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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Bill Clinton Hospitalized; Interview With New York Governor David Paterson

Aired February 11, 2010 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST: Good evening.

We will be speaking with New York Governor David Paterson later in the hour.

We'll get right to the breaking news about Bill Clinton.

You just saw his cardiologist, Dr. Alan Schwartz, who spoke about the situation.

We have with us in our studios here in New York the man who did the surgery on me some 23 years ago this month, Dr. Wayne Isom, chairman of department of cardiothoracic surgery at the Weill Cornell Medical Center.

That's a sister to this hospital, right?

DR. WAYNE ISOM, WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL CENTER: It's -- the Weill Cornell is obviously Weill Cornell. But New York Presbyterian is the hospital. There's the uptown campus at Columbia and the downtown campus at Cornell.

KING: And President Clinton was at the uptown?

ISOM: The uptown, that's right.

KING: Now, you could have done his surgery, right?

ISOM: No, no. Probably not.

KING: They called you, but you didn't come.

ISOM: You know what, there's been a lot of misconception there. I think the cardiologist -- that was on a -- a holiday weekend. The cardiologist was calling probably a lot of people to see who was in town. And I was out of town. And I've said this before ad nauseum, that I wanted to know who it was and they said we can't tell you. So I -- I'm thinking it's probably a gangster or a type of lawyer that I don't like. And I said, well, I don't want to do him. I'm not coming in. So that's what happened.

KING: What occurred with Bill Clinton today is fairly normal in post-operative patients? ISOM: Well, you know, it's -- it's hard to say. The -- the -- usually, if a graft is going to close off, it closes off fairly soon, within the first, oh, few weeks. And then there's another period of time that it will close off. And that might four or five years. But I think Alan Schwartz explained this, that's usually people who don't take care of themselves and that's not what you have...

KING: But he took care of himself.

ISOM: But he took care of himself. So I'm not sure why it closed off. The important thing is if they got the nadu (ph) circulation open and that's the blood supply. So a stent would be the thing to do, especially.

KING: And we'll explain in a little while what a stent does and I'll tell you something about myself in a little while.

First, let's check in with James Carville, the former Clinton adviser in New Orleans.

Have you spoken to the president -- James?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, I haven't spoken to him today. I spoke to him on Sunday before the football game. It was good. The last time I checked in with him, he was -- he was getting ready to watch the Super Bowl.

But I'm very, very heartened by the news. When I first got the phone call that he was at the hospital, I obviously was pretty upset about it. But as the day goes on -- and I was very, very reassured by what Dr. Schwartz said. He seemed like a -- a very competent guy.

And I -- I feel much better now than I did four or five hours ago, I'll tell you that.

KING: Have you talked to Hillary?

CARVILLE: I have not. I have not spoken to anybody in the family, but I've spoken to other people with him and everything that I hear is in line with what Dr. Schwartz said. And it seems very, very encouraging.

KING: What do you make of all the running around he does, which is like nonstop -- Haiti, again Haiti?

CARVILLE: Well, again -- he is. He's always been a nonstop guy. He's very, you know, very, very involved in what goes on down there. But as everybody's been very clear, that this has nothing to do with the artery closure that he had. But, no, and -- and he'll be back in the office Monday and he'll be -- he'll be going full speed ahead.

I mean, President Clinton, like I said earlier today, he doesn't have an accelerator, he has a switch, man. It's either on or it's off and it's generally on about 21 hours a day.

And I -- I'm sure he's not even, you know, I'll bet you he's not going to listen to Dr. Schwartz and he'll be back working the phones pretty hard here Saturday or Sunday if I know him very well (INAUDIBLE).

KING: So you do not think this will slow him down?

CARVILLE: No, I don't. I mean, look, just, Larry, if all of us -- we get old and some -- you slow down somewhat. But I don't think -- I don't think he has any intention of this slowing him down. And I don't think that it will at all.

And -- and like I say, I was very, very heartened by what Dr. Schwartz said. And he seemed like a man who knew what he was talking about, just as somebody who's had a lot of emotions...

KING: Yes.

CARVILLE: -- that you're going through in the course of the day. It seems pretty good now.

KING: Thanks, James.

James Carville, former Clinton adviser. He'll be on -- back with us maybe tomorrow night, be we had planned to be on tape tomorrow night. We are doing another special show tomorrow night dealing with Bill Clinton and the furthering of heart disease -- the number one killer in America of both men and women.

