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Larry King Live - Transcript

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Location: Washington DC

CNN

SHOW: CNN LARRY KING LIVE 9:00 PM EST

October 29, 2004 Friday

HEADLINE: Bin Laden Releases New Videotape

BYLINE: Larry King

GUESTS: Walter Cronkite, Bob Graham, Lindsey Graham, Laura Ingraham, Bill Richardson

HIGHLIGHT:

Interview with Walter Cronkite.
KING: Don't forget, tomorrow night, we'll repeat highlights of recent interviews with Senator Kerry and President Bush.

Let's meet our panel. In Columbia, South Carolina is Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, member of the Armed Services Committee. He's an Air Force veteran, by the way, and the only member of the U.S. Senate currently serving who's in the reserves. In Miami is Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, former chairman of Select Intelligence Committee, author of a recently released book "Intelligence Matters." He was a candidate for his party's nomination, and he's coming to us direct from a rally for John Kerry.

In Santa Fe, New Mexico is Governor Bill Richardson, the Democratic governor of New Mexico, former ambassador to the U.N. And in Washington, Laura Ingraham, an old friend, host of the nationally syndicated "The Laura Ingraham Show" on Talk Radio Network, best- selling author of "Shut Up and Sing: How Elites From Hollywood, Politics and the U.N. Are Subverting America."

Since we have two Senator Grahams, they will allow me on this program to call them by their first name so they know who I'm talking to, and I'll figure out who's getting a cell phone.

Lindsey, we'll start with Lindsey Graham. Lindsey, what do you make of the Osama bin Laden thing?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM ®, SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I like the response of Senator Kerry and President Bush. We're showing a united front. I have no idea what he's trying to do with the tape. But Walter Cronkite was right. It seems to be trying to negotiate, but the answer is no deal from Republicans, Democrats, independents. We're going to come after you, we're going to find you, we're going to bring you to justice. I can't tell you what he's thinking, but I know I like the response from both parties.

KING: Bob, you see any political effect of this one way or the other in the United States?

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: I agree with the analysis of my clansman, Lindsey. I will say that I believe this is going to put the issue of the war on terrorism not only back on the campaign agenda, but even more so on the agenda of whoever is our next president. I think that we've essentially abandoned the war on terror for the last two and a half years, and we've paid a heavy price for it. And now we see that our enemy is alive, is well, and is threatening.

KING: Governor Richardson, veteran of the international scene, what do you make of this, and the timing of it?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, certainly Osama bin Laden wanted to influence our election. He is sending a message that he's still around. He is also goading us. He is challenging us. I believe-I was very proud of Senator Kerry's response. What he basically said is that today we're all Americans. We're not Republicans or Democrats. His objective as president is the war on terrorism. His priority number one that we shouldn't divert resources elsewhere. That's priority one, that he will hunt down and kill the terrorists.

I was very proud by the statesman-like statement of both candidates. I think tonight we should do everything we can to not make this and not even speculate of what kind of effect this is going to have on the election.

We should also think of the families that lost loved ones on September 11th. They probably suffered the most, seeing this killer on the screen basically goading us again.

KING: And, Laura Ingraham, what do you make of this kind of negotiation on the part of a terrorist?

LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, to address something that Senator Bob Graham said, I think to say that we're not making headway in the war on terror really is not saying all that much positive to our troops in Afghanistan, who are doing a great job. And I think that while this kumbaya moment that we're all sharing about party unity is wonderful, the truth of the matter is, Senator Kerry came out today and brought up Tora Bora and outsourcing the job of getting bin Laden to the Afghan warlords. And General Tommy Franks has been very clear on this. He said that Senator Kerry's line on this is not comporting with reality, that in fact, our special forces were on the ground, and we were in hot pursuit of bin Laden.

So it's nice to say we're all united, but the fact is Senator Kerry used this opportunity at this outrageous attempt by bin Laden to influence our elections to once again call into question the performance of our military in the war on terror, and I think that's wrong.

