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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Pre-Election Roundtable

Aired November 5, 2006 - 21:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, two days to go, will the balance of power shift in Washington when America votes on Tuesday?

With candidates taking their last stands across the nation, we've got all the latest on all the hottest races.

We'll talk with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Republican from Tennessee; Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and much, much more. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

Good evening and welcome to this special Sunday night pre- election edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be with you again tomorrow night and of course on Tuesday night, election night, after all the major coverage a lot of the results are in, we'll be on live at Midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific, with a two hour edition.

We begin tonight with David Gergen in Boston of "U.S. News and World Report," he's editor-at-large. He served many presidents.

James Carville, here in New York, is the Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor.

And in Washington, Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

David, overall, what does it look like?

DAVID GERGEN, "U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT": Well, here, just two days before the elections, Larry, we have contradictory trends. In the House, the tide seems to be moving more heavily toward the Democrats. The conventional wisdom says now, instead of 22-25 they might pick up 25 to 30, winning control of the House solidly.

But in the Senate, the tide's moving in the other direction. Just a few days ago, the Democrats thought they might pick up at least four and now they can be sure of no more than two. So, the tide -- it's moving contradictory directions, but the Democrats do poise -- seem poised on the eve of picking up the House of Representatives.

KING: What does that say to you, Ed Gillespie?

ED GILLESPIE, FM CHAIRMAN REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CMTE: Well, I have to agree with David. There is -- seems to me to be some confusion out there. I feel like Republicans are surging, you seeing in Montana, in Rhode Island, in Missouri, a lot of evidence that Republican Senate candidates are closing the gap and even taking the lead in some of these races.

And I think in the House, what I've seen in internals is some rallying effect, Larry, from Republican voters who are a little bit of tired of having been told for the past two or three weeks by the Democrats and some in the media that they're going to lose and are starting to say, "well, maybe we're not" and rally to the Republican candidates.

KING: Mr. Carville, how does thou see it?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, thou sees it as this, is that if you have -- if the Democrats have a big night in the House, they will have a big night in the Senate. The history...

KING: Why?

CARVILLE: Because history shows that the two kind of track each other. You can have kind of contradictory polls, if they have a mediocre night in the House, then they won't pick up the Senate. But, I don't see -- I see -- I don't see much of a possibility that you have a really good night in the House and not a very good night in the Senate. And I agree that the polls -- and if you look at -- if you talk to people or polls in the House some -- to some extent look a little better then the Senate, but I think that they tend to merge or converge or something like that on Election Day. I don't know what the right word is.

KING: Of course we all don't know anything, David, until vote one is cast, so this is all pre-election conjecture. Do you think the guilty verdict of Saddam Hussein will play anywhere here?

GERGEN: It's an interesting question. I'm wondering whether the guilty plea of Saddam Hussein has any more impact than the guilty plea of Mr. Haggard, the churchman, the Evangelical, now. You know, that -- it strike me, for a lot of Evangelicals, must be a very depressing moment, as they look out at the leadership, and here's a fellow who's working very closely with the White House. Well, I think that I would, if I were in the Republican camp, if I were in Ed's shoes I'd worry a little more about the Evangelical plea of guilty.

KING: And it wasn't a plea by Saddam Hussein, it was finding of the court.

GERGEN: Right.

KING: Ed, if the House goes as David projected it, will Iraq be the reason?

GILLESPIE: Well, I think Iraq is a major factor of this campaign, Larry, as well it should be. Look, we have men and women sacrificing, and there's essential question before the voters today, which is, is that sacrifice and this victory in Iraq essential to winning the war on terror? I believe and many other Republicans -- most other Republicans agree that it is. Democrats say not it's not, it's a distraction from the war on terror and we need to bring our troops out of there and I think it would turn Iraq over to chaos and to terrorists who would be an enemy in the "war on terror," that would be a mistake in foreign policy, but it is clearly one of the defing issues in this mid-term election.

KING: James, does the Haggard thing play?

CARVILLE: You know, to somewhat, I agree with David, some, I mean, I think it's pretty depressing, I mean, but there's been a long line in American history of duplicitas, lying preachers, it doesn't mean the flock is not true. That's hardly anything new in American history.

In terms of the Saddam Hussein verdict, I don't -- there's some people that'd tell you it was kind of a mistake because it reminds people about Iraq and you saw the contrast, you had the vice president on Sunday morning television, George Stephanopoulos saying it's full speed ahead with the "stay the course" policy. I think people don't want -- the message they want is not the full speed ahead with a "stay the course" policy, I think they want something different, but the vice president, who has a lot more power and say-so than I do says it's full speed ahead. So, we'll see what happens on Election Day.

KING: David Gergen, is the White House not reading Iraq right?

GERGEN: Well, I must say I was surprised at the vice president's comments on the eve of election it -- because there are a variety of surveys out there saying people really would like a fresh start or fresh direction, they would agree with Ed Gillespie that you know, cutting and running not a good idea, but they're looking for some fresh course.

