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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Bob Schieffer, Panel Examines Election '04

Aired October 28, 2004 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, five days before the election. And what a show we've got for you tonight. A major panel will be with us later but first Bob Schieffer, the moderator of "Face the Nation," CBS News chief Washington correspondent and bestselling author. We start with Mr. Schieffer then our panel. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: We're honored that Mr. Schieffer has chosen to wear the same tie he wore at the debate in Arizona, the last presidential debate, his lucky tie. Did you enjoy doing that?

BOB SCHIEFFER, "FACE THE NATION": It was the most interesting thing I've ever done, Larry, I must say, in broadcasting. It was also somewhat terrifying, really. I don't get nervous very often, but I really did have little butterflies at the start of this. But I guess it's like playing in a baseball game. Once the first pitch is thrown, you focus in. But just the high drama, really, of being there on that stage with those two men and realizing what they said there may well determine which one is going to be president, it was truly thrilling from a professional standpoint.

KING: Bob's new book by the way is "Face the Nation, My Favorite Stories From the First 50 Years of the Award-Winning News Broadcast." He was on with us earlier to discuss this book at another time. You see its cover there. It's a major bestseller. It's always great to have him with us. You're going to write another book, right?

SCHIEFFER: I really enjoy it. This is kind of my night job.

KING: Before we talk about the election, what do you make over this -- and since your network is somewhat involved, the missing explosives debate? I guess we'll call it that.

SCHIEFFER: Yes, it's -- I must say, Larry, everybody I've talked to from the beginning has come back from Iraq and said one of the things that went wrong was that we did not have enough people there to even guard these ammo dumps that Saddam Hussein's people abandoned. I think this is one more example of it. And now, tonight, we learned that a reporter from KSTP apparently was with the 101st Airborne when they went in there and there were photos, film taken of what apparently are at least some of these weapons that they now claim are missing. This is just another in an example, I think, of why the administration did not have enough people on the ground KING: How does this Iraq thing play out? Where does it go, no matter who's elected? Where does it go?

SCHIEFFER: It is very very discouraging because I think we're going to have a very difficult time no matter who is president, holding elections in January, as scheduled. I think we're going to have a very difficult time helping the Iraqis get an army up and running. They got to get some kind of an army up and running there. We have got to find some way to help these people, but this is not something, Larry, that we can do for them. This is something in the end they'll have to do for themselves and it's going to be difficult to figure out how to do that

KING: Is it, in your opinion the key issue Tuesday?

SCHIEFFER: I don't think there's any question. I think it overrides everything, what happens in Iraq. I think it's been the issue from the beginning and I think it remains the most serious issue. The economy obviously and jobs in some of these battleground states is also a serious issue, but I think it's all about the war in Iraq.

KING: And what are your people -- what's your read? What's going to happen?

SCHIEFFER: Larry, I wouldn't bet your money on it, let alone mine. This is the closest election that I can ever recall. And also I think really the most intense. The country is extremely polarized. It's very difficult. You know, there's so much passion out there. I think it may come down to young voters. And I think we don't know what they're going to do because they're not being polled. I think most of them have cell phones and you cannot poll people who have cell phones. So I think the way the younger voters, the last minute voters, the way they go in these battleground states is going to determine who wins this election.

KING: If it is a huge turnout, would that tend to favor, in your opinion, one candidate or another, or is this so up in the air?

SCHIEFFER: I think it's so up in the air that I -- I trust the polls in the sense they're the only measure that we have, but I'm not entirely confident of these polls, because I think what was it, one of the pollsters told me the other day that now it's fewer than 1 in 6 people that the pollsters call want to cooperate with the pollsters. So you can't be absolutely certain of what these polls are showing. When it's this close, you know, it could be any kind of a wildcard. Maybe the weather's bad in one of these states. Maybe somebody had to go to the doctor that was planning to go to the polls. I mean, when it's this close, as we found out the last time in Florida, it can be any number of factors that determine the turnout.

KING: We were talking before we went on. Why is there still an electoral college? Because the way it is now if you wake up in the morning in California, New York, Texas or Utah, the outcome is -- I think we can forecast those states tonight. SCHIEFFER: I have always been for the electoral college because I thought it was the only way for the small states to get attention. I was out on the West Coast last week, Larry and there are people on the West Coast, which as everybody says is going to go for Kerry, who feel like they live in the District of Columbia. They feel like it doesn't make any difference whether they go to the polls. I think the electoral college has finally outlived its usefulness and its purpose. And as you point out, with television, everybody is going to get a picture of these people.

KING: So every vote would count, right?

SCHIEFFER: And every vote would count. I think it's time to get rid of the electoral college.

KING: Think you'll see it in your lifetime?

SCHIEFFER: No, probably not.

KING: Why is it so vituperative?

