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Larry King Live

New Hampshire Primary: McCain Delivers Texas-Sized Win; Gore Pulls Out Close Victory

Aired February 2, 2000 - 0:00 a.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Senator John McCain is the big winner in New Hampshire's Republican primary. Vice President Al Gore pulls it out close on the Democratic side.

Joining us from Washington, the former Democratic governor of Texas, the honorable Ann Richards; Republican William Bennett and co- founder of Empower America; Bob Woodward, bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize-winning assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post"; and here with us in Manchester, New Hampshire, CNN's Senior Analyst Jeff Greenfield.

They're all next on a live LARRY KING LIVE.

Usually, this would be a repeat of our earlier hour, but, because this being election night, we're all here live with the best panel in the business with lots to talk about.

And, first, if -- Jeff, if you would give us the overall look here tonight in -- did -- McCain almost got 50 percent of the vote, right?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Astonishingly, John McCain got, by the latest estimates, 49 percent of the vote in a five-person race, finishing 19 -- 18 or 19 points ahead of Governor George W. Bush who had the entire Republican organization, such as it is, in New Hampshire with him.

KING: And a huge turnout for the Republicans as well, right?

GREENFIELD: The Republican primary turnout was the largest in history. It was swelled by the independents who can choose, if they want, to vote in either primary. Massive turnout of independents. John McCain swamped Bush something like 61 to 19 among independents. But he also won narrowly the Republican voters.

KING: And the Gore-Bradley total is 42...

GREENFIELD: At this point, it's 52...

KING: ... 47-52.

GREENFIELD: ... 52-48. It's a 4 -- it's a 5-point victory, and the irony here is, had this happened after Bradley had held the lead and gradually had it whittled away, it would have been seen, I think, as a big loss from Bradley, but, because Bradley cratered so badly over Iowa and then came part of the way back, Bradley was able to do his version of Bill Clinton's comeback kid.

KING: Let's get an analysis from the complete panel now. We'll start with Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas.

What -- what to you was the biggest surprise tonight?

ANN RICHARDS (D), FORMER TEXAS GOVERNOR: Well, of course, the McCain win and the size of it was the real surprise, but, you know, during this break, we've been, all of us, talking a lot about what kind of conclusions you can draw from this evening, and one of the things, I think, it's important to say to people, those who are awake at this ungodly hour, is that...

KING: It's only 9:00 in Los Angeles.

RICHARDS: Oh, there you go. Hi, L.A. -- is that New Hampshire represents a different perspective and point of view than most of us think of it. We think of New Hampshire as a rural state. At least I do. But New Hampshire is basically a suburban state. It is an adjunct of Boston, Massachusetts, not saying that unkindly, but someone -- who was it? Judy Woodruff said a while ago it was -- New Hampshire got calm.

So this state now represents something more than it did in previous years, and I wonder if what happens there is any kind of trend in terms of the message that John McCain used to suburban voters, that these people involved in high-tech who are the folks living out there in the suburbs really like to hear this message of "It is time for us to take back our government and overturn what's going on with big money and big talk in Washington."

KING: Mr. William Bennett of Empower America, how do you see tonight?

WILLIAM BENNETT, EMPOWER AMERICA: Well, again, the size of the McCain victory -- the Bush people said they're -- New Hampshire's often a bump in the road. This was a huge bump. This was a Matterhorn-size bump.

Now the real scrutiny, I think, of -- of McCain begins. South Carolina's really going to be quite a -- quite a shoot-out. Interestingly, I thought -- and something that I heard earlier, maybe Jeff can confirm it -- that the campaign finance reform issue actually did not figure at the top of the issues for McCain, and that's virtually the centerpiece of what he talks about.

I was -- when I was with the McCain campaign a couple of weeks ago, they -- they were telling him, "Don't answer every question with CFR," campaign finance reform. But it turns out this may not have been the thing that moved people. I -- my sense is that what moved those people was McCain -- the hero, the story, the truth teller -- and this -- this packaged in the rhetoric of reform was something that caught people's imagination. Again, I want to say...

KING: Bob Wood...

BENNETT: Could I just say very quickly because my partner Jack Kemp -- I can -- I can hear him somewhere out in America being unhappy with me, but I have to say the tax issue did not seem to bite. Now, you know, you've got a very healthy economy of -- particularly in the State of New Hampshire, but the tax issue did not have the salience that heroism, if you will, had in this particular country.