I know a thing or two about stents. And when we come back, I'll let you in on my own health news.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: As regular viewers of this program know, I -- I never get personal on this show. But in view of the events today and after discussing it with everyone at CNN, I had heart surgery and had a heart attack 23 years ago this month. And five months later, I had quintuple bypass surgery.

Dr. Wayne Isom, here with me, is the man who did that surgery.

About a month ago, maybe five weeks ago, I had the same procedure at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles that Bill Clinton had today at Columbia Presbyterian. I felt some strange feelings in my shoulder, which is where I had the original heart attack, went to -- into the hospital. They checked me overnight and scheduled me for this. Four or five days later, they go in. I'll have Dr. Isom explain what they did.

I did it on a Monday morning, was out on Tuesday and back here at LARRY

KING LIVE on Tuesday night.

But Dr. Isom, you tell them what they did to me. ISOM: Well, your doctor called me on that and actually sent me the films -- the angiograms, which I could see. And, actually, yours -- your other grafts were all open. And your right saphenous vein graft, which is the one that had closed off, was still open 23 years later. But it had narrowed down a little bit in the front part of it.

KING: That's plaque, right?

ISOM: Yes, probably that's what it is.

But, anyway, they -- they were able to slide a stent or a couple of little stents in there and open it up. So that vein graft is still open, but it's got the stent in that area there.

KING: Does a balloon go in?

ISOM: The balloon goes in.

KING: And what does the stent do?

ISOM: And then -- and, actually, you know, when the angioplasty first started the balloon, it opened it up and about 40 percent of it would come back. And then they started putting stents in and they'd stay open longer, but 35 percent of those would come back.

And then they started putting the medicated stents in. And it looks like -- that's relatively new. It looks like those are going to stay for longer.

So it holds it up. It's -- it's like a Japanese finger trap, you know, you turn your hand this way...

KING: Yes.

ISOM: -- and it opens up.

KING: Now, the president -- what artery did he (INAUDIBLE)?

ISOM: Well, they -- the -- from -- from talking -- from listening to Dr. Schwartz, I don't know. But it sounds like the vein graft to the right coronary artery had closed off, the one...

KING: That wasn't mine?

ISOM: No, that wasn't yours. So then what they did is they -- his own vessel, that had a blockage in it, they -- they opened that up with the stent.

Now, you might ask the question, OK, well, why didn't you do that the first time?

And there will probably be some cardiologists who -- who will say, if I'd have done that, he wouldn't have ever had the surgery.

But the big reason that they did it -- and Craig Smith is a great surgeon, who did it -- and -- really smart and techly -- technically adept. What he did was he took the left internal mammary and with another vessel, the right internal mammary, bypassed three vessels over on the left side. And it sounds like those are all good.

And like -- like Dr. Schwartz said, that's your life insurance. That stay -- if that stays open, you're going to be OK.

KING: So -- so some -- actually, this extends life?

ISOM: Yes, it does. I've got -- I've got some people who have -- Walter Dickinson in -- in California, his left internal mammary has been open for 30 something years -- 33, 34 years. And he skis at high levels and does everything that (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Now, the only thing I noticed different was I have no discomfort. I feel fine.

ISOM: Yes. Well, you ought to, because the other -- the other grafts are open and they're profuse and your heart is getting plenty of blood supply.

KING: A person watching -- just not to be too technical...

ISOM: Yes.

KING: -- a graft is what?

ISOM: Well, a graft is like putting a side road around the Long Island Expressway. You know, if you -- if it's stopping up and the traffic is there...

KING: You bypass the exit.

ISOM: You go -- you go around that -- that exit.

KING: And then what you click on with is the graft?

ISOM: Yes, you -- you hook it up. It's just -- like somebody said, it's a plumbing job. All we are is glorified plumbers. But (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: You hook the graft in and then you hope it stays open?

ISOM: Yes. And it will -- the artery will stay open now. We -- there's a thing called runoff. If -- if you don't have a good runoff, if the Long Island Expressway farther down is blocked up, it will stop and it won't stay open.

KING: So I can report to the waiting public that I never felt better. They got it open. They put the stents in. I share a common bond with the former president. And I feel very good.

I only didn't make it public because I just like to keep things private. But I feel terrific.

