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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview With Bill Cilnton

Aired March 31, 2006 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, former President Bill Clinton on his global initiative raising billions to try and solve the world's problems. Plus his take on Iraq, the immigration debate and more. One-on-one with former President Clinton is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
It's always a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE the former president of the United States, the 42nd President Bill Clinton. He was last on this program six months ago when his global initiative began gathering experts from everywhere to do a lot. How's that going?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's going great, Larry. We had a meeting today in New York to see how we were at the six month period. Virtually everybody is keeping their commitments. We've already had a phenomenal amount of positive activity in all kinds of ways, new businesses being started in developing countries, a lot of very interesting religious reconciliation work, including an Israeli-Palestinian basketball tournament on the West Bank. And then a lot of serious work in the health care area, so I'm encouraged by what's being done.

KING: How did you get this disparate group together?

CLINTON: Well we -- we invited them last year at the opening of the U.N. My whole idea was if we could get the political leaders, the business leaders, the philanthropists and then the leaders of non- governmental groups, the civic groups both in the developing world and in the wealthy country, if we got them all together they'd come up with a bunch of things we never thought of to solve problems and save lives. So that's what's happening.

There have been some amazing things. One doctor organized taking surplus medical equipment and supplies in America and distributing them all over the world in poor countries and it's amazing what has been done.

There have been a lot of important environmental things that have happened. I've been stunned by it. But I just thought well if I got all these people together they'd figure out what they could do to solve a lot of problems.

KING: I hear about three female philanthropists called -- they got Vital Voices, Global Partnership.

CLINTON: Yes.

KING: Got $170,000 to help women in the Middle East.

CLINTON: Yes. I think that's important. Vital Voices was a group that Hillary helped to establish that sprang up in Northern Ireland where Protestant and Catholic women work together on peace and on development.

And then they worked a lot in Africa. When I was president, Hillary went over there and met with women of different tribes and there were relatively few at that time male supporters and they worked on issues like getting girls in school, ending female genital mutilation.

So now they want to go to the Middle East and there's no question in my mind based on what I've seen them do elsewhere that if we can find the funding for this, Vital Voices will make a big difference in minimizing the religious and political conflicts.

KING: What's the modus operandi, like how often do you meet? Where's the headquarters? What's the set up?

CLINTON: Well, the set up is we try to get everybody to work first of all one-on-one with each other. We try to make -- put people in touch with each other. Then we have a Web site, Clinton -- excuse me, clintonglobalinitiative.org, that everybody can communicate with each other on and find out what the status of these projects are.

Then I have a commitments staff for the Clinton Global Initiative, that is people that work full time on helping people even if they just need information but they're fully funded or, in the few cases where we need funding, like in this Vital Voices project where we still need to find some money to do it all the way, we help them to find funding if we can.

So, we just -- we've got a staff that works on that. We've got a Web site that people can log onto and then figure out how they can participate in. And then we have these meetings like this one today, our six month update. But it's amazing. We raised $2.5 billion with over 300 commitments involving hundreds of people who came there and now more and more people who didn't come.

And today we had a new commitment, our first one of 2006, from a group associated with Citigroup to help promote economic education and financing of new business ventures around the world. So, it's really exciting.

KING: How do you think you got the conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans to come together under this flag?

CLINTON: Well I think they agreed with the objectives that we had to do something about global poverty and it had to involve more than just increasing aid. We had to teach people how to work themselves out of poverty and to lift the fortunes of countries that we had to do something about climate change in a way that generated jobs and opportunity.

We had to do something about the global health crisis. And we had to deal with the religious differences. And, a lot of people know that government is essential to this but never will be enough, so we got a lot of people together.

And, I talked to a lot of the Republicans that I invited and said, "Look, you know, I'm not going to give a big speech here. Neither is anybody else. I just want to know whether we can agree on doing something."

I've reached the age now, you know, and I'm not running for anything where speeches are far less important to me than action. I'm just trying to get people together to agree on a course of action and I think that was appealing to a lot of Republicans and Democrats, a lot of liberals and conservatives who don't like the shouting matches and are yearning to be called to do something together.

KING: Was this your idea?

CLINTON: It was. Well, it was. The idea of having a meeting that brought everybody together for action was my idea. Actually a young man who worked for me once suggested that we use the opening of the U.N. to bring people together the way Davos did and he got me to thinking about it.

And I said, "Well, if I did this, I wouldn't want to do it just to make money for the foundation. I would want to do it to galvanize people into action." So, because I've been to a zillion of these meetings over the last 30 years and the thing I liked, for example, when I was a governor about going to the governor's conferences that we actually came up with ideas which we could then go home and act on. So, I thought, OK, if we're going to do this that's what I want to do here.