KING: All right. Before Bob Woodward comments, is he right, Jeff?


KING: That wasn't a big issue?

GREENFIELD: Nope. The exit poll -- campaign finance was listed as a key issue by about 8 percent of Republican primary voters.

KING: Wow.

GREENFIELD: But Bill, I think, is exactly right. The campaign finance reform issue was a way that voters saw in McCain a challenger, a crusader, an honest guy, his own man. I think it -- the message was much less important here than the messenger.

KING: We're going to stay in the first part with the Republicans, then go to the Democrats, and then a general election. So, in that regard, Bob Woodward, how do you see the Republicans tonight?

BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, it -- it's -- it's a big personal triumph for McCain in many, many ways, and it -- it's the way he projects. People clearly like him. There -- there's something very sincere about him.

But the challenge that he now faces is how do you take -- because New Hampshire is different than South Carolina in the states they are going into in the next weeks and months, and it's going to be a totally different environment.

With great pride, John McCain said he held 114 town hall meetings in New Hampshire. He will not hold that many town meetings in all the states he campaigns in the future. We go to basic politics, TV ads perhaps, negative ads perhaps, attack ads.

Money is going to be a giant factor, and Governor Bush in Texas has unlimited amounts, as we were talking about earlier. When the campaign's over, he can donate the excess to retiring the federal debt. So McCain has a big hurdle to go over.

If you go back and look at what happened just four years ago in New Hampshire when the winner -- the president at least on the Republican side of New Hampshire was none other than Pat Buchanan who beat Bob Dole, and it looked like Dole was going to have the difficult time. Dole went on to South Carolina and, within a couple of months, sewed up the nomination, and we never really heard much more about Pat Buchanan. In a different vein, Buchanan is this -- this kind of renegade maverick candidate, very much like McCain.

KING: We'll get a break.

Jeff Greenfield was shaking his head no. We'll get his comments. Do you disagree with Mr. Woodward? The last time...

GREENFIELD: I know. I'm sorry.

KING: Well, it's a Pulitzer Prizewinner, Jeff. I hate to...

GREENFIELD: Hey, I know. What can I say?

KING: We'll be right back with our panel on this live edition of LARRY KING LIVE: We're not a tape. This is a -- we're happening right this minute. Don't go away.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For over a year, in 114 town hall meetings, we've talked about this moment when we would launch a national crusade to take our government back from the special interests and return it to the people and the cause of freedom it was created to serve.

We've talked about the moment when we would begin to repair the breach between the people and their elected leaders, when we could rally Americans to a new patriotic challenge, to defeat cynicism bred from distrust of our political system, and begin building a better America.



KING: The latest results. A tumultuous win tonight for McCain. A close victory for Gore.

Who were the others, by the way? The Democrats -- 1,000.

GREENFIELD: Twenty-four people on the ballot. You pay 500 bucks. You get on the ballot. You know, votes go to Mars. What's...

KING: OK. Jeff, you were nodding your head no when Woodward was talking about New Hampshire four years ago.

GREENFIELD: Well, it's -- it's the South Carolina issue, and I think there are -- there are three quick things.

The first one is -- and this doesn't come from me but from pro- Bush Republicans in South Carolina -- the last three times when the Republicans in South Carolina have saved the establishment candidate -- it was against Pat Robertson in '88 and Pat Buchanan in '92 and '96, and they can say to the Republicans of South Carolina, "It's a new South Carolina. Don't embarrass us by going with this fringe candidate." They can't make that argument with McCain. He's not Buchanan.

Second, Buchanan won by 1 point last time, with 28 percent of the vote. This is -- this is a landslide, and there's a lot more power to it.

And, lastly, unlike the Democrats, the Republicans do go one state at a time before they get to California. They've got separate contests, the first one being South Carolina, and so McCain can live off the land in a guerrilla camp, and he can have lots of town meetings in South Carolina, and then -- Bob's right. Then after Michigan, we go into this national primary.

So it's not quite as undoable as we might think.

WOODWARD: If I could just -- I mean, I don't disagree with that. I think McCain certainly has much more of a chance than Buchanan did or Pat Robertson and so forth, but it -- it is going to be difficult, and you -- you really have to look hard at the vote -- Republican voters in South Carolina, and they are very, very different than the Republican or independent voters in New Hampshire.

KING: Ann Richards, I'm going to have the honor of moderating that South Carolina debate on the 15th.


