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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Nancy Reagan Hospitalized; The War of the Word in the Race for President
Aired February 18, 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, it's the war of the words. On primary eve, the verbal attacks between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama sharpens. She accuses him of stealing someone else's sentences. He fights back, charging her with using his own.
And John McCain gets support from a former president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH: He's got a record that everybody can analyze in the Senate -- a sound, conservative record.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The GOP frontrunner, meanwhile, pledges no new taxes. Read my lips.
It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening from our brand spanking new studios in Hollywood, California.
Welcome to another edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
We have a major panel discussion coming.
But first, we want to spend some moments with our friend, Ron Reagan, the son of the former president and the former first lady. He is in Seattle. You may know that former First Lady Nancy Reagan fell in her Bel Air home yesterday. She was kept overnight at St. John's Hospital here in Santa Monica. That hospital has just issued a statement that she has done very well and will be released tomorrow.
How did it happen, Ron?
RON REAGAN, NANCY REAGAN'S SON: Well, we're not sure exactly how it happened. It may be something as simple as a case of the flu. Actually, Friday night she said that she was feeling a little bad. Came down, I think, with a bit of this bug that's coming around. And, you know, at the age of 86, something like that can have deleterious effects. You can get a little dehydrated and, you know, sometimes lose your balance and fall. And that seems to be what might have happened.
As you said, the good news is all her tests came back negative. She didn't break anything. She didn't, you know, bang her head too hard or anything like that. She'll be going home tomorrow. They're just going to keep her there one more night just out of an abundance of caution. And everything seems to be -- seems to be OK.
KING: Do you know if an ambulance came or did the Secret Service drive her out?
REAGAN: No, I think they got an ambulance just to be on the safe side. They thought that that was the wisest thing to do. We appreciate, by the way -- my mother and all of us in our family appreciate the concern that everybody has here. I know that there are a lot of people out there with elderly parents, elderly grandparents and they know what this sort of situation is like. You know, somebody at that age falls down, you -- you know, you want to -- you don't want to take any chances. You want to get them to the hospital and have all the tests done that are necessary to make sure that everything is OK. And, as I said, that seems to be the case.
KING: When did you talk with her?
REAGAN: I spoke with her yesterday after she got to the hospital. I spoke to her today, this afternoon. She seems better today -- more chipper and more energetic. So she seems to be feeling -- feeling good and looking forward to going home tomorrow.
KING: So her spirits are up?
REAGAN: Yes. She didn't -- she didn't seem to be in bad spirits at all. As a matter of fact, I was reminded a little bit of my father, you know, when he was shot back in '81 and his comments to the doctors and everything. My sister Patty, who you know, happened upon the scene after she had fallen, just coincidentally right after it had happened. And so she comes upon the scene and my mother is still on the floor. And she says to my mother, "What happened?," naturally.
And my mother says, "Oh, nothing."
REAGAN: And she says, "Well, what are you doing down there on the floor?"
To which my mother replied, "Well, it seemed as good a place as any."
KING: That's so typical of the Reagan casualness and sense of humor.
Is it odd that she's in the same room your father was in when he broke his hip?
REAGAN: I don't know that it's odd. I think she kind of got a kick out of that and felt, you know, like it was sort of a, you know, home away from home or something. She got, you know, she kind of liked that, I think.
KING: Do you expect her to be involved in the race this year? REAGAN: Perhaps to some extent. She's certainly paying attention to the race. She -- we talk often -- certainly every week -- about that. She's always asking me, you know, what I think about this or that having to do with presidential politics. So she may well be involved. We'll have to see. She's been active, of course, with the debates at the library, as you well know.
KING: Yes, I know.
KING: All right, give her our love, Ron.
REAGAN: Yes, I will.
KING: You know how many millions of people are thinking about her.
Ron Reagan will remain with us.
He will join an outstanding panel.
That will come up next.
Will our next president be Democratic or Republican?
That's the Quick Vote right now on our Web site. Come on, vote, CNN.com/larryking. Head there now, vote.
And when we come back, the war of the words -- Clinton, Obama and so much more.
When we come back next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I'm very proud to endorse John McCain for the presidency of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that President Bush's endorsement today honors me. I believe that it will help us enormously in that process of uniting our party and moving forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right, let's meet our political panel.
Ron Reagan, the political commentator, Independent voter, is with us from Seattle. In New York is Kellyanne Conway, Republican strategist.
Here in Los Angeles, Stephanie Miller, host of "The Stephanie Miller Show". She is a liberal and a talk radio -- a major figure in talk radio.
David Frum is in Washington, the former speechwriter for George W. Bush, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again".
Also in Washington is Peter Beinart, senior fellow at the Council On Foreign Relations and author of "The Good Fight: Why Liberals and only Liberals Can Win the War On Terror." He is a Democrat, but is staying neutral in the Democratic primary race so far.
