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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Interview with Ann Richards

Aired May 14, 2002 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Ann Richards, pick an issue, she's got an opinion and she doesn't mince words, the former democratic governor of Texas, a straight talking survivor who's battled addiction and osteoporosis. Ann Richards for the hour with your phone calls next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always great to have her with us, lots of topics to cover. A couple of quick notes, Rosie O'Donnell is with us tomorrow night, Mike Wallace on Thursday, and an evening with Barry Manilow, including music, on Friday. The honorable Ann Richards joins us from our studios in New York. She just attended the international roundtable on osteoporosis held in Portugal. We understand that Camilla Parker Bowles was also there, that she's involved as president of The National Osteoporosis Society of the U.K. What did you make of her?

ANN RICHARDS, FORMER GOVERNOR OF TEXAS: I liked her very much, Larry. You know, I really didn't have an opinion of her one way or another, but she was fascinating and charming and had a great sense of humor, very straightforward, no pretension about her at all. Her mother and her grandmother both died as a consequence of osteoporosis. And she told this very tragic and sad story about her mother's decline and death, and I really was taken with her.

KING: One hundred and fifty million men and women are supposed to be affected by this disease worldwide. Can you briefly tell ...

RICHARDS: Yes.

KING: ... us what it is?

RICHARDS: Yes, I can, Larry. It's a sad and silent disease because most people don't know they have it until they fracture a bone. It occurs when the bones become porous and get brittle and as a consequence, you get a lot of little mini fractures and it causes a collapsing of the spine usually, and the bones in the neck. I realized some years ago that something was wrong with the way my collars fit. Now, that sounds like something vain, but actually it wasn't.

I would sit down in a chair and my collars would rise up, and I couldn't figure out what was going on. Well, it turned out that what was happening was that my neck bones were collapsing and I literally was shrinking. I didn't have enough neck back there to take care of the collar. My mother broke one bone after another, and so I went to the doctor for my annual checkup and I said, you know, I think you need to give me a bone density exam, and he said, sure, he would, and the result is that I discovered that I have early osteoporosis as well.

KING: How do you treat it?

RICHARDS: Well, there are a lot of things that you can do. First, you should begin, if you have children -- and I know you have small children -- to get them to drink their milk because the stronger your bones are during childhood and your development as an adult, then when you lose that bone density, as you get older, you got more bone strength to begin with. So first of all, encourage your children to play sports, because weight-bearing exercise helps build bone density. Urge them to, you know, eat calcium rich foods. But when you - when women pass menopause, you can lose as much as 30 percent of your bone density within the first five years. I mean that bone strength leaches out of you just like that, and ...

KING: And what do you do for it when that happens?

RICHARDS: OK, here's the -- here are the things that I do. First, I have a good diet -- vegetables, fruits. I don't eat any meat much, mostly fish, low fat, all of the things that you ought to be doing anyway. The second thing that I do is I go to the gym and I lift weights. Weight-bearing exercise builds bone density, builds your muscular strength so that you can hold your body up where those bones have a tendency to get weak. And the third thing is that now there are a lot of medications ...

KING: Oh there are.

RICHARDS: ... that you can take. I take a medication called Evista. It works for me. I have taken a number of other things and when I was going through menopause, I took hormones because that's supposed to help you with your bone density, but I developed it anyway. So I urge people talk to your doctor, ask for a bone density exam, find out whether or not you are at risk or perhaps already have osteoporosis and then do something about it. And Larry, I'm stronger today than I was before I started on this regimen because I'm not going to let this thing slow me down.

KING: And by the way, having taken bone density tests every time I get a physical exam, it sounds extreme. It's nothing, you sit there, there's no pain.

RICHARDS: Oh yes, there's nothing, absolutely nothing to it. It takes only a very few minutes to do. It's not invasive at all, and they can tell you right away whether or not your bones are OK.

KING: Is it fatal?

RICHARDS: Well, it can be. In the case of Camilla Parker Bowles' mother, it was fatal, because what happened to her is she began to hump over, she was literally unable to keep food down and get food down. And she was in so much pain, that she - Camilla said that she just literally gave up. We don't have to die that way. We don't have to live that way, the way our parents and our grandparents did.

KING: And by the way Queen Rania of Jordan, a recent guest on this show, is patron of the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

RICHARDS: She is and she was simply charming, just a beautiful, beautiful young woman. I think she's about 32 years old ...

