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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Coverage of Bush's Inauguration

Aired January 20, 2005 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...preserve, protect and defend...

WILLIAM REHNQUIST, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: ...the constitution of the United States.

GEORGE W. BUSH: ...the constitution of the United States.

REHNQUIST: ...so help me God.

BUSH: ...so help me God.

REHNQUIST: Congratulations.

LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, America's first inaugural since 9/11. President George W. Bush opens his second term, promising to spread democracy around the world.

We're live in Washington to get reaction from journalist Bob Woodward, his remarkable White House access brought us the best sellers "Bush at War" and "Plan of Attack." Sally Quinn, the best selling author, covering the Washington scene for years, Ben Bradlee the former Washington Post executive editor and Bob Shieffer, host of "Face the Nation." Plus, the president's nephews, Pierce Bush and George P. Bush.

And you'll meet the man who designed first lady Laura Bush's outfits today, Oscar de la Renta. They're all next on this inaugural day edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Good evening, and joining me as co-host tonight, the noted historian Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, New York Times best-seller, and a consultant as well for ABC News. Thanks for coming aboard.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thanks for the promotion.

KING: I promoted you?

BESCHLOSS: Co-host.

KING: Well, you're sitting right next to me, so I don't want to confuse. That's your last time on.

BESCHLOSS: A very short appearance, huh?

KING: Before we bring in the whole panel, let's go to the Florida Ball. George P. Bush, the nephew of President George W. Bush, grandson of former president George H.W. Bush, the son of Governor JEB Bush, another in the Bush line. He's at the Florida Ball, which is not surprising.

The president was already there already, right?

GEORGE P. BUSH, NEPHEW OF THE PRESIDENT: He was. He made a brief stop and made remarks about how Florida was instrumental in his reelection. And of course, in the theme of tonight, he wanted to celebrate by having a dance or two with his lovely wife, Laura.

KING: He's danced at other balls. That is not his most comfortable moment, is it?

GEORGE P. BUSH: It isn't. I guess after a few inaugurations and galas, and balls, he has an opportunity to dance here and there. He doesn't know Salsa and Marenge like my parents to but he can get down when he needs to.

KING: Your father has said he will definitely, definitely not seek the presidential nomination in 2008, is that a final definite?

GEORGE P. BUSH: It is a final definite. I think he needs time to reflect upon his life. As most public officials know, on a daily basis, on an intimate basis, it's a serious commitment. It's a noble calling. And I think that right now, he needs some time to go back to the private sector and reflect on things, reflect on his family.

You never know in politics, in 4 years things can change. But For right how to, he has no commitment to run for president.

KING: What about you, George?

GEORGE P. BUSH: Nothing right now. I just married a few months back. It's a wonderful institution. I'd like to start my own family and begin my practice of law. I enjoy practicing law. And we'll see where it takes me. But I think with faith and family I can maintain perspective and see where life takes me.

KING: Good luck, George. Thanks, as always, for being with us.

George P. Bush, nephew of President George W. Bush, grandson of the former president and son of the Florida governor.

Pierce Bush, who we introduced to the world four years ago at the Republican National Convention, now a student at Georgetown will be with us in the next segment.

Let's swing around the panel. Bob Woodward, were you surprised in the address, Iraq was never mentioned? BOB WOODWARD, WASHINGTON POST: It was not, but freedom and liberty, by my count, were mentioned 44 times. It will be known as the freedom speech.

And, of course, the problem is how do you implement this? It really sounds like a hundred year agenda, expanding democracy throughout the world. This presumably, at least, as a long-term goal, includes lots of the non-Democratic allies of the United States, like Saudi Arabia. What about Russia, what about China?

KING: Ben, was it saber rattling?

BEN BRADLEE, WASHINGTON POST VICE PRESIDENT AT LARGE: I didn't think that as much as...

KING: Was it a warning? Was it saying, be free or I'm coming?

BRADLEE: Iraq was the 500 pound guerrilla that may not have been mentioned. But that's what the first term was about. And what the next term will be about.

KING: What did you think of the speech, Michael?

BESCHLOSS: Well, you know, I think Iraq was not mentioned explicitly, but when you're talking about fighting a war or doing things to eliminate tyranny from the world, that provides a very good rationale for having gone after Saddam Hussein, even if there weren't weapons of mass destruction.

