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Guest Panel Dicusses Election Results, Future of Democratic Party

Aired November 3, 2004 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, George W. Bush wins the election. The whole world was watching. And Republicans have strengthened their majority in Congress. Given 4 more years, where does the president lead a deeply divided country?
The debate heats up with legendary journalist, Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post, Michael Beschloss, the best-selling presidential historian, David Gergen, former White House adviser to Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, Gloria Borger from "U.S. News & World Report," a veteran of the Washington Press Corps and "Newsweek" editor Mark Whitaker. Their special election edition takes an eye opening look behind the scenes of the campaign. It's coming out tomorrow. Next They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening and welcome to a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, our postelection edition. We mentioned that "Newsweek" will have a special edition coming out, so will "Time." Time Warner owns the place, so we have to mention that.

By the way, we will received this, and we'll announce it for you first and then get right to the panel. Here is President Clinton's first statement on the election results.

The president said, "I'm grateful to John Kerry for his energetic and positive campaign. I hope he, Teresa and their family and Senator Edwards and his family will always be proud of their efforts. I congratulate President Bush on his reelection. And wish him, first lady Laura Bush and Vice President and Mrs. Cheney and their family as well as they prepare for another term in office.

While the country is clearly, and nearly evenly divided on a rang of issues, I appreciate President Bush's willingness to search for greater unity. And Senator Kerry's support of that effort. If we can work together without regard to ideology, or narrow concerns, there is much that can be accomplished in the years ahead."

We'll start with Ben Bradlee in Washington. What surprised you about yesterday, Ben?

BEN BRADLEE, "WASHINGTON POST": Not as much as I would have thought 6 ago. I was waiting to see Kerry catch fire, and I never did see it. I thought -- I think that is what produced the result it did.

KING: Gloria, yet, if we ran it back 4 years and they run the same amount of states, Kerry would have been elected, he got New Hampshire, while Gore didn't get New Hampshire. So, Electorally, while the numbers were a little different, because of population. He did the same thing as 4 years ago.

GLORIA BORGER, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Right. I mean, Kerry in the end, I think, ran a pretty good race. Started out a little bit rocky. But Larry, what really surprised me was that, here we are a country in a time of war and what people were thinking about when you looked at those exit polls was moral issues. And I think this country is still very much involved in a culture war that has not run its course yet.

KING: David Gergen, if that's true, and apparently that is, why did that take precedence over war or terror?

DAVID GERGEN, FRM. WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well I don't think we quite know, Larry. We certainly did not anticipate that moral concerns, moral values would be listed as the No. 1 concern by voters yesterday. Of course, that was mostly Republican voters, mostly Bush voters. The Kerry voters had put other issues at the top of their list.

But clearly, there is a continuing concern and perhaps including the war about right and wrong and framing issues in those terms. And that in this case, I believe that the 11 states that had these banning gay marriage ballot measures, there for voters to vote on, did serve as a catalyst for voters to come to the polls in greater numbers for the Republicans and probably also raised the visibility of the issue of moral issues.

KING: Was that, Mark Whitaker, the gay issue, a fair campaign issue? Was it -- it was obviously played.

MARK WHITAKER, NEWSWEEK: Well, one of the interesting things when we first had the gay marriages out in San Francisco, and then in Massachusetts, there wasn't a huge public outcry. They tried to push through the constitutional amendment in Senate and Congress, it didn't succeed. It's one of those issues, I think people are uncomfortable talking about publicly. They don't want to seem like they're bigoted. But in the privacy of the polling booth, it can really move numbers. And I think, particular, in the decisive state of Ohio.

Karl Rove, there are a whole series of counties downstate in Ohio with heavy evangelical populations, people who traditionally have not voted. Gerald Ford actually blamed his defeat in '76 to those evangelicals not showing up in his home state. Karl Rove was convinced he could turn them out and he made it a project for 4 years. And I think that's what turned the tide in Ohio.

KING: Michael, in essence, this race was Ohio, right? Whoever won Ohio won it.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes, it was. And I think that really accentuated the thing. Because, you know Larry, this country is getting more regionally divided in any time more than two decades. And these two parties are getting to be regional parties. You know, the Democratic Party is basically, you saw it yesterday, getting to be a party of the Northeast, the upper Midwest and the West most of the time. And the Republican Party the rest of the country.

And so the result is, if you're a Democrat, it's going to be very hard for you to get elected president unless you're from the sunbelt. We Americans have not elected a president outside the sunbelt since John Kennedy in 1960, 44 years ago.

