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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview With Jeb Bush; Interview With Elizabeth Edwards
Aired November 1, 2004 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, it's the night before the election and the race for the White House is neck and neck. With us, the president's brother Jeb Bush, governor of the critical battleground state of Florida. And then Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic vice-presidential candidate, John Edwards, on a final campaign blitz through three swing states today.
Plus Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee, former Senate majority leader, George Mitchell, Democrat of Maine, GOP communications consultant, Tucker Eskew, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, a Kerry supporter and twice a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. And Bob Woodward, a Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter with extraordinary White House access. All next on this election eve edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: We begin tonight by going to Jacksonville, Florida, an old friend, Governor Jeb Bush, the governor of the state of Florida. He's had a hectic year -- forget politics -- with hurricanes and the like. We'll talk about that in a while.
What does it look like for tomorrow, Governor?
GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: Well, Larry, I think there's going to be a huge turnout, and I believe, based on our polling and most of the polls that have independently taken -- been taken here in Florida, that the president is going to win. He's going to win by a margin that will satisfy all the people that are anxiously awaiting all the lawyers coming down to try to create some kind of doubt about the election. I think he's going to carry this state and he'll be reelected.
KING: Governor, how do you explain the huge turnout of pre- voters? I think over a million -- well over a million people have already voted.
BUSH: I think we expect to have over two million, when you add up the absentee ballots that have been sent in and the early voting, which is exciting. In the last four years, there's been about a 9 to 10 percent increase in registered voters -- more Republicans than Democrats, I might add -- and so, you know, it's encouraging to see that many people voting. We've reformed our laws after 2000 to make it easer for people to vote absentee and to vote early, and people are taking advantage of it, which means the lines on Election Day won't be that long.
KING: And how about the electoral system itself? How well have we overcome the problems of four years ago?
BUSH: The election system itself, a task force was put together, bipartisan groups. They made recommendations. The legislature, at my urging, passed new laws that embraced most of those recommendations, and today we have a single standard for recounting, we got rid of the dimpled chads and pregnant chads. We put more money into voter education. There's now a provisional ballot. There is a reform of the absentee ballot process.
We've learned from the lessons of 2000 and had advanced model legislation. It's not going to be perfect, because we do have 10 million registered voters in our state. Not every one of them will be at the right place or will have the right documentation, but we will avoid the problems of 2000. And I think the president is going to win by a big enough margin anyway that people will be, at least our guys, will be comforted with the victory.
KING: Frankly, do you expect, Governor, legal challenges anyway?
BUSH: Yes, just like we've had them throughout the entire campaign. If you've looked at the number of lawsuits filed by the ACLU and People for the American Way and the Democratic Party, Robert Wexler, a congressman from Boca Raton. I mean, there's just been a whole slew of these lawsuits.
The state is -- the secretary of state is adhering to the law, and advancing positions that are based on the statute, and has won almost every one of these lawsuits. The ones that haven't been won are pending. And so the election will go off, and not without a hitch, because there's going to be imperfections, just any place in the country, you have to expect that. But it will be a fair election. The votes will be counted, and the winner will be known on election night.
KING: Can you understand the anger from four years ago that many people in Florida have?
BUSH: Yes, I can understand it, because it was a, you know, a fairly really close election. And partisans on both sides still remember 2000. But the great majority of Floridians have moved on. They're concerned about national defense, about tax policy, about education, about health care. And the election will be decided on that, not on the emotions of a marginal group of people, who are sincere, I'm sure, but do not make up a large number of folks anymore in our state.
KING: The president has been there 30 times. Why?
KING: I know he loves you -- I know he comes to see you. BUSH: For good reasons. He's -- as president he's come to unveil initiatives for which we're grateful, and we're supportive of them. As a candidate, he's come because Florida is the largest battleground state in terms of the number of electoral votes. It is no surprise that John Kerry and George Bush have spent a lot of time here. If you're a person living in Sacramento, California, the largest state in the country, you probably never saw a TV ad or saw a presidential candidate come to your city, but if you live in Orlando, Florida, you see it once a day, almost.
KING: Do you kind of wear two hats in a sense? I mean, you certainly want your brother to win. You're a Republican. You're -- but you're also governor, and you're governor of all the state, and you want a fair election. Are you wearing kind of two hats?
BUSH: Well, in a sense, in that sense, I am. And I'm also governor for the other issues that are out there, like the hurricanes and the other -- there are a lot of things going on that are not partisan or political in nature, and I have a duty to serve, and I will continue to do so. But I am also the brother of the president, I want him to get reelected, and I believe I've done that in a fair way. I've balanced my time and my energies to continue to serve the people of the state that I truly love, and also within the limits that, you know, are appropriate, campaigned hard for my brother.