SCHIEFFER: ...any number of things. I think number one the kind of campaigns that we've been having. They're just so nasty and that just kind of rubs off on the public. I tell you something, Larry. What I learned moderating these debates is people were proud of these debates. It was something they were making plans, they were making dates to have, you know, debate parties like we do at Super Bowl time for the first time in a long time, there was something that people in our political process could absolutely be proud of. I mean, you haven't heard of anybody that wanted to rush home to see that latest negative ad about John Kerry or George Bush. People wanted to see these debates and it reinforced to me people are interested in politics, they're not turned off by politics.

It's these ads and the campaigns that we've been running that people are so sick of. And I think that's one part of it, kind of, you know, these television commercials are just awful. I mean if all you knew, if you arrived on earth from another planet and all you knew about our politics what is you saw in these campaign ads, you'd think it would be thugs, thieves and deviants are the only people who run for public office.

KING: Well put. Someone said the other day, we could be around here till May.

SCHIEFFER: I hope not. I tell you, I think both of these men are qualified to be president. I think they're both men of integrity, I think they are both men of experience and I think they're both men who are patriots. I think either of them is qualified to be president. I would be -- I don't care which one of them wins at this point. I just want it to be a decisive victory. I want it to be absolutely clear who has won. I think if we have to go back to the Supreme Court, it would just be a terrible thing.

KING: You don't want lawsuits?

SCHIEFFER: No.

KING: We're going to take a break, come back. We'll include some calls for Bob Schieffer. The new book is "Face the Nation, My Favorite Stories From the First 50 Years of the Award-Winning News Broadcast."

Then in a while, we'll meet our panel to get into a major election discussion. Speaking of election night, we're all going to be at Nasdaq headquarters in Times Square, broadcasting from that famed spot and we'll be one of the cohosts of the entire election night along with Wolf Blitzer and Jeff Greenfield and Judy Woodruff and Bill Schneider. The whole crew at CNN, we're all going to be down at Nasdaq bringing you the latest results as they come in. We'll be right back with Bob Schieffer. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER: When John Kerry mentioned your sister by name after I asked him if he and President Bush believed that homosexuality was a choice, brought up your sister Mary's name. Your parents, to say the least, sort of went through the roof, a lot of other people took offense. But I can find where anybody asked Mary Cheney what she thought about it. Was she offended?

LIZ CHENEY, SR. ADVISER, BUSH-CHENEY CAMPAIGN: She was, Bob. Thanks for having me first of all.

I think we've all been pretty clear that we thought it was out of bounds. Mary was angry herself about it. And I think many people watching that night if you look at the polls afterwards thought it was out of bounds as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIEFFER: I keep thinking of the Red Sox, this wildly different group of individuals who have become a real team, when I look at our politicians who have been reduced to pablum spouting look-alikes by media coaches who have taught them to stay on message and at all costs avoid any spontaneity. I still like candidates who go to the barbershop, of course. It's good for the local economy. But wouldn't it be great if just once in a while candidates let it all hang out and had a little fun, like the Red sox do? It might be good politics. Might even scare the other side.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Try to have an opinion. Bob Schieffer, the moderator of "Face the Nation." ABC News has shown video of a man claiming to be an American member of al Qaeda. The man is disguised. His English is clear, slightly accented. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People of America, I remind you of the weighty words of our leaders Sheikh Osama bin Laden and Dr. Ayman Zawahiri, that what took place on September 11 was but the opening salvo of the global war on America. And that, Allah willing, the magnitude and ferocity of what is coming your way will make you forget all about September 11.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He vowed that the streets of America will run red with blood. You buy that?

SCHIEFFER: Well, these are not nice people, Larry. I think...

KING: You think it's authentic?

SCHIEFFER: I have no idea. In fact that's the first time I've seen it. I have no idea. But these terrorists are not nice guys. And we're going to have to confront this in the same way that our parents confronted the Nazis. And it's going to take more than just guns, it's going to be convincing a large segment of the world who are teaching their children to hate us, that this is not right. We've got to turn that around.

KING: What effect on the campaign, if any? Or hard to read?

SCHIEFFER: You mean of this guy? The guy with the mask I don't know. I don't think it'll have much effect. It takes a lot to scare the American people. We've been through a lot

KING: What about the media effect on this election?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I don't know. I don't know if it's the media so much, as it's just the campaigns have been, you know, so nasty and so bitter. I don't think it's been the media that has made that it way, frankly.

I mean, you look at some of these commercials that both sides are running about each other, these so-called independent groups and what they've been doing. I mean, that's not the media, that's the campaigns that are doing that, Larry.

KING: We're just covering it.

SCHIEFFER: Yes.