Kellyanne, what does the George H.W. Bush endorsement mean?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Oh, it's important because McCain has been challenged as somebody who can't unify the party. There are certainly two Bush wings of the party. And the elder Bush, in coming out today, is basically saying I am the only living Republican former president and this man has my endorsement.
I thought that John McCain did a very clever thing, Larry. That in companion with the endorsement by George Herbert Walker Bush, McCain made a no new tax pledge. And, of course, that means that McCain is essentially saying to Republican voters everywhere, I accept this man's endorsement, but I do not assimilate his policies and I will try hard not to repeat his mistakes.
KING: Stephanie Miller, why do you laugh?
STEPHANIE MILLER, HOST, "THE STEPHANIE MILLER SHOW: I laugh because he stood next to George Bush, Sr. and said "read my lips, no new taxes." And, also -- no offense, Larry -- it's just another old white guy endorsing John McCain. And now the tableau of the cast of "Cocoon" is complete, that is endorsing John McCain.
This is a generational fight, I think, that is going to be between McCain and Obama.
KING: So you think that looked like an old platform to you?
MILLER: I think it looked like the cast of "Cocoon."
KING: All right.
David Frum, where -- does it mean anything?
What does it mean?
DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it certainly means something. If he hadn't had done it, it would have meant a lot. KING: Yes.
FRUM: McCain does have this tremendous problem, which is the party is very divided on an issue that has been tremendously important to him, and that's the immigration issue. His -- I don't think anyone doubts his ability to make peace with the party on the tax issue. That's not where the fault line is. It's on the immigration issue.
If he can do that, then we are beginning to cook with gas.
KING: Peter Beinart, what does it all mean to you?
PETER BEINART, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I think the problem is McCain has to simultaneously consolidate his conservative base while maintaining the maverick reputation, which gives him a chance to win enough Independents to win in the general election. That's a very difficult balancing act. It's not about the balancing act that the Democrat is going to have to deal with, because their base is going to come in solid, whether it's Obama or Hillary Clinton.
And so the more McCain does to reassure conservatives on immigration, the worse he's going to do with Hispanics and the more he's going to be hurt in Western states and the less he's going to be able to compete in California.
KING: Ron, why does Senator McCain get such a bad rap with the right-wing of the party?
REAGAN: Well, immigration is one issue. He did have some pretty harsh...
KING: But he's changed on that.
REAGAN: Well, yes, he's changed.
REAGAN: But they don't quite trust him. You know, it's a funny thing when you start changing on these sorts of things, you know, nobody -- nobody quite believes you. There's that. There's some of the things he said about Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson. There's, you know, voting against the Bush tax cuts, initially.
This endorsement by George H.W. Bush, I have to say, though, I think it does almost nothing for John McCain. He already pretty much had the George H.W. Bush Republicans with him. What he needs to do is shore up his reputation with the conservatives, I suppose. And they don't like George H.W. Bush. So I'm not really sure that this does him much good. And with the public, I think it does him nothing at all.
KING: Kellyanne, "The New York Times" reported Sunday that McCain plans to deploy President Bush for major Republican fundraising -- this is the current president -- but not to have him appear too often with McCain.
A good strategy?
CONWAY: I think it's a sensible strategy. And as the leader of the party, you would expect the president to be able to go out there and raise money.
I think there is also sort of the ghost of Bill Clinton looming large here, Larry. He took a very public and very bold role in his wife's campaign beginning in December. And one can argue that that backfired. She's become the underdog in the fight of her life. And Bill Clinton, himself the most politically savvy Democrat, I think, in two generations, he overstepped boundaries by making some racist comments about Barack Obama after the South Carolina primary. He has given his wife advice to ditch the experience mantle and go to try to be the agent of change.
CONWAY: So I think that, you know, there's something to be said about having a former president to help you do the Rolodex power, raise the money, but not take too active a role in your campaign.
KING: Stephanie, he wouldn't want President Bush active because of the popularity factor?
MILLER: I was going to say, Larry, there's nothing you want more than that Bush magic sprinkled over you, that Bush 20 percent approval rating fairy dust just sprinkled all over you.
MILLER: I think this is nothing but good.
KING: So what does he do?
He's in a tough spot.
Does he not invite him out?
MILLER: George Bush, Jr. or senior?
KING: No, junior.
MILLER: Oh, it's all the same at this point, Larry. It's all -- you know, I think people are tired of the old, you know, whether it's Bush or Clinton. I think that's what's happening with Obama.
KING: David, is that the Republican problem here?
Is this going to be old versus new?
FRUM: Well, it's going to be -- it's starting old versus new. And if Obama plays his cards right and runs the campaign well, that's the way it is going to be.
