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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

The Latest Developments in the Race for President

Aired February 13, 2008 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, reality TV at its best -- who will get kicked off election island?
Is it Barack Obama, today's American idol?

Or Hillary Clinton, the self-proclaimed survivor who's fallen behind?

Will the GOP deal with John McCain?

And could Mike Huckabee be the biggest loser?

It's the amazing presidential race. It's unscripted, it's unrehearsed.

And it's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

We're back in New York. And one quick note. A special guest tomorrow night, exclusive for the full hour, Senator John McCain. Senator John McCain for the full hour tomorrow night.

Lots of politics tonight. And we begin with two of the best political consultants in the game. They're both in Washington.

James Carville, the CNN political contributor, Democratic strategist and a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

And Jamal Simmons, the Democratic strategist, as well, president of New Future Communications and a supporter of Barack Obama.

James, if Hillary loses Texas or Ohio, is it over?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Yes. Simply put. I think that...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Yes?

CARVILLE: Yes, she has to win Texas and Ohio. I mean, yes.

KING: Well said.

Is she smart for looking ahead and past Wisconsin? CARVILLE: Well, I don't know -- you know, I don't know if anybody looks ahead or past anything. And I don't think Wisconsin -- it certainly would be preferable for her to win Wisconsin, but I don't put it in the same category as I would put Texas and Ohio on March the 4th.

KING: Jamal, how important is the sports term momentum?

(LAUGHTER)

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, we'll see. So far in this campaign, momentum hasn't meant very much. Each one of these races seems to live and die on its own two feet. But it looks like right now Barack Obama's got a series of states that are all coming together at the same time. This may be the moment where the momentum actually gets -- you know, actually gets picked up.

KING: You're a supporter of his.

What is he doing right?

SIMMONS: You know, I think sometime around October or November of last year, Senator Obama went into his campaign and really decided to just take the reigns of the campaign himself.

You know, like he plays basketball in his spare time, and he does it to work out. And I think most great basketball players, you know, they want the rock. You know, the last five minutes left, it's down by four, give them the ball, they're going to shoot it.

And I think that's the way he approached the last couple of months of his campaign and he's been performing. I think that's done him very well.

KING: And, James, conversely, what is Hillary doing wrong?

CARVILLE: Well, I don't think...

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I think that she's -- whatever she's doing wrong, I think they're probably addressing it. I think they're making some changes.

I think that, you know, coming down the stretch here in Texas and Ohio, that the thing has got to come up. And I think Jamal is exactly right, momentum hasn't counted for much. But at some point -- and the delegate count is close. It's going to continue to be close. And Senator Obama has this and we're going to see if he can put her away.

She's pretty tough. I think that they're getting ready to do a lot more things right. And I think that they're making adjustments in their campaign, as all campaigns do. And I think Senator Obama has run a very good campaign and it was a very impressive performance that he did have yesterday. But, you know, this thing is close. Not all the Democrats have been heard from. They're going to get heard from and we're going to wait and see. It's been thrilling so far. And I think Senator Clinton, if anybody can do this, I think she can.

SIMMONS: You know, Larry...

KING: You can...

SIMMONS: Larry, one more thing.

You know, I think, you know, those of us who get paid to give people advice on politics sometimes like to make it a little more complicated than it is. But sometimes a person is the right person for the moment. And you can kind of analyze it and overanalyze it, but sometimes there is a moment for a thing. And this may just be the moment where someone like Barack Obama is really being -- has really been called for.

KING: In '92, James, you came up with one of the great phrases in campaign history -- "it's the economy, stupid."

Would that work today?

CARVILLE: Absolutely. And I think that it might be the moment -- and it may be the moment this moment, but it also may be the moment that people are saying there's some very serious, big problems that this country is facing. And Senator Clinton has the kind of experience, has the kind of judgment, has the kind of approach to this that Democrats like better. And that's going to be a choice that Democrats are going to have to make and they're going to make coming down the stretch. And it's sort of going back and forth here.

Jamal is right. It is a moment. It is a moment where people are enthusiastic about the kind of inspiration, if you will, of Senator Obama. This is at a moment where people stop and pause and say there are huge problems in the sort of -- that Hillary Clinton's approach to them and experience is something I trust more.

Our party is going to decide that. And whichever they decide, Democrats everywhere are going to get behind whoever these Democratic voters pick.

KING: Another sports example, Jamal, which every sports fan never really knows the answer to -- did the winning team win or did the losing team lose?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We don't -- no one knows.

Is Obama winning or is Hillary losing?

SIMMONS: You know, I think it's a combination. I think he's had some very good days. I think she's had some bad days. But she's also had some really good days. I mean she won -- she came back in New Hampshire at a time when people had thought that she was done. I mean when you talked to people in politics, they thought well, this was great, how interesting. Hillary Clinton is done.

