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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Interview with Hillary Clinton, Panel Discusses William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library, His Legacy
Aired November 17, 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, Hillary Clinton. Her first live, primetime interview since the election. It's in Little Rock, Arkansas. We're here for the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Center which opens tomorrow.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton next on LARRY KING LIVE.
After we deplaned this afternoon and came up that little road from the airport and see that center lit up tonight, what a -- and we had a little private tour. You must be flipped.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: I am so proud, Larry. And my husband's worked on this now for, oh, about 6 years. And he's been involved in every aspect of the design and planning. And it exceeded my highest expectations.
KING: It's beautiful. Hands-on, right?
H. CLINTON: Very hands-on. What you know, what is so important about it is that, No. 1, it's a beautiful building, as you saw. And it's a metaphor. It is the bridge to the 21st Century, which of course was his great slogan when he was running.
And it also is open and airy and light. And it kind of conveys the sense of openness in our government. And then inside, someone said today it was the first museum of the 21st Century. It's so technologically advanced. Literally you can go, as you saw today...
KING: Push buttons and get everything.
H. CLINTON: Get everything. I mean, if you want to know what happened June 1, 1997, you punch the button. If you want to know if Larry King is in the library...
KING: I'm in, interviews, dates and schedules.
H. CLINTON: They're all there. It tells the story. The full comprehensive history of the Clinton administration. And it's both moving and exciting and informative. And I just could not be happier.
KING: You're going to have some opening here tomorrow. You've got President Bush, former President Bush, President Carter, Gerald Ford a little under the weather.
H. CLINTON: Right. Unfortunately.
KING: Two former presidents -- 3 former presidents with your husband. The current president. You're going to have ceremonies.
H. CLINTON: Right. We're going to have heads of state, former heads of state. Oh, it is just an overwhelming event.
But I think that tomorrow is especially important, because it's one of those rituals in American politics. You know, we just went through a very difficult and divisive election, but we're all going to be there together. Two Democrats, 2 Republicans, talking about the future.
KING: Almost half the Congress.
H. CLINTON: There's a huge number of senators and Congressmembers coming. And what I like is the symbolic aspect of it, because I remember when Bill was president and we went to former President Bush's library opening in Texas. There's just something very reassuring that despite our differences, no matter how partisan times can be, that we all remember that we're all part of this history. We have to do the best we can.
KING: We're going to back to it a little later.
First, how is the president?
H. CLINTON: Well, he is doing fine.
KING: We're in the same club.
H. CLINTON: I know you are. And you remember that you gain your strength steadily, but slowly. So I think he'd be the first to say he's not back up to 100 percent.
But his doctors say he's doing fine. He certainly is feeling well. But he just doesn't yet have that incredible Clinton tirelessness that I've known for 31 years.
KING: Is he revved up for this?
H. CLINTON: Oh, he's so excited. And he's just really gratified. I mean, so many people contributed. There were over 100,000 contributors to the library. There are people who are coming from all over the world to be here. And it is his effort to try to really keep the conversation going about what sort of country we want to have. That's what he believes in. That's what he loves.
KING: He saves everything, right. Because I think every letter ever written to President Clinton is here.
H. CLINTON: I think it's darn close. In part, because he became president at the very beginning of the information age -- e-mail.
KING: Cell phones boom.
H. CLINTON: Exactly. When bill was elected there were I think 50 sites on the world wide web. By the time he left there were, 50 million sites. And so the explosion in information, and the archives, which is the formal repository of all of the documents and the artifacts is just overwhelmed by everything there. So we're going to have a lot of rotating exhibits.
KING: You toured it with Chelsea today. What does his daughter think?
H. CLINTON: She loves it. She is much more attuned than I am to the technology. So she thought the way that the exhibits were presented -- well, you saw some of the almost ticker tape descriptions of what was happening, the videos everywhere.
KING: It's very 21st Century.
H. CLINTON: Very 21st Century.
KING: When everything's covered, the impeachment is covered, Lewinski is covered. I mean, they don't -- you get a full history of Clinton, warts and all.
H. CLINTON: I like to think, all of the good progress that was made in those 8 years. What he really stood for, the peace and the prosperity, putting people first. What everyone wants to say about my husband, everybody knows that he really deeply cared about the American people and he did try to do what he could to improve their chances in life.
