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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Condoleezza Rice

Aired May 11, 2005 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST "LARRY KING LIVE": Tonight, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in her first in-depth interview since taking the job, just a little over a hundred days ago, next, on LARRY KING LIVE.
LARRY KING, HOST: We're in the Treaty Room of State Department in Washington, D.C. This is Harry S. Truman building, and this is the first in-depth interview since she took this job, the secretary of state of the United States, Condoleezza Rice.

We're in the Treaty Room, as we said. We're sitting right by the picture of the first secretary of state, a guy name Thomas Jefferson. What does that feel like, you and he, same job?

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, it's pretty extraordinary. Thomas Jefferson, of course, such a towering figure in American policy, but also, at a time when the march of democracy is the most important element of our foreign policy, someone who wrote eloquently about human rights, about the rights of men.

One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson is: "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time."

KING: So, you taught him then, right? You would teach about him.

RICE: Well, absolutely. And -- but it reminds us too that this great defender of liberty, great defender of democracy, that human beings are sometimes a little bit flawed. Of course, he was a slave owner. And given that my ancestors, or some of them, were slaves, is a sort of interesting juxtaposition.

KING: No, no anger?

RICE: No, no. You have to recognize that the norms of the times were what they were. It only shows that human being weren't perfect then. Human beings aren't perfect now. But what it says is that people like Jefferson and the other framers of the Constitution gave us institutions that understood that human beings were not perfect, but gave us something to strive for, to get better every day.

It gave us laws and institutions and principles to which a lot of impatient patriots, people like Frederick Douglass or Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks, a simple woman in the South -- they could appeal to those principles and institutions over time to make us better.

KING: Good term, impatient patriots.

What was the trip like? You got back last night?

RICE: Just got back last night from Europe. It was a terrific trip. It was the trip in which the president was able to go to some of the new democracies. As an old Soviet specialist, Larry, to see these places that were literally behind the Iron Curtain just a couple of decades ago, that are now, in the case of Latvia, a member of the European Union, a member of NATO, where democracy is vibrant; and for Georgia, to be in that square where you had 100,000 Georgians chanting the president's name and carrying American flags.

And I'll tell you that, for me, the most exceptional moment, just a moment that gave me chills, was when they started to sing American -- the American national anthem with this Georgian accent. And it was just -- it was so exciting to be there.

KING: Oh say can you see...

RICE: Yes, something like that. But it was a great moment.

KING: Were you aware of the grenade?

RICE: I heard about it afterwards. Obviously, it's being investigated. I think that the Georgian security services are working with our services to see what happened. But it didn't disrupt in any way the flow of what was happening there, and it was just very exciting to be in that square.

KING: They've been critical of each other -- how do you explain the Bush-Putin relationship?

RICE: The Bush-Putin relationship is one that, first and foremost, is one of respect, because, whatever our differences, Russia is a great country and a great culture, and it's a place that has made enormous progress over the last 15 or so years. This is not the Soviet Union, and one only had to be in Moscow this time or over the last several times to see how far this country has come. And so, there is enormous respect. I think that the president and President Putin clearly like each other. They have an easy way with each other.

KING: Even when they're critical of each other?

RICE: Even when there's criticism, even when there's difficulty or difference of opinion, it's always respectful and even friendly. And of course, they have such an easy relationship. I'll tell you, though, when the president got into President Putin's vintage car to drive...

KING: Yes. What was that like?

RICE: Well, we all held our breath, but the president wasn't going to have to drive a stick shift or something like that, but it was a great -- nice moment.

KING: Is -- people, maybe, are they wrongfully surprised at President Bush on the world stage? He had been governor of Texas, not traveled-well. RICE: Right. But this president has been through so much as president, and he brought to the office certain characteristics that have served him well and have served us well as a country.

I remember when I first met him as governor of Texas, and I thought...

KING: You were at Stanford.