By the way, the -- the doctor will stay with us. A panel is coming. A spokesman for President George W. Bush had this to say tonight: "President Bush spoke to Chelsea Clinton this afternoon and was glad to hear that her father was doing well and that his spirits are high. President Bush looks forward to continuing his work with his friend on Haiti relief and rebuilding. President and Mrs. Bush send their prayers for a speedy recovery."

Next, more on President Clinton.

And then, in a little while, the governor of New York.

Back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: OK. Dr. Wayne Isom, chairman of the department of cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center, who did my surgery, David Letterman, Walter Cronkite, a host of others.

And joining us now on the panel, Paul Begala, former Clinton adviser. He's in Washington.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, is in Port- au-Prince, Haiti.

David Gergen, former adviser to President Clinton, is in Boston.

And on the phone, Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the president's, former chairman of the Hillary Clinton Presidential Campaign.

Before we talk to the panel, a quick look back. President Clinton called into this show just before his heart surgery in 2004.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM 2004)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know what's involved and I know what the options are. I mean, I think that -- there is virtually -- my blockage is so substantial, I think if I don't do this, there's virtually a 100 percent chance I'll have a heart attack.

And I've been very lucky. I don't have any heart damage now. If I do the procedure -- it's been done now for some few decades. And an enormous number of them have done -- you've pointed out, you've had it.

KING: Yes.

CLINTON: David Letterman has had it. A whole slew of my friends have had it. Without exception, the people I know have good years afterward.

I'm just going to have to be really careful. I put about 10 pounds of that weight I lost back on on my book tour and I've got to take it off and, you know, just do everything I can to -- to try to keep my cholesterol down and keep my blood pressure down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right. Paul Begala, have you heard from him or those close to him?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I have heard from those close to him. He's not talking, although he did speak to President Obama, I know, around about 6:00. The president called former President Clinton. And -- and as you pointed out, President Bush has called. So he's receiving calls from well wishers. He's awake. He's alert. He's in good spirits. I bet you he's watching this, Larry. He does feel a real kinship with you because of what you've been through before him.

KING: Yes, I know.

BEGALA: And then the book you wrote about it. I think it was called, "You're Having A Heart Attack, Mr. King."

KING: Yes.

BEGALA: And, you know, I think that the attention that you have brought to this -- and I know you're a person who doesn't like to bring his private life onto the air. But the attention you have brought to this -- and maybe President Clinton can do that, as well -- is just, I think, a wonderful way to remind people to keep a close watch on that ticker and also to do the things you do and that President Clinton does.

He's got the right diet. He's got the right exercise. He works like a dog, but he always will.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: And that has not been the cause of this, as Dr. Schwartz said in that press conference.

KING: He just sent me of -- a cartoon of a cardiologist visiting a patient and the patient has a heart -- a tie stuck in his chest. And the cardiologist is apologizing. And Bill Clinton said: "Thank God this didn't happen to either of us." -- Dr. Gupta, from what you heard from hearing from Dr. Isom and the others, this is a classic case, isn't it, of a thing well done?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, today -- well, first of all, Larry, let me just say, I'm glad you're doing well. You didn't share that with me, but I'm -- I'm glad to hear that the procedure that you had a few weeks ago, you're feeling well. That's good news.

This does happen. And as Dr. Isom and Dr. Schwartz both sort of pointed out, this -- this has more to do with just sort of a natural history of his heart disease. You know, he had this bypass operation six years ago. I know a lot of people who have had bypass operations. They've done well for 20 or 30 years.

But sometimes you do get some blockages that occur in those bypass grafts. And in this case, they decided, you know what, we're going to leave the bypass graft alone. We're going to go ahead and -- and try and open up the artery that was blocked in the first place. And that's what they did today. And it sounds like it -- it went very well for him.

KING: David Gergen, do you think he might slow down?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, thank goodness he's doing as well as he is.

Larry, I -- I actually think he might. And he's been living a -- a relentless full life -- a full embrace of life. But, you know, he's a survivor, too. And when -- when he had this first operation -- and I'm among those who wonder whether it was successful as it first seemed. But when he had that first operation, he did change his life. And it -- he -- he went on this diet. He exercised -- he's exercised regularly.

And I think if a doctor is telling him now, you've got to -- you've got to take it down a peg, I bet he'll do that, too.