KING: We'll get back to the library in a while.
Major story today in the New York Times. saying, in essence, Senator Clinton has decided to run for re-election in 2006 and a lot of key advisers are saying don't do that, because if you run for Senate in 2006, you can't run for the presidency in 2008, it's too close together. What will you tell the people of New York? So let's hear it from the horse's mouth.
H. CLINTON: Well, I have said I'm looking forward to and intending to run for re-election. I do provide a lot of copy, Larry, as you know. People are constantly speculating about me and my life.
KING: So, help us.
H. CLINTON: I love being the senator from New York. You know, it's the greatest place in the world. There's no place like New York.
And I have enjoyed the work there. I now think we're going to have some very difficult decisions ahead of us. I want to be part of making those decisions.
KING: So, you want to go back to the Senate?
H. CLINTON: I love being in the Senate.
KING: Would you like to be president? I mean, that's a fair question. You could say, I don't want to be. I think about it. H. CLINTON: You know, I'm not focused on that. I'm focused on what I'm doing and how well I can do it. That will take care of itself sometime.
KING: This is a good if question.
H. CLINTON: A good if.
KING: Assuming now you're going to run for the Senate, would you tell the people of New York you'll serve 6 years?
H. CLINTON: You know, I haven't gotten that far. I don't have any plans other than running for the United States Senate. And I'm looking forward to getting out there and talking about my record.
KING: When does that campaign start?
H. CLINTON: Well, in these kind of days...
KING: Next week?
H. CLINTON: Yes. I have to raise a lot of money. I'm fortunate in that I have wonderful supporters throughout New York and around the country. So they'll be helping me. But I have a lot of money to raise. I want to be in a position to withstand whatever challenge might come my way.
KING: Do you have any idea who might the opponent be?
H. CLINTON: I don't, Larry. You know, that's something -- I don't have any control over, so I don't think about it. That's up to the other side.
KING: You don't think, Giuliani, Pataki?
H. CLINTON: I don't have any inside information. That's not something that they share with me. So, I'll just wait and see who files against me.
KING: How devastated were you by the Kerry defeat?
H. CLINTON: I was very disappointed. I really believed that John was going to do it. He ran a strong campaign. He worked so hard throughout the country. I did everything I could to help him, as so many others did.
We came up short in the White House and in the Senate. And I think that means we've got to take a hard look at what we stand for as a party and how we present to the American people both the values and the priorities that Democrats are willing to fight for.
KING: When did we become a red and blue nation?
H. CLINTON: Well, I regret that we are. I don't like to see it that way. You know, we're sitting here in Little Rock, Arkansas. And I have so many friends here, so many wonderful experiences. KING: A red state.
H. CLINTON: Now it is. It didn't used to be. It's gone back and forth in the last 8 elections. Five times for the Republicans, 3 times for the Democrats.
I think so much of it depends upon the candidate and the message, the campaign that's put together. Whether you connect with the American people. And that cuts across all the lines.
There should be an effort to try to bring the country together again. I don't accept the fact that it's red versus blue. You know, in New York, we have red counties, 40 counties in New York voted for President Bush this time. You know, I work as hard as I can in every single county in the state. I try to represent everybody to the best of my ability.
And I think that's what we should do when we run for office. I don't think we should write off or ignore any part of the state. I don't think we should do that in the country.
So I'm hoping that maybe we can get back in the years to come to nationwide elections where we talk to the entire nation, where we travel through the entire country, and where we have a conversation about what matters.
You know people in red states and blue states love their children, care about their futures, worry about their jobs, wonder about their health care and definitely are concerned about the values that surround us. So I think we ought to have an open national conversation about this.
KING: Would you abandon the electoral college?
H. CLINTON: Well, you know, I think the electoral college is running afoul of our one person, one vote. I think realistically, it's unlikely ever to be abandoned. But...
KING: If you could wave a wand, would you?
H. CLINTON: You know, I'm inclined to think it may have outlived its usefulness at this point.
KING: We'll take a break and be back with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. We're at the beautiful -- and the only way you could term it, it's a magnificent structure, the William Jefferson Clinton library in Little Rock, Arkansas on the banks of the river, right next to the -- we're broadcasting from the old train station that was the Rock Island line. It's a mighty good line. That was a song once. Big hook. Do you remember that song?