B. GRAHAM: Larry...

KING: Bob, you want to comment?

L. GRAHAM: Larry...

KING: Bob first and then Lindsey. Bob.

B. GRAHAM: I think we would be allowing Osama bin Laden to score his victory if we were to allow this videotape to result in a shut- down of our public dialogue on the direction of the United States in the war on terror. The facts are...

INGRAHAM: Who's shutting it down?

B. GRAHAM: The facts...

INGRAHAM: We're not shutting it down, Senator. B. GRAHAM: The facts are we have already shut it down.

INGRAHAM: What?

B. GRAHAM: We began to shut it down as early as February of 2002, when we began to divert the very resources that had been so important in the early victories in Afghanistan to get ready for the war in Iraq. As one of the generals in Iraq says, we're not killing the terrorists as fast as they're recruiting them. And therefore...

INGRAHAM: Well, one thing-no...

B. GRAHAM: ... the ranks of the terrorists continue to grow.

KING: All right, let's not interrupt. Senator Graham, and then Governor Richardson. You want to get in on this, Lindsey?

L. GRAHAM: Well, yeah. That bipartisan moment passed, I suppose.

KING: Quickly.

L. GRAHAM: Here's my view of it, that the war on terror is really bigger than bin Laden. It's about religious extremism. Zarqawi is a part of it. The only way to eventually win is to have moderate force in the Mideast to be empowered to take these people on in the Mideast, and that's what we're doing in Afghanistan and Iraq. Big event happened in Afghanistan, where women can vote. We're transforming Iraq. That's essentially the way to win this war, is to do many things at once and empower moderate forces in the Mideast. If you kill bin Laden tomorrow, it's not over. You got a lot more to do.

KING: Governor?

RICHARDSON: Well, I'm raising this because Laura kind of injected partisanship in Senator Kerry's response. The reality is that Senator Kerry was not briefed about this tape. The moment he learned of the tape, he made a very united, bipartisan statement that we should all be together.

This Tora Bora initiative was way before this tape surfaced, and that is a legitimate debate in the campaign. The fact that Senator Kerry believes that we need to focus primarily on the war on terrorism, that we have diverted resources to Iraq that should have been in the war on terrorism, and the fact is the president apparently was briefed about this at noon, and then made a partisan attack on Senator Kerry in the afternoon before the tape surfaced. So...

KING: Laura, how do you react to it?

RICHARDSON: ... there's going to be politics everywhere, and we should avoid it.

INGRAHAM: Governor Richardson, I mean, the idea that during a political campaign season both candidates aren't going to be talking about politics is a little bit ridiculous. I mean, this tape stands on its own.

KING: But you slammed-but hold it, Laura, but you attacked Kerry for bringing up politics when he hadn't been briefed yet.

INGRAHAM: Because John Kerry has consistently called into question the conduct of the war on terror. And that's fine. It's a political season. But let's not pretend that this is like some moment where everybody's stepping back and everybody's saying, oh, let's all have a united front.

It's a political campaign season. I think these things should be debated, but we have to remember, Larry, and remember this very carefully. Every poll and survey that's been done of our military overwhelmingly shows that the troops, active duty and retired, support this president by the numbers of four to one and three to one. That's significant. If it's such an incompetent war on terror, why do the troops love this president so much? We should remember that.

KING: We'll take a break and come back. Your calls will be included. Our panel will be with us the rest of the way. Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Bob Graham, Governor Bill Richardson and Laura Ingraham. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: I believe that we begin by giving this country the fresh start that it deserves. In four days, this great campaign for America's future will end. This election is in your hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Let's get some political expertise into this discussion. We'll be including your phone calls too. Lindsey Graham, what are you going to look for Tuesday night? What are the keys to you?