KING: Let's take a call for Bob Schieffer. The book is "Face the Nation: My Favorite Stories From the First 50 Years of the Award Winning Newscast." Sacramento, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Mr. Schieffer, I'm so concerned about the stories in the news that our votes will be counted and not contested by lawyers by either party. Can you comment on that.

SCHIEFFER: You're concerned about the votes that will not be contested by lawyers? CALLER: Correct.

KING: You want the lawyers to contest them?

CALLER: No, no, no.

KING: You don't want them contested?

CALLER: No. I would like all votes to be counted. But I'm concerned about the news stories where the lawyers are going to be possibly contesting whether or not they're legitimate and whether or not they're counted. And whether it will be tied up in the courts.

KING: What other way to do it?

SCHIEFFER: I think you're going to have poll watchers at a lot of places around the country. And that's why I say, I hope that this can -- there can be a decisive vote here, so we won't have to wind up in court to find out who won. But we'll just have to wait and see what's happened.

I mean, both sides have these platoons of lawyers spread that are spread out in some of these battleground states. I just hope there's a decisive vote and that won't matter. But we'll just have to see how this thing goes. It's going to be very, very close

KING: Do you see a lot of partisanship in the media?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I don't know.

KING: Keep hearing about it. I don't see it.

SCHIEFFER: I think you'll find a lot of different opinions all over the dial now, because people have so many choices. I mean, we're almost, Larry, to the point we're not into broadcasting anymore, we're into narrow casting, because the broadcasting has gone the way of magazines, sports magazines for sports nuts, women's magazines for women.

You can now get your news kind of anyway way you want it. You can get it like orderings eggs. You can get it scrambled, you can get it sunnyside up. And what we're finding, is a lot of people, now, are going to the station not to get information, but to the station that will validate what they already believe. And I think that is one reason that we have this polarization that we have today.

KING: What's the effect of the Internet?

SCHIEFFER: Oh, the Internet has changed everything. What you have to remember about the Internet, it is the first vehicle to distribute news on a national scale that is not edited. Even the worst newspaper has an editor. I think the Internet is more like the national water cooler than it is like a news medium.

KING: But People quote it, take it seriously.

SCHIEFFER: People gather there, they trade stories, they trade jokes, they tell lies and sometimes they pass on accurate information.

Let me tell you about a story, just to give you an example. I was Googling myself one day. I admit that I did it. And up pops this story that says Jerry Rice, the wide receiver then of the Oakland Raiders had shown up at "Face the Nation" and Bob Schieffer was stunned, because he was expecting Condoleezza Rice. And it said after Schieffer recovered that Jerry Rice had some very interesting things to say about foreign policy.

That story was a joke. It had been made up out of whole cloth. It was a parody. But ironically, it showed up on the Internet. It didn't say where it came from. It was right next to a column by Tom Friedman of the "New York Times" who had been on "Face the Nation" that Sunday. And I'll guarantee you, somebody out there, a lot people out there who found that story thought it was real. And it's just another example.

And I say this to kids especially, when you're doing those term themes, the Internet is a wonderful resource, but make sure and check it out to make sure it's accurate. Because a lot of this stuff is made up out of whole cloth.

KING: The coverage Tuesday night, let's hope we don't have any goofs.

SCHIEFFER: Well I hope so. If we have the kind of night we had in 2000, I hope somebody's chartered an airplane so we can all get out of town. Because I don't want to go through that again, Larry. We have changed everything. I think we're going to to alright.

KING: Thank you, Robert.

SCHIEFFER: Thank you, sir.

KING: See you soon.

SCHIEFFER: Always a pleasure.

KING: You're a great man.

Bob Schieffer, wearing the tie he wore at the debate, the historic tie. It will probably be in the Smithsonian. And he's the author of "Face the Nation: My Favorite Stories From the First 50 Years of the Award Winning News Broadcast."

When we come back, former Governor Marc Racicot, the chairman of Bush/Cheney '04. Former Governor Ann Richards, senior adviser, public strategies. Dennis Pregger, host of the nationally syndicated talk radio show, and Reverend Al Sharpton. Former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. They're gonig to go at it. And I'll wear the referee's clothes. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's meet our panel. We'll take calls for them in a while too. In Washington, is Governor Marc Racicot, the chairman of Bush/Cheney, '04.

In Austin Texas, Ann Richards, former Democratic governor the Texas, elected in 1990. She lost to George W. Bush in 1994. Senior advisor Public Strategies, Inc.

In Los Angeles, Dennis Prager, host of the nationally syndicated talk radio program, "The Dennis Prager Show," and best selling author. His books include "Why The Jews: the reason for anti-Semitism."

And here in New York, Reverend Al Sharpton, the former candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and founder and president of the National Action Network.

Let's start with Governor Racicot.

What do you think of the make of these back and forth stories about the explosives?

