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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Farewell To President Ford

Aired January 2, 2007 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Gerald Ford ascended the presidency when a nation needed a leader of character and humility and we found it in the man from Grand Rapids.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, on this National Day of Mourning, his friends and colleagues remember America's 38th president, a man of uncommon decency, thrust into the White House by uncommon events.

With us, Ford's former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, an honorary pallbearer at today's Washington memorial service, where he gave one of the eulogies; President Ford's long time friend, former Senator Alan Simpson; plus legendary reporter Bob Woodward, who was at today's memorial service, as well.

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

In addition to our opening panel just mentioned, Bob Woodward, Alan Simpson and James Canon, Bob Schieffer joins us, the anchor and moderator of CBS News' "Face the Nation."

What was it like today, Bob?

BOB SCHIEFFER, ANCHOR, "FACE THE NATION": Well, it was quite a day, I must say, Larry. And what struck me was just the outpouring of just goodwill for President Ford. I've said many times, and about 30 times over the weekend, Gerald Ford was the nicest person I ever covered in public life. And what I came away with today was there were a lot of people who felt that way. They were genuinely fond of this man. He was a good man and he got a wonderful sendoff today as he left Washington for the last time.

KING: Bob Woodward, it was mentioned that he had no guile. There was nothing, there was no guile at that funeral today, was there?

BOB WOODWARD, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, there were not. I thought former President Bush said it best when he said that Gerry Ford was a man of his word, meaning that as a fellow politician, he could count on what Ford would say for people in our business of journalism, that's really important.

And I never found an occasion where Ford was not a man of his word. When he said something, you could believe it. It -- he really put a lot behind what he said and the evaluations that he made.

And so there -- the record of what he did -- I mean there is kicking around this idea, you know, that some have that he was an ordinary man. I -- there was nothing ordinary about this person. He was a very skilled politician who came at that moment of crisis and really acquitted himself not just well, but probably brilliantly.

KING: Senator Simpson, did you expect him, when he was appointed -- that's what he was -- president of the United States, did you expect him to do as well as he did?

ALAN SIMPSON, FORMER U.S. SENATE, LONGTIME FORD FRIEND: Well, yes, I had met him in Cody, Wyoming in 1958. He was campaigning for a young congressman from Wyoming named Keith Thompson. Then, of course, every year Dick Cheney ran while we served together in Congress, Ford would usually call him and say where do you want me to join you?

Do you want me to do a little something for you, or a fundraiser?

So during those 10 years, I would see Gerry Ford and see the person -- this wonderful man with a tremendous sense of humor. That has not been emphasized enough. When he threw his head back and laughed, you wanted to be there. It was -- it was encompassing.

But I would have expected him to do anything because, I don't know, maybe it's because you play intercollegiate athletics. I did, too. There's something about getting smacked in the jaw and getting up off the grass and rubbing a little dirt on it and do it again. He was indefatigable, indomitable and an inspiration and I knew whatever he did, he'd do beautifully.

KING: James Canon, you're in Grand Rapids. You wrote that terrific book, "Time And Chance: Gerald Ford's Appointment With History."

How much of Gerald Ford is Grand Rapids?

JAMES CANON: Grand Rapids -- he left Grand Rapids but Grand Rapids never left him. Hew grew up here in a model community. When he was 12 years old and becoming of age, learning to grow up, this was an all American city, and still is. And he went to Washington. He went to the White House. But Grand Rapids never left him. He was always part of this city and this city was part of him.

KING: Bob Schieffer, I know you covered that presidency. You were the White House correspondent for CBS then.

What about this unusual relationship between him and Betty?

SCHIEFFER: Well, it was one of the great love stories of our time. She was, in her own way, as much an individual as he was. And she was, Larry, very much ahead of her time. You know, when she had breast cancer, she talked about her mastectomy. People didn't do that very much in those days. And, as a result, I mean she really led the way and caused thousands of lives to be saved. Later, when her family made the intervention -- and they made an intervention when her drinking became a problem -- you know, she went to rehab. And she did it before rehab was kind of the hideout of choice for people who do something wrong in public life.

She got himself straightened out and then, you know, of course, founded the Betty Ford Center. And, again, thousands of lives were saved because of Betty Ford.