KING: The gathering last year drew 800 people at about $15,000 a person. What do you expect at today's?

CLINTON: Well, if the people who have ordered before they've been invited ordered seats we're going to have a hard time containing them. I don't know what to do. Some people who came last year won't come back because they didn't make commitments and they know they won't be invited.

But of the 800 who came, I suppose most of them were eligible to make commitments; that is, we didn't ask the president of a country to make a commitment because that job is a commitment in itself.

But I think that most of the people who came last year will seek to come again and I know that there's a big increase. So, we can take a few more people but I don't want to take so many that people lose the sense of intimacy they had last time.

Last time, you know, everybody was sitting around tables actually talking to each other. Nobody gave a speech last time except the secretary-general gave about a five minute speech. Everybody else was on a panel, in a conversation sitting around a table. This was not about speechifying. It was about searching for understanding and solutions and then picking one that you were going to push. KING: Would you say that thus far it's met your expectations?

CLINTON: Oh, yes. If you had told me when we started that in the first meeting we'd get $2.5 billion worth of commitments from 300 different sources encompassing about 500 of our delegates, I would not have believed it.

I had no earthly idea but it was like this huge penned up demand. People said OK instead of giving speeches, they're asking me to learn something and do something so -- and that will be interesting to see whether we can do that well again this year.

We'll just have to rear back and see because a lot of these commitments, this $2.5 billion, it wasn't like people wrote a check right away. Some of these are multi-year commitments, so I'm going to be very interested to see what the second year's commitments look like.

KING: A few more on this in a little while. I want to touch some other bases.

In 1996, you signed a border crackdown bill. Now there are meetings in Cancun. What's your read on this whole immigration debate?

CLINTON: That first of all it's an exceedingly complicated question, particularly as it relates to our border along the Rio Grande River. Keep in mind that Mexico and the U.S. have a very long border. Only the Canadian border is a longer unguarded border of any countries anywhere in the world.

So, we have to guard our border there because we have narcotics problems as well as illegal immigration problems. On the other hand, our country has been immensely enriched by immigrants coming up from Mexico.

And, the real trick now it seems to me is how do you recognize some harsh realities? Number one, as long as America has a higher standard of living than our near neighbors the ones from poor countries who are enterprising and hardworking will try to find a way to get in.

Number two, the overwhelming majority of these people are good, decent, law abiding people who would never become terrorist threats. Number three, the same border does give people an opportunity to disguise themselves if they're terrorists and also to run drugs across, which does happen.

KING: Yes.

CLINTON: So the real dilemma is here how can we avoid being foolishly xenophobic trying to be cruel to hardworking people who are paying taxes and doing jobs other people wouldn't do in America, giving them a reasonable path to citizenship without punishing people who wait in line and obey the law and still trying to make sure that through technology and other means we do a better job to protect our borders from potential terrorists, from narcotics and other things that are real trouble.

I mean it's a -- in other words, it's complicated but I know that the bill that's making its way through the Senate seems to me to be closer to what I think should be done. I have no problem in the world having more border patrol guards and stiffer border enforcement for security reasons.

But I don't think it is practical or wise for us to try to denigrate or demonize a lot of the undocumented immigrants who came here and are working hard paying taxes and making a contribution and sending the money back home to their folks.

KING: So, are you saying you generally support President Bush?

CLINTON: I think the president has a good idea in terms of wanting to give people a path to citizenship and have increased border enforcement. That's also the idea behind the bill sponsored by Senator McCain and Senator Kennedy in the Senate. I think the House provisions have by and large been too punitive.

Now, the one thing I would say and the Senators have emphasized I don't think this guest worker program that the president supports should be totally unlimited, either in -- in other words, I think if there's just no limit on it then it's going to be very difficult for us to enforce the existing labor laws. That's the other thing I would say.

For people who are worried about whether this affects their jobs and their incomes, I think the president and perhaps the Congress ought to offer as a provision of this a more vigorous enforcement of the existing labor laws of America on minimum wage, minimum hours, working conditions and things like that because that would tend to minimize the number of people who would be brought in to abuse the existing system.

But I don't feel that immigration is a threat to America's future. I think it's key to America's future. I do think that when people wait in line then they ought to be able to become citizens more quickly than people who come here even if they've been undocumented for a long time and worked hard. So, I think the Senate bill and where the president is, I think they're trying to get to the right place.

KING: We'll spend a few more moments with President Bill Clinton right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back on the six month anniversary of the Clinton Global Initiative which has been a roaring success and they're having another big meeting today and have had one in New York.