She came back like gangbusters, won New Hampshire, won Nevada. You know, Obama was able to -- he had a live or die moment in South Carolina. He was -- you know, there may have been some sudden eliminations and sudden death, but he came back. He won South Carolina.

And we've been in this -- in this long series of contests and now we'll see what happens over the next three or four weeks.

CARVILLE: Larry, let me throw in another sports cliche...

KING: OK.

CARVILLE: ...it ain't over until it's over.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: And we're somewhere -- we're somewhere in the third quarter here and it's a very close game. I mean if, you know, a touchdown or if -- you know, or a couple of base hits away. And let's see what happens. And this could -- we've got a pretty thrilling time. And you're right, it's going to be -- it's going to be an interesting choice here.

SIMMONS: You know, Larry, I will throw in one more thing.

I grew up in Detroit in the Dexter/Davidson neighborhood. And in my neighborhood, you know, you had to win games if you wanted to brag. And I think right now, Barack Obama is ahead in delegates. He's ahead in states. He's ahead in the popular vote. He's winning.

Senator Clinton has got to win some of these contests, you know, to get to the finals.

CARVILLE: I completely agree. And that's what I said at the beginning of the thing. And a big contest she's got to win is in Texas and Ohio and then come in Pennsylvania. But I do -- and Jamal is absolutely right, in Detroit or even in -- deep in the South...

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: ...the south (INAUDIBLE).

SIMMONS: In Cajun country.

CARVILLE: But we also -- we also didn't decide to pin it in August. We wait until the end of September to decide.

SIMMONS: Yes, right.

KING: Here's...

SIMMONS: (INAUDIBLE). KING: These upcoming couple of debates are her call.

Can they work for her, Jamal?

SIMMONS: You know, she does very well in debates. The reality is that she has always done very well in debates. But I think her -- Americans really know Hillary Clinton, and in a lot of ways. And I think she doesn't have a lot of room to grow.

The big challenge is whether or not Barack Obama makes a mistake. But, you know, here's the place where the length of this calendar really is working in Obama's favor. Because when he first got started in the debates, he wasn't that great of a debater when he stood up there. I'm sure the first time he stood there, he couldn't believe he was on stage with all of the guys in the presidential contest.

But by now, he's been through this 17 or 18 times and you can see that he's gotten better. And I think he will perform well. He won't make any major mistakes.

KING: We'll be right back with James Carville and Jamal Simmons.

And lots more to come.

They're going to be with us throughout the show.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As president, from day, we will go into that Oval Office...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck, Senator.

Thanks. God bless you.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And welcome back after your (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Everywhere I go, they are standing up and they say we want something new. We want to turn the page. We want to write a new chapter in American history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Mr. Carville, what happens with the Florida and Michigan dilemma?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Those delegates they -- both states, they turned out in more numbers than the Republicans. They voted for Hillary...

CARVILLE: Right.

KING: ...but they're not legally going to be -- what happens?

CARVILLE: I don't know and I don't think anybody else does, either. There's some who are sort of thinking of a re-do. I think that the way the Democrats write their delegate rules is borderline silly. And I hope after this is over, we throw that rule book out and do things in a simple way.

What the Republicans said they'd do is count Florida for half. Maybe that's, you know, kind of -- some kind of an Old Testament wisdom there, but maybe it's not the dumbest thing in the world. But we're going to have to wait and see how this plays out.

KING: Jamal, what does Obama do?

SIMMONS: Well, here's the problem with it, is whenever -- when this process started, there were rules that were set up. Michigan and Florida both decided to violate the rules. They were told if you violate the rules, this will be the penalty.

They violated the rules anyway. And so now here we are trying to change the rules after the game. You've got to -- you've got to do this the way it was that it was set up. And all of the candidates signed pledges. All of the candidates agreed to this. The states agreed to it. And for now, for us to try to figure this out is a problem.

I think that they'll find a way to accommodate Michigan and Florida. But you can't just reward them for bucking the system.

CARVILLE: The problem here is it's not -- it's not the candidates and it's not the party elders or the people who made the rules. It's over a million people in Florida went out and voted and expressed a preference.

Now, is the Democratic Party -- big "D," Democratic Party, also, the small "D," Democratic Party -- well, we say gee, you're -- you don't count because you're not in the rule book. I don't know. And that's something we're going to have to look at.

But I'm not a -- I'm not a big fan of -- and it has nothing to do with Senator Obama or Senator Clinton -- I'm just not a big fan -- and it has nothing to do with Chairman Dean, who I've expressed reservations with him any number of times before. It's just the accumulation of the way that we've built up these goofy rules about delegates and what we do and don't do.

SIMMONS: But, Larry, the problem here, though, is the Clinton campaign in particular signed up for various rules and then we some sort of changed the rules afterwards. We saw this in Nevada, where they signed up for the at-large caucuses. And then when, you know, Senator Clinton didn't get the endorsement of the culinary union, the state -- you know, her allies sued, you know, the state party. And so now here we are with Michigan and Florida.