MARC RACICOT, CHAIRMAN BUSH/CHENEY '04 CAMPAIGN: It is a story about the character of John Kerry. The thesis, of course, is preposterous too begin with. And the notion that somehow every road taken, every weapon fired, every decision made ultimately is administration policy is obviously incorrect, and is a total miscalculation of what precisely takes place in a war. Secondly, it doesn't conform -- confirm -- or conform with the facts. The facts of the matter are that they're still developing circumstances and we have troops on the ground who say those weapons weren't there. They've said that on national television. We know that it defies common sense to think you can move 350 tons of weapons without being noticed by the military assets that were there. And finally, it's a demonstration of the raw craven opportunism of John Kerry, not having the facts. And I think it's rare insight into his character. He wants to win and he'll say anything to do it.

KING: Governor Richards, though, on KSTP TV in St. Paul tonight, there was a man embedded with troops who showed you the weapons when the troops were there. They showed them on TV tonight.

What's your reaction to Governor Racicot said.

ANN RICHARD (D), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: Larry, I'm not going to try to spin you. And all that last stuff, well, it's all Kerry's fault because they couldn't find 400 or what is it, 380 tons of explosives. It's like what Colin Powell told the president from the very beginning, if you break it, you own it. And we're in a broken situation in Iraq. We know now because we see it on our television sets every night despite what anyone says on the campaign trail with the indignity that we didn't send enough troops, that we didn't have the equipment we needed, that we did not do the job. If you don't lay that at the doorstep of the White House, I don't know where you lay it. Because when the boss is the one that calls the war that tells them to go in, we're going to war, then if he can't conduct it and if the people cannot keep up with 380 tons of explosives, who else are you going to call to task for it? KING: Dennis Prager, how do you read it.

DENNIS PRAGER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If I may mention other networks, NBC and ABC News, Larry, have reported that in fact the stuff was taken prior to our arrival in that area of Iraq. Israeli intelligence had reported it actually at the time. The State Department actually ignored it. They had photographs of trucks taking stuff -- a lot of stuff from there up to Syria.

As regards the whole issue, though Larry, about the president if you break it you own it and so on, there is no war anyone has ever fought, any nation at any time that has not involved errors, mistakes. There's a new book out on the last we're of World War II, the last year. And it is just filled with the errors that the allies made. That is part of the war. Why don't the Democrats say, listen, it's the right war. We have no choice but to fight this. It's the evil of our time. And that's what the American people are ultimately going to vote on, which war has to be fought at this time

KING: If the polls are correct, Reverend Sharpton, the public is divided over what Dennis Prager just said. Half of them say yes, and half say no.

REV. AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Bill Schieffer is right when he told you a lot of young people in the public are not being polled. I think you're going to be surprised at the vote. But hope that a lot of the public is watching tonight, because I heard the governor and Dennis Prager tell us that it doesn't matter that we have over 300 tons of explosives missing and that the president is not responsible. So now we have a president that's not responsible for the fact there were no weapons of mass destruction, that's not responsible if under his watch something like this occurs, it's John Kerry's fault.

I mean if anybody wanted to study the politics of absurdity, they should listen to the answers tonight. There are people on the ground, American troops, and we cannot be cavalier about discovering tons of weapons, tons of explosives right there in Iraq where we told the world we knew exactly what was there. It doesn't matter where we were. They where there and we didn't know they were there.

KING: Governor, do you agree mistakes were made.

RACICOT: I think what the reverend is talking about is patent nonsense. He doesn't get it. What I'm telling is this, that the facts have not been established. And the facts militate the other direction and suggest it wasn't there to begin with, Reverend Sharpton.

SHARPTON: So, where did they come from?

RACICOT: No. No. Just a minute. You just hang on just a second here.

SHARPTON: I'm asking, where did it come from? RACICOT: I'm telling you it wasn't there at that time. That's exactly what Dennis pointed out too. That's what the evidence suggests. The troops on the ground say when they got there, it wasn't there. And consider the motive surrounding this. You have a disenfranchised representative of the United Nations who apparently knows about this for 18 months and doesn't say anything about it until eight days before the election.

KING: Governor how about the report on KSTP though that the guy who was with them showed the weapons when he was with this American servicemen.

RACICOT: You have servicemen on the ground, commanders on the ground, Larry, who said it wasn't there. Secondly you tell me...

KING: But we saw the film.

RACICOT: You tell me how possible is this?

SHARPTON: Are you saying, governor, the film is wrong?

Do you have any evidence to say there's something wrong with the film?

RACICOT: Just listen to me. Just listen to me for a minute. The bottom line is, when did you learn this fact? Today is the first time you learned this fact. Now, this has been up in TV advertisements since Monday.