So for the Democrats to nominate a candidate like John Kerry, as good as he may have otherwise have been, you begin with something against you in the Midwest and the border states and the South because at a time when we are very regionally divided, I think, a lot of people in Ohio, some of the people Mark was talking about, would feel that John Kerry unfairly perhaps, but feel he's sort of an alien being.

KING: Ben Bradlee, will Bush unite, as he promised he would today? Will he work with everyone.

BRADLEE: I think he'll try. He's got nothing to lose by trying. But whether he will -- he's got to have a Democrat to work with. He doesn't have that yet. Sure, he'll try to do it. I don't think the Republicans will -- Democrats will take to that very much.

KING: Harry Reid, is he going to be the minority leader?

BORGER: He's announced for it. I think he's obviously got a really good shot at it. But I think the Democrats are going to make the point that, yes, they want to be bi-partisan. But don't forgot, when George W. Bush did not win in the popular vote last time around, he acted as if he had a mandate. And so we hear him talk about bipartisanship now. But if you do have a Supreme Court nominee coming up, Larry, that's going to divide the country all over again. The question of Social Security reform going to divide the country all over again as the Democrats, of course, look to 2008.

KING: So what kind of 4 years do we have, David?

GERGEN: Rough. It's going to be rough, I think among the most tumultuous any 4 years any president was going to face. The workload on the president's desk, just by definition, is extraordinary. It's almost a Cold War type workload overseas, series of challenges. And here at home, of course, the problems are piling up.

I think this is going to be a very difficult presidency. Second terms tend to be less productive than first terms. Resistance begins to build up much more rapidly from the other side, plus you still have a divided country. There are millions of people tonight are jubilant, but there are also millions of people who are extremely despondent with yesterday's results.

KING: Mark, what went wrong? I know "Newsweek" is going to delve into it tomorrow in that issue as to where Kerry went wrong.

WHITAKER: We reconstruct the whole campaign from behind the scenes. And what you discover, what we report is the Bush campaign was always one step ahead of the Kerry campaign on every level.

First of all, the thematic level. They were -- the thematic level, they were just very successful in framing this election about being about security and values. Kerry never found a comparable story line for his campaign.

But they were also technically much better. They were constantly setting traps for Kerry that he kept falling into. I mean, we have -- the story, the false story of how Kerry made that comment about I voted for the 87 billion before I voted against it. That was actually a trap that they set for him.

He was going down to speak to a veterans' group in West Virginia. They had this theory, Ken Mehlman called it the rabbit theory, that if you put the rabbit out, he'll chase it. So Mark McKinnon, the ad guy put up an ad just in the local market down there going hard at him at this issue of voting against the aid in Iraq. Kerry got rattled by it. A heckler showed up, who may or may not have been sent by the Bush campaign to give him a hard time during the speech.

And after an hour of being heckled by this, Kerry just in exasperation blurted out that line. And as soon as they saw it at headquarters, at Bush headquarters, they knew that they had something they could hang around him and attack him.

KING: The only thing that made it closer then, was the debates? Kerry clearly winning the debates.

WHITAKER: Absolutely. And the one really negative, sort of, rough period for the Bush campaign was the debates. Going into the debates, they were so cocky, they thought they were so far ahead, that they didn't really prepare the president properly. And they were sort of shocked by the reaction, because that peeved manner that Bush had during the debates was something that they've seen internally. So they didn't -- inside the White House. So, they originally didn't realize how bad it was.

KING: We'll take a break and be back. We're going to include your phone calls at the bottom of the hour. Your watching LARRY KING LIVE postelection. Don't go away.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE United States: America has spoken and I'm humbled by the trust and the confidence of my fellow citizens. With that trust comes a duty to serve all Americans. And I will do my best to fulfill that duty every day as your president.


KING: We're back. Michael Beschloss -- by the way, I should remind you Cloria Borger -- Gloria Borger, is in addition to working at "U.S. News" is a regular panelist at PBS's "Washington Week in Review" and special correspondent for NBC.

We'll reintroduce the whole panel at the bottom of the hour before we go to phone calls.

Michael Beschloss, the youth voted in the same percentages they did four years ago, 17 percent. What happened.

