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Larry King Live

Rick Lazio Discusses His Senate Campaign; Andy Rooney Discusses 'My War'

Aired November 1, 2000 - 9:00 p.m. ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, he's Hillary Rodham Clinton's Republican rival in New York's headline-grabbing Senate race. Congressman Rick Lazio joins us along with his wife, Patricia. And then we'll have a lot more with just a few minutes with Andy Rooney, and he'll take your calls. And they're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Two quick notes before we start. This program has repeatedly requested an appearance of Hillary Rodham Clinton, but that has not occurred and she has not appeared with regard to this Senate race. This is, I think, Mr. Lazio's third or fourth or fifth appearance on this program. We have always invited both candidates.

And tomorrow night on this program, Ross Perot will appear and apparently will endorse a candidate, tomorrow night. He has not been heard from all year with regard to the shakeup in his Reform Party, Ross Perot here tomorrow night for the hour.

We welcome Congressman Lazio and Pat Lazio. What are the polls saying now? What is this? Even, up, down? What's going on?

REP. RICK LAZIO (R-NY), SENATE CANDIDATE: I think we're right -- I think we're right there. I think we have momentum growing for us. I see that out in the crowds.

You know, I've been through seven races, Larry, and after a while you can tell, just based on the feel on the street, the amount of enthusiasm you see, the people that come up to you -- not the programmed events but the kind of street conduct when people cross a street, ask for signs. That's what I'm seeing, the kind of enthusiasm that I saw the first time I ran for Congress as an underdog and caught up and won.

KING: Much more than you saw, say, two weeks ago?

R. LAZIO: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Much, much more.

KING: What's it been like for the wife?

PATRICIA LAZIO, RICK LAZIO'S WIFE: It's been a big commitment for the family, but it's been a lot of fun. It's been a great experience, and my parents have been very helpful with the children. So...

KING: Yes, because big difference from a congressional direct in a state this big.

P. LAZIO: Oh, absolutely. A real big difference.

KING: Do you like campaigning?

P. LAZIO: I'm getting used to it.

KING: Some wives -- some wives don't like it. Laura Bush has gotten to like it, didn't like it at first.

P. LAZIO: Well, I think being a nurse, you're used to being around people, lots of different types of people. And so for me, it's been a learning experience, and I'm getting to like it also.

KING: And New York is never without controversy. I arrive here and 15 people today say ask about the Muslims, ask about the Muslims.


All right. What apparently is going on here is that a former director of the Muslim-American Council, a reported supporter of Hillary, Hillary returned the money, Bush returned the money. Lazio wrote a letter, Hillary's mad, Lazio's mad.

Here's what Hillary had to say about this -- I believe it was earlier today -- and then we'll get Rick's read on all of this. Watch.


HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK SENATE CANDIDATE: ... that "The New York Times" said today the smear attacks, as "Newsday" said, these reprehensible, unethical campaign tactics have no place in this state, in this campaign. This campaign should be about not me or my opponent, and certainly not about his misleading, inaccurate, offensive, outrageous, despicable attacks. It ought to be about you.


KING: Ticked? All right, did you accuse her of supporting terrorism?


KING: What is this about?

R. LAZIO: Here's what this is about. Some people who host an event called, the people that came together as the American Muslim Alliance, the leader of which has said that he believes that Hamas and Hezbollah should be supported, hosted an event for Mrs. Clinton. They raised $50,000. Mrs. Clinton attended the event. She received a plaque. There was e-mails beforehand. And then she had to return the money.

The real problem with this is that the person who Mrs. Clinton claims she knew nothing about was on the payroll of the White House, of the administration, was traveling around at taxpayer expense. So he actually got a job, supposedly preaching tolerance, when at the same time he's out leading these chants and rallies, claiming that Hezbollah and Hamas are legitimate groups, and that terrorism is a legitimate tool.

And then on their filing -- this was now many, many months ago that they had this event, and it was only because the press covered the story that they actually returned the money. But one of the reasons that they covered the story was because the Clinton campaign disclosed on their required filing, not the American Muslim Council, but the American Museum Council. Not even close.

KING: Was that an error or deliberate?

R. LAZIO: Well, I think it was -- if it was a one-letter issue, you could, might say, right, maybe, you know, but because he had been hired by the White House, because of the e-mails beforehand, because he invited -- there were people invited to the White House by Mrs. Clinton that believe in terrorism, believe in Hamas and believe in...

KING: But you're not saying she believes in it?

R. LAZIO: No. I'm saying that it's wrong to give people credibility. I certainly reject that. The idea of giving people credibility who think that Hamas or Hezbollah are legitimate organizations. They're on the terrorist list, according to the State Department. I just think that they're in the wrong pattern, you know, and...

KING: So her anger is unwarranted?