And there been an assumption going into this that after the election, the president would take a fresh look and for the vice president to sort of, in his defiant terms, you know, throw down the gauntlet and said, no, we don't care what the people say in this election, we're going to do it our own way, full speed ahead, I think this holds out a red flag in front of a bull for Democratic voters, it makes it more likely to want to go out and send a message to the White House, that by golly, we're not happy with the way this is going.

KING: Ed, what concerns you most about all of this? Are you very worried about the House?

GILLESPIE: Oh sure. I think there's not a Republican in this business who's not worried about the House. I'm optimistic. I think our turnout effort will help save a lot of those seats that are on the bubble right now. I think that as voters get closer to casting a vote on Tuesday and look at the serious stakes in this election, Larry, when it comes to our national security, when it come our economy, we have, in the House of Representatives, Charles Rangel would be the head of the tax writing commission -- Tax Writing Committee. He has said that there is not single tax cut President Bush has passed that he would extend. That means if you have children, you're going to pay $1,000 more in taxes because the child tax rider would be cut in half and our economy would -- the gross would slow, so I think that we're going to do OK, but yeah, sure, I'm worried.

KING: James, will Democrats -- straight question, take the House?

CARVILLE: Yes.

KING: Yes? And the Senate?

CARVILLE: It depends how much they take the House by. If they take the House by 30 seats or better, I say the odds shift in their favor in the Senate. If they take the House by 20 seats I think the odds shift in the Republicans' favor -- a net of 20, if they...

KING: David Gergen, James Carville, Ed Gillespie, they'll all return in the last segment of this program tonight.

When we come back, Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, who is leaving the Senate. He's next. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to the special Sunday night edition of LARRY KIND LIVE. We join us now from Knoxville is Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, Republican of Tennessee. He leaves the Senate the end of this term. Definitely going to run for the presidency?

BILL FRIST (R), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Larry, it was 12 years ago, almost to the day, I said I was going to serve 12 years in the United States Senate and then come back home and that's what I'm going to do and then make a decision in January, early part of the year, to decide how best to serve after that.

KING: What's going to happen in that rather, I guess, dirty Tennessee Senate race?

FRIST: You know, Larry, I was listening to your earlier segment and it is fascinating, I've traveled to Tennessee, Montana, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri and what I'm seeing is much more of a surge. I think Ed may of mentioned it a little bit. In Tennessee, you've seen it, it's been pretty dramatic. About three weeks ago, Bob Corker, mainstream Tennessee and Tennessee values, was about seven eight points behind. And now in the Mason-Dixon poll, he's about 12 points ahead, today.

So, you see, as people have gotten closer to the elections, focus not on these national issues, but on local issues and with that, at least here in Tennessee, we have seen this huge momentum, this surge, well, of candidate Bob Corker who's for lower taxes, strong on security, mainstream Tennessee values and so we're going to win this race here.

KING: Senator Frist, there are many who are saying that may be a black-white issue. Is it? FRIST: No, you know, that's interesting, as well. Several things, as I talk to the media out of New York and Washington, most is the focus is on Iraq and how that's coloring the elections. What I'm seeing are a couple of things, people are beginning to focus much more on economic issues, on their wallet, on their pocketbook, on job creation, the good news came out a few days ago, 4.4 percent employment.

People don't seem to be talking about that on the national media very much, but it is becoming a dominant issue here and then it looks -- you go back to lower taxes versus higher taxes.

The other thing that you hear the national media, in large part because of that controversial ad that was condemned by everybody, is that race was going to enter into the elections here. And I've been all over Tennessee, and will be for the next two days, and race really has not entered, on the ground, in the eyes of the voter, into this election, here. If you listen just to the national media, you would think it is and it's out there, but it really hasn't.

KING: If the Democrats win the House, as James Carville says that will, and Gergen says all indications point to that, will that carry over to the Senate?

FRIST: Well, I don't think so, if you see what's happening right now. In Montana, right now, everybody said Conrad Burns, five or six days ago, way below the margin of error, and now he is dead even. Linc Chaffee, not a lot of people are talking about that race, but he is dead even now. And we've seen this motion, this movement here in Tennessee, Montana, Rhode Island, to where we're going to do much better, I think, than people anticipate.

The House, if we do lose the House, I don't have as much familiarity there, what we are likely to see is not the impact on the races that night, but we will see, I think, much more gridlock, we will see taxes go up, we will see an impact in policies that I think would actually hurt Americans if they win the House. But in the elections, I don't see how the House races here in Tennessee are going to affect whether or not Bob Corker wins or not.

KING: Do you agree, Senator, Iraq is the overriding issue?

FRIST: Well, it's -- I'll tell you, in the last 10 day, and I've traveled all these states and literally, I've been in the field with candidates, talking to reporters where they're getting their questions, and I've seen is this increasing focus on the economy, on jobs, on low unemployment. And that being the case, everybody is so focused on Iraq and the attempts to nationalize the election and it clearly has a huge impact, but these other more local issues seem to be the ones that the voter are going to be moving towards as we go forward.