We're talking with the former president. A couple of other items and a couple of items on the global initiative and get him on with his very busy day. Is it a civil war in Iraq? CLINTON: Oh, I don't know that you can call it that yet because they're all still I think somewhat jockeying for position. What I hope will happen is that all those people who voted in huge numbers, they voted they thought to constitute a government which would function, hold the country together, be able to keep peace and guarantee each of their groups a reasonable share of the country's oil and other wealth.

That's what I still hope can happen and if it doesn't happen in addition to civil war you may have the Sunni section becoming a launching pad for terrorism in the region. That did occur with the al Qaeda Jordan group, Mr. Zarqawi's group when they blew up those hotels in Jordan recently.

So, I hope it's not a civil war. I don't think we're there yet but I think the real question is whether the political process which has been pretty drawn out since that election, remember they had a huge turnout in the election of all the groups. They all voted wanting to influence a civil government.

So, I still think the vast majority of people would prefer non- violence, don't want a civil war but I think that there's not a great deal of time to put this kind of government together.

And, as long as they've got a coherent effort, if they're working together, then the United States can help them. We can draw down our troop presence, reconstitute it, put in safer areas and give them a few more months to try to make this work.

I worry if the whole thing is just allowed to disintegrate. Then we could have it not only terrible for the Iraqis but also being a base of terrorist operations, something which it was not before the invasion. So, I'm not giving up yet but it's not pleasant. It's tough.

KING: Do you see an end game? Do you see an end game?

CLINTON: I do. I think if they can get a government that's genuinely representative and has enough authority and moral authority to hold the country together, then my view is that we should start turning over more of the security functions to the thousands and thousands of people that have been trained who actually are capable of doing a lot of that work.

We should leave behind in more secure areas perhaps a smaller number of people who have Special Forces capability, language capability, intelligence capability, and then try to work out way down from there as they're able to hold the country together and protect themselves against terror and other difficulties.

I think we can do that but first we've got to get a government that has enough support from all these leaders that are part of these insurgencies to stop that level of violence and that's why I hope we can get a government that can function at that level soon. I think that's been the big problem for the last few weeks. KING: After the Dubai controversy over the protection of the ports, one New York newspaper reported that you have to clear public pronouncements with your wife based on upcoming campaigns, any truth to that?

CLINTON: No. No but, you know, I try never to do anything that causes her any problems. In this case, a lot of the press reports, initial press reports were false. I did not know about the legislation she'd introduced, although I have no problem with it, I support it, because I was in an airplane flying from Pakistan to India when she introduce it.

I did talk to the Dubai ports people but I didn't know that company existed until they -- until this whole thing happened. I advised them to offer measures to increase port security if they really wanted to pursue this avenue.

But I think the main thing I think has been lost here is that Americans need to improve port security and that most of us who did not favor this deal are not opposed to either Dubai or to foreign investment in America.

I think Dubai has been a great partner for the United States in the war against terror. I think it represents a new Middle East that I hope will spread like wildfire across the region and I'm quite comfortable with having them be heavily invested in the United States.

I opposed this deal because I don't think we should do anything to compromise or raise questions even about the security of our ports until we dramatically improve it but that doesn't mean that I think that we're into this period where we won't have any foreign investment and don't need it and don't need friends in the Middle East.

I think we do and I think the people in Dubai, the Dubai people are quite sophisticated and they will understand that the opposition in America had much more to do with our own failure to provide port security and take care of our own business than being generally opposed to them or to foreign investment.

KING: More to come with President Clinton. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A couple of other things. I know I'll see you next week here in L.A. How's your health?

CLINTON: As far as I know it's fine. You know I've been to 12 or 13 countries this year already so I'm kicking along and the spring allergies are coming but I don't see any recurrence of any of the heart problems and my doctors say I'm fine.

KING: Do you want to be commissioner of the NFL?

CLINTON: No. It would be fun. I'm a big football fan and I have a very high regard for a couple of the owners that I've known for many years. But I don't think I could pursue my mission. You know my mission is to do what I'm doing. I should be out here solving problems, saving lives, helping people see the future. There are any number of people who could be magnificent commissioners in the NFL. It's an honor to be considered and like I said I love football and I like a lot of the players and the owners I know but it's not something I should do.

KING: Two other things. What do you think of the steroid investigation in baseball?

CLINTON: Well I have mixed feelings about it. First of all, keep in mind that as I understand it Major League Baseball did not adopt a clear, unequivocal ban on steroid use with consequences, like the Olympics has had for years until recently.

KING: Right.