RICE: I was at Stanford. I had just recently left -- well, I had left the administration, this was in 1998. He had just become governor of Texas, and he has such a sense of -- you have such a sense of conviction with him, that this was somebody who leads from principle, who leads from a deeply ingrained set of values. And, when you are president of the United States, there is so much going on around you and you're being told and asked to do so many things, that if you don't have firm grounding and values, then you're just like a will-o-the-wisp.

KING: And you can take that anywhere.

RICE: And you can take the values anywhere. And, going back to the relationship with President Putin, it's one of the reasons that you can have -- or the president can have a friendly relationship with President Putin, one that is respectful, and where the president can still speak up for democracy.

KING: Can you disagree with him openly? I mean, does he invite that?

RICE: Oh, absolutely. The president is someone who prods people to say, well, what do you think about that, and then to challenge you. It's something I very much enjoy. Now, it's the kind of thing that I've always said the president and I will do privately. I hope to get out of this town and never have anyone know what I might have said to the president or not said to the president. I owe him that.

KING: Your predecessor, Colin Powell, told me, though, you win some and lose some. True?

RICE: Sure, of course, and he is, after all, the president. He's the one that the American people elected. He's the one who went out and won their confidence.

KING: Want to get to issues and things. What about this job, if anything, surprised you?

RICE: Well, I can't say that much surprised me. I'd been national security adviser, I watched my great predecessor, Colin Powell, do this job with skill and aplomb. I think we were -- we are personally very close, so I watched him up close and personal, so to speak, go through this job.

But it is a job that has a great -- a great deal of needing to make sure that the people who work for the United States of America, and the diplomacy of the United States of America, know that they are supported here by the president and by me.

Larry, we very often think about our men and women in uniform and the dangerous and difficult job that they do. And their service is extraordinary, what they accomplish every day.

We also have a lot of diplomats out there who are doing difficult work, dangerous work. There's a plaque downstairs that commemorates, in memoriam, to American diplomats who have died abroad. And so I try to remember every day that more than anything, this is not about policy, this is not about ideas, it's about people, because the people who carry out American foreign policy, in some cases they may be the only American that someone in Georgia or someone in Sudan or someone in Columbia may need. And so the people who represent the United States of America, that's the really the strength of what we're doing.

KING: When we come back -- the national security adviser and secretary of state have often, over the years, had clashes. I wonder, having worn both those hats, how that -- what's that like? We'll be right back with the secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I will well and faithfully...

RICE: ...and that I will, well and faithfully...

GINSBURG: ...discharge the duties of the office...

RICE: ...discharge the duties of the office...

GINSBURG: ...on which I am about to enter...

RICE: ...on which I am about to enter...

GINSBURG: ...so help me God.

RICE: ...so help me God.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back in the Treaty Room at the secretary of state's -- this is your building, no, it's not your building. It's a federal building. She works here. With Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state of the United States, a little over 100 days on the job. This -- we always hear about natural clashes between state, security, defense. When you wore two hats, you go from one to the other, what is that like?

RICE: Well, national security adviser has a very special role, first of all, as the principal daily adviser to the president of the United States, and the national security adviser has to be sure not to take advantage of that. You sit just down the hall from the president. You're a few steps from the president. The secretary of state, the secretary of defense are across Washington, running great big operations, and they have to have the confidence that the national security adviser is going to represent the views of everyone equally so that the president has a full range of advice.

And I tried to do that. I tried to be an honest broker. I think my successor, my good friend, Steve Hadley, is terrific at that. He is someone...

KING: You get along.

RICE: Oh, absolutely. He is not only one of my closest colleagues, he's been a good, good friend over these years, and he is someone who is always going to make certain that the president has the full range of advice, not just his own views.

KING: Let's move to some issues. We'll skirt around. The Bolton nomination, is there anything about his nomination that concerns you?

RICE: I just hope that we can get this nomination done, Larry. I understand the deliberative process of the Senate, and they have a role to advise and consent. But we need our nominee at the U.N. so that we can engage in what is really a very important debate right now about U.N. reform, about the future role of the United Nations, an extremely important organization to us.

John Bolton is eminently qualified for this job, and I'm the one who talked to the president about having John do this job because..

KING: You pushed it?

