: You know, I'm very pleased to hear that because walking out of that debate hall tonight, that was my sentiment. I watched my father tell the American people he was ready to fight for them, tell the American people that they deserve to know -- to have the truth and tell the American people that, basically, there are better days ahead if he can be elected president of the United States.

I grew up with him. For 27 years, I've known the lessons he's taught me, the courage he's shown me. I've seen him celebrate my triumphs. I've seen him mourn my losses. And knowing that he could do that for me on a personal level, I know that he wants to do that for this country. And I think if this country gives him the opportunity to be their president, he will not let them down. He will fight for them every day. And we will live in a better country. KING: Thanks, Vanessa. We'll get Marc's and Bill's reaction to that instant poll, Candy Crowley's, as well, and we'll hear from the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, right after this.


BUSH: He voted to increase taxes 98 times. When they voted to -- when they proposed reducing taxes, he voted against it 126 times. You voted to violate the budget caps 277 times. You -- you know, there's a mainstream in American politics, and you sit right on the far left bank! As a matter of fact, your record is such that Ted Kennedy, your colleague, is the conservative senator from Massachusetts!



KING: We're back with our panel, and joining us from the debate hall is the Republican mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani. I have to mention, I'm not talking about the debate necessarily, but the Yankees are winning three to one at the bottom of the eighth. And I know it's killing you that you're not there, right?

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: Absolutely. But you know, this is an important debate, and I think it's a very important election, so I wanted to be here. But I was getting scores kind of signaled to me while the debate was going on.

KING: Early, we have an early poll of the debate, and it came out again that Kerry won this time, 52 to 39. What was your thought?

GIULIANI: I thought the president did very well, because I thought the president connected more with people. I thought his answers were more personable. I thought particularly, the questions about religion, about their wives. John Kerry was kind of like heavily laden with statistics. It was -- I made about eight pages of notes, it was kind of hard to follow him. And I thought the president accomplished what he had to accomplish for the voters in the states that are swing states. I think he was very clear that John Kerry is out of the mainstream of American politics. He's way on the left. I thought his comment about, you know, Senator Kennedy is the only conservative senator from Massachusetts, or the conservative senator from Massachusetts, kind of framed what the president was trying to accomplish. You look at John Kerry's -- I also thought it was valuable that the president brought up -- which I think is very telling, John Kerry's vote against the Persian Gulf War back in 1991, which does certainly put him on the far left wing, even of his party.

Here we had an invasion of Kuwait...

KING: I'm sorry.

GIULIANI: He had an invasion of Kuwait -- it certainly test -- it certainly passed any global test you could possibly imagine, that we would take military action in Kuwait. And it kind of tells you who John Kerry really is. He is someone who is very reluctant to have the United States use military power, even in the most extreme of circumstances, namely the invasion of Kuwait.

KING: If, Rudy, the country is conservative, and Kerry is so liberal as to be on the outer banks of the mainstream, why is this race so close?

GIULIANI: Because we haven't had a chance to really discuss that. This is, after all, was only the first time that they've been able to discuss domestic policy. The president began making that point in the second half of the last debate, and I think one of the reasons the polls also closed is -- I mean, John Kerry does not want to describe himself as a liberal, even though he is, for a very good reason, because that's not where most of the American people are. Many more people describe themselves as conservative than liberal, particularly true in the states that are at issue right now. So I think the president's hammering that point home and making it really clear. And John Kerry not being able to answer certainly I think will help the president.

I mean, John Kerry a few years ago was very comfortable to say that he's very proud to be a liberal. He was not proud to be a liberal on this stage tonight.

KING: Bill Richardson, your reaction to the debate poll?

RICHARDSON: Well, it showed that Senator Kerry scored by 13 points. I frankly thought it was closer, but I think he won on points because of his stature, his showing that he's ready to be president, and because, you know, unlike what Mayor Giuliani said, who -- the Republican side seems to be using slogans, and he's a liberal, and Democrats are taxers. Senator Kerry offered detailed plans to help the middle class, and education, and health care, protecting Social Security. On issues relating to immigration, on job creation, on trade. Republicans, all they have is negativism. Negative slogans. This is what he did years ago.

