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Larry King Live

Karenna Gore Schiff Discusses Her Father's Campaign

Aired August 17, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, CO-HOST: Welcome back. It's final night of the Democratic National Convention, and this is edition number one of LARRY KING. Normally we would bring you two hours shows, one at 9:00 Eastern, one at midnight. This show will be a half hour, because we are going to lead right into the introductions of the vice president and his big speech. We will be back at midnight Eastern.

In this half hour, we'll talk with Andrew Cuomo, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, with Karenna Gore Schiff, the daughter of Al Gore, and with the brilliant actor Tommy Lee Jones, who put his friend's name in nomination last night.

Andrew Cuomo, the son of Mario Cuomo, married to the Kennedys. Boy, this is becoming a family heirloom here, right?


KING: Big thing.


KING: The first thing, obvious you are going to run for governor in New York, right?

CUOMO: I'm going to help Al Gore become President Gore, I'm going to finish the HUD job, and then I'm going to...

KING: Then what?

CUOMO: Then we're going to see what happens after January 21.

KING: If Gore's elected and wants to you stay in the cabinet or in a different post in the cabinet, you stay?

CUOMO: Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come about to it, Larry. I want to focus on the here and now. Now we have to make Al Gore President Gore. I want to finish the work I'm doing at HUD. I'm very excited about that. We're doing great things. And then come January, I'll consider the options. We'll go from there. But one of the options I'm considering is running for governor in 2002. But we have time for that.

KING: All right, what do you think the breaking news today, that independent counsel Robert Ray has impaneled a grand jury, began July 11, to hear evidence against Clinton in the Lewinsky scandal?

CUOMO: I think it either could be a great, great coincidence that this just happens to happen during the Democratic convention, it just happens to get leaked the last night of the Democratic convention, which is the most important night, just before vice president's speech, that could be a coincidence, or it could have been shameless distortion of the justice process for political purposes. And I don't believe in coincidences, Larry. And I think they made a mistake, because I think this goes too far. I don't think -- the Monica Lewinsky situation, the American people have heard about in volumes. They understand it. It's been discussed. It's been dissected. To bring it up again, to do through justice process, to do it for a political purpose, I think it's a mistake. I think it's going to hurt them.

KING: So by "them," you're thinking the Republicans had something to do with this?

CUOMO: It could be a great coincidence that it just happened to happen during the Democratic convention.

KING: Could it be just leak in the prosecutor's office?

CUOMO: But the papers would have had to be filed during these past few days, which is during the Democratic convention.

KING: And a grand jury is supposed to be secret, right?

CUOMO: The whole process is supposed to be secret. That's one of the hallmarks of the judicial system.

KING: Do you think vice president should refer to it tonight or not at all?

CUOMO: No. No. I think he should stay above it and just deliver his message to the American people, and I think the American people can judge this for themselves.

KING: You're a good friend of his, Andrew. What don't we know about that we should know after all this time. Why is still like not known?

CUOMO: I think, Larry, we've seen him as the vice president. And for most people, who lead normal lives, they've seen him almost in one shot: They've seen him standing behind the president, the mandatory three steps back and one to the right, they see him in a very official capacity, when he speaks, he is speaking for the president, he is saying President Clinton this and President Clinton that. That will all change tonight. Tonight it's about Al Gore. It's Al Gore speaking for Al Gore. It's his vision, his thoughts, his ideas, and I think when they will start to see him now as his own man, as his own person. And when they compare Al Gore to George W. Bush, it's not even going to be close comparison.

KING: How good does he have to be tonight CUOMO: Has to be himself. He just has to speak with the intelligence and the experience that he has. He knows this job. He's got a tremendous track record of performance, what we've done in this administration over the past eight years -- strongest economy in history. He's trained for this almost every day of his life, and he just has to be Al Gore.

KING: But is he hurt by the fact he's not your father? He's not Bill Clinton? He's not grabbing a room?

CUOMO: There are different styles of communication.

KING: Personality counts, doesn't it?

CUOMO: Yes, but we saw Joe Lieberman last night, I thought did an extraordinary job communicating, not with the big oratory, and the big prose, and the big rhetoric, but he connected with the American people. Bill Clinton has his style and Al Gore has his own style, and I think at this point he should stay with his style. He will communicate his intelligence. He just he just has to have a chance to get before the American people.

KING: We've seen his debate ability on this program.

CUOMO: That's right.

KING: The famous -- do you expect him do well in the debates, or expectations too high maybe?

CUOMO: No, I think I think he'll do very well. I just think when you get one frame, one picture, with a two of these men side-by- side, Al Gore wins hands down.

KING: Because?

CUOMO: Because it will be clear he so is much more proficient on the issues, that he knows what he's talking about, and he's so much better qualified for the position. The more they talk, the more they interact, the more they dialogue, I think the better for Al.