But I just remember how much fun they had together. They obviously enjoyed one another all through their marriage and she was a very remarkable woman.

KING: Bob Woodward, like Harry Truman, in a sense, was he under- appreciated?

WOODWARD: Well, we'll have to see. I mean, certainly at -- we got over a period, Watergate and Vietnam, largely because of the way Ford handled it. And so those were very, very important moments.

You were asking about Betty Ford. I mean that is really true. When I did these interviews with Ford in the last couple of years, back in 2004, part of the interview was lunch with Ford and Betty for a couple of hours. And they finished each other's sentences. They really knew what was going on. You could tell there was warmth and chemistry there that was extraordinary.

And then last year, when I went to go see him for a day of interviews, in the morning we went for about two-and-a-half hours. And for somebody his age, that's extraordinary. And he said I'm going to have to take a lunch break. It's Betty's birthday today and she'd been in the hospital and I've got to go have lunch with her.

And he did that and then he came back and spent another two hours.

KING: Wow!

We'll take a break and be back with more.

We'll talk some moments with Rev. Dr. Robert Certain, who presided over the ceremony today.

He, too, is back in Grand Rapids for tomorrow's fond farewell.

We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE H.W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But to know Gerry was to know a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, an avuncular figure, quick to smile, frequently with his pipe in his mouth. He could be tough as nails when the situation warranted, but he also had a heart as big and as open as the Midwest Plains on which he was born.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP FROM GERALD R. FORD'S STATE FUNERAL)

KING: Joining us now from Grand Rapids, we're going to -- before we get back with the panel -- spend a few moments with the Reverend Dr. Robert Certain, rector of Saint Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, the Ford family's church in California. He delivered the homily at today's service. He also traveled with the Ford family back to Grand Rapids.

Will you have any duties tomorrow, Doctor?

REV. DR. ROBERT CERTAIN, RECTOR, SAINT MARGARET'S CHURCH, PALM DESERT, CALIFORNIA: Yes, sir. I'll be presiding and preaching at the service tomorrow at Grace Church and then officiating at the internment here at the museum.

KING: How is the family doing?

CERTAIN: The family is remarkable. They're very close. They're very loving. They're very gracious. They've all come over to the Rotunda. They're probably out here somewhere tonight shaking hands with people who have come out to pay respects to their father. They're just a remarkably wonderful family.

KING: You were very close with them. Betty and Gerry, that was an extraordinary love story, wasn't it?

CERTAIN: Absolutely. As the last -- as the last segment said, they finished each other's sentences and they were the light of each other's eyes.

KING: How religious was he?

He didn't talk about religion much publicly.

CERTAIN: No. That's what I understand, although he certainly exhibited his faith in every kind of way publicly. He was a, as I said in my homily today at the cathedral, he exhibited all the Christian virtues that our lord called for without putting it in anybody's face that he was doing it as a Christian.

I think it's one of the most -- one of the most effective witnesses that any man can do.

KING: Doctor, you were a decorated Air Force veteran. In fact, you were a POW in Vietnam.

CERTAIN: Yes, sir.

KING: Did you and Gerald Ford ever discuss military service?

CERTAIN: Oh, of course we did. After I came to -- to Saint Margaret's, the first thing he did was write a note and ask me to come visit him up at Beaver Creek that summer while I was doing reserve duty at the Air Force Academy.

And we talked about the war and the end of the war, where I got involved. We talked about that ladder that he had acquired from Ho Chi Minh City -- Saigon -- that was, to him, a symbol of human striving for freedom. And it was one of the proudest conversations he had with me.

KING: Were you surprised to learn from Bob Woodward's reporting and the tape that the president was opposed to Iraq?

CERTAIN: I think anybody that's been in a war is opposed to the war. We've been there. We know it's a horrible situation. We don't like to get engaged in wars if politics can resolve it ahead of time. And so I'm -- I wasn't surprised and I think that the man spoke his heart.

KING: What's his legacy, Doctor?

CERTAIN: Well, out in the desert his legacy is multiple. First of all, he healed this nation in the 1970s from all the upheavals of the '60s and early '70s. Not only was it the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War and Watergate, we also had the women's equality movement and within U.S. Christianity, we had a major upheaval and liturgical change in most of the liturgical churches, of which the Episcopal Church is one.