CLINTON: So, I think that for years people acted like the baseball players should not do this as long as we were looking down our nose at them but not doing anything. Well, my experience is in politics and everything else if you're in a great contest with high stakes, people will do what it takes to win within the framework of the rules.

So, I think a distinction needs to be made about steroid use before Major League Baseball clearly and unequivocally ban it with consequences and afterward. Secondly, I think the timing looks a little funny that we're doing it after some fellow published a book. I don't know that we know a thing more or less than we did before that book was published.

And so, I think that we ought to be a little -- it's clear now that there is an overwhelming, perhaps unanimous consensus among the owners and the players and the representatives and the media that steroid use is not only bad for the players it's bad for the game and it's wrong and it should be banned and there should be consequences for violating the ban.

KING: Right.

CLINTON: But I think we have to be careful looking back before that was the rule and even before that was the consensus and, you know, for me I trust George Mitchell. He's a good man. He's a smart man. He'll be fair. He'll try to find out what happened.

But when the rest of us decide what we think should be done about whatever is found we need to remember that baseball itself was highly ambivalent about doing anything about this, facing the truth and having strict rules for years and years and years.

So now we have the rules. Let's go forward and enforce them. But I think, you know, looking back and looking down on people who -- and trying to claim that, you know, things that happened five, ten years ago in their careers weren't real because they did this, I think that's a little hypocritical. Where were we then and why didn't we ban it then if that's the way we feel? KING: We got to let you go. Quickly, who's going to win the NCAA?

CLINTON: I can't tell. I've watched as many games as I could and if I could tell I would but, you know, I've been a little -- I was amazed by George Mason but they're better than everybody thought they were. And, I'm impressed that LSU, a team that beat my little Arkansas team only narrowly twice, has used its size to such dominance and I didn't think UCLA could get that far.

So, you know, they're all just doing really, really well and it's going to be interesting to see. All four of those teams could win and that makes it good. I like it. I don't have a single -- in my office pool none of my teams survived to the final four, so I get to watch it and appreciate the basketball.

KING: Thank you, Mr. President, continued good luck with the global initiative too.

CLINTON: Thank you, Larry.

KING: We'll see you next week.

CLINTON: Bye bye.

KING: Former President Bill Clinton.

We'll be back with more of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We'll now have a wide-open discussion among four of the top radio talk show hosts in America. In Atlanta is Martha Zoller, the host of "The Martha Zoller Show" on WDUN-AM. She's also heard on the Internet radio on righttalk.com, and author of the political memoir "Indivisible: Uniting Values for a Divided America."

In Minneapolis, Ed Schultz, host of "The Ed Schultz Show," nationally syndicated on the Jones Radio Network, billed as America's No. 1 progressive talker. And he's the author of "Straight Talk from the Heartland."

Here in Los Angeles, Hugh Hewitt, the nationally syndicated radio show host, author of "Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority." He's professor of constitutional law at Chapman University Law School.

And finally in New York is Randi Rhodes. Randi is the host of "The Randi Rhodes Show" on Air America Radio. She's -- by the way, that network is celebrating its second anniversary today. Randi has said that the Air Force service that she served in late 1970s is where the seeds of her liberal ideals first took hold.

Let's get into the immigration thing first. Martha, where do you stand on all the various concepts rolling around in the House, the Senate, the White House? MARTHA ZOLLER, TALK RADIO HOST: Well, first of all, it's nice to see that President Clinton is in such strong agreement with the president on this issue. It's good to see former presidents and presidents agree on things.

But I am more of a pragmatist where this comes in. I like border security, more law enforcement, as far as those that we know are here that are felons. There are about 800,000 folks that are in this country who are here illegally, that we know are felons. And then deal with the temporary worker program. So I guess I fall a little more in line with the House version on the enforcement side.

But I think that we're scaring people by saying we want to round people up and ship them out. That is not what any of these proposals say. And we need to really deal in the facts here.

KING: Ed Schultz, what think you?

ED SCHULTZ, TALK RADIO HOST: Well, Larry, I think that the Senate's moving in the right direction with this bill. You've got to have some compassion. You've got to have some checks and balances. And you've got to have some accountability.

I don't think you can move 11 million people out of the country realistically, and I think they're taking a very practical approach. I think that a lot of these people do contribute. And I think that there's a lot of people that are cheating on their taxes.

These employers, they've got to go after them to be fair to other American workers. I think in the big picture, there is an opportunity here for the country to win and for both sides to come away saying that they contributed to the process. And right now, I think that's important for the country.

KING: President Clinton aptly pointed out how complicated this is.

HUGH HEWITT, TALK RADIO HOST: It was very complicated, Larry. I think when he said border security, he did what a lot of electeds do, they don't get to the issue of the fence.

