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Fmr. Lady Bird Johnson Press Secretary Liz Carpenter Discusses Clinton-Gore Administration

Aired August 15, 2000 - 1:32 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: President Clinton left Los Angeles just a few hours ago after his swan song address to the delegates at this Democratic National Convention last night. Mr. Clinton called Al Gore the "one strong leader" who can preserve an era of prosperity and progress and peace. And the president said his administration deserves full credit for the nation's economic boom.


WILLIAM J. CLINTON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To those who say -- and I'm sure you heard this somewhere in the last few days -- to those who say the progress of these last eight years was just some sort of accident, that we just kind of coasted along, let me be clear: America's success was not a matter of chance, it was a matter of choice.


WATERS: The president right now is on his way to Monroe, Michigan where he will join Al Gore at a rally. He will symbolically hand over leadership of the Democratic Party. You can watch all of that on CNN. It begins a little more than an hour from now, if everybody's on time, at 2:50 p.m. Eastern.

In his quest to win the GOP nomination, George W. Bush raised just shy of $100 million. And counting the money that's still flowing into the Bush legal and accounting funds, he'll almost certainly top the nine-figure mark by Labor Day. Bush aides tell the Associated Press the unprecedented campaign war chest was built by 350,000 donors in 50 states, three-quarters of whom gave $100 or less. Al Gore barely raised a third of that total, but the playing field soon will be level. Post-convention, each man gets $67.6 million in federal aid, and that's all a candidate is allowed to spend.

Tonight, the DNC will pay loving tribute to another young Democrat who received his party's nomination in the City of Angels 40 years ago. In the summer of 1960, John F. Kennedy called for no less than the mastery of the sky and rain, the ocean and the tides, the far side of space and the inside of men's minds.

On hand this evening to honor the Kennedy legacy will be JFK's daughter, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, who, as you see in this live picture here -- well, maybe you don't see. That's Ted Kennedy you see, the top of his head. He and Caroline were on the podium just moments ago getting familiar with the podium for their appearance here tonight.

The Johnson administration has a presence here as well in the person of Liz Carpenter. You may remember Ms. Carpenter as Lady Bird Johnson's press secretary, but that's just the tip of one long and impressive resume. She comes to us today as a Democratic delegate from Texas.

Welcome. How are you?


WATERS: You just told me that you have known 11 presidents.

CARPENTER: Well, I started out covering FDR and went on through the Kennedy administration. And then that's when LBJ lured me down from the press gallery. And so I've been an active politico since.

WATERS: And you're a Democratic delegate from the state of Texas.


ALLEN: How did that happen?

CARPENTER: Well, because they trusted me.

WATERS: I see.

CARPENTER: And I'm known there. And I'm grateful for being one, but I've been a delegate to several conventions and I've known a lot of these youngsters by now who are taking over the reins of government.

WATERS: But the Texas favorite son is George W. Bush, is it not?

CARPENTER: That's right. And he's affable, he has a sense of humor. And I really knew what a sense of humor he had when he equated himself with George Washington. Well, I knew George Washington. He was my friend. And George Bush is no George Washington.


WATERS: What about the next president of the United States? How is this -- well, let me get at this a different way. George W. Bush is leading in the polls now. Al Gore...

CARPENTER: Yes, so did Dewey.

WATERS: Yes, I'm aware of that. President Clinton has cast a shadow over Al Gore, they say, because of the force of his personality. Can Al Gore get past that in these next few days here at this convention and become known as a leader, a man in his own right who can capture the presidency? CARPENTER: Well, I think he's one of the most brilliant and best educated candidates we've ever had. And I've had fun watching those two southern young men really put this country up on the move again and create the good economy and all of those good things. But I have no doubt about his leadership qualities. They just don't ooze out of every pore the way they do with Clinton. But, my goodness, President Clinton and Hillary, who made, you know, really memorable speeches last night, set them up for the stage. And it's his to take and I know he will.

WATERS: As a political actor, Clinton is a tough act to follow, is he not -- for either candidate?

CARPENTER: Well, sure, but they can do it, and they can't all be the same. And we shouldn't always expect, and the Constitution doesn't require, that our presidents entertain. The only people that are required are the media, like you. You all want entertainment from somebody who has got to run the free world.

WATERS: Well, happy birthday in September.


WATERS: Eighty?

CARPENTER: Eighty years.

WATERS: That's wonderful.

CARPENTER: Thank you.

WATERS: Good to see you. Liz Carpenter, press secretary to Lady Bird Johnson.

And now we're going to play some politics. Here's a question to test your political IQ. Who was Hubert Humphrey's running mate in 1968?

You know this one, Liz.

CARPENTER: Edmund Muskie.

WATERS: Oh, you gave it away.

CARPENTER: Oh, stop.


WATERS: Morris Udall, Edmund Muskie, Henry Jackson, or Eugene McCarthy? Well, take it from Liz and click on our to play the game. Just enter the answer there.

And if you missed what Liz said, you can tune in tonight at 7:00 Eastern for our convention coverage and Jeff Greenfield will give you the answer to that and say, don't we have any tougher questions than this? TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT


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