L. GRAHAM: Well, turnout. I think-I think President Bush is going to win pretty decisively, to be honest with you, because the central issue for many people is to make America secure, and President Bush is leading in pretty large numbers there. And our Democratic friends want to suggest that Afghanistan and Iraq are not part of the war on terror. One is and one's not. I think a lot of Americans understand we've made mistakes in Iraq, but it wasn't a mistake to take Saddam Hussein out and try to create a democracy where a dictatorship existed.

KING: So it's not close to you?

L. GRAHAM: I think he's going to win pretty strong. Well, it's close in polling, but at the end of the day, I think the undecideds are going to break sort of en masse, and that Senator Kerry has been too inconsistent. He's been kind of all over the board about what he would do, what he wouldn't do, what he has done.

KING: You predict a big turnout and a Bush victory. L. GRAHAM: Big turnout, President Bush 300 plus votes. And the $87 billion vote really hurt Senator Kerry. And not voting to get Saddam Hussein out in 1991, all that together, I think, creates a lot of uncertainty about how he would lead us.

KING: Bob Graham, how do you see it? And what about Florida?

B. GRAHAM: Well, I think some of the things to look for, Larry, are the early voting. We've been voting now in Florida for 10 days. The turnouts have been tremendous. Many county election supervisors think that 30 percent or more of the vote that will ultimately be cast will be cast before November 2nd. And the second is the composition of that early turnout.

I voted today, my area in Miami Lakes, and I was impressed with the fact that there were so many new voters. Both of the people standing behind me were casting their votes for president for the very first time. I think that that's going to have a significant effect on the outcome, and I believe that John Kerry will carry Florida and its 27 electoral votes, and will carry the nation.

KING: Big turnout you're predicting too?

B. GRAHAM: Very big turnout. Significantly larger than we've had in recent presidential elections.

KING: Laura Ingraham, what are you going to be looking at?

INGRAHAM: I think there will be a pretty decisive turnout. I'll be willing to put money on Florida with Senator Graham, if he wants to take a bet on national TV.

L. GRAHAM: Which one?

INGRAHAM: No, Senator Bob Graham. I'll do $500 with you for charity, if you want to bet Florida right now.

I think one thing that's interesting here is that whether you're talking about Hawaii or Wisconsin or Minnesota, you have these states which traditionally go Democrat, which the Democrats are now having to fight for. That's not good news for John Kerry.

I think anything can happen. If I had to bet today, I'd bet that President Bush was going to win. But this is an exciting campaign. I have to correct Governor Richardson on the issue of what Senator Kerry said about this-the issue about the bin Laden tape. This is CNN's wire, Larry. "Reacting to a new videotape from terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, Senator John Kerry renewed his controversial charge that bin Laden was allowed to escape from Tora Bora." That happened today in West Palm Beach. That's the wire of CNN.

KING: All right, Governor Richardson, you can comment on that. And what are you going to look for Tuesday night?

RICHARDSON: Well, I predict a narrow victory for Senator Kerry, and I think what will be decisive is a massive turnout. Turnouts help Democrats. I believe that the race will be settled in the West, among Hispanic voters. New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado. I believe that you will see a huge surge for Senator Kerry in those areas. The battleground states in the Midwest and Florida, I think it will be mixed.

So I believe this is where, with the newly emerging, newly registered Hispanic voters in New Mexico-we've got 100,000.

On Laura's statement, that's flat wrong. Senator Kerry...

INGRAHAM: CNN's wrong then.

RICHARDSON: Upon being-well, upon learning about this tape, like everybody else-Senator Kerry did not get the briefing that President Bush got at noon today, and President Bush went right out and attacked Senator Kerry in a very partisan way when we should have all been united. We should all have talked about this is not a Democratic or Republican issue, that we're all against these terrorists. So those are the facts.

INGRAHAM: So you're saying, Governor Richardson, that Senator Kerry actually needed a briefing before he could react to the tape without criticizing the troops in Tora Bora?

RICHARDSON: No. But I-what I'm saying is that the president got a briefing and then went out and attacked Senator Kerry.

INGRAHAM: So what? He's on the campaign trail. I mean, who cares?