KING: Yes.

CERTAIN: And so he had a mess on his hands when he became president and by the time he had been office a little over 800 days, that mess was resolved.

KING: You've touched a lot of bases, as did he.

Thank you, Doctor.

CERTAIN: Thank you.

KING: The Reverend Doctor Robert Certain.

He is the Ford pastor.

Back to our panel.

Alan Simpson, you recall inviting President Ford to speak. He was then, after his presidency, at Harvard. And he discussed the pardon with Archibald Cox and economist John Kenneth Galbraith. All three are now gone. We understand that was quite a -- what was that like?

SIMPSON: It was a very small gathering. Gerry Ford came up. I think it was the Al Gordon lecture. Whatever it was, he came. And I was there as -- on the -- as a visiting lecturer and then was the director of the Institute of Politics.

He came and we had this coffee before the talk. And Arch Cox, who was my professor in labor law when I was using up the G.I. Bill one summer at Colorado University -- I'm a graduate of the University of Wyoming. And John Kenneth Galbraith came to my class every year that I was there. And he'd get up and he'd say Simpson and I don't see eye to eye on anything until we stand up, because he was 6'8" and I was 6'7."

And those three sat in the room and they talked about courage and what was there in my life. And I think Joe and I, that was the only people there for about an hour.

KING: Wow!

SIMPSON: And Arch Cox said, you know, I admired you for what you did. And Gerry said how about what you did in the face of Nixon's entreaty?

And then Galbraith congratulated Ford. He said it was a terribly gutsy thing to do for the pardon. And Gerry said to him, look what you went through in life. You were called a communist. He said I'm not a communist. I'm not even a Democrat. I'm a socialist.

And then they began to laugh. It was -- I wish -- I wish all America could have heard those three tremendous icons -- whether you agreed with them or not -- speaking about one thing -- guts and courage, how each of them had done that in their lives.

KING: James Canon, you've written and spoken about how he was not afraid to have strong people around him, right?

CANON: Absolutely. He had -- from his childhood, he had learned from someone -- from those who knew more about a subject than he did. He learned from his coach in high school. He learned from his coach in college. He learned from people everywhere he could.

He habitually attracted people who knew more about a subject than he did. He wanted their views, he wanted to hear all views and he insisted that when I was working for him that I leave out nothing, leave -- that everyone had a voice and he wanted to hear it.

Then he applied his own judgment and logic and made a decision and never looked back.

KING: We'll be back with more of Bob Schieffer, Bob Woodward, Alan Simpson and James Canon.

We're going to spend a few moments, though, with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, one of the eulogists at today's service.

We'll be right back with Henry right after this.

(VIDEO CLIP FROM GERALD R. FORD'S STATE FUNERAL)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CERTAIN: A god whose mercies cannot be numbered except our prayers on behalf of thy servant, Gerald Ford. And grant him an entrance into the land of light and joy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Joining us now from New York is Dr. Henry Kissinger.

He was Ford's secretary of state. He served in that position in the Nixon administration, as well, and delivered one of the eulogies today at the National Cathedral.

He also was an honorary pallbearer.

I guess most of us have learned in the last few days, Dr. Kissinger, that you and Gerald Ford were very close, weren't you?

DR. HENRY KISSINGER, FORD'S SECRETARY OF STATE: We were very close. We were -- our families were close and he and I were very close. We talked frequently on the telephone. It's been -- as long as he could still travel, we would have dinner or go to the theater in New York together. And I stayed at their house in California once and in Vail once.

It was a very personal relationship.

KING: What was he like to work for?

KISSINGER: Oh, he was remarkable. He came -- he's the only president who came into office with no real transition period and in the middle of an international crisis. For example, Turkey had invaded Cyprus the week before he came into office, so there was a monumental crisis in the Eastern Mediterranean. There were a number of Arab foreign ministers who were scheduled to come to Washington and it was important that they come to Washington because we had already seen the Israeli foreign minister and we did not want to create the impression that we would not listen and discuss the Arab point of view.

So he agreed that he would receive them, even though he had just come into office. He had to deal with -- he had to make himself known to 160 foreign countries. There were negotiations on nuclear arms going on with the Soviet Union and he had to establish himself as the president who was in charge of foreign policy.