The amazing thing was that most of these presidents in their second term, they give speeches that are usually pat, they're sort of written nicely, they're sort of like high school orations.

Bill Clinton's second inaugural address is an example of that. He could have done much better. In this case, if you knew nothing about George W. Bush at the beginning of that speech and you listened to it or read it, by the end of it, you'd know exactly who he is and what he wants to do.

KING: So it was effective?

BESCHLOSS: I think very effective in that respect.

KING: Sally what did you think?

SALLY QUINN, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR: I thought that it was fairly repetitive. But I also thought that it was vague in the sense that the kind of speech everyone has to agree with. How can you be against freedom and liberty. But it was very sweeping in that it sounded as if he wanted to sort of take over the world. By the end of the 4 years, we were going to have liberty and freedom on the entire planet. And I just felt unrealistic.

KING: Bob Schieffer, did he mean freedom and liberty even for our friends who have countries that don't have liberty and freedom? BOB SCHIEFFER, FACE THE NATION HOST: I think what it was really, was his justification, his argument for why we are in Iraq. Because basically, what he said, our freedom at home depends very much on the success of freedom elsewhere. So, I thought he was laying it out in rather lofty terms.

I think this president's legacy, his whole second term is going to come down to what happens in Iraq, Larry. You know, if somehow he can pull this off, if there can be stability there, certainly if there can be a democracy there some day, that will be seen as a remarkable achievement.

On the other hand, it seems to me if the violence continues at the level it is now, if American casualties continue where they are, I think six or seven months from now, you're going to see people begin to lose confidence here and say they can no longer support this. I think you'll have to then start figuring out a way to come home.

KING: Ben, why are second terms usually problematic?

BRADLEE: Maybe it's just a too long. I think they run out of gas in one sense and they don't have a -- and they know they're going no further than that second term. I think they do run out of gas.

KING: Troubles usually happen, too?

WOODWARD: And there's some memorable scandals. But if you really look at, like Watergate and Iran-Contra, they started in the first terms of those presidents, so they kind of were revealed in the second term. So maybe there's some scandal we don't know about.

What Bob Scheiffer is saying about that this speech was some what of a justification for Iraq, I think that's partially true, but if you go back and look at what President Bush has said on this issue of spreading freedom, he really believes it. This is a deeply embedded conviction.

And Michael will understand this fully, but what he thinks he's doing is taking the two strains in American foreign policy, the realists and the idealists, the people like Jim Baker, Colin Powell saying, you really look only out for your interests, and the idealists, like Woodrow Wilson, and he's merging them. And he's saying, that is a false distinction, our interests, our ideals and vice-versa.

KING: Does he mean it for Saudi Arabia?

BESCHLOSS: That's the real question. Or Pakistan, which is very helpful to us at the moment in the war on terrorism. That's when you can make tricky choices.

Ronald Reagan could have give an speech somewhat like this in the 1980s. But that was at the same time his U.N. Ambassador Gene Kirkpatrick began distinguishing between totalitarian governments and authoritarian governments, our government may find itself having to make some of the same distinctions KING: We'll be back. We'll come back. Check in with young Pierce Bush and more of our panel. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH: By our efforts we have lit a fire as well. A fire in the minds of men. It warms those who feel its power. It burns those who fight its progress. And one day, this untamed fire of freedom will reach the darkest corners of our world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Joining us now, at the Texas Wyoming Ball, is our young discovery, Pierce Bush, President Bush's nephew, the son of Neil Bush, a student at Georgetown University, he's at the Texas-Wyoming Ball.

I understand your uncle was just there. How did he do?

Did he dance, Pierce?

PIERCE BUSH, NEPHEW OF PRESIDENT BUSH: Larry, you know what?

First, I'd like to say one thing. I actually missed the ball. I was coming over in the car with George P., my nephew and my Uncle George is a very on time kind of guy. So, I missed him. It's unfortunate I wish was there to hear him and see what he had to say and see him dance because I know that the Bush family does not possess the artistic ability that dancing requires. And you know, I wish I saw him. I saw him at the black tie and boots ball last night, and he didn't dance there but he said a very nice speech about Texas and about all his friends and family. It was great.