KING: And we'll switch now to the other candidates. Should Forbes and Keyes and Bauer be there?

RICHARDS: Well, I think they're going to...

KING: Should they stay in?

RICHARDS: You know, I -- I think they will stay in. What is it -- the phrase my daddy used to say? "Some people walk around dead and don't have the sense to lay down." There's a -- there's a few of them don't have any business being there, but they're the true believers, and they like to get -- they -- you know, they feel like they're -- they're passionate about their issue, and they have to talk about it.

But let me say -- inject one other issue in this because New Hampshire and Iowa -- Iowa had such a concentration of media, McCain in New Hampshire was able to capitalize on the free media to make up for the fact that he didn't have the money that he had to have to run that campaign, and I wonder -- and I ask my fellow panelists here and Jeff -- if going into South Carolina and the fact that now Gore is moving off to other parts of the country, Bradley is going to have to be covered in other parts of the country, you're not going to have that media concentration that you've had in the past. Is that going to make a difference in -- in McCain's play in South Carolina?

KING: We'll ask William Bennett. What do you think? BENNETT: Let me -- let me comment. I -- in terms of the other three, this Republican would like to see Gary step down. Gary was my undersecretary. But 1 percent -- it's time. Gary's conducted himself with dignity. He's made a lot of sense. He can step back to -- to the Family Research Council.

RICHARDS: Except falling off the stage with the pancake...

BENNETT: Well, the -- yeah. That wasn't undignified. That was just unfortunate.

Forbes -- you know, I wish Forbes would step down, too, and run for the Senate in New Jersey. McCain, obviously, would like Forbes to stay in. I think that's the right analysis. I'd like to have Jeff check me on that, too. But he's...

GREENFIELD: And I hope Alan Keyes, right?

BENNETT: I hope Alan Keyes stays because I think, in terms of alive, that is an alive man with a philosophical insight and brilliance that's very much needed from time to time, and...

KING: Is Ann right on the media coverage?

BENNETT: Yes, I think she's right on the media coverage, but let me say one specific point about the media coverage. In the middle of all this and this big victory for John McCain, there is a question, which the Bush ads will ask, and it's a legitimate question: Does -- is John McCain a conservative? Does he have a coherent conservative philosophy?

I think that's a fair question to ask because his voting record is conservative, but if you look at the town hall meetings, all 114 of them, a lot of people thought that John was not coming across clearly enough as a conservative. Now that may not matter in New Hampshire, but I submit to you it matters in South Carolina.

Bush is a conservative. There's a question of whether he was strong enough or tough enough. No question about whether he's strong enough or tough enough, but now the question will be -- it will be asked by Bush and it will be asked by the voters of South Carolina -- is he a conservative.

KING: And when we interviewed George Bush earlier on the earlier edition, he said, McCain left, "I'm going" -- you know, "I'm the conservative."

We'll pick right up from there with Woodward and Greenfield's thoughts, discuss the other Republican candidates, and move to the Democratic side of the ledger.

By the way, at the top of the hour, 1:00 Eastern, Wolf Blitzer will host an hour recap as well with additional news. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We fought the good fight. We fought the good fight, and I am proud of my supporters, and I am proud of the kind of campaign we conducted here in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire has long been known as a bump in the road for front runners, and this year is no exception.



KING: We'll be discussing the Democratic side of the ledger in a little while, but staying with the Republicans, Mr. Greenfield wanted to comment on the statement about the media.

GREENFIELD: Well, I think Ann raises an interesting point about media and money, but I think we should remember that the costs -- John McCain is campaigning in one state at a time for now. The only thing that matters is whether the South Carolina media will cover McCain as he goes around on his town meetings, which he will do on the Straight Talk Express, and they will. There's no other race to cover, and that's what matters to him.

The second point is -- and we don't know the answer to this -- John McCain is trying to do something in a few days -- I don't remember the exact date -- where he is saying to everybody who's logged on to his Web site, "If you pay -- if you contribute a hundred dollars to the campaign, you'll be part of this big fund-raising effort."

Now when you think of the people Ann Richards talked about, the suburban and -- folks, middle class to upper middle class doing OK, a hundred bucks on a credit card -- that's like dinner for two, and not necessarily at the best restaurant in town. I don't know what's going to happen with that, but there's a potential here for John McCain to reach into people who normally don't give to campaigns who like his message, the way Ann described it, and raise a couple of million dollars in one pop with no cost of fund-raising, no direct mail, just on the Web.