CLINTON: I do.
KING: The Rock Island Line is a mighty good line. We'll be right back, don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I wanted to make a contribution to the development of this city that I love so much. I also wanted the library to be in the middle of America, where people from all walks of life and all states passing through on the interstate, landing on the highway, coming here to conventions, doing whatever, could see what it is like to be president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He could have chosen other places, right? there were offers?
CLINTON: A lot of offers. But there wasn't any real choice in his mind, other than Arkansas. You know, this is a place that nurtured him and helped to raise him. It's a place that let him be their governor for all those years. And he couldn't have become president without the people of Arkansas standing behind him. I was thrilled when he decided to come here. And it's a beautiful location, as you've seen, right along the banks of the Arkansas River. And what I am especially pleased about is that I heard today, you know, that somewhere between $800 million to $900 million in economic development has already resulted because of Bill's decision to put the library here. And it's just -- I was at a big event today with all the former first ladies of the state of Arkansas who are still living. And you know, there are such wonderful memories. This is where we were married, this is where our daughter was born.
KING: You drove a car here.
CLINTON: I did. I used to drive a car here, I shopped here, I was sort a normal person, hard to believe.
KING: You have never voted in the Senate for a Supreme Court nominee.
CLINTON: That's right.
KING: We would imagine the next four years, you may have a few.
CLINTON: It may be.
KING: What will be your parameter? Must they be pro-choice? Is there a litmus, as you would vote?
CLINTON: I am going to take them as they come, each individual person. That's what I've tried to do with all of President Bush's nominees. I've voted on, my goodness, you know, more than 200. And we've confirmed more than 200. We have turned back a relative handful, I think maybe 10 of the nominees. So I think that the percentage is very much in favor of the process. There are those who want everything, but that's not the way the system should work. I mean, this is a system of compromise, where people have to be assured that we're within the bounds of whatever the mainstream is. And so I have voted in the last four years for judges who are certainly not in agreement with me on a lot of major issues but who I thought would be fair and judicious, would not allow whatever their personal opinions were to interfere with the kind of decision-making that will inspire confidence in the judiciary.
KING: You'll vote that same way for...
CLINTON: I will certainly vote that same way. And I will look at each individual nominee and weigh that person on the merits and then make a decision.
KING: Would you participate in a filibuster if that occurred?
CLINTON: I have. I have already. Because I think it's the duty of a senator -- you know, what happened in my husband's eight years was that the Republican Majority often wouldn't even let a well- qualified nominee come to the floor of the Senate. And so they would keep them bottled up in committee, they would never give them a hearing, they would never give them a vote in the committee, which I thought was very unfortunate. But unfortunately for us, we have very few tools at our disposal to make sure that everything is fully debated and the views are heard. And oftentimes, a filibuster is there for a purpose, which is to have the minority exercise its right to have a very strong view about what advise and consent means under our constitution.
KING: What do you make of what's going on with cabinet replacements?
Let's start with Rice for Powell.
CLINTON: Well, it's the president's prerogative. He has won his second term and, he gets to choose the people he wants. I think that Secretary Powell was a very significant influence within the administration during the first term. And although he didn't win very many arguments, at least counterpoints were heard in the highest level of debate. I don't know that that will happen now. I have a great deal of respect for Dr. Rice. She's an incredibly intelligent, devoted public servant. But it's very clear that she's not going to be disagreeing with the president or the vice president or the secretary of defense.
And I think debate and even dissent is very healthy in an administration. Otherwise, you do develop group think. We got into problems with that around the weapons of mass destruction and the Iraq war, where group think took over. And I don't think that's the way that you arrive at the best decisions.
KING: What do you think about General Ashcroft leaving?
CLINTON: Well, I think that that was probably an important step. Because he certainly did not have the confidence of a lot of people in the country on important issues that concerned civil liberties, individual freedoms. And I'll look forward to hearing more about what Mr. Gonzalez will bring to that job.
KING: What committees do you sit on?
CLINTON: On the Environment and Public Works Committee, on one that's called Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the Armed Services Committee. So I have my hands full with three very significant assignments.
KING: Armed Services being the most?