He's -- this -- this -- listen, he's a -- one thing Bill Clinton is, is he's very smart.

KING: Yes.

GERGEN: And he understands survival very, very well. I think that -- and -- and look at -- and I think his self-discipline is more than people understand. Look it, I -- to change the subject a little bit, but look at when Hillary Clinton came in as secretary of State. Everybody said he's going to be a -- he's going to be a loose canon. He'll -- you know, he'll be out there saying things.

He has been -- he has been -- played this perfectly since she became secretary of State.

KING: Yes, good point.

GERGEN: He's been extremely supportive.

KING: Let me get a break, come back and get Terry McAuliffe's thoughts.

More with Wayne Isom, as well.

Don't forget, Governor Paterson of New York coming shortly.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: President Clinton has been a frequent guest on LARRY KING LIVE. I asked him about his health. He talked to me briefly about it just last September.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM SEPTEMBER 2009)

KING: How's your heart?

CLINTON: As far as I know, it's OK. On my last medical exam, I got a good report.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Terry McAuliffe, you're as close to Bill Clinton as anyone.

How's he doing?

Have you talked to him?

TERRY MCAULIFFE: I called up there. I talked to the folks in the recovery room.

He is in great spirits. He'll probably be in tonight for observation, Larry. He will be out tomorrow morning and he'll be raring to go.

The great story is, you know, he has been so passionate about helping folks in Haiti. They were wheeling him into the operating room, literally as they were about to go through the double doors and he was still on a conference call on Haiti. And -- and Doug Band said: "Mr. President, I am taking that phone away from you."

So right up until the time he went into the surgery, he was, you know, dealing with Haiti. And I think he'll take a day or two off. You know Bill Clinton. If anybody thinks this is going to change his lifestyle, you don't know Bill Clinton. He is going to work as hard as he's ever. I mean he gets out of bed everyday trying to figure out how he can help people.

But he's in great spirits. He will be back to his old self in a couple days and, you know, he's going to be just as before he went in.

KING: Well, we're going to try to contact him tomorrow and get him to be with us tomorrow night. We're going to devote the whole show to the heart tomorrow night.

MCAULIFFE: Great.

KING: Appropriate for Valentine's Day, I might add.

What, Dr. Isom, is his prognosis, would you say, short-term, long-term?

ISOM: Oh, I think his prognosis is great, especially the fact those other vessels -- those other grafts are open. As I said, that's your millon -- million dollar life insurance. If those will stay open -- in fact, the internal mammary -- the left (INAUDIBLE) will keep you alive forever.

KING: Some other quick things for the panel -- Sanjay, what part in this does stress play?

GUPTA: I don't think it plays a big -- a big part in -- in this particular situation. Obviously, stress is associated with lots of different diseases.

But I think it's pretty clear, you know, people were saying well maybe this was related to his trip that he took to Haiti and was that too stressful for him?

I think in this particular case, it sounds pretty clear that this was just sort of a natural progression of something that had happened back in his operation in 2004.

And that was sort of the -- the wake-up call for him, as Dr. Schwartz pointed out.

But now, 2010, six years later, he had some gradual closing off of -- of one of his bypass grafts. And I don't think stress played a big role.

KING: Paul Begala, do you expect him to bounce right back?

BEGALA: Oh, absolutely. I -- I saw Dr. Schwartz say that he was allowed to go back into the office by Monday. And I guess I'd say to him, try to stop him.

Yes, he's so passionate about his work, Larry, as you know. You've talked to him about it so many times. So the work he does with childhood obesity, the work he does in Africa with HIV/AIDS, where there are millions and millions of people alive because of his work.

And now Haiti, where he has a 35 year commitment. He and President Bush have raised over $27 million. If folks want to, they can go to ClintonFoundation.org and help people in Haiti. Sanjay is down there helping a lot of them.

KING: Yes.

BEGALA: They don't have the kind of health care that President Clinton has. And I know -- I know he would want folks to do that. If you're concerned about him, he's going to be fine. Say a prayer. But maybe send another dollar or two to those folks in Haiti at ClintonFoundation.org.

KING: David Gergen, his popularity still remains quite high, doesn't it?

GERGEN: It certainly does, Larry, because people have seen he has not only a passion for life, but, as Paul Begala just said, a passion for helping others. And I -- I think Americans understand now that Bill Clinton has a big, big heart -- just not a very strong heart.