Again Iraq has a huge impact, the war on terror has a huge impact, who's going to best equip our soldiers and our government with the tools that they need and clearly Republicans win there.

KING: Is it possible, Senator, that those issues you referred to, tax, the economy might be too late?

FRIST: Well, I don't know. That's a good question. I can tell you that the national media seem to be missing it though, based on my experience, in states like Michigan and here in Tennessee, and in places, even in Montana. People are talking about it a lot more.

I think, if you look at the curve and sort of the polls out there, the last several two weeks, you see increasing emphasis on the economy and we'll just have to see how it plays out over the next two days. I can tell you here in Tennessee, it's gotten be a huge issue.

KING: Going to miss the senate?

FRIST: Yes. You know, everybody bad mouths the United States Senate and the House of Representatives and how bad government is. But it's -- I'll tell you, having spend 20 years in medicine, healing -- doing your best to heal people there, and then 12 years in the Senate, where again, the goal is to make other people's lives better and more fulfilling, I will miss it, although for me, I think two terms is a perfect amount of time to spend there.

KING: Should more professional people, medical people, seek public office?

FRIST: Yes, you know, our founding had this concept of a citizen legislator and a lot of people give it lip service, but in truth, the career politician, today, I think does lose touch with mainstream America. You can't help but to, the way Washington is configured. It's very partisan, a lot of special interest and therefore, I think, a good -- a lot of turnover is very helpful. In terms of medicine, right now, nobody's really talking about the terrible disparities we have in healthcare today in Washington D.C. I think they would if we had more health profession actually coming into the political process.

KING: I agree. We'll probably see you Tuesday night. Thanks again Senator.

FRIST: Thank you very much. Great to be with you, Larry.

KING: Senator Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader.

When we come back, two key members of the Senate, chuck Schumer of New York, the chairman of the Senatorial Campaign Committee, he should have his pulse right on the heart of things and Senator Brownback -- Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas. Like Schumer, he's up for re-election in 2010. Don't go away.

( (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States, President Bill Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Laura Bush.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to this special Sunday night edition of LARRY KIND LIVE. Joining us now from Topeka, Kansas is Senator Sam Brownback, Republican of Kansas, not up for election until 2010.

And here in New York, is Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, he's also up for re- election in 2010. He's chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

How does it look in the Senate -- Senator Schumer.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), CHAIR DEMOCRATIC SENATORIAL CAMPAIGN CMTE: Well, it's looking pretty good. When we started out two years ago, the goal Harry Reid and I set was to keep 45 seats. Now, we're on the edge of taking back the Senate, it's not a done deal, don't give the high-fives yet, but we're real close.

KING: Senator Brownback, how does it look from your standpoint? I understand the president's coming to Kansas today, right?

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: He is, and I've been on the ground in a number of these key election states, as well, I've been in Montana, I've been in Tennessee, I've been in Ohio. We're seeing a surge take place on the Republican part. It has been a tough election cycle for the Republicans. But we're seeing, particularly in the Senate, we're seeing a surge taking place for a number of candidates, and I think that has to do with a number of factors, particularly judges that have to be confirmed by the Senate, that really causes a lot of people to get out because they want to see a bench that is full of judges and not legislators, people that want to not to rewrite the constitution, but to enforce it.

KING: Is it close? If it is close, in all cases, Senator Schumer, because of Iraq?

SCHUMER: It's in part because of Iraq, it's in part because the average middle class persons, the macro numbers are good, but most of the benefit is going to the people at the top. The average person's wages, in actual terms, haven't gone up, tuition's gone up, health care cost have gone up, energy costs have gone up and Sam is right, that you know, out there to get the base going, which they've been unable to get, the people who care about the judges and all these other, sort of, fairly -- more peripheral issues to the average American are there. But you talk to, not just Democrats, but independent voters and moderate Republicans, they're fed up with George Bush.

KING: What races worry you the most, Senator Brownback?

BROWNBACK: I think if you look on the Senate side, the ones that are most concerning, right next door, Missouri is a key one, Montana has been a key one for us for some period of time. Conrad Burns is surging, but, still it's been a tough race. Rhode Island is close, our guy is up a little bit, Linc Chafee is up a little bit there, it looks like. But, really Larry, at this point in time, it's all about turnout. Mid-term elections are about turnout anyway and right now it's about who shows up at the polls.

KING: True, Senator Schumer? We don't know.

SCHUMER: We don't know, of course. A lot of races are close, we feel we have the edge in them, but Sam is right, turnout will make a big determination. The one big difference is, we learned our lesson -- 2004, Republicans cleaned our clock with turnout. Since the day we took over the DFCC (ph) we've been working on turnout, spent 25 million in Montana and Missouri, we've created a Democratic voter file. We never had one. And we think our turnout operation is going to be every bit as the Republican.

KING: Senator Brownback, the conviction of Saddam Hussein, what factor, do you think in the election?