KING: For example, you did not attend the Republican Convention because of the hurricanes, right?
BUSH: I didn't. And I asked the president not to campaign when we had storm after storm after storm, that it was appropriate to come to provide relief and to lend a hand, and to encourage people to rebuild, but not to do campaigning, and the campaign complied with that wish, which I am grateful for as well.
KING: In that end, how has the state recovered?
BUSH: Well, we're in the process of recovery. There are still people that have lost their homes and have not gotten a trailer, for example, from FEMA, but we're working on that hard. We hope to have everybody that we've identified that needs a place, by Thanksgiving to have that place so that they're not living in a tent or moved out of state. They can come and rebuild their lives in their communities. There's still lots of work to do to remove debris, and to help the -- help fix the public infrastructure, our beaches and many other things. And then we need to jump-start our economy a bit, I believe, because these storms have had a negative impact on our economy. We've led the nation in job growth in Florida this last month. That growth slowed down quite a bit.
KING: Let's get into some issues. Former President Carter writing an op-ed in "The Washington Post" -- also said similar things on this program -- that "there are disturbing signs that once again we prepare for a presidential election and some of Florida's leading officials hold strong political biases that prevent necessary reforms." How do you counter that? BUSH: Well, I don't have to counter it. The facts are that we have a system, and President Carter probably wasn't briefed on the changes in our laws or what exists here, but we have a system where 67 supervisors of election run the elections in each county. They have the responsibility to maintain the voter roles. They have the responsibility to run the elections on Election Day. The secretary of state, who works for me, is a great person who was mayor of Orlando. She is a Republican, but she's not a partisan. Her whole public career has been one of reaching out and garnering, by the way, the support of many Democrats, as she won reelection time after time.
So the notion that somehow there is some kind of partisan effort under way to change the results of the election are just totally untrue, and I am disappointed in President Carter.
KING: Key -- one of the things that bother a lot of people, you even commented on it recently, was the president's inability to admit any mistakes. Should he have said, everybody makes mistakes? Should he have said something?
BUSH: Absolutely. Well, here's the deal. In the high-powered -- high voltage world of politics that we're in right now where everything is a "gotcha" if the president of the United States would admit -- he has admitted he's made mistakes, but if he said, well, this is what I did wrong, and this is what I did wrong, and this is what I did wrong, it would be in a TV ad, because that's the nature of just the discourse that we're in right now. You can't have it both ways. You can't say, well, the president won't admit that he won't, you know, that he can't make a mistake and the minute he does, just pound him. I mean, that's exactly you know what would have happened.
And that was my comment, and I think it's a fair one. I just think -- I think we're living in really uncivil times right now, and put aside who's the winner tomorrow -- I hope and pray it's the president -- but somehow Democrats and Republicans alike need to change the level of discourse in our country on these big issues, or people that have been really enthused to get involved will get turned off, and I think there's a danger to that in our country.
KING: What's your read on the Senate race in Florida?
BUSH: It's, again, just as the presidential race, is close, with the president I think having a small lead. I believe that Mel Martinez has a small lead as well. The campaigns are kind of tied together, both the Senate and the presidential campaigns are tied together somewhat, although there will be people that will split the ticket.
Mel's a great guy. He'd be a -- I think he'd do really well for Florida as a senator. He would be very effective, and of course, I'm, you know, supporting him wholeheartedly because of that.
KING: Weather forecast good throughout the state?
BUSH: It's always beautiful in Florida, Larry, you know that. Come on down and visit us. KING: Hey, it's my second home.
BUSH: I think the weather -- I think the weather is pretty good. This is actually a very beautiful time of year. The humidity is gone, it's kind of dry. The -- I've been noticing that it's really cold up in Wisconsin and those places where the candidates seem to have to campaign as well, and the polls -- the polls will be open at 7:00. It will be a beautiful day throughout the state. I don't think there's any problems with weather.
KING: They're forecasting a lot of rain in the Midwest. Is that good or bad for you, or discountable?
BUSH: I don't know. I don't know.
KING: Who knows.
BUSH: I think it's grasping at straws to start worrying about weather on the night before the election. People are motivated to vote, and I think that they will, and I am excited about the prospects of the president being reelected. I think he's done a great job, enduring really difficult times, and we need a leader with a steady hand during the tumultuous times that we're living in.
KING: How are your parents holding up?