R. LAZIO: Well, I think it is -- I think it is.

KING: Now, "The Observer," "New York Observer" says that you sent a fund-raising letter to the chairman of the New York chapter of the American Muslim Alliance, the same group whose members you're denouncing. You sent a letter asking for donations two days before.

R. LAZIO: We sent about 18 million letters out, and some of them are sent to the wrong people.

KING: Donald Duck.

R. LAZIO: Yes, Joe Lockhart from the White House got one of them.

KING: And sent some money.


R. LAZIO: Let me clarify that.

KING: So you're saying that this was just...

R. LAZIO: And we never received any money, we never took any money. So that's a non -- nonevent, I think. KING: How do you regard that issue from the standpoint of a wife?

P. LAZIO: In terms of the mailing.

KING: Yes.

P. LAZIO: Well, the mailings are so large, like Rick said. They're 18 million pieces that go out.

KING: Are you saying that Hillary just got caught here and had to return it?

P. LAZIO: Yes, I think so.

R. LAZIO: I think really it's much more than just being caught. I think it's a fact that you have people -- she's admitted, I think, that she's invited these people to the White House. So they've been welcomed to the White House, and the purpose of the people going, according to these pro-Hamas people, was to defend Hamas. And then you had them on the payroll, on the public payroll, I can't accept that: that my tax dollars are going to finance people who are traveling around the world and supposedly teaching tolerance when in fact they're advocating Hezbollah and Hamas, two groups that had been renowned for their terrorism and for the use of violence as a legitimate tool to achieve political ends.

I just think -- you know, I don't know what the real motives are here. I think it's just wrong, and I think that's what happens when you allow the White House to be used as a political tool beyond which it's ever been used in the past.

KING: And you're saying she was a big part of that?

R. LAZIO: Oh, there's no doubt. There's no doubt.

KING: We'll take a break and come right back, and we'll talk about how he thinks this is going to go. It's a couple of days away and this is one of the closest races in the country.





KING: The nation is obviously very interested in this race. We have a first. There's nothing been like this ever in history. Has it been kind of weird in that regard, to run against a first lady? I mean, no one's ever had to.

R. LAZIO: It's historically unique. Nobody's ever had to run for statewide office effectively against the White House.

KING: So what has been the toughest part for you?

R. LAZIO: Oh, I just -- I think it's just a -- the short sprint that we've had. I think it's balancing, being away from Pat and the girls. I think that's the toughest part of the campaign. It's the toughest part of public service.

But you know, I say, you know, they have Air Force One and the Arkansas army and the ragin' Cajun...

KING: And you're running against Air Force One.

R. LAZIO: ... James Carville, is coming on board. But we have the -- the sort of energy of the people of New York, and I think their will is going to triumph. I really feel very strongly about that.

KING: Was it a mistake to walk over to her on the lectern?

R. LAZIO: I think that was the only way we were going to get an agreement to ban soft money.

KING: You mean, had you not done that there wouldn't have been...

R. LAZIO: I think that dramatic moment needed to happen on television in order to force an agreement to cut aside all of the nonsense and double talk of campaigns and come right down to it. Are you going to stand for what you say you're for? And I think that was necessary.

KING: Are we ever going to see finance reform, really?

R. LAZIO: You know, I think so. I really think so. I think this next...

KING: Both parties have pledged it. They swore on the Bible in New Hampshire, remember?

R. LAZIO: Absolutely, John McCain is going to be campaigning with me tomorrow, as a matter of fact. So and I am going to go to the Senate and I am going to be fighting side by side with John McCain. I know a lot of people, you know, they don't believe much in campaign reform...

KING: In your party, too.

R. LAZIO: In my party, too. I understand and I've had to oppose my party from time to time on whole range of issues on the environment.

KING: On abortion.

R. LAZIO: On abortion, on public funding for the arts and on this issue of campaign finance reform. But I think New Yorkers, I think Americans want people to stand up for what they believe in. I think they believe that the campaign finance system is broken and that they want to see it fixed. Now, to be honest with you, Larry, I don't think this is going to be a perfect fix, but I think it's going to be a vast improvement over what we have right now.

KING: What's it been like for you to have your husband run against Air Force One?

P. LAZIO: Well, I think the toughest thing for me has been that fact that Rick's record is so distorted. I know Rick and I know how hard he's worked over the past eight years and what he has done to help people and it's a little bit frustrating to me to see when I see his record distorted.

KING: It pains you.

P. LAZIO: It does. It does because I know how hard he works so...

KING: How much money is going to be spent in this campaign?

R. LAZIO: Probably more money spent.

KING: Most expensive Senate campaign ever.

R. LAZIO: I believe it will be. I think it's going to be the most expensive Senate campaign ever.

KING: You both had to raise money out of state. That's a necessity.

R. LAZIO: Yes, of course. You know, extensive Internet and direct mail operation. I mean, we probably raised -- how much? More than $2 million just over the Internet.