KING: Yes. And, Terry, I know you're going to go see him tomorrow.

So you let us know tomorrow night, too, won't you?

MCAULIFFE: You bet. He'll be raring to go, you know that, Larry.

KING: And, Dr. Isom, you're saying this may have been a good thing, right?

ISOM: Yes. The other thing, let me just comment on one thing that's mentioned about stress. If you take somebody like Bill Clinton and say, go sit in the rocking chair and don't do anything, they get sick. Some people need to -- you've done, what, 7,000 shows since yours?

Letterman's done it. You want to be busy.

If you take somebody who's the Type A personality and stop them, then they have problems.

KING: I can't stop.

ISOM: That's right.

KING: Thanks, Wayne.

Thanks, panel.

A lot more tomorrow night on heart disease for this Valentine's weekend, with a concentration, of course, on the former president.

New York Governor David Paterson goes on the offensive -- facing rumors, gossip, innuendo and the people writing about it.

He takes it on head-on next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

New York's Governor David Paterson has been dogged for weeks now by rumors of womanizing and illegal drug use. He says the charges are unfounded and vows that he will not be driven from office. He plans to run for another four-year term in November.

He joins us now with things like the "New York Post's" "I did not have sex with that woman." "The Daily News," "Captain Chaos." "Newsday," "Only Voters Can Oust Me."

What's going on, Governor?

GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK: Well, Larry, you're right. For the last two weeks, I've been depicted in unflattering ways. The predicate of all of this is a "New York Times" profile piece --

KING: Not yet printed.

PATERSON: Not yet printed. But was described by aspects of the media sourcing the "Times" as being a bombshell that will drive the governor out of office because of a scandal.

Now the information that was justifying this predicted outcome manifested itself in salacious and outrageous charges that only uninformed sources could produce.

KING: I want to get to -- for the record a spokeswoman for the "Times," Diane McNulty, has told us this. "We didn't start the rumors about the governor. We haven't trafficked in those rumors.

And the "Times" metropolitan editor Joe Sexton says, quote, "Obviously we're not responsible for what other news organizations are reporting. It's not coming from the 'Times.'"

PATERSON: Well --

KING: What do you make of that?

PATERSON: They said the same thing to me when I talked to them several times and I take them at their word.

KING: So nothing's been printed. So?

PATERSON: They didn't start the rumors when they sat down with me for an hour and a half to talk about the profile piece. They did not ask me questions about any of this. But I would think -- look, I'm going to leave for the journalist like yourself and other analyzers of the media to come to a conclusion.

I'm not a journalist. But I am an elected official. And I think I have a right to say this. The human decency, if not journalists ethics, I think would compel an organization when they see a person being slandered for over two weeks now -- I've been waiting for three weeks for this article to come out -- to clear the air and at least say that the charges that are being made are not in the perimeters of our investigation.

KING: So you're saying "The New York Times" should print something tomorrow?

PATERSON: I wish they would so I could be out of my misery because the reality is that these charges have been unsubstantiated. They are speculations. And Larry, it's like a Kafka-esque scenario that --

KING: Let's get rid of them then. All right. Chance to set the record straight.

PATERSON: I've set the record straight.

KING: One by one. PATERSON: And I don't want to do that. And I'll tell you why. Because I've already denied these charges in several media outlets. And I think every time I even address the charges I give them momentum. There was no source, there's no one that said any of this.

KING: Well, the "New York Post" -- they said that about 10 weeks ago a trooper -- a state trooper caught you snuggling with a woman in a closet at the governor's mansion. They quoted a police source saying the trooper opened the door. First thing he saw was the governor and a woman inside. Two of them snuggling together, embracing.

Nothing more than that. Snuggling and had their clothes on. Is that a false story?

PATERSON: It's not only a false story, Larry. But there is no such closet as they described in the executive mansion and there are no troopers in the executive mansion. The troopers do not patrol or check inside the mansion at any time.

KING: Who's after you?

(CROSSTALK)

PATERSON: You know something, Larry? I won't kid you. I think I have thought about who might be after me, but for me to speculate about it would be as wrong as the speculations that were made about me.

I can't prove it. I don't know who it is. Maybe those in the media might check their sources more. Maybe those in the media might investigate why the sources are saying what they're saying.

