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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Analysis of First Day of Democratic National Convention
Aired July 27, 2004 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: What a switch. Aaron Brown throws it to me. Thank you, Aaron. I feel affable.
Crowds have departed. They are on to other places. A lot of parties going on tonight. The Democratic national convention day one is over, a rousing night, and we are on the scene, on the floor. This is very unusual for a network to broadcast from the floor. A lot of people around us. Steamy and crowded earlier, a little vacant now.
We got an outstanding panel. They are the noted actor Ben Affleck. Ben is the actor and political activist, grew up around Boston. He will be co-hosting Creative Coalition's gala, "Seconding the 1st: A Celebration of the 1st Amendment." Reverend Al Sharpton, an unsuccessful candidate for the presidential nomination, founder and president of the National Action Network. He will address the convention on Wednesday night. Tucker Carlson is the co-host of CNN's "CROSSFIRE," CNN political analyst, and the host of PBS's "Tucker Carlson Unfiltered." And Bill Schneider, CNN senior political analyst. And our man on the floor, Mo Rocca, a man not wound up too tight. Hillary Clinton, by the way, was wearing a red dress tonight, saw Mo, changed. Mo Rocca is our roving reporter. He's a "Today" show contributor and the host of Bravo's "Things I Hate About you."
What'd you think of tonight, Ben, overall?
BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: Well, I was really excited by it and pleased. I thought that President Clinton gave a stirring speech. And one of the things that I was really pleased by was the lack of acrimony, a kind of call to a more united country, for people to work together. And I thought he struck a very positive note, and I thought he very well articulated the Kerry-Edwards platform, and the campaign has become more about who Kerry and Edwards are and less about defeating Bush. I think that's increasingly going to be important.
KING: Was it a great speech, Bill?
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Clinton's speech was a terrific speech because he managed to do something unbelievable. What he did was stick the knife in the Bush administration, talk about how they made all these choices that have left America worse off, in his opinion, but at the same time, he did it without being mean or harsh or divisive. He did it in the spirit of saying, We're going to offer you unity. How do you bring that off? Tough to do, but Bill Clinton did it.
KING: Tucker, I imagine you may have a differing opinion. TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST, "CROSSFIRE": Oh, I don't know. I liked part of the speech. I thought it was charming when he said, you know, a lot of people had the choice not to go to Vietnam, including me, and I didn't, but Kerry did. And I thought that was effective. I thought his touting of Kerry really worked. He's a great speaker. And the second half of the speech I thought was great, by any measure.
However, I thought the first part was pretty partisan, maybe too partisan for a former president. I mean, you know, the country's divided exactly in half, so when you attack Republicans, you're attacking half the country. And to call them wackos, as he essentially did, it's a bit much for a guy...
KING: He didn't way wacko, but shouldn't conventions attack...
CARLSON: He -- no, what he said was, They need to divide America, and that's -- I don't know. That's pretty stout criticism. I don't think it's entirely fair. And coming from the former president, I think it's a bit heavy.
REV. AL SHARPTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it was a great night. If there was a textbook night on starting a convention, this would be the night. I think Clinton's speech was amazing. The refrain of "Send me" -- he almost sounded like a preacher. I think he handled it very well. And I think when he said that they -- we can have a balance in how we approach the world, I think that he really hit home tonight. I thought Senator Clinton's speech was good. I thought Gore was great. I thought Carter was great. It was a great night for the Democrats.
KING: Mo, you roamed the floor. What's -- what reaction did you get in your wanderings?
MO ROCCA, DNC ROVING REPORTER, "TODAY" SHOW CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Larry, we're starting on a shot of my shoes here because I just wanted to give you an indication of how the delegates behaved tonight. It was a rowdy night, but they were actually very well behaved. My shoes weren't scuffed at all. Had they been scuffed, you would have seen a floor fight that everyone really seems to want to see here.
I'm standing by the Arkansas delegation, which was really very excited when Clinton spoke. My opinion on Bill Clinton's speech is it was very good, and part of why he's so compelling is his personal story. And I think the big question is going to be, Can Kerry match that? I mean, I still believe in a place called Beacon Hill just doesn't...
ROCCA: ... in the same way. I'm not sure. Over there, of course, is the New York delegation. They sat right over there, and big fans, of course, of Senator Clinton. Earlier, I said in the 9:00 o'clock hour that people would be watching some conspiracy theorists, perhaps, to see if Hillary Clinton gave any sort of suggestion that she wanted Kerry to lose so that she could run in 2008. And they deleted any sort of passage from the first draft that might have suggested that. But I've worked with prisoners of war before, and if you saw the way she was blinking, the pattern, she was sending out the signal, Please don't vote for Kerry. Please don't vote for Kerry.
ROCCA: I must be president in 2008. But I've talked to people who are (UNINTELLIGIBLE)
KING: I understand. Rest. Rest, Mo.
KING: Ben, did you get the impression that Clinton being so good, if he was that good, puts more pressure on Kerry Thursday?
AFFLECK: Well, I think there's a lot of pressure on Kerry Thursday one way or the other.
KING: No matter what.
AFFLECK: When you accept the nomination. Clinton is probably, in my humble opinion -- and I'm honored and humbled to be among so many distinguished guests, and I like to say that...
KING: We're honored to have you, Ben.
AFFLECK: Thank you. Thank you -- that ultimately, he is maybe one of the -- you know, the greatest political orator and politician of 20th century. He was extremely effective at communicating and empathizing with people. And I actually disagree with Mo. I think that, you know, Clinton succeeded despite his personal story. He was a governor from some small state. He hadn't done anything particularly exceptional. He had to combat that. Whereas Senator Kerry has an incredible wealth of a personal story, talk about serving in the war, coming back and talking -- testifying before the Senate, asking, How can you ask an American to be the last man to die in Vietnam, being a prosecutor, having a record of service in the Senate in Massachusetts that's extraordinary. And I think -- I happen to know and be fortunate enough to know Senator Kerry. I know him as an extremely warm, approachable, kind, principled, decent man...
KING: He's got to show that Thursday, right?
AFFLECK: I think it's important that it comes across. I think it will.