RICHARDSON: Senator Kerry did not have any briefing.

INGRAHAM: Why does he need a briefing?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: I don't understand. Laura, you criticize Kerry...

RICHARDSON: Laura, this is terrorism. This is America. We should all be together, Republicans and Democrats.

INGRAHAM: The point, Larry, the point...

KING: You're trying to have it both ways, Laura. You said Kerry criticized...

INGRAHAM: No, I'm actually not.

KING: ... Kerry criticized Bush after he learned about bin Laden.

INGRAHAM: No. I'm talking, Larry...

KING: But Richardson is saying that Bush criticized Kerry after he learned about bin Laden.

INGRAHAM: I don't care if they're criticizing each other on anything.

KING: Then what was your point?

INGRAHAM: Tora Bora. The point...

KING: Being?

INGRAHAM: ... of your talking about you let-you let bin Laden escape, he makes-bin Laden gives-releases a videotape with the clear intent to affect American elections. There is no doubt about that. He releases this tape and Senator Kerry says, oh, well, if we had only gotten bin Laden, you know, and we hadn't outsourced the job, well, we wouldn't be in this situation. He reacts about bin Laden, when bin Laden wants that reaction.

KING: Is-Senator...

B. GRAHAM: Can I say, Larry...

KING: Who's going to...

B. GRAHAM: Larry, first, the issue of Tora Bora is a factual issue. We don't have to debate it. The fact is we did have Osama bin Laden surrounded. We did outsource to other non-U.S. forces.

INGRAHAM: That's not what General Franks says.

B. GRAHAM: And he escaped. But this is not the totality of the number of failures in the war on terror. We have not yet laid a glove on the terrorists who, in some people's eyes, are more serious threats than al Qaeda, such as Hezbollah, which has 1,000 missiles poised, ready to attack Israel. We have not taken any action in terms of dealing with the Saudis, who have been very duplicitous in their involvement, including this week, reports that they are financing the insurgents in Iraq, at the same time that we're covering up their past behavior.

KING: Lindsey, why is this-before we take some calls, Lindsey, why is this race so vituperative? I've yet to hear either candidate say "my distinguished opponent." Why?

L. GRAHAM: It's just-there's just so much at stake. In a campaign, you just get so into the fact that you're right, and when you hear your opponent criticize the fundamental nature of who you are, it's just very hard to think outside of the box that you put yourself in of trying to convince people that you're the best way to go. And it's just-it's not new. It happens in every political campaign. We were divided in 2000.

But let me say this about tonight. There is a point that we are more united than people would have us believe. We do agree that bin Laden is a common enemy to Republicans and Democrats. And I want to throw this one thought out. If we kill bin Laden tomorrow, does anybody believe the war is over then?

KING: Woodlands Park, Texas. Hello. CALLER: Hello. Should the media play the entire bin Laden tape unedited for the American public?

KING: Governor Richardson, what do you think?

RICHARDSON: Well, yes. I've read the text. I think it's important that the American people see, first of all, that this is a man that is a killer. He is trying to drive us against our Israeli allies. He is trying to incite the American people, build sympathy with America. He is trying to say that Kerry and Bush are both insignificant. He's trying to appeal to the American people, and we should see bin Laden for what he is, a terrorist who not only misreads American public opinion, but is trying to influence our election. And we should do everything we can to hunt and kill him and destroy him, as Senator Kerry wants. But not let him get into our heads. Not let him get into influencing us as a country and as people.

KING: Laura, what do you think bin Laden thinks? Like what's his point?

INGRAHAM: I would not...

KING: It's a guess. What...

INGRAHAM: ... pretend to speak for bin Laden or know what he's thinking. But I think the fact that this tape came out now, just a few days before the election, has to make us all ask-do the terrorists prefer one person to win? I have no idea, but it's odd that this tape would come out now, number one. Number two, we don't know when the tape was exactly made. There's no time sensitive information in the tape. But I think, you know, one thing, Larry, that we probably all agree on this panel is that al-Jazeera seems to operate as the instant communications wing of al Qaeda. Whenever al Qaeda wants to get a tape up on the satellite bird and sent out to the world, all they have to do is get it over to al-Jazeera, and it's up there.