He never showed any impatience. He never showed any insecurity. He immediately took charge in the sense that he wanted to hear what the alternatives were and decided rapidly between them. And he did all of this in a -- with a wonderful attitude and enormous humanity.

KING: What did you think during the debate with Mr. Carter in the '76 campaign when he said that there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration?

KISSINGER: I knew exactly...

KING: Were you shocked at that?

KISSINGER: No. No. I knew exactly what had happened. He was over briefed. In the most before, he had been accused of having gone to the Helsinki Conference. He had been accused of recognizing the satellite orbit in Eastern Europe.

Today, everybody knows that the Helsinki Conference was the beginning of the end of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe because it established as an international obligation the observance of human rights principals by all the nations that had signed the agreement and it was used by people like Walesa and Havel.

But one didn't know that yet in '76. So his staff, probably including me, had kept warning Ford that if he were asked that question, that he himself had recognized the satellite orbit. And he was so focused on that that when a question came along, he answered it under the pressure of events. He knew very well what the situation was.

What he meant to say was yes, the communists are now in charge, but we do not recognize Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. That's what he wanted to say.

KING: You said in your eulogy that he was not consumed by driving ambition.

Isn't that extraordinarily surprising for a politician?

KISSINGER: Well, you have to remember, his ambition was to remain a congressman from Grand Rapids and in time to work himself up to be speaker of the House of Representatives. So he was on the track that he had set out for himself.

Then suddenly, by something that had never happened in American history before, that the vice president and the president both resigned within a year of each other and that he emerged as a logical replacement for the vice president, who had resigned, Agnew, because of the support he would have in the Congress.

But he thought that it was -- his attitude was the opportunity to be president of the United States was a blessing that fate had conferred on him and that he could not affect it by anything that he did except by doing the best job he could.

There was a moment, for example, in the 1976 primary campaigns where we had decided to go ahead with -- with supporting and pushing majority rule in Southern Africa. And people had said well, why don't you wait with that until after the primary campaigns?

And Ford said we can't put foreign policy in limbo every four years. We will do what is needed and I will take the lumps.

And so he said he would take the responsibility. And it was a very typical attitude for him.

KING: Where do you rank him, Henry? KISSINGER: How do I rank him?

KING: Yes.

KISSINGER: In terms of the challenges he faced, he met the challenges and in the process, he healed America because he -- he couldn't overcome every division but he made it easier for people to work with each other. In the White House of his time, there was a spirit of camaraderie that has expressed itself that in this 20 plus years since he's left office, nearly 30 years that he's left office, every year the key people of his administration have met in June in Washington with an attendance of about 95 percent. And they felt good about each other and they felt good about what President Ford had given them an opportunity to do.

KING: Thank you, Henry.

Always good seeing you.

KISSINGER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Dr. Henry Kissinger.

In our next segment, some interesting observations about the Ford administration and how it may have shaped today's Bush administration.

Stick around for more on LARRY KING LIVE.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GERALD R. FORD, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The meetings with General Secretary Brezhnev, I am pleased, went very, very well. They represent both a beginning and a continuation. They were the beginning of what I hope will be a productive personal relationship between Mr. Brezhnev and myself. We both, I believe, came away from Vladivostok with mutual respect and a common determination to continue the search for peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: As we come back, you're looking live at the interior of the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His body lies in state there as the duplicate of the cabinet room. Very interesting, that museum. I was there when it opened and did my national radio show from that site all night long. The president guested with me. It's a three-sided building. If you're in western Michigan, you should go by and see it. It really is an unusual structure.

Back with our panel. Bob Schieffer, with the people like Cheney around him and Rumsfeld, do you think that this was a forerunner of the current administration was in the Ford administration?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I can just only speak from personal experience, Larry, but so many of the Republicans that I came to know in Washington as a reporter, I first met them when they were members of the Ford administration.

Most of the Democrats I know I met when they were members of the Carter administration, which came after. But there were a lot of people there that we all still know about. Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, you just saw, Rumsfeld, his first tour of duty at the Pentagon.

It was President Ford who sent him there after he had removed Jim Schlesinger, who was the secretary of defense there. And of course, Vice President Cheney was the 32-year-old chief of staff and I must say one of the best White House chiefs of staff that I ever dealt with.