KING: Yes and gorgeous.

RICHARDS: ... and very polished, and her brother went to school at the University of Texas in Austin.

KING: By the way, we mentioned Camilla and the like, what do you make with America's fascination with royals?

RICHARDS: Well I don't know. There's something kind of glamorous. You know the only thing that we have even close to royalty are the president and his family, and movie stars and TV stars. We don't have all of the trappings that go with royalty, the grand, grand house and the carriage and the ceremonies and the long flowing trains and stuff, and there's something very sort of fairy tale like and romantic about it. Did I ever ...

KING: The Kennedys were our - the Kennedys were our and are our royal family, are they not?

RICHARDS: Well yes, Jackie Kennedy was the closest thingy that we would ever have to having a queen. Did I ever tell you about going to Buckingham Palace and seeing the queen?

KING: No.

RICHARDS: It's -- oh, it's a great story. I told my granddaughter Lily (ph) when she was 10 years old I would take her to London, because that's just about the right age for a kid to take a trip like that. They haven't gotten smart alecky, teenager yet, you know. And so Lily (ph) and Cecile (ph), my daughter and I went to London, and right before we were going, I thought, you know, I'll bet you if I wrote the queen, she'd let us come see her, because we had entertained her in Texas. And so I faxed her a note to Buckingham Palace and said, I'm going to be in London next Tuesday and I want to bring my granddaughter by to see you if you're going to be home. And so she faxed me back ...

KING: I'll be home.

RICHARDS: ... she said - she said come at 11:45. So at 11:45, which by the way, is the time they have the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and there are thousands of people out there, just bigger than god, Lily (ph) and Cecile (ph) and I walked into Buckingham Palace to see the queen of England. So we got in there, and she gave us tea and we got to see the quarters where they live and talked to her dogs, and she was real sweet to Lily (ph), and time - you know then we took a tour of the palace, and so time came to leave. And we said good-bye and we were walking out across the yard, and I looked down at Lily (ph), and I said, well, honey, you know, we are high on the hog today. It doesn't get any bigger than this, and I said, what are you going to remember about today? And Lily (ph) looked at me and she said, she had lipstick on her teeth.

KING: We'll be back with ...

RICHARDS: Is that the best?

KING: ... more -- that's the best -- with the former Governor of Texas, the honorable Ann Richards. Lots of areas to cover, your phone calls included. Don't go away.

RICHARDS: Constitution and laws of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And of this state.

RICHARDS: And of this state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So help me God.

RICHARDS: So help me God.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: With Governor Ann Richards now well ensconced as a New Yorker, let's discuss some political things. George Bush, the President of the United States, the man who succeeded you as governor, is getting some flak lately from the conservative wing of the party. They don't like, I think his Mideast policy may be too moderate, didn't like the farm bill, not too crazy about the Moscow signature (ph), what do you make of that?

RICHARDS: Well it's really hard to satisfy the right wing. I can tell you that. And in terms of George Bush, you know, there's really not enough that he can do for them. In fact, there's not enough that anybody can do for them. Because if you were to espouse what is their philosophy, I think it would fly in the face of the constitution and our very democracy. George is going to begin to get some problems from the left as well, I think.

I think it's tough, Larry, nowadays for politics and any serious discussion of it to get much of a toe hold because everybody wants the quick fix. They want the quick discussion. They want the sound bites. They want the spin rather than a very serious discussion of what's taking place. And my own feeling is that I think George Bush is one of the most skillful and well advised politicians I have ever observed and able to get away with campaigning and saying one thing and doing something else once he gets there and not being held accountable for it.

I don't think people maybe think that the government does tell them the truth. I think they expect politicians who are going to tell them one thing and then when they get in office do something else. Otherwise, we would hear a hue (ph) cry about what's taking place ...

KING: Yes. RICHARDS: ... in this country in healthcare and education and the environment ...

KING: Therefore ...

RICHARDS: ... and Social Security.

KING: What is your -- -- what therefore is your assessment of his performance?

RICHARDS: Well I think it is skillful politically and I think it is devastating for us as a nation, and I think as attention to the domestic issues continue, you're going to find more and more people who are going to say what is he going to do about prescription drugs. Old people simply cannot afford the cost of what they're being asked to accept. We are now back into what, double-digit deficit. When God knows the Democrats worked really hard to balance the budget, Bush promised he was going to. But then he's going to say, I guess, that it was the war.