This is a little too cute by half. I mean and you can't keep changing the bar when you don't meet the bar and try to move it a little bit.

CARVILLE: See, I really think it's about something else. It's not about Senator Clinton or Senator Obama. It's about the million-and-a- half people or whatever it was in Florida that went out and voted. And I think the Democratic Party ought to be very reluctant to disenfranchise those Democrats in Florida or those Democrats in Michigan without some consideration.

KING: Jamal, do you think that this can go to Denver without a candidate?

SIMMONS: You know, I don't think so. I think there will be some accommodation that happens in the party before that. It's in everybody's interests that we get this thing settled.

Here's the real problem. John McCain is going to settle his nomination and he's going to start building up state operations, he's going to start building his focus on the fall and on the Democrats.

We can't be in a position where we don't have our coordinated campaigns, our state campaigns, everybody focused on the Republican nominee. Because if that takes all the way to August, that means that we're so far behind the eight ball to get started in the general election. And that's in nobody's interests in the party.

KING: And the Democrats, James, have a history of kicking themselves, do they not?

CARVILLE: Well, yes.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: That's why we're Democrats. We squabble a lot and we make these rules. That's why we've got all of these super-delegates and things like that.

But I suspect that Democratic primary voters are going to decide this. And we're going to find out in due course and where this thing drives up. But we should just let this thing play out. This is a proven thing. It's good -- so far, it's been very good for the party. Democrats are very satisfied with their choices. Democrats overwhelmingly approve of both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton. And we've got some really big issues. There are big problems facing the country. And we're going to hear from these candidates. Let's go at it and then we'll decide.

KING: By the way, the debate -- the first debate between the two -- there will be two -- will be next Thursday, a week from tomorrow, in Austin, Texas. And it will be hosted by CNN. And, by the way, this will be the first election in American history in which two senators will run against each other. That has never happened.

One of them, Senator McCain, will be on this program tomorrow night.

We're going to add three outstanding panelists and we're going to keep Mr. Carville and Mr. Simmons, right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: It's going to take a Clinton to clean up after the second Bush, just like it did after the first Bush.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: I will work my heart out for you every single day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to reenergize our base. We have to get everybody united. That's what we're trying to do. With that challenge -- and facing that challenge -- is the first step in the right direction to victory.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: James Carville and Jamal Simmons remain with us.

Joining us now in Washington, David Frum, the former speechwriter for President Bush, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He blogs for the "National Review," called David Frum's Diary. And he's the author of the recently published "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again."

Here in New York is Amy Holmes, CNN political contributor and Republican strategist.

And in Seattle, the Independent political commentator Ron Reagan, son of the former president and first lady, Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

OK, David, today John McCain, who will be on this program tomorrow night, met with the House Republican leadership, trying to unify it.

Is he going to unify your party?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I was actually meeting with a group of Republicans just a few minutes before that meeting began. And they left in a whirlwind. So they were very excited to see him. Yes, I think he will be able to unify the party. The question is will he be able to energize it.

I mean the Republican Party remains a pretty disciplined organization. But it's also a deeply demoralized organization. And the temptation for John McCain will be to work so hard to bring the core conservatives back to him, that he may lose sight of his bigger and more important problem, which is to hold onto the Independents and the middle.

KING: Amy, are some of those what might be core conservatives -- what might be kind of whacko -- there is a whacko on both sides of this.

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well...

KING: They're over the deep end.

HOLMES: Both sides have their extremes.

KING: They do.

HOLMES: But the conservative, you know, beef with John McCain is real and it's over real conservative principles and policies. I think David is right, that he's going to be able to bring the party together.

Will there be that energy there?

Some of the things that conservatives are talking about that he can do substantively, start floating some cabinet name possibilities so that he can sort of signal and reassure conservatives that he's with them. And that's a way that doesn't necessarily -- that won't necessarily alienate moderates and Independents.

Bring conservatives into his inner policy circles. Set up a policy council, again, reassuring conservatives that he's on the same page, he gets it, he understands what's important to them.

KING: Ron, you're the son of a very famous conservative, but you are not a conservative. I'm going to ask to you guess how your father would look at this.

RON REAGAN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: How my father would look at it?

KING: Yes, at the McCain thing and the right-wing of the party kind of going against him.

How would he approach it, do you think?

REAGAN: Well, I don't make a habit to speak for him. I never did. But I think he would say that McCain's problem right now is that he wants to unify the party, but the wackos, as you put it, are not going to be happy with John McCain. And the more he tries to please them, the more, as David pointed out, he sells out the Independents that he's going to need to actually win in November. So he has to be very careful about what he does here. If he starts naming cabinet members to mollify the far right of his party, a lot of Independents are going to look at that and say I don't want any part of this.

KING: Now, James Carville, most of the times politicians win the nomination and run to the center.