KING: Pierce, is this your first ball?

P. BUSH: This is not my first -- it depends. Last year, me and my Uncle Marvin and actually cousin George P., we were so in ah at being back at the White House after eight years, we just decided to go hit up the bowling alley and go explore the place. You know, there's a lot of great memories there from back when my grandfather was the president and now my uncle. We just went around and explored the place.

KING: You're part of a legacy now. How are you doing at Georgetown?

P. BUSH: My first semester went pretty well. I missed the Texas crowd a little bit, but I'm making some friends which is a good thing. The ladies are responding well. I'd say it's a good place, it's great school. And I love being there. I'm honored to be there. Just like I'm honored to be on your show, Larry.

KING: Always great to have you, Pierce. Do you talk to your uncle much? P. BUSH: I see him -- he was pretty busy during the campaign but occasionally he'd have me over for the White House Christmas Party where -- actually last year they had one of the performers that's here tonight, a guy named Super T., who supposedly they got, you know, the train dance, where you go through -- they had the train dance going through the state floors of the White House, supposedly an awesome time. But this year we didn't have the level of Super T., we had some cover band. But it was still a lot of fun. And when I see him, it's always great.

KING: A couple of other things, Pierce, what was it like to vote for the first time?

P. BUSH: It was exhilarating. I'm very interested in public service. And I take that kind of thing very seriously. I'm not the kind of guy that votes, you know, straight party line. I actually did research on a lot of other candidates that were running that I voted for, some of the state judges that type of thing. And...

KING: Did you vote for any Democrat?

P. BUSH: I actually voted for one Democrat.

KING: That's very honest of you to admit that.

P. BUSH: I'm a bipartisan man, Larry. You have to be bipartisan nowadays.

KING: Pierce, do you want to run for office some day?

P. BUSH: You know, that's too far ahead of me. I think that, and I've said this to you before, my grandfather has installed in every single grandchild, a sense of service, a sense of wanting to do something, to reach out and help the community. And there's many, many routes you can do that. For example, my sister, Lauren just went -- I think I've told you this before she's on the World Food Program. She just went to Sri Lanka to help out, you know, expose the issue, just like my grandfather did on your show with President Clinton. I mean, I think there's many routes you can help other people. And I'm interested in all types of routes. Definitely want to dedicate my life to service in some way or another.

KING: Pierce, you're a great man, good luck to you, boy, stay tough.

P. BUSH: Larry, you're the man, you know I love you, man.

KING: Pierce Bush. I guess, we can go back 200 years, do you think the Adams family we would have had a conversation like this on television.

What do you make of this family?

Let's be serious, they are the most important political family in American history. BESCHLOSS: You may have had two future presidents George P. and Pierce on the same show. You didn't ask Pierce which was going to be president first.

What do you make of this family, sally?

BESCHLOSS: They're hot.

KING: They're hot.

QUINN: They are a family for one thing. And I think that's one of the things that appeals to them, is that even though they've got this sort of elder Bush's are the patrician Connecticut yankees WASP. They moved to Texas, and that -- so that whole Texas part appeals to everybody in the country. And they are -- you know, you know the problems that they have. You know the children have acted out. You know there've been issues in the Florida family, and everybody sort of can identify with them in a way that I can't remember a family in the White House having been that sort of identifiable.

KING: This a formidable family, right? Historically, I mean, they passed the Kennedy's and Roosevelt's and Adam's?

SCHIEFFER: I'm putting my money on that kid. I think he's going to take your place, Larry.

KING: Maybe that's a better bet. What do you make of this family, though?

SCHIEFFER: It's remarkable. I mean, they have now kind of become a dynasty. There's really no question about that. I mean, they keep moving up. You start out with a senator, and then you have a one term president, and then you have a two-term president. It doesn't usually go in that progression.

BESCHLOSS: They've done it because they've done what the Adam's and Roosevelt's and maybe not what the Kennedy's either did not do, and that is that they've evolved as the country has changed. Prescott Bush was in the certainty of the Republican Party, as it was in the 1950s, a liberal northeastern Republican. George Bush the elder moved to Texas, moved some what further to the right, to the sunbelt. And then George W. Bush as the party gets more religious and more conservative, so I would put my money, if these two guys are running for president in the future, very much the idea they will be doing what their party is going to be doing then.