And I think they're going to be increasing questions about foreign policy because it seems to me we're going to have troops everywhere. If we really are going to invade Iraq, that means we're going to be actively involved in war of some sort in a whole lot of places in this world. And I think you take the first course of history and you learn that if you're fighting on too many fronts, you're going to weaken yourself internally.

KING: Laura Bush is now on a solo international trip. She's in Paris. What do you make of this, the woman who didn't like making speeches?

RICHARDS: Well I think Laura Bush is terrific. I - you know I think she's the greatest asset that George has, other than perhaps Karl Rove (ph) and his speech writer, and I hope that she does travel internationally. I think she gives America a good face. I think people feel warmly toward her, and I think they should. I think her personality is one of those that makes you want to get next to her and talk to her.

KING: Now switching gears, Jimmy Carter is in Cuba, made a speech tonight, thinks we should talk more with the Cuban government, but also attacked them on their human rights policy. What do you make of this whole trip?

RICHARDS: Well I was surprised that Jimmy decided to go down there, but I'm glad that he did. You know, I went down there a few months ago with a group and we talked to a lot of the same people that he did. Of course there are serious concerns about human rights, but I think there are also serious concerns about healthcare and about education and things that we in the United States would not want to put on any child or any family, and I hope at some juncture we make sure that this country's attitudes toward Cuba are more humanitarian from our point of view.

Now, I don't think we ought to do things that are bad for the United States, but I certainly think we ought to do for Cuba what we seem to be willing to do with China and what we seem to be willing to do with Vietnam. I don't know why it is we single Cuba out. Well, there really is - I do know. I know why we do. It's because there are some voters down there in Florida, and they are -- they are against any kind of rapprochement.

KING: But most polls in America show, I think, 70 percent of the public would favor, I think, recognition. A lot of businesses want to do business there.

RICHARDS: Absolutely, Larry, but it is a pocket of some people in Florida who well remember the revolution and their loss of property and their loss of family who are now sending money into people in Cuba. I said if those people lived in Nebraska, it wouldn't make any difference. But they live in Florida, and Florida is a pivotal state in elections in the United States and no politician is going to take this on as long as Florida is that important to elections.

KING: Governor Ann Richards is with us. We'll be including your phone calls in a little while, lots of subjects to cover. Rosie O'Donnell joins us tomorrow night, Mike Wallace on Thursday, and Friday night, an evening with Barry Manilow including music by Manilow.

By the way, Sunday night we're going to repeat our interview with young Mattie Stepanek and if you didn't see it the first time around, please tell your friends to watch, Mattie Stepanek Sunday night. We'll be right back with Governor Richards. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: By the way, Governor Ann Richards is featured in a new book "Wise Women" a photography interview book by Joyce Tennison (ph). She is now with Public Strategies Incorporated, a bipartisan lobbying and public relation firm, Republicans and Democrats both involved in that firm and I'm sure even her severest critic would say she is a wise woman. What do you ...

(CROSSTALK)

RICHARDS: Thanks for mentioning that book because Joyce Tennison (ph) is a really good photographer, and there are a lot of great, great photographs in there. I -- and there are little sayings by each one of these women. They're really quite touching. I think it's a very nice book. Saks Fifth Avenue has a big display in their window. I walked by there today. It's really, really nice, and I'm going to write book, Larry -- in fact, I'm almost through with it, on osteoporosis. It ought to be out in January, to give people some exercises that they can do, talk to them a little bit about how you can treat yourself and how you can care for yourself.

KING: Good.

RICHARDS: Yes, so I'll have to ...

(CROSSTALK)

RICHARDS: ... I'll come back and talk to you about it.

KING: You sure will. What do you make of the goings on in the Catholic Church?

RICHARDS: Oh can you believe it? Can you believe it? It is -- it absolutely is the most sickening thing, and I think the saddest part, Larry, first, that all of the victims had to live with this terrible shame all their lives. I look at these men who are now grown adults and who lived with this ever since they were little boys. But I am waiting to hear the men in charge, whether they were cardinals or bishops or whatever they were, to say, I did a terrible thing. We were trying to protect the institution of the church, and that seemed more important than these individual cases of sexual abuse, and I haven't her them say that yet.

KING: Since that seemed so logical, why do you think they haven't?