RICE: Absolutely. I -- when we were looking for a U.N. ambassador, I thought that John, with whom I'd had a lot of experience in his diplomacy over the last four years, would be a strong voice at the U.N.

Yes, he's been critical of the United Nations from time to time, but in some ways that is a great benefit because, at a time when the U.N. is undergoing a considerable discussion about reform, looking at what needs to be done, it's a good thing to have somebody who's thought both about the good and the bad at the U.N.

KING: How about stories of negative treatment of personnel?

RICE: Well, I can tell you that there are a lot of people who worked for John Bolton who are inspired by him and who are intensely loyal to him. And John is hard-charging, there is no doubt about that. But he has been very successful in managing people. He has been very successful in his diplomacy.

I expect that when John leads the mission at the United -- at the U.N., that he's going to do it in a way that is respectful of the people who work for him and that he'll get the best out of it. KING: You think he learned from these hearings, too?

RICE: Well, we all learned from experiences like this. I learned from my own confirmation hearings. We've all learned.

KING: You breezed, though.

RICE: No, no. Hardly, hardly. It was -- the confirmation hearings -- by the way, the confirmation process, even those of us who have to go through it, at the time it may not seem like something that you want to go through, but it's a good process that we have, of having you to step back and look at issues, having you to step back and look at questions about what has transpired. And of course, we all learn from those processes.

KING: Do you expect him to get through?

RICE: I certainly do. I am very hopeful that when the Senate really considers what has been said...

KING: Supposed to be any day now, right?

RICE: Right. And we -- there's a vote that's scheduled -- when it's considered, I think the people will see that there is a very strong record here of achievement, a very strong record of leadership, and that it should go forward. I certainly hope so.

KING: How involved does the secretary of state get? For example, would you call a senator?

RICE: Oh, of course.

KING: You do.

RICE: Of course.

KING: In other words, you lobby.

RICE: But I've talked to people on the Foreign Relations Committee all the time about administration views, about how we see different issues. So it's not at all unusual that I talk fairly frequently to the senators.

But the Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and they have an extraordinarily important role in foreign policy, and there needs to be open communication between the executive and the legislature.

KING: You said when you get out of this town -- are you going to go back to academia?

RICE: Oh, I'm going to go back to academia, I'm going to go back to California, which is the place you love as well. You understand why.

KING: You're not going to run for governor? RICE: I really would like to go back to my life.

KING: You do.

RICE: I do. I love being an academic. I love teaching. I love writing, and right now I'm concentrating on one of the most challenging jobs that I think you can possibly have at one of the most challenging times, because we're in an historical period where, if we all do our work well, the United States could leave -- this administration could leave a future that is so much brighter, where democracy has marched forward, where we have made real strides in the war on terrorism, where we have lead the world in addressing questions of poverty and disease.

This is a very exciting time to be secretary of state, but there's going to be a very exciting time to be a professor at Stanford again, too.

KING: Any -- no one can be certain about -- everything in hindsight is easy. Any post-doubts about Iraq?

RICE: Oh, I believe that Iraq is going to -- the Iraqis are going to turn out to be one of the strongest affirmations of the universal values of freedom and liberty.

KING: So nobody died in vain.

RICE: No one. No. Absolutely not. In fact, the sad fact is that nothing of value is ever won without sacrifice. And we each, every one of us, I think most especially the president, mourn every single death because every life is precious.

It has been America's role in the world to defend freedom. It has been America's role in the world to create conditions in which freedom can move forward. We were just in the Netherlands, at the cemetery there, the Dutch-American cemetery, to honor the service of those who, 60 years ago, helped to liberate Europe from fascism.

We were, last year, at Normandy to celebrate and to honor the memories of those who -- young men who liberated a continent through the Normandy invasion. It has been America's fate and America's role, America's obligation, to help people who were in tyranny to be free, and Iraq is in that long line of...

KING: Iraq's a liberation to you.

RICE: Iraq is a liberation, yes.