KING: Anything about her as a campaigner surprise you?

R. LAZIO: I don't think so. I don't think so. I think, you know, for me, this campaign is a lot more about what I stand for. You know, I just went to an event -- we have these Woman for Lazio events around the state. We had one up in Syracuse with over 1500 women, and we got asked this question about Mrs. Clinton's ethics.

And my answer to that as it is now, is, you know, I think it's a lot more important for me to be a person of good character, for people to look at me and say, I think this person is honest. He's got integrity. He's a straight-shooter. I believe him. I trust him. And hopefully I'll be a good role model for New York's children as I try to be for my two little girls. So it's a lot more for me to stand for these values than to talk about what she might not be,

KING: Have you have heard a lot, Pat, that your husband looks too young?

P. LAZIO: A lot of people do say that.

(CROSSTALK) R. LAZIO: But it's certainly not true. All the gray's coming.

KING: How old are you?

R. LAZIO: 42.

KING: You look younger than 42 and you must have heard that all your life? You've always looked young. Is that...

P. LAZIO: His mom looks young. His sisters look young. It runs in the family.

KING: Was that ever an issue when you ran for Congress?

R. LAZIO: No, not really. Not really.

KING: Just now?

R. LAZIO: You know, I think a lot of people, though, I think they are expecting the next generation to begin to take responsibility, to be in a position of responsibility, and to begin to frame the agenda for America, for New York for the next 20 years.

KING: All right, guys.

P. LAZIO: Teddy Roosevelt was president at 42.

R. LAZIO: That's right. I'm a laggard in comparison.

KING: All right, how do you win this given that Gore -- the Democrats outregistered Republicans in this state two and a half to one, I think. Gore is favored to win by over a million votes. You're going to need split tickets. How do you win this?

R. LAZIO: I just think a lot of New Yorkers, Larry, as they always have been for me, are going to make those decisions based on my record and who I've been. My record of being of service to New York for 17 years, eight years...

KING: But you're going -- Democrats will vote for you. You need Democrats to vote for you.

R. LAZIO: At every event that I go to, we have many Democrats, people who have said they're life-long Democrats. People who've said that they've never voted for a Republican in their life, will be voting for me and their families voting for me for a lot of different reasons.

Some people because they believe that I'll be the person with experience who can do the right job for New York, who can deliver for New York. I think a lot of people want to send message about the kind of person they want to represent them. They want to reflect what they believe in.

KING: What's it like, Pat, to have the president come in and campaign against your husband? P. LAZIO: Well, it's a little bit overwhelming at times. But I think that Rick is doing such a good job. He's a great campaigner. People connect with him. He connects with people. And so I really don't think that it's going to be a big factor.

R. LAZIO: Let me tell the real story, here. Air Force One was sent in to counteract all the excitement that Pat Lazio's been generating around the state.

KING: I'm glad you made this one win or lose.

R. LAZIO: I am. I'm very, glad. I'm very privileged for the opportunity. As the grandson of immigrants, you know, who came over here with nothing, and went from Ellis Island to a little auto parts shop to the halls of Congress in three generations. I just grew up with this belief, which my parents imbued in me, that you have your responsibility to give back to the community. So I -- you know, I'm active on cancer issues which you know, on issues affecting the disabled, homeless. This is my way of giving back.

KING: There was a Lazio Auto Parts.

R. LAZIO: There was a Lyndon Auto Parts, Anthony Lazio, proprietor.

KING: P-r-o-p, period. Couldn't afford to pay the printer.

R. LAZIO: That's exactly right. Good to see you again.

P. LAZIO: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Good meeting you, Pat.

P. LAZIO: Nice meeting you, Larry.

KING: Rick and Pat Lazio. Candidate -- he is candidate for the Senate on the Republican ticket in the state of New York, running against the first lady.

Tomorrow night, Ross Perot speaks out for the first time in election year 2000 on this program. And next is Andy Rooney. Don't go away.


KING: He's one of my favorite people. He's one of America's favorite people. He's Andy Rooney, of "60 Minutes." He's a best- selling author, newspaper columnist as well. He wrote a book back in 1995 called "My War: Andy and World War II." It has republished -- there you see its cover with a new foreword by Tom Brokaw, who wrote "The Greatest Generation." Why did they bring this book back?

ANDY ROONEY, "60 MINUTES": They thought that it was good time for it, that it didn't sell particularly well the first time, and I was enthusiastic about it. It means a lot to me.

KING: I was a terrific book. Why do you think it didn't sell then, might well...

ROONEY: Well, it didn't not sell. It sold 70,000, 80,000 copies. It wasn't really bad, but Peter Osnos, the publisher at Public Affairs, thinks it'll sell again. So I was naturally delighted. It represents such an important part of my life.

KING: And a rival network anchor writes the foreword. That's nice.