RICHARDS: I have no idea, because they're the first ones that understand the confessional. They're the first ones to encourage people to, you know, fess up, come clean, God will forgive you, and it is so sad to me that they have handled this so poorly. I -- you know, I do this kind of work in public strategies, advising institutions and corporations how to deal with major public problems and governmental problems, and somehow these people are not getting good advice about how to deal with this, because every shoe that drops is just going to make it that much worse.

KING: In the world of education, recent tests -- I'm reading here -- show the United States students still pretty ignorant about history. The National Assessment of Education shows only 43 percent of 12th graders have a basic understanding of United States history. Education historian Elizabeth Ravage (ph) called the results truly abysmal. Does it shock you?

RICHARDS: No, that doesn't surprise me at all. When I was teaching junior high school, I taught - I taught Texas history and I taught world history. And the reality of it is, Larry, that this country has always believed that the most important thing that ever happened was our own creation and that we didn't have to pay - you know, once you got past George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and the fact that we separated from the British, you didn't have to learn much more than that. And as a consequence, there's not enough emphasis placed on learning history because history does repeat itself. And I can't blame the public school system nor can I blame the teachers because what we are asking our schools to do today is everything under the sun.

We're supposed to teach them right from wrong. We're supposed to teach them how to drive a car. We're supposed to teach them about sex. We're supposed to teach them about ethics and values. Everything that we used to think got taught at home now seemingly has to be taught in the public school system, and something is going to get lost in the process. And what gets lost are those basic and fundamental courses that you and I think are so essential, history, of course, being one of those.

KING: The resurgence of interest in your former president -- former senator from the state, Lyndon Johnson, Carol (ph) has another book out about his years in the senate.

RICHARDS: Yes.

KING: Terrific movie coming this weekend on HBO ...

RICHARDS: Yes.

KING: "Path To War", what do you make of this?

RICHARDS: Well, you know, Lyndon Johnson was literally bigger than life. He probably was the epitome of what people think of when they think of Texans. He was powerful. He understood wielding of power, and while some of us may shy away from the kind of tactics that sometimes were necessary, he was a truly remarkable man. Who would have ever dreamed that it was going to be Lyndon Johnson that passed the civil rights measure that he did? And of course, Robert Taroe (ph) is a skilled writer and every review I have read of this book, it's absolutely laudatory, saying it's just a wonderful book, and I look forward to reading it.

KING: Did you know the president well?

RICHARDS: I didn't know him well. You have to understand, Larry, I was a young Turk. I was to the left of center, certainly to the left of Lyndon Johnson. So I would never have been one of those that would have been on that inside circle. But I did meet him one time at a party in Washington D.C. Jack Valenti's now wife Mary Margaret (ph) was Lyndon's secretary and she had a birthday party and invited David and me to come, and we went and we were all sitting there and suddenly this sort of hush, hush going around the room, someone said Johnson is coming up the walk.

And of course we all real young and were sort of bright eyed and he walked in the room - my God, he's bigger than life. He just - he's got - he's like Bill Clinton, just like filings to a magnet. Everybody just, you know, rushes over to him, and he sat there and talked with us for a while, and, you know, you could tell that this was the kind of man that, by gosh, got his way, and knew how to persuade people to come on his side. He was - he was a master at it.

KING: You were in Dallas on December 22nd when Kennedy was killed, weren't you?

RICHARDS: Yes I was. I was at the luncheon where Kennedy was coming to speak.

KING: You were waiting for him to arrive?

RICHARDS: Yes, we were, and it was - it still is one of those days that is etched in my mind as if it is seared there. We were sitting and we were waiting. Some people had radios, little portable radios and they were listening to the motorcade as it came along, and the word was going around, well, oh, thank God, thank God nothing was happening, because we were all so worried.

Dallas was such a crazy place at the time, and then someone said, someone's been shot, and the word started going around the room, someone's been shot, someone's been shot, and we kept saying, well who? What's happening? First, we thought that John Connelly had been killed, and then the word came that the president had been shot. And the first thing everybody thought was, oh, my God, I've got to get home. You know it was just ...

KING: Yes.

RICHARDS: It wasn't a panic. It just was kind of a rush, and we got - I was way up at the top level and we got to the escalator that was going downstairs and there was a sign at the foot at the escalator and we all started getting crammed into this escalator as it was going down and we were losing our footing, and literally I've never felt such fear. I think the fear of what was going on, the fear that I was going to be hurt on the escalator. Everybody wanted to go home. They needed to be -- get home to their families.