I think we have to start and stop there. We need to have the 700 miles of fencing that the House of Representatives insisted on. Israel has discovered their 400-mile fences cut down cut down their security problem dramatically.

It's not all built yet, but it will continue to be built. I worry about Beslan happening in this country, I worry that it's easy to get in and once it's here, it's easy to get guns and I worry that the people who have struck in London, in Madrid, in Egypt, in Jordan, in Spain, all over the country, all of the world, want to strike here. And if we have a Beslan situation on the southern border in Phoenix or in San Diego, we will all look back and say, "Where was the fence?"

KING: Would you agree, quickly, though, that a lot of decent, hard-working people want to come over here and take jobs that others won't take?

HEWITT: We're in southern California. We know that a lot of the people who came here illegally are doing back-breaking work and that there's got to be a way to regulate this. But I'm worrying about the next 11 million, more than the 11 million here. We've got to get that fence up and we've got to prevent jihadists getting here.

KING: Randi Rhodes, what do you think?

RANDI RHODES, TALK SHOW HOST: I don't think Mexicans are terrorists. I can't believe what I just heard. I think that the problem is that we have this 2,000-mile border, and nobody's talking to Mexico about their side of it.

And so what you really have is a big hole and we're trying to fill it up and the Mexicans keep digging underneath it. And so you can't fill it up. I think this is a gift to the corporations to, you know, make them guest workers without -- like President Clinton said, tying it to minimum wage, tying it to some sort of health security.

It's just creating a slave labor society. They're going to spend 11 years working, attached to a corporation. That's the part that really disturbs me. And then at the end of the 11 years when they're proficient in English and can pass a civics test that a lot of Americans couldn't pass, they'll pay a fine on top of that and then they get a position of poorest American.

It doesn't make sense. It's a complicated issue, but honestly, the idea that they don't want to tie this guest worker program to a minimum wage tells you something. And that is that the devil is going to be in the details.

ZOLLER: Well, in fact, you know, Hispanic families reach the median income in America twice as fast as any other immigrant group. So they're not going to be the poorest families.

And -- I live in Gainesville, Georgia, where we have had the fastest growing Hispanic population in the country because of the chicken business, the agricultural business. And I've got to tell you, what's got to happen here, is the understanding of the mixed status family.

And I don't know as a pragmatist there's anything we can do, and that's the -- dad is usually legal, mom probably isn't and the kids are of mixed status. It's very difficult to deal with.

We can't go back and change it, but we can secure the border. We can plug the hole so we don't continue adding to this problem. We may not ever be able to fix the families that are here already, and we may not want to. But we can today change it going forward.

KING: Ed, you'll go next, but you want to comment first.

HEWITT: Yes, I want to correct something Randi said. Of course I did not say that Mexicans were terrorists.

RHODES: You called them jihadists.

HEWITT: I have to protect the border. Randi obviously does not understand much about who comes over the Southern border. It's not just Mexicans, it's a great deal of nationalities, including many people who ma have sympathy.

I go back to Beslan, and I don't want to get this into a slugfest. I want to talk very seriously about the fact that coming over that border every year are hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are wonderful people, about whom we would have no problem. But some of whom are quite dangerous already and some of whom could be terrorists.

KING: I want to move to other topics, but Ed Schultz, I'll give you the final word on this one.

SCHULTZ: Well I think we have to understand who's in charge here. The majority party has had five years to do something about this problem and they've cut funding when it comes to border security.

Now you can't talk tough and then not fund what you're talking about you're trying to do. I mean, the Bush administration came in saying that they had all this experience about how to deal with border security, because George Bush was from Texas, and he knew how to do it.

He's failed like everybody else when it comes to this. In fact, we've got worse of a problem when it comes to securing the border than we've ever had after being hit on their watch.

So I think this is an opportunity for the country to come together, take a little bit of everybody's proposal, work together, fund it properly, and be fair to some people that want to contribute to American society.

KING: Let me get a break in and when we come back, we'll talk some more inside politics. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's start this go around with Randi Rhodes. How weak is Bush, what does it look like for you in 2006 in the congressional elections?

RHODES: I think we're going to take the House. I didn't know if we could take the Senate, but I really do think we can now. I think that the mood in this country is, you know, just something's wrong, something's so wrong. All the problems that we had, you know, we had. And we were moving into the 21st century, and we thought, OK, this is the century to cure disease, this is the century to cure poverty.