ROONEY: It is very nice. He's a nice guy. Brokaw is a nice guy. That's an awful thing to say about an anchor man.

KING: But you were going to say what about forewords?

ROONEY: I -- my son, Brian, is an ABC News correspondent, said that when he heard that Brokaw had written the foreword, obviously they're trying to sell the book by putting Brokaw's name on it. And my son said, Dad, I don't read forewords or prefaces. He says, tell the publisher to just put Brokaw's name on covered, but don't run his foreword.

KING: We're finally getting a World War II memorial. We finally are paying attention to it. Why now?

ROONEY: Well, I am not a person who is much interested in that sort of thing. I have been -- people have been after me to endorse it and everything and I guess it's not going to bring back anybody who died, and nobody is going to be better remembered because of that memorial.

KING: You're not big on memorials?

ROONEY: No, I'm not.

KING: But it's part of a tradition of a country, isn't it?

ROONEY: Well, there are some nice ones for the tourists to go look at down there, but, no, I'm not enthusiastic about them. I think this is the right thing to do. I think it's -- apparently this the wrong place.

KING: Why? We had a big controversy over that. Why did so many people who fought in that war not talk about it a lot?

ROONEY: I said this, this morning. This is not a popular thing for me to say, but, keep in mind, Larry, that the image of the American soldier as the fighting man in the front lines or in the Air Force and the fact of matter is that only one out of ten or 15 was that person. The rest of them were bringing up the food, or driving a truck or something. I mean, the Army -- no army is filled with heroes. There are an awful lot of people doing the dog work and they don't mind getting in on being heroic sometimes.

KING: Very small percentage ever sees the enemies, right? ROONEY: That's true. I think that's why people don't talk about it.

KING: But of those one percent, even they have been hesitant to talk about what they saw in battle.

ROONEY: That's not a question, that's a statement are you making that I don't think is true.

KING: They have talked.

ROONEY: I think they have, adequately. I think the average person who saw a lot of action as talked about it.

KING: Why did you write about it?

ROONEY: Because I thought it was important. It was a big part of my life. It was -- certainly nobody -- there very few people who saw the war as I saw it. I was three years as reporter and could go anywhere and watch any part of it.

KING: Look at dashing Mr. Rooney. You reported for "Stars and Stripes."

ROONEY: I was a reporter for "The Stars and Stripes." And the great thing was that we had a press camp that was behind the lines, considerably, and I had a Jeep and I could go anywhere. And there were no restrictions as there would be now. The Pentagon was not yet built and the people in it were not yet residents there, so they didn't interfere with correspondents in World War II as they have since.

KING: Was "Stars and Stripes" a good paper?

ROONEY: It was a very good paper. It was professionally done. It was a daily newspaper done by very good professional journalists. I was the least experienced person on the paper when I came there.

KING: Ernie Pyle was famous there, right?

ROONEY: Ernie Pyle was not with "The Stars and Stripes."

KING: He wrote for American papers back home.

ROONEY: Yes, he was a Scripps Howard columnist.

KING: We'll be right back with Andy Rooney. "My War" has been republished, foreword by Tom Brokaw. We have got lots of things to talk about, and we will get right to it right after this.


ROONEY: He may win the election, but no one is going to vote for Rick Lazio. Every person who goes to the poll is going to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton or against Hillary Rodham Clinton. Like few people who ever ran for office, the Clintons have the knack for evoking love and hate.

It's funny about hate, it doesn't have a good reputation. No moral authority recommends it. The Bible doesn't say hate thy neighbor. But hating is a very satisfying thing to do. We all enjoy a little of it. That's why I'm having such a happy life. I hate so many things.




ROONEY: They both dropped names of unknown little people they thought made them sound like nice guys.

AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Like Winnifred Skinner (ph) from Des Moines, Iowa.



GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Strumk (ph) family in Allentown, Pennsylvania.


ROONEY: So phony. They both thought using the name of the moderator made them sound friendly.

BUSH: I want to say something, Jim.

GORE: Yes, Jim.

BUSH: If I might, Jim.

GORE: Jim.

BUSH: I've said, Jim.

GORE: Jim.

ROONEY: The only thing it made me think was that Jim might make a better president than either one of them.


KING: What do you make of Rick Lazio?

ROONEY: I never met him and I met him back stage here he was charming. I can't get over -- I liked him a lot better back there than I did when he was here sitting talking to you. I mean he turned back into a politician saying, you know, every once in a while he would lapse into that politician talk. He was really charming back there. I never would have done that piece if I had known I was going to meet him face to face. But he didn't see it, obviously.

KING: He's a great admirer of yours.

Is that rough for you sometimes when you run into people?

ROONEY: It is, yes. I got an e-mail today from an old college roommate and I was thinking when he was talking about Hamas and the problems over there. My roommate has always had business schemes. He was kidding, but said he wants to make American flags that are impermeated with a flammable material and sell them to the Arabs so they will burn easier.