KING: Let me get a break and come back with more. We'll include your phone calls for Ann Richards.

Tomorrow night, our special guest is Rosie O'Donnell. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with Governor Richards. Going to go to calls momentarily.

I understand the condition of Lady Bird Johnson is better. Is that what you hear?

RICHARDS: Yes, I hear that she is some better. I think speech is a problem. And, of course, she's in our prayers. What a wonderful woman. Every time I go to Washington in the spring and the flowers are out, I always say out loud, "Thank you, Miss Johnson," because she did so much to make that capital city beautiful.

KING: And no billboards.

RICHARDS: No billboards. That's the good part.

KING: What do you make of Hillary Clinton and where she goes from here?

RICHARDS: Well, I saw Hillary the other day -- she was down in Austin -- and went to a party for her, and Bill was with her, and she -- you know, she's pretty amazing. God, she's smart and has such a grasp of government. You know, she loves that stuff. She loves politics.

And I went to a meeting here in New York of -- a number of the Democratic caucus came to New York because Hillary and Chuck Schumer asked them to come here instead of going to some retreat somewhere out in the country, and so they met down near where the World Trade Center was, and she was very much in her element, talking about a lot of things.

I wanted to talk to her about some of the nominees to the court that I don't think so much of, and they just stopped one of those nominations, and I hope they will hold the line on that.

KING: What's your read on her future, and do you have a favorite among the early primary candidates?

RICHARDS: Well, I think she can do anything she wants to do. I think she's perfectly happy right where she is, and I don't think she has any intention of running for a higher office.

But, you know, this is such a serendipitous kind of thing. You never can tell. If the opportunity is there and the timing seems right and -- you know...

KING: Who knows?

RICHARDS: ... she ought to go. Yeah.

KING: Do you have a favorite of those currently either announced or rumored to be announced?

RICHARDS: No, I'm -- I am money, marbles, and chalk behind a young man named Ron Kirk who is running for the United States Senate from Texas. I'm going to do everything I can to help him, and I'm going to try to stay out of this presidential stuff.

I'm going to make some campaign appearances around the country. I went down and campaigned for Ed Rendell who's running for governor in Pennsylvania, was a wonderful mayor of Philadelphia.

And I'm going to do something for Rosa DeLauro up in Connecticut, and I'm going to go out and do something in Seattle, Washington, for Senator Maria Cantwell.

So I try to help those people that I like a whole lot, and I'm not going to get into this the presidential stuff yet. I think it is too early, and...

KING: OK. Let me get a call.

Pecos, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Hi, Ann.

RICHARDS: Hey.

CALLER: I was wondering if -- what Ann's views were on how the Democrats might win back the White House in 2004 and if possibly she would be interested in running?

RICHARDS: Aren't you nice. I can't imagine anybody from Pecos calling me and asking me something like that. The reality is that I don't have any desire whatsoever to be in the White House. I never did have that aspiration. And I think it's time for those of us who had our opportunity to step aside and let the young people come in with some new ideas. That's the way you get energy in the government. So, no, I'm not going to run.

Now do I think we can take the White House back? Well, sure, I do. You know, it always comes down to who turns out and votes and who is able to get their message across.

The only problem about running against George Bush, if you get out there and you say, "We got to protect Social Security," he's going to say, "Me, too," and then nobody's going to, you know, hold him to account if he doesn't do it.

So he is a tough and wily campaigner. So whoever takes him on -- they're going to have to be prepared for a very difficult race. You can ask John McCain.

KING: Do you see any hope in the Mideast situation?

RICHARDS: God, I don't know, Larry. Doesn't it look -- it really looks tough. It looks like to me they've reached the point that they're just telling the United Nations and anybody else to go to hell, and I am very, very concerned about it.

It doesn't look like to me Arafat even has the swat to be able to do anything. We keep on calling him to say the right things and say it in Arabic and all that, and then he doesn't seem to be able to stop anything.

KING: And then the Likud Party says Palestine shouldn't be a state.

RICHARDS: Well, I understand, but the Likud has always had that position. But I think everybody of the centrist viewpoint and the people who believe that peace has to come to the Middle East -- all have agreed that a Palestinian state is absolutely crucial to that decision.

KING: We'll take a break, come back, and include some more phone calls for Governor Ann Richards.

Mike Wallace on Thursday. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Bloomfield Township, Michigan, for Governor Richards. Hello.