KING: We'll get Bob Woodward's thoughts on this family when we come back after the break. And you just saw the vice president and the second lady, she's called that, I think, dancing -- that was live at Union Station right around the corner from where we are. Another one of the many balls tonight in Washington D.C. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

G. W. BUSH: In our time, it means something still. America, in this young century proclaims liberty throughout all the world and to all the inhabitants thereof. Renewed in our strength, tested but not weary, we are ready for the greatest achievements in the history of freedom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: You're watching President Bush now. He's at the Patriot Ball. This one is the state of Ohio's ball, the state that won him the presidency. I think 56,000 votes one way or the other. Kerry would have been at the Ohio ball tonight. What do you make of this family, Bob Woodward. We have the opinion of everybody else, the extraordinary Bushes?

WOODWARD: I think when you look at the two presidents, they're as different as can be in many, many ways. The first President Bush was from the center of the party. As you may recall, he was somebody who raised taxes when he was president. Many people think he lost because of that. His national security adviser, whom he is joined at the hip with, Brent Scowcroft, very, very critical of the Iraq war. This president, you know, we saw it in that inaugural speech today, confidence.

KING: It was him.

WOODWARD: There was this is what we're going to do. There's no bending and giving.

KING: Let's pick him up for a minute at Ohio's ball, the Patriot Ball.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And now and tomorrow, we're going to work. I'm looking forward to it. As a matter of fact, I'm looking forward to working as hard as I possibly can for the next four years. I'm going to put my heart and soul into seeing to it that America can be the most hopeful place for every single citizen. I'll work as hard as I can to spread freedom around the world so our children and grandchildren can grow up in peace.

We have a fabulous country. It's a fantastic land full of great people. It's such an honor to be the president of the United States of America.

Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to ask the first lady for an inaugural dance.

KING: You think this is not Arthur Murray (ph). Does he ever, Michael Beschloss, go off message?

BESCHLOSS: He does in terms of saying things that get him into trouble. But you know, he has a cultural -- an understanding of how to connect to people culturally that I think his father didn't have and his grandfather didn't have. He, having come from Texas, grown up there, being sort of a good old boy, knows if he gets grammar wrong or makes a mistake in what he says, people not only will forgive him for it but they will say, this is like someone on my street whom I know. If he hadn't known that lesson when he was a kid, he really learned it in 1978 when he ran for the first time, House of Representatives against a Democratic Congressman Cat Haas (ph).

Haas said this guy is running against me, George W. Bush is a Yale preppie, he's not really from Texas. Bush lost. He learned from that and made sure that he would never be caught in a situation like that again.

KING: Clinton said, Ben, that it was a mistake to underestimate him, said that some years ago.

BRADLEE: He was plainly right.

KING: What didn't the elite see?

BRADLEE: Everybody he's run against has underestimated him, including Ann Richards, who was governor when he challenged her and beat her. I think Michael is exactly right and I think that's the reason that George Bush won this election. He was able to connect with people in a way that John Kerry simply never could.

KING: What part of him, Sally, is she?

QUINN: Is she?

KING: What part of the story?

QUINN: I think she is the security blanket. I think she really holds him together. He talks about her all the time. He's always -- he's always sort of referring to her, she chewed me out, she wouldn't let me do this, she told me that. I can't imagine him doing this job without her. I think he really relies on her enormously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she was his best advocate and his best asset in this campaign.

QUINN: She is a huge asset. She is the most perfect first lady I could ever imagine.

KING: She saved his life, right? Stop drinking or I'm gone.

QUINN: There is nothing wrong with her. Everything she does is right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just about the most popular, too.

QUINN: I'm not being sarcastic. She doesn't make a misstep. She's kind, generous, smart.

KING: Do you think they ever argue?

WOODWARDS: I've seen them argue a little bit, talking to them one time for one of my books. He was telling me about how brave and confident she was after 9/11, living in the White House, and so she came into the room, I said, he was saying how you were very courageous, and she said, no. You know, I was scared, and then she pointed at him and said, he was scared. He was not sleeping well. He was up at nights, and then he acknowledged that. So I think what he gets from her, she is the cop to a certain extent. She is the one who holds him accountable. When he said dead or alive about bin Laden, she said to him, tone it down, George.