KING: Are you saying that issues are going to be paramount here?

CUOMO: Issues count.

KING: Could be novel.

CUOMO: Issues count. This economy counts. How we got here counts. This did not just happen. Don't take this economy for granted. It wasn't always this away. When the Democrats took over, we had the greatest deficit in history. Now we have the greatest surplus. But if we think that it was an accident, then we're in danger of losing the economy, because then we'll forget the policies that got us here.

KING: See a lot of you, Andrew.

CUOMO: Thank you. Good to see, Larry.

KING: Andrew Cuomo, the 11th secretary of housing and urban development. When we come back, we'll talk with Karenna Gore and then Tommy Lee Jones. Don't go away.



KING (on camera): The vice president, by the way, will begin his remarks in this hour. One of Al Gore's closest advisers is his eldest daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff. And last night, she helped place her dad's name in nomination. I interview her a little over an hour ago. And my first question was, what does she think of the news about a new grand jury investigating President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal?

KARENNA GORE SCHIFF, VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE'S DAUGHTER: I'm so sick of that stuff, and I don't even know about the specifics, but I just would say that it's not what the campaign is about and certainly not what we're talking about. We're talking about the months ahead until November.

KING: It does throw you a little off track though, doesn't it? Or not?

GORE SCHIFF: Quite honestly, I haven't -- I really haven't heard a lot about it. I was with my folks this morning, and my dad was just going over his speech, and so, I just really think that everyone has got to be sick of it, aren't they? I mean, I am. You know, it seems like it's been going on forever.

KING: Tell me about the speech. Was this -- is this the real -- what are we going to see?

GORE SCHIFF: I think you're just going to hear about what motivates my father in public life and how he would make decisions as president, also the specific things that he wants to do. Because I think we're all hiring someone to do a job, and he wants to be honest and forthright about exactly what he would do for us. And I really think that people will get a good road map for what the Gore presidency will be like.

KING: As a daughter and an activist and very involved with your father, was it difficult to watch the Republican convention?

GORE SCHIFF: Well, I didn't watch it back-to-back, I have to admit. I did watch some of it. And -- I...

KING: I mean, you see your father rapped.

GORE SCHIFF: Yes. Well, I'm used to that, because I know that he's standing up for things, and whenever you're really standing up for important things politically you have to be willing to take a few hits. And also, it's nothing compared to what people with real problems in their families are going through in terms of struggling to make ends meet and not being able to buy medicine, kids who don't have health insurance, and maybe a bad school. And you know, those are the things that really matter, and so I just keep that in mind.

KING: Why do you think, Karenna, that we -- the collective "we" -- have not focused on your bad? I mean, he's been vice president, he's been senator, he's been a congressman. I know him 24 years. They know him but don't know him. Is that partially his fault?

GORE SCHIFF: Well, I think that people do know him to be a hardworking guy, someone who will roll up his sleeves and solve problems, someone who really wants the best for working people in America. I think people do know that. And...

KING: What don't they know?

GORE SCHIFF: Well, I think there's probably a lot they don't know in terms of his just wonderful personality and his unique...

KING: Sense of humor?

GORE SCHIFF: Sense of humor. And all that I think people are coming to see more and more, because the roll of vice president is really different from being a presidential candidate. And so it's really been a natural transition. And it's so fun to watch people sort of falling in love with him around the country. Honestly, I do hear that a lot, people saying "Oh, I've heard that he was this stereotype but it turns out he's different." And I think that -- that it's exciting.

KING: And he's got to get that across. Why -- how do you explain being behind in the polls? I mean, you're politically -- you're hip. Why is he behind?


KING: It's a good story he's got.

GORE SCHIFF: Absolutely. I really feel that people are not quite focused yet, that in the fall they will be. And I really think the truth is on our side in terms of what he wants to do for this country.

I think that a lot of people are just turned off from politics in general and think, "Well, it's a system that is corrupt, and I don't want anything to do with it anyway." And those are the people that we need to get to rally to our cause, because my dad will reform the campaign finance system and he will go to work for them. And so I really feel confident that we will win in November.

KING: You love politics, right?

GORE SCHIFF: I do love politics.

KING: Always did?

GORE SCHIFF: I have to admit it. It seems like it's not cool to love politics, but I have to say I do.

KING: Enough to want to run yourself ever?

GORE SCHIFF: Well, I don't really...

KING: Never say "never."

GORE SCHIFF: Yes, never say "never." I wouldn't rule anything out except maybe being a veterinarian or something. I -- I just -- I want to support candidates that I believe in. It's important to me, because I do feel that decisions, whether it's a woman's right to choose or whether it's prescription drug benefits, these are real things, and it does make a difference who's elected.

So I always want to support candidates I believe in. But no plans to run myself.

KING: Were you surprised at the Lieberman -- were you involved in the Lieberman selection?