KING: You agree, Tucker, Thursday's very important to him?
CARLSON: I don't think it's -- actually, I don't think it's that important. He is an eloquent guy, sometimes maybe too eloquent for his own good. But he'd really have to drool or have a panic attack on stage or do something really over the top to screw it up. I mean, the party, whatever you say about the Democratic Party, is behind him. Here's the measure: 95 percent of the delegates here are opposed to the war. John Kerry is not opposed to it. He voted for it, and he's with staying the course, as Bush is. And yet there's been no complaint about that. There's no protest about the war here. I think that's a measure of how unified the party is. They want to beat Bush. That's my reading of it. And I think he would -- he would have to do something really over the top to alienate any Democrat.
SCHNEIDER: The line of the evening, "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values." That was a great line because when Clinton used that line against Bush, everyone in this room knew what he was talking about. Bush is widely admired because he's strong. That's the theme of this convention. But then Clinton said, "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values." Bush is seen as strong, but the criticism is he's not a very wise man. And that's what he was saying about Kerry. He's strong and he's wise.
KING: You going to stump for this ticket, Al?
SHARPTON: Oh, absolutely. I've already gone on the road with Senator Kerry. I think what we saw tonight -- you must remember Mr. Kerry doesn't speak until Thursday. You're going to see a lot between now and Thursday. I think it was good for Bill Clinton to set the tone, to capture the audience. And I agree with Bill, the "strength and wisdom" statement really puts the Bush people on the defensive early. You're going to hear Ronald Reagan, Jr., tomorrow night. You're going to hear Teresa Heinz Kerry. You're going to hear a lot before we get to Kerry. And for him to come and sort of be, like, I'm the one that can pull all of this together, all of these great parts of the orchestra, I can make music, I think it makes him look even better than if he had just come and just starred on his own.
KING: Mo, are you surprised at how unified the Democrats are?
ROCCA: They certainly seem very, very unified, and I think the roster of speakers tonight really helped that. I wanted to say two things. The first is that in the earlier hour, Joe Klein said that Bill Clinton's political career is over, that he -- the type of candidate who seems to have a promising start, but his career's actually over. That's not necessarily true. Past presidents have served in post-presidential positions. John Quincy Adams was a member of the House of Representatives, and Andrew Johnson was a senator. I just wanted to give you all that, in case you're taking notes at home.
KING: He gives us history, Tucker.
CARLSON: Yes. Absolutely.
ROCCA: And let me also say about -- I'm standing here by Georgia right here, which is, of course, where Jimmy Carter is from. And it was -- it was wonderful. It was a very sentimental evening here. Jimmy Carter I think deserved the limelight. He deserved to be taken out of exile. I mean, this is a man who's building homes for the poor and observing elections for a living. And I mean, what could be more boring than watching people vote, I mean, in all these different countries? I mean, the guy deserves primetime.
We did see a shot of Walter Mondale at one point, but then he was quickly taken away by armed guards and put back in the cage with Michael Dukakis.
CARLSON: Well, where is Michael Dukakis?
KING: He was in -- he's in Boston...
ROCCA: ... with my crazy uncle in a cage.
CARLSON: He lives here. He, of course, was the governor to John Kerry...
KING: Well, he teaches at Southern Cal now, so he's...
CARLSON: Well, I know, but I mean, couldn't he make time? I wanted to see him...
CARLSON: No, I did! I totally did.
SHARPTON: I mean, are we going to see all of the guys that ran in the Republican primaries, the Republican candidates...
CARLSON: Wait a second!
CARLSON: Are you likening -- are you likening Mike Dukakis...
SHARPTON: Are we going to...
CARLSON: ... a mainstream figure, to Pat Robertson?
SHARPTON: Are we going to see Al D'Amato keynote in New York?
CARLSON: I think that would be a -- we are going to see all sorts of...
SHARPTON: Are we going to see Al D'Amato? It's his home town!
CARLSON: I personally -- I personally would like that, but I'm just saying -- here's my question...
SHARPTON: We're not talking about personally. I mean...
CARLSON: Here's my question to you, Reverend...
KING: Hold it! Let me get a break. Let me get a break, and we'll be back with more of "CROSSFIRE" on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after this. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: During the Vietnam war, many young men, including the current president, the vice president and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided going, too. But instead, he said, Send me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE.
What'd you make of that moment?
SCHNEIDER: Well, that was a great moment, I mean, when he came out with his wife. But you know what I loved about Bill Clinton's speech? How he used the personal twist very effectively. He said, They chose -- the Bush administration chose to protect my tax cut, and look at what -- you paid for it. He said, Bush and Cheney chose not to serve in Vietnam, and I chose the same thing, but not John Kerry. It was a very shrewd...
KING: Tucker, are you laughing at that?
CARLSON: Well, I -- I'm just laughing because, you know, it is always about -- about Clinton, in the end. I mean, I was sort of amused by...
CARLSON: No, it is! I think even his friends say this because it's true. And you know, the first part of the speech was a sort of endless recitation of all the micro-programs he supported, getting down to even the Kyoto treaty, which he actually didn't endorse, in the end, and then he attacks Bush for not endorsing it. I don't know. You know, he's effective when he talks about other people, but it took a while for him to do that.
SHARPTON: I thought it was a very -- it was a brilliant speech. He personalized it. He made us all feel like he was just a guy like us that just happened to be rich now, and he was very comforted that the president finally is taking care of it. I mean, I think that it was... KING: That was a smart move.
SHARPTON: ... an excellent speech. Everybody watching could relate to it, and I thought it was very good.
CARLSON: Well, I couldn't relate that much.
KING: You couldn't? You got a tax cut.
CARLSON: I did get a tax cut!
KING: Ben, you got a tax cut.
AFFLECK: I got a huge tax cut. I have the president to thank for that, just like President Clinton does. But I think one of the really...
SHARPTON: I just got cut.
