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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Tuesday's Democratic Primary; The "3:00 a.m. Phone Call" Contest; Sen. John McCain is Home in Arizona; Possible Vice Presidential Candidates; Biggest Surprise in the Campaign Period

Aired March 1, 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, two states - Texas, Ohio. Two candidates - Clinton, Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We will not just win Ohio. We will win this nomination.

KING: Will one winner emerge? It's close. It's crucial. It's the political showdown of the primary season. Next on LARRY KING LIVE.

(MUSIC)

KING: We have an outstanding panel tonight. The panel will be with us throughout. There will be some interruptions with others coming in, but let's meet those that kick it off.

Laura Schwartz, the Democratic strategist, former special assistant to the president. David Frum, former speechwriter and special assistant to President Bush, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of "Come Back: Conservatism That Can Win Again." In Orlando, Florida, Peter Beinart. Peter is a senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the "Good Fight: Why Liberals - And Only Liberals - Can Win the War On Terror and Make America Great Again." And back here in L.A., Amy Holmes, the Republican strategist and CNN political analyst. And in Washington, Chris Cillizza; Chris writes "The Fix," the politics blog for "TheWashingtonPost.com."

What can we expect, Laura, from a Democratic standpoint on Tuesday?

LAURA SCHWARTZ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think Barack Obama may win Texas, especially because of the Texas two-step. You've got the primaries and you've got the caucus. This week came out from the Hillary Clinton campaign, that they were looking in legally, how does the caucus system work in Texas.

They didn't imagine they would ever have to go beyond Super Tuesday. So they've had to play catch up versus the Barack Obama team. They've had a grass roots team in place already.

KING: In Ohio?

SCHWARTZ: Ohio is going to be a little tougher for Barack Obama. I think she may hold on to that, but not enough for a delegate lead of any significance.

KING: What do the Republicans expect on Tuesday, Amy?

AMY HOLMES, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST AND CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: They're expecting John McCain to sweep. Polls show that he had healthy, healthy double digits both in Texas and Ohio. So the question for Mike Huckabee is - how long does he want to stay in? Is he having a good time? Is he raising his name ID? You know, Republicans are pretty confident John McCain's got this done.

KING: Does he leave Huckabee Tuesday night?

HOLMES: You know, that's entirely up to him and we thought that he was just done on "Saturday Night Live." I think he's having a good time.

KING: Peter, from the standpoint of the man who is the liberal, but not necessarily taking sides here, what do you see Tuesday?

PETER BEINART, SENIOR FELLOW, THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: I mean I agree with what's been said. Barack Obama has an enormous financial advantage that he is now deploying in both states. And he is using that financial advantage, not only for the fact that he raised so much money, but the fact that very powerful outside groups that come in on his behalf, allowing him to swamp Hillary Clinton in spending.

And so you're seeing that the margin declining and declining. And as was said earlier, because of the way Texas works and the fact that African-American areas and college towns where Obama would do well, may end up getting more delegates than some of the areas - Hispanic areas in south Texas where Hillary Clinton is supposed to do well. She could win the popular vote there, but still come out with fewer delegates. And I think, all in all, it's going to be hard for them to claim that as a big win.

KING: David Frum, what do you think? Do you agree with Amy on the Republican side of things, Tuesday?

DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER AND ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BUSH: I think Mike Huckabee has a very clear plan, which is he needs to stamp on the public mind the idea that he, not Mitt Romney, was the man who came in second. For the Democratic Party, if you come in second in a primary contest, you are a loser; whereas in the Republican Party, if you come in second, you're Mr. Next Time.

KING: And Mr. Vice President maybe, or maybe not?

FRUM: Well, I think - I don't know whether it will be. Whoever that vice presidential nominee is, that would be the chief rival to whoever is thought to have come in second, whether it's Romney or Huckabee. But it's a very serious prize that Huckabee is chasing. He's not just doing this to have a good time.

KING: And Chris Cillizza, what do you say? CHRIS CILLIZZA, BLOG WRITER, "THE FIX": You know, Larry, the one thing I would say about the Democrat race - watch Texas. Hillary Clinton went up yesterday with an ad, you know, "3:00 a.m. Phone Call," really trying to drive -

KING: Yes. And we're going to show it in a minute.

CILLIZZA: Really trying to drive home the idea that - Is Barack Obama ready to be president if that phone call comes in about a crisis? And in the shorter term, is he ready to fight John McCain, the likely Republican nominee to withdraw on that issue in the general election. She's made that argument subtly before. All subtlety has gone out the window now.

We're four days out. So she's making that argument very strongly. Let's see. Barack Obama has condemned it as the politics of fear. Hillary Clinton is saying, "I don't think Texans scare that easy." I think that's a real interesting subtext to watch in Texas. If she comes back and wins Texas, that ad is going to get a lot of credit.

KING: And we have - that's a perfect lead in for us, Chris. Here's the ad and the response to the ad. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. But there is a phone in the White House and it's ringing. Something's happening in the world. Your vote will decide who answers that call. Whether it's someone who already knows the world's leaders, knows the military, someone tested and ready to lead in a dangerous world, it's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want answering the phone?

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Hillary Clinton and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: It's 3:00 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. There is a phone ringing in the White House. Something's happening in the world. When that call gets answered, shouldn't the president be the one, the only one who had judgment and courage to oppose the Iraq war from the start; who understood the real threat to America was Al- Qaeda in Afghanistan, not Iraq; who led the effort to secure loose weapons around the globe? In a dangerous world, it's judgment that matters.

OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, Laura, who wins the battle of "3:00 a.m.?"

SCHWARTZ: Hillary would if that came out earlier, Larry. But I think it's a little too late at this stage in the game. And, Barack Obama, because he came out - the key word in his ad response was judgment.

And he had the former Secretary of the Navy Danzig(ph) and he had Gen. McPeak from the Air Force Chief of Operations for Desert Storm come out and do conference calls about the judgment. When he gets that call, he will make the judgment.

HOLMES: And I think also, Larry, another problem with that is that again, she's switching her message. So we've been seeing her. It seems like she is flailing from she was the change candidate, she's the experience candidate. Now, you have her the