KING: We'll be right back with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the Treaty Room of the State Department. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UF: Soldiers, sailors, air men, Marines, and family members, I am proud to introduce the secretary of state of the United States of America, the honorable Condoleezza Rice! (APPLAUSE, CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: She has celebrated a little over 100 days on the job, May 5 was the anniversary, the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. The new United States ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, says he believes North Korea has taken preparatory steps to run nuclear tests. You said earlier this week the United States has no intention to attack or invade North Korea. President Bush once told me, you never tip your hand.

Were you tipping your hand there?

RICE: No. I think the North Koreans quite clearly understand that we have a strong deterrent on the Korean peninsula with our strong relationship with South Korea, with our forces that are in the region. I don't think the North Koreans are confused about the United States and our ability to deter any aggression that North Korea might be planning. But the question?

KING: So why did you say that?

RICE: But the question is, would we somehow wish to invade North Korea? Because the North Koreans, in their machine -- their propaganda machine, very often tell the North Korean people that there is a plot to invade North Korea, that America wants to make war on North Korea.

No. The United States wants a peaceful Korean peninsula. We just want a Korean peninsula like, by the way, the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese, the South Koreans all want; a Korean peninsula in which there -- on which there are no nuclear weapons.

And the reason that we have this problem is that North Korea has insisted on pursuing nuclear weapons programs and a nuclear weapon. And so the entire purpose here is to have a Korean peninsula that is nuclear weapons free. That's what the problem is.

KING: But under the -- if we use the concept of Iraq, wouldn't we go in to liberate them?

RICE: Well, I think you -- as you said, the president of the United States never takes his options off the table, but we believe that this is a situation that is susceptible to diplomacy, because North Korea has neighbors that are unified in their view that North Korea should not have a nuclear weapon.

Now Iraq had for 12 years defied the international community. It had used weapons of mass destruction. People forget that Kurds and Iranians and others had suffered from actual use of weapons of mass destruction by the Iraqi regime.

And, Larry, I would be the first to say that North Korea is a terrible regime in terms of the treatment of its people, the starvation that they experienced, the prison labor camps that are there. And we are going to shine on that. This president is never going to stop speaking out about the conditions of people who are trapped in grave circumstances or about the need for reform.

But every situation is different and not every situation requires the use of military force.

KING: If therefore diplomacy is used (ph), would you meet with North Korean officials?

RICE: Well, we've had an experience of bilateral discussions with the North Koreans, in 1994. And what happened was the North Koreans signed an agreement with us, and then they went about violating it practically before the ink was dry. So there's no need to go back down that road.

We do -- well, we do meet with the North Koreans in the context of the six-party talks. We have talked to them in New York, where they have representation. So it is not as if we are without contact with the North Koreans. But we believe that the strongest vehicle by which to deal with the North Korean nuclear program is with all of the parties sitting at the table who have an interest here. It doesn't mean that we don't talk to the North Koreans in the context of those talks.

KING: Are you concerned or hopeful, or both?

RICE: Well, I'm of course concerned, because the North Koreans continue to pursue this nuclear weapons program. But one has to just continue to work diplomatically, and one has to continue to unify the international community around this goal. If we remain united, I believe we can resolve this.

KING: Is it the spot in the world that worries you the most?

RICE: Well, one doesn't have to choose between difficult places in the world. Obviously, North Korea is an issue. I think the place that is, at once, both volatile and most hopeful is actually the Middle East. Because...

KING: Volatile or hopeful?

RICE: Volatile and hopeful. It's -- it's got a history of a lot of violence, of course, but we, at this particular moment, perhaps have the best chance that we've had in a long time for a -- for movement forward between the Palestinians and the Israelis toward a two-state solution. That means a Palestinian state and an Israeli state living side-by-side.

It would require what is -- what is already going on there, the process of democratization in the Palestinian territories. They've had elections. They're going to have more elections. The Palestinians need to reform their security forces and make sure that they're fighting terrorism. But of course, the Israelis are going to leave the -- Gaza and withdraw from four (ph) settlements in the West Bank. This is an extraordinary moment.

KING: Because of the leadership of both sides?