CLINTON: Well, it has taken up most of my time, because the work has been overwhelming. We have not only had the usual hearings you have to have with respect to what's going on in the Defense Department, but because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and certainly the prison scandal at Abu Ghraib, we've had a lot of extra hearings and the work has been intense.
KING: What do you make of that shooting in Iraq?
CLINTON: I don't want to jump to any conclusions. I think it's appropriate there is an investigation, as there well should be. You know, it's easy to either jump to someone's defense or to the side of prosecution. But I like to see what the facts are and I'm going to wait until the report's finished.
KING: And your committee will be involved in testimony? Will it?
CLINTON: We'll see. I think that there's an ongoing investigation. We certainly will hear the results of that investigation. But it would probably not be appropriate to have any hearings about it until we get the facts.
KING: We'll be right back with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, on the occasion of her husband's library opening officially tomorrow.
We took a tour of it earlier. There you see it. By the way it's lit so that ultraviolet rays during the day of the sun do not get through. That's why it is very brightly lit. Architects have praised it widely, except one critic in the "London Economist" who said it looked like a recreational vehicle. Well, even that ain't bad. We'll be right back. Don't go away.
KING: Here's this library. Official opening is tomorrow. William Jefferson Clinton. We're looking forward to his return to this program. He was on the night he went into the hospital.
H. CLINTON: That's right, I remember. I was sitting there when he called you. And I so appreciate the work that you do through your foundation. And one of the reasons why Bill's not here and I am is because he still just doesn't have his full strength back and he wants to sort of conserve his strength for tomorrow, which is such a big day. But you and I were talking before we went on the air about how you just really have to work through this. Then eventually you get back to your full energy. KING: You feel better every day if things go right.
H. CLINTON: You do, every day you feel better. But I think he wants to do some work on behalf of heart disease too.
KING: I want to get back to the library but one other thing, it was printed -- that could be wrong -- that you, using your heavy clout, convinced Chuck Schumer to not run for governor, getting him better posts in committees so that Eliot Spitzer could run for governor. True? You don't even have to give me a long answer.
H. CLINTON: No. Chuck made up his own mind. I'm delighted he's going to stay in the Senate. He's doing a great job. He has for years.
KING: You didn't work behind the scenes at keeping him...
H. CLINTON: Well, I tried to persuade him that it would be great for the Senate. But he made his own decision.
KING: You're going to support Eliot Spitzer?
H. CLINTON: Well, I don't support anybody in a primary. But if there's no primary, I will be an enthusiastic supporter.
KING: You have a place in this library. What do you think of the Hillary part?
H. CLINTON: Well, I'm thrilled. It's very gratifying to have the work I did on behalf of health care and women and children and education and adoption, all the things that I cared about, highlighted in the library. And it is also exciting to see the second floor of exhibition space, about some of the behind the scenes of the White House. The little stories about our time at Christmas. Or the place settings of the china that I helped to design for the millennium, my inaugural gown from 1997. The kind of personal touches that people love to see.
And the oval office in this library is the exact replica. It's the first time they've ever had it exact size. So people who have never been to Washington, would never get to go to the Oval Office, will get a chance to see it.
KING: How about students?
H. CLINTON: I can't wait for students to be in this library. Because there's something for every age. There's a wonderful series of just the exhibits that are funny, the kind of gifts, the swords that come from different heads of state around the world to people who can really delve into it for research papers.
So every age of student is going to learn something in this library.
KING: What didn't you like about it?
H. CLINTON: You know, having been through it today, there is absolutely nothing I've found that I don't like.
KING: Really? Did you sign off on this by the way?
H. CLINTON: I certainly offered my suggestions. But this was such a labor of love for Bill. He labored over it. He offered so many ideas to the architects and to the designers. And he knew every nook and cranny about what was going to be in the library. I didn't have that level of involvement.
So when I saw it today, obviously I had an idea of what I was going to see. But it was so much more. It was -- it had a vitality to it, an energy that I just found infectious. I was walking through it, and I had tears in my eyes in some places, and I was bursting out laughing in other places. It just came alive for me again.
KING: What does a library do for, if anything, for a legacy?
H. CLINTON: I think that for Bill, it gives him a chance to do the official part of it, which is to turn his papers and artifacts over to the country, to take possession of them through the National Archives.