GORE SCHIFF: Well, my dad made that decision on his own, and he has very strong instincts. And I just am thrilled. I couldn't be more thrilled with the decision. I think that Joe Lieberman is an amazing man and a great leader, and that he is a wonderful partner to my father. And it's been this pure, great energy in the campaign ever since.

KING: Do you think the Judaism factor is a factor? Up or down?

GORE SCHIFF: Well, no. I think that -- that Joe Lieberman is very much motivated by his faith in terms of doing work that will really help people and promote goodness in the world, and that's part of who he is. And I think that he has his own freedom of religion to express that.

I think that Americans are really people that want to see boundaries broken down, and he's really inspiring a lot of people.

KING: Was there -- your involvement -- you know, we've learned so much about you lately. Suddenly out of nowhere comes this beautiful, young, bright lady.

GORE SCHIFF: Thank you.

KING: You've always been there?

GORE SCHIFF: Behind the scenes. I haven't always been publicly...

KING: What brought you forward?

GORE SCHIFF: I have to say that I was inspired by my dad and this particular political moment, because I do feel that we are at a critical turning point in this country and there are so many people that sit by and don't get involved, because they feel the process isn't perfect and they don't want to put themselves on the line. And I just -- I just really felt that it was a time in my life where I wanted to get off the sidelines and get in and help out.

KING: You're going to be involved all the way through?

GORE SCHIFF: Oh, yes. I will...

KING: You'll be out campaigning?

GORE SCHIFF: Yes. I'm going to be out campaigning through November, and doing whatever I can. I just believe in this campaign heart and soul, and I'll be -- I'll be out there.

KING: Regards to little Wyatt.

GORE SCHIFF: Thank you so much, and to your family.


KING: When we come back, the Academy Award-winning actor and old friend of Al Gore's, the brilliant Tommy Lee Jones will join us. Don't go away.


KING: They're having a good time, the Democrats, getting ready to hear from their candidate. In about 10 minutes, Kristin Gore, who works, by the way, for the comedy show "Futurama," will introduce her mother, Tipper. Tipper will introduce a video. The video will bring on Al Gore. And we're bringing on a gentleman I've always looked forward to having on this program. It took a Democratic convention to get him, the brilliant, Oscar-winning actor, Tommy Lee Jones.

The new -- your new movie is No. 1.

TOMMY LEE JONES, ACTOR: Yes, it is. It was good news this morning. "Space Cowboys" is the name of it.

KING: You -- you and Eastwood, was that fun doing that?

JONES: Jim Garner and Don Sutherland.

KING: Foul old guys.

JONES: Yes. Well, you know, I had to do a little bit more acting than they did in order to feel, you know, to appear to be old. And that's my story and I'm sticking to it, of course.

KING: Fun doing?

JONES: A lot of fun. Those guys -- I thought I'd heard all the old actor jokes, but those guys took me to school every day.

KING: Before I ask you about politics, Eastwood is a director.


KING: How good? JONES: The best. He has a terrific reputation in the film community and internationally for being under-budget, on-time, for not wasting any energy or any time, for having a good, clear vision, for being well-prepared, for being unegotistical, and for having fun.

JONES: So you like working for him?

JONES: I couldn't -- I couldn't praise the man as a director, from a professional point of view, too much.

KING: OK. Back -- you go so far back with Al. Was that tough for you last? I mean, you're used to the actor setting. You're not used to...

JONES: No, it was -- you know, it was a lot -- this -- it's beautiful theater. It's a very large scale. It's very colorful, and it has import. And it's a very friendly crowd, you know, and the Democratic National Committee makes it very easy for you to work in this venue. And it is a bit like work.

But this crowd is a pushover. It's preaching to the choir. I wish it were always that easy to get people to clap and laugh.

KING: Over years have you always been out on hustings for Al Gore?

JONES: No. Not always.

KING: This is the story. We talk about it, that Al Gore and you were roommates.


KING: But we never saw a lot of you beating the drums.

JONES: No, I've been to a few occasions in Tennessee for fund raisers. I went on a trip with him one time to McAllen, Texas in the southern part, lower Rio Grande Valley in order to visit one of their economic empowerment zones that they have not far from McAllen. It's something, you know, to be very proud of. Not a lot of people have heard about economic empowerment zones. And for a community with very low employment rate, it is a real uplifter.

KING: That friendship has lasted then.


KING: You have always kept in touch?

JONES: Sure.

KING: So like when Kristin introduces her mother, you know Kristin. You must have known her as a baby.


KING: You knew them all. You're like the surrogate uncle in a sense.

JONES: Well, I wouldn't go that far. You would certainly say a close family friend, yes.

KING: You are from Midland, Texas.

JONES: I grew up in there, yes I did.

KING: That's George W. Bush country.

JONES: Not all of it is his.