RICE: Yes. But I have to underscore the leadership of Prime Minister Sharon here. Because this man, who in many ways was the father of the settlement movement, has really now said that Israel and the Palestinians are going to have to share the land. And that's -- that's a very important fundamental place from which to recognize the need for two states. And one, you just -- you have to admire him for that kind of leadership.

KING: Very Itzhak Rabin like.

RICE: That's a very, very admirable...

KING: We'll be right back -- we'll be right back with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back at the State Department in Washington, D.C., the Harry S. Truman Building with the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. What's the job of the secretary of state or the administration in selling its position? I mean, the polls say they're down on Iraq. The American public is not supportive. Is that your problem?

RICE: Well, it is important for the secretary of state, for the president, for all of us to -- to talk to the American people constantly and consistently about what it is we're trying to do, because these are difficult times. Nobody likes to see the -- the loss of life that...

KING: The life (ph).

RICE: ... we see (ph). And so we have to get out. We have to talk about the great, dramatic movement that is going on in democracy. And we have to make the case to the American people that we do -- we do know sometimes in history, democracies are more peaceful.

When you have a situation in which you have the spread of democracy in a place like the Middle East, then you're going to have a different channel for all of that hatred and venom right now which is being channeled into terrorism. It's being channeled into people who fly airplanes into buildings on a fine September day.

And we're recognizing that over the years when we didn't speak out for democracy in the Middle East, we were not actually getting stability. We were getting a kind of malignancy underneath. And we just -- we have to make that change.

KING: But why have we -- hasn't it been made? Why -- what doesn't the American -- why doesn't the American public, in your opinion, get it? RICE: Well, you know what? I think actually the American public does understand the...

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

RICE: Well, when you talk to people, when you look at what happened in the campaign, where the president made this case. Americans, I think, are very proud of what we are doing in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. But it's hard. And I recognize the struggle that people have internally, that we all have internally, about the fact that we have lost life in order to move forward.

But after September 11, I think we recognized that we were going to have to have a different kind of Middle East in order to leave a permanent peace for our children.

KING: Does public opinion affect you?

RICE: The president is determined to lead values and from principles. He was elected by the American people not to read the polls on any given day but to lead in the way that American presidents have led when they are at their best. And that is to speak out for America's role in the spread of democratic values and freedom and liberty, understanding that when the world is freer, we are more secure. And when the world is less free, we are more vulnerable.

When you listen -- we talk about the real threats out there today, you talk about a North Korea. Why do we worry so much about North Korea? They're a closed, non-transparent society with, potentially, a nuclear weapon.

When you look at the Middle East, to be absent of democracy there that has led people to economies that are 20 -- 22 of them have a gross domestic product less than that of Spain and where anger and hatred is being fueled so that we experience something like September 11.

If you contrast that with Europe now, where 60 years ago nobody would have said that Europe was going to be peaceful. But now when you have democracies throughout Europe, do we fear, somehow, war in Europe any longer? No. Do we fear Europe attacking us or using military force? No. There is a clear link between the spread of democracy and our own security.

And so that's what we have to keep our eyes on. And I know it's hard. And I know that this is a generational struggle. But America has never gotten tired and quit early. That's not who we are. It took us a long time to get to a Europe in which the Soviet Union collapsed peacefully and which we now go and celebrate democracy in Georgia or Latvia. But the sacrifice was worth it, because our -- our -- people are much more secure and much freer.

KING: What do you make, Madam Secretary, of violence as an answer? Well, we were born in violence, right? We (UNINTELLIGIBLE). That fellow, when in the course of human events.

RICE: Yes.

KING: We have a Second Amendment. People can own guns. By the way, what do you think about gun control?

RICE: The way I come out of my own personal experience, in which in Birmingham, Alabama, my father and his friends defended our community in 1962 and 1963 against White Knight Riders by going to the head of the community, the head of the cul-de-sac, and sitting there, armed. And so I'm very concerned about any abridgement of the Second Amendment.

I'll tell you that I know that if Bull Conner had had lists of -- of registered weapons, I don't think my father and his friends would have been sitting at the head of the community, defending the community.