I think we need to look at it carefully. If the American people want to see it, I don't really have a problem with that. He mentions that President Bush has misled the American public since September 11. That's one of the key lines in that tape. And what does that tell you about what he thinks about President Bush?

KING: We'll take a break and come back. Include more phone calls on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Monday night on election eve, Governor Jeb Bush of Florida and Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of the North Carolina senator will be our guest. Don't go away.

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER ®, CALIFORNIA: If you flex your muscles next November 2. If you flex your muscles November 2, I guarantee you President Bush will be back. It is a great privilege and a great honor for me to introduce to you here in the great city of Columbus, Ohio, a great friend, a great friend, a great American and a great leader. The president of the United States of America, George W. Bush!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's Arnold in Columbus. Columbus, Georgia, hello.

CALLER: Hi.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I heard that on another news program today that the U.S. had this tape before hand, and they just decided to come out today to make sure it was an October surprise. Is this true?

KING: Anybody? Did you hear that, Governor Richardson? Anybody hear that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

INGRAHAM: No.

RICHARDSON: No. I think that this was al-Jazeera. This was bin Laden. I think our military, our intelligence, they're very responsible folks. I don't think they would have injected this. This is beyond our control, and it happened because, I believe, bin Laden wants to influence our elections.

KING: Lindsey, do the Schwarzeneggers and the Springsteens, the kind of celebrities help?

L. GRAHAM: I think it helps when people come to listen to what you have to say, and one of the reasons they're there is to see Arnold or The Boss. I think it helps create a crowd. But one thing I would like to leave as my two cents worth in this whole debate. What is the war on terror about? To me, it's about religious extremism. You could kill bin Laden tomorrow, but we're not going to win this war until moderate forces in the Mid East, Larry, have a chance to chart a new destiny, for women to vote, women to participate in society. And bin Laden has no room in the world for anybody that disagrees with him.

This is a long hard fight. And I think Iraq is part of the war on terror, and I really admire President Bush understanding that if you're going to change the fundamental dynamics that led to 9/11, you have to go after these people wherever they hide, and you have to take regimes on like Saddam Hussein, who are part of the problem. And that's why I think he's going to win.

B. GRAHAM: If I could say...

KING: Bob, is the war winable? Bob, is it winable?

B. GRAHAM: It is winable, but it's going to take focus. The president said it right on September the 20th, 2001, when he said that the war on terror does not end with al Qaeda. It extends to other terrorist groups that have global reach. That is, they can operate in several countries. And that we will find them, we will stop them, and we will destroy them. That was the Bush doctrine of how to fight the war on terror. And I agree with that. That's the doctrine we need to get back to. There were no terrorists of any significance in Iraq before we invaded. There's no evidence that they had anything to do with September the 11th. We took our eyes off the real terrorists in order to go to war against Iraq, and the war against the real terrorists has been essentially abandoned for the last 2 ½ years.

KING: Laura?

INGRAHAM: I just-every time I hear someone in a position of power say that the war on terror has been abandoned when we have three quarters of the al Qaeda leadership in our custody, when our men and women in battle have done such an enormously great job all around the world, not just in Afghanistan, not just in Iraq, but our special forces operating in every country from The Philippines to Indonesia, all over this are globe. I think it's an insult to the troops, and I don't think Senator Graham really means it.

B. GRAHAM: It's not an insult to the troops.

INGRAHAM: Talk to the troops. They're insulted by that.

B. GRAHAM: Laura, you can have a reasonable disagreement with the commander-in-chief and the decisions that he's making as to how to wage the war...

INGRAHAM: Absolutely.