BROWNBACK: Yeah, I think it's a slight positive for our side. It shows an Iraqi government that's taking charge, that's able to do something difficult, which this is, and a country that's divided between Sunni and Shiites and the Kurds in the north, in particular. But, I don't think it's a major factor overall, but I think it's a slight positive in our favor.

KING: The Evangelical vote, how affected by Mr. Haggerty (ph)?

SCHUMER: I think it's affected by the Haggerty (ph), by the Foley scandal, where the Republicans talked one way, but did another. It's not going to have the strength it had in 2004. It may not be quite as depressed as it was two weeks ago, but it's not going to be like it was in 2004.

KING: Senator Brownback, if the Democrats get the House, what does that do over the next two years?

BROWNBACK: I think you're going to see a lot of gridlock taking place. I think you're going to see taxes likely to go up, because they are -- there's an automatic factor in place here, that if Congress does not act, the taxes automatically go up, these tax cuts, they're off unless something happens. And we've seen Charles Rangel that would head the Tax Writing Committee in the House say he doesn't see any of these tax cuts that he would support. So, I think you're likely to see that and don't think you're likely to see a whole lot of activity taking place.

I do think you're going to see different strategies mover, overall, in Iraq, regardless how the election goes because the message has been sent by the people and received. Everybody's upset, we're upset about what's taking place in Iraq, we need to see new strategies move forward.

SCHUMER: Dick Cheney -- I want to just dispute Sam on two things. Dick Cheney just got up and said, just this week, he's not changing the strategy no matter who wins the election. The president has said he's keeping Donald Rumsfeld. The only group who thinks Iraq is going well is the president and his small coterie.

As for taxes, Sam, we're not going to raise taxes and we will be more fiscally responsible than you have been with raging budget deficits. The way we're going to deal with some of these issues, is to make sure that we are fiscally responsible, we don't spend money on every place up and down the board. And, we are going to make the very wealthy, how don't pay the taxes that are on the books now, pay. You -- right now, under -- over the last few years under Bush's IRS, if you made less than $25,000 you were more likely to be audited than if you made a million dollars. There's $300 billion there of uncollected taxes, we'll collect some of them, and bring that deficit down without raising taxes a nickel.

KING: Lots more to go. Thanks Senator Brownback.

BROWNBACK: Translated, tax increase. Translated, that's a tax increase.

SCHUMER: To you Sam, there's an automatic feature that happens on this.

KING: Wait. We're out of time.

BROWNBACK: (INAUDIBLE)

SCHUMER: Sam, if you think by getting away with paying your taxes, it's a tax increase, if you're a wealthy person, who pays no taxes and you're not paying them and you should pay the same share a middle class person, that's a tax increase.

KING: Senators...

SCHUMER: That's why the Republicans are in trouble.

KING: Thanks Senator Brownback, and thanks Senator Schumer. Lots more to go when we come back, don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back to this special Sunday night edition of LARRY KIND LIVE. Reminder that Tuesday night, election night, we'll be on following Wolf Blitzer and the whole crew at Midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific with a two hour wrap-up and lots of interviews.

Joining us now, our part of the best political team on television, they're Wolf Blitzer, the anchor of CNN's THE SITUATION ROOM and the host of LATE EDITION; John King, CNN's chief national correspondent; and Candy Crowley, CNN's senior political correspondent.

What's the latest you hear -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, LATE EDITION: You know, it looks, right now, like the Democrats are poised to become the majority in the House of Representatives. Based on all the recent polls we're getting, it's going to be very difficult for them to get those six seats they need in the Senate, it's not impossible but it's going to be very difficult, given some of the math that's unfolding today.

KING: Is the House a given, Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think anything's a given. But look, if you were a betting man, which I know you're not, I'd still...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Is this a track or a game?

CROWLEY: I'd still bet on -- I'd still -- we'll, it's a track. And I think it still favors the Democrats. The question is, how much does it favor Democrats? We're getting these late polls, both individual state polls as well as national polls that show the Republicans sort of coming on. But you expect voters to come home at this point in the race. So, it just depends on -- I think there's a big win, I think it favors Democrats, but nothing's ever done until it's done.

KING: You see any momentum -- John.

JOHN KING, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You do see a tightening of the polls for Republicans. Does anybody have momentum? I would say the Democrats have momentum. What the Republicans are counting on is that they're mechanical advantage, logistics advantage in turning out voters, something they've refined in 2003 and 2004, will save them a few seats, Larry. They -- Republicans acknowledge they're going to lose some seats here. Will they lose their majorities? Some say yes, some say maybe not. But they're hoping to limit the damage with their turn-out advantage, but is that enough to -- the anti-war sentiment's running very high, the president's not getting credit for the economy, it's a Democratic year, the question is how big.

BLITZER: If this race turns out to be a referendum, Larry, on George W. Bush, or a referendum on the war in Iraq, as opposed to other issues, then the Democrats will do very well.

LARRY KING, HOST: So that's overriding, then?

BLITZER: The war in Iraq is clearly the dominant issue hovering over the Senate races and the House races.