The problem is that reality keeps breaking out. It's also far left versus a moderate conservative. And we saw that a little bit with Michelle Obama's amazing comment earlier in this news cycle, where she explained that the nomination -- the pending nomination of her husband makes her proud of her country for the first time. I guess she will be unproud if they decline to nominate him.
And then this strange -- this strange word passage with Deval Patrick, which again raises the question -- not that anybody thinks that Obama isn't good at coming up with his own words. But it raises the question of, well, who is he really?
FRUM: What does he really think?
KING: We're going to get to that in the next segment.
But Governor Patrick didn't have any problem with it.
KING: So if he was stealing from Governor Patrick and Governor Patrick doesn't have any problem with it, what do we care?
FRUM: Well, I think the view would be the reason Governor Patrick didn't have -- it's a common source. It's not that Governor Patrick was the author either. They have the same campaign manager and the question is, is it that campaign manager who is the source of these words?
And the campaign manager would take the view hey, it's all my work. I can't plagiarize from myself.
We're going to get to that in the next segment.
But winding up first about McCain, Peter, how does John McCain sit right now?
BEINART: Well, John McCain is on his way to being the Republican nominee. But you can't really say he's going in with an enormous head of steam. I mean usually by this point, the guy who is on his way to winning just, you know, destroys the other guy. What's remarkable is even though John McCain is the presumptive nominee, Mike Huckabee is still really on his heels. We don't know whether John McCain is going to have big wins tomorrow or only small wins.
And I think what it does suggest is two things. First of all, there is a real depth of hostility toward John McCain amongst movement conservatives. David mentioned on immigration. But this also goes back a long time.
And the other thing is Republicans are not hungry to win. It's one of the fundamental realities of this election. Democrats are ravenous. They have been out of power for a long time. Republicans have been in power for a long time and they're just not willing to make some of the sacrifices you need to, to win. FRUM: That's a really good...
KING: Tomorrow is...
FRUM: That's a really good point.
KING: I'm sorry.
FRUM: I think that really -- you are hearing people on talk radio saying again and again well, it could actually be a productive thing, remember '92 and '94. And it seems to me a reckless way to think, but it is very prevalent inside the party.
Also, I think because Republicans are so busy being angry at the Clintons -- who are yesterday's problem -- they've succumbed to a kind of unduly benign view of what Barack Obama is going to be like.
KING: All right, I've got to get a break.
Tomorrow, it's Hawaii, Wisconsin and the State of Washington. CNN will be covering it starting at 8:00 p.m.
The verbal battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama -- did it turn into a war today?
The charges and counter-charges flew and we'll get into it when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: And together we will begin the next great chapter in the American story, with three words that will ring from coast to coast, from sea to shining sea -- yes, we can.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY KING TV)
CLINTON: My opponent is saying no, we can't. Well, I say yes, we can and yes, we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back.
A big story today -- the Clinton campaign accusing Barack Obama of plagiarism. The charge focuses on part of a recent speech delivered by Obama. A section of the speech sounds very similar to one given by Deval Patrick. Patrick, an Obama supporter, was then running successfully for governor of Massachusetts.
Let's hear a clip from YouTube comparing both speeches.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 15, 2006)
DEVAL PATRICK (D), MASS. GOV. CANDIDATE: "We hold these truths to be self-evident"...
PATRICK: ..."that all men are created equal."
PATRICK: Just words. Just words.
PATRICK: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FEBRUARY 16, 2008)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't tell me words don't matter.
OBAMA: ""I have a dream."" Just words. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Just words.
OBAMA: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Just words.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: In all fairness, Governor Patrick also said "just words" after quoting lines from famous speeches. In fact, Governor Patrick, who is a major Obama supporter, and the senator, acknowledges he uses some of Patrick's words.
Let's watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Well, now hold on a second. I mean, look, see, I've written two books. I wrote most of my speeches. So I think, putting aside the question that you just raised in terms of whether my words are my own, I think that would be carrying it too far.
Deval and I do trade ideas all the time and, you know, he's, you know, occasionally used lines of mine and I've at -- at a J.J. dinner in Wisconsin -- used some words of his. And, you know, I would add that I noticed Senator Clinton, on occasion, has used words of mine, as well. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ron Reagan, a good story or much ado about nothing?
REAGAN: Much ado about nothing, but not surprising. I mean this is a tactic of enveloping your opponent in a cloud of gnats. You know, you find that you start picking at these little things that they do. Yes, he borrowed a rift from Deval Patrick. Big deal. To call it plagiarism is a little extreme.
The worrisome thing, if you're a Democrat here, is this is a sort of personal attack, because she's not attacking a policy prescription or something of his. What she's really saying is this an inauthentic person.
REAGAN: And that, I think, is very unfortunate. I don't think the Democratic Party needs that kind of a fight between these two.