And secondly, when they talk about removal, virtually everyone there on the ground has said, how do you move, without notice, 350 tons? It would have taken 70 or 80 dump trucks. The roads were literally occupied by American forces with traffic moving in one direction. So, what I'm telling is, these are unsubstantiated facts and yet John Kerry snaps it up and uses it in his campaign.

SHARPTON: But Governor are you denying -- are you denying the tape there. I mean, I think you've got to deal with the tape. I mean, you've had commanders that said that the...

RACICOT: There are photographs. There are photographs.

SHARPTON: You said the prison scandal didn't happen, and it only got worse.

Why would the American people...

RACICOT: There are satellite photographs -- there are satellite photographs showing movement around those. That was reported yesterday. Satellite photographs showing movement before American troops ever got there.

KING: Let me get a break guys. Then Governor Richards and Dennis Prager will respond. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This week, Senator Kerry is again attacking the actions of our military in Iraq with complete disregard for the facts. Senator Kerry will say anything to get elected. The senator's willingness to trade principle for political convenience makes it clear that John Kerry is the wrong man for the wrong job at the wrong time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. President, here are the facts that every American can understand it seems, except for you. The bottom line about these weapons that have disappeared. Here's the bottom line. They're not where they're supposed to be. You were warned to guard them. You didn't guard them. They're not secure. And guess what? According to George Bush's own words, he shouldn't be our commander-in-chief and I couldn't agree more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with our panel. Let's touch some other bases. Governor Ann Richards, what happened to the women's vote that was so strongly Democratic and is now kind of a toss-up?

RICHARDSON: Actually, it's going to be there, Larry. I've been in almost every major battleground state. I finish up the next two in the next couple of days. The women are going to be there for Kerry. In fact I feel good about this election. I thought that what Kerry had to do was to go into the election with the polls saying that he was roughly even. And the number of people that we have registered to vote over the past year are going to turn out and we have outregistered the Republicans by 200 percent in the battleground states. It's going to be women, it's going to be young people, it is going to be minorities, it's going to be environmentalists. And they're all going to be there and they're going to stand in line and make sure their vote gets counted.

KING: The one thing, Dennis Prager, that nobody knows is who is going to win. Can you be at all in this kind of race certain?

PRAGER: You can't be certain. But I would be willing to bet Governor Richards, since she feels so good it, I'd be willing to bet on the race $1,000 to her party or a $1,000 to my party about who will win or to her favorite medical charity or whatever she would say. I think that when people enter the booth, they will ask themselves the key question, do I feel more secure if President Bush continues to be the president of my country, or Senator Kerry, whom frankly I don't know. I'm speaking in terms of the voter.

I don't know what he did for 20 years in the Senate. I don't know what his positions are on the war. I had a caller to my radio show who said to me, Dennis, I'm voting for John Kerry, because I know he's going to get us out of Iraq. I said, how do you know? He said, I heard him say it last night. This was the day after the first debate. Then I realized, it was like an epiphany for me. Whatever position you have on Iraq, and I mean this without any sarcasm, whatever position you have on Iraq, John Kerry has stated your position. If you want to stay in, he's your man. You want to fight stronger, he's your man. If you want to leave, he's your man. If you want to obey the U.N., he's your man. If you don't want to obey the U.N. he's your man.

KING: That's true, he's going to win.

RICHARDS: Larry, I've sat here patiently -- Larry, I've sat here patiently listening to all of that stuff. And I have never seen a time in American history when you could point to as many areas of things of the things that people in the middle class and families are concerned about whether it is jobs, the environment, healthcare, a terrible reputation abroad, mired down in a miserable war that is draining money out of our economy and opportunities to get healthcare and education. And it has all occurred under this president's watch. And I know that the American people, because I have seen them out there on the hustings (ph), are going to go to the polls and they're going to make John Kerry the next president.

KING: Al Sharpton, I know you do not speak for the American blacks, but what's your feeling as to how they will turn out?

SHARPTON: I think you're going to see an incredible turnout. I've been in 17 cities in the last eight days including three today. People are angry and people are clear. And I think that I'm not a betting man so I won't join Dennis' and Governor Richards' bet, but I'll say John Kerry will win. I will also say this. I was in the primaries. I debated John Kerry. John Kerry did not change his position on Iraq, even when we disagreed with it. The only mistake John Kerry made about Iraq is he began by believing George Bush.

One of the most ridiculous debating techniques I've ever seen is for George Bush to say to John Kerry, you were dumb to believe me. You should have known I was lying in the first place. He went by the intelligence provided by this administration. You're going to blame him for believing intelligence officers that you had -- Bush has never told us who authored that intelligence. Have they been fired? Have they been punished? Who authored all of these weapons of mass destruction stuff that ended up being wrong, Mr. President? Maybe the governor can tell us.

KING: Governor Racicot, we'll take that as a question for you.