It's what anybody is going to do for the future, and this is why I think the American people are seeing in Senator Kerry somebody that is fit to be commander in chief, with strength and principle.

KING: Marc, is President Bush a better campaigner than debater?

RACICOT: I would say that he probably enjoys the campaigning immensely. I also believe, however, he's a very good debater.

KING: Are you surprised at the poll result?

RACICOT: Yeah, I don't know about the numbers. I don't know the methodologies and all those things involved...

KING: Yeah, I don't know either.

RACICOT: ... but the bottom line is, I think he did exceptionally well tonight. And you know, Bill talks about Kerry having a plan. He always says, I have a plan. We never hear what it is. I didn't hear any detailed plans tonight for education. I didn't hear any detailed plans about anything tonight from John Kerry. He always claims to have a plan, but I didn't hear any plans.

KING: But he's just told about where he would reduce taxes with regard to manufacturing, how we would encourage people to, if they give jobs here that don't go overseas, where they would get a tax break...

RACICOT: Which his own advisers have said won't work.

KING: But it's a plan. You said he didn't give a plan.

RACICOT: But he did talk about that. No, Bill was talking about tonight, he laid out detailed plans on education. He didn't. He didn't say anything about education. Did he lay out detailed plans about Social Security? He didn't say a word about Social Security. So the fact of the matter is that -- as people get to know, as Rudy pointed out, as people get to know that he is glib, most certainly, and I think he's more than capable on his feet, but there is no there there. The American people will make the right decision.

KING: Candy, what do you think of the poll result?

CROWLEY: I think John Kerry is a great debater. I mean, I don't know -- you know, if what you're looking for in a candidate is the best debater, I mean, that is definitely John Kerry. He is -- he has a quick command of the facts, he is very articulate, and I think the poll reflects that.

KING: Rudy, before you leave us, you've been labeled a moderate. Do labels work?

GIULIANI: Labels don't work unless they convey reality, and when you look at a man who's voted over 90 times to raise taxes, you look at a man who's been always very, very reluctant to support our national defense. He's voted against it time after time after time, including very, very recently. You're looking at a man who was reluctant to take action against Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait. When you look at all those things, then the labels start to take on reality, because he is the most left-wing member of the Senate, if not one of the most left-wing members. Very different than what people are looking for in Ohio and in Wisconsin, and in places in which this election is going to get decided.

So this isn't a label. This is reality. And it's a label that John Kerry very willingly accepted for himself. Very proud would describe himself as a liberal. John Kerry is running away not just from a label; he's running away from a non-record in the United States Senate, because he doesn't have a record of achievement in the Senate.

KING: On many...


GIULIANI: ... problem that he has.

KING: Many of the social, or what you might call liberal issues, you agree with him.

GIULIANI: There are issues on which I agree on one side, on the other side. My core philosophy, however, is as a Republican. I believe in lowering taxes. I believe in a strong national defense. And, like my predecessor Ed Koch, who was a Democrat, who is strongly supporting President Bush, we think this election is mainly about our security.

And we think there's a very, very big difference between President Bush, who is steadfast, and John Kerry, who thinks that terrorism is a nuisance. That was an absurd quote in the "New York Times." He compared it to a nuisance, and he compared it to illegal gambling and prostitution. When I read that, I actually couldn't believe that he actually said that.

KING: Are you going to Boston?

GIULIANI: You're darn right I'm going to Boston. I'll be there. That's where they really need me.

KING: Thanks, Rudy.


Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the former -- he'll always be the mayor of New York.

When we come back, our panel will continue. Later, we'll have -- George P. Bush will be with us, and then we'll also have a quite a wingding later with Ann Coulter and Jesse Jackson. That will not be dull.