KING: And the country takes possession tomorrow. It belongs to the United States tomorrow.
H. CLINTON: Absolutely. Now he had to raise the money privately to build the museum part of it. And it really stands for what he cares about in governing and in politics. And it talks about the issues that he thought were important to the country and the way he kept score. The way he kept score is, were more people working when he left than when he started? Were we in better financial shape when he left than when we started? Did more people find their way out of poverty than when he started? All the things that really matter to improving the lives. That's what he thinks politics is about.
But this is only part of his legacy. Because he's so young. And this is also not only the place where the library and the museum are situated, but as you say, right here we're in the Clinton school of public policy. We're going to be giving degrees to people who want to become better public servants. He's going to be running his foundation out of the library here and out of his office in Harlem in New York. He's going to continue the work on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment around the world, and racial and religious reconciliation, and economic empowerment.
So I don't think that this captures his entire legacy. It takes time, both for history to look back, but also he's got a lot of work he still wants to do. He's going to remain very active here at home and around the world.
KING: What does he want to do more than that, more than a foundation and an office in Harlem? Does he have larger plans?
H. CLINTON: I think, Larry, he really wants to make a difference in the world. He wants to continue the work he did in Northern Ireland, in the Balkans, in the Middle East. He's already met with some former and present government officials, heads of state and others just in the last two days here in Little Rock. Talking about what they can do together. Because people come to him and they ask him for advice. They ask him for his ideas about solving problems. He wants to save lives with diseases like HIV/AIDS. He really cares passionately about the work of the foundation.
KING: When President Bush was on this show a couple of months ago, we talked about how gracious he was when the official portrait was unveiled in the White House. And he said that he has terrific admiration for president Clinton, his personality and his verve. Do you think that he might be called upon to key areas maybe help this administration at times? And would he take it?
During the campaign, President Bush said that he would like to think of ways to call on Bill. And I know Bill would be more than willing to help. Both because he thinks that when your president asks you to help, you say yes. And secondly, because he'd like to provide whatever assistance because he knows more than the rest of us what that jobs is like. Really, the pressures on whoever the president is are so enormous. They are almost unimaginable for most Americans. I've seen it up close. You've seen it closer than most people. You know what a toll this job takes on any person. So if he were asked, I know he would be more than willing to help.
KING: We'll take a break, come back with our remaining moments with Senator Clinton. And then Mack McLarty, the former White House chief of staff, only went to kindergarten with Bill Clinton, will be with us. Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. And historian Michael Beschloss will look at the life and times of the former president. Right back with more moments with Senator Clinton after this.
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. We're in Little Rock. Another shot of the President Clinton Library which opens officially tomorrow. They're forecasting rain by the way.
H. CLINTON: Oh, no, can't rain.
KING: Well, make a call as I said. Do you think the impeachment thing was handled tastefully and well?
H. CLINTON: I do. I do. I've told everyone that the history was going to be full and accurate. Nothing's left out. Obviously, not everything can be shown. But there's going to be access to all of the documents. In fact, Bill is going to be making his documents accessible even earlier than legally required.
KING: He is?
H. CLINTON: He is. Because he really thinks it's important. That's one of the things the library really stands for. It physically stands for openness with all the glass and the light. But he wants it to be a place where people come and really study. And everything's going to be available. KING: A couple of other things. Senator Harry Reid. What do you think about him?
H. CLINTON: Wonderful guy. I adore him.
KING: He's your new head.
H. CLINTON: He is. And I'm an enthusiastic supporter. Obviously I'm so sad for Tom Daschle, who's a wonderful, wonderful man and a great public servant. I only wish the best for him and his family. Harry Reid will be a tough competitor. He's fair. He listens. He'll get along wherever possible with the White House and the Republicans on the other side of the aisle. But he'll stand his ground. He's a wonderful human being.
KING: The death of Arafat. Make you hopeful?
H. CLINTON: I have to be hopeful. I cannot afford not to be hopeful. We have to hope that the Palestinian people will make a transition to new leadership and will look for a way to adopt a two- state solutioN so that the people of Palestine, particularly the children, have a brighter future. The Palestinian people are such an intelligent, creative, entrepreneurial people when they...