BESCHLOSS: Well, that was so ballyhooed this year, they just did not end up turning out. You know, sometimes these things happen. And even before election day, there were a lot of people saying if the youth vote does not come out in this great magnitude, Kerry will not win. That was one of the predictions that turned out to be right. But you were talking earlier, Larry, about where Kerry might have fallen short. There have been two Democratic candidates in recent years who have been able to get elected president, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

And I think not by accident, because not only were they both southerners, able to break into the south, but these were people who grew up in areas surrounded by conservatives. If they had liberal values they had to learn how to talk about liberal things to people who were not liberals and do it in an unthreatening way. If you don't have that experience in John Kerry's case, spent most of his life on the East Coast, that's something that's very hard to learn during the eight months of a presidential campaign.

KING: Ben Bradlee, does that portend poorly than for Hillary Clinton?

BRADLEE: Well, I think that's a different deal. I think, that is something I look forward to. And I don't know if I'm going to be blessed to see it happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But she's also from Chicago.

BRADLEE: Yes, she's -- yes. But that'll be just great. And you won't have that issue. She has got a warmth that Senator Kerry didn't have.

KING: Will she change the picture, Gloria.

BORGER: Oh, yes.

KING: Lets she goes (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Just throw out all these East/West values.

BORGER: Totally, because she ease a lightning road, Larry. She's a lightning rod for the people who love her. She's a lightning rod for the people who hate her. You can see a Democratic primary with Hillary Clinton, for example, against John Edwards who did grow up in the south, to Michael Beschloss' point. And he somebody who looks pretty attractive as a candidate. I always argued during the primaries, that if John Edwards had had a little bit more time to catch up, he might have beaten John Kerry and he might have been the Democratic nominee. But, boy, Hillary Clinton, all bets are off.

KING: David Gergen, if you agree with that, is she then the head of this party? GERGEN: Interesting point, Larry. I think that, four or five months ago the conventional wisdom was that if John Kerry lost, the next morning everyone would declare her to be the front-runner for the next nomination. But after this election and particularly after the Republicans swept the south in the way they did, taking all five of those Democratic seats in the south, it seems to me there are going to be a lot of Democrats who will want to reconsider that possibility. She's -- the Democrats do have to make some inroads into the south if they hope to become a majority party.

And while I have enormous respect for her, particularly in her Senate years, where I think she's performed admirably, the degree to which she's a lightening rod, as Gloria just said, to the degree she is seen as a card carrying member of the Democratic left, I would think that the Democrats will want to think long and hard about where they're going in that direction.

WHITAKER: Look, I think there's another factor here.

KING: Is Edwards...

WHITAKER: Because one of the things you saw in this race, is they're now are all these movement Democrats, the people who backed Howard Dean, who lit up The Internet with their donations, were the base for so forth, who already were very suspicious of basically Washington establishment Democrats. But at the end of the day, they got cold feet about Dean, they decided, OK, let's give Kerry one last chance to try to win the White House.

Now that it hasn't worked, I think there's a real chance you will see some kind of insurgent candidate, It may not be Dean but somebody else from the outside. Because I think a lot of Democrats who are fed up with all these Washington Democrats.

BORGER: Could be a third party candidate.

KING: Did -- are you saying there's coyote somebody around somewhere?

WHITAKER: Well, I don't know who it is. I don't know who it is yet. But I think -- I think -- I think that there's going to be a real struggle within the party. I don't see the party clearly falling in behind anyone very neatly.

KING: Historically, Michael, and your our historian, is the edge to Edwards by virtue of having run for the vice-presidency.

BESCHLOSS: Well, look what it did for Joe Lieberman this year, not much. So I guess that would be, no. Dan Quayle did not do terribly well in 2000. So, I think he certainly will run and actually the speech he gave on election night last night was rather fired up. And it almost gave you the sense that that was the opening of his bid for 2008.

But you know, David was making a good point, which was that the Democrats might do well to think long and hard about who's nominated next time. But the problem is they've got -- and both parties have this absolutely atrocious system to nominate candidates. You know, if you had party elders who were thinking, where should we take the Democratic Party so it overcomes these losses in 2004, that'd be one thing.

In 2008, you'll probably have the same thing as this year, you'll have perhaps Iowa and New Hampshire, a candidate might win both, the nomination will be locked up in about two or three weeks. The reason why John Kennedy -- John Kerry became the nominee this year was essentially because Howard Dean and Dick Gephardt destroyed each other in Iowa.

GERGEN: Yes, Larry, if I may just add to this. If the Democratic party spends most of its time over the next couple of years trying to figure out its next nominee instead of trying figure out what it believes in, it will be wasting an enormous amount of time. The way the Republicans came out of the wilderness in 1964, and it's an important model for the Democrats to look at, was they spent an enormous amount of time trying to figure out what the principles were and embraced a set amount of ideals first. And then they found Ronald Reagan to bring those idea's to the forefront.