BUSH: Well, the last I saw, my mother is ready to have a nervous breakdown, and my dad announced he had -- he had an ulcer when he was 40, and took medicine to cure it. Now his ulcer has come back. So they're kind of -- they are anxious to get this over with. I think they're suffering with their oldest son.
KING: Are you going to join your brother in Washington, or are you staying in Florida?
BUSH: I am going to stay in Florida. I wish I could be with him. I hugged him yesterday afternoon, in front of 20,000 people in Gainesville, Florida, and told him I loved him and told him to finish strong, and that, you know, that I would see him after the election. But I think it's best for me to be in Tallahassee to deal with whatever...
BUSH: ... you know, is going to happen as it relates to all of the tacks and all this legal stuff.
KING: And you definitely don't want to be president?
BUSH: I'm not running for president in 2008. That's what I said, and that's -- it came at -- I actually said it at a fourth-grade class at Pensacola Beach, the last time I said it. I've said it maybe 30 times, and I said it on one of your competitors networks, and he was shocked, almost dropped out of his chair, and I told him afterwards that maybe he should have just checked with that fourth- grader, he could have gotten him the info. KING: Thanks, Jeb. Good seeing you.
BUSH: Take care, Larry. Thank you.
KING: Governor Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida.
Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of the North Carolina senator running for vice president is next, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I'm so proud of my brother, and I know with your help he will be reelected on Tuesday. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you our president, George W. Bush!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're taking care of some satellite connections, so Elizabeth Edwards will be with us in a little while. So we'll go to our panel. They are in Washington, Senator Bill Frist, Senate majority leader, Republican of Tennessee. Here in New York, the former Senate majority leader, George Mitchell, former chairman of the Democratic senatorial campaign. In Washington, Tucker Eskew, GOP communications consultant and a former deputy assistant to the president. Reverend Jesse Jackson is in Miami, the founder and president of the Rainbow/PUSH coalition. And in Washington, Bob Woodward, editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and journalist for "The Washington Post," author of the number one "New York Times" best- seller "Plan of Attack," which is now out in paperback.
Senator Frist, when we get right down to it, nuts and bolts, do we really know what's going to happen tomorrow?
SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), MAJORITY LEADER: No. No one does. Everybody wishes they did. And I think the poll data, the fact that it is all over the place really demonstrates the fact that we're not going to know until very late tomorrow night and maybe not until the following day.
KING: Senator Mitchell, why is this so close?
GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: The country's divided, Larry. It was four years...
KING: Evenly divided?
MITCHELL: Evenly divided, yes. I think it's about as close as you can get. You saw last time for one of the few times in our history, one candidate won the popular vote, the other won the electoral vote. You can't get any more divided than that.
KING: Could that happen again?
MITCHELL: It could. Yes. Either way. It's a very close race. KING: Tucker Eskew, do you have any kind of read?
TUCKER ESKEW, GOP COMMUNICATIONS CONSULTANT: I do, Larry. I feel very good tonight. We've got momentum in our favor, and out of Florida and Ohio, a sense that the race is moving strongly in our direction. Undecideds are breaking toward the president, narrowly but toward him, in a way that fits with historical pattern. It feels very good to us tonight going into a big day tomorrow.
KING: Reverend Jackson, Bill Schneider, our expert on politics, said if it's huge turnout, maybe over 112 million, that will help Senator Kerry. Do you agree?
REV. JESSE JACKSON, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION: Yes. And there will be a huge turnout. The African-American voters are at a fever pitched. The young vote may be the X factor. The cell phone generation has not been in the polling, and they're voting at levels that we frankly have never seen before, in part because they fear the back-door draft. They think there will be a draft after the election is over. In part because for them, life has become more expensive. Tuition has gone up, and cannot get jobs when they graduate. So I think that they're driven by that kind of -- those kinds of facts.
KING: Bob Woodward, do you have a read?
BOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST: I think it's dizzying, and I think no one has any secret or top secret information. In fact, I think, in fact, there's not enough hard data out there to warrant anyone having a strong opinion, let alone a strong conclusion.