KING: Kellyanne, does it boost your side?
CONWAY: No, not at all. But it shows that the Hillary Clinton campaign has gone from disciplined to desperate, on the rise to on the run. I think it's a tremendously specious argument. It reminds me of about two months ago when the Clinton campaign -- or Hillary herself came out and said oh, you know, Barack Obama said he just recently decided to run for president, but we came up with an essay he wrote in kindergarten saying he'd like to be president.
You know, Larry, the average voter looks at this and says how does it relate to me?
For all the talk about the lack of substantive issue discussion, how did this advance that ball?
And I think it's -- the average person would look as it as petty and non-consequential.
What Clinton could have done is she could have said, gee, all he does is repeat words that originate with Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Martin Luther King -- repeated by Deval Patrick -- when Barack Obama refuses to talk about substance that is either new or relevant to the average voter.
CONWAY: She missed that chance. .
KING: Stephanie, a good point?
MILLER: Larry, I am so glad you had me on about this, because I have been willing -- waiting to confront you about this for years.
I first said hello, Kuala Lumpur.
Do you have a question for Debbie Reynolds?
Hello. I said that and you stole that from me.
MILLER: And I've been waiting for years.
This is ridiculous.
MILLER: These are -- these are famous words they were both quoting. I mean I feel like...
KING: But does Kellyanne have a good point?
MILLER: Yes, Kellyanne has a good point.
KING: She could have said...
MILLER: Is this the best they've got?
I mean this is what they have on the right-wing -- you know, his middle name is Hussein.
Is that it?
Is that all you got to run against this with?
KING: Will it make...
MILLER: I mean this is ridiculous. It's not even an issue.
KING: Will it make an impact?
MILLER: I don't think so.
KING: David Frum, what do you think?
FRUM: I don't know...
KING: You're a speechwriter.
What do you think?
FRUM: I don't know whether it will make the general -- an impact with the general public. But it sure makes an impact on me and I hope it will make an impact on many of the people who are listening tonight.
It's a very odd and ironic kind of story. Here's the rap on this guy. I mean this is a little bit like discovering that Dwight Eisenhower didn't actually run D-Day.
What is -- why should -- why should Barack Obama be president?
What is there about him?
He's never achieved anything. He's never done anything. He's never run anything. He's a completely insubstantial person.
But he has one great attribute, which is he's a spell-binding orator. And so that was the case he was making. Never mind that I've never done anything, words matter -- but the words I'm using aren't mine.
And suddenly that makes you think if there were a record of accomplishment, you're right, this would all be as insubstantial as everyone on the panel has been saying. But since there is no record of accomplishment, since he's running only on his words, the fact that they're not his words, that's pretty serious, to my mind, because it raises the question who is he?
What is he?
On what does he stake his claim?
Maybe we should be running Deval Patrick for the Democratic nominee. After all, he gives the same speech.
REAGAN: Well, if I could...
KING: Peter Beinart?
REAGAN: I think I have to disagree with David there.
First of all, there's no question, as Barack Obama said in the clip, that the guy is capable of coming up with his own words. I mean it's actually quite unusual to have someone to run for president who's written two books. And I think by most accounts -- and certainly the first one, which he wrote before anyone knew about him, he wrote entirely himself. And even the second one, I think, he wrote in large chunks himself.
There's no question the guy can come up with his own words.
It's true he hasn't been in politics a long time. But to say he has no record of accomplishment, as the first editor of -- the first black editor of "Harvard Law Review," a guy who has run a stunning campaign -- I mean one thing you can say about Barack Obama is the guy seems to know how to manage and run something because he's run an extraordinary campaign -- a much better run campaign than the disaster of the campaign that John McCain ran all through 2007 or even than Hillary Clinton has run, which has had many more problems.
So I think that -- I think David is going a little over the top on this.
FRUM: Deval Patrick also ran a good campaign -- in fact, the same campaign and with the same campaign manager.
So the question we have to ask is, I mean if -- I mean, look...
BEINART: Look, Deval Patrick is not running for president of the United States.
FRUM: But there's an editor of the "Harvard Law Review" every single year. And there athlete strings of them. I'm sure there are people from the 1920s still alive who were editors of the "Harvard Law Review."
It is a remarkable thing that you can be a candidate for president never having run anything of any consequence.
REAGAN: Well, he didn't -- David, he hasn't run anything into the ground, either.
REAGAN: David, you worked for a guy...
KING: One at a time.
REAGAN: You worked for a guy, David, who was a dismal failure in business his entire life. So I can't see you sitting here criticizing Barack Obama, a guy who actually has accomplished things in his life.
FRUM: Look, George Bush...
REAGAN: ...maybe not big enough for you, but -- but certainly more than your man.
FRUM: George Bush was the reelected governor of the second biggest state in the country.