CARVILLE: Right.

KING: Does McCain run to the center?

CARVILLE: I don't know. Fifty-one percent in Virginia is a pathetic number. And I mean I don't say that as a Democrat. And Virginia is typically a very orderly state. I think the breach between McCain and the conservatives is real. And it's not just the Washington and the radio talk show people. There's conservatives out in the hinterland who don't much care for McCain. And I suspect he doesn't care much for them, either.

You know, in politics, one thing I've learned over all of these years is sometimes people just don't really care for each other. And McCain really doesn't care for these real right-wingers and these real right-wingers don't really care for McCain.

KING: So, therefore, Jamal, should he just not kowtow to them?

SIMMONS: You know, somebody, I think, wrote this the other day, but it's true. The more people -- what people like about John McCain is that he's this guy who's not playing ball with all the typical groups of people. So the more he plays ball with the right-wing of the party, the more he turns off all the people who he's going to need in the general election.

HOLMES: But let's jump in here. You know, George Bush was able to win two elections with this wing of the party that you're saying alienates all of these voters. John McCain needs to win with the base, with conservatives. And he can reach out to the middle and Independents.

You know, when we look at Senator Obama, he is very liberal. He's very out of step with a lot of mainstream public opinion. He, too, will have to pivot to the center and try to get those Independents.

So I think that we're piling on the conservatives and the right- wing is far too much tonight.

KING: David?

SIMMONS: Well, Amy, the one thing I'll add, though, is we've had eight years of George Bush catering to the conservatives and the country is not particularly happy with his performance.

KING: David Frum, will...

FRUM: Yes, this isn't eight years ago.

KING: David Frum...

FRUM: He's going to...

KING: David, will...

FRUM: Sorry.

KING: Will this be, for want of a better term, David, an orderly race?

FRUM: I think it will be, actually, a polite race, because both men are candidates who can't be criticized.

(LAUGHTER)

FRUM: That if you have the first African-American candidate for president, he can't be criticized. And if you have this amazing war hero, he can't be criticized. And both of them have been signaling that they're going to avoid that. So in that sense, it will be polite.

But it will be disorderly in that we are in a moment of real political flux and change in the country in which a lot is up for grabs. You know, you look at the Democratic victories of the past -- and the odds suggest we're pointing, heading to one now. But in 1992 and '96, Bill Clinton won in a three-way race and he didn't even get 50 percent of the vote either time.

In 1976, Jimmy Carter just cleared 50 percent, but he dropped seats in Congress and yet he was buoyed by Watergate. Considering Watergate, he performed very badly.

This is one of -- looking more like a 1980 in reverse -- a moment where there's an opportunity for the Democrats to win big, both in the executive and the legislative. It is a huge ideological shift in the making. And that is going to be very disorderly and very disruptive. And politics, I think, next year at this time, are going to look very different from the way they have for a long time.

KING: Ron, how do you see it?

REAGAN: Well, I think David...

REAGAN: Well said, David.

Ron, how do you see it?

REAGAN: I think David is correct there. This is like 1980 in reverse. In 1980, you had what was widely regarded as a failed presidency, in Jimmy Carter's presidency. We've doubled down on that in the last eight years here. Most of the country -- two-thirds, at least, of the country regards the Bush presidency as a failed presidency. And to the extent that John McCain has identified with that presidency, he will fail, also.

KING: So did -- what does Bush play in the campaign, James?

If you're a Republican, do you include him or not include him?

CARVILLE: Well, I don't know. I've never -- everybody -- and Ron Reagan ought to hear this -- everybody is a Reagan Republican. I haven't heard one say I'm a Bush Republican in the whole thing.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: It's like he doesn't -- it's like he doesn't exist. I mean, it must...

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: So it must be good if you're there...

HOLMES: You're not (INAUDIBLE).

CARVILLE: ...if you're Ron Reagan, Jr. . No, there are no Bush Republicans.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: There are certainly none running for president. And do you -- I mean, and look at the extraordinary turnout you see and look at the extraordinary amount of fundraising that's going on. And I think any political observer deep down will tell you yes, there's some talented candidates out there. But this is, by and large, being driven by a reaction to the Bush administration. And there's just no other honest or fair way to assess what's going on and say that's not all of it, but a very, very significant part of it.

KING: Amy, do you agree that Hillary, from a standpoint of winning, is more beatable for your side?

HOLMES: I think she is. I think when you look at those very high negatives -- and she is so well-known. I think Republicans are certainly a lot more trepidatious about a campaign against Barack Obama, for some of the reasons that David said. It would be hard to criticize this man who, you know, engenders such affection and inspires so many people.

Hillary is a lot easier. You can, you know, you can point back to her history in politics and go partisan and not be accused of anything.

KING: Jamal, David is right, isn't he?

What do you say against Obama?

SIMMONS: Well, I think -- oh, that's a tough one.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any suggestions?