The Democrats have to settle now on what their ideal structure is. What they're underlying principles are. What they want to champion and then they have to find the right person to give a voice to those principles.

KING: Gloria.

BORGER: I think the major issue for Democrats is not a domestic policy issue. I think people know the divisions between the Democratic party and the Republican Party on domestic policy. This was an election about war. This was an election about national security. And in an interesting way, national security became a domestic policy issue in this election because it became about homeland security. It became about security moms. It became about being safe. And I think that this is area, national security area is the area, when you look at the exit polls, people did not trust John Kerry and therefore the Democratic Party.

KING: Ben Bradlee, can the Democratic Party recover?

BRADLEE: Historically, it is going to take them a long time, but historically, they're going to do it. We're going to stay largely a two party system. We may have, I think -- a third party would be an upset. But I think Hillary as a woman changes the givens entirely, and that her, her womanhood is going to be what's important as well as her brains.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. We'll talk about the Bush cabinet right after this, and then your phone calls.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a privilege and a gift to spend two years traveling this country, coming to know so many of you. I wish that I could just wrap you up in my arms and embrace each and every one of you individually all across this nation. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.



KING: Mark Whitaker, who's first to go in the Bush cabinet?

WHITAKER: There has been a lot of speculation about Powell leaving. We actually reported a few months ago that he was thinking of perhaps sticking around a little bit longer. We heard that Rumsfeld is probably going to leave, people like Tommy Thompson. I think a lot of these guys are really exhausted. This has been a tough term for people particularly in the national security side. Where things are going to be interesting to see is obviously there were a number of prominent moderates, very popular moderates in the Republican party who played a big role in this campaign, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and so forth. It would be very interesting to see whether Bush is prepared to offer them a role, and in terms of reaching out to people in the center, and so forth that would be a very encouraging signal.

KING: What do you think, David Gergen?

GERGEN: My sense is, Larry, that he will use the appointment process to reach out to some Democrats and that may be the place he can show his conciliatory side. But he won't change his policies. He feels he has a mandate. Dick Cheney talked about that today. So he will push forward very aggressively even more aggressively now with his domestic as well as his international agenda.

KING: But he will appoint some Democrats?

GERGEN: I think he will reach out to two or three Democrats for his cabinet and top positions. Beyond that, I think the big issue everybody's looking at, is what he will do about national security. I've heard the same thing Mark has, and that is that there is a chance Colin Powell, contrary to all expectations may decide to stay on for more than a year. My sense is Don Rumsfeld and Condi Rice will both want to change positions. Don Rumsfeld won't leave the government. I think the president is going to push Condi Rice to stay on if he can persuade her to take a position outside the White House.

KING: Gloria?

BOHGER: What about the possibility, David, that John Ashcroft leaves and that somebody like Rudy Giuliani would go in as AG. John Ashcroft is certainly a lightning rod to lots of Democrats.

GERGEN: From Rudy Giuliani's point of view it seems to me to make a great deal of sense to come in for two years as AG. He doesn't have to face the question of whether he takes on Hillary Clinton in New York in 2006 for the Senate race but he can go straight from AG's office to run for president in 2008. He clearly wants to run for office again. I think he's made no secret of that to people. KING: Mike Bessloss, what do you think?

BESCHLOSS: I think they're putting their finger on it because it shows how important personnel really are. By most reports if in 2000 when George W. Bush was asking Dick Cheney to be vice president. If Cheney had said no, the second choice would have been John Danforth who had been senator from Missouri, a lot more moderate with much more moderate views about foreign policy certainly than Cheney. And so you can imagine it if Danforth had been vice president, probably Don Rumsfeld would not have been secretary of defense and the whole history of the Bush first term, especially on things like Iraq and other elements of military policy would have been very different.

KING: Might Danforth come to the cabinet?

BESCHLOSS: Very possible. He is U.N. ambassador and he is certainly is one of those mentioned for secretary of state.

KING: Ben Bradlee, what do you think of the makeup of the Bush cabinet?

BRADLEE: I think Powell will go. I think he's -- I think Rumsfeld certainly will go. The idea of Danforth is good. He would be -- mollify the middle of his -- the middle of the roaders in the Republican party. There are only a half a dozen, there aren't even half a dozen cabinet positions that really are important.