REAGAN: That was the only thing he ever did where he...
BEINART: You don't think Barack Obama would have gotten reelected as senator from Illinois?
BEINART: Which is a pretty big state?
FRUM: You watch. Well, we would -- it would have been interesting if he would have waited to find out, I mean because then he would have run against somebody other than Alan Keyes.
MILLER: If only Barack Obama...
KING: All right, hold on.
Hold on a second...
MILLER: ...had had more failed businesses like George W. Bush, he'd be much more qualified. You're right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, it's an interesting thing...
KING: OK. We're getting vicious now.
KING: And on that note, we're going to take a break.
We're going to take a break.
And when we come...
KING: We're going to come back with this outstanding panel. We'll include your phone calls. We've also got some e-mails, too on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Don't go away.
KING: We're back our out standing panel of Ron Reagan, Kellyanne Conway, Stephanie Miller, David Frum and Peter Beinart. We'll take a call from Cambria, California. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. I have a question for your panel. John McCain keeps talking about the Bush tax cuts becoming permanent. My question is, if the tax cuts are supposed to be helping everybody, why are we almost in a recession?
KING: David, you want to take that?
CONWAY: Thank you, President Hoover.
FRUM: We're probably heading into recession. It's an interesting question where we would have been without these tax cuts. Tax cuts alone, though, aren't enough to run a modern economy. They're just -- I mean, they're a crucial part of a balanced diet, but they're not the whole of the diet.
I think one of the questions the caller might want to ponder is, if we are heading into a recession, and we then find ourselves raising the taxes on capital gains, raising the taxes on dividends, raising the taxes on doing business in America, how helpful will that be, or will that make things much worse?
MILLER: Excuse me, David, they're part of balanced diet if you're in the top one percent and you're part of causing the 300 billion dollar deficit, which is why John McCain voted against them twice.
FRUM: We should -- I come a little bit from the root canal part of the party. I think balanced budgets are very important. They're a parts of the tax cuts that we probably could do without without missing. But the 2003 tax cuts especially, the ones that affects the treatment of business income, are very, very is important, which is one of the reasons, for example, that John Kerry, in 2004 --
KING: What do you think is going to happen? Ron, first you. What's going to happen in Wisconsin tomorrow? They're now calling it close, maybe even.
REAGAN: It's going to be interesting. Wisconsin, in and of itself, may not be hugely important, but it is all to do with momentum. Barack Obama, of course, has it. Hillary Clinton wants it back. This is a state, Wisconsin, that should be good demographically for Hillary Clinton. It's got a lot of suburbs. It doesn't have a large black population. It's got a lot of working-class people. Those are the demographics that she does well in. Yet, she's still behind.
If she could pull this off tomorrow, she really could become the comeback kid perhaps in Texas and Ohio. But if it's going to be yet another victory for Obama, at the end of the day, we're looking at ten in a row, her job gets a lot harder.
KING: Can she win tomorrow, Stephanie?
MILLER: This is a tough year to make predictions, Larry, but I think Obama is going to take Wisconsin.
KING: Kellyanne, what do you hear?
CONWAY: I give the advantage to Obama. Even if Clinton wins, she won't crack 50 percent. She won't even get close. That's a problem for her. She needs to start winning big. This is proportional delegation. Her margins are going the other way. They're tied in Texas now, which should be hers running away.
I think the case is still a problem that most Democrats think Barack Obama is running for president for them. But they think Hillary Clinton is running for president for her.
BEINART: You know, Kelly, that's not what most Democrats think at all. It may be what you think. But while it's true that Barack Obama has more support right now than Hillary, there's no evidence whatsoever to suggest that's what Democrats think. It's really what Republican partisans believe.
CONWAY: Peter, we don't just vote in your primaries.
BEINART: I know, but just because people are voting against Hillary Clinton doesn't mean they believe she's running for president for selfish reasons. That's the kind of thing that Republican spin artists like you say.
CONWAY: I resent that. The vast right wing conspiracy does not vote in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, my friend. Every vote for Barack Obama, who is now the front-runner, is an implicit rejection of the Clintons.
BEINART: It's a vote against Hillary Clinton, but it doesn't mean that people think she's only running for power reasons.
CONWAY: I didn't say that.
BEINART: That is actually what you said.
MILLER: As opposed to anyone else who has ever run for president that's not in it for the power.
BEINART: That's right.
KING: We have an e-mail from Betty in New York; "it irritates me. I don't know who our presidential candidates would choose as their running mates. This information should be out there during the campaigning. My support for past presidents would have changed if their side-kick was not on the top of my list as vice presidents."
How do you feel about this? We'll start with you, David. Why can't we know who the vice president will be?