But until that time I'm not going to commit the same act that has injured me.

KING: Do you think it's some sort of plot, conspiracy against you? A group, a person, an -- what?

PATERSON: Larry, I --

KING: What do you think? What goes through your mind? We won't name names. Is somebody after you?

PATERSON: Well, clearly somebody is. Three different media outlets were contacted in the first quarter of the Super Bowl and they called us before the first quarter could end to confirm that the governor's resigning over a scandal. And there was no such conversation about resigning because none of this is true. It's a flat-out lie.

But what I would say is that what this has happened in the last two weeks, it's distracted us from one of the most difficult deficits we've had in our time. Our sources are depleted. Our revenues are depleted. We've cut $33 billion in the two years I've been governor. It is four times as much as any governor ever cut in a similar period of time.

And we need to be focusing on how we're going to balance our budget and not be put in the place where other states are.

KING: Let me get a break.

Governor Paterson, by the way, is here the rest of the way. We'll have a Clinton update next. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're talking to New York Governor David Paterson about the rumors swirling around him. We've got some more questions for him.

But first let's check in, get the latest on the Bill Clinton breaking news with CNN's Mary Snow at New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, President Clinton is said to be up and walking around. He was described as being in great spirits. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea also here at the hospital tonight.

President Clinton's cardiologist said that President Clinton had felt discomfort in his chest for the past couple days that he came in. When tests were done it was found that this bypass graft stemming back from his surgery in 2004 was blocked and he was treated with two stents.

Now his cardiologist said the procedure lasted about one hour today and that the president was back and up at about two hours after that. That his prognosis is said to be excellent.

And his doctor also stressed that there was no sign of any heart attack. And he also stressed that this was not a result of his lifestyle or diet which he said were excellent. And President Clinton is said to have gotten the green light to go back to work on Monday. Larry?

KING: Thank you, that update from Mary Snow. President Clinton will be released from the hospital hopefully tomorrow.

We're back with the governor of New York, David Paterson. Just after the governor was sworn in, he went public with this admission about the past. Let's get rid of that and listen to it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATERSON: I betrayed a commitment to my wife several years ago and I do not feel I betrayed my commitment to the citizens of New York state. I haven't broken any laws. I don't think I've violated my oath of office. I saw this as a private matter, but both of us committed acts of infidelity.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: You have an open marriage, Governor?

PATERSON: No. We were separated actually at the time.

KING: Why did you go public with that?

PATERSON: I went public with it because since I become governor overnight, and the state was already alarmed, we had a duel crisis. We had a fiscal crisis going on at the same time as the government crisis.

I thought the open and transparent way to address it, and my wife thought so, too, is that we've been separated during our marriage. And we wanted to clear that up.

KING: Fair enough.

PATERSON: And I cleared up a few other things, and I thought at that time it was the right thing to do and I still do. However, the basis of those admissions I have always thought have created a feeding frenzy that any time anybody has a problem with me they go to those revelations under --

KING: Would you --

PATERSON: What I think is a premise --

KING: If you could go back in time would you not have said it?

PATERSON: I think it was right to say it.

KING: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: What do they have with you? They report two witnesses saw nuzzling the neck of a family friend at a New Jersey steakhouse. The "New York Post" seems to have a daily headline.

PATERSON: Larry --

KING: You think they have it --

KING: Larry, I've already addressed that. Several people in the restaurant contacted our office. The manager threw two "New York Post" reporters out for harassing two people that they later used as sources. And the sources told the manager of the restaurant that he's trying to put words in her mouth. So this is --

KING: Why is the "Post" after you?

PATERSON: Well, I'm on a pretty big list of people the "Post" has big problems with.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: OK. What about -- and this is --

PATERSON: What I would say, Larry, is our state had a change in leadership in a rather shocking way a couple of years ago. And I think people have still a sort of sensitivity to that to the point that people would tend to believe anything they hear these days. And that opens the door for these kinds of scurrilous rumors that only uninformed kind of sources could produce.

KING: Let's deal with the serious allegations that you might put away or discuss. The question of drug use. Have you been ever a drug user?

PATERSON: I denied that just the other day. When I was younger in my 20s, I did try it -- drugs.

KING: What's your wife -- how's your wife handling all this? How are your children handling it?

PATERSON: I think my wife sets an example for me. She seems to be one of those people who can walk through walls and has a real indomitable spirit. So I kind of borrow from her.