HOLMES: That he's a liberal (INAUDIBLE).

(CROSSTALK)

KING: You like him.

SIMMONS: He's too nice, he's too likeable, he's too tall, his wife is too great.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMMONS: How about -- how about the smoking?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Does he smoke?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's given that up. He's given that up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's his story.

(LAUGHTER)

CARVILLE: I think, you know what -- I heard what David said and every -- I think that -- and, by the way, I hope that people are wrong. I think a general election -- I think in politics people need to get active (ph) a little bit. I think they've got to draw some contrasts, draw some distinctions. And no matter if you are war hero or not, or whether you're the first African-American running for president, this is an adult business with adult consequences. And people are going to come up and come after you.

And I'm not sure that's all that bad. I'm not a big kind of columnist editorial writer -- oh, God, they attack each other. Oh, it's so terrible out there, the negativity. You know, that kind of bug is...

KING: Let me get a break...

CARVILLE: And I don't think that really has a place in politics. I think they've got to...

KING: Let me get a break, guys...

CARVILLE: They've got to get after it a little bit.

KING: I'll get a break.

When we come back, John King, our CNN senior correspondent, will be at this magic board of his. And he will show you how this race can or cannot come out.

Then we'll come back with our panel and a surprise guest later.

Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no excuse for us not to look at every problem we face in this country and say we'll take it down before they take us down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back. Our panel will be rejoining us momentarily. If anybody on the panel wants to ask a question of John King, they are welcome to. John King is CNN's chief national correspondent. He is at this extraordinary map of his, which he's the only person -- he's made himself -- no one can take his job because he's the only one who can do this. All right, John, give us the picture. I guess the Republicans are pretty much set. Give us the Democratic picture as we go from here.

JOHN KING, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is my own personal job security, Larry, is that the case? This is fascinating. You have a great panel to discuss this with because many have been through this before. Look at this now, I'm going to draw a line where we are for the Democratic race, and they are essentially right together here. Obama pulled ahead last night and that is significant. He is now ahead of Senator Clinton for the first time. Boy, Larry, it is by the narrowest of margins.

I'll run two different scenarios for you. One is, assume Obama runs the board, assume the momentum he's received by winning the last eight contests carries over, and not only wins Wisconsin, Rhode Island and Vermont, but he actually beats Senator Clinton in those must wins, as her campaign calls it, and as your friend James Carville calls it, in Ohio and Texas.

If Obama won them all the rest of the way out, let's say he won it with 60 percent of the vote, this is where it would get him Larry; he still would not clinch the Democratic nomination and the math is similar if Senator Clinton ran them all with 60 percent of the vote. Let's clear the board there and let's run a projection where let's say Obama momentum is unstoppable and he sweeps the rest of the country with 70 percent of the vote.

Now that's unlikely, but let's run the hypothetical scenario and he wins with 70 percent of the vote. Look where it gets him, Larry, close to the finish line but not quite to the finish line. At this point, most assume, were he to get this close or Senator Clinton, for that matter, in a similar scenario on her side, that the super delegates would realize they cannot go against the will of the people and they would push you over the finish line.

The point I'm trying to make is that even if somebody sweeps now, if one of the Democratic candidates just wins the rest of the contests and wins with a pretty sizable number, Larry, they still come up short. This is a fascinating dynamic that could throw it over to the convention for the super delegates or could raise a lot of pressure on Chairman Howard Dean of the Democratic National Committee to revisit Michigan, revisit Florida. They don't get delegates at the moment, because they moved their primaries up and broke the rules.

Larry, we may end up in court over this, or have a long protracted process at the convention, but the math is daunting and it tells you that we are going to have a fascinating race to the very end.

KING: Any panelists have a question for John?

CARVILLE: Yes, John, do you think -- assuming that, you know, Senator Obama runs it, you're right, technically he won't be there, but the momentum for him to have the nomination at that point would be overwhelming, wouldn't it?

KING: At that point, if he runs off a string of victory, even if she won some and he wins most, or flip the coin, if she wins most and he wins some, if somebody gets out here ahead of the other person, then the super delegates I think will have to face political reality. Even though, because Florida and Michigan, two big states with a lot of delegates, don't count, somebody would not make the finish line, I think essentially the end result of denying Florida and Michigan, their delegates, would be to move the finish line back and whoever came closest would win at that point.

What happens, James -- and you know the party better than anybody -- what happens in a scenario something like this. You start giving Senator Clinton some of the states, let's give her some of these and let's flip over and we'll flip now and give Obama some of these and they just keep doing this stalemate. I'm picking these randomly. They don't necessarily correspond of when they're stronger.

Senator Clinton wins some and we just have a process where now we're out of states, once I give up Hawaii, and look where they are, just within a few delegates of each other.

KING: The Denver medal.

CARVILLE: You're like the John Madden thing of Tim Russert's election night. Everybody's got a board now.