L. KING: Why, Candy, doesn't, as John points out, doesn't he get credit for the good economy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, because in times -- I mean the economy always, it takes precedence, except for when there's a war going on. You know, people's children are being killed, people's husbands, people's wives. So that always takes precedence.

I will also argue -- and I'm sure Lou Dobbs could argue this far better than I -- that the economy is not so great in some places. People are not feeling that. Yes, they, you know, Wall Street is going crazy. And, yes, the jobless rate is way down. But there are people out there who feel as though they're falling out of the middle class, because of health care and a number of other reasons. L. KING: John, the House funds the war, right?

J. KING: It sure does, Larry.

L. KING: What if they take the majority, the Democrats, and don't fund it?

J. KING: They will fund it, but that's a fas -- you raise a fascinating question -- how will the Democrats react if they become the majority party?

And it is a big question for them. The House essentially writes the budget. It's the House that raises taxes. The House would have to initiate any new spending bill. Nancy Pelosi, who would be Speaker if the Democrats take control, has already had long meetings with all her would-be chairmen saying remember, if we win in 2006, we're going to have a very narrow majority, unless there's a landslide that nobody anticipates.

With a very narrow majority, they want to spend the next two years building toward 2008 and the presidential year, where they hope to then increase their majority.

They're not going to cut off money for the troops. They will try to pressure the president to fire his defense secretary and elect a time -- put a timetable in place for bringing them home, but they're not going to cut off the money

BLITZER: Because they don't want to be seen, the Democrats, as being weak on national security and they especially don't want to be seen as not supporting the United States men and women in the armed forces.

And if they stop the funding for the troops, in effect, they'll be seen as cutting the rug out from under the courageous men and women who are going to risk their lives fighting for the United States.

L. KING: But if you're a House member and you're totally committed to being against the war, you do face a moral dilemma here, don't you, if you're asked to spend on it?

CROWLEY: Well, except for that you don't have a majority there of people who are going to say yes, we want to end this war right now.

I mean, Wolf's perfectly right that you can't -- Democrats cannot be seen as cutting off money for the troops. This is a non-starter.

John's also right in that this is a table setting time. Between 2006 and 2008 is when you will begin to see Democrats and Republicans set the table for '08 -- here's what we're about; here's what we're going to do, individual candidates and the party as a whole.

They can -- the Democrats have found that left of center is not a place that wins them many elections. So all this talk about Nancy Pelosi and she's a liberal from San Francisco, if she's going to be the leader, I would predict to you right now you will not see anybody running left. They're going to run-toward center.

L. KING: Were you surprised at Mr. Cheney's statement today that no matter what, stay the course -- he didn't say stay the course, but just about said that?

J. KING: Well, it does seem that the vice president is going to be consistent in his position. It does surprise me to see the president out there a little bit being so proactive and saying he expects Secretary Rumsfeld to stay. That is a signal to the Republican base before the election.

But, Larry, even if the Republicans hold onto their majority, say, in the Senate and lose it in the House, you can count, you can run-out of fingers trying to count the number of Republicans who say they will go to the White House and say Mr. President, you need a new strategy in Iraq and we need to have a more bipartisan atmosphere. Don Rumsfeld needs to go.

L. KING: Saddam Hussein's conviction -- does it play any part Tuesday?

BLITZER: I think it's a little early, I suspect. I suspect if it has any role, because most people, I think, have already made up their minds by now who they're going to vote for. If it has any role, maybe it's a slight, tiny, little advantage for the Republicans because it reminds people, to a certain degree, of what a bad guy Saddam Hussein was and it's good that he's in jail and all of that.

But I'm not sure at this stage people who are thinking about the war in Iraq as the decisive issue are necessarily going to be influenced by that specific guilty verdict.

CROWLEY: Well, what do you need?

You need -- at this point, what are both parties trying to do?

They're trying to get their vote out.

If you have Saddam Hussein's verdict, as we do, what does this do?

This energizes the Republican base. It's what the president has been trying to do in the last 10 days is remind people, you know, Saddam Hussein was a bad guy.

So while it doesn't change any minds, it may get conservative Republicans who have been discouraged to get up off the couch and into the voting booth.

L. KING: Haggard going to be an issue?

J. KING: I don't think so. I think that most people view is as an isolated incident. We thought the Mark Foley scandal would play a huge national role. It turns out that maybe only in five or six places around the country. If it plays a little bit, Larry, though, we have so many close races, we could go across the map. If it keeps 20 voters out of this race, 1,000 voters out of that race, sure, it could.

Do I think it will play much?

One place it will work is the same-sex initiatives -- banning same-sex marriage on the ballot in Colorado. It is a dynamic in that because it is the home state of his church.

L. KING: Wolf Blitzer, John King, Candy Crowley -- you'll be seeing them all afternoon tomorrow and certainly all day Tuesday on election returns.

They're part of the best political team on television.

Thank you very much.

He mentioned Foley. The two people running for his seat are next. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm opposed to gay marriage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This provided for us. We appreciate that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a former...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any kind of proposals that are made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is about 40 Pakistanis...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: Welcome back to this special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."