Of course, your children, that's the reason when we were separated that we never really discussed it or publicized it and never told our children that we were having these problems because the unfortunate effects of separation, adult problems, manifesting themselves in the lives of children is what we wanted to avoid.

And we agreed that if we ever got to that situation, we agreed when we got married that that's how we'd handle it.

KING: How old are you children?

PATERSON: My daughter is now 21 and graduating from Ithaca College in New York, and my son is in high school.

KING: How are they dealing with this?

PATERSON: I think they have become immune to these kinds of attacks and scurrilous charges.

KING: You think your eyesight has an effect on the way you can challenge some of this? The fact that you can be -- not a pun intended -- blind to this? Because people have to read these headlines to you, right?

PATERSON: Well, that's true. I mean I don't think my legal blindness has anything to do with this.

KING: No, not to do with the problem. To do with the way you can respond to the problem.

PATERSON: Well, I would say that my disability probably causes me to look at life through a different prism and really at times when I never thought I would finish college, at times I never thought anyone would hire me, the anxiety I went through at that particular time is far more manifested than going through this today.

KING: Do you think it makes you tougher?

PATERSON: I think that overcoming challenges makes everyone tougher.

KING: We'll be right back with the governor of New York. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Anderson Cooper is standing by in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

What's up tonight, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, obviously, we're going to have continuing coverage of the condition of former President Bill Clinton. As you know, he's still hospitalized as you've been covering. We'll take -- we'll get the latest on his condition.

We'll talk to Paul Begala, David Gergen, and Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the former president's health and about what this may mean for his work moving forward. In particular his work here in Haiti.

We also got a lot of stories from Haiti. The latest on those 10 American missionaries still in custody. A lot of rumors today that they might be released. That did not happen. Some of the Haitian government officials saying they -- some of them at least could be released in the coming days. We'll get the latest update on that.

And we're also going to introduce you some American missionaries who are doing everything right in Port-au-Prince. Working with the Haitian government. Not trying to take kids out of the country illegally. But trying to help the kids who are here now live better lives here by supporting families and by supporting orphanage.

We'll show -- take you to a remarkable orphanage. We're going to meet some great kids and see the work that these American missionaries and their Haitian counterparts are doing to save lives and give new lives to a lot of very needy kids -- Larry.

KING: Anderson Cooper, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

We're with Governor David Paterson.

Are you surprised that more fellow Democrats aren't coming forward to support you?

PATERSON: I think they are. I'll tell you what, Larry, when I came on the show tonight I knew that I'd get asked about the scurrilous unsubstantiated rumors that I shouldn't even have to answer because they're not even sourced.

But the reason I came on here tonight is I wouldn't want anyone, no matter who they are, to be subjected to what I've gone through in the last few weeks, particularly when they're informed that there's no remedy for this.

So I think that Democrats and Republicans -- this isn't a political issue. This is an issue about fairness. This isn't good for people. This isn't good for elected officials. And it sure isn't good for people who would think of running for office in the future that they'd be treated this way.

KING: What is the remedy?

PATERSON: I think the remedy is fairness. I think the remedy are standards. I'll leave to you and your journalistic colleagues to determine what they are. But for me, the remedy is to try to get New Yorkers and this country back on the real issue that New York is basically flat broke.

We are struggling for survival living on the margins of our means. We're going to have to learn that we can't spend money that we don't have. And that's what we're doing in this budget process.

KING: He hasn't announced yet, but everyone expects the attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, son of a former governor, to run for this office. Has he said anything at all publicly about what you're going through?

PATERSON: Not that I'm aware of.

KING: Do you expect him to?

PATERSON: No. He hasn't said much about anything in the last year. That's the new political strategy in America. You sit back and let everyone else fight the real serious problems and sail in perhaps if it's permissible and get elected.

KING: Why they reported last year that the White House urged you to drop out of the race in favor of Cuomo? Did that happen?

PATERSON: No, they actually did not. And the sources said they did but the individual who was sent to tell me to get out of the race said on the record that he didn't ask me to do that.

KING: Have you ever thought with this -- have you ever thought of saying, hey, I don't need this. Good-bye.

PATERSON: Larry, I think anybody that's in an anxious situation feels that way but there are so many situations that are more challenging than this in my life that I feel that you fight your way through these problems.