AFFLECK: I thought, really, the admirable thing about the speech was -- I admire the fact that he said you have two strong men who both love their country. He's willing to credit President Bush with being a decent man. I think he phrased it about choices, which is moving away from this acrimonious, personal, ad hominem attack politics and making it about, you know, different directions, and I think focusing the debate more on policy, which I think is important. I also like that he used the sort of, And Brutus is an honorable man, Shakespearian technique of saying, If you like that, vote for them. I thought it was brilliant oratory.
CARLSON: Yes, if you're evil, you'll definitely want to sign up with the other team.
KING: Mo Rocca, did you get a tax cut?
ROCCA: Larry, yes, I'm hearing a lot of different voices in my head, but I'm just going to go ahead and talk right now.
KING: I asked you if you got a tax cut.
ROCCA: Oh, am I getting a tax cut?
ROCCA: Oh, I -- you know, I generally do everything pro bono. I like to give back. I like to pay it forward. So I guess maybe the government should give me some sort of grant.
ROCCA: I want to just say, because we have Ben Affleck here with us, tonight we really began to see sort of the emergence of the stars that are generally associated with the Democratic Party. We saw stars from ABC's "Spin City" and from NBC's "West Wing." And of course, you have Ben right there. The Republicans are not without stars, though. Of course, they have their one important -- their trump card, if you will. They have Shirley Temple Black, who is a Republican, and she kept 20th Century Fox alive during the Great Depression. It's true. Larry, you remember, she and Bill Bojangles Robinson, who I guess we could assume is a Democrat -- I mean, I don't know, but I'm guessing with, you know, the whole demographic thing, he probably is.
KING: Oh, yes. Good thinking.
ROCCA: Yes. I'm also right here by Massachusetts, and I have a little bit of a bone to pick, you know, having spent the last few days here in Boston. They keep talking about how Massachusetts is the birthplace of freedom, the birthplace of freedom. Well, if Massachusetts did give birth to freedom, then who's the father? And you know what? I'll tell you who the father is. It's Virginia, which is -- has more presidents from that state than any other, eight presidents. So tomorrow, I'm going to spend some time with the Virginians, and we're going to work this out because I think the Old Dominion state has had it with the Bay State.
KING: You know who he spent time with today? We'll talk about it later. Samoa.
ROCCA: That's right, American Samoa.
KING: He spent the day with American Samoa. You want...
ROCCA: Larry -- Larry, leave that for the tease.
ROCCA: It'll make them come back after the commercial break.
KING: You wanted to ask something, Bill.
SCHNEIDER: I wanted to ask Ben a question. And this has always puzzled me. Hollywood stars are overwhelmingly Democrats. Why is it that almost every one of them who's run for political office has been a Republican? Sonny Bono, Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood...
AFFLECK: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
SCHNEIDER: ... Shirley Temple, I mean, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
SCHNEIDER: All the stars who run...
KING: Why don't Democratic...
SCHNEIDER: ... are actually Republicans.
KING: ... guys run? Gregory Peck almost ran.
ROCCA: ... Helen Gahagan Douglas ran and lost.
AFFLECK: I think Ralph Waite (ph) ran for Congress out in Indio (ph), the Papa Walton. He ran. You know, it's -- I can't really explain that, except to tell you that, you know, the perception is of Hollywood is it's overwhelmingly Democrat. In fact, if you go out there, you see the Republicans raised just as much money. They have just as many people out there. And Hollywood is comprised of people who came from all over the country, and it's basically divided in the same demographic as the rest of the country is. Why the Republicans seem to win when their stars run is just as much a mystery to me as...
SHARPTON: I have an idea. It's because most of the Republican entertainers are not good, so they have to go on to other careers.
SHARPTON: Our Democratic actors...
CARLSON: Wait a second. Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas. Democrat? No.
KING: No, he's a Republican.
CARLSON: But I mean -- no. Right. But the slur on conservative entertainers doesn't hold in Wayne Newton's case.
SHARPTON: There's a different between...
CARLSON: That's a great...
SHARPTON: ... a critique and a slur.
AFFLECK: You got Bo Derek and the Rock. I mean, it's all Hollywood at the Republican convention. You wait and see.
KING: Pat Sajack.
(CROSSTALK) KING: Pat Sajack is a big...
CARLSON: Rick Schroeder. Rick Schroeder is.
KING: Rick Schroeder.
We'll take a break, and when we come back, we want to get Bill Schneider to tell us who's ahead and the like because Congressman Pat Kennedy's going to replace Bill at the bottom of the hour so Bill can get some sleep in order to be on "AMERICAN MORNING."
We'll be right back.
KING: ... the second edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll have two every night, right through Thursday night. And we are the last thing on of any network anywhere. We're the only thing broadcasting from this hall right now, midnight to 1:00 Eastern time. So we are -- we have it all.
SCHNEIDER: We're it.
AFFLECK: Actually, Fox News is doing a "John Kerry worships the devil" thing outside.
AFFLECK: But other than that...
KING: Bill, how's -- I know you got -- you're going to leave us soon, for Pat Kennedy coming in. Tell us how this campaign -- how the election looks right now.
SCHNEIDER: Things are looking good for Kerry right now. Everything could change, of course, but you know, I looked at polls in all the battleground states, and here's what I found. Of all the close states that voted for Gore, I can't find one that's now inclined to vote for Bush. But I can find six states that voted for Bush that now seem inclined to at least be close or vote for Kerry -- Florida, West Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Arizona, New Hampshire. They're all tilting now to Kerry. That's important. And I can't find a single state where Bush's rating in the poll now is higher than the vote he got in 2000.
KING: Tucker, is that Iraq?
CARLSON: I think it's all Iraq. I mean, if you think about the early criticism, and even the criticism you hear now of Bush, that he took us to war -- and Gore made this explicit on a couple of occasions -- took us to war to win the mid-term elections, for political reasons -- what an insane critique! If Bush hadn't taken us to war in Iraq, do you really think there would be a question of his reelection? Of course not. He would be reelected. It was a massive gamble. Right or wrong, it was a bold thing to do politically. I think he may lose because of it, but it -- anybody has to admit it's not fair to say... KING: So all...
KING: Then this election, to you, is about Iraq.
CARLSON: Of course it is! And it's -- that's why it's so striking that -- you would never know, listening to tonight, that there are over 100,00 troops in Iraq and the situation is chaotic.