Joining us from Stewart, Florida is Tim Mahoney, the Democratic Congressional candidate. He's running for the 16th District seat vacated by Republican Representative Mark Foley.

You were going to run-against Congressman Foley, weren't you, Tim?

TIM MAHONEY (D-FL), U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE: Oh, absolutely. I announced over a year ago and we were well on our way to beating him...

L. KING: Has that issue...

MAHONEY: ... right after the...

L. KING: ... has your key issues changed? MAHONEY: No. I mean the issues affecting the people in the 16th Congressional District haven't changed one bit. You know, the people on your show have been talking about how these elections are local elections. And, you know, here in Florida, the economy is the message here. And the fact of the matter is, is that this administration and the performance of the state house, which my opponent is part of, has really not delivered results for the people of Florida.

We've got average unemployment is down -- average income is down. We've got a huge problem with homeowners insurance and property insurance. Health care costs are skyrocketing. College tuition prices are up.

People here in the state of Florida haven't been getting ahead, and that's what we've been talking about for the last year.

L. KING: So, are you running, Tim, on those issues? Are you running against Mr. Negron, who we'll meet in a moment? Or are you running against the ghost of Mr. Foley?

MAHONEY: No. I mean, what happened to Mr. Foley is unfortunate, but he's out of the race right now and he's been out for a long time. The issues haven't changed. You know, what I'm running against is -- I'm an entrepreneur. I'm a businessman. I think what Washington needs to get back to is get back to delivering results.

And what's happened here in the last six years is that we haven't been getting the results that we need for the people in Florida. You know, our education system in the state is ranked between 47th and 50th in the nation. We've got a huge problem with our rivers, right here in Stewart, for example. I mean, we've got so many politicians running down and taking a look at it.

Well, the fact of the matter is, is it's dirty. It hasn't been cleaned up. The Republicans have had control of the White House to the statehouse and nothing has been done.

We have issues here with regard to homeowners insurance. I mean it's a real problem. Just yesterday, I talked to a woman who is retired, in her late 70s. And she knew her property taxes were going to go up. And she'd just got a bill from her home insurance and now she's crying and saying to me she can only pay one or the other -- she can pay the increase in her property insurance or she could pay her homeowners insurance, but she can't pay both.

You know, we've got a -- we've got a real crisis and we've got to deal with it.

You know, I've seen America always succeed. I'm 50 years old. I've seen us always succeed. We're going to succeed on these issues, as well.

L. KING: Thank you, Tim, and best of luck.

MAHONEY: Thank you, Larry.

L. KING: Tim Mahoney, the Congressional...

MAHONEY: I appreciate being on your show.

L. KING: The Democratic Congressional candidate in Florida's 16th District, the seat vacated by Congressman Mark Foley.

Joining us now from West Palm Beach is Joe Negron, Florida state representative. He's the person the executive board of Florida's Republican Party picked to replace Foley on the ballot.

Did you want this?

JOE NEGRON (R-FL), U.S. HOUSE CANDIDATE: Absolutely. I thought it was important that we have a choice in this election. And I agree that we need some change, but we need conservative change, not liberal change.

And so what I'm talking about, Larry, is a national plan to stabilize homeowners rates in Florida and look at the things that we've already accomplished as a state with our governor, Jeb Bush, who is very popular in the district.

So, I think the difference in the candidates is, you know, I want to keep taxes down. He's against the recent tax cuts.

He supports amnesty. I don't. He says he'll vote against an amendment that says marriage is between a man and a woman. I support that amendment.

So we're going to have an election. No one's going to get coronated. And I think that the conservative voice, which is me, is going to win this thing out.

L. KING: You had, though, Joe, admittedly, you had to come from behind, didn't you?

NEGRON: Oh, absolutely, because people were very upset -- and rightly so -- at Congressman Foley's conduct.

But, Larry, Americans believe in personal responsibility, not collective guilt. And that's why my campaign, by all press accounts, has been moving forward and why we've been surging, because people are now focused on the issues. And this is a conservative district, House District 16.

L. KING: Is it going to be close?

NEGRON: I think it's going to be close. But I think that I'm moving ahead and I think that you have Republicans and conservative Democrats and Independents who say, yes, we want change, but we want our taxes low, we want to support conservative policies and wouldn't support the liberal national Democratic agenda.

So I think we're going to do well.

In addition, Larry, I have a track record. I've been in the legislature six years. I've chaired appropriations. I've taken on the insurance industry. I've taken on pharmaceutical companies.

So I think that we're going to win this thing.

L. KING: How will the voting at the top of the ticket, the Senate and gubernatorial races, affect yours?

NEGRON: I think the main effect, Larry, it's going to have is on turnout. And I can tell you that conservative Democrats and Republicans in Florida are energized, they're motivated. And so I think that we're going to see our base come out and say, you know, the 16th District, you know, we had an embarrassing situation with our former congressman, but we're coming out fighting and we're going to show the national press corps that we can keep this district in conservative hands.