KING: You know, Ben, when you reach a certain age, you can say anything. Like, what are they going to do to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm amazed he even said that there were that many that were important.

BRADLEE: You taught me everything I know, Larry.

KING: Yes, yes.

BOHGER: Larry, I also don't know how many future presidential contenders George W. Bush would want in the same cabinet, if he had McCain there, if he had Giuliani there and they'd both be interested in running for president.

KING: Why would he care?

BOHGER: Well, they would come to blows.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) definitely said he is not going to run. But Jeb will not run for president.

BOHGER: Right.

KING: We'll take a break, come back, and include your phone calls. I'll reintroduce the panel as well. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: So today, I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support. And I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust.



KING: We're back. Let's meet the panel again.

In Washington Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post vice president at large, its former executive editor. Michael Beschloss is the best- selling author and presidential historian and an analyst for ABC News. In Boston, David Gergen, White House adviser to presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, professor of public servant at Harvard JFK's School of Government and director of its Center for Public Leadership and editor at large "U.S. News and World Report." Running out of titles.


GERGEN: Show's over, Larry.

KING: And he may work for the next president.

Gloria Borger is contributing editor of "U.S. News & World Report," special correspondent for NBC and a regular panelist on PBS's Washington Weekend Review.

And Mark Whitaker is editor of "Newsweek" magazine. "Newsweek" has a special postelection edition. There you see its cover titled "How He Did It." "Time" magazine has a special edition as well. They call their's "Four More Years." And both should be out tomorrow. And we'll start to include your phone calls, Northbell, Michigan, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I'm curious how the panel feel the candidates' wives played a key role, if they did play a key role in the election, negative or positive? What they think?

KING: Gloria?

BORGER: Ah, I'm the wife.

KING: I just went to you because I looked at you. It was not gender.

BORGER: OK. No, I think that Laura Bush, in particular, played a huge role, Larry. She's one of the most popular political figures in this country. She went out on the campaign trail really on her own for the first time, tremendously this time.

And you saw it at the beginning of this campaign, all the ads that George W. Bush had, the softer ads were not with Dick Cheney by his side but they were with Laura Bush by his side, so much that some of us thought she might have been the vice president. Teresa, I think less important in many ways, because the campaign always had to kind of play the shovel brigade, if you will, when she made some mistakes.

KING: Ben, what did you make of her?

BRADLEE: I've known her for many years. And I liked her. I think she was uncomfortable and it showed.

WHITAKER: We actually have some good reporting in our project. She was very high maintenance. She was very unreliable. Sometimes she was great out there on the stump, other times she just literally didn't show up. She had strange maladies. At one point, when Howard Dean was running strong against Kerry, she went to he head of the Kerry campaign and demanded that he set up a debate between her and Howard Dean. And they had to talk her out of that tree.

KING: David Gergen, before we get our next call, did the Osama tape play anything in this election.

GERGEN: It doesn't appear to have, Larry. There was a lot of speculation that the Osama tape would help the president in those last 2 or 3 days. The exit polls suggest the people that made up their minds in the last two or three days actually broke for Kerry.

KING: San Antonio, Texas, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.


CALLER: I'm calling to see if you think donating more money to the Kerry/Edwards campaign would have made a difference in the end?

KING: Michael Beschloss, would more money have helped?

BESCHLOSS: It doesn't look like it. An awful lot of money was spent, not only by that campaign, but a lot of 527's and other groups. I think if it was a question of money, that would not have been enough to save this campaign. I guess in a way, it's an optimistic thing to say that sometimes there are things good and bad about campaigns that in the end don't have too much to do with money.

KING: Can you learn a lot from the fact, Mark, that Ohio was so significant? Can the Democrats use that in some way, or some way 4 years from now, to target it even more?

WHITAKER: You know, the thing about Ohio -- and it's true in Pennsylvania and it's true in Florida, and so forth, these are states that genuinely mix the blue and the red. I mean, there's a lot of America that's all blue and it's all red. Those are states where you have both. If you actually look geographically at those states, most of them are red. But in the urban areas, they're heavily, heavily blue.

KING: Ohio. I think Kerry won every big city. WHITAKER: We -- during the Republican convention we met with a lot of off the record talks with a lot of prominent Republicans. And there were a number of them I think are quite farsighted who realize that they may be riding high right now, but down the road they are going to have to figure out some way to cut into the overwhelming minority support for Democrats, to appeal to single women.

We talk about how Democrats need to learn how to appeal on values and so forth to Republican voters. I think in the long-term, given the demographic trends in this country, Republicans are going to have to learn also how to speak to a lot of people who live in big urban areas.