CALLER: Governor Richards, you are very...

RICHARDS: Yes, ma'am.

CALLER: You are a very courageous and inspiring as a recovering alcoholic woman. What would you have to say to the thousands of recovering alcoholic women who are barraged with the medical evidence that we should have one drink a day?

RICHARDS: Oh, no. Oh, no.

KING: You know, there is -- those who say people who have problems with the heart -- that one drink a day...

RICHARDS: No, no, no, no.

KING: ... is a very good idea.

RICHARDS: No, no, no. No, there's no -- no, no. If you're an alcoholic, there is no good excuse to drink. You got to figure out another way to do whatever it is, if you're going to take care of your heart or you're going take care of your personality.

KING: Are you saying the alcoholic looks at that news that says, "Have a shot a day"...

RICHARDS: Oh, absolutely. Oh, man. You know, give me an excuse. No, it don't work that way. If you are an alcoholic, the chemistry of the effect of that alcohol in you causes you to do really crazy things, mainly drink some more.

This whole business of having one drink just won't cut it. I've known too many. I've seen too many. Been there, done that. The alcoholic is looking for any excuse whatsoever to be able to have another drink, and, once it starts, it's all downhill from there.

I like to tell people that alcoholism is one of my strengths, it's not one of my weaknesses. The fact that I was able to go through those years of drinking and then go through my recovery and hospitalization, and I have now been -- What will it be? -- 22 years, 23 years without a drink, is one of the great, great stories of my life.

I take a lot of comfort in that. I know that it is part of my strength. I know that any time of day if I've got something that is really causing me grief or bothering me, I've got an A.A. meeting that I can go to, and I have a brother and sisterhood that is going to help me through anything that I go through.

KING: As well said as I've ever heard it said.

Shallow Water, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Governor Richards. I'd like to know what advice you have for parents who come from alcoholic homes on telling your children about what -- about alcoholism.

RICHARDS: Well, I think you have to be very open, and you have to talk about it in such a matter of fact way. Don't make any mystery out of it, that alcohol affects us differently than it does other people, and because other people have a drink doesn't mean that they're bad people. You know, kids have a way maybe of making judgments about Uncle Joe or Aunt Fanny who can have a drink but who then do not have to continue to drink. Now here's one thing that's important for parents to understand in themselves. If you are the child of an alcoholic, you are going to have behavioral differences than other people. Alcoholic children have a tendency to be workaholics.

They just plow away like crazy because, when their parent was drinking, they thought, if they could do everything, it would set the world right, that perhaps, if they were to be able to make things all right for the alcoholic, the alcoholic would quit drinking -- You understand the psychology that's going on there? -- when, in reality, those children can't do anything about that alcoholic. That alcoholic has to do it for him or herself.

But those children have those behavioral characteristics that will go with them the rest of their lives. I've always said if I could get the child of an alcoholic to work for me as an employee, I'm happy as a clam because you're going to get a devoted and hardworking person.

KING: Do you ever want a drink?

RICHARDS: Never. And I feel very fortunate in that, Larry. From the time that I went through the intervention with my family and friends and went away to the hospital, I never had the desire for another drink. It -- to me, even smelling it, if I get a whiff of it, it's just like smelling DDT or some kind of poison to me.

KING: On a political note, the National Republican Senatorial and House Committees are giving a three-photo set, including pictures of President Bush calling Vice President Cheney from Air Force One on 9/11 -- giving to donors who give $150 or more. The Democrats are calling it grotesque. The White House said it does not object to the Republican Party raising money from the photos. What do you make of it?

RICHARDS: Yeah. Well, that sounds like a lot of politics to me, you know. I tell you what, if Bill Clinton had done that, they would have crucified him. But I wouldn't be surprised if Bush is able to get away with it.

You know, I think what they're saying here is that you shouldn't capitalize on such a terrible tragedy. You know, you shouldn't be making money and you shouldn't be making politics out of a day when so many, many people lost their lives in this country and that -- in that terrible tragedy. So that's what they're talking about.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more with Governor Ann Richards.

Tomorrow night, an hour with Rosie O'donnell. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

Chicago for Governor Richards. Hello. CALLER: Hi, Larry. Governor Richards, my...

KING: Hi.

RICHARDS: Yes, ma'am.

CALLER: My grandmother lives in Houston. and, with the exception of her, you are my favorite yellow rose.

RICHARDS: Oh, how great. How nice of you.