KING: Amy has a question.

HOLMES: John, I have a question. If, say, best case scenario for Hillary, she wins with 60 percent across the board, she sweeps from here on out, and if they include Michigan and Florida, what does her delegate count look like?

KING: If she were to win the rest of the way, let's go back and start where we are today, let's give all of them to Senator Clinton. Now this is with the 55/45. I'm going to give them this scenario, built with 55/45. We're going to give it to her at 55/45. Let me do that, and it gets her -- that's all the states left. Rhode Island's hard to get sometimes in there because it's small.

So that gets her about there. Now let's say Vermont, we gave her 55/45. Let's giver her some more. Let's inch up some delegate there. Let's go into Ohio and say she won that state with 60 percent, you say, so we give her more delegate there. Let's pick another state down in Texas, we'll give her a few delegates here. I'm giving her these delegates, putting her up around 60 percent, maybe a little higher, and we could go on state by state by state and give her a few more, but look what happens? We're still only getting her close. We can't get her over the finish line. You get closer but you don't get to the finish line unless you win 80 percent.

And with the Democratic rules being you essentially get the proportion of the vote in delegates -- that's a little generalizing because it depends on if you're winning congressional districts and the like -- but essentially, the Democratic rules give you proportionally what you get in the vote. Based on what we've seen so far, there's no reason to believe that even if he wins them all, she's not going to get 35 or 40 percent of the vote or if she wins them all, he's not going to get 35 or 40 percent of the vote. So you'll end up with something like this, either very close stalemate or somebody just a little bit ahead.

The question is, can somebody break it and get far enough ahead that you cannot then make the case, let the super delegates come to me. That would be the hard case. If you're behind by 20 or 50 that's a hard scenario.

KING: John, one other quick things, as you pointed out, Huckabee can't win. Right?

KING: Larry, Huckabee cannot win. Let's switch over to the Republican side. This is where we are. I'm going to clear this screen. This is where we are right now. And again, if you give Governor Huckabee everything left -- and I'm going to do that here for you quickly. I know your time is scarce. I'm going to give Governor Huckabee everything. This is giving Governor Huckabee 50 percent, Senator McCain 40 percent and Ron Paul 10 percent.

Now watch, as I do this, it is Senator McCain getting closer to the finish line. Governor Huckabee is catching up. He is closing the gap, but let's finish the states, keep going. We've got to give these back to Governor Huckabee. We keep giving him these states. Again, this is at 50/40/10. And I could bring it up a little bit higher, but look what happens. John McCain is your nominee. Governor Huckabee is winning the contest but John McCain gets the star. That means he crosses the finish line.

So it's -- Governor Huckabee needs to win about 125 percent of the delegates to get the nomination. Nobody can do that math, not even in this campaign year can you do that math, Larry.

KING: John, as always, brilliant. John King, CNN chief national correspondent. Back with our panel after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: OK guys, start with Mr. Simmons. What do you make of that map?

SIMMONS: Looks like my iPhone, you just get to play with it all day, I love it. I was asking John last night if there was really a guy inside of there working it out for him while he was pretending to do it in front of us. But, you know, the thing that is the most important thing here and James made this point earlier is, if you start to see the momentum shift, and somebody is starting to win some of these elections and you know, Barack Obama wins Texas or wins Ohio, you know, it's going to be pretty hard for the super delegates to say OK, this guy, he's won more states, he's got more votes, he's winning states he wasn't supposed to win, but we're going to vote for Hillary Clinton. I don't think that's going to happen.

KING: What did you make, Ron?

REAGAN: Listen, the Democrats are fond of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory and if there's any one way to do that, the best way to start to do that is to get into some sort of ugly delegate fight at the convention. James might have some feelings about this. I'm not sure what the scenario is where Hillary Clinton quits before the convention if Obama doesn't have the delegates, even if Obama, as John pointed out, is running the table, he's not going to get over the top. Does Hillary quit at some point?

CARVILLE: Look, if she wins the big states coming in, she ends this thing with a lot of momentum. Then she's got a superb chance to be the nominee. I think we've got to let these voters decide. Obviously --

REAGAN: What if she only wins one of the states? What if she wins Ohio and loses Texas?

CARVILLE: I'd rather not project in the future. I've said publicly that she has to win all three. I think that's the case. And I don't think that Senator Clinton or Senator Obama, contrary to what people might hope, I think both of them, if it was clear that momentum that one of them had going into this, and that their opponent was being embraced, I think they'd probably understand that.

REAGAN: So if she lost Ohio and Texas, you're saying she would quit?

CARVILLE: I'm saying she wouldn't be -- I've said at the top of the thing she would not be the nominee. I'm not --

REAGAN: But not because she left the race.

CARVILLE: Ron, I cannot speak for her.

REAGAN: I understand.

KING: Let me get the thoughts of others.