Marc and Bill, we'll be right back. Don't go away.


KERRY: Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country.

This president has taken a $5.6 trillion surplus and turned it into deficits as far as the eye can see. Health-care costs for the average American have gone up 64 percent; tuitions have gone up 35 percent; gasoline prices up 30 percent; Medicare premiums went up 17 percent a few days ago; prescription drugs are up 12 percent a year.

But guess what, America? The wages of Americans have gone down. The jobs that are being created in Arizona right now are paying about $13,700 less than the jobs that we're losing.

And the president just walks on by this problem.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" at the top of the hour. You're watching a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, our third such edition. Tonight, we're live at Arizona State University following the third and final presidential debate of this campaign in 2004.

Earlier poll results of public opinion of the debate showed Kerry winning 52-39. Our panel is Marc Racicot, chairman, former governor, Bush-Cheney reelection campaign, Governor Bill Richardson, the Democratic governor of New Mexico, a state regarded as a toss-up.

Candy Crowley, CNN senior political correspondent, been on the trail of this campaign forever. She's in debate hall.

Also in debate hall is Perry Bacon, "TIME" magazine reporter. We welcome him back. Very good to see you. We haven't had your thoughts yet on tonight. What's your read?

PERRY BACON, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Larry, I was actually surprised by the poll results. I thought the president had the best night of his three debates. Senator Kerry probably still won on points, but I thought President Bush had a stronger performance than he had before. He really put Senator Kerry on the defensive about his health care plans and his budget plans.

So I thought it was a good performance for Bush and still Kerry came out looking more presidential, perhaps, but I thought Bush did a good job of sort of hammering him with the liberal label.

KING: What will it mean, Perry, on November 2?

BACON: I thought that both sides sort of talked to, you know -- I thought almost the debate was sort of like the two of them giving speeches about -- giving individual speeches that the other person could respond to.

Lots of Kerry talking and lots of Bush talking, and not a lot of debate. So I'm not sure how much the impact will be compared to the other two, which I thought were more debate and back-and-forth.

KING: Bill, what about New Mexico?

RICHARDSON: New Mexico will be one of the toss-up states. It's dead even right now. What'll be decisive, I believe, is that Senator Kerry -- by the way, he spent debate preparation for Arizona in New Mexico three days. That plays very well.

We've registered about 30,000 new Hispanic and Native American voters. We think those voters will go predominantly for Senator Kerry. He's talking there about the issues of education, jobs, health care, that are very important in our state.

But President Bush has a base there. It's going to be very close, but I think that the fact that there is a Democratic governor, myself, is going to help Senator Kerry. And we're going to go all out.

KING: Marc, what's your guess on turnout?

RACICOT: I do think it will be higher than it was in 2000. I think there's a very keen interest across the country. And, of course, with the information available to us now, with 24-hour news cycles, there's no excuse not to be involved. And the stakes are high.

So I think that there will be a lot of people that go to the polls.

KING: Candy Crowley, when we say we poll likely voters, how do we know they're a likely voter?

CROWLEY: Oh, wow. This is a trick question. But, essentially, they have about five or six questions that they go through when they call someone. Did you vote in the past? How often have you voted? How long have you been a registered this or that?

So there's a series that they go through of questions. They don't say, "Hey, are you likely to vote?" It's a little more scientific than that.

KING: I see.

CROWLEY: So, they kind of use all those and add up the points and figure out who's likely.

KING: Perry, do they poll people with cell phones?

BACON: They don't do a very good job of it, no. And that's one of the critiques of polling, is they can't really find those people very much. And I think there's a little trouble with the legality, if you call someone on their cell phone, because that counts for their minutes that you're forcing them to pay for a call they might not want.

So I think that's one critique of polling. The pollsters are saying they're doing a good job of still finally finding good samples of people, but on Election Day, we'll find out if polling was as good as it was four years ago or eight years ago.

KING: Bill, is there a chance they could be wrong wrong?