KING: Poets of the Middle East.
H. CLINTON: And when they leave the region and come to the United States or Europe, they're successful in every walk of life. They should be able to do that in the area where they are now living, without having to leave. But that's going to require new leadership. It's going to require the United States becoming engaged and making clear that we're looking for some resolution that guarantees security for Israel and peace for the people.
KING: Do you know why Arafat turned that deal down that your husband brokered with him and Barak?
H. CLINTON: I do not, Larry. I think that when the time came to be a statesman, he couldn't do it. He was stuck in a time warp that had passed him by. But he wanted to hang on to what was familiar. He did a great disservice to his people, in my opinion.
KING: Are you hopeful about the elections in Iraq?
H. CLINTON: I am. We have a long way to go before we can hold secure elections. And we need to hold elections simultaneously in all parts of the country. It would be very troubling if we left certain parts of the country out. So therefore, we have to provide sufficient security so that the Sunni population is able to vote along with the Shia and the Kurds. It is certainly conceivable that with the capture of Falluja and driving out the insurgents there we are closer to making that happen. But we still have a lot of work to do.
KING: What are you going to do tomorrow?
H. CLINTON: I am so excited. I'm going to enjoy every minute of the dedication. And I have the great pleasure of introducing my husband. And we will have an incredible ceremony with the former presidents, along with President Bush speaking.
KING: Will President Bush speak?
H. CLINTON: Absolutely. He will speak. And I remember very fondly when Bill and I went to the dedication of former President Bush's library. It was a wonderful occasion. There's a camaraderie, a collegiality among former presidents and present presidents and first ladies that I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. I'm looking forward to welcoming the Bushes to the library. There will be a lot of presidential family children. I've already seen Susan Eisenhower and Linda and Lucy Johnson, Caroline Kennedy will be there. I think one or both of the Nixon daughters will be here. There's a real sense of identity with one another. We've been through an experience as members of a presidential family that is unlike any in the world. And it's a great privilege. It's often hard. But the honor is just overwhelming.
KING: And of course you like the collegiality of the Senate.
H. CLINTON: I do. I like...
KING: It's a club, isn't it?
H. CLINTON: It is. And even though we have people with very strong opinions, and I would include myself in that category, we find ways to work together.
KING: Always good seeing you, Senator. Send our best to Bill. We look forward to seeing him soon.
H. CLINTON: Thank you, Larry. Thanks for coming.
KING: Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady of the United States. United States senator from New York. When we come back, Mack McLarty, the former White House chief of staff, the first chief of staff in the Clinton administration. Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. And Michael Beschloss, the famed presidential historian. Don't go away, we'll be right back.
KING; We're back on LARRY KING LIVE visiting Little Rock, Arkansas. The occasion is the opening of the President William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library which opens officially tomorrow.
We spent the first three-quarters of the program with the former first lady, current senator. We now welcome Mac McLardy, the former White House Chief of Staff, friend of President Clinton since kindergarten. Did his first national interview on this program in this city in 1992.
Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. One of our favorite ladies.
And in Washington Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, ABC News analyst. His most recent book, "The Conquerors" Mac, what do you think of this place?
MAC MCLARTY, FRM. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It's spectacular, Larry. I think it's going to be such a great day tomorrow. But I think this is such a great way to present the 8 years President Clinton worked for the people of this country.
KING: What are you doing now?
MCLARTY: I have a partnership with Dr. Henry Kissinger, Kissinger/McLarty. We divide our time between Washington and Little Rock. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) has a lot to (UNINTELLIGIBLE), but it's a great privilege to serve the American people and work and to work in this administration.
KING: I guess you know Bill longer than anyone, right?
MCLARTY: Well, you're making my feel all my 50-plus years now, Larry. Yes, we do. We do. We're truly life long friends. And it's special to have life long friends. And probably the older you get the more special they become.
KING: I have them, you can't beat it.
MCLARTY: And you know, I thought about when I had the privilege to serve, would it change the friendship, would it perhaps even affect the friendship? It really deepened the friendship.
KING: Governor, what do you think of the library?
ANN RICHARDS, FRM. GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: It is a happening place. I mean, that place is popping over there. It is amazing.
KING: We're right across the street, by the way, in the old train station.