KING: Do you agree it will be Iraq that determines how he is going to be...

BESCHLOSS: It will have a lot to do with it. If Iraq leads to a situation where Americans don't think it went well and they're unwilling to do the kind of things George W. Bush was talking about doing this morning, it won't work. But I think he -- you cannot underestimate the impact on George Bush of Ronald Reagan, seeing Reagan as his model. I think if George W. Bush were here tonight and talking to us about it, he would say Ronald Reagan, in the early 1980s said I'm going to try to end the Cold War in this decade. A lot of people thought Reagan was crazy in doing so but it worked.

KING: What does Jeb do now, Ben?

BRADLEE: I don't know about Jeb. He has a tough act to follow. He's not going to run, is he?

KING: No. It doesn't play. Does it play?

WOODWARD: I think three Bushes is one too many. You have to take a break for a while.

BRADLEE: What I'd like to know, do you think Bush is confident enough now he is exploring ways to get out of Iraq?

BESCHLOSS: It's always possible. I think we should probably refer that to Bob.

WOODWARD: I think they have to be realistic, and of course, after the elections in Iraq, ten days away, if the new leadership says oh, by the way, we have a request, please leave. There is a way to do that and still maintain the mission of, you know, again...

KING: Do you think it's something he'd like to hear?

WOODWARD: I don't -- you know -- he is absolutely convinced that he's doing the right thing. He talks about he needs to be the calcium and the backbone for his war cabinet and the country. And he said -- says openly, if I waver, if I show any doubt, then people will start deserting. He marches again.

KING: We'll be back with more, I'll reintroduce the panel. We're only halfway through this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: As we come back, that's the California and Tennessee ball. I don't know how those two states wound up together but they have. We'll check in with Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, Republican of Tennessee in just a moment. Let me re-introduce our panel. They are Bob Woodward, the editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist of the "Washington Post." His "New York Times" No. 1 best-seller "Plan of Attack" is now out in paperback and he'll be delving into the issue of presidential leadership tomorrow night in a History Channel special at 10:00.

Sally Quinn is the best-selling author and "Washington Post" staff writer, has an essay in today's "Post" on the table of domestic policy that's more inviting.

Ben Bradlee, the "Washington Post" vice president at large, maybe the most famous executive editor ever, former executive editor of the "Post." He is married to Ms. Quinn.

Bob Schieffer is the moderator of "Face The Nation." CBS chief Washington correspondent. "New York Times" best-selling author himself. His most recent book is "Face The Nation, My Favorite Stories from the First 50 years of the Award Winning News Broadcast." He will also be honored at his alma mater TCU, they're going to name the school of communications in his honor. It will be my honor to be out there to moderate a big panel for that in March.

And Michael Beschloss, presidential historian, "New York Times" best-selling author, ABC News consultant.

Let's talk about this Iraq thing a little more before we talk with Senator Frist. Will it get worse before it gets better?

BESCHLOSS: That's the lesson that most of these occupations -- it certainly happened that way in Japan and Germany. We were talking just for a moment before the break about the hypothetical possibility that might be a government elected in Iraq that tells us to leave. There was a line in the inaugural address today in which George Bush said, this is rough language, I'm not -- we should not expect to dictate to countries who opt for democracy, what they should do. In a way, that might be an oblique way of saying that if this happens in Iraq, that's what's going to happen.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) asked us to leave.

BESCHLOSS: Sure.

KING: We want to check back to the Texas-Wyoming ball. Tanika Ray of "Extra" is there. What is happening at the Texas-Wyoming ball?

TANIKA RAY, "EXTRA" CORRESPONDENT: It's fantastic. There's a couple of bands playing in the background. People are wearing these amazing outfits. Honey, if it sparkles and shines, you're wearing the right outfit.

KING: How much security?

RAY: It's impossible almost to get in here. Once you do, it's smooth sailing, about food, wine, drink, party people. You have a good time. Everyone is having a great time. The president was just here, everybody applauding him, having a wonderful occasion. There was one point where the band started to put their horns up to play and then they put them back down, then people were going, ah, they were upset they didn't get their fill and then they came back on. Everyone's really excited to see President Bush. Once he left, it's all about the party now and people going to dance on the dance floor.