KING: You see that happening?

GREENFIELD: Well, he's already raised about a million and a half dollars on the Web. I don't know. Because, you know, I have trouble getting my computer to do what I want it to do anyway. It's a possibility, and if it's true, it's a kind of guerrilla way to raise money that we've never seen before.

KING: Bob Woodward, you can add anything to what's been said, and I want your thoughts on Forbes, Bauer, Keyes.

WOODWARD: Well, I mean, I -- obviously, the other candidates -- that's their choice. I think one of the things to look at in the McCain-Bush race in New Hampshire -- we've discussed at some length how McCain won -- I think is worth examining a little bit. Did Bush also lose? Were there some mistakes that Bush made in New Hampshire that cost him?

A number of people who -- have suggested having his mother and father -- his father, former President George Bush -- up there -- I saw television of it, and former President Bush was dressed like the headmaster at every prep school that you've even seen, and it -- it probably projected the wrong image, and it may have been a mistake.

And we have to return to this basic question about Bush. He has not had a lot of experience, and is he-- did he make mistakes,and is he going to make more?

KING: Ann Richards, did Bush lose?

RICHARDS: I think...

KING: And what part did he play in tonight's defeat?

RICHARDS: Well, everyone agrees among the media -- and this is not -- you know, I always hate to say anything disparaging about Bush because it comes out as sour grapes since I lost to him, and I don't mean it in that fashion, but I think everyone agreed that Bush has a certain mannerism about him, and the contrast of that mannerism of -- of being pretty cocksure of himself does not compare well with John McCain. Now it might compare well with, you know, some -- someone else, but the contrast with John McCain who's so straight arrow, a true hero, a low-key kind of guy that's just talking reform, I think it was tough on Bush up there.

BENNETT: Can I say a word for Bush, Larry?

KING: Sure, Bill.

BENNETT: Just a brief one. There was a lot of talk about the difficulty that Gore was having campaigning, and I think I -- that was justified. I think he was a real dud for several months. He's obviously improved. I still think he has problems, but he's much better as a campaigner.

I've been with George W. Bush, my wife and I. We've spent time with him. We found him very impressive. Lots of people have given not just lots of money but have heard him and have liked him. I don't think what he's done publicly lately is translating in the way he wants. I don't think he's coming across the way he should come across, not just the way he wants to come across, but in some ways the way he deserves to come across. I think he's better, a lot better, than what we've seen...

KING: Well, now whose fault is that?

BENNETT: ... but he's going to have to -- well, maybe his handlers, maybe him, but obviously always it's the candidate's fault because, if you listen to the handlers, the -- I've been bothered that he's stayed too close to those little cards in front of him. It's -- it's the business of the front runner. You know, "Don't make a big mistake. Stick to those cards." What I saw when I met Governor Bush was a -- you know, a gregarious, genial, forthcoming, funny, and very able guy. We've got to see more of that, and South Carolina's got to be the place where he shows it. He's raised big money, but he's raised money from a lot of people. There's still a lot of support for him, but now the question is asked, and the issue now is can he rise to the challenge. Now we will see what is in him, what is truly in him.

KING: More on the Republicans, and then at the bottom, we'll move to Bradley-Gore. We'll be right back with the panel. Don't go away.


MCCAIN: Today the Republican Party has recovered its heritage of reform, and this is a good thing, and it is the beginning of the end for the truth-twisting politics of Bill Clinton and Al Gore.



KING: Now before we move to Gore and Bradley, a question simply put for each of the panelists, starting with Mr. Woodward. Can McCain win in South Carolina?

WOODWARD: I don't know. It's obviously quote possible, and there is some magic he is trying to project. You talk to people in that campaign, and they feel it in the campaign. If that's translates into South Carolina, he's going to be a contender down there. But there -- there is no telling, and each of these states is so different, and it will go by.

And one of the things we need to remember -- when we were talking last week about Iowa, it -- gee, Gore, big victory. Forbes was in there. Bush didn't win by very much. Now New Hampshire -- it's a completely different ball game, and it's going to be that in each of these states.

KING: Jeff, can he win in -- in -- in South Carolina?

GREENFIELD: It could happen. Now the question is -- that -- actually that Bill Bennett raised points that Bush ran a remarkably civil campaign, and when you lose in politics, what happens is the kibitzers, the back seat drivers will tell you that whatever you did was wrong. They will -- they had thought about putting an ad up here on New Hampshire television, going after McCain big time on taxes, and they didn't.