FRUM: That's an extremely unusual voter. Here's why we can't know; they're still thinking about it. The task of choosing a vice presidential candidate is part of the work of reuniting a party after one of these divisive struggles. It would be wrong and premature and divisive to do such a thing for either.
KING: As I remember it, Ron, your father did that.
REAGAN: Yes, he did. It didn't work out tremendously well for him back in '76. But, yes. I think John McCain could probably -- before the convention, he could announce a vice presidential choice. As David was saying, it's just too early for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. They don't know the situation they're going to be in once they get to the convention. Neither one of them having the delegates to go over the top. So they're going to have to make a calculation.
MILLER: Except, Ron, there's one wild card you're missing. If Obama right now were to say the magic word, you know what I'm talking about, Larry, Oprah, this would all be over.
KING: Peter, wouldn't you be a better voter if you knew who the vice president was going to be?
FRUM: I don't think most people, as David said, vote based on the running mate. There's a practical reason you can't do it right now. You've got to vet these guys. It takes time. Presumably, you want to have some time when you're not out on the campaign trail 16 hours a day that you can actually sit back, interview some people, talk to them, do all the background checks so you don't have one these situations where it turns out someone has skeletons in their closet.
There are good practical reasons that this happens later, after someone has secured the nomination. KING: Kellyanne, would you want to know?
CONWAY: I think we all have an inkling of who is on people's short list. I have to credit the e-mail. I'm not so dismissive of her question, because look at what John McCain did in the last couple of weeks. He said, I really blame Donald Rumsfeld for the war in Iraq, for the way its gone. He was very careful to be supportive of the surge, but to call into question the first secretary of defense's strategy and maybe even some of his tactics.
So I think what the e-mailer is saying to all of us is, we know no that no president acts alone. We would like to know how powerful other people would be in that administration. It might help John McCain to say that he would like his friend, the former Democratic vice presidential nominee, now the independent senator from Connecticut, Joe Lieberman, who has rejected Obama and Clinton in favor of McCain, that he would invite him to serve in his cabinet. Something like that gives you a little peak into the cupboards ahead of time.
KING: Knowledge, what's wrong with knowledge?
MILLER: It would be way more fun if he picked Mitt Romney, because they hate each other so much. That would be really fun.
KING: Indianapolis, hello.
CALLER: Hello. Hi. It's sort of like the e-mail. I just wanted to know if Hillary Clinton won, would she most likely pick Obama, and if Obama won, would he pick Hillary and would she accept? And I have to also comment on David Frum and just the Republican party. This is why we're choosing a Democrat, because the Republican party is all about uniting the Republican party and Obama is about uniting everyone.
MILLER: Here here.
KING: What about -- do any of you see an Obama Clinton, vice versa ticket?
MILLER: I think, Larry, if Hillary wins, she will pick Obama. I think if Obama wins, he will not pick Hillary.
KING: What do you think?
BEINART: I think if Hillary wins in very contested circumstances with a lot of bitterness around it, then I think she would choose Barack Obama. If she doesn't, if she wins under different circumstances, I think she will not choose him. I don't think she would choose him unless she felt she was forced to by the party.
KING: Ron? REAGAN: As Peter was saying, if it is very close and very divisive, and Hillary comes out on top, she may, in a sense, have to pick Barack Obama to unify the party. On the other hand in Barack Obama wins, no matter how he wins, I think it would be a mistake for him to pick Hillary Clinton as a running mate, because she's a divisive figure.
CONWAY: That would be going backward. For Barack Obama to choose Hillary Clinton would really belie a great deal of his message. He's already grabbed a mantle of generational change for the Democratic party. He owns that.
FRUM: Can I speak up here for Hillary Clinton?
KING: Hold it. Let me get a break. We'll come right back and pick up where we left off. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We can't afford to wait. We can't wait to fix our schools. We can't wait to fix our health care system. We can't wait to bring back good jobs and good wages. We cannot wait to bring an end to global warming. We cannot wait to end the war in Iraq. We cannot wait.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: David, you were going to say?
FRUM: I wanted to speak up a little bit on behalf of Hillary Clinton, who has been kicked around a let this segment. Stephanie said a very interesting thing in the first half hour of the show, where she talked about George Bush's failures. Indeed, he had them. One of the things I think that is distinctive about Hillary Clinton is that she is a candidate who tried to do big things, her health care plan in her first term, and she did fail.
We all know from our own life failures that it's from those that we have learned. One of the thing that makes her impressive compared to Barack Obama is you wonder if he's learned anything. That's why these word questions come up so much. I suspect if Barack Obama wins the presidency, that many people, many Democrats will find themselves quoting again and again Hillary Clinton's line about the difference between making a speech and making change.
We all know he can make a speech. But we don't know that he can actually do anything.