KING: So you would not change the Second Amendment? You would not...

RICE: I also don't think we get to pick and choose from the Constitution. The Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment.

KING: But doesn't having the guns, while it's protection, also leads to people killing people?

RICE: Well, obviously, the sources of violence are many, and we need to -- to get at the source of the violence. Obviously, I'm very much in favor of things like background checks, and you know, controlling it at gun shows. And there are lots of things we can do.

But we have to be very careful when we start abridging rights that our Founding Fathers thought very important. On this one, I think that they understood that there might be circumstances that people like my father experienced in Birmingham, Alabama, when in fact, the police weren't going to protect you.

KING: Did you see him take the gun?

RICE: Oh, absolutely. Every -- every night he and his -- he and his friends kind of organized a little brigade.

KING: How old were you?

RICE: I was 8. Eight years old.

KING: You remember that?

RICE: I remember it very, very well.

KING: Did you understand it? And 8-year-old? Why?

RICE: I -- I understood that something was deeply wrong in Birmingham, Alabama. When I didn't have a white classmate until we moved to Denver, Colorado. I knew that these were separate societies. Our parents -- I grew up in a very nice, sheltered little middle class community in Birmingham. My mother was a schoolteacher, and my father was a minister and a high school guidance counselor. And I'm still friends with a lot of the kids from that community.

And we recognized that we had very special circumstances. Our parents told us. All right. Maybe that you can't have a hamburger at the Woolworth's lunch counter. And it may be that you can't go to this amusement park, Kiddieland. But don't worry. You could do anything you want. Your horizons should be limitless in America. And we believed it.

KING: Or as Dick Redman (ph), why would you want to eat a hamburger (ph)? We'll be right back with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with the secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. The job itself, is it -- the travel I mean. You have -- you couldn't do, or could you, if you were married with children?

RICE: Well, I think I would manage to do it if I were married with children. Other people managed to do it, married with children.

KING: Young children.

RICE: Well, I don't know. I've always said -- my life turned like I think it was supposed to turn out. And so I'm -- I'm very happy doing this job. The travel is right now fun. I don't know how I'll be when I'm hear a year from now talking about what'll it'll be 465 days. Maybe a year from now, I'll tired of the travel.

But I really love it. And I like getting out to different places. First of all, I like going to foreign countries. I've been a specialist in foreign affairs. Secondly, I like going out and representing the United States and talking to different people about what we're trying to do.

There's such excitement out there right now about the democracy agenda. There's such excitement about the fact that, in places like Lebanon and Afghanistan, places that -- in Iraq, places that perhaps we never even thought would see democracy, that democracy is starting to bloom.

And then I like getting out and talking to our men and women in the field. We have a lot of fine foreign service, civil service people. One thing that's not well understood is we have a lot of foreign service nationals. That is, people who are citizens of the countries in which we are headquartered, who work for us. And many of them have worked for many, many years.

KING: We pay them?

RICE: We do. And they are some of the most loyal and wonderful people. So I love getting out and seeing all of those people. KING: I've had other government officials tell me that the biggest mistake they made prior to going into government was critical -- being critical of government employees, bureaucrats and the like. They are generally very hard workers.

RICE: They are very hard working people. The United States is very fortunate in our civil service, our foreign service, our military. We have people who, in many ways, give their lives to public service. They don't do it because it brings glory or because it brings money.

KING: Money.

RICE: They do it because they want to change the world.

And one of the exciting things about being secretary of state right now is that when I talk to our people out in the field, I say, you know, "I taught people like you, who went into the foreign service, the civil service because they wanted to change the world. And we have a chance to change the world for the better, because this is really an historic moment."

And people respond to that. These are hard working, really dedicated -- dedicated patriots.

KING: Is there a lot of red tape on the job?

RICE: Well, there's a -- there's a fair amount of red tape. But I was in a university. There's certainly red tape in universities, too. There's no reason to be frustrated.

KING: Also, you -- as I read about your travels, you meet with heads of state.

RICE: Yes.

KING: Aren't you supposed to meet with foreign ministers?