AFFLECK: I disagree a little bit. I think this election's also about the economy. We've lost three million jobs since he was elected. I think the tax cut, giving $380-plus billion to the wealthiest Americans, really doesn't play. I think that's a big part of it. And if you can't get a job and you can't afford health care and gas prices are going up, I think that informs your choice, as well. I agree that I think it's outrageous to suggest that he did it purely for political gain. I don't -- I just don't think that's true. But I think it is going to be about things other than Iraq, as well.
SHARPTON: I think the jobs and the economy's important. I think health care's important. But I think when you say it's about Iraq, you're not just talking about the war, but you're talking about people feeling that they were misled. When people no longer can trust their president, even if he says, I was given wrong information, it breaks the trust. I think that, more than anything, will lead to his defeat.
KING: And the question was, and you think that's the difference in those six states?
SHARPTON: I think that's the difference in those states. People are no longer comfortable that what he says is actually what is. And I think that that will undermine his presidency, particularly in the swing states Bill is talking about.
AFFLECK: Not having found weapons of mass destruction I think is really, really damaging. I think that's a big thing because we believed -- we said, OK, a mushroom cloud, and this is what we're going to avoid. We're not comfortable with being the first country to attack, but we're going to support you in this, and you're on the hook for the WMDs. And when those didn't show up, I think that generated a lot of doubt.
SHARPTON: That's correct.
KING: Can there be an October surprise, Tucker? Can they find bin Laden and...
CARLSON: It's not clear to me that would have a massive effect on the election. I do think, though, you got to expect that there's going to be news of some kind, big news, particularly...
KING: Bad or good?
CARLSON: I don't -- you know, one hopes against bad...
KING: And how do you know?
CARLSON: ... and prays against bad, but...
KING: Oh, here's a question everyone's asking. If there's a terror attack, God forbid, does it help or hurt any candidate?
CARLSON: Oh! It's such an appalling thought experiment. I can't even -- think of it this way. Do you really believe that America and the world will look the same on November 2 as it does today? I think the odds are against it. I mean, there's -- you know, there's so much that could happen.
KING: I ask because of Spain.
AFFLECK: But I think it's irresponsible to even -- to conjure that up too much because I think it -- it allows people to start to -- they get this idea -- I don't think it would be different at all. I think this country is resilient and strong, and if this entire -- you know, if we lost a huge number of additional people, I think you would see the same kind of unity and resolve. We'd go forward with the democratic process, and it would become even more important to...
KING: Do you poll on that?
SCHNEIDER: Yes, we do. And I can tell you that if Americans become angry or fearful or want revenge, they're going to vote for Bush. But after a couple of weeks, after a couple of weeks -- and that's why the timing of any attack is important -- there would be questions raised. Why weren't we better prepared? And did the Iraq war actually make us safer or did it make us more vulnerable? Those questions would come up.
KING: Tucker, was it a mistake for Bush to oppose the 9/11 commission?
CARLSON: It was absolutely a mistake. It was politically...
KING: Why do you -- what was his thinking, do you think?
CARLSON: ... a mistake. It's not clear to me what it was. The whole impulse, that was bipartisan at the time after 9/11, that we shouldn't cast blame, we shouldn't point fingers I disagreed with from the beginning. Of course we should. We had this most traumatic event in American history. Let's find out who failed.
KING: Why? Yes.
CARLSON: Right? We failed. Let's find out who specifically -- I want their names.
SHARPTON: ... continuing, Larry, the distrust, is, one, you mislead us, people feel. Second, you don't want us to find out why. I mean, one of Bush's strengths was he was a guy you could sit down and drink a beer with. But when I start thinking the guy I'm drinking the beer with is lying to me, I don't want the beer or the guy.
SCHNEIDER: And that's why Jimmy Carter's speech was effective. Jimmy Carter has the image of someone of great moral rectitude. He talked about the loss of American trust and truth in the world.
SCHNEIDER: That was a very important critique.
CARLSON: Really? Really? I thought the idea that we were told tonight that Jimmy Carter was this great, successful, popular president -- how young would you have to be to believe that?
SCHNEIDER: No, no. I'm just saying he has one quality people admire...
SHARPTON: Well, we can debate that, but he made a great speech.
KING: He's the best former president.
CARLSON: Clinton disliked him...
SHARPTON: He's a Nobel...
CARLSON: Clinton disliked him for a reason. Bill Clinton disliked him for a reason. That is, he's sanctimonious and a meddler. I'm sorry. It's just true.
SHARPTON: But you're talking trivia. Tonight he talked about leadership. He talked about trust.
KING: All right, let me get a word...
SHARPTON: He's a Nobel Prize winner.
ROCCA: Mo Rocca, what does...
KING: Where are you now? Wait. Mo's got something hot.
ROCCA: Well, I've got some Jimmy Carter trivia for you. He used to oversee the White House tennis court sign-out sheet, which...
ROCCA: Attentive to detail. I know. But he also used to wear these cardigan sweaters, I guess, and turned down the heat. And to -- with the climate control that was in here tonight, he would have melted. The guy would have... (LAUGHTER)
ROCCA: I also wonder why he looked so miserable with Michael Moore, the three of them. That was an interesting shot. I do want to say here, though, because this talk of terrorism is a real downer, and it seems sort of silly to speculate on it. So let's brighten things up, guys. This stage, which is -- it's such a wonderful stage and saw such spectacle tonight, is going to see even more spectacle over the next few nights. The big event I'm looking forward to and everyone here is looking forward to, I think, is when the nine Democratic female senators come out, and that should be a show worthy of Vegas.
KING: They were on tonight.
AFFLECK: They did. They did already.
ROCCA: And it was a show worthy of Vegas!
ROCCA: Let me tell you, I was working so hard, I didn't -- I missed that. But let me tell you something. Dianne Feinstein puts the fine in Feinstein!
ROCCA: I mean, she really knocked 'em dead.
ROCCA: And when we come back, I'll have more for you on American Samoa.
KING: OK. I know you spent the day with them.
KING: Bill, we'll be seeing you tomorrow night.