RICHARDSON: Well, I believe there's a lot of voters out there, young voters, minority voters, that are newly registered, that have been apathetic but now really are turned on. I think if that silent minority that is out there expresses itself in this election, it'll favor Democrats. Because I think we've been as competitive with the Republicans on absentee voting and early voting, but we've registered a lot more, and getting out of the vote is something Democrats do better on Election Day. But we'll see.

KING: Could the polling be wrong, Marc?

RACICOT: I think it's potentially possible. We'll see, as obviously we know on November 2. But we're going to work the same regardless of what the polls say -- we believed this was going to be very, very close from the very beginning.

KING: When we come back, President Bush's nephew, the son of the Florida Governor Jeb Bush, George P. Bush will join us right after these words. Don't go away.


BUSH: Prayer and religion sustain me. I receive calmness in the storms of the presidency.

I love the fact that people pray for me and my family all around the country. Somebody asked me one time, "Well, how do you know?" I said, "I just feel it."

Religion is an important part. I never want to impose my religion on anybody else. But when I make decisions, I stand on principle, and the principles are derived from who I am.

I believe we ought to love our neighbor like we love ourself.



KING: By the way, the Yankees did win Game Two. They lead that playoff series two games to nothing. It shifts to Boston on Friday.

Joining us now in the spin room here in Tempe, Arizona, is George P. Bush, President Bush's nephew, the son of Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Our early poll result asking people who won the debate had Kerry ahead by 52-39. What's your reaction, George?

GEORGE P. BUSH, NEPHEW OF PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, my reaction is that in 2000, we received the same type of analysis from the professional spinsters and pundits that we had lost all three debates. And yet, the average American voter thought that the president -- at that time, governor of the state of Texas -- had a clear vision and they went on to vote for him in states that traditionally went Democrat.

So, you know, I don't lend too much credence to these unscientific polls that come out within, you know, 30 minutes of the debate. I do lend credence to what we're seeing at the grassroots level, because ultimately, the enthusiasm and the passion of an organization is going to be the determining factor in this election.

KING: What about Florida?

GEORGE P. BUSH: What about Florida? That's a good question. It's always the question of the day.

You know, "USA Today" had an interesting poll just taken recently concerning the approval of the president and the governor in the state of Florida, my dad, concerning the passage of resources from the federal level to the local level and getting people back up on their feet.

And, according to this poll, an overwhelming majority approved of what they've done. And I think that speaks volumes about their leadership. I mean, people -- I don't know if people remember the morning of the first debate, my uncle was passing resources, handing water and handing generators out to folks and helping them get on their feet.

So this is an odd campaign season, but what else is new in Florida? Because, you know, people are still suffering and getting back on their feet. But we're going to try hard. We're going to continue -- it's going to be a close race. We've said that from day one. But we like our chances. We like to be where we are right now, which is a little up in the polls.

KING: Are the election machines going to work?

GEORGE P. BUSH: They will. In 2002, we had several statewide elections, many congressional races, and the process went smoothly. You know, our worthy opponents, when my dad ran for governor, tried to make it an issue of what happened in 2000. But my father recused him from the political process. The Department of Justice determined that there was no impropriety whatsoever, and that voters were not disenfranchised.

It was election year rhetoric. And that's unfortunately what our opponents like to engage in during the political season. But, rest assured, the voters of Florida feel more comfortable with the system than folks outside of Florida.

KING: All right. Let's do some round robin here before we end it and get to our final portion, which we'll have Ann Coulter and Jesse Jackson.

How's it going to go the next three, two weeks, Bill? It's really only 19 days.

RICHARDSON: Well, by the way, I wish that young Bush man were a Democrat. He's really good. He has a wonderful mom.

KING: He's got a future.

RICHARDSON: What's going to happen now, it's the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) now it's all going to be up to last-minute putting resources where you have a chance in the battleground states. I think we're looking at ten battleground states, reducing themselves in the last few days to four or five.