RACICOT: Let me ask a question to Governor Richards and to the reverend. What is John Kerry's position on Iraq?

SHARPTON: I'd be glad to answer that after you answer me.

RICHARDS: I'd be happy to answer.

SHARPTON: Who wrote the intelligence?

RACICOT: I'd like to know what it is.

SHARPTON: Who wrote the intelligence report that you keep asking John Kerry why he believed. You guys were in charge of the intelligence. Tell...

RACICOT: Just a minute, take a breath here, Reverend. Take a breath and I'll answer the question.

SHARPTON: ...who were your sources that told us about the weapons of mass destruction?

RACICOT: Take a breath.

Take a breath.

KING: Neither question is being answered. He says he'll answer the question.

SHARPTON: I'm listening.

RACICOT: I'd be happy to. There were intelligence agencies that go back years into the Clinton administration, universal around the globe, around the planet, absolutely unanimous in their conclusions. Every civilized nation on earth that had an intelligence capacity, all agreed the United Nations agreed, Congress agreed, everyone agreed with the intelligence. Now, my question is, Reverend...

SHARPTON: Hans Blix was saying while you were preparing for war they couldn't find weapons. That is just not true. Hans Blix of the U.N. said that it was not true.

RACICOT: What is John Kerry's position on Iraq?

KING: You have to answer Iraq. One question, Governor Racicot, when the Bay of Pigs occurred, that was based on intelligence information and John Kennedy took the blame. He said the buck stops with me. Who is responsible if intelligence is wrong?

RACICOT: The president has indicated very clearly, look, there were flaws in the intelligence gathering and in dissemination process. He's also pointed out time and again that who do you think was partially responsible for that during the period of the 90s and who set about to completely decimate our intelligence capacity other than John Kerry by seeking to eliminate $6 billion from our intelligence agency.

KING: Then Kennedy could have blamed Eisenhower.

RACICOT: No, no, I'm saying the president said, look, we've been letting this process, this system atrophy for years. We've created all of these walls. This nation put itself in a position of being, I think, denied intelligence. So did the rest of the world. He said that. That's why he embraced the 9/11 commission.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You're saying that he took the blame?

RACICOT: I'm saying that the president recognized what everyone else recognized, who has had a chance to look at this. And that is that there was room for improvement in our intelligence gathering capacities.

KING: All right. Specifically, Governor Richards, he challenged you, what is Senator Kerry's Iraq plan, specifically?

RACICOT: What's his position on it?

RICHARDS: Senator Kerry has been very specific. And I've understood it.

KING: What is it?

RICHARDS: And that is that we have got to bring in the other countries that are our allies around the world in this effort. If you don't mind, I'll listen to your stuff. You listen to mine. If we do not have our allies helping us in this effort, we're going to continue to bear 90 percent of the cost and we're going to continue to bear 90 percent of the losses of lives. We have got to have someone that our allies trust.

KING: But Governor...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: What if those countries don't go along?

RACICOT: Exactly.

KING: Governor Richards, what if they don't go along?

RICHARDS: But the question is, Larry, is that they -- this president rushed to war. He made no effort to make certain that those weapons of mass destruction were there. He brushed off our allies. He said we are going to go it alone, and if he had waited and if he had been patient, we would have had our allies with us today.

Now, do I think that those allies are going to work with George Bush? You look at the situation. Obviously, they're unwilling to do that. They are not doing that.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Dennis?

PRAGER: In today's Tom Friedman column, and Tom Friedman is a liberal Democrat, the foreign affairs columnist for "The New York Times," he says explicitly, France and Germany have stated over and over, no matter who is president, they will not send troops to Iraq for any reason, in any way, even to just to supervise the January elections.

They left us. We didn't leave them. France is our enemy. RICHARDS: I have a great deal of respect for Tom Friedman.

PRAGER: That Tom Friedman -- well, he said France is our enemy.

RICHARDS: Those countries -- that those countries have been unwilling to help us under George Bush, and they're...

(CROSSTALK)

PRAGER: No, they're unwilling to help us, period.

RICHARDS: ... internationalize this situation...

(CROSSTALK)

SHARPTON: Dennis, I think, I think...

RICHARDS: ... we are going to...

KING: One at a time.

RICHARDS: ... dig this hole even deeper.

SHARPTON: I think the premise of what you're saying you have to examine. One, those countries left us, us being what? If there were no weapons of mass destruction, there was no reason for us to go in in the way we did. And I think that...

PRAGER: What were the 380 tons, Reverend Al? What were the 380 tons?

SHARPTON: I think we, again, we have to deal with...

PRAGER: They were -- weren't they weapons?