SCHNEIDER: Yes. OK.
KING: Thank you. Bill Schneider. When Bill -- Bill will be replaced by Congressman Patrick Kennedy, the Democrat of Rhode Island, the younger son of Senator Edward Kennedy. The rest of the panel remains on this second edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Since we're all in the same boat, we should choose a captain of our ship who is a brave, good man, who knows how to steer a vessel through troubled waters to the calm seas and the clear skies of our more perfect union. That is our mission. So let us join tonight and say to America in a loud, clear voice, Send John Kerry! God bless you!
(APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) * KING: Day one is history, no events of any kind outside the arena to report, no major demonstrations, went well for the Democrats, ended right on time at 11:00. The Democrats were on time tonight.
We continue our panel with the Reverend Al Sharpton, with Tucker Carlson. Bill Schneider has left us. Mo Rocca remains. Ben Affleck is with us. And we are now joined by Congressman Patrick Kennedy, the Democrat of Rhode Island. He's the youngest child of Senator Edward Kennedy. His father addresses the convention tomorrow.
What did you make of tonight, Patrick?
REP. PATRICK KENNEDY (D), RHODE ISLAND: Well, as was already said, I don't think there's a better, more eloquent speaker than President Bill Clinton and the reason he was so successful in communicating all those years and really putting the Republicans in a tether was because he was able to communicate issues better than anyone else could.
And now we saw tonight where he framed the debate for the coming campaign and, more than that, he helped illustrate why John Kerry is going to be the next president of the United States.
KING: Did he put pressure on Kerry? We asked this of the others that Kerry has to really kind of be super Thursday.
KENNEDY: Well, no one...
KING: He's not going to be Clinton.
KENNEDY: Yes. No one can be Clinton but John Kerry is eloquent in his example and who he is and what he's done and I think that comes through to people. He's a serious person.
As Bill Clinton said tonight, he's a thinker and if ever we need someone who is going to consider things, think things over at a more dangerous time in world history, we need someone who will not jump the gun, not react too quickly, not think about things and make the decision in a heartbeat. We need someone who is going to take their time and deliberate and I think that's something that John Kerry can bring to this country.
KING: What's it like for a Kennedy at a Democratic convention in a city like Boston?
KENNEDY: Well, it's a great source of pride I know for my family but I think for all of New England to have it here in Boston. We're all so proud of the heritage of all of the immigrants that have made New England what it is and I think that's been showcased throughout the convention.
KING: Tucker, was this a wise choice, Boston? Never had a political convention here.
CARLSON: Yes, I think it was. The food is excellent. I mean you have all sorts of seafood and just basic New England cooking. I look at it through the lens of, you know, the press on expense account and for that reason it's excellent. It's a very difficult city to navigate.
KING: You're not kidding.
CARLSON: It's really hard to find your way.
KING: It's old. The city is old.
AFFLECK: Those are old horse paths they got made into (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: Yes, like they're little streets.
CARLSON: Puddles and then the rest of us are paying for this enormous, a kind of ludicrous and weird (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Goldberg (ph) type highway system here in the center of town.
KING: Yes, what is that?
AFFLECK: It's called the Big Dig and...
KING: There's a highway above us right next to this arena that's gone.
AFFLECK: That's coming down. It's beautification and it makes a city more productive and while Tucker just talks about what gets spent, he doesn't talk about what's saved in productivity, creating jobs.
CARLSON: That's what we're paying for, I mean come on.
AFFLECK: Don't worry, Tucker, Bush gave you all your money back so you're in good shape.
CARLSON: Still not worth it.
KING: Do you think it was a wise choice, Al?
SHARPTON: You know, I first had wanted to see us go to Florida, sort of like return to the scene of the crime.
KING: That wouldn't have been a bad idea.
SHARPTON: But with a lot of the undermining of American freedoms I think it's appropriate we came to Boston. Maybe we need to remind the nation what it was founded upon in the first place. So, I agree with Boston and I think it's a very lovely city.
KING: New York a plus to the Republicans? Because at the time it seemed like a great idea with 9/11.
AFFLECK: Yes. I think it serves to remind people of 9/11, obviously, and somehow they have both a Republican governor and mayor in New York City, so they had to take advantage of this unique moment.
But I think when you conjure up those images in people's minds, it also conjures up questions as in why haven't we found bin Laden? Why have we devoted so much time and energy to Iraq when the al Qaeda was clearly based in Afghanistan? It also reminds you of why we went there, what we were promised and what's been delivered. So, I think it could be a double edge sword and it's a heavily Democratic city, so I think it was a bold choice and we'll just have to see what happens.
KING: Patrick, New York.
KENNEDY: I think that it is a little cynical to be doing it in New York with the idea that you're going to once again try to let the tail wag the dog and get this 9/11 thing and use it and exploit it for political purposes.
KING: As a -- Tucker, as someone generally supportive of Republican candidates, wouldn't -- with Illinois such a swing state, wouldn't Chicago have been a better choice politically?
CARLSON: Maybe. I think it would make better sense to have it in a Sun Belt state. I mean that is the -- the future of the country is the Sun Belt, of course. I mean just sunny, pretty places.
KING: So, like Phoenix?
CARLSON: That's exactly right. Tampa I think would be a good place to have it. I mean it's, you know, it's fitting that the Democrats just generally liberal parties having their convention in a generally liberal city.
It seems odd to me for a generally conservative party to have their convention in a generally liberal city. I mean, you know, why not go -- I can think of a lot of -- I mean honestly, Naples, Florida, marvelous spot for a convention.
KING: Oh, yes.
CARLSON: They could have done it there. I like Naples.
AFFLECK: You just wanted to go to the beach.
CARLSON: Amen, that's exactly right.
KING: Now, Mo Rocca, why did you choose -- Patrick, Mo Rocca chose to spend the day with the delegation from American Samoa, why?
ROCCA: Well, Larry, actually the geography is relevant right here. I'm standing in a very tense spot. This is the 38th parallel, if you will, of this convention center. I'm between Guam and American Samoa and, as you know, they're bitter rivals that have fought 16 bloody wars in the last 12 years. KING: What are you talking about?