CARVILLE: I've said very publicly she has to win all three to be nominated. What else can I say?

KING: David Frum, what did you make of our map scene?

FRUM: There's one variable I think that John King left out, which is the Democratic party is now the party of big money, and even if they are dividing the delegates evenly, if there is a massive money flow to Barack Obama and not to Hillary Clinton, which is probably a pretty good guess, one of the things that I think a lot of the people in the party will have to worry about is, gee if we somehow push her through, does that split apart our party, does that depress enthusiasm?

The Democrats are going to want to take very good care of their contributors and the contributors are speaking pretty loudly for Barack Obama.

CARVILLE: Let me just say something about my friend, Senator Clinton. I think we're looking at counting her out of this thing a little bit prematurely and if she comes back and starts winning these primaries, there's going to be an incredible narrative, an incredible come back here. I think we ought to wait. We're quick to discount her. I don't think we'll see it. I don't count her out either.

FRUM: I'm for her. I mean, I completely would love to see her win.

CARVILLE: And if she stages a comeback --

(CROSS TALK)

KING: Let Amy get a word in.

HOLMES: With friends like these Hillary doesn't need enemies. I don't think the story is written yet about the delegate count. I think it will be a big test, whether it's Hillary or Barack, a test of their political character. Would they bow out gracefully if they saw that they were behind in the pledged delegates or fight tooth and nail for super delegates and wrench apart their party.

If Barack Obama is ahead with the popular vote and the pledged delegates and Hillary still battles this and she were to win with those super delegates, you are going to see a generation of voters so turned off by the Democratic party and the Democratic process that they will be cynical about it for the rest of their life.

KING: We'll take a break and when we come back, we'll meet a special guest, joining us from Columbus, Ohio, who made some news today.

First let's check in with Anderson Cooper, the host of "AC 360" coming up at the top of the hour. What's up, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, it's incredible how much attention shifted off of the campaign trail today to Capitol Hill when baseball great Roger Clemens faced off against his former trainer Brian McNamee. In front of a House committee today, a lot of people stopped to watch. It's been called a he said/he said, because neither Clemens nor McNamee backed down. Clemens denying flat out that he used performance-enhancing drugs. McNamee insisting he injected Clemens and has the proof.

We're going to bring you the most remarkable moments from the testimony today and get into why Congress is spending time on baseball at all.

Also, Barack Obama trying to claim the title of front-runner, changing his focus from Clinton to McCain on the trail. All of that and more, Larry, at the top of the hour.

KING: Thanks Anderson. That's "AC 360," 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific. John McCain will be our guest tomorrow night. We'll be back with our special guest and then the return of our panel right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We have special guest joining us from Columbus, Ohio is David Wilhelm. He was the national manager of President Clinton's 1992 campaign. He endorsed Barack Obama today in a surprise. Why, David?

DAVID WILHELM, FMR CLINTON CMPGN MANAGER: Well, I thought very, very hard about this, and I've come to the conclusion that the best candidate in the general election is Barack Obama for the following reasons; first of all, he wins in head-to-head match ups against Senator McCain. Secondly, he has proven in primary after primary after primary that he can attract the votes of independents, and even some Republicans. It's incredible that one of the data points from the exit poll coming out of Virginia was that eight percent of Republicans would vote for Barack Obama in the general election.

Thirdly, I think I learned this from James, the key to winning a presidential campaign is driving your competitive advantage. We are not going to be able to out-experience John McCain, but we are going to be able to win on change, win on the future, win on idealism, win on an appeal to the common good. And Barack Obama, understands that competitive advantage and can and will drive it.

KING: Was it tough for you to do emotionally?

WILHELM: Sure, sure it was. I respect and honor the Clintons very much, and obviously, a big part of my life is wound up with them. So it's not an easy thing for me to do, but I think it's the right thing to do. I know Senator Obama very well, too. I have a high degree of confidence in him. And I think, at the end of the day, you know, you kind of got to put relationships and politics aside, and try to do the right thing. And I think the right thing in this instance, the person that can be a president that can build a lasting coalition for change is Senator Obama.

KING: You're a super delegate, right?

WILHELM: I am. Yes, I am.

KING: You were previously uncommitted?

WILHELM: Correct.

KING: Are super delegates going to play a big part in Denver? WILHELM: Sure they are. Sure they are, although I think it's highly unlikely, at the end of the day, super delegates, who have to take into account the best interests of the party, would contravene the express desires of the Democratic electorate. And one of the reasons I thought I should come out today is, you know, I saw what John King did with the board. I think the important thing actually is to focus on those delegates that are pledged delegates, or elected delegates. And among those delegates that have been elected, Senator Obama enjoys a 130-plus delegate advantage.

The only reason that delegate count is so tight is because so many super delegates buying into the notion of Senator Clinton's inevitability, came out for her early. So I think it's very important that these super delegates consider very, very closely how important it is to ratify the choices of the Democratic voters.