CALLER: Well, thank you.

My question is, as you know, 10 years ago, 1992, was called the year of the woman, and...

RICHARDS: Yeah.

CALLER: ... a lot of women winning public office at a national level and state level. But it seems like the numbers have steadily increased but kind of leveled off. What's your thought -- what is your thought about female politicians and are the numbers ever going to really get a big bump at some point?

RICHARDS: I -- first, I think that things like the year of the woman are used a lot of times for fund-raising purposes, you know, gives you a hook to get some news stories. It was just a particular time in which a lot of women had the opportunity to run.

There's no sense in women running just for the heck of it. Women need to run when there is an open seat, where there's an opportunity, when they actually can defeat an incumbent. So I really don't believe in women doing lemming politics, which is getting out there and running off the edge of a cliff.

But, yes, we are slowly but surely going to gain more and more seats in the United States Congress because we -- there are more women with experience now in place to make those races. We had to get the credentials, and we had to get enough women who had served at the local level or served in their state legislatures or who had run statewide for office and who could literally then go and say to the voters, "Here's my record, and I hope you'll promote me and elect me to higher office."

So, incrementally, we're going to see that happen. I hope we see a big wad of them at one point. But only if it gives us the opportunity actually to win, not just making token races.

KING: Sherman, Texas. Hello. Maybe I ought to hit the button. Sherman, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Yes.

KING: Yes. Go ahead.

CALLER: Governor Richards, it's so nice to talk to you. RICHARDS: Thank you.

CALLER: I met you at Grayson College in Sherman some years back.

RICHARDS: Yeah. A good school and a lovely town, Sherman is.

CALLER: Yes, thank you.

My question is back to the alcohol problem we have in our nation. What do you feel like we need to do in regards to our college campuses and universities where there's such an epidemic?

RICHARDS: Yeah. You know, it -- it's a big problem with kids because, at that age, they're going to live forever, nothing they can -- is going to happen to them, you know, they can get away with anything, and they want to experiment. They got out from under Mama and Daddy's thumb, and so now they're experiencing a little freedom, and that includes drinking a whole lot.

But I think that the tone has to be set from the top of colleges and universities that there are appropriate ways to celebrate. There are appropriate ways to do things, and getting drunk and take in a lot of shots with whiskey are -- is not the way to do it. I can't tell you that that's going to work.

I can't say that because kids are going to do stupid and foolish things. They're going to drink too much. They're going to drive too fast. And I remember going to bed every night and just praying, "Oh, Lord, let my boys live enough to get over this stage of their life." That's just simply the way it works.

Now what can be done that really will make a difference in alcoholism? We can start in our penitentiaries by giving those people training and understanding and treatment of their addictions because, when you take somebody out of the penitentiary that was a drunk and you put them back out on the street, believe me, they are going to get drunk, they're going to use drugs or whatever their addiction is, and they're going to commit another crime, and it is one of the most costly things in this country.

It's one of the things -- I'll never forgive George Bush for dismantling the treatment programs that we put in place in the Texas prison system. It was expensive, yes. Was it working? Yes. Was it making a difference when those people got back out? Absolutely. We need to do that more than any other thing that I can think of about alcoholism.

KING: We only have a minute left. How do you like being a New Yorker?

RICHARDS: Oh, man, am I doing it all, Larry. I look in the newspaper, and everything that seems just really New Yorky to do, well, I do it. Of course, I'm -- you know, I'm barely here half the time. I go back to Texas, and I'll always be a Texan. But I am having a wonderful time while I'm here. I went to the dog show down at Madison Square Garden. I went up to hear Calvin Butts preach at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. I went to an art lecture over at the Metropolitan Museum. I have seen every show there is to see. Man, this is some town.

KING: Thank you, Governor. Always good seeing you.

RICHARDS: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Governor Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas who sings it out pretty good.

We'll come back momentarily and tell you about programs ahead. First, this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night, Rosie O'Donnell. On Thursday night, Mike Wallace. And Friday night, Barry Manilow interview and music. An evening with Barry on Friday. Sunday night, we'll repeat our interview with the extraordinary young man Matty Stupenic (ph).

Aaron Brown has the night off. Judy Woodruff sits in again as the host of "NEWS NIGHT." She's got an exciting show tonight that includes a special interview by Connie Chung and her interview of Mary Matalin.

So, Judith, the platform is yours.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com





 
 
 
 


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