RICE: Well, I have excellent foreign minister colleagues. And people -- you know, people to whom I'm particularly close, like the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw. My colleagues -- I had a wonderful experience recently when I went to Latin America. I flew from Colombia to the communities of democracy in Chile with a wonderful woman who's the foreign minister of Colombia, Foreign Minister Barco. And then flew back to El Salvador with the foreign minister of El Salvador.

So I have some great colleagues among the foreign ministers. But it is also very nice that when I go to places, heads of state have been -- have been willing to spend time with me.

KING: What do you think of the Blair reelection?

RICE: Well, the British -- British elections are very interesting. They're pretty intense, because they're short. But Prime Minister Blair is someone who has also stood on principle. And he has understood and has communicated, I think, so well that the great democracies, those of us who are lucky enough to live on the right side of freedom's divide, have an obligation to those who are on the wrong side of freedom's divide.

And I've often heard him talk about the fact that, had people abandoned Great Britain in its hour of need, Britain would not be free today. And so whether it is Iraq or Afghanistan, he's been a real -- a real stalwart for freedom.

KING: He also had troubles selling it.

RICE: Well, I think selling it is the wrong word. These are complicated issues. And it is hard, because these struggles are hard. And people feel the intense loss of life and see the violence. And that's hard.

What leaders have to do, and what the president has done, President Bush, and what Prime Minister Blair has done so well, is to keep reminding us of what the horizon looks like.

Now, we've had struggles in this country. I've often wondered, in the darkest hours of the Civil War, what people were saying to Abraham Lincoln about whether this was going to turn out all right. Or when George Washington lost New York, were there people who were saying, "You know, that Declaration of Independence, that was maybe not such a great idea after all"?

So...

KING: Good point.

RICE: ...these -- these great, historical changes are always hard. They're almost always violent. But if you do your work well, in the long run they're almost always worth it.

KING: Ninety-five percent of the American press was against Lincoln.

RICE: Interesting.

KING: We'll be right back with Condoleezza Rice right after this.

COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Madam Secretary -- you like that, huh? Madam Secretary -- Condole -- they'd have loved that back in Birmingham.

RICE: Right.

KING: The perception that the United States is pushing this, that we are the, as one phrase called it in the paper, the revolution export service, that we're really -- you will be democratized.

RICE: I -- I just find it's extremely patronizing to assume that people don't want to be free. And they only will look at freedom if the United States somehow pushes it. You have to impose tyranny. You don't impose democracy.

If you ask people, "Do you want to be able to say what you think? Do you want to be able to worship as you please? Do you want to be able to educate your boys and girls? Do you want to be free from the arbitrary knock of the secret police at night?" People across the globe -- I don't care what culture they come from; I don't care what language they speak, what religion they espouse or how literate or illiterate they are -- people know deep in their souls that that is the height of human dignity.

And we saw it, Larry. We saw it when Afghans went out to vote in huge numbers along dusty roads. I've been to Afghanistan. There are few paved roads in Afghanistan. They walked for miles to vote.

In Iraq, where they faced down terrorists, who literally told them, if they voted, they would die. And they still voted.

Where they've gone into the streets in Lebanon, where they went into the streets in Ukraine and in Georgia, who are we to assume that somehow there are people on some corner of the Earth that don't want the human dignity that comes with freedom and liberty?

KING: Then who are the suicide bombers? Don't they want freedom?

RICE: The suicide bombers in a place like Iraq are people, many of them, who were the same people who were oppressing their fellow Iraqis under Saddam Hussein.

KING: They're oppressors.

RICE: And who would like to have a return to the bad old days of Saddam Hussein's rule. Or they are terrorists, like Zarqawi, who want to impose their own view of a great religion -- which, by the way, is a perversion of Islam -- that would take people back to a time when women were in bondage, to a time when only one very narrow view of religion was tolerated. That's who the suicide bombers are. That's who the people who are killing, by the way, innocent Iraqis who simply want a better life.

KING: And they totally believe this. They are -- it's their distorted view of a religion.