In the wake of this really big loss, I'd be really surprised if they don't put such an ad -- and I don't think this is dirty or anything, but they are -- the Bush campaign is going to challenge McCain's conservative principles on taxes, and we're going to find out whether or not the tax issue, which for the Republicans has been magic for 20 years, still has potency in this economy.

KING: Bill Bennett, can McCain win South Carolina?

BENNETT: Well, maybe he can. Ask Lindsey Graham, you know, who's his guy in South Carolina, and Lindsey Graham is about the most popular guy in South Carolina. But I put it this way, Larry. Bush should win South Carolina because you can't say about South Carolina what you can say about New Hampshire, which is a bunch of ornery independents, and -- you know, evenly split between moderate and liberal and some conservatives, three ways, but it's a very conservative state, and if he -- and he can make the case that John McCain is to his left on a lot of issues. Lindsey Graham warned McCain on the tax issue. He said, "You are," you know, "too far to the left on this." So if -- if Bush can't make it parse in South Carolina, he's got -- he's got a problem.

KING: And, Ann, do you think McCain can win South Carolina?

RICHARDS: I don't have any idea, but I want to give you a little transition into -- to the Democrat stuff. It occurred to me while we had the break, you know, we talked a whole lot about what was said by all of these candidates, and fulfilling what is my genetic responsibility, I thought I ought to mention what matters to women.

There weren't just men going to the polls in New Hampshire. There were women going to the polls, too. And there was a really good recent editorial in "The New York Times" by Bob Herbert, a -- he quoted in there a Lifetime women's television survey that was done about the issues that women really cared about.

You remember the soccer moms? I don't know what they're going to be this year. They're going to be the car pool moms or maybe they're going to be the retired moms or something, but one of these days, you know, like the caveman, they're going to wake up and say, "Hey, there's women out there," and they're going to try to figure out what they need to do.

Well, here are the issues that women cared about, and it's very interesting. Seventy-two percent of them cared most about guaranteeing Social Security benefits. George Bush didn't talk about that. Sixty-nine percent care about the family's medical benefits. George Bush didn't talk about that either. Sixty-seven percent care about discrimination against women in the workplace that they say is still a problem, and no one talked about that that I'm aware of, except perhaps Gore. And 63 percent are very concerned about environmental pollution, and I don't know anybody that made that a big issue in New Hampshire, so...

KING: Let me...

RICHARDS: ... I'm...

KING: Let me get a...

RICHARDS: ... just suggesting to you we've got a bunch of issues out there that these people are going to have to talk about to get those women to vote for them. KING: We'll talk about the Democratic side, and I'll ask Jeff to tell us how women voted here tonight, and we'll reintroduce the panel right after this.


BUSH: New Hampshire has long been known as a bump in the road for front runners, and this year is no exception. The road to the Republican nomination and the White House is a long road. Mine will go through all 50 states, and I intend it to end at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.



KING: We're back. We're going to turn to the Democratic side of the ledger.

Let's reintroduce the panel. The honorable Ann Richards is the former governor of Texas and a political analyst for this program. William Bennett as well for this program and is co-founder of Empower America. Bob Woodward as well for this program, is also the Pulitzer Prize-winning assistant managing editor of "The Washington Post". And Jeff Greenfield who is everywhere at CNN, CNN's senior news analyst.

We'll start on the Democratic side. And we do have a women breakdown there, do we not?

GREENFIELD: Well, what we know is that there is a modest gender gap in the Democratic Party. Women voted for Gore about 53-47. The men...

KING: Same as the vote.

GREENFIELD: Yeah. And men voted for Bradley -- that's the point. Men voted for Bradley by about five points, but the great majority of voters in this particular New Hampshire Democratic primary were women. What we think we know -- and we're always cautious about this -- is that on the issues that Ann Richards is talking about, right now, Democrats hold the high ground. The Clinton and Gore administration has been very successful in identifying those causes.

KING: Bob Woodward, your read on the Democrats tonight.

WOODWARD: Well, it -- it -- you know, Gore has two victories, and -- in Iowa and New Hampshire, and that's a big deal because those were the states where Bradley was going to have a real opportunity. Now it's a close race, and the unexpected can happen.