Let me anticipate one criticism of my old boss, George W. Bush. George W. Bush, although often a tongue-tied person, had a very rhetorical view of the presidency. He would often say, I call on so and so to do this, or I call on so and so to do that. He had great belief in the power of words. People who spend a lot of time in the Oval Office know that it's about running an office. You know, she's not my candidate, but I believe she can do that. But Barack Obama, you never know. I mean, it's like those county fairs, where you blindfold yourself --
MILLER: David, is your point that George W. Bush did a much better job bringing people together on, oh, I don't know, Social Security or illegal immigration?
FRUM: My point is not that. My point is the nature of George Bush's failures, I think -- Barack Obama, if he is president and if he fails, people are going to see a lot of commonalities between his failures and George W. Bush's.
MILLER: David is from the no we can't campaign.
KING: Columbus, Indiana, hello. Columbus, Indiana, hello. We lost them.
FRUM: If yes we can reminds me of the faith healing approach. If you can say, yes we can, well, some things you can. Personally, before I pick somebody to fill an important job like president, I would want more than the fact that he believes he can do it. I would like some independent reason to believe that he can do it.
KING: Let me get a break. We'll pick up with Ron Reagan. I can hear myself talk. I'm sorry. Ron Reagan when we come back. First let's check in with Anderson Cooper. He'll host "AC 360" at the top of the hour. It's one of those nights, Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Sure is. Good discussion, though.
KING: What's up?
ANDERSON: Coming up, Larry, new polls showing Senators Clinton and Obama locked in dead heat races in both Wisconsin and Texas, critical states, no doubt about it, for both campaigns. Today it's showing. There's a dust up between the two camps over whether Senator Obama has been plagiarizing past speeches of someone else. Obama says it's much ado about nothing. We'll explore that. Clinton, of course, says not so fast. We'll let you decide.
We'll also dig deeper on the issue of Super Delegates and why the Obama and Clinton campaigns have been effectively giving money to the Super Delegates for years. We're keeping them honest on that, as well as talking to our favorite Super Delegate, 21 year old Jason Ray. I can't believe this kid's a Super Delegate. All that plus an exclusive interview with the girlfriend of the northern Illinois University killer. "360" at the top of the hour, Larry.
KING: Thanks. I love that kid, Jason. I met him in New York. He is the Super Delegate's Super Delegate. Tune in for Anderson Cooper at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: Because if we stand up together, if we work together, if we fight together, we will take back America, and we will make history together. Thank you all, and god bless you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Welcome back. Bill Clinton has really involved himself in this campaign and got involved with hecklers last weekend. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM JEFFERSON CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We disagree with you. You want to criminalize women and their doctors and we disagree. We want to criminalize --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Ron Reagan, what do you make of the Clinton involvement in his wife's campaign.
REAGAN: Well, you know, I'm sure it's helped and hurt. You know, occasionally he just goes a little too far. Before we took a break, though, Larry, there was one issue we haven't touched on that I find fascinating. I wonder what the rest of the panel thinks about it. This is this issue of Barack Obama and whether he should honor his apparent pledge to only take public finances for the general election if his opponent does the same.
You know McCain has called him on this now. McCain was at a fund raising disadvantage and sees an opening here. So the question is, does Barack Obama stick to his guns? Does he honor this pledge and give up the fund raising advantage?
Let me just start the conversation by saying that I think he should honor his pledge. What does everybody else think?
KING: Good question. Let's go around.
MILLER: It's funny McCain is now going, campaign finance, who came up with that crazy idea, Russ Feingold? Who said that?
KING: What do you think, Kellyanne?
CONWAY: I liked the topic of Bill Clinton losing his temper more. Of course Barack Obama should honor his pledge, just that the candidate that gets the most pledged delegates in these races, rather than super delegates, should be the nominee.
But Bill Clinton losing his temper is very significant. I noticed the big banner behind him, Larry, says solutions for America. Since we're talking about plagiarism, Newt Gingrich's think tank is called, American Solutions, and has been such for 18 months. So thank you Hillary Clinton for finally understanding who really is a one man intellectual power house and has some good ideas.
KING: David, why has the former president, on occasion, slipped here, when everyone viewed him as the almost perfect politician.
FRUM: He is a very good politician. I'm reminded of that old joke about advertising where the punch line is, they do this fantastic campaign and then they feed the dog food to the dog. Then the problem is the dogs don't like the food. If he were running, the Democratic party would surely have nominated him. That's why some of us feel sympathy for Hillary Clinton. She's not that good at it. There's just a limit to how much he can do to help her. Everything he does to help her makes the problem worse by making him the story, not her.
KING: Peter, if you were running this campaign and had the final say, how would you use Bill Clinton?
BEINART: I think they've been using him in the right way since South Carolina. I think they made a mistake for South Carolina when they used him to go negative. He should be out there raising money, but also just rallying support in a positive way. I think he's done that pretty effectively.