I think you stand up for what you think is right. I think you do what you're called upon to do. And my purpose is to continue to talk about the fiscal condition of my state and my country and hope that more people will hear it so that we leverage ourselves and discipline ourselves so we don't go further into this recession than we're already in.

KING: No plans to resign? PATERSON: Larry, when you hear I've resigned it means you've been invited to my funeral.

KING: Are you definitely running for re-election?

PATERSON: I'm announcing on February 20th.

KING: That are you running?

PATERSON: That I'm running for re-election.

KING: And you're positive that nothing of this is ever going to come forward and prove true?

PATERSON: I've already --

KING: Because all your friends pray that none of this is true.

PATERSON: Asked and answered.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Governor -- that sound like "Law and Order."

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll be back with Governor David Paterson right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Saying goes that perception is reality, Governor. If perception is reality, do you think you're hurting your party?

PATERSON: No. Not at all. Because reality is real. And none of this we've talked about is real.

By the way, Larry, I'd just like to say that I'm very happy that President Clinton is recovering. I hope he comes on your show tomorrow to dispel the latest rumor denying that I had anything to do with his heart condition.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Pretty cute. Cute, David.

Eliot Spitzer was forced to resign. What is with this office and sex allegations? Is this part of the New York governor -- never heard about Mario.

PATERSON: I think this is a carryover from that situation.

KING: Really?

PATERSON: I think that's actually victimized me. And -- but what we're trying to do is to make sure that the state is solvent which is a lot more important than these ridiculous -- KING: How is all of this, though, frankly, impacting ability to govern? Got to impact it in some way.

PATERSON: It's certainly been a distraction in terms of the media, as I try to get my message across, but for me, you have to learn to tune these things out particularly when they're not true and not give it any more time or energy than it actually deserves.

Because that's the whole notion. That's the reason that I'm being attacked, to try to distract me and try to get me not to run for office.

Well, I'm running for office and I hope that all those who are making up rumors will probably make some more up.

KING: But you agree that "The New York Times" is one of the most distinguished journalistic publications in the world?

PATERSON: From the time I was a child I thought that they were really the paragon of ethics and journalistic virtue.

KING: I've never heard anyone say "The New York Times" is out to get someone. So -- and this story, they say, is based on what -- nothing they've said because they haven't printed it yet. And they're still working on it. They called you today with questions.

PATERSON: Well, they asked me a lot of questions about the story. And I am not accusing "The New York Times" of being out to get me. I felt that "The New York Times" owed me for common decency or perhaps professional journalistic ethics -- that they would clear the air so I wouldn't be subjected to these rumors that I've had to deny and not one of them has a source.

KING: So are you calling on them to print something to straighten out this matter?

PATERSON: Well, I hope they'll print this article soon so that we can get back to the business of the state, but I don't have any control over that.

KING: Who's writing the article?

PATERSON: A -- an Albany bureau chief, Danny Hakim.

KING: Have you asked him when they intend to print?

PATERSON: Yes.

KING: And what did he say?

PATERSON: They're not sure.

KING: Do you expect it soon? I mean do you have some expectation from them?

PATERSON: Well, I don't know when the article is going to be printed, but I will really not worry about it. What I'm worried about right now is the fiscal condition of my state and that's my priority as I try to get a budget passed by the deadline.

KING: Thank you, Governor. I hope the rumors that Bill Clinton did hear about this got so upset.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: That he had to have two stents put in just because he's worried about what they're doing to you.

Thank you, David.

PATERSON: That would be my highest honor.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Governor David Paterson.

By the way, I mentioned that tomorrow night we're going to follow up the Bill Clinton story, doing a major program on heart disease which certainly fits the Valentine's Day weekend.

I should add that after my surgery and heart attack 23 years ago I formed the Larry King Cardiac Foundation. There's so many people that help us as we help people who can't afford it, to get various heart procedures. CNN, one of our principal supporters, by the way.

If you want more information all you have to do is go to LKCF, that's LarryKingCardiacFoundation.org.

By the way, a couple of reminders. Bill Maher -- a lot of people ask about him. He returns to LARRY KING LIVE on Tuesday night. Bill Maher next Tuesday night.

We thank our guests. We wish our best to the former president, and we now turn things over to Anderson Cooper and "AC 360" in Port- au-Prince. Anderson?