RICHARDS: It is so much more than I ever thought it would be. I don't know what I expected. I'd seen some pictures. But the openness of it and the light is spectacular. And the interactivity of being able to punch this and punch that and get any information. It is an amazing facility.
KING: Michael Beschloss, why aren't you here?
MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: I wish I were. I had to do something in Cambridge this morning, can't wait to see the library. But if I could put in a plug for the side of the library that houses papers in which scholars will come pretty soon, one thing Bill Clinton has done which is admirable, he has said, open my papers as quickly and widely and as possible. That doesn't oftentimes happen. That's a way that we historians and we Americans can learn as quickly as possible from the successes of those years and also the failures. KING: How do historians, Michael, view libraries?
BESCHLOSS: Well presidential libraries, we write about presidents, we really need them. Because, you can go into the Clinton library, there will be a staff that knows probably every minute of Mac McLarty's life, for instance, and will be an expert on the people who worked for Bill Clinton.
And the other thing is that they can go to, perhaps, other people who knew Bill Clinton and worked with him and say, give us your papers. They may be in an attic somewhere, otherwise they might be lost. Unless you've got a library like this, dedicated to one president with a staff that's expert on him, oftentimes you lose things that can be very important to history.
KING: What's history going to say about this president, Mac?
MCLARTY: I think they will say, one, that he did get up every day and work for the American people. I think they will say he was a transformational president at a time when we were moving into a different century. They will clearly point, Larry, to his economic record, where really for the first time since Andrew Jackson was president, we erased that budget deficit. I think they will say he was a peacemaker and a bridge builder.
KING: And an enigma?
MCLARTY: I think he will certainly spark some of those kind of thoughts. He clearly is a complicated person in some ways. But a very direct person in others.
So there will be a lot of commentary. But I think his record will speak for itself.
KING: How about his weaknesses? Are they always going to be included?
RICHARDS: Oh, I think all of our weaknesses will always be included in our history. But I think in the case of Bill Clinton, the surprising thing about him was that a man from Hope, Arkansas became a global president building bridges to other countries which made a great deal of difference, of course, in the peace that we enjoyed during the time that he was president.
He was the most inclusive of all of our presidents. And as a female, and as someone who was involved in the civil rights movement, I was particularly sensitive to that, that it wasn't just rhetoric and talk, but it was a reality to him.
KING: But this president has appointed blacks, Hispanics. Would you agree? President Bush has also.
RICHARDS: I would applaud the president for his appointments. I think there's a difference in simply appointing people to positions of responsibility and the empathy that you think that a president actually has. It's a difference between head and heart. KING: Michael Beschloss, is it too soon to judge?
BESCHLOSS: It is for an historian. We usually say, you need about 20 or 30 years. And two reasons for that, one is, we've got to get into the papers and the other artifacts that are going to be in a place like the Clinton Library. Sometimes there are national security documents that won't be declassified for years.
And the other thing is that is you really need hindsight. I always think of Harry Truman, who went back to Missouri, 1953, had an approval rating of something like about 12 percent. Not very popular. 50 years later, we think of him as one of the greats. And the reason is that with hindsight, we know how the story turned out. The Cold War ended largely because of Harry Truman's strategy. Nowadays, we understand what a great president he was.
KING: What do you guess they'll say about Clinton? It's just a guess.
BESCHLOSS: I think they'll begin by saying some of the things we just heard from Ann and Mac. They can't deny the fact that for 8 years, this was a presidency of peace and prosperity. Ad I sort of think of Dwight Eisenhower who said after he had a presidency that had those two things for two terms, he said, you know, sometimes people deprecate me, but how do they think all this peace and prosperity happened? It wasn't just accidental.
Beyond that, I think we're going to have to wait 20 or 30 years to really see how this president stands up in the context of later events.
KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Mac McLarty, Ann Richards and Michael Beschloss on LARRY KING LIVE in Little Rock. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
B. CLINTON: I wanted to build a building that would capture the imagination of people today and in the decades to come. I got tickled. Most people have said it's a beautiful building, a great landmark of 21st century architecture. And the London economist, in typical snide form, compared it to a glorified house trailer. And I thought, well, that's me, I'm a little red and a little blue. They got me pretty good this. You know. I like that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Kind of a genius, at communicating.