KING: Do you take a view of all politicians, that is, one of sort of the little distance? Do you view them all suspect?

ROONEY: I'm afraid I do, mostly. They have to make so many concessions in their lives to being dead honest to get the money together and they can call it cooperating with the other part, but not being honest about their positions is what it is very often.

KING: So you think therefore to be a successful politician you must compromise?

ROONEY: They think it is. No, I do not think they must compromise. I wish they compromise as often as they do. No, I didn't say that.

KING: What do you make of this race?

ROONEY: I don't know what to make of it. I was originally offended by the idea of somebody coming in from Arkansas to run for Senate in New York state. I was also offended by this nice young kid coming along, Enrico Lazio. But, it's a fascinating race and fortunately I live in Connecticut, so I don't have to vote.

KING: You don't vote in the race.

ROONEY: I pay taxes here, I ought to vote in both places.

KING: What do you make of the big one, the Bush/Gore race?

ROONEY: Well, I don't know how it's happened. I mean, ideally, the president of the United States should be the smartest person we have in this country. And that's not going to happen. We are not going to get the smartest guy, whichever one of these guys wins and I hope they turn out to be better than they have appeared in their appearances so far.

KING: This has not been...

ROONEY: They have not distinguished themselves, either one of them. I don't know why that is, but it's very difficult. I think that what the voters should concentrate on, is what would happen if either one of them got in with their political motivation, with what they feel. I mean, you can dismiss these two candidates, but clearer than almost ever in our history, they represent Democrat and Republican, left wing and right wing.

KING: That's what we are today, they represent.

ROONEY: It's going to make a huge difference in which direction the country goes.

KING: We will be right back with more of Andy Rooney, one of our favorite people, brilliant writer and a wonderful journalist. His new book is "My War." Well, it's not a new book. It's a new printing of an old book, right? Of a somewhat old book, the book was originally published in 1995. The new edition has a foreword by Tom Brokaw.

Tomorrow night, Ross Perot. We will be right back with Andy Rooney. Don't go away.


ROONEY: Let me begin tonight by saying as nice and sweet as I know how that I thought last Tuesday's debate between Al Gore and George Bush stunk. It was about as exciting as synchronized swimming at the Olympics.

Right from the beginning, they irritated me. Coming in, Gore threw a kiss to Tipper. Well, it wasn't really for her, it was for us. What he was saying was he's not Bill Clinton. I wasn't impressed because no public display of affection ever convinces me that a guy loves his wife.



JAY LENO, HOST: Now, I have a Halloween mask I think you might get a kick out of, see what you think here. Put this on. Does this look a little bit like -- subliminable?


LENO: Subliminable?

BUSH: This is more scary.



LENO: I'll be right back right after this. More with George Bush right after this. Don't go away.



KING: What part does humor play in the political scene these days, Andy? ROONEY: Well, it makes it tolerable.


I think there has been a tendency to say that humor has been important in this campaign. The news, nightly news broadcasts are running a lot of this stuff now, and humor has always been an important factor in any campaign.

KING: You're an -- you're a kind of an expert on language. You care about language.

ROONEY: I do care about the English language.

KING: Would you analyze for us these two candidates in that regard, how well they use the language?

ROONEY: Well, I write so much better than I talk that I would rather write that down and give it to you on paper.

KING: Because you call yourself a writer?

ROONEY: I am a writer.

KING: You're a writer who goes on...

ROONEY: And if you look -- if I look at a transcript of what I have said, for instance, on a program like this, I'm appalled at how badly I use the language, how incoherent I am sometimes.

KING: You're more comfortable writing it?

ROONEY: I am very comfortable writing, and the computer has been such a big help. I never thought I would go to a computer over my grand old typewriter. But the fact is you make little corrections that you wouldn't have bothered to make on a -- because it was just too much trouble.

KING: Too hard.

ROONEY: And I think for that reason maybe writing is getting better.

KING: All right. And their use of the language, how good are they?

ROONEY: They are not good at all. I think that every time a politician reads a speech written by a writer, there ought to be a credit run underneath it: written by so and so. I mean, how can they do that? How can they be so dishonest as to pose, as if they were expressing their own ideas in their words when those, both the ideas and the words have been written by somebody else? It's not right.

KING: Was the Lieberman-Cheney debate better?

ROONEY: It was -- there was no question. I think a great many Americans thought why aren't these two people running for president.

KING: Why don't we, the collective we, vote? Why don't Americans vote? Why is 55 percent a huge turnout?

ROONEY: Well, we didn't get 55 percent last time. We got 49 percent. And Larry, I don't know how to say this nicely on your show. I don't want to offend a lot of your listeners, but we've got a lot of dumb Americans.


KING: I knew that was coming somewhere. What did Mencken say? No one ever went broke overestimating the intelligence of the American public.