KING: We will take a break, and Elizabeth Edwards will join us, and then our panel will rejoin us later. We'll be right back with the wife of the senator from North Carolina, candidate for vice president, from Davenport, Iowa, right after these words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Really, I'm excited by the size of the crowds. I'm energized by the support that I have received across this country.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All of the hopes and dreams, all of the hopes and dreams of our country are on the line today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining us now from Davenport, Iowa, is Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic vice presidential candidate, John Edwards, the senator of North Carolina. Mrs. Edwards campaigned today in Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa. Her husband stomping in Minnesota, Iowa, Ohio, and Florida. Her parents by the way live in Florida. Jeb Bush has recently said the president's going to win again in that state. What do you hear from Florida, Elizabeth? ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF (D) V.P. CANDIDATE JOHN EDWARDS: I hear that they have enormous turnouts. I think that bodes very well for John Kerry, really, and for a democracy, too. People are not only excited about this election, but also really making certain that their vote's counting this time. We're having people stand in long lines as long as necessary to make certain that their voice is heard, their vote is counted.
KING: Are you concerned about forecasts of bad weather tomorrow in the Midwest?
EDWARDS: I might have been except I was in a cafe today thanking people, meeting people there, thanking people who had been helping with the campaign. I met a woman who I didn't know, not associated with the campaign, and asked her if she was going to vote. She said, absolutely, she was going to vote for John Kerry. She was elderly. So I said you might want to vote today. You could vote today and she said, oh, no, I insist on standing in line as long as it takes. I think we have an enormously committed electorate this year.
KING: What's this been like for you personally, this running around, this campaigning nationally? You have never done anything like that before.
EDWARDS: No, I haven't, but my dad was in the Navy so I moved around a lot. I've never walked into a room of strangers as far as I know. They're just people I didn't know yet and that's how this campaign has been for me, just meeting with groups of people, groups of Americans concerned about the direction the country is going and I've been not just talking to them but listening to them, hearing their stories. It really does make you committed to going to the next stop, listening to the next person, making certain we get this right this time. It's an enormous responsibility when you hear the stories of what's happening in real people's lives that you have to get it right. And we've been working very hard to make certain that we do.
KING: Elizabeth, are you a little concerned with all the anger and vituperation that's occurred, that this is not going to heal easily, November 3 or 4?
EDWARDS: I actually think that it's possible that it will. We've pulled together. I think actually this bin Laden tape was actually in some ways a good thing because what we found out in our response is nobody had a Democratic response or Republican response, everyone was united in saying, enough of this guy, whatever it takes to get him, we're going to get him. I thought that was really healthy. No one tried to use it in any way. We do talk about the additional things we think we could do. But I think it was very healthy. I think we can take that same feeling where we're united in common goals and start the conversation again on November 3 about what it is we need to do about our health care system, about jobs. The truth of the matter is the things that unite us are a lot bigger than the things that separate us. And if we don't use sort of heated language, it will make a big difference in our ability to heal the wounds and move forward as a country.
KING: Do you feel that no matter who wins?
EDWARDS: I certainly hope so. I regret to say that I think the president has squandered some opportunities that we had. I don't actually blame him after 2000 though he promised to be a uniter not a divider. I didn't blame him so much after 2000 because of the way that that election was conducted and the post-election activities. People really were divided in this country but he had another opportunity after September 11 when we were united and nobody cared whether you were a Democrat or Republican. I think he squandered it. He squandered it by using divisive language, by using political strategies intended to separate us from one another. And I wish that I had confidence that he wouldn't continue to do that. But I don't have that confidence.
In this campaign, he's done a lot of the same things. We have tried to talk about issues and programs and plans. And it's been a lot of character assassination. That's exactly the kind of thing that ends up dividing us. I think that he's probably motivated our voters more than he has motivated his own by that kind of heated language.
KING: How has your husband felt about his role? He's an upbeat kind of guy. But a guy running for vice president usually is the attack man. How has he felt?
EDWARDS: I think he's been very comfortable, both in making the case for John Kerry and pointing out this president's failures. In order to tell people what it is John Kerry's going to do, you pretty much have to set the table which means you have to talk about the loss of jobs, you have to talk about the increase in health care costs and tuition costs and how our schools have been underfunded. The environment, the additional steps we could take on homeland security. You lay the table over things that this president has failed to do and then he's able to talk in the optimistic way that seems to have a corner on the market on of talking about where it is we can go, the things we can do to improve our current situation, John Kerry's plans to do that. And the fact that he knows that we can do better. I think America knows that, too.
So all he's doing really is reflecting the American will to restore the promise of this great country.
KING: You were involved in a little bit of a flap and I want to sort of clear it up. When -- the Kerry/Edwards debate there was a reference to the Cheney's gay daughter, Mary, you raised some eyebrows when after Lynne Cheney said that Kerry was not a good man for talking about Mary, you suggested that Mrs. Cheney's remarks indicated a certain shame about her daughter's sexual preference. Do you feel that she's shameful about it?