I believe the election will be settled in four Southwestern states with very strong Hispanic populations: New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. And I believe this is a real opportunity for Democrats and for Senator Kerry. The Midwest is going to be critical, but I don't have a handle there. I do have a handle in these other four states, but it's all going to be up to get the vote out, mobilization, registrations, the traditional role that parties do.

KING: Perry Bacon, what's your handle?

BACON: I think the two candidates are going to really try to appeal to their bases and turn out the vote so much. I think you're going to hear more attacks on each other -- the attacks will get sharper and harder. I think you'll see the campaigns in five states: Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and not many other places. And the winner of those five states will be the winner of the election, I think.

KING: Marc?

RACICOT: Well, I think it will be turnout, getting your voters to the polls. And it will be confined to a relatively few number of states. I also think a huge part of what's going to take place between now is the further definition, letting people know and understand precisely what these people stand for. And I don't think all of America knows that yet.

KING: Candy, how do you read it?

CROWLEY: I think, right now, what you're going to see is the polls begin to settle in. And as they do, they will begin to settle in in various states. And each side, as Marc will tell you, have on- the-ground strategists who will say, "OK. We're giving up on this state. Pull the ads out of there. Let's put them in this state."

It's really a chess game now, Larry, and it's not only about, you know, rallying your base, but it's about putting your candidate and your ad money in the right places at the right time. This becomes a very strategic ground game.

KING: And George P., how do you see it?

GEORGE P. BUSH: Well, just to piggyback along the comments of all of your panelists, I want to see that you're right. It's a ground game from hear on out. It's a matter of putting the resources in the right place.

If you look at a lot of the interactive electoral maps, you'll see that we hold an advantage. And so we've got to hold onto the states that we won in 2000 and win a few of those states that were close in 2000 that went for the other side.

I don't want to talk New Mexico, because I know the governor's on the other side, I will say this, that it's going to be a hard race. We're going to fight hard in the key battleground states, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and I feel confident in our abilities.

KING: Thank you all very much. Thanks for being with us. We'll see you on the trail.

And, when we come back, we'll wind it up with Ann Coulter and Jesse Jackson. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KERRY: I regret to say that the president, who called himself a uniter, not a divider, is now presiding over the most divided America in the recent memory of our country. I've never seen such ideological squabbles in the Congress of the United States. I've never seen members of a party locked out of meetings the way they're locked out today.

We have to change that.



KING: To help clearly define the issues, who better to have on than Ann Coulter, the conservative pundit, author of the new book "How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must." She's in New York.

And at the spin room here in Tempe is Reverend Jesse Jackson, senior adviser to the Kerry campaign, founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

They talked very admiringly of each other during the break.

Ann, how did you see tonight?



KING: Ann, what was your read tonight?

ANN COULTER, AUTHOR: I think this was Bush's best debate by far and Kerry's worst debate by far. A few questions in particular I think Kerry completely fell down on, on gay marriage, affirmative action, faith and women. I think it was a disaster, and I don't care what the instant polls say. People may think he is a better debater, but I don't think he picked up many votes tonight.

JACKSON: Well, I thought Kerry has done well, one, because there's been a net loss of jobs in every state. That's a stubborn fact that will not go away, the first time it's happened in 70 years.

Kerry keeps reaching out, and he said we must raise the minimum wage for the working poor. Mr. Bush will not raise the minimum raise. The 45 million Americans who have no health insurance, many of them are working. They just need better wages (UNINTELLIGIBLE) more education for them.

So why are we losing jobs? He said we need more education. We're losing educated workers' jobs. We're losing industrial jobs, not because they can't read and write. It's because they're competing in an unfair cheap labor markets. And I thought that Kerry, by touching the Congressional Black Caucus, NAACP, and minimum wage kept broadening his base. KING: Ann, why is this race, if the country is conservative, your books sell well. Conservative books sell well. If the country is so conservative, why is this race so close?