He was very open, very accessible. I literally used to talk to him almost on a daily basis. He was so accessible that we often talked to him more than we talked to the press secretary, Ron Nessen at that time. Those days, we'll never see them again, I'm afraid. But in those days it was a very, very open White House.

KING: Bob Woodward, what changed? Because I know that President Ford told me at the '92 Republican Convention that this was not his party, but these guys were his guys, weren't they?

WOODWARD: They were. When I talked to him about it he referred to the Ford administration as the incubator where these people who were, as Bob Schieffer put it, quite young, had very important jobs and now many of them resurfaced in the Bush administration.

I mean, certainly the Republican Party changed, the country changed. What's interesting in all of this and why there's almost a gravitational force in Ford, and that is Ford's candor. He was direct. You were asking Henry Kissinger about the gaffe in the '76 debate where Ford says there was no domination by the Soviet Union, of Eastern Europe, when, of course, there was.

It took Ford about a day and a half to realize that, Cheney and Scowcroft were beating up on him and just saying very directly because he insisted on direct communication, that was a mistake. And he wouldn't acknowledge it and then finally he did.

Now, you ask Ford about it, as I did last year, and there's not this, oh, I was over-briefed or it was somebody else's fault. He said, I made a mistake. I screwed up. It is that direct use of language and the willingness to land on reality that I think attracts people, attracted people to this man.

KING: Well said. Alan Simpson, you asked Gerry Ford to serve on the board of directors for the Republican Party Union Coalition, a National Gay/Straight Alliance. And he had a special reason for agreeing. What was it?

SIMPSON: He certainly did. That was a group Jack Danforth and I, David Rockefeller, Charles Francis here in Washington, it's called the Republican Unity Coalition and they said would you ask Gerry to come on the board. I said, look, he's 88-years-old. He doesn't need any more boards. Called Gerry, I said Gerry, here's what this is. He said, Al, I want to join that. I'll be on that board because when I was -- when I was the attempted assassination by Squeaky Fromme, the Secret Service agent that knocked the gun away was later determined to be gay. And the media myth, and he said this is the harshest myth of my administration. It was portrayed that Betty and I and the family then turned away from him, this fine young man that saved my life, and he said that was so phony and rotten a myth because that young man shared Christmas with us, he was a great friend of the entire family. I want to put that one to bed and I want to be part of that organization. That's Gerry Ford.

KING: James Cannon, did he ever question the final report of the Warren Commission?

CANNON: No, absolutely not. He -- contribution to that report. The staff said that there was no evidence of a conspiracy. Ford said, we can't say that. We can't prove a negative, but what we can say is that we show no evidence of a conspiracy.

There's one other important thing that I should say here, Larry, and that is how he got to be vice president. Technically, of course, Nixon nominated him, but Nixon's first choice was not Ford, but John Connally. It was Congress that was particularly and specifically Speaker Carl Albert and Senate majority leader Mike Mansfield who told Ford this is who you can get confirmed. And once they told him that, Nixon had no choice but to nominate Ford. So Congress nominated Ford.

KING: We are learning a lot tonight and we'll be back to learn a lot more on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. When we come back, I'll talk to the political rival who eventually formed a special bond with the Fords. And why members of media did more than just report on today's Washington farewell, some of them even took part. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS: My colleague Bob Schieffer called him the nicest man he ever met in politics. To that I will only add the most underestimated. In many ways, I believe football was another word for his life in politics and after. He played in the middle of the line. He was a center, a position that seldom receives much praise but he had his hands on the ball for every play and no play could start without him. And when the game was over and others received the credit, he didn't whine or whimper. Farewell, Mr. President. Thank you, citizen Ford.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Joining us now for a few moments out of Miami is George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, author of a new book "Out of Iraq: A Practical Plan for Withdrawal Now." Senator McGovern, you lost your daughter Terri to alcoholism. Gerald Ford's support of his wife's anti-addiction efforts must have had a special meaning to you.

GEORGE MCGOVERN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Absolutely. And we did have a common bond there. I served in the House with President Ford when he was a congressman. I was just a freshman. He was emerging as the Republican leader in the House. But he always treated the lowliest freshman congressman the same way he treated everybody else.