I mean, Bill Clinton gets on TV when there's some kind of outburst that people want to talk about. But the truth is, to have a surrogate out there who can draw huge crowds, who reminds people about a time that they like much, much more than the current time, wildly popular with Democrats, that's a good thing to have.
CONWAY: Why is Obama ahead then?
BEINART: Because Obama has other strengths, Kellyanne. That's not the only factor in this race. But Bill Clinton, although he's sometimes a problem for Hillary Clinton, he's also a big asset. It's undeniable.
MILLER: Peter, I think you're right. I think Bill Clinton was a great president. I have to say, Larry, that was a little uncomfortable. That reminded me of a bad night at Yuck Yuck's in Rochester. He was the leader of the free world. He was the president.
KING: Let me get a break. We'll pick right up with David Frum in our remaining moments. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: This president is viewed with respect and affection by all Republicans. I'm proud to have his support, and I think that our effort to continue to unite the party will be enhanced today dramatically by President Bush's words. I'm proud and grateful, and I hope that I can match my -- I can measure up to the honorable service that President Bush has rendered this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: David, you wanted to say something to Kellyanne.
FRUM: I just wanted to say to my friend Kellyanne, Republican to Republican, that we should not allow our unhappiness of the 1990s to jaundice to much our judgment today. As irritating as we were of the Clintons back then, as obnoxious as they are in a lot of ways to our sensibilities, the fact is that they are much more on our wavelength than Barack Obama is. And, you know, if it comes down to a choice, if you're predicting who is the next president, wouldn't you be more comfortable with Hillary than Barack Obama?
CONWAY: I said that a million times. I haven't been asked that question tonight. I've said it a million times. I'm very disappointed that had Hillary Clinton allowed herself to slip into the ether of this presidential contest. I wish she were still the front- runner. I hope she's the nominee. I would much prefer to run against her.
David, I'll tell you, I think Barack Obama's rise, for a guy who no Democrat knew four years ago, before he gave that convention speech in '04, it says as much about the Democratic primary and caucus goers as it does about him. They are willing to just bank their future on monosyllabic grunts about hope and change and choice --
BEINART: The monosyllabic grunt is a really dumb line. Secondly, how many Republicans knew who George W. Bush was in 1996? He was virtually unknown. He had no record of accomplishment four years before he became the president.
CONWAY: You're proving my point of how desperate the Democratic party is right now.
BEINART: My point is that people can emerge quickly.
MILLER: Let me bring this together before we go. I think you guys have really been mistreated by the Republican party. You need to go form a third party or even a fourth party really. You really need to go forward and seriously.
FRUM: I'm happy with the one I've got.
MILLER: Don't be mistreated like this.
REAGAN: David and Kellyanne have provided us good reasons to vote for Barack Obama, frankly.
CONWAY: And many people are. Most people are right now.
KING: Kellyanne, you're not frightened of the Obama candidacy, are you?
CONWAY: I'm not frightened of it. But it is -- because he's so undefined and so amorphous and so intangible, if you will. He's banking on a bunch of intangibles. It's difficult to strategize against that. Where is his record? What are his ideas? Where is the substance?
Again, Hillary Clinton missed the opportunity to really make that the charge against him today, rather than this ridiculous plagiarism. She sounds like John Edwards and Bill Clinton combined. Who's she to say he's plagiarizing. She's missing the opportunity to go back to substance, which is her strength.
BEINART: She's actually hitting him on health care day after day after day. So she is doing that.
REAGAN: You know, change versus experience here has become almost a cliche. I have to tell you that if you're looking at the three candidates, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, there's only one candidate out there that makes the effective argument for real change, the future versus the past. That's what we're really talking about when we talk about change versus experience.
MILLER: That's right, Ron. I think what we've all learned here is we need to do as Oprah tells us. Oprah said, he is the one. He's Neo in the "Matrix." That's all you need to know.
KING: Have you lost your mind? We like Oprah but --
REAGAN: He can make time slow down, too, and bullets go slow.
CONWAY: Stephanie, you made the point at the top of the show that I think it's going to be very dangerous for the Democratic party to keep on trying to accuse John McCain of looking old or George Herbert Walker Bush of being like the cast of Cocoon. Too old for what? Too old to be a grown up in the world? Too old to be commander in chief?
Yes, fresh and change and all that is exciting, but these are not the Olympics. They're not running for game show host or prom king.
KING: OK, guys, I promise you, we're going to have all five of you back. Just give me a chance to get through this.
We're looking forward to tomorrow night. We're on a special time, midnight eastern, 9:00 Pacific. At that time, we'll have an up to the minute counting of the caucus and primary voting in Hawaii, Washington and Wisconsin, and great panelists to analyze it all. That's LARRY KING LIVE, midnight Eastern tomorrow night.
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