KING: Finally, David, we hoped to have you on for a half hour, whole hour maybe next week. Will you work for Obama?

WILHELM: Oh, yes, I'm going to work. They haven't been shy about putting me to work. They're consulting me about the Ohio primary. They're asking me about ads they ought to put up and so and so. I'm a little out of practice but glad to be back in the fray.

KING: David, thanks so much for appearing with us.

WILHELM: Thanks for having me.

KING: David Wilhelm, the national manager of President Clinton's 1992 campaign, endorsing Obama today. We'll get the thoughts of our panel, especially Mr. Carville, right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: The agents of change, I didn't see any change that they brought about in Washington. All I say was a continuation of pork barrel spending.

CLINTON: You look at who I'm drawing votes from, people making less than 50,000 dollars a year who need a president. That's going to be one of the greatest contrasts between me and Senator McCain.

OBAMA: If you want the same as we've had in the last seven years, then I think John McCain's going to be a great choice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: OK, let's run right through it. We're running out of time. Mr. Carville, what do you make of David Wilhelm's announcement?

CARVILLE: First of all, everybody says he's endorsing because of the polls. I would remind David that in June of 1992, we were running third, behind George -- President Bush and Ross Perot. I would also remind people that John Kerry was running 14 points ahead of George Bush in March of 2004, according to the Gallup Poll. I think Senator Clinton would match up perfectly. Senator McCain in one of the really remarkable honest statements says, I'm not very good on the economy. I don't know much about it. I think the contrast with her would be very good.

KING: Are you surprised, Jamal, at Mr. Wilhelm's decision?

SIMMONS: Sure, it's somewhat surprising. I think this election is a unique election. Barack Obama offers the kind of choice that I think a lot of Democrats have been looking for a long time. James says this is a lot about Bush, but it's also something about Obama. He's the right man at a time when people are looking for something to believe in. I think people are moving to his side for that.

KING: David Frum, what do you think?

FRUM: I'm struck by how content-free this endorsement is. I was waiting to hear what it is about Barack Obama that he liked, other than the fact he thinks he's a winner.

KING: That's basically, he thinks he's a winner.

FRUM: He's actually -- but what happens after he wins, some of the things he'll do as president are kind of important, too, aren't they?

HOLMES: David Wilhelm gets a very good job in the administration. I think that's what happens after Obama wins.

KING: Ron Reagan, what do you think?

REAGAN: Being a winner isn't such a bad thing. We can talk strategy, tactics, you can talk money, you can talk message and all of this sort of thing, but at the end of the day, you know, you cannot win the nomination, you cannot win the presidency if the American people or the members of your party like the other guy better. And I think we are very close, if not there yet, in the Hillary/Obama race. We will March 4th, though.

KING: James Carville, do you think President and Mrs. Clinton are angry at Mr. Wilhelm?

CARVILLE: I don't know about angry. You come to expect things in politics. I Like David. He's a friend of mine. People make choices. I can't make choices in politics without relationships. To me relationships are what governs my life in many ways.

KING: Is it --

CARVILLE: I don't know. I think, I'm a friend of David's and will remain a friend. I'm not going to fall out with anybody over this. I might have a different opinion but that's just what this is.

KING: Is Mr. Frum right, though, James, that the opinion is largely based on winning? CARVILLE: I think David, what he said was is that the polls were driven him, and I was trying to point out that watch his polls, because polls turn around, and everybody's going to let these Democrats make this decision coming down. I think there are big problems this country faces. I think they'll take a real hard look at these candidates and we'll see. I'm willing to accept the verdict of Democratic voters around the country. But I also want to hear from these Democratic voters and let's see how they do.

I think that Senator Clinton is very able, very tough, good campaigner. She's plays well under pressure. I think Senator Obama is a talented guy. I'm looking forward to this. I like my candidate but --

HOLMES: James, can I ask a question?

CARVILLE: You can do anything you want, Amy.

HOLMES: It has been fascinating to me that in Virginia, Obama did best among self-identified conservative Democrats. What does that say to you?

KING: It says we're out of time.

CARVILLE: It also says this election is going to go on and if you try to pick one thing from an exit poll at the end of a show with no time, you're not going to get an answer.

SIMMONS: He's very good at evading questions.

KING: We're going to do it again because it was sprightly.

Before we go, I would like to send a special get well wish to my good friend, Billy Graham. He's in a North Carolina hospital tonight recovering from brain surgery. We understand he's doing very well. Billy, the very best to you. I know I speak for many who are sending good thoughts your way.

Tomorrow a LARRY KING LIVE exclusive, John McCain for the hour. Be sure to check out CNN.com/LarryKing. We've got quick votes, video clips and transcripts. We've even got a special King of Politics Section. Now, here's my man Anderson Cooper and AC 360 from right down the hall. Anderson, go.

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