ROCCA: That's absolutely true. They erased it from the textbooks and it's horrible what the public education system, the NEA, has done here. I think American Samoa is very interesting. They are one of the four territories that are represented here.
They are the only one of the four territories that volunteered to become part of the United States. They weren't overtaken by the United States in a war, weren't acquired that way and the delegates from there told me on our duck boat trip, because I figured they traveled three days to get here maybe they could use a boat trip and then I realized, well, that probably wasn't that special to them.
But they told me that they have an interesting perspective because they feel like outsiders but they're also insiders. They're U.S. nationals. They're not U.S. citizens. I can explain it to you later. It's a whole INS thing that we can get into later online. And so, they really sympathize with the allies that they feel have been let down by our unilateralism.
So, it was a fun day and they taught me a lot. Talopa (ph) is hello in Samoan.
KING: What is a duck boat?
ROCCA: A duck boat is an amphibious assault vehicle. I think they were used in D-Day or, at least, the Disneyland version of D-Day. They're like these things that go around the cobblestone streets of Boston.
AFFLECK: They're very nice.
ROCCA: They jangle your nerves. They give you minor concussions with each (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
KING: Wait a minute. You've been on a duck boat, Ben?
AFFLECK: Yes. I grew up here. This is a lovely city. Everybody's trying to move the convention somewhere else. This is a fantastic city. Come on, man.
ROCCA: Ben, Ben, Ben, the duck boats they used in "Daredevil" are much nicer than the duck boats the rest of us have to use.
AFFLECK: It's true that you got a back duck boat. I'm sorry. They have duck boats in New York too now I think. I've seen them out there. But, yes, I think it's a great opportunity for the city to be showcased on a national stage.
I grew up here. Sometimes Boston had a bad rap in some ways. We had a bussing crisis in the '70s. We've had a lot -- we've had some problems but it's a great city and I do think it's representative and emblematic of what makes this country great. It's diverse. There are working people here and it's a fabulous place and we have duck boats. ROCCA: And there are a lot of people with (UNINTELLIGIBLE) muskets on the street and buckskin pants, which are really wonderful. A lot of people do open hearth cooking, which is a very old style way of cooking.
AFFLECK: We want to protect ourselves in case the British come back so we keep our muskets.
KING: Tucker, are the Republicans in trouble just because the incumbent president doesn't have a 50 percent rating?
CARLSON: You mean will it hurt congressional candidates and things like that?
KING: Yes. Yes, that's what I mean.
KING: There will be no...
CARLSON: I can't help. I mean, you know, typically of course in an election year, you know, the candidate who wins brings some people from his party with him. Again, I think it's all about Iraq.
Look, 50 years from now, we're not going to -- historians will not make note of many of the arguments we're having right now. Iraq will be an entire chapter. The rest will be footnotes.
And for that not to be the central issue of this convention and every political conversation we're having now it seems to me negligent, regardless of who it helps or hurts. It's just the biggest deal. We ought to argue it.
KING: Patrick, do you agree?
KENNEDY: Well, I -- you know you go around in my district and people are worried about how the Republican budget has eviscerated Head Start, how there are no after school programs for these kids because they eliminated funding for 21st Century schools, how they cut the money for not only Leave No Child Behind, which the president promised that he was going to fully fund.
And now he's left out over $27 billion less funding than he promised my father that he was going to put in it. But he leaves unaddressed the issue of health care and the fact that 43 million Americans do not have health care insurance.
So, I think the Republicans want us to talk all about Iraq, Iraq, Iraq because then that way it takes us away from them having to explain themselves on a budget that is horrendous.
CARLSON: Oh, please. Oh, come on. Look, I mean I'm telling you oh come on because you, I mean you can't...
KENNEDY: Because you want to go and meet some of the people in the after school programs in my district and explain yourself to them? CARLSON: No. I'm not in any way trying to minimize the plight of people in your district or in any district. I'm merely saying that, again, 50 years from now with a little bit of distance and perspective, we will see that Iraq really matters. It's the issue that matters. And don't you think that you ought to be spending a little more of your time explaining what we ought to do next because I want to know?
SHARPTON: People that will vote in November are not going to be voting based on a 50-year from now analysis. I think that realistically the Congressman is correct. They're going to vote their pocketbook. They're going to vote the stability of their communities and, again, don't just keep saying Iraq.
It is the breaking of the trust around Iraq because the reason Republicans don't want to discuss that is then they can say well Kerry and Edwards voted for the war. No, they believed the misinformation of the president, as did most of America.
KING: But he believed the information he got.
SHARPTON: Well, but he was responsible for the information he got. We trusted him to get us the right information, so it doesn't matter whether he knew he had the right information or not, do you continue to trust someone's stewardship that led you into something that ended up being wrong?
AFFLECK: President Bush has not come out and said, "I'm responsible for this." He hasn't taken a leadership role to say, "Yes, the buck stops here. Yes, I'm the president. I told you that we were going into Iraq because they were developing and had weapons of mass destruction, which they intended to use. I'm sorry, America. I made an honest mistake. That's what I believed and I acted as such."
SHARPTON: And heads will roll for giving me wrong information. We haven't even seen that. Who has paid for the misinformation that he was given?
KING: Would that have worked, Tucker? Kennedy took full responsibility, John Kennedy, your uncle, for the Bay of Pigs.
CARLSON: Yes, it might have. I mean I think the war probably was a mistake. That's my view and I'm conservative and I guess it would be useful if the president would say that. I do think he ought to acknowledge the fact that WMD had not been found is a big deal.
However, that doesn't still answer the question. Sorry to sound like a broken record. What do we do next? It's a consistent thing, it seems to me, and an honorable thing to say if the war was a mistake let's pull our troops out now. Who wants to be the last man to die for the wrong reason, as John Kerry said? But nobody is saying that because they're afraid to.
AFFLECK: John Kerry is saying that he wants to incorporate NATO, that he wants to take the targets off the backs of our soldiers, that he wants to more fully fund and finance what they're doing so the soldiers aren't paying for their own body armor. He does want to reduce troop presence in Iraq but with an international community of others so that the world shares the burden of democratizing Iraq.