KING: Grandledge, Michigan hello.

CALLER: Yes. The Senator with the electoral vote showed how divided our country is. Is our country heading for a so-called class or social civil war?

KING: David Gergen.

GERGEN: I don't think so. There's a political scientist in California named (UNINTELLIGIBLE) who arguing persuasively in a book that we're closely divided, but not deeply divided. But I must say in this election, the divisions went deeper than they have in the past. I think we can pull back from the brink if there is genuine reconciliation.

But I have to tell you, despite the graceful and gracious speeches given by both President Bush and John Kerry, my bet is we're going to be heading to pretty significant clashes in the Congress within just a few months.

KING: Ben, is this clash, this cleavage as deep as you've ever seen it?

BRADLEE: I can't think of -- well, the Nixon was -- after the second term, was pretty deep. But it was shorter than what this is. I think this is a very -- seriously deep.

BORGER: Larry, one thing also we ought to be looking at, just to follow up on what Mark Whitaker said is the cleavage is within the Republican Party. And those things are really going...

KING: Someone's making fun of that word. It's a word, Ben, cleavages.

BORGER: How about the differences.

KING: OK. Differences. I don't want you to wander off, Ben.

BORGER: And this is within the Republican Party. You have a president in his second term, you have Republicans in control, they disagree on issues of taxes, they disagree on issues of deficit spending.

KING: How many Republicans are there like that.

BORGER: There are lots of conservative Republicans who are very upset about the deficit spending in this country. There are lots of conservative Republicans who believe for example, who supported the war, but believed that we went about it the wrong way. There are conservative Republicans who disagree on these cultural issues that Mark Whitaker was talking about. And I think that's something else that George Bush is going to have to deal with.

KING: The Schwarzeneggers, the Patakies, the Schwarzenegger, Pataki, Giulianies, the Arlen Specters, they're the minority, aren't they.

BORGER: Yes. Right now, I don't think any of those people can get nominated, when you look at the base and you look at the people who participate in primaries. But they're going to demand a bigger role. And George Bush owes them. And they held their tongues about a lot of these differences during the campaign, but I think they're going to be a lot more vocal now that it's over.

KING: Aloaf, Kansas, hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Do you think Kerry will run again in 2008?

KING: Good question. Michael Beschloss, what do you think?

BESCHLOSS: I don't think so. In recent years, Democrats don't have too much patience with people who lose elections who many think the election should have been won. Take a look at Michael Dukakis, for instance in 1988. There was not a great ground swell for Dukakis in 1992.

That's in contrast to Adlai Stevenson who lost two elections in the '50s, and even despite that, there was a huge ground swell for Stevenson, as you remember, Larry, in 1960, who might have been drafted by the Democrats of Los Angeles.

KING: Robert Kennedy was very worried that night. David Gergen, yes?

GERGEN: I just wanted to add to that. I think Michael's probably right, but this is first time in a long time we've had a losing candidate who's gone back to a major role in United States Congress. And though Harry Reid will be the leader of the party, I'm sure, I wouldn't be surprised to see John Kerry take a very, very up front role as a Democratic leader within the Senate.

BESCHLOSS: That, I'd agree with, but I think not as a future presidential nominee.

GERGEN: But his role in the Democratic Party may loom a lot larger than we would have imagined say, when he took the nomination. BRADLEE: You mean because there are no others?

GERGEN: Well, I think that certainly, Hillary Clinton, will be there and she's going to be stepping out. But Harry Reid is not the kind of figure who is going to, seems to me, sort of become Mr. Democrat in the Congress.

KING: Who is Mr. Democrat?

BORGER: That's a good question.

KING: Anybody.

WHITAKER: Obviously, there's Hillary, there's Barack Obama, who's new and but I think is probably one of the most exciting people around. But I think, one of the reasons that President Clinton put out the statement that you lead the program with, I think is because he's very concerned. I think a lot of Democrats are concerned right now there is this sense of leaderlessness. Kerry, has just lost. Senator Daschle, the minority leader has been defeated. Nobody knows around the country who Harry Reid is.

So all of a sudden the party looks like, you know. And I think you know -- So, I think Bill Clinton still is, in some sense is the leader of the party.

BORGER: That's what I was going to say. I still think he is the leader of the party at this point. It will be interesting to see what he does, given the fact that his wife is going to run for president in 2008. So, how does he continue to be a leader of the party and push her forward?