CLINTON: It's not just communication. No matter who you were, anytime you came in his perimeter, you felt like he cared about you and you were the only person in the room.
KING: Was he that way as a kid, Mac? MCLARTY: He always had those qualities. I think there with his grand parties, when his mother was going to nursing school, he saw a concern for people that his grandparents demonstrated to him by example. And that made a profound impact, Larry. There's no question his empathy for people, his ability to connect, his ability as the old poem goes to walk among kings nor lose the common touch, he had it and has it.
KING: Michael, Ann pointed out during the break to me, "Lady Bird" Johnson also turned over to the Johnson Library all of his papers, which you have used extensively.
BESCHLOSS: Sure have. And she was quite courageous, as you know, in opening these many tapes that LBJ made of private conversations, with no knowledge of what might be on these tapes and what might later on be revealed. But the burden of it was that it's helped Johnson's reputation.
KING: A couple of other quick things. Ann, do you believe Senator Clinton when she says, I'm going to run for re-election, but that's it at this time? I'm not thinking ahead?
RICHARDS: I think anytime that you have a responsibility like she does in the United States Senate, that you really are focused on doing the job. You forget in politics that when you get elected, you have a job to do. And I think Hillary has really focused on being a good senator. And I think she figures, like everyone does, that the rest will take care of itself. If there's some other future for her other than being in the Senate, then that will take care of itself and she'll decide at the time.
KING: Would she have to say that when running, Mac?
MCLARTY: Would she have to say...
KING: To say, if running for the Senate, I would consider it?
George Bush said it when running for re-election as governor.
MCLARTY: He did, but I think she answered you tonight, Larry. And I think, Ann Richards said it very well, she has done a splendid job, a sterling job as senator from New York. She's clearly concentrating on that. But make no mistake about it, she's a world figure. She's known everywhere, name recognition. She's going to be a force to be reckoned with, but she's clearly concentrating on her Senatorial job, as she should should.
KING: Mr. Beschloss, what do you think?
BESCHLOSS: I think it's adding to the theater of tomorrow. Because here we are with a president, a former president married to someone who very likely will be running for president in 2008. It reminds me a little bit of the opening of the George Bush 41 Library in Texas in 1997, where there was a son there named George W. Bush widely expected to run for president himself in three years.
KING: What would she have to say, Michael, when running for the Senate, though, when she told us tonight she will run for the Senate?
BESCHLOSS: Well, George W. Bush in Texas set a pretty high standard, because when he was running for re-election as governor, 1998, he said, you voters in Texas should know that there's a possibility that I might run for president during this next term. And if that's a factor for you, you should think about that when you're making the decision whether to vote for me or not.
KING: And she would do the same?
BESCHLOSS: I think after that precedent, it's sort of hard not to.
KING: Ann, what's the role of President Clinton, this young man, in the future?
RICHARDS: He could be anything he wants to be. I think it's obvious that he is going to follow in the sort of Jimmy Carter standard of international work. I think Hillary is right when she says that he is passionate about things we could do about disease. His empathy and care for people is obvious, whether they are Americans or in a foreign country. And I think he thinks that peace-building comes through initiatives. Like caring about people's education and about their healthcare. So he's going to be a great diplomat for this country, even though it's in a sort of ad hoc basis.
KING: Do you think President Bush might call upon him, Mac?
MCLARTY: I hope he would consider doing that, Larry, that's certainly his decision. But President Clinton in so many areas, as a peacemaker, has I think extraordinary, and unique qualities that could help him.
KING: It would be a mistake not to use him?
MCLARTY: I believe it would. I honestly, believe it would. And I think Senator Clinton responded tonight, he would certainly respond to a president's call.
KING: And finally Michael Beschloss, when are you coming out here?
BESCHLOSS: As soon as possible. I'd love to come the next couple of days. And especially given what I've seen and heard.
KING: You will be impressed.
BESCHLOSS: I think it's just the way a presidential library should be done.
KING: Thank you all very much. From Little Rock, Arkansas, this has been another edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Tomorrow night, Prince Albert of Monaco.
And Friday night Patty Davis, the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan.
Stay tuned from Aaron Brown and "NEWSNIGHT" from Little Rock. Good night.
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