EDWARDS: I just thought that the reaction was sad. I'm certain that Senator Kerry did not intend it as a pejorative and I really am truly sorry that Mrs. Cheney took it as a pejorative. It wasn't intended that way and I expressed in the same statement, though it's not as often quoted, that the interchange made me sad, made me sad for a lot of reasons but I'm glad that that part of the conversation is behind us, and hope that we will be able to spend more time -- that we were able to spend more time in the last weeks on the issues that really, the American public deserved to hear about. I think they're actually less interested in our families than our families might sometimes like to think and more interested in what we're going to do for the country.
KING: Although the families have sure been out and about, have they not?
EDWARDS: They have. I've been awfully proud of the children in the campaign. And of course I get to speak personally as a mom. I've been particularly proud of my daughter, Kate, who is 22, just graduated from college, and has been out often, you know, out there alone stumping at colleges, answering questions from whatever quarter they come, about the plans that her father and Senator Kerry have on a variety of issues, on the draft, on jobs for young people coming out of college. I know a lot of them are concerned about they're going to be off their parents' health care, what are they going to do about making certain they have health coverage. And she's been out there answering those questions day in and day out.
Some days she has the hardest schedule in the entire campaign. She's been terrific.
KING: What are your plans as a vice president's wife, assuming election? What role do you want to play?
EDWARDS: Well, my first job is mom because I have a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old at home. So my first job is mom and they're anxious for me to get to it. And then also there are a couple of things I care about. John and I started a couple of afterschool programs. It's really important that we have these programs. It's good for the young people, it gives them an equal launchpad, a child with a computer in a classroom, if they have one at home, they have advantage over the child that doesn't. So this just evens the playing field for those young people. I saw it happen firsthand, I saw what a difference it made in young people's lives that you made a statement to them. Not only do you have a computer, a tutor, some enrichment programs, but you also have a statement as a community that we believe in your possibilities.
The president has cut a half million slots for afterschool care. It's really important that we get back on track with these important programs and I'd also try to be a voice for military families. My dad was in the Navy for 30 years, very proud of his service, and we grew up on military bases. I've seen in this administration our military families shortchanged in lots of ways, sort of slow-walking, the development of housing and, boy, we really need to make certain we're treating these military families right on housing.
The president has cut the money for impact aids to schools, which are schools that are located on military bases, which means that they're not funded as they needed to be. And I know it's often hard for military families to speak out. You know, they're afraid maybe of the repercussions speaking out against this administration and of course the commander in chief. So I would try to be an advocate for them too. We deserve to treat our military men and women and their families better than we're treating them today.
KING: You voted already, right?
EDWARDS: I voted already. We're actually 93,000 in Raleigh. And I understand the waiting -- the lines the next day were four hours long. So we're having absolutely terrific turnout, not just in North Carolina but around the country.
KING: And where will you be tomorrow?
EDWARDS: Well, I'll be in Iowa for a large part of the day, continuing what I've been doing today, which is thanking volunteers and they're -- I've been going to phone banks and offices before people go out canvassing, thanking them. There's just crowds of people in the Kerry/Edwards offices throughout the states I've been in. And it's been great to be able to thank them. I am going to do a little more of that tomorrow, and visit some sites in Iowa before I head to Boston to be together with both families.
KING: So you'll be together with the Kerrys on election night?
EDWARDS: Yeah, all of the families, with all the children. It might be a little chaotic. But I'm really looking forward to it. I have very high expectations.
KING: And finally, Elizabeth, how do you think it is going to play tomorrow? What's going to happen?
EDWARDS: I think we're going to have record turnout, which is a real affirmation of this democracy, and I am convinced that all these new registrations are people who got off -- got off work and registered, or got off, you know, got themselves off the sofa and registered, because they wanted change. I think people are really committed to participating this time. And my expectation is that what that means is that John Kerry and John Edwards will be our next president and vice president, and we'll get back on track for restoring the American promise.
KING: Thanks for joining us, Elizabeth. Good seeing you.
EDWARDS: It's great being with you, Larry. Thanks.
KING: Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of Democratic vice- presidential candidate Senator John Edwards of North Carolina. Back with our panel right after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Here's what I want to say to you. John Kerry and I, we hear your voices. We will fight for you every single day that John is in the White House. Your cause is our cause.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Don't forget, CNN's election night coverage starts tomorrow night, 7:00 Eastern. We'll be at Nasdaq headquarters in Times Square. And I'll be one of the co-hosts, along with Wolf Blitzer, Jeff Greenfield, the whole gang. Hope you tune in for all- night coverage.