SHARPTON: ... is -- you can't on one hand, as the governor says, well, we depended on intelligence from around the world, then blame them for flawed intelligence. Then come back and say, well, we don't have to deal with the rest of the world. And then in the third flip -- I mean, you're talking about flip-flopping. All night long, you've flip-flopped on this show. You depended on foreign intelligence, you depended on the U.N. intelligence, but you don't care about their opinion of whether you should go in, and we dare not listen to any allies.

PRAGER: That is not a flip-flop. That is entirely accurate.

SHARPTON: I mean, you have three sides of one position.

PRAGER: No, no...

RACICOT: You don't listen plainly.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I'll let Governor Racicot respond, we'll come back -- we'll go to you as soon as we get back. Think this election's going to be close? We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John and I have a clear and unmistakable message. To the troops, we are with you. To the terrorists, we will hunt you down. And to the American people, we will keep you safe.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John Kerry does not have the judgment or the conviction that America needs in a president. He is not a steadfast leader our president is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Couple of facts before Governor Racicot comments. The turnout in 2000 was 54.3 percent. That was up from 51 percent in 1996, but down from 58 percent in 1992. That was the three-way race between Perot, Clinton and Bush I. And only one American president -- only one American candidate has ever gotten 60 percent of the vote, and that was Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

All right, Governor Racicot, you were going to say something and then we'll move to some other areas.

RACICOT: All right. I'm happy for the clarification, because when somebody said, well, I'm in favor of John Kerry's position on Iraq, I didn't know if it was the first one he took, where he wanted to aggressively pursue terrorism and authorize intervention into Iraq and against Saddam Hussein, or when he said I was an anti-war candidate, or when he voted against the troops to deny them the money for armor, and pay and health care. Or the one where he said it's the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place.

Now I understand from Governor Richards and Reverend Sharpton, that the real position is exactly the same as the president's, except he would invited Russia and Germany and France to be a part of this effort.

SHARPTON: Well, if you understand that, then you did not understand what we said. I think that the first position that Senator Kerry took is a position that most Americans took because they assumed that your candidate, the president, had the information and the evidence that he claimed he had.

I think that many Americans, John Kerry among them, had to change their position when obviously we found out we were misled by you guys that you had evidence of mass -- weapons of mass destruction.

RACICOT: So what is his position now?

SHARPTON: I don't think that you can blame people...

RACICOT: What is his position now? SHARPTON: ... and act as if they were naive because they did not think the president of the United States would mislead us, send the secretary of state to the U.N. and say you had evidence you didn't have. If there's something wrong with us believing in the president, then I think that that's the reason why we need to have a president we can believe in.

RACICOT: What's his position now?

RICHARDS: And Larry...

SHARPTON: His position now is very clear.

RICHARDS: Larry...

SHARPTON: ... as Governor Richards said, but you're trying to act like he flip-flopped. Who flopped on the American public was you guys when you didn't have the evidence. John Kerry believed it.

KING: Governor Richards and then Dennis.

RICHARDS: Hey, Larry, listen, I think what the Senate and John Kerry did was that they authorized the president to put a bullet in the gun. They didn't authorize him to shoot us in the foot with it.

KING: Dennis Prager? By the way...

RICHARDS: And that's exactly what's occurred.

PRAGER: You know, the England -- the Tony Blair, is he a liar too? The head of the socialist party, the Labour Party in Britain? Is he a liar? Is the prime minister of Australia a liar? Is the prime minister of Poland a liar?

SHARPTON: Well, we don't live in England and we are not having an election in Australia.

PRAGER: I know, but that's irrelevant.

SHARPTON: We're talking about...

PRAGER: The answer is irrelevant, Reverend. Reverend, let's talk logic.

SHARPTON: You guys have to explain to the American people why you said you had evidence you didn't have. We're here. We have a few minutes left. And I've asked you and the governor to explain to us where that came from. The governor said it came from all the way around the world, and the U.N.

PRAGER: The answer we all -- we all know the answer. It was universal among intelligence agencies that there were weapons of mass destruction. I just want to know one thing...

SHARPTON: So you depended on universal intelligence officers from around the world to send American troops in. You let people from around the world decide.

PRAGER: Reverend, are we out to try to find out truth or just yell at each other?

SHARPTON: I'm asking a question.

PRAGER: Because -- yes, you're not asking a question. You're making statements. Yes, we depend on world intelligence agencies. That is correct. Why is that a complex question? We don't always agree -- we don't always agree with their governments on what policy to pursue.

SHARPTON: Fine. Then why did you believe...

PRAGER: But we do, in fact, rely on all of their intelligence agencies. It was universally believed, because it was true. He did have weapons of mass destruction. We don't know where they are.

What are the 380 tons that is such a big issue now according to "The New York Times" and the Democratic Party? What are they? Are they BB guns? Are they water guns?

SHARPTON: No, they're missing, for one. They're missing, for one. But...