KING: Do you expect him to be out there. I'm sorry, Michael, go ahead.

BESCHLOSS: The fact a former president who has now been out of office going on four or five years is such a leader of the Democratic party really shows the vacuum. I just can't help but think of that "Saturday Night Live" skit a couple weekends ago where at the rally with Kerry in Philadelphia, someone came up to Kerry and Clinton, said, could I have a picture. So Kerry was about to pose with Clinton and the person said to Kerry, no, I want you to take the picture of me and Clinton.

KING: We'll take a break and be right back with more calls. Don't go away.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the president of the United States.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: By the way, Gloria Borger is also co-anchor of CNBC's "Capital Report," meaning she is never home. She and David Gergen go out somewhere together to find out something they can do together Friday.

Any ways before we...

BORGER: Hi, Dave.

KING: Before we take our next call, you did mention during the break, two powerful Democrats, Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy.

BORGER: Right, that we should mention. Ted Kennedy. Absolutely, Ted Kennedy, for as long as he has been in the Senate and as long as he remains in the Senate will be a leader on Democratic policy. And I think Joe Biden is certainly a leader on foreign policy in the Senate.

KING: New York City, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. I'm still in shock about this whole election, as an independent campaigner for Mr. Kerry I'm devastated. But my question is basically on the same lines of the other caller, where Mr. Kerry would go from here. And also just to say within the next four years, I hope the 58 million people who voted for Mr. Bush won't have made the biggest mistake of their life. And please don't -- Mr. King, please don't forgot there were 53 million people that voted for Mr. Kerry.

KING: I think President Bush reminded them of that. Senator Kerry, is his reelection automatic in four years, David.

GERGEN: Yes, absolutely.

KING: So, Kerry, can serve in the Senate forever.

GERGEN: Yes, he can. But if I might speak to this issue of the devastated quality. I do think, Larry, there are millions of people in this country today who worked their hearts out for George Bush and they deserve congratulations. They won a good clean fight. There are also, though, lots and lots of people in this country who are extremely despondent. I think, many of them woke up this morning with a sense -- almost of a death in the family. That they sensed in this election, more than almost any other election we've had in recent years, that they represented a group that's -- that the majority of the country shares values they don't share, has values. They feel a sense of alienation from that. I think one of the important challenges now for politics, for the healing process is to make those people feel more included again, for them to work their way through this. I just can't tell you how deep the sense of loss is. And people seem almost like -- one person told me tonight he felt like he was an expatriate from his own country.

KING: Mark, what do you think.

WHITAKER: My father always told me beware of what you want because you might get it. And for 40 years since the 1964 election David Gergen mentioned earlier, the Republicans have been running against Democrats and Democratic and liberal establishment. They are now the establishment, they control all three branches of government and a majority of state House more decisively than they ever have. And what I've been telling some of these people who are very upset about what might come in the next four years.

There are two scenarios. One is things go very, very badly in which case the pendulum will swing back and the Democrats will come back, and perhaps sooner rather than later. Or things will go better than they expect and it won't be as bad as they fear.

KING: You shouldn't root for things to go bad.

WHITAKER: No. No. Not at all. But I think there is a self- correcting nature to our system. So, I think the people who are not only upset because they fought hard but also fearing what's ahead. I think there's something about our system that tends to correct over time.

KING: Ben, how's Iraq going to play out?

They're going to have elections in January?

BRADLEE: I'm not a great expert, but I don't think those elections will work out right. And I don't think -- I think he's going to be explaining that -- President Bush will be explaining that over and over again, on into the new year.

KING: Will Iraq possibly be considered a failure for him?


KING: Even though he's a two-term president?

BORGER: Absolutely. What he did in this election was he very successfully linked Iraq to the war on terror. And you saw that in the exit polls. However, Iraq is a mess. Republicans, talking about disagreement on the party, lots of Republicans believe that it's a mess. The question is now what happens in Fallujah, and more soldiers are going to die, and this is an issue now that will continue to be engaged on. And this is a very difficult problem for this president that will not go away in the near future.

KING: We'll be back with more in our remaining moments. A few more phone calls as well, don't go away.


SEN JOHN EDWARDS (D-NC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In this campaign we worked hard and we hoped that the results would be different. And I want to talk to the tens of millions of people who worked alongside us, who believed in our cause and who stood with us. You can be disappointed but you cannot walk away. This fight has just begun.