KING: But he is from Midland. He always talks about Midland.

JONES: Yes, he is.

KING: OK, the concept of Al Gore that you talked about last night, what is it -- we have been asking this to a lot of people -- that we don't know?

JONES: What is it that we don't know.

KING: That we the people don't know about know about him.

JONES: We the people -- I don't know. I am one of us, the people.

KING: Yes, but you know him better than we know him.

JONES: That is right. Well, I think what we do know, we do know that the television media -- present company excepted of course -- have not been giving him a very good break. I mean, there are a lot of so-called journalists in this country that are looking for a chance to stigmatize someone, to put a label on someone. And so -- and I don't know why -- I think it makes the job a bit easier if you can compartmentalize people. It is not exactly what you call seeking out the truth and reporting on it in order to set people free.

KING: But he gets the stage tonight.

JONES: He will get the stage tonight. He gets, you know -- his character comes out into the light of day more and more as each day goes by. The same thing is true of his opposition. I think that's healthy for the country.

KING: We'll be right back with some more moments with Tommy Lee Jones. Then we are going to take you down to the platform where Kristin Gore -- who's only 23 -- will be introducing her mom. The mom will introduce the tape. The tape will bring on the vice president. We'll be on later tonight at midnight Eastern with a full hour of LARRY KING LIVE, including Bob Novak and Ann Richards as our dynamic duo tonight.

Back with Tommy Lee Jones after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We are back at the Democratic National Convention. The expectancy is quite high in this arena to hear from the vice president of the United States. As you might guess, it is jam-packed.

And we are talking with Tommy Lee Jones, who, when he leaves here, will go to sit in the vice president's booth and watch the proceedings from there. It's got to be proud moment for you.

JONES: Very.

KING: College roommate is running for the presidency of United States.

JONES: Yes. yes, I have been proud of him for a long time.

KING: Tell us about Kristin. We are going to see her introduce him.

JONES: Very funny girl.

KING: She is?

JONES: Yes, in fact, comedy's her profession. She is just an excellent writer. I think she -- I don't know -- I believe they got ahold of her over there at the "Harvard Lampoon" at some point. And there have been some awfully funny people come out of that building.

KING: What was Harvard like?

JONES: In 1968, Larry, it was best of times and the worst of times.

KING: Riots?

JONES: Oh, yes, a few here and there, yes.

KING: Were you an activist?

JONES: Not really. I was usually too busy on the football field or in the theaters to be politically active. I think everybody was pretty much of a single mind in their opposition to war in Vietnam at that time.

KING: What was he the drama school like?

JONES: Well, we're not a trade school.

KING: So -- any acting you did was...

JONES: Yes, I guess you would call it extracurricular. I mean, the life of theater was vital and vibrant in Cambridge and in Boston at that time. But at Harvard, it -- we don't maintain a drama school.

KING: So what was your major?

JONES: English. KING: And Al was what kind of roommate?

JONES: Funny. You know, good. Good, funny, good company.

KING: Not all that serious as we have had this image of him.

JONES: Well, yes, I mean, if you have all books to read, in that company, at that particular place, there is a very serious aspect to your academic life, of course. But there is still plenty time to have fun and we had a lot of it.

KING: What was the better student?

JONES: Oh, I don't know. You know.

KING: Did you get good grades?

JONES: Yes. Yes, I had good grades.

KING: When you graduated from Harvard, did you go right into movies, right into theater?

JONES: No, I went into theater.

KING: Theater first.


KING: And don't too much of that anymore.

JONES: No, it's been, you know, quite sometime since I have done a play. When you have kids growing up and you have cattle to raise in Texas, sometimes it is kind of hard to think about moving to New York for an unspecified amount of time. A play could run for a week. It could run for a year.

KING: By the way, if you did a movie that Al didn't like would tell you?

JONES: Yes. Absolutely.

KING: Absolutely.

JONES: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Has he told you?

JONES: No, he hasn't had any complaints so far. I mean, I don't think he has seen some of the bad ones that I have made. But he wouldn't have any problem at all.

KING: You forget the bad ones quickly?

JONES: As quickly as I can.

KING: How much Tommy -- we see you in so much -- is a lot of it done for money, purely for money? Sometimes, when you take a part just...

JONES: No. No.

KING: You do it, you like it.

JONES: I love the motion picture business. I love motion picture cameras. I love the company you get to keep. It's one of my favorite endeavors. It's more fun than anything else I do. And I'm really lucky that it pays the bills.

KING: Thanks, Tommy.

JONES: You bet.

KING: Tommy Lee Jones.

Now, a lady he knows since she was a little baby -- knows the whole family. Kristin Gore is going to come forward to introduce her mother, who will introduce the tape, who will introduce the vice president. And then Bernie, Judy, and Jeff will be back with all the analysis. We'll see you at midnight with more guests, including Novak and Richards.



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