Let me just, in trying to think about this, get -- attempt to get some perspective on it. The -- the question in this election on the Republican and the Democratic side in these contests to a certain extent is are we in a reform era where people want to reform the system, where they go with a McCain or a Bradley or, if you will, are we in a preservation era in politics where the anointed or the senior representatives of the next in line, Gore and George Bush, are going to get the nomination.

Now, in that context, though, what -- what is so important is we are going through still an economic boom in this country, and the incentives that many people feel to preserve what we have and not take too many risks may overwhelm the electorate, and we're going to -- we're going to see that after we have had these -- to use George Bush's analogy -- bumps in the road in Iowa and New Hampshire, which are very different states, that the old powers that be are going to take over and Gore and Bush are going to get the nominations.

KING: Jeff, before we talk to Bill and Ann about that, you were nodding your head.

GREENFIELD: Well, one of the most remarkable things about this whole election -- I think it's going to be one of the driving forces right through to November -- is that this is the most contented electorate in decades. I mean, New Hampshire Republicans were asked today how they felt about the condition of their economy. Eighty- seven percent said excellent or good.

And when I was up here eight years ago, I remember this state was a basket case. "Do you think your standard of living will rise or fall?" Two-thirds of Republicans said it's going to rise and, in that context, I think Bob's put his finger on a -- a really critical issue, and it's a -- makes John McCain's reform message that much more amazing, that he's -- he's tapping into a discontent on the part of an electorate that is otherwise happy. That's remarkable.

KING: Bill Bennett, how do you see the Democrats?

BENNETT: Well, the public's happy materially, but they have some real worries morally, and they worry about drift, and they think that the country, although it's doing very well, obviously doing well -- very well, may not be doing quite as nobly as it should, and I think this partly explains McCain again.

There -- how to analyze the Democratic thing depends on answers to questions which we don't have. I want to know how much reach Al Gore has outside the hardcore constituencies. I asked Jeff Greenfield before how many of the independents went to McCain, how many went to Gore. I don't think we know that yet. I'm guessing that McCain got the lion's share of the independents. I still have doubts or questions about how far Al Gore can reach outside the Democratic core constituency. No one can draw conclusions about that yet.

He can sure get out of the union vote. He can sure get out the loyalists. But, you know, to win general elections, you've got to reach across the middle, and I don't know where his reach is there. McCain, obviously, can do that, so I think it's a complicated question, and I say all this because --

And I criticized Bill Bradley before for running a lousy campaign. I meant it as sort of a compliment. It's kind of professorial. I used to be a professor. He steps on his applause lines. He thinks he was being rough with Gore. I don't think he was being particularly rough, not as rough as Lincoln was to Douglas or Douglas to Lincoln. But, you know, that's -- that's his sensibility.

So I -- you know, he did pretty well. He still lives, but how long he can go on, I don't know. He's got the money, though, I guess. So it will go on for a while.

KING: We'll have Ann Richards look at the Democrats when we come back on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Wolf Blitzer will be with you at the top of the hour live as well. Don't go away.


VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: During the day today, some people thought this might be like the Super Bowl. They thought that we might fall a yard short, but let me tell you -- let me tell you this Tennessean is in the end zone, and it feels great! Thanks to you.



KING: Ann Richards, your thoughts on Gore-Bradley.

RICHARDS: Now's the time when organization shows. When the Democrats now have to spread out all over the country and have to aim for Super Tuesday in all of the states approaching March the 7th, it means that whoever has the organization on the ground, not just the money, but the act -- the established organization, is the one that's going to be able to get their vote out, and Al Gore has that. I know Bradley has established a good organization in California. I can't really speak to how well organized he is elsewhere, but he's going to have to have an organized vote if he is going to do well on Super Tuesday and, of course, that's -- that's going to be the crucial day for him.

KING: Bob Woodward, has Bradley impressed you or not?

WOODWARD: Well, he's -- he's a strong candidate, and he is a little bit like Bill Bennett. He's professorial. He will use words and make Shakespearian references.

KING: Well, does Bill Bennett impress you?

WOODWARD: But then...

BENNETT: Please.

WOODWARD: He's not running for president that I know about, so we don't have to make personal judgments about him.

I think the interesting thing about Bradley is that he -- he has this -- it's been often written about him as a basketball player and a politician -- he has a sense of who he is and he digs deep within himself to get answers to the various problems, and he has totally constructed his program and plans from the inside. As we know, he really won't tell us who his advisers are or what he reads. The -- the problem he's got now is that Gore's a fighter, and Bradley's the professor, and the way American politics goes, the fighter generally wins and, at the same time, I think it's really important for people in our business not to prejudge it and say it's over because it's not over.