I first came to really know him on the day we ended the war in Vietnam. That was April 30th, 1975, when he invited me to a small stag dinner at the White House. I was a little puzzled by it, because I didn't know him all that well.

And I arrived there. And here was King Hussein, the late Senator Fulbright, myself and one or two others.

And I told him that night, Mr. President, this is the first time I've been invited to the White House socially in 10 years, since I first began criticizing our involvement in Vietnam. He said, George, I know that. That's why you're here tonight. I never forgot that.

KING: Was he a good president?

MCGOVERN: Yes, I think he was. There's a consensus in the country that we've heard the last few days, from Republicans and Democrats, liberals, conservatives, those in the middle -- I think he perhaps now has earned the title unifier in chief. He's probably done a better job of pulling all the various elements of American politics together than any other person I know. And he deserves high marks for that.

KING: Are you surprised -- go ahead. I'm sorry. Go ahead.

MCGOVERN: I have to tell you something I've never said before publicly. I voted for him in 1976.

KING: What?

MCGOVERN: When he -- yes, I did. And at Thanksgiving dinner that year, I never said anything about this to Eleanor or to her five children. But I told them at Thanksgiving time I had voted for President Ford, even though he lost. And I told them why, because I thought he had come in at a difficult time. I didn't know President Carter very well then. And I just felt more comfortable somehow with Gerry Ford. Whereupon my wife Eleanor said, so did I vote for him.

We went around that table -- this is hard to believe -- all five of my kids voted for him. So they get seven votes out of the McGovern family for President Ford and Senator Dole, my long-time Republican friend.

I voted for Carter again in 1980. So with my brand of political luck, I voted against Carter when he won, I voted for him when he lost. But I can justify both of those votes.

KING: What a great story. Thank you, George McGovern, on the occasion of the passing of Gerald Ford.

MCGOVERN: Could I also add one -- could I add one thing?

KING: Yes.

MCGOVERN: Larry, I supported the pardon for President Nixon. I suppose I was the person that suffered more from the cover-up of Watergate while I was running against Mr. Nixon than anyone else. But I supported that idea of a pardon even before President Ford granted it.

I called Barry Goldwater and asked him, at 6:00 one morning in the summer of '74, what would you think of you and I on a bipartisan basis calling for a pardon for President Nixon? He wasn't enthusiastic about it.

KING: I know.

MCGOVERN: I saw him after we both left the Senate many years later. And he says, George, I remember that call. This was out in Phoenix, where I was making a speech. But he said, you know, he lied to me, Nixon did. He lied to the Congress, he lied to the press, he lied to the American people. I want nothing more to do with him. I haven't spoken to him since. So that was Barry Goldwater.

KING: Got to get a break. Thank you, George. George McGovern. Back with our panel right after these words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy. Gerald Ford, you showed mercy when others demanded vengeance. May God have mercy on your soul.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Anderson Cooper joins us at the top of the hour to host "AC 360." What's up tonight, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, coming up on "360," we're going to cover the farewell to President Ford. We'll also bring you the latest on that cell phone video taken from inside Saddam Hussein's execution chamber. One of the chief prosecutors who was in the room said he and everyone else was searched before going in. So it remains a mystery how it happened.

We're also going to bring you -- just for something different, we hope special, a special look at now more than the 3,000 men and women killed in Iraq. It is not just a round number. These are lives with stories, heroes all. We'll remember some of them tonight.

All that and more, Larry, at the top of the hour.

KING: That's "AC 360", 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

Bob Schieffer, were you surprised to hear that George McGovern voted for Gerald Ford?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I'm going to say, Larry, that's the kind of story that Bob Woodward usually turns up. I think you win the investigative award here tonight.

KING: The Woodward award.

Are you surprised, Woodward?

WOODWARD: Yes. In fact, I was. I remember talking to Senator McGovern once about the '72 race, which he lost to Nixon in a landslide. And I remember McGovern realized that Watergate was a big story and tried to get it into the campaign and was not successful.

But what McGovern said is that he went to bed that night quite confident he had won and beaten Richard Nixon. Of course, he lost in a landslide. So there's a bubble on every campaign.

KING: Alan Simpson, you surprised?