L. KING: Thanks, Joe.

Best of luck to you.

NEGRON: Thank you, Larry.

L. KING: When we come back, our panel of David Gergen, James Carville and Ed Gillespie come back for two segments.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: We're back with this Sunday night special edition of LARRY KING LIVE as we close in on the off year elections of 2006.

Here in New York, James Carville returns, the Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor.

In Washington is Ed Gillespie, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

We'll be joined in a little while with the return, as well, of David Gergen.

What's the effect, Ed, if the Democrats take the House and the Republicans keep the Senate, what's the effect on the president?

ED GILLESPIE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, let me just obviously start by saying I don't anticipate that. I'm optimistic about -- about holding onto the House. I think we're going to give back seats, don't get me wrong, from the ones we picked up in 2002, 2004. We're not going to buck the trend of a second mid- term in a two term presidency. But I think we'll hold on.

That said, if the Democrats were to end up controlling the House, it's clear what they're going to do, as we talked about earlier in the program. If Charles Rangel is the head of the tax writing committee, taxes will go up. John Conyers, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said that he wants to proceed with an impeachment process against President Bush. Nancy Pelosi clearly would have a different agenda, being the San Francisco-liberal that she is, than Denny Hastert would be, a common sense conservative from the Midwest.

If you had George Mitchell in charge of the Labor Committee, you know, and the Education Committee, there would be a big difference.

L. KING: So the question was what's the effect on the president?

GILLESPIE: Well, I think the effect on the president is that obviously it's tougher to get his agenda enacted in the last two years of his presidency. I suspect he'll have to, as Bill Clinton did when he had lost control of the House and the Senate, you know, use the executive power more and executive orders, rather than passing bills.

L. KING: All right.

Does it stymie -- and David Gergen is back with us now. We'll ask him to join us in a moment from Boston.

Does it stymie government, James?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I don't know. I mean, first of all, I can't imagine -- see that forward looking Republican agenda that they've just lay down for us. And I can hear it from the people all over the country. They're dying for Dennis Hastert and that whole crowd to come back into office, because they've been so impressed with what they've done.

But, having said all of that, if the Democrats have a good night -- it was once Mike Tyson, they once said of Mike Tyson, he hits you so hard, it changes the way you taste. And if the Democrats have a good night -- and having been through this in 1994, the Republicans have no idea of what November the 8th is going to feel like.

And, you know, and I susp -- and that may happen. If it doesn't happen, if the Democrats win a very narrow House majority or lose by a very narrow thing, it probably would feel that bad to the Republicans.

But if they win a lot of seats and take the Senate back or come within a seat or so of winning the Senate, they're not -- things are not going to taste the same for these guys.

L. KING: David, would it impact the administration to change?

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR TO PRESIDENTS NIXON, FORD, REAGAN AND CLINTON: Absolutely, Larry.

The, you know, for the last six years, George Bush and his administration have dominated Washington. From a Republican point of view, the Congress has been an extension, an arm of the -- of the White House. From a Democratic view, you know, the Congress has been a poodle of the president. It's been a lap dog of the president.

So this -- I think this election, because it's so exciting -- the most exciting election since 1994 for a mid-term election -- is suddenly going to bring the media back to cover Congress again and make Congress a much more important institution. And if the Democrats were to win the House, if they were to have a good night, as James says, they're going to be a much more challenging institution and while there may be more gridlock, there's also going to be more oversight.

And it's going to be an environment in which George W. Bush is going to have a new challenge. He's going to be a wounded president, but he may well feel, as back in Texas, he was very effective in working in a bipartisan way in Texas as governor. He may want to shed his sort of more partisan thrust and work with the Congress.

That's why it was so surprising to see Dick Cheney to throw down the gauntlet today and say on Iraq, we don't give a damn, basically, who, you know, who -- what the elections say to us, we're going to go full speed ahead just the way we are, as if we're not working with the Democrats period and we're keeping Don Rumsfeld, period. And that's sort of -- that will bring, you know, throwing in the gauntlet so early, it seems to me, was a mistake on the Republicans' part.

But I think they need to be open to the possibility of working with a new Democratic House, if that's what we -- indeed, materializes.

L. KING: We'll be back with some more moments of this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: Back with our political pros and experts.

What indications are you going to look for, Ed, early on Tuesday night?

GILLESPIE: Well, obviously, the first states that come in are Indiana and Kentucky. There's competitive races in both those states. I think that they'll both -- those are two states that a lot of people are going to be watching early in the night, and those will be indicators, I think.

L. KING: David, what are you going to look for?

GERGEN: Well, I think Ed's right about that.

Well, I'll also be looking at Rhode Island and Virginia on the Senate races, because those are -- those seem to be in such a toss-up category. And the way the wind blows on those two races could determine the outcome in the Senate.

L. KING: Why is Chafee in trouble, James?

CARVILLE: Well...

L. KING: The most liberal member of...

CARVILLE: ... Rhode Island is a very...