ROONEY: I think a lot of people just don't know enough about -- they're desperate trying to live and get up in the morning and go to work and get their car started, and they just don't have time to think about any issues more serious than their own little problems. And that's why they don't.

KING: Do you think there would be shock if one of these gentlemen got the popular vote and the other got the electoral vote? Americans would learn that the man with more votes will not be the president?

ROONEY: Well, this has come up every year, and...

KING: More so now because it really could happen now.

ROONEY: It happened once before. Who was that?


ROONEY: One of those people, yes. But I doubt if it's going to happen this time, and if it does, why, it may force us to make change. We need serious changes in our electoral process. I mean, democracy is such a wonderful idea, and we made a mess of it.

KING: You favor straight popular vote?

ROONEY: Oh, I certainly do, yes.

KING: Do you think the electoral vote was correct when it was put in?

ROONEY: Well, I -- I was...

KING: You weren't there at the time.

ROONEY: No. Unaware, no.

KING: You didn't participate in that vote.

Some other areas. We'll take phone calls for Andy Rooney.

The death of Steve Allen, a contemporary of yours.

ROONEY: Well, he was a contemporary, and for that reason sad for me. I knew him when I was writing for Arthur Godfrey, met him quite often, and met him often over the years. I -- he was the originator of "The Tonight Show" idea, and he was such a bright person, brilliant guy, and not as funny. I mean, his humor, he decided to be funny and applied his intellect to humor. He was not a naturally funny guy, or that was my opinion.

KING: He didn't say great funny things driving down the highway?

ROONEY: No, no, but he had great ideas. He was innovative. He thought of good things to do. And in that respect, he was a great -- but he probably should have been something else.

KING: You mentioned Arthur Godfrey. We were talking about this before we went on. Why is he forgotten? One of the most important broadcast figures ever? I'd have to put him in the top five.

ROONEY: It's a mystery to me. He really started CBS. Frank Stanton brought him to New York from Washington, and he was 50 percent of the CBS income for maybe six or eight years.

KING: Simulcast.

ROONEY: He's forgotten. You know, "Imus in the Morning" does this thing now, they put a camera in there. Do you know that when I was working for Godfrey, Godfrey did that? He didn't want to get into television and they insisted. So in 1950, he said, all right, bring a camera in here, but you're just going to shoot my radio show, I'm not doing anything different. And they televised his radio show for a couple years.

KING: But why he seems to have edged out of memory?

ROONEY: It's a mystery. I am so infuriated because I worked for him for five years. So if he's not important, I'm not important.

KING: He was a major -- I mean, he was a great broadcast personality.

ROONEY: He was a genius.

KING: Absolutely.

Back with more of Andy Rooney and your phone calls, and "My War," a terrific book -- I read it five years ago -- is now out, new addition, with a forward by Tom Brokaw.

Ross Perot tomorrow night, and he apparently, he will endorse a candidate tomorrow night. It's the first time he's spoken out on politics for this entire year. We'll be right back.


KING: That's why they love us Andy, our looks, bask in them. We're back on LARRY KING LIVE. Before we take some calls for Andy Rooney, what do you make of Mr. Perot?

ROONEY: I was sitting here just now wondering if you own a belt.


KING: I do for jeans.

ROONEY: I appreciate your -- enthusiasm is such good characteristic to have, and you've got a lot of it. But do you think America is really sitting on the edge its chair waiting to see who Ross Perot is going to endorse?

KING: I think they're interested in that he hasn't spoken all year, his party, the Reform Party, is -- who is it? Pat Buchanan, the governor of Minnesota -- why hasn't he come out?

ROONEY: He's about as well known as Godfrey is.

KING: You think so? OK, let's go to some calls.

Jamesville, California for Andy Rooney.

CALLER: Yes, hello. Mr. Rooney my question is what is your opinion of exit polls and if you are for them, would you still have the same opinion if you lived in the western United States where you hear the predicted results of an election when you're driving home from work on the way to vote? Thank you.

KING: Well asked.

ROONEY: Well, I dislike polls of any kind because they suggest a predictability about the American public that the public does not have. I just dislike polls. When I hear someone say that that there's a -- this poll has a 3 or 4 percent margin for error, I always wonder what is the margin of error for their estimate of their margin for error.

KING: Right.

ROONEY: Ten percent, not possible.

KING: But candidates need indicators, don't they? Or don't they?

ROONEY: Well, I suppose they do, but I would like to see these poll people put to a tests. I'd like to see all the polls forced to ask the same question with their own system and see how they all come out. We line them all up and see who came out and see how close they are, and then do it election night to see how they stack up against the real results. They have got to be put to the test. They keep having a new poll saying well, it's changed since last week. Well, maybe they were wrong last week.

KING: So at one point when the election is over, one of them -- they tall can say they were right at one point or another.

ROONEY: I'm not enthusiastic about polls.