SIMPSON: Let me tell you, Larry, sitting here with two of the most excited journalists I've ever seen in my life, oh, my God!

I thought they were going to leap right through their skin. I'm having more fun -- well, it's good to see that kind of joy.

KING: It sure is.

SIMPSON: No, no, but George McGovern has become a wonderful friend of mine and we have had him at the University of Wyoming and he is just that way. George McGovern is just one of the rare guys in this country. We're involved now in a senior citizens group, a bunch of old coots, council of elders, to be sure that we leave something behind for young people and that old folks don't clean out the treasury.

KING: And great World War II hero, George McGovern.

WOODWARD: Larry, very quickly, Alan Simpson could top that by telling us that he voted for Jimmy Carter in 1976. Is that possible?

SIMPSON: I didn't. But -- but he invited me first. I'd been in office six weeks and Jimmy Carter invited me to the Oval Office. And I thought, for 45 minutes talking about, you know, I thought (INAUDIBLE) what a country.

KING: James Cannon, are you surprised to hear that?

CANNON: I was -- I was quite -- excuse me. I was quite surprised and I think that I was even more surprised that he proposed after all the damage done to him by Watergate -- he lost the election which he probably was going to lose anyway -- but that he proposed a pardon after all the damage that Nixon had done to him. KING: Yes.

We'll be back with our remaining moments with Bob Schieffer, Bob Woodward, Alan Simpson and James Cannon right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC AND FOOTAGE OF THE FORD FUNERAL)

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KING: Bob Schieffer, remaining moments. We all have to talk about legacy. What's history going to say?

SCHIEFFER: I think history is going to look very kindly on Gerald Ford, Larry. I really do. I think the pardon will turn out to be a very significant action. I think he gave the country a time to relax and move forward.

I at the time opposed it, like many did. I've come to understand that I think he did the right thing and I think it was a very good thing for this country.

KING: Woodward?

WOODWARD: Well, I was fascinated that his minister just said earlier that this business about not going to war in Iraq, which Ford told me about a couple of years ago. He said Ford was speaking from the heart. And I think this is a person who spoke from the heart in all of his actions. And he -- a editor at the "Washington Post" once told me, "Always look for where the emotions are in somebody." And what Ford did is he cared so deeply about these things. If you look at the pardon, you look at Vietnam, you look at everything that he did, there was an intensity and an engagement which he'll be remembered and highly regarded for.

KING: Alan Simpson?

SIMPSON: I think when you want to talk to people about their insides, you say, "Who do you love or what do you love?" And you're going to get some amazing responses because that kind of cleans off the outer crust.

And what did he love? He loved the United States. He loved Michigan. He loved his wife. Who did he love? Betty, those kids, the United States.

But what I loved about him was his guts, pure guts and that marvelous resiliency which comes from the playing field, when you get smacked to the ground and get up and keep right on going.

KING: Well said.

James Cannon? CANNON: I think he's going to turn out to be in history a first- rank president. Not a great president, but a first-rank president. And I think he had many fine qualities, but two that I think are essential to a good president. One, he had a practical mind and, two, he had a stout heart, maybe a noble heart.

KING: Bob Schieffer, one other thing for you. What was his White House like to cover?

SCHIEFFER: It was -- first of all, it was fun. We had a lot of access in those days. We traveled a lot. And when you traveled a lot, you got to know both the president and his staff. He was very comfortable around reporters, unlike a lot of people who have come to the presidency lately. He had been up on Capitol Hill for 25 years. Dealing with the press was something he did on a daily basis. He had a genuine respect for the press. And I think the fact that he had asked Tom Brokaw to be one of those to speak at his funeral today, I very much appreciated that. Gerald Ford understood his role as president. He also understood that the press has its role to play in a democracy. And he was very comfortable with that.

KING: Thank you all very much. Thank our other guests and especially the panel with us for the full hour: Bob Schieffer, Bob Woodward, Alan Simpson, and James Cannon. As we look again into Grand Rapids, Michigan at the Gerald Ford Museum where his body lies in rest. It will stay that way over night. Burial is tomorrow.

And tomorrow on this show, we'll salute another late American of great vintage. We'll remember James Brown. And his widow will be here as well. James Brown remembered tomorrow night.

Right now, let's go to New York. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" is next -- A.C.

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