And everywhere this guy goes, he leaves a mess. I mean, you look at Katrina survivors, the trailers sit there. Look at Iraq, it's a mess. You look at the border security, it's a mess. Port security, it's a mess. Everywhere this guy goes, it's almost like he's so used to his daddy or somebody bailing him out, he leaves the mess for the next -- and last week what did he say? He said he's going to leave it to 2009, the war. He just leaves a mess wherever he goes.

KING: All right, hold it, Martha, don't interrupt.

RHODES: I'm hearing so many Republican callers. And it takes a real man to do, to do it in public, too, it's especially difficult, I think. Especially for guys in a backyard barbecue, they've been fighting girls like me, they've been fighting their neighbors.

This guy's great, Republicans. They're all calling me now and they're saying, "I will never vote Republican again. You're right. They have it all. It's getting worse. A man can't find a job."

I have calls from people who say, "What is this deal about jobs Americans won't do? I'm a mud driller plumber. I do some of the most disgusting dirty work. I pick up road kill from the highway. I'll do anything as long as I'm paid a fair wage." They're so tired of the rhetoric, just tired of it.

KING: Hugh, is Bush a failure?

HEWITT: Of course not, Larry, he's a great president, will go down in history. But I'll tell you, I want to agree with Randi at least once tonight, Republicans are in deep trouble. And if they do not change and rally to the president and do not defend the war aggressively, they will lose the House and the Senate. That's my first chapter.

KING: You want them to defend the war that's so unpopular?

HEWITT: Absolutely, because, Larry, it's an existential challenge to our civilization. And I think we can win. We've got to give Randi a cable station 24/7, and then we'll win everything.

But I think the most important thing is that we focus back on the fact that on 9/11 -- I've been in New York, Washington, L.A. in the last three days, three cities that were targets on 9/11, remain targets every single day, as does the whole country.

The war goes on, people like Randi and Ed don't believe that it goes on, but the American people, when there's a choice before them, if they're focused on the fact it's a deadly choice, they will support this president who does what he says he will do, who's serious and trustworthy. They hate him. The Democratic Party is nuts about him.

KING: Would you agree that Iraq's gone badly?

HEWITT: No, no, I don't think so. I think Iraq is hard. I think if you go back and actually look at what people said, they knew it would be hard. But I talk to soldiers...

RHODES: Cake walk.

HEWITT: ... and I'll tell you who I talked to, Ed Blacksmith (ph), who was the father of J.P. Blacksmith (ph), who was killed in Fallujah on November 11th of 2004, tells me he's very angry at the media, who do not reflect what his son died for, which is enormous progress in Iraq.

The over toppling of a tyrant who had killed hundreds of thousands and where Mosul, the Arabs, different parts of the country are prospering, Kurdistan is prospering. Freedom is on the right path, it's tough, but they didn't die in vain, Larry. They did a good thing.

KING: Ed Schultz, what do you think?

SCHULTZ: Well, first of all, Hugh, let's be a little easy about how we throw the word hate around. I don't hate anybody and I don't hate George Bush. I just don't think he's a very good president.

I just came off a seven-city road trip and I could tell you what's on the minds of people, and that's health care. And what's going to happen at the end of eight years of this Bush administration is we will have made no progress for helping people who don't have any health care, or planning for the future.

Now, Hugh, how can you think that's a good thing? The fact is that this administration has done two things, basically, cut taxes and go on vacation. The top 2 percent of this economy, sure they're doing well. Wall Street's doing fine for some people. Main Street is not doing very well.

We're shipping jobs overseas. Was that part of the Bush plan? You've got to be fair to the American worker. You've got to be fair that the $600 tax cut was nothing but a fraud, and the top 2 percent are rolling under the Bush administration. But average Americans are not moving forward.

KING: Martha Zoller?

ZOLLER: Well, I tell you, first of all, George Bush isn't going to be on a ballot in November. And I think that this, listening to what Randi and Ed are saying, really solidifies that. Because they're still talking about George Bush.

SCHULTZ: Well, Martha, why are the...

RHODES: That's not valid, Martha.

ZOLLER: ... Wait a minute, I did not interrupt you.

SCHULTZ: Actually, you did. But the fact is that...

ZOLLER: No, I didn't.

SCHULTZ: ... All the Republican senators are not polling very well right now. It has nothing to do with Bush. It's your policies.

ZOLLER: Republicans have ideas. Although I'll admit they're not implementing them very well right now. I agree with Hugh, they've got to get back on the conservative road. But Democrats still don't have a policy. And when it's cut right down to it..

RHODES: Yes, they do, Martha.

ZOLLER: ... I have been to Iraq. I speak to dozens of soldiers every single week. I go to Walter Reed and talk to them. They do not believe this war is going badly.

SCHULTZ: Do you talk to any of the veterans that are having their benefits cut? Have you talked to anyone of them, Martha?