PRAGER: Senator Edwards said one pound -- not one ton -- one pound could bring down an airliner. That's pretty powerful stuff that was left from that place.

SHARPTON: Dennis, Hans Blix and the inspectors for the U.N. said they could not find the weapons. You said you listen universally. The people the U.N. sent there were saying, as you guys were saying, you had contrary evidence, that they were not there. Where is the contrary evidence? It's very simple. It was not universal.

(CROSSTALK)

PRAGER: What are the 380 tons, Reverend Sharpton? What do you call them? Weapons of medium destruction? Weapons of minuscule destruction? don't ask me. Wait.

SHARPTON: So are you saying -- are you saying that 380 tons that are missing was what you all were looking for? Is that what? We can make news here.

PRAGER: Reverend, what...

SHARPTON: You're saying this whole thing was to look for the 380 tons that you now can't find?

PRAGER: Reverend, if it's not important, why is the Democratic Party making a big deal. You can't have it both ways...

SHARPTON: The weapons you went to war for was these 380 tons? Is that what you're trying to tell the American people? RACICOT: No, we went to war for many reasons and the president turns out right, because Zarqawi and his type if they wouldn't be in Iraq today, they might be in Germany today or in America today or fighting us elsewhere in the world. We keep them busy in Baghdad.

SHARPTON: Trick or treat is Sunday. This is Thursday night. What are you talking about?

KING: Let me get a break.

SHARPTON: We went to war because you said we had weapons of mass destruction not -- this is unbelievable.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll be back with some more moments. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Marc Racicot, you're chairman of Bush-Cheney '04. What do your figures tell you? What percentage is still undecided?

RACICOT: Well, we think it's very small. Probably between 6 percent and 8 percent at the most. It's distilling itself, it appears, with each passing moment. So we still believe it's going to be incredibly close in a number of different states. We believed that from the very beginning. I wouldn't make another prediction other than that.

KING: 6 percent to 8 percent. Ann, that's big, it? If it's 8 percent, if it swings 6-2, that decides the election.

RICHARDS: I don't think -- I think that's high. I think it's much less than that. But I'm listening to some of the reports that I'm hearing, Larry, suggesting that there has been some shift in some voting and voters that were committed to Bush previously. This morning on, I believe, it was CNN, the suggestion was in Ohio, some polling is showing that white males now are shifting away from Bush to some extent to Kerry. I think this is going to be a decisive election night. I think that families and communities are desperately in need of healthcare and education and jobs and regardless of these guys shouting at each other all night, over weapons of mass destruction and the war. When it comes right down to the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) families are hurting in America and it's time for a change.

KING: Dennis, what -- do you know anyone undecided, Dennis?

PRAGER: Believe it or not, I think there are a number of undecideds. Otherwise, the pollsters are really nuts because it keeps going back and forth. I have a sense -- I just went to the battleground states to speak to Jewish communities in Florida, Pennsylvania and Ohio. A lot of people came over to me and say they were, in fact, they came to the debate or the talk that I gave. I debated Senator Levin in Ohio, in Cincinnati. A lot of people said they really went there in the hopes that they would decide. I believe there may well be a fair number of undecided. That's why I think that when a person enters the booth, and obviously, I'll be accused of partisanship. But I think that in the final analysis, the issue is pro-Bush or anti-Bush, because John Kerry doesn't inspire much following.

KING: Al, undecided?

SHARPTON: I believe that there are some undecideds. I don't think it's a lot. And I think that clearly, when people go in the booth, they're going to say am I better off today than I was four years ago? I think with Bill Clinton coming out, reminding us when we had a federal surplus, not a record deficit, reminding us when we had all of these jobs, not the loss of jobs, not the loss of healthcare, that George Bush will be soundly defeated. There are some undecided. I think they are smaller and smaller every day. Because I think that this president cannot prove his record has been in the best interest of the American people.

KING: Governor Racicot, where are you election night? In Washington?

RACICOT: Yes, sir.

KING: We only have 30 seconds.

RACICOT: The number keeps getting smaller, but those security moms and a lot more African-Americans are going to be supporting this president than in the past.

KING: Thank you all very much.

RICHARDS: Oh, for pity sake!

SHARPTON: The only African-American help you're going to get is our helping you move back to Crawford, Texas, governor.

RACICOT: We'll see.

KING: We'll be back in a couple minutes. Tell you about tomorrow. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tonight was sprightly. Tomorrow night, two Grahams. Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Bob Graham. They disagree on a lot of things. Governor Bill Richardson and Laura Ingram with us. Also a special tribute to the late Chris Reeve. His memorial service is tomorrow here at Juillard.

Had a wonderful day today. I spent it with Aaron Brown and his interpreter. We had lunch and it was a lot of fun, the food was delicious and always great seeing you, Aaron. And I will see you Tuesday night, will I not?

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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