Let's get back to our panel. Senator Mitchell, Tucker Eskew said that the swing is going toward Bush, how do you see it?
MITCHELL: I think it's just the opposite. It's obviously very close. But several polls published in the last 48 hours, not one of them is Bush at 50 percent, not one. His numbers range from high of 49 down to about 45. It's significant that an incumbent is not at 50 percent in any poll.
Secondly, the Gallup Poll today predicted a 49-49 tie. If you look back, Gallup over several days has had a strong margin for Bush. In 2000, on this very day, the night before the election, Gallup had Bush five points ahead of Gore. And Gore won the popular vote, as we know. So -- and if you look at the battleground states, the key swing states, if you analyze each one in the polls, Kerry has got enough to win the majority of electoral votes.
KING: Tucker, could we have a repeat? Could we have somebody winning the electoral and somebody winning the popular?
ESKEW: We could, Larry. And the senator's right. There are numbers all over the place that different campaigns can grasp. But I think there is some hard facts. The president was on the ground in states that Al Gore won last time. With the exclusion of Ohio, which we won, the president spent -- was in five states where we're on offense -- Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And we have got a strong chance of picking up at least three of those. That's a major turnaround in the race.
KING: And Jesse, if they do that, Bush wins, is that right?
JACKSON: Yeah, if that happens. What is likely to happen is a huge inspired youth vote. I call them the cell phone generation. And they're not counted in any of these polls, and that would be a big factor.
There is also a very inspired black voter turnout, which in fact is the swing vote. We do know that Bush and Clinton got -- Bush and Gore got more white votes than Clinton. He got more white, black and brown than they got. And Mr. Bush won in 2000 by the margin of that vote being disenfranchised. Now, there's real preparation this time for that vote to count. And I've never seen this vote as inspired as I have in the last few days.
KING: Senator Frist, do you go back and forth on this? How do you overlook it? Tennessee I guess you figure is Bush country, right?
FRIST: It is, Larry. But as majority leader of the Senate and as a strong advocate and surrogate for President Bush, I've been in 23 states in the last six weeks. Both the key Senate races, we have about, oh, 10 or 11 Senate races that are going to be close, but ultimately we are going to pick up seats, hold majority Republican seats in the United States Senate.
But as I go around, I really feel what the polls have shown over the last week, and that is if you average all the polls together, the president is one and a half to two and a half points ahead. In the battleground states, I agree with what most people say, that if you look at the Electoral College, it is going to be Pennsylvania, it's going to be Ohio, it's going to be Florida, it is going to be Michigan, it's going to be Wisconsin and Iowa. And we have to add Hawaii to that, as we saw from the vice president's appearance the other day.
But I predict that the president is going to win both the popular and the electoral vote, based on what I feel in traveling to all these states personally.
KING: Now, Bob Woodward, in truth, we don't know, do we?
WOODWARD: No, we don't. And I think there's a good deal of evidence what Jesse Jackson mentioned about the cell phone generation. Lots of people are hanging up on pollsters. I think there's strong evidence there's secret voters out there, people who are saying they're undecided when they really are. I think there's secret non- voters who are saying they're voting and actually they aren't. I think there are lots of lukewarm voters. And they're probably the majority, people who really say, OK, I'm going to vote for so-and-so and hold my nose. Those are probably the ones who are going to decide this.
I think -- you know, it's like weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. If the CIA had just been straight and said, look, we don't have a smoking gun, we don't have ironclad evidence, we don't know this, we'd be much better off. And I think -- I think we don't know this.
JACKSON: In Philadelphia, there are 200,000 new voters. In Pittsburgh, 80,000 new voters. In Georgia, 300,000 new voters, and a substantial number of them are Democratic voters. In Ohio, the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) increase in Republican registration; among Democrats, 256 percent. So much so until we find the reaction (ph) to this with voter suppression schemes. I was here today in West Palm Beach, where I saw people six blocks long, waiting to vote for four and five hours. But in Broward County tonight there was an attempt to stop those votes from counting once the polls closed. Those who are in line, even when the polls close should be able to vote. But there's a challenge on that tonight in Broward County.
KING: Now, Tucker, as an American, wouldn't that bother you forgetting where it's happening? ESKEW: Absolutely. Making sure that every American's -- every legal voter's vote is counted is absolutely critical. But I have got to say, Larry, it's just as important that every legitimate voter not be canceled out by a fraudulent vote. And the Democrats' playbook has been written and displayed for us. And they've said we're going to charge intimidation even where it doesn't exist. And I'm sorry but the Reverend Jackson is mistaken. The Republicans are encouraging new turnout, signing up new and younger voters where we enjoy thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of new supporters and we're also on each of these issues making sure that people get to vote. And that they vote often. We have such an inspired base of people, we want them at the polls.