RICE: Well, it is clearly a distorted view of religion, because Islam is a great and peaceful religion. And it is a religion that we in the United States respect fully. The fastest growing -- one of the fastest-growing religions in the United States is Islam. And if you go to almost any community in many of our cities, you will see mosques, and you will see that people who practice this great religion are a part of America's great democracy. That's the way that it should be. And I would hope, if anything is understood, that America, which values religious diversity, values this great religion that is Islam.

KING: She's giving us an extended time tonight. We'll be back with our remaining moments right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the Treaty Room at the State Department. What's with the skirt and the boots?

(LAUGHTER)

RICE: You know, it was cold in Germany. I lived in Colorado a good bit of time. You put on -- Larry, ever since I was a little girl, I liked to shop. OK? There, I've said it.

KING: You're kidding.

RICE: No! No! My mother and I -- my father was, as I said, a minister. And so my father would go to work on his sermons on Saturday morning, and my mother and I would head downtown to go shopping.

KING: And boots was a thing?

RICE: Well, not in Alabama, but certainly in Colorado.

KING: What, did you think you would get the better press that got? The pictures all over the world?

RICE: No, of course not. In fact, somebody said to me, you know, your picture's on the front page of the Washington Post. And I thought, well, what did I do now? I guess I wore boots. I guess that's what it was.

KING: You didn't think of it?

RICE: No, of course not.

KING: Does it mean you would not do it again?

RICE: No, of course not. I'll wear whatever I'm comfortable wearing.

KING: In your own private life, did you ever want to get married? Want to have children? Want to...

RICE: Well, my view is that you don't get married in the abstract. You get married to someone.

KING: Yeah, I've heard that.

RICE: So...

KING: You haven't met him yet.

RICE: No, I haven't. It doesn't mean it won't happen some day. But I'm a deeply religious person. And my life has, I think, unfolded as it was supposed to. I have certainly no complaints about the way that it has unfolded. I had extraordinarily loving parents who just believed in me and told me I could do anything and gave me every opportunity to do whatever I wanted to do.

I have to this day, a wonderful family. I sometimes read I have no family. I have -- you know, in the South and particularly in African-American families, extended family is really important. And I have aunts and uncles and cousins who are really, really close to me and marvelous friends. And friends who go back to every stage in my life from the time I was a kid to college and graduate school. It's terrific.

KING: But you're open to Mr. Right, if Mr. Right comes along.

(LAUGHTER)

RICE: I don't have much time right now, but sure. Who wouldn't be.

KING: You could meet someone on a plane...

(LAUGHTER)

RICE: Who wouldn't be.

KING: Did life go the way you wanted it to?

RICE: Life has unfolded for me in ways that I absolutely love.

KING: Do you feel lucky?

RICE: I think I'm blessed.

KING: Better word. Do you ever doubt your faith?

RICE: I have -- I can honestly say I've never doubted the existence of God. Like all people of faith who think, I have had questions from time to time. And one of the great contributions that my father made to me -- my father was a theologian -- is that he let me have those questions.

And I can remember from the time I was a very young kid debating with him about the Bible and debating about this aspect of Jesus' life or that aspect of the apostle Paul, and therefore wanting to read more and wanting to understand more. And he gave me a great gift there, because he never made me feel that my faith and my intellect were at war with one another. He always made me believe and let me believe that God gave you a brain, and he expects you to use it.

KING: Even after 9/11?

RICE: Especially after 9/11. I think after 9/11, we all needed our faith very, very strongly. I remember in the days immediately after, there wasn't much left except to pray. And again, I remember Abraham Lincoln saying that there are times when you have to get on your knees, because your intellect won't fully explain. And whether it was 9/11, or in my case, the deaths of my parents, my faith has always come through for me.

KING: Thank you, Madame Secretary.

RICE: Thank you.

KING: Always good seeing you.

RICE: Thank you.

KING: The secretary of State from the Treaty Room at the State Department, Condoleezza Rice.

Tomorrow night, John Walsh -- a man who dedicates his life to trying to catch bad people who do bad things to other people. John Walsh tomorrow night. "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown is next.

Good night.

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