ZOLLER: I talk to all of those, yes, I do volunteer work every week.

SCHULTZ: Well tat's good that you're doing volunteer work because you're going to have to more of it, because the Bush administration wants to cut the veterans benefits.

KING: One at a time, Ed, let her finish.

ZOLLER: The point is that this election is going to be about ideas. And if Republicans don't get it together...

RHODES: This election, Martha, is going to be about five years of your party having the majority and doing absolutely nothing for the middle class, except trying to...

ZOLLER: ... Let's not forget September 11th.

RHODES: I'm sitting in New York, Martha, don't throw this around, because I'm a half a mile from where it happened. You know, people here in New York, it's funny, September 11th happened here. You invoke it all the time and we're liberals, go figure. You've got five years. You've had 12 years of having a majority in the House. And then you took the Senate. Now you've got all three branches of government.

ZOLLER: But getting back to the question Larry asked...

RHODES: ... Failed policies.

KING: I've got to get a break.

ZOLLER: Getting back to the question that Larry asked.

RHODES: People are not going well in this country, Martha. That's the problem, the problem is that it's not working.

KING: Ladies.

RHODES: It's not working.

KING: OK, ladies, hold it. All right. Anderson Cooper is standing by to host "A.C. 360" and get me off the hook here a little. Anderson, what's up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is a sea of calm where I am, Larry. Coming up next on "360," we're taking a special hour-long look at a very contentious topic, the battle on the borders. It is the story of the week.

Tonight we're covering it from all the angles. The political impact, has the president gone too far out on a limb and could his own party's infighting tip the balance of power in the next election?

And the human story, how and why do people do anything, jump, run, dig, you name it, even risk their lives just to get into this country and is there any way to finally secure the borders? It's an explosive, fascinating topic, Larry. We'll have all the angles at the top of the hour.

KING: We'll be right back and take some calls for our guests. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We'll take some calls. El Sobrante, California, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Yes, my question is...

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: ... Hi, yes, my question is, how come we don't see a lot of people standing up at the Canadian border? Why is it everything focused on Mexico? I know Europeans and a lot of Chinese people come in through Canada.

My second question really quick is how come we don't have better screeners at federal offices, at welfare, medical, things of that nature when it comes to health care?

KING: Hugh?

HEWITT: Well, she's right. The millennium bomber, who was going to attack LAX, came through Canada into Seattle, where we got very lucky and stopped him. So she's right.

However, the numbers are just different. You've got millions crossing from the south, and tens of thousands crossing from the north. So if you're going to try and take up 90 percent of your problem with a fence, which won't stop everyone, you put the fence first on the south.

SCHULTZ: Larry, if I could just add...

KING: Go ahead.

SCHULTZ: I live in that part of the country, and I can tell you that it's very rural, and it's really easy to spot movement. It's more secure on the Canadian side than you might think it is.

RHODES: That's the answer. That's the answer. The answer is that you have cooperation on the Canadian side that you don't have on the Mexican side.

SCHULTZ: You do. RHODES: In fact, Vicente Fox encourages -- he's got a 40 percent unemployment rate there, and he encourages his nationals to come here. And he promises that they'll have a better life and that there's milk and honey here. And really, what he's doing is he is absolving himself of having to engage in this problem. President Bush is giving him a pass on this problem. We're not engaging Mexico in this problem. And that's the problem with the 2,000-mile hole that I tried to outline before. You can't do this alone.

KING: Martha, aren't there Republicans pretty much opposed to Bush on immigration?

ZOLLER: Well, I think they're split. And I will tell you, the single biggest issue for 2006 is immigration reform. And if candidates don't take a strong position, wherever their constituents are, they will lose. It is the underlying issue that's been going on for 15 years, not just in red and blue states, and it's not partisan. But I will tell you, I mean, it's a tough issue for Republicans.

SCHULTZ: It is, because you're anti-union, that's why. You want to ship these illegals out of the country, and then you ...

ZOLLER: Oh, it has nothing to do with unions.

SCHULTZ: ... want to kill the unions in America. That's exactly what you want to do.

KING: Annapolis, Maryland, hello. Annapolis.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: Yes. Good evening, Mr. King.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Fascinating question. I am, as a legal immigrant, I want to know, how can you get involved with the process of mollification before you deal with the problem that these people are illegal?

KING: Hugh?

HEWITT: Mark Steyn, who is probably the world's greatest columnist, is a legal immigrant to the United States, and he writes about this at SteynOnline. And he did a lot of paperwork. He used to have a lot of years, he did a lot of paying of fees. And he does not at all deny people want to come to this country, Larry, because it's a great country. But he does feel somewhat wronged, as does our caller from Annapolis, that if you've gone through all the hoops, why would we ever give amnesty? That's why amnesty cannot happen. That's why people who have come here illegally...