COULTER: Well, I suppose we'll see on Election Day how close it is. But if I could say, on part of the reason wages are low, I mean, to hear Kerry talking about minimum wage is because they've been sent to China. And he voted for trade with China. Of course, he also voted for NAFTA. That's one thing. But trade with a slave state? And he talks about outsourcing and minimum wage?

And I also think it was pretty outrageous when he was asked about affirmative action and he throws in how he wants affirmative action for women. Women? We're a majority. I mean, once you throw in a majority of the country, it's not affirmative action.

KING: Why are you paid less than men then?


COULTER: Oh, there are a lot of studies on that. It's because women drop out of the workforce, raise children, prefer jobs where they can work at home. But we're a majority. I mean, anyone who talks about affirmative action in terms of anything other than blacks is a racist. I mean, it's not affirmative action anymore. Then it's just affirmative action for everyone.

JACKSON: The majority (UNINTELLIGIBLE) have an amendment to the Constitution -- the majority, women, had to have an amendment to the Constitution to get the right to vote. There is something called gender discrimination. And there is something called women call 70 percent of a dollar to do the same work that men do.

So affirmative action is a majority -- it's women and people of color. It's Title 9 and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it's not just a black issue or a brown issue. It's women and people of color. That's why it's the key to growth. And women and minorities are included in the growth, we all get better and stronger.

KING: Well, Ann, do you think -- you implied when you answer when I said it was close. Do you think it's going to be a runaway?

COULTER: I don't think a runaway. But I don't think it's going to be like the 2000 election. I think it'll be big.

I think another answer that Kerry completely fell down on, perhaps his worse answer of all, but there were several competitors for that, was on gay marriage. I mean, Bush answered, you felt warmly and tolerant toward gays. I think everyone felt that from his answer.

Kerry, for one thing, gay baits Dick Cheney and then starts talking about spouses who leave and break up their families when they discover they're gay. Suddenly, you have this creepy feeling about gays, and he's the one who supports gay marriage.

I thought that was an absolute disaster. KING: Well, I think he was trying to give understanding to the problem of being gay. I think the question was, did you choose to be gay? And he was trying to answer that question, I think.

Jesse, are the blacks going to come out and vote?

JACKSON: I think in record numbers. The big issue of why that's increased is the issue of voter suppression, which was not brought up tonight. In Florida, 49,000 men taken (UNINTELLIGIBLE) off of several African-Americans, and the judge had to overrule that.

In the case of Michigan, an elected official said, "Unless you suppress the Detroit vote, we cannot win." In the year 2000, over 2.1 million votes that was spoiled, a million were blacks. So targeting black voters is a big deal. In most of these states, we now see patterns of not honoring the Help America Vote Act, and you see patterns of schemes to undermine the vote.

We should have a commitment, a shared commitment. Let the winner win and the loser win, but never again should the winner lose and the loser win as happened in 2000.

KING: Ann, you would agree with that, right?

COULTER: Yes, but I keep hearing stories of this voter suppression in Florida and how, you know, blacks were denied the right to vote in Florida last time. No one's been able to produce a single case. Meanwhile, historically, the most famous vote stealing episodes have involved the Democrats.

JACKSON: The fact is that, in today's "Washington Post," as a lead on the front page, showing schemes of voter suppression in Florida. But not just Florida.

You know, in 2000, Larry, more votes were lost...

KING: We're running out of time.

JACKSON: ... in Illinois than lost in Florida. They were not looking (UNINTELLIGIBLE) machines, which I say to you tonight, that voter suppression is a big issue in this campaign, and we deserve an equal right to vote protected by all.

KING: Thank you both very much.

We'll wind it up from Tempe, Arizona, at Arizona State University right after this.


KING: Nineteen days to go. Aaron Brown, "NEWSNIGHT," is next. It's midnight in New York. Stay up, he's great.


AARON BROWN, CNN HOST: Thank you. KING: Good night.


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