KING: You look like you're ready to, Tanika. Have a good time.

RAY: Always dazzling, darling.

KING: All right. Where does this Iraq -- you have to bounce the balls here. Where does this Iraq thing go? What happens next Sunday?

BRADLEE: In the first place, I don't believe the polls. An Iraqi poll by the -- about what the Iraqi election is going to be like with one-third of the country not going to vote and with the revolutionaries loose in the streets, I don't believe any polls. I don't know what they're saying. It obviously is going to change the game one way or another. If they get a huge victory and the Sunnis go along, why, sure, it might work out. I don't believe that. But we'll see.

KING: What do you expect, Bob? That's the president and Mrs. Bush at the California-Tennessee ball as they did their little dance and exit for another one.

SCHIEFFER: President keeps telling us he believes the results of this election are going to have a major impact, when people get a chance to vote, it does something to them. He may be right about that. I certainly hope he's right about that. I think what has to happen here and I think it has to happen within the next nine months, I think there has to be some sort of stability that comes to Iraq, that makes it look as if things are getting better, and they really are moving toward democracy. I don't think he's got more than a year. Lyndon Johnson used to say, you have to do it in the first year because in the second year, the Congress starts thinking about itself. That's -- that's the hard political reality. If it's still going and these casualties are still going and the National Guard is still holding these people beyond their enlistment, it will be difficult on Capitol Hill for this president.

KING: Sally, what do you expect?

QUINN: I think the Kurds and Shiites will obviously be involved. They'll vote. The Sunnis will probably not be able to vote. The Kurds and Shiites will have to choose some Sunnis to be part of the government.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they go.

QUINN: They will. There will be a certain number of them will, even though they have allied themselves with the insurgents and the criminals, they are beginning to realize this is not in their best interests, that the only way they're ever going to survive is if they join up with the government on some level. This may take a long time. As Bob was saying, people are now already starting to say, the military's falling apart, the reserves are falling apart, we're going to have to have a draft. The minute you start talking about draft, people will go crazy.

KING: We're going to talk to Senator Frist in a moment but I want Bob Woodward's thoughts and we'll go right to Bill Frist.

WOODWARD: Very quickly one of the lessons of Iraq is it always surprises, that you just can't predict. Before the election, there was all of this hand wringing and this sense of things are going badly, which indeed they are but there is this tenacity. Everyone's talking about the military and their attitudes. I spent some time talking to some military people. They don't like the war and they have more horror stories than you can imagine. But there is a resilience and determination, particularly at the ground level that these people have that may be baffling but it's real.

KING: Let's check in with the Senate majority leader at the California-Tennessee ball where the president just left, Senator Bill Frist. What did you make of the speech, Senator?

SEN. BILL FRIST (R-TN), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: First of all, today's speech was great. The president was here, just left about 30 seconds ago, spent about four or five minutes and, of course, danced with the first lady. You can hear everybody in the background. Let me comment real quickly on Iraq. I was in Iraq last week and I was there six months ago. I'm a little more optimistic than when what I was just hearing about the elections a week and half from now.

While we were there, we met with about 150 Sunni sheikhs with Prime Minister Allawi there. It was a town meeting. It was almost like democracy in action on the Senate floor, what I put up with day in and day out. With that, this being the first set of elections, there'll be another set of elections in October and another to follow. I really do think we're going to have not successful necessarily by our standards but fairly successful elections here in a week and a half that are going to put us on a road for freedom and democracy, the sort of issues the president talked about earlier today.

KING: How important, Senator, is Iraq to the whole Bush presidency?

FRIST: I think it's very important. I was in Afghanistan two days before I was in Iraq. And again, before those elections, people said impossible. The turnout's going to be poor. As you know, 8 1/2 million people turned out, 10 million people registered, more women than ever turned out.

When I was in a clinic there working in a hospital in Afghanistan, women would come up to me in tears and say, thank you, America. Is that going to play out that way in Iraq? No one knows. But we are bringing about 4,000 newly trained troops up every month. They portray us as doing great job. There are 127,000 Iraqi personnel there, about half military, and half, right now, police. So, I think we're making real progress there.