SCHULTZ: Well, Ronald Reagan... HEWITT: ... should never get to be citizens. What we've got to do is first secure the border so we don't get another 11, and then work out some equitable deal, but no amnesty.

KING: Isn't amnesty sometimes the last straw? I mean, what are you going to do?

HEWITT: You don't do that. You do not do amnesty. Because the reason -- Reagan's mistake in '86, the '86 amnesty meant that there would be another amnesty. If we give another amnesty, we'll do this discussion 20 years from now.

(CROSSTALK)

RHODES: I really -- I have to say this...

KING: All right, Randi?

RHODES: Honestly, why are we attacking human beings? Everybody believes in the sanctity of human beings. Every man is the same; every man desires freedom. Everybody wants the same thing. They want a chance to make a living, have their kids do a little bit better than they did.

The problem is between the governments. If you have an American government that isn't engaging the Mexican government, and the Mexican government is pushing, pushing, pushing all the time to get as many people into the United States as possible to relieve themselves of the burden of having to take care of them, why aren't the two presidents engaging and where are the fines for the corporations that hire illegal people? Where are the fines? Why are we going after people? They're just people. They don't want anything more or less than any of us do. I'm a middle class girl. Nobody wants anything more than to see their kids do a little better than they did. It's between the governments.

KING: I've got to get a break in and we'll be right back with more. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Boise, Idaho, hello.

CALLER: Hello.

KING: Hi.

CALLER: Hi. I would just like to thank Randi Rhodes. I enjoy her show.

RHODES: Thank you.

CALLER: And I would also like to ask the panel if what they thought if this administration or the president, if they're going to make any headway on the whole health care issue, as I'm one of the many that don't have it. SCHULTZ: Do you want me to -- Larry, this is the number one issue on the minds of all Americans on both sides of the political aisle across the country right now. You cannot expect families to absorb year after year double-digit increases, and the number of people that don't have any health insurance. And the conservatives are sitting there saying, go get a savings account. What! Come on, give me a break.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Martha, what do you think?

ZOLLER: We've got to get back to the old way we used to deliver health insurance, which was you paid out of pocket yourself and you can do that through a health savings account. Then you have catastrophic care.

Because what's happened is, is you pay your premium, then you go to the doctor. You don't pay the doctor directly. And so you've gotten out of the loop. And that's what the problem is with this...

SCHULTZ: The last deal that (inaudible)...

RHODES: So why don't you do something about it?

SCHULTZ: ... was a big hit for the...

ZOLLER: I'm not the president.

SCHULTZ: ... corporations, and you know it. This prescription drug bill is an absolute fraud. Plus...

ZOLLER: Actually, it's working.

SCHULTZ: ... it was done under the Abramoff watch.

KING: What do you think?

HEWITT: I think people should look at the states. Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has come up with a very, very innovative plan that says to those who are 30 and 40 years old, who are just not buying health insurance because they don't need it, they figure they'll get it later when they get it, you're going to pay in. At the state level, like Massachusetts and the Romney plan, there are many innovative solutions. What we don't need is Canadian health care. What we don't need is what Ed wants. What we don't need is what Randi wants, which is (inaudible)...

RHODES: You didn't even ask me what I want.

(CROSSTALK)

RHODES: You didn't ask me what I want. You're just so sure that what I want is wrong. I didn't ask for anything.

(CROSSTALK) KING: Hold it, Ed.

SCHULTZ: ... last country in the world...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Ed, Ed, Ed, hold it. Randi? Thirty seconds. Hold it. What do you want, Randi? Quick.

RHODES: I want health care for every working and non-working American. You can't talk to me about a culture of life without giving health care to every single person in this country. You know, when Hillary came up with her plan, the only mistake she made was in the name of bipartisanship, she showed it to the Republicans who then picked it apart, used the word socialism, and everybody voted against their own best interests and wound up with nothing.

KING: All right. Thanks to all of you. Martha Zoller, Ed Schultz, Hugh Hewitt and Randi Rhodes. We'll bring you all back again.

HEWITT: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Thank you. It's good seeing you.

Tomorrow night, there will be a special program dealing with the anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul. And this program, if you joined us late, will be repeated Sunday night, with Bill Clinton and our panel. So they'll be on again Sunday night.

And Monday night, when we're back live, a major program on polygamy. How about that?

Right now, how about New York and Anderson Cooper and "AC 360?" Anderson, what's up?

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