L. KING: The most liberal Republican, right?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, Rhode Island is a very, very blue state. Sheldon Whitehouse is -- really turned in to be a much better candidate than anybody anticipated. He had a run-for governor under his belt and he's turned out to be a really good, really good candidate. And this is just, you know, this is not a good year for Republicans. It's particularly not going to be a good year for Republicans in the Northeast.

I think what I'm going to look for on election night is to see how well Republicans do outside the South. Their danger is, is that they become a regional political party after Tuesday night. Now, if they win some races in Connecticut and Pennsylvania, Ohio, as Ed said, in Indiana, that won't happen.

If they lose those races and only do well in the South, the Southern base and the Southern style Republicanism will be, by far, the dominant strain in that political party.

L. KING: Ed, is it true that a lot of the Democratic victories in the House will be conservative Democrats?

GILLESPIE: Well, a lot of these seats that are in play are swing districts. And so there's a lot of moderate Republicans in those districts and a lot of, you know, Democrats positioning themselves as closer to the middle than Nancy Pelosi, even distancing themselves from Nancy Pelosi.

That's not unusual. The fact is in '94, when you look at the gains we made, they were from -- they were not from liberal Democrats, they were from moderate Democrats, because that's the nature of the districts those members represent.

L. KING: David Gergen, is this going to be a big turnout, tumultuous day, Tuesday?

GERGEN: I -- it will be a bigger turnout, I think, than we've recently had in mid-term elections. It -- because both sides, I think, are now energized.

The Democrats were the ones who started out energized. But there has been, I think, greater energy now coming back on the Republican side.

So I don't think it'll match 2004 or 2000 in terms of presidential, but it will be a big turnout by normal mid-term elections. It's certainly the most exciting, you know, in the -- when the Republicans pulled off that great upset in 1994 and took back the House, not many people saw that coming.

This time, there's been such a buildup to the potential take over by the Democrats, that this has turned into be a really exciting, huge media event that -- which I think is going to increase turnout.

GILLESPIE: High turnout will favor Republicans, Larry. If there's high turnout on Tuesday, it'll be to the benefit of Republicans candidates.

L. KING: Why do you laugh and scoff?

CARVILLE: Because that's -- because that's insane, that's why. And everybody knows that. That's impossible.

GILLESPIE: It's true.

CARVILLE: They could win these races with a limited turnout. The entire Republican strategy is activate the base and the heck with people in the middle. I think what we're going to see, my guess is, is that we're going to see the revenge of the people in the middle. And it's, you know, the Republican message is full speed ahead, stay the course, the status quo is working for you.

I don't think people are buying that. And they can scream Nancy Pelosi until they're blue in the face. I think that when people see full speed ahead, stay the course, they say you know what? That's not what we want.

L. KING: Why isn't the good economy working to the benefit of the president, David?

GERGEN: Larry, it works great for some people. We're in a double-decker bus here, and, you know, the people at the top are doing great.

The people in the middle are not doing so well anymore and...

GILLESPIE: Well, let me just add, if I might, David, because that was true for a while. But we have now seen median income go up in the past quarter and real wages rise by 7.6 percent.

I agree with you, it has taken a while for the benefit of this recovery to reach those in the bottom two quintiles of the income spectrum. But it's there now.

GERGEN: I think...

GILLESPIE: There has been a lag, but it's there now.

GERGEN: Ed, I think if you look at people in the middle right now, they're not doing as well as they were five years ago and their costs are going up. Their -- average wages in this country have not increased very much and the costs in health care and, to some degree, in housing, mortgages, and to some degree on gasoline -- although that's gone the other way now -- those -- a lot of people have been in a squeeze. They've been in a Fordibaldi (ph) crisis.

GILLESPIE: There is a squeeze. But home ownership is at an all time high. And, like I say, real wages went up 7.6 percent in the past quarter and the median income rose, which is an indication that...

L. KING: OK...

GILLESPIE: ... that those on the bottom are starting to benefit.

L. KING: We're just about out of time.

A closing comment, James?

CARVILLE: Well, they talk about real wages. They don't adjust for inflation. But that's typical of Republicans. They never -- never do that.

I think that this is, again, I think the vice president said it better than anybody ever said it. It's full speed ahead, stay the course. They don't care what the public thinks. I think the public wants to be heard and I think they're going to get heard on Tuesday.

L. KING: Thank you all very much.

David Gergen, James Carville, Ed Gillespie -- we hope all of them are with us on Tuesday night. We think they will be, because we have a two hour special at midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. We'll have all the election results, most of them in. And we'll be talking to lots of winners and losers.

Before we go, happy birthday to journalism legend and broadcast icon Walter Cronkite. He's covered a lot of politics in his illustrious career. He turned 90 yesterday. Our best wishes to him. We look forward to saluting him when he celebrates a full century.

That's it. Back at the old homestead tomorrow night. We'll be here in New York again tomorrow evening and then Tuesday night from Los Angeles at midnight Eastern.

Stay tuned now for "AMERICA VOTES 2006" with Wolf Blitzer.

Good night.

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