It's tough to say when you look on television and you see the insurgency everyday, but I'm a little more optimistic than what I just heard. KING: And how far does it extend past Iraq, this freedom everywhere?

FRIST: Well, you know, the key phrase to me or sentence to me, was our best hope for peace is that spreading or extension of freedom in the whole world. That's a paraphrase of that sentence. It doesn't mean we have to go around the world. But if you look at what happened in the Ukraine, if you look at the recent elections by the Palestinian authority, if you look at what happened in Afghanistan. And then I think the real focus is going to be on the Israel-Palestinian issue.

And if this administration is successful there, I think we're going to see a flourishing of democracy and freedom throughout that whole part of the world.

KING: Thank you, senator. We'll be seeing a lot of you.

FRIST: Good to be with you, Larry.

KING: Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, Republican of Tennessee. We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE W. BUSH: We felt the unity and fellowship of our nation when freedom came under attack and our response came like a single hand over a single heart. And we can feel that same unity and pride when ever America acts for good and the victims of disaster are given hope and the unjust encounter justice and the captives are set free.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Do you think Laura Bush looked terrific today and tonight? Here's the man that made that possible, he's in New York, Oscar de la Renta, the famed designed. He designed the first lady's swearing in outfit and the inaugural gown. He also designed the outfits for the Bush twins Jenna and Barbara.

How did you find out that it was you, Oscar? Did she call you?

OSCAR DE LA RENTA, DESIGNER: Well, I have been doing some clothes for her for the last three or four years. And she came to see me last December and asked me if I will give different propositions for, you know, for both occasions. And I have to tell you that actually she chose the color white for the swearing in ceremony. And I said it was just perfect, because it really make her stand in the crowd. She looks really spectacular. I was really very proud to see her.

KING: Was it -- is it tough to design for an afternoon event of the magnitude of an inaugural when you are the second star?

DE LA RENTA: Well, I was extremely honored. And obviously, any American designer who designs for the first lady of, you know, of our country, I consider that a great privilege. And with the privilege, it comes a lot of pressure, obviously. I was pretty sure of what she wanted to wear and I was there to fulfill her wishes.

KING: Did she like it right away?

DE LA RENTA: Yes, absolutely. She was very, very -- she's -- Mrs. Bush is pretty sure of what she thinks is right for her. And when we talk about the white outfit, she immediately say yes. As well as for the evening dress.

You know, she has the most unbelievable color blue eyes and nice, you know, night is fantasy time and the blue will be great for your eyes. That's what she chose.

KING: We have Sally Quinn with us. What did you think, Sally, of Oscar's work today and tonight?

QUINN: Well, as usual, Oscar did a brilliant job. He is the best designer we have in our country today.

Oscar, I wanted to know, did you have a goal when you were designing these clothes? People have written that you -- that you were -- have changed the first lady's image. Do you feel that, with these clothes?

DE LA RENTA: Well, you know, I have been doing clothes for her for some time now. And I think that, you know, she more-or-less always knows exactly what is right for her. You know, strangely enough, you know, most people look well in certain colors and not well in other colors, Mrs. Bush practical can wear almost any color. She looks great in high colors, she looks well in soft colors. As long as you keep it very simple, she always looks right.

KING: Were you nervous today when she first appeared as to how it would be accepted?

DE LA RENTA: Well, I was anxious about it, certainly. But obviously, have seen all the fittings and felt that, you know that she looked great. I was really happy. The choice of the white as I said before, I think it was wonderful, because it really made her stand in the crowd when almost everyone was there dressed in a dark color.

KING: Did you like designing for the girls, too?

DE LA RENTA: The girls are a lot of fun. And they have their own mind. And it's really quite wonderful to sit them together with their mother because they are always trying to tell her, mother, this looks too old, you should dress younger. They are really wonderful.

They are -- you know, both have, you know, their own minds. And it is wonderful to see them as a family, because there is a lot of togetherness, and it's a real American family, which is great.

KING: Thank you, Oscar. Oscar de la Renta, as Sally Quinn called him, maybe America's best today.

QUINN: I think so.

KING: Top of his game tonight.