KING: Is a California resident right about exit polls before he's voted?

ROONEY: Absolutely right and I think it's pretty well- established that it's wrong.

KING: Would lie to a pollster as our friend Mike Royko once suggested -- the late Mike Royko in Chicago? He said, lie. Leave the polls. Lie. Ellijay, Georgia.

CALLER: Hello, Mr. Rooney. you're a great man. What would you suggest with the voter turnout so low, what would you suggest to energize and fire up the American people to become more involved in the political process?

ROONEY: Well, I hesitate to tell you because that's what I'm doing on "60 Minutes" Sunday night, but the essence of my piece is...

KING: Give us a little clue.

ROONEY: Well, if they're so dumb they don't know what the issues are, I hope they don't vote. My idea is don't vote if you don't care what the issues are.

KING: What do you make of all the undecideds?

ROONEY: Well, I think that's easy to be undecided at this point. I mean, here we got two bad choices and we're torn.

KING: Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin for Andy Rooney. Hello.

CALLER: Hello. Larry, love your show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Andy, I love your wit. I'd just like to know what your opinions are of Al Gore dressing up in a costume, Halloween costume while conducting our nation's business?

ROONEY: Well, you're asking an answer there, You know, I mean it's obvious to me what you think the answer is, and I don't care what he does.

KING: Why can't a vice president celebrate Halloween?

ROONEY: Well, he can, but I don't care. He's trying to win votes and they'll do anything. Obviously Gore will do anything and so will Bush. It was ridiculous but that wasn't the only ridiculous thing they've done.

KING: Andy, you won a bronze star. How? What did you do? Come on.

ROONEY: Well, I was going into St. Lo with a great newsman named Bob Casey, a Chicago newspaperman... KING: Where is Saint Lo?

ROONEY: St. Lo in France. It was the point at which we were backed up along the beaches and the German front was not -- it was pretty solid in front of us and as a result we couldn't bring -- they were still shelling our beaches with their artillery. And until we broke through, and as soon as an army breaks through this long line and can get behind the other people, then...

KING: You're pinned?

ROONEY: They start to flee because they're in disarray. And St. Lo was a town in Normandy where the attack was focused for a breakthrough. And I went down into a town, and I have a lot of opinions about bravery.

KING: Like?

ROONEY: Well, the other guys -- the correspondents thought of me as brave. Well, I was foolish. I did foolish things. I mean, bravery is when you do something to help another person at the risk of your own life.

KING: Absolutely.

ROONEY: And a lot of stuff that passes for bravery was foolishness and here I was after a newspaper story and I did some very dangerous things.

KING: Took your life in...

ROONEY: Yes, but this was not brave. It's foolish to call that bravery. I was pleased to get the bronze star but as so many medals are,it was probably misplaced.

KING: Audie Murphy told me he got his Congressional medal out of being frustrated. He just couldn't take it anymore so he stormed a machine gun nest.


KING: He was AWOL when he was in the army. He was not a good soldier. He just went -- bugged.

ROONEY: Well, many of the most decorated soldiers were not what the army would consider good soldiers. And that was why we won the war. The American soldier operated in such an independent manner instead of doing as told on every occasion -- this is why the American soldier was better than the German soldier of the Japanese soldier.

KING: Less disciplined.

ROONEY: I would say that. The army hates to admit that. But yes.

KING: So there was a lot of freelancing going on, in a sense. ROONEY: Oh, there was. It was absolutely why we won in France. We had these great platoon sergeants and individuals in the infantry who would take some action on their own that was not dictated to them from above. Thaw's why we won the war.

ROONEY: Andy Rooney, never saw him where you didn't learn something that you didn't know. Don't go away.


ROONEY: I have eight Bibles, and the Ten Commandments are difference in each one of them. This is the controversial stone outside a school in Adams County, Ohio. The First Commandment here reads, "Thou shall have no others gods before me."

That never sounded like anything God would say to me, sort of suggest there are others gods but he wants to be first among them. God wouldn't say that. Moses reported the Ten Commandments, of course, maybe he got it wrong. You know how reporters are.



KING: We're back with Andy Rooney. I love the name of this city. Niceville, Florida. Hello.

CALLER: Hello.


CALLER: Mr. Rooney, you're part of our greatest generation and I'm so grateful you still have a voice. Since you have been in media and journalism for so many years, how do you feel about how the media and journalism has covered the elections?

KING: Yes, how do we -- the collective we, do?

ROONEY: I have no complaint about the way the media has covered this election. I think they have become more aware than they ever where that they shouldn't show any bias. And I think the coverage has been quite good. Do you have any complaint down there in Niceville.

KING: It sounded like she did, but apparently -- I cut her off, is what happened.

ROONEY: Oh, too bad.

KING: Sorry.

ROONEY: I could like to call it Niceville. I like the phone calls that say how wonderful I am first. Can you get any of those.