CARLSON: Bush is saying the exact same thing.
CARLSON: He is saying it. Listen to his speeches.
SHARPTON: It started with a unilateral view. Now we're talking about world involvement. Now we're talking about engaging the world. Bush was the one that sat down, had a meeting with Tony Blair and acted like that was a world conference.
AFFLECK: If Bush is saying that why hasn't he done it? Bush is president now and he's alienated our allies.
CARLSON: I'll tell because Western Europe doesn't actually have hundreds of thousands of extra troops. They don't actually have big standing armies and it's not so easy to do that.
AFFLECK: Well, there are a lot of U.N. peacekeepers and they do have armies in Western Europe they could send in there.
CARLSON: They're tiny little armies.
KING: We will get a break. We got a break. Yes, Mo.
ROCCA: You know something the Europeans spit on Lance Armstrong, OK.
KING: They did spit on him, right?
KENNEDY: I think that's really lousy.
AFFLECK: I don't think it was all of Europe (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
ROCCA: Well, I don't know.
KING: He don't know. We'll be back with more right after this. Don't go away.
KING: Guess what? We're going to include a phone call or two for our panel. We're at the Democratic convention. The caller is from Charlotte, North Carolina, hello.
CALLER: Good morning, gentlemen.
KING: Hi. CALLER: I wanted to know what you guys thought about what kind of role Mrs. Kerry and Mrs. Edwards will be in this campaign, how important do you think they will be?
KING: The women. Thank you -- Patrick.
KENNEDY: Well, I think it does -- it's about when people are voting for a candidate who that person is and I think they can tell a lot about who that person is by the person that they've chosen to be their lifetime partner, so I think it makes enormous difference to have...
KING: As Laura Bush is effective for the president.
KING: You agree that these women are all pretty effective?
CARLSON: Yes, I think they are. I have to say I think they're both really appealing.
SHARPTON: Very good. I love Teresa Heinz-Kerry. I know her well. We get along.
KING: What did you make of that line yesterday. Is that a one day story?
SHARPTON: I mean when you compare the vice president sitting on the Senate floor telling a Senator to go "F" himself, I mean you should have Teresa teaching Sunday school. I mean that's crazy.
CARLSON: I support both of those. I support Cheney and Teresa Heinz-Kerry.
KING: That's it.
CARLSON: It was nice to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
SHARPTON: You support what they said or you support them having the people do what they say?
CARLSON: No, I support what they say. It's nice to have people say what they think once in a while.
KING: Mo has a thought on it, yes Mo.
ROCCA: Larry, I think we should put this in perspective and take the long view here. Teresa Heinz-Kerry, if her husband is elected, will be a revolutionary figure. She will be this nation's first African American first lady, which is truly amazing. I mean she was born in Mozambique and is now an American citizen.
ROCCA: So, this is -- it changes the landscape of everything so I think she's an inspirational figure. KING: Do you feel close to her, Al, in that regard?
SHARPTON: Well, I mean I like her a lot. I know her African roots but I think she's a very, very candid woman, shows a lot of leadership. And Mrs. Edwards do. I think we couldn't have gotten two better candidates' wives.
KING: Next call, Boston, hello.
CALLER: Yes, good evening, Larry, how are you?
KING: Hi. Fine. What's your question?
CALLER: Welcome to Boston.
KING: Thank you.
CALLER: Yes. You're welcome. Ben, you're being so intelligent, articulate and charming. Would you ever consider running for public office, even president, and choosing Mo Rocca as your vice president?
AFFLECK: I think I wouldn't do it without Mo to start with.
KING: That would be a ticket.
AFFLECK: But it's a very nice thing to say, although it's always disappointing when people are so surprised. Boy, you sound like you are remotely coherent but it's nice. Thank you very much.
KING: Would you ever think of running for office?
AFFLECK: I've thought about it. I think about it and fantasize about it all the time but this is -- I'm already so involved in politics. Look at this. I have the honor of being among all these political experts and Congressmen. I mean all you people are so impressive. I'm just overwhelmed and proud and humbled to be sitting amongst you.
KENNEDY: I just want to keep him in Massachusetts because I don't him coming down to Rhode Island.
KING: You don't want him in Rhode Island.
KING: Would he be an effective candidate, Tucker, do you think?
CARLSON: Sure. He's a lot more effective than a lot of candidates I've covered.
KING: You know your stuff, Ben.
AFFLECK: Well, I appreciate it. I mean it's interesting whether or not, and many people have lamented this, but you know the line between politics and entertainment has become increasingly blurred. Never mind Ronald Reagan or Arnold Schwarzenegger but even, with all due respect, in televised news media as you folks compete for ratings.
You know the loudest political voices in this country basically come from entertainment if you look at, you know, from Rush Limbaugh started as a disc jockey or Bill O'Reilly was on "Inside Edition" or one of those things and Michael Moore, who's a filmmaker or Al Franken on "Saturday Night Live," or you know, most Americans got a lot of their information about the president's race last year from Jay Leno and David Letterman. I mean these things are having an increasing important voice.
KING: Jon Stewart.
AFFLECK: Jon Stewart is I think brilliant.
SHARPTON: I think Ben would be a great politician but we can talk about Mo off camera.
KING: We'll take a break and be back.
ROCCA: Is that an invitation?
KING: We'll take a break and be back with our remaining moments of the second edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We have two shows every night throughout this week. Don't go away.
KING: Movement started in small places and a movement is starting here tonight to get Ben Affleck to run. Sharpton has come out to run. Patrick has agreed, even Tucker Carlson, who would probably be opposed to a lot of his politics once in the arena.
CARLSON: No, I think -- no, no, I think there's room to refine your ideas.
AFFLECK: CNN. You guys are the candidate makers. I mean you got Pat Buchanan on the national stage.
SHARPTON: We want to Ben to run and we want Mo to replace Cheney and it will be a great night for the Democrats.
KING: All right. Tucker, you wanted Al to be the vice presidential nominee.
CARLSON: No, no the presidential nominee.