KING: Tucker, do you want a huge turnout tomorrow?
ESKEW: Absolutely. And we are going to get it. It's going to be a dramatic increase.
KING: He says huge turnout means Bush victory.
You say huge turnout means Kerry victory.
One of you is wrong.
MITCHELL: That's right. He's wrong. The reality is of course everybody knows it's an almost indisputable for at least for two decades, Democrats have tried to encourage greater participation, tried to reduce the barriers to voting, Republicans have taken just the opposite policy. Bill Schneider said it earlier tonight, 112 million people vote, Kerry will win. I think it's a lower threshold. I think about 108, 110 million. The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming, not the overwhelming but a substantial majority of those who don't vote who are deterred from doing so or who don't do so on their own would vote Democratic if given the opportunity.
KING: Senator Frist, this is an "if." If Kerry were elected yet the majority remains Republican in Senate and House, what would that be like the next four years?
FRIST: Well, first of all, the Republicans will be the majority in the House for sure. In the United States Senate, almost certainly. It's hard, even looking at all the polls being over all the places to paint a scenario where we would lose majority control in the United States Senate. So I think that we will pick up seats. We'll increase the majority there. And then the "if," the hypothetical statement that you said is not going to come true. It is going to be the president's reelection, President Bush.
But let me say that what is going to be important, and I think the language will shift a lot over the course of tomorrow and the next day from a lot of the partisanship which is a part of the democracy that we have today and the great process and the fact that we're talking about greater voter turnout to me is encouraging, it's what makes this country great. And the fact that we can have this divided opinion on who is going to benefit the most. The fact that there are 150,000 people making phone calls today in the Republican party to 4 million people and 9 million door-to-door visits is hugely important to get that turn-out.
But let me just say that the important thing is we will govern. Things like the war on terror, it's not Republican or Democrat. Things like reforming the intelligence community is not Republican or Democrat, or affordable health care for all Americans is not Republican or Democrat and we will be coming together after these elections however they turn out.
KING: We'll get a break and come right back with our panel. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
G.W. BUSH: I'm excited about election day. I'm looking forward to it. And I'm also optimistic about the future of this country.
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Knock on those doors, make those phone calls, talk to friends, take people to the polls, help us change the direction of this great nation for the better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That's a John Kerry rally in Cleveland tonight. Bruce Springsteen has been traveling quite a bit with the Democratic senator from Massachusetts. He's the entertainer. Let's take a call for our panel. Boca Raton, hello.
CALLER: Hello. I have a question. If President Bush is reelected and if he decided to launch a preemptive attack on Syria or Iran, would he need congressional approval this time around?
KING: Senator Frist?
FRIST: No, he would not, as commander-in-chief, have to have congressional approval. The whole war powers is always debated in the United States Congress each and every time. That power is used but he would not have to have congressional approval.
KING: Do you agree, Senator Mitchell?
MITCHELL: No, I don't.
KING: You don't agree?
MITCHELL: No, I don't.
MITCHELL: The Congress has the sole authority to declare war. The president is the commander-in-chief. An invasion or bombing of a country is an act of war. And I think he would need it and I think even if he felt he didn't need it it would be prudent for him to seek it before launching any military action. KING: Tucker, with all of the vituperativeness, do you think it would be wise, no matter who wins, for that person to appoint people from the other party in the cabinet?
ESKEW: I do. President Bush has done that. Your comments about vituperation, Larry, let me take that for just a moment. I'm glad Mrs. Edwards strongly supports her husband and the ticket that she's part of. That's a good thing and to be expected. But for her to suggest that President Bush has cut military spending I think does cross the line, cut the spending for military families particularly coming from a ticket where the candidate at the top said it would be irresponsible to vote against the funding for our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the funding for body armor and hazardous duty pay. He did that. He said it would be irresponsible to make that vote and three weeks later he cast a vote against that. The for/against approach of John Kerry is fundamental to why the American people are going to choose a consistent leader in a time of turmoil.