KING: We're back. Hayden Lake, Idaho. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Listen, my question is for Mr. Gergen. Obviously, he wouldn't be on your show unless he was highly respected by you and your crew, so Mr. Gergen, my question to you, sir, is in light of the fact that the moral issues seem to propel the election and victory for Mr. Bush, are you surprised that that issue would trump the Iraqi issue?

KING: Good question.

GERGEN: A very good question. I think it did catch those of us who have been trying to cover this from the media point of view by surprise. I don't think it caught the Bush campaign by surprise. They are very much in touch, I think, with grassroots America, and they've been planning this and thinking about this very carefully. I think in talking to young people, I have the privilege of teaching some young people. And some of those who volunteered for the Bush campaign, part of their campaign effort was not simply go out and talk to voters in malls, but to go to churches, to go to synagogues, to meet voters there, to help organize them.

KING: And that was more important than war?

GERGEN: It was an issue that transcended war for a great number of voters. Yes, Larry. It's a very serious issue. I think a lot of us sometimes who live in blue states don't fully comprehend.

WHITAKER: And part of the reason is, we were just talking about people -- David was talking earlier about people in the blue states who feel like they're living in a different country. I think a lot of people in the red states feel like they're living in a country and the people in the blue states don't understand them.

KING: And now, they run things, the red states are in charge?

WHITAKER: Well, on a governmental level they're in charge. I think on a popular level...

KING: You mean television, broadcast?

WHITAKER: Right. Only half jokingly, I've been telling people in the last couple of days, that there should be a new reality show where people in the blue states have to go live in the red states and people in the red states have to go live in the blue states so we can start to understand each other a little bit better because I don't think we do right now.

BOHGER: Green acres.

KING: This is a deep divide, Gloria. You're saying not deep.

BOHGER: It is a deep divide. I think it is a deep divide. What's kind of interesting is if you look at demographic trends, people are actually moving to states in which they feel politically comfortable. That they are now self-segregating by their politics. That's never happened before, so far as I can tell. So people are moving to San Francisco because they feel comfortable with the politics in San Francisco or they're moving to Wyoming because they feel comfortable with the politics there.

KING: It's that important a realm of their life.

BOHGER: I think it is.

KING: One more call. Naples, Florida. Hello.

Are you there? I guess we lost Naples.

Ben Bradlee, the future -- we asked about the future of the Democratic party before. Do you think it's a pendulum? Do you think it swings back?

BRADLEE: You should ask the historian. I'm not a historian. Of course it swings back. We do have two parties and they change power from time to time. It seems to me that, yes, it will. It will. Iraq may be what kicks it over. I think there's a growing anti-war sentiment in this country.

KING: Michael, do you agree?

BESCHLOSS: I do. But it also depends who ends up being the leaders. And as long as we have this atrocious system that nominates presidential candidates, it's not going to work. Because if you basically leave it up to accident in Iowa and New Hampshire, who happens to be well-known at that moment, raises a lot of money, if there's a fluke like what happened this year between Gephardt and Howard Dean, then basically a party is leaving its fate to something that's really an accident.

KING: Gloria, let's bring back the back rooms?

BOHGER: Well, I was just going to ask Michael Beschloss, what do we do, bring back the smoke-filled rooms or choose our nominees at conventions so the television networks will have more fun?

BESCHLOSS: Sound good to me. I think what I'd like more is that instead of two or three weeks, a system like the one that we used to have say in 1968, where you might have a New Hampshire primary in early March, other primaries and caucuses and state conventions and then finally a New York and California primary in June, which gives us a chance to meet these people and know them. If they're not very good candidates we'll find out. If someone else has to come into the race and raise money, he'll have time. And I think he'll get better nominees. From the standpoint of the parties, people more likely to get elected.

KING: Can you change that?

WHITAKER: I don't know. It's very hard to put the genie back in the bottle. I think we have to face up to the fact that there are a lot of very good people who will never run for president now, not only because of the level of scrutiny but it takes years out of your life. You have to do a lot of basically humiliating fundraising before you can even get off the ground.

KING: We're out of time. Thank you all very much. Ben Bradlee, Michael Beschloss, David Gergen, Gloria Bohger, she's got to run to another job and Mark Whitaker. I'll be back in a minute to tell you about tomorrow night. Don't go away.


KING: The jury in the Scott Peterson case is now deliberating his guilt or innocence. We'll look at that tomorrow night. Right now, we'll look at my man Aaron Brown. We were together last night at Nasdaq. We're back in New York today. I head to California tonight. Aaron will carry on with two hours tonight. The suits at Aaron. We love you. Go forever.


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