B. GRAHAM: Without denigrating the bravery and courage of the men and women who are actually fighting the war.

INGRAHAM: Right. But Senator Graham, if you let me finish my point that I was trying to make is that when you say that we've abandoned the war on terror, that just is so factually inaccurate. I don't understand, as a senator of the United States, how do you possibly say that? We have three quarters of al Qaeda in custody. How is that abandoning the war in terror? And let me also finish. Saddam Hussein was funding to the tune of $25,000 a family who was supporting suicide bombers going into Israel. We know that, and you know that. And Zarqawi is there today operating freely because he was given safe havens for some time in Iraq. You know that, and I know that. That's not abandoning the war on terror.

KING: Bob, you want to get a chance to respond?

B. GRAHAM: There are a lot of evils in the Middle East and central Asia and certainly Saddam Hussein was one of those evils. The question is is he the evil that had the greatest capability to kill Americans? In my opinion, the answer to that was no. The greatest capability to kill Americans is al Qaeda and probably some of these other terrorist groups in Syria are second and third. We may have reached the point that we needed to take on Saddam Hussein, but the spring of 2003 was not that time, until we had completed the goal the president laid out to find, to stop, and destroy international terrorist organizations.

KING: Let me get a break, and I'll have a question for Governor Richardson, and we'll get into our remaining moments right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, SINGER: That's why I'm here today to stand alongside Senator Kerry and to tell you that the country we carry in our hearts is waiting. And together we can move America towards our deepest ideals. This is for you, John.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Governor Richardson, when you mentioned those four Western states earlier-Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, are you saying that Senator Kerry could win all four of those?

RICHARDSON: Probably not Arizona, but certainly Colorado. It's a dead heat right now. In New Mexico, by 1 percent, I'm pretty committed to that. Nevada, I think, with President Clinton going there, with the whole Yucca Mountain issue against President Bush, I believe that that is very doable.

I think what is important, though, Larry, is the American people should go out and vote. Let's not let this election be decided by a bunch of courts and lawyers. Let there be a massive demonstration of democracy.

Look what happened in Afghanistan; 90 percent of the people there voted. We barely make 50 percent of the eligible voters going out. Let's show everybody that America this time, because of the tremendous interest in this election, is going to set a record pace of voting. And I think, if that happens, there will be a decisive victor. But I do think Senator Kerry will end up being the next president. And I think he'll make a great commander in chief.

KING: Let me get-get in one more quick call. Sebring, Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hello. Yes. I wanted to ask Senator Bob Graham if he believes that General Franks was lying today when he had-when he reported that he had reports of Osama bin Laden being in various places, including Tora Bora.

KING: We only have 30 seconds, Bob.

B. GRAHAM: No. I have great respect for General Franks. I think that he has been one of the most visionary people about what was going to happen in that region of the world. In my book, "Intelligence Matters," I report a conversation that I had with General Franks in February of 2002, and almost everything that he said at that time has come to be true.

KING: I thank you all very much. We'll be calling on you again. Hang tough Tuesday night. You'll probably be with us some time during the night.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida. Governor Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico. And Laura Ingraham, author of "Shut up and Sing: How Elites From Hollywood, Politics and the U.N. Are Subverting America."

Be back in a couple of minutes to tell you about what's coming up tomorrow night and over the weekend. But first, we want to congratulate Ted and Erica Rowlands. Ted has been covering the scene for us at the Peterson trial. They're the proud parents of a beautiful healthy baby girl. Cosette Rowlands (ph) -- what a name-came into the world last night at 7:55 out in California. Weighed six pounds, eight ounces, measured 20 inches. Mom, dad and older sister Madison (ph) are all doing well. Madison and Cosette. Congratulations, Ted. Great guy.

There was a wonderful memorial today for Christopher Reeve here at the Juilliard Theater in midtown Manhattan. I was proud to attend. A lot of wonderful people there saluting a great American, who, as I said, if they ever cure spinal paralysis, they're going to have to name the cure after him.

Christopher Reeve. Rest in peace.

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