JACKSON: The great promise that President Bush made was he would be a compassionate reachout conservative. In 3 1/2 years neither he nor Ashcroft have met one time with NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, Organized Labor, National Organization for Women, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a kind of closed door policy. And you add to that a net loss of jobs in every state, this is like real stuff. As for this policy in Iraq which has this great interest in the campaign, Saddam is in jail. Bin Laden is doing movies threatening us, 1,100 American soldiers are dead and we don't seem to have a way out. To me that is the stuff that's driving great interest in this campaign.
KING: Bob Woodward, have you ever seen anything like this?
WOODWARD: Yes. I recall the Nixon era which was really hateful. I think this is tough and sometimes gets quite ugly. My judgment, knowing President Bush and Senator Kerry, they're tough fighters but they're not hateful people. And so, whatever happens, let's hope we're not going to have an administration that is set up to somehow wreak vengeance on the other side. I think we will move on. The caller asked a serious question about a preemptive strike and what the president can do, and she got two answers. The president is commander in chief and can employ the force as he deems necessary. There is a War Powers Act, and Republican and Democratic presidents have circumvented this.
I think just the political answer, which is the wise answer, a president will go to the Congress, like both President Bushes did in both Gulf Wars and ask for a resolution.
JACKSON: But Larry...
KING: Let me get a break and then we'll pick up on that, because I only have got a few more minutes left. I have got one more break to get. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KERRY: My friends, when I'm president, I guarantee you, we are going to move America forward in the right direction.
G.W. BUSH: The role of the president is to lead, based upon principle, conviction and conscience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Senator Frist, you were going to comment about what a president or if it's Senator Kerry, what he has or can or cannot do with regard to going to war.
FRIST: Oh, no, I was saying, really picking up on what we're saying earlier, whether we went to Kosovo -- the president didn't come to Congress. And when there was the time of Monica Lewinsky, when President Clinton struck in Africa, again didn't come to the United States Congress. If there was going to be a declaration of war, clearly that is the responsibility of the United States Congress.
JACKSON: But, Larry, trust is a big factor. When the president said we had to go to Afghanistan to pursue the Taliban, Democrats, Republicans and all our global allies said, let's go. But having gone to Iraq on this preemptive strike, we can't find weapons of mass destruction, we have not determined imminent threat, no al Qaeda connection, we can't find the explosives, 1,000 Americans -- 1,1000 dead, 7,000 injured. He's lost so much capital in this misadventure, it would be hard for him to take someplace else on and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: All right. Tucker?
ESKEW: The capital that he might have been able to keep if Democrats hadn't sought to turn every bad headline into an opportunity to score political points, Larry.
This has been a shameful thing last week for John Kerry to rip the headline out of "The New York Times" and turn that into his campaign's message for the closing week, particularly leading into a weekend when UBL, Osama bin Laden came back on the scene. And yes, Mrs. Edwards said earlier that it reminded us of the unity in our purpose. Unfortunately, I have got to point out, she didn't mention that John Kerry sent his pollsters in the field to test a message on how to respond to UBL.
President Bush didn't do that. He stood up and said John Kerry would be united with him, and he said very respectfully, in a unifying way, that we were all repulsed by Osama bin Laden's videotape.
KING: We got a minute left.
KING: Hold on, Jesse. What's your prediction, George?
MITCHELL: My prediction is that Kerry will win in a close election.
KING: Tucker, you're predicting?
ESKEW: I'm predicting a Bush win, close to 290 electoral votes.
KING: Reverend Jackson.
JACKSON: Kerry will win by a margin bigger than we expect. I think that the youth vote and the black vote are going to be the swing votes that will take it way beyond where the pollsters have it.
KING: Senator Frist.
FRIST: President Bush will win the popular vote by 3 percentage points or more. Will win the electoral vote as well, and we'll pick up two seats, Republican seats, as the majority party in the United States Senate.
KING: And Bob Woodward, 20 seconds, who's going to win?
WOODWARD: You know, obviously, I think it's possible, again, it's a tie. I also think it's possible that this time President Bush would win the popular vote and lose the electoral vote. I also think it's possible either Kerry or Bush could win by as much as 5 percent. I really think the voters decide this, not us.
MITCHELL: Well, he's covered all the bases.
KING: You got it covered.
MITCHELL: No matter what happens, Bob Woodward can say, I predicted it.
KING: That's how you win a Pulitzer.
KING: I'll be back in a couple of minutes and tell you about election coverage tomorrow night. Don't go away.
KING: See you tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern at Nasdaq headquarters. And we may be with you for days! He'll be one of the co-hosts, Mr. Brown will be there, with his hourly essays. He will be the tone, he will be the settling point, Mr. Brown, will he not? He will calm us, cause us to reflect. He will help us better understand what is happening.
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