We'll be right back with our panel for the remaining moments with our panel. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The president is now at the last ball he'll attend tonight. And it's already 22 minutes past his bedtime. He's at the commander in chief ball, this is the last one of the evening. I also want to thank Tanika Ray at the Texas Wyoming ball. Tanika, I just want to check, are you going to stay there the rest of the night?

RAY: Are you kidding me? This is an amazing ball. I am definitely going to stay here and party with some people. I just want to say, Oscar was an amazing talent. It is really refreshing to see the first family embrace couture. We've never seen that before, and they looked amazing.

KING: I agree completely. Thanks, Tanika, great work.

RAY: Thank you.

KING: Tanika Ray of "Extra."

And Michael Beschloss has a first lady story.

BESCHLOSS: Well, actually, there was a time we've seen that embraced before. Ben Bradlee knows. He was very close to John Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy, who spent a lot of money on dresses. And Jack Kennedy was furious when the press would criticize her for spending so much money on this.

And there was one time Kennedy was meeting with the British prime minister, Harold MacMillan. He was ranting and raving, the press is criticizing Jackie on these dresses. Finally MacMillan said, what do you care, Jack? Brush it off, it's just the press. And Kennedy very annoyedly said, well, how would you like it if the press wrote that your wife was a drunk? And MacMillan said, if they did that, I'd just issue a statement saying, you should have seen her mother.

KING: So wrap it up. How did today go? Certainly security -- it's not over yet, but nothing happened.

WOODWARD: That's right. And what Bush has done, is laid down a marker. It is a very noble goal. And he said, this is going to be the concentrated work of generations, and said it is the policy of the U.S. government. And so, in a second term, lots of presidents will kind of keep what they've got, try to solve the problems that are on the table, and so he is reaching further now. We're going to find out in the coming years whether that reach is an overreach, or something that we were actually able to do.

KING: The weather broke well for him. QUINN: It did. You were asking earlier, Larry, why second terms often go wrong, and I think that this will be an interesting time to look at Bush. Because so often, once they have won and they say they have the mandate and they have the capital, they become very arrogant and they become very insulated and they don't listen to other people, and they forgot what their role is.

KING: Do you fear that?

QUINN: I don't know. I don't know. It's possible that Bush can turn it around and just say, you know, this time, we're going to reach out. But it's also possible that they can close the wagons even more, and that would be a big mistake.

KING: They have a new cabinet, Ben? It's all new, for the most.

BRADLEE: Yeah, well, only two of them count. So, and one's staying on. I think it's -- I'm sort of excited about it, because I think he feels that he's got a mandate now that he didn't have. And that today's been well received. And so, I bet you that he'll -- he'll start to operating. Now, whether he can get through it, I don't know.

KING: The president and the first lady, breaking in with soldiers at the commander and chief ball.

Bob Schieffer, what's your read on today?

SCHIEFFER: I think it was a lovely day. I mean, seeing all the security that we had, it gave it a more somber tone than I think inaugurations of days past, even during Vietnam.

I think the rhetoric today was lofty. I think you're going to see the altimeter start to go down, though, as the president starts confronting these problems. He has got some tough work ahead of him, not just Iraq but his main domestic objective, Social Security. Quite frankly, he simply doesn't have the votes in the Congress now to pass any of that. He has got some hard work to do.

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) his polls go up after this? Generally, they don't bounce much.

BESCHLOSS: Yeah, maybe a little bit, but it probably won't last long. But I think more important thing in history, he did what few second term presidents did today. He said essentially to future generations, evaluate me on the basis of whether I spread freedom and democracy through the world. If it doesn't work, he won't be a great president. If it does, he will.

KING: Bob Woodward, Sally Quinn, Ben Bradlee, Bob Schieffer, Michael Beschloss, our panel. I'll be back in a couple of minutes and we'll talk about tomorrow night. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night, Heather Randall, the widow of Tony Randall. Fascinating hour tomorrow evening.

Also, don't miss -- programming tip -- my friend, Carlos Watson. His Sunday night shows debuts this Sunday at 10:00 Eastern. Great lineup of guests, including Governor Schwarzenegger. It's called "OFF-TOPIC WITH CARLOS WATSON." This Sunday on CNN at 10:00.

And now, a man who's never off-topic. Yes, Aaron Brown, here in Washington. He froze last night, and tonight you're inside.

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


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