KING: Jeff -- but we're both sports fans. A lot of people are. And we know that Bill Bradley as a player was "Give me the ball" in the last minute. "I'll take the shot." GREENFIELD: I think that's what surprised a lot of people up until a few days ago, that he didn't seem to have a sense of where he was when Al Gore was coming at him with criticism, and he seemed not to know how to respond.

I mean, a lot of operatives in New Hampshire were shocked when they read "The Boston Globe" story that 12 years ago two of Gore's top staff aides had warned Gore to stop exaggerating and misrepresenting because -- the operatives said, "Geez, if you're Bill Bradley, you're standing on the debate rostrum, and -- with that in your -- in your pocket, and -- the minute that Gore goes after you, you say, `Oh, just like 12 years ago'." Bradley told me, "Yeah, I -- we know about that. We just didn't want to use it."

I think what -- what happened -- and I think Woodward's actually nailed the question -- five days ago, Bill Bradley started to fight back, and I think the campaign thinks that's why the gap narrowed. One of his top aides told me the other day, "You know what happened? Bill Bradley had to lose Iowa to realize that his failure to fight back was jeopardizing his dream of the presidency," and that's what's going to make this next five weeks rather fascinating when we see whether or not Bradley does, in fact, on television and in -- in the debates fight back.

KING: Bennett -- Bill Bennett, do you think he will?

BENNETT: I don't think you'll see much of a change in style. I've been accused of being a professor here. It's true. I -- Bill Bradley and I ran seminars together. I was the conservative. He was the liberal. I -- I have not -- I've not seen the -- his range change that much in seminar meetings any more than in a political campaign. No, I don't think he will be -- he will be very different.

But, you know, some of his surrogates have been quite tough and have tried to lead him that way. Bob Kerrey -- the stuff he has said about -- about Al Gore and other people -- but, no, I don't think Bill Bradley changes because I think Bill Bradley, who just happens to have an awful lot of personal dignity, believes there is a life after politics, whether he wins or loses, and he's not going to lose that sense of -- his sense of where he is in this political campaign.

WOODWARD: But -- but, Larry, a factual point. In that debate last week, Bradley turned to Gore and virtually called him a liar, and...

KING: And he did. WOODWARD: ... and it was electric and very, very strong, and that -- that's pretty tough, to have that big guy turn over to you and say, you know, "If we can't trust you as a candidate, tell us how we would trust you as president?" and, in fact, Gore was a little caught off balance with that comment.

KING: I'm going to ask Ann Richards...

RICHARDS: I think the thing about it, Larry -- do you want me to talk now or wait until later? I...

KING: Let me get a break, and then we'll come back -- right back to you on...

RICHARDS: OK. All right.

KING: ... on Gore, the campaigner, and then Greenfield starts as well. We're zipping through this second hour of LARRY KING LIVE. Wolf Blitzer at the top of the hour. Don't go away.


BILL BRADLEY (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Al Gore has run a strong race, and I congratulate him. But we're smarter and better prepared and we're ready and eager to continue the fight. But it's a fight about more than Al Gore or me. It's a fight about the kind of America we know we can become.



KING: Ann Richards, Gore the campaigner.

RICHARDS: I think in the case of Bradley having thrown the punch that Bob referred to and that was to -- calling Gore a liar or not telling the truth -- it's very hard to continue that. As a campaigner, I can tell you that, once you have thrown a really tough punch like that, you can't go on repeating it over and over and over again. You know, then it sort of becomes whining and what -- "Liar, liar, pants on fire." You -- and so that issue has been thrown out there, but to take that and continue to run with that across the country, I think, is going to be really hard for Bradley to do.

KING: Did Gore lie, Jeff? I mean, did he -- did he speak a mistruth?

GREENFIELD: There are -- there have been a spate of newspaper articles over the last five days that have raised very serious questions about how straight on Al Gore has been. "Boston Globe." "The Washington Post." "Fortune" magazine has a new piece about the -- his ties to a fund raiser which suggests his claim that he didn't know that that Buddhist temple -- that that was a fund raiser is dubious.

I think -- I'll tell you what I think Gore's biggest problem is, because lying is one of those words that you -- you want to really shy away from. There is a use of language that Gore does that some people will call Clintonian.