KING: Little Rock, Arkansas. Hello.

CALLER: Yes, Mr. Rooney. KING: Will you tell him how wonderful he is?

CALLER: OK, Mr. Rooney, several years ago, you were talking about the war and a reporter asked you if you believed in God and you said, if there was a God, how could he be so inhumane with all the bloodshed and stuff?

My question is, do you believe in God or are you an atheist?

ROONEY: I was just talking with Larry during the break about that very thing. We were talking about Bertrand Russell. And I said I went along with Bertrand Russell. Bertrand Russell said it's foolish to say there is no God, but it's foolish to say there is a God, too. I mean, we don't know, do we? That's my position.

KING: We will be right back with Andy Rooney. The book is "My War."

Ross Perot, tomorrow night and we will return right after this.


ROONEY: We went out to take pictures of car names. Susie (ph) brought a dictionary along so we could see if they meant anything.

What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Cressida," a medieval romance, is a Trojan woman who first returns the love of Troilus, but later forsakes him for Diomedes.

ROONEY: "Cressida," what a good name for a car. No wonder they gave up making it.

Altima, nothing here.

This is a Volkswagen Golf, wonder if they have a tennis.



KING: Going to get one more call for Andy Rooney.

Huntsville, Alabama, hello.

CALLER: Hi, Andy, I just loved your book, "My War." And I wondered if you had not gotten into the Army, would you still have become a journalist? Because the story you told of how you got involved in "The Stars and Stripes" is really fascinating.

KING: Would you have gotten into journalism?

ROONEY: Well, it's a good question. You know, I have a theory that people get where they are going in this life. I mean you can get hit by a truck and have bad luck, but generally speaking, because of the way we do little things from the time we get up in the morning, our character tends to take us in a certain direction. And I think, most people get where they are going. And I think I would have been a journalist, no matter what my Army experience was.

KING: And does Andy Rooney think of where he's going now? How old are you?

ROONEY: I think where I am going now, but I rather not think of it.

KING: How old are you?

ROONEY: Eighty-one.

KING: Do you ever think of retiring?

ROONEY: No, I wouldn't think of retiring. Why would I do that?

KING: Because you love what you do.

ROONEY: Yes, I lose my marbles, I may be the last to recognize it, but no, I don't see any reason to retire. I like having Mike Wallace around. He is a year older than I am. I look up to older men.

KING: How do you explain the longevity of "60 Minutes."

ROONEY: It's a good show. Does that help?

KING: Other good shows don't go 25 years.

ROONEY: Well, it's very well done. Don Hewitt has been...

KING: Good as they get.

ROONEY: ... He is as good as they get. I mean, I have had a lot of knock-down, drag-out battles with Don Hewitt but he is -- I don't like to use the word lightly, but he is a genius. He is a programming genius.

KING: How would...

ROONEY: He puts pieces on "60 minutes." I look at them in the paper and I say, I don't want to see that. I turn the thing on, and invariably, I mean, the shows this year have just been absolutely first rate. It's just so sad, like the World Series is on and "60 Minutes" ends up -- it was fourth this week, but 24th or something. Great show, it's like throwing it away.

KING: And about one of the loves of your life, the New York football Giants. They were in first place in the Eastern Division with no apparent offense.

ROONEY: Don't say that, Larry.

KING: How could they be ahead of the Redskins? ROONEY: They are a better team. They are obviously going to the Super Bowl. I have thought every year for the last 40 years and I'm not going to change position.

KING: Sometimes they have made it.

ROONEY: Twice I was right. Well, you know, it's so much fun to be a fan of anything because it doesn't make a damn bit of difference. If the Giants win or lose, it does not effect my life this much.

KING: Isn't it unimportantly important?

ROONEY: I suppose.

KING: Don't you feel better?

ROONEY: My spirit is better coming home from the game if we win than if we lose, but it doesn't have any effect on my life when you consider all the important and genuinely happy and sad things in your life.

KING: So, what is this magic of sports?

ROONEY: Well, we are looking to associate ourselves with something outside of ourselves, either better in some respects. It's transference. We are transferring a lot of things.

KING: So, New York is an extension of us. If you are a New Yorker, the Giants are your extension?

ROONEY: Yes. It's a mystery why people like being fans. I mean, people love saying, I'm a big fan of yours, the Giants or Larry King. I don't know why.

KING: Short for fanatic, which is not an adjective, well, it's an adjective, but it's not common.

As always, Andy. Andy Rooney, you'll see him Sunday night on "60 Minutes." Bestselling author and newspaper columnist and "My War" has just been republished with a new forward by Tom Brokaw.

Ross Perot, Andy won't be watching, but many of you might. Ross Perot will be here tomorrow night to finally get into the 2000 race.

Stay tuned for "THE SPIN ROOM." I'm Larry King in New York with Andy Rooney. Good night.



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