KING: Why didn't you want Jerry Falwell to run on the Republican ticket, another reverend of note?
CARLSON: I don't know. No, no, no, when Pat Buchanan ran I thought it was great for the Republican Party. I thought it was great for America. It's nice to have someone who actually believes in what he's running on and who can explain himself well and, if he has the added qualities of being charming and a brilliant extemporaneous speaker as the Reverend Sharpton does, amen.
KING: You're a fan of Al's?
CARLSON: I'm a huge fan but more than just...
SHARPTON: We don't agree (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CARLSON: More than just Al Sharpton, I like people who mean it and who can explain why they believe what they believe.
KING: Why are they rare?
CARLSON: Because, you know, politics makes people timid.
AFFLECK: Spin. You know people, advice people get you, be careful don't do this, don't do that. You triangulate. You move toward the middle and then everybody starts to sound alike.
KING: Let's get another call in. Midland, Texas, hello.
CALLER: Yes. How can Kerry overcome the perception by Independent voters that he is arrogant and an elitist?
KING: That's a good question.
KENNEDY: He can -- people want to have a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) a guy you want to drink beer with or they have a fellow that's a thinker that will discuss and get all the best advice from the world and may not be the life of the party.
But what do you want? Do you want in a time of war on terrorism do you want someone who is -- you want to have a beer with who's going to make a decision like that to send our troops into Iraq without an international coalition or do you want someone who's thoughtful, who's going to make a decision to work with the international community?
KING: But, Patrick, a lot of people want the guy to have a beer with.
AFFLECK: You know, Congressman, I agree with you that your priority is right. This isn't an Al Gore face but I think that Senator Kerry is actually in my experience an extremely warm, affable, smart, endearing guy and Gore was kind of just, you know, he would hit that lock box that he just got kind of tight about doing his own sort of thing. Whereas, I think you're going to see Kerry emerge. I think he's growing. He's becoming stronger as a speaker and I think he will communicate. I think we're fortunate that he also has these other attributes that you're talking about but I do think you'll see an emerging warmth and personality from him.
KING: Mo, you wish to add something?
ROCCA: Well, Larry, historically presidents have always had to give the common touch in order to, you know, get elected. William Howard Taft threw out the first pitch at a baseball game in 1910, right.
ROCCA: To Walter Johnson the pitcher, who I guess was pitching, who was he pitching for, the Senators, I can't remember.
KING: Correct, the Senators.
ROCCA: Yes, and do we really think that Bill Clinton really liked eating all of those Big Macs? OK, maybe he did but the point is it put him in touch with people.
Remember Joe Garagiola throwing a baseball with Jerry Ford, didn't get him elected, but the point is that this is something that's important for candidates to do.
KING: You know the Garagiola/Ford baseball throwing is probably only remembered by you.
ROCCA: Well, he had to do it because damage control after he, you know, made a fool of himself with the whole Poland's not a communist country thing.
KING: That's right, remember that? Do you remember that?
CARLSON: Yes, Poland -- no, he said that Poland was not under the control of the Soviet Union. Yes, turns out it was.
SHARPTON: But I mean when you look at Bush I think you're looking at a lot of spin with Bush. I mean Bush doesn't actually hang with people. Look at his policies. It certainly doesn't show he really understands the average person. I've been around John Kerry. I mean we debated over 30 times. He's a very warm personable guy. I think Americans will get to know that.
KING: Now how do you get...
SHARPTON: And John Edwards you can't compare his warmth to Cheney. I mean come on.
CARLSON: Don't you think the whole conversation is kind of silly? I mean in the end, you know, it's great if a guy empathizes. It's great if he's an ordinary guy and eats, you know, ordinary food, whatever that is. In the end, do you really care? Don't you want the guy who's got like the right ideas for your country sort of?
SHARPTON: Sure but you want a guy you're comfortable with too.
CARLSON: Then why all the talk about John Edwards. I like John Edwards. He's a fine guy and everything. Who cares what his father did? Why do we talk about that stuff?
ROCCA: What is a mill worker by the way?
CARLSON: Exactly, good question.
SHARPTON: It's a man that works in a mill.
ROCCA: I don't know what it is. Let me tell you something. Here's the plan for -- Larry, here's the plan for John Kerry. Use Teresa's money to buy Wal-Mart out and Wal-Mart is, you know, is a real touchstone for Americans and he'll be associated with something everyone can relate to.
AFFLECK: People like to relate to ketchup already.
KING: So, he can say I own Wal-Mart.
ROCCA: I'm more of a catsup guy, actually, than a ketchup person.
KING: You got any opponent, Patrick?
KENNEDY: Two, one in the primary, one in the general.
KING: You in a safe seat for you?
KENNEDY: My predecessor was Republican who held my seat with 74 percent of the vote as a Republican.
KING: No kidding.
KENNEDY: Yes and we were the only seat that switched hands in '94, which is the year obviously the Democrats got blown out nationally.
KING: So, you got to run hard.
KENNEDY: But I have a good -- it's New England, so I'm much better off being a Democrat in New England than you are in some of these other places.
KING: Are you going to run for something else, Al?
SHARPTON: Not now. I'm going to work with National Action. We're going to register a lot of voters and I'm going to help Kerry and I'm going to do some things in television. CARLSON: Oh, great.
KING: Thank you all very much. Oh, you're going to be on TV.
CARLSON: Is that it? Is that it?
KING: You might put on a uniform and go, huh?
KING: Yes, Mo, we got 30 seconds.
ROCCA: Can I leave you with a sobering thought as we're by North Carolina -- North Dakota, I'm sorry, where Teddy Roosevelt, my favorite president, spent a lot of time. Presidents historically have told lies to get what they want in foreign policy. Teddy Roosevelt invented a revolution in Panama so that he could take over the country, you know, in order to build a canal.
KING: That's right. We stole it fair and square.
ROCCA: Yes. LBJ lied about the Gulf of Tonkin to start the, you know, to escalate the Vietnam War.
KING: I got to run.
ROCCA: All right. There you have it.
KING: Thank you, Mo. We end on a lie. We'll see you tomorrow night. Thanks for joining us from Boston. Good night.
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