KING: No defining legal authority.

GREENFIELD: Well, it's that, "I've always supported" -- and the issue isn't whether he's changed on abortion. There's no question that he is absolutely, ardently pro-choice now, but it's like "I always supported the woman's right to choose, except when I was in the House of Representatives, I said that life begins at conception, which would imply that a woman doesn't have the right to choose, and I've always supported a poor woman's right to have an abortion, except I used to vote for the Hyde amendment that doesn't have any federal funding for it."

It's much more a sense of -- of more like slicing differences down to gossamer thinness that he's been accused of, and I do believe whatever Bradley decides to do -- and my own belief is he going to make the trust issue an issue because it -- I think it worked for him up here late in the game. The fact that -- look, when Bill Bradley says something about Al Gore, who believes him? I mean, it's a campaign.

But if there are more press stories about Al Gore and if Gore continues to, for instance, duck the Sunday talk shows, which he has done now for weeks and weeks, I think that's going to create a problem that could be dangerous down the road.

KING: We'll get the final thoughts of all of our panel, and then Wolf Blitzer will join us live to conduct the -- another hour of our election coverage this evening with an update on others as well. We'll be right back.


KING: It's now sum-up time. We each have about a minute each for the members of the panel. We'll start with Ann Richards.

Your look at tonight. Overview.

RICHARDS: Well, I think the important thing for Bush is that he's going to have to start saying something other than try to cut taxes, and he's not going to be able to get away with answering questions by saying, "I'm going to be OK on that" or "I'm going to be -- take a balanced approach to that." He's abs -- he's absolutely going to have to take some positions. If he's going to show that he's a leader.

I think McCain's task is going to be to raise that money, raise that money, raise that money to keep -- to keep this momentum alive.

And I think that Al Gore has the organization out there in the states. Organized labor is going to be in there to put it together for him, and it's going to be really hard for Bradley, and Bradley is going to have to really really fight.

KING: William Bennett.

BENNETT: George Bush has got to capture the imagination of the people of South Carolina and the people of the country. He's a solid conservative, an impressive guy, but he's got to make the impact and -- and get people back into the spirit of his campaign.

John McCain has captured the imagination of a lot of people. He's now got to persuade the South Carolinians that he's really a conservative, and that's where you'll see Bush -- Bush press him.

Al Gore -- I still wonder whether he can reach out outside the narrow interests. I agree with Jeff. He lawyers the truth, he weasels the truth, and sometimes he just plain lies. Bill Bradley may or may not want to get into it, but there's enough of a record there that he could pick a different lie for each of those weekly or twice weekly debates. Whether that matters to the American people is another question.

KING: But we don't have the answer for it tonight.

Bob Woodward, your overview. We have a minute for Bob and then a minute for Jeff.


WOODWARD: Well, real quickly, I mean, it -- it -- the person who's had a big, astonishing, surprising victory in all of this is McCain, and it is the first test for McCain, and he's handled it very well. I think that -- the attention has got to focus there.

As we were talking earlier, I think -- I think probably George W. Bush is going to have to become somewhat like Gore. He's going to have to become a fighter. He's going to have show -- Ann Richards says he needs to take positions and make them -- express them very, very clearly and forcefully. I think so much of this now has to do with style, and I think Bush has got to get up there and show that he's in charge, that he's confident, and not that he can take a punch but that he can throw a punch.

And in the Bradley-Gore race, I think one of the things about Bradley -- he is a person of immense depth. I think that depth has helped him and helped Gore because Bradley has created the new Gore.

KING: And Jeff Greenfield.

GREENFIELD: George W. Bush has been running in effect a general election campaign on the assumption hat he will be the nominee. He's -- he's always -- he's had so far a broad message. What he faces now is something we often -- don't often see in politics, and that is a phenomenon.

The story of the next few days: Is John McCain the sort of Spencer Tracy, Jimmy Stewart hero, non-politician who captured the imagination and upset the establishment? What will inevitably follow is the second look of the press, and whether John McCain can sustain that is a very big question. I also think, as we said last week, Bush and Gore are still the likely nominees in their party. In the case of both, they are going to have to make the case that they are more than just the favorite son of their establishments.

KING: More news coverage, more election coverage with Wolf Blitzer is next. We thank our panel. I'm Larry King. Thanks for joining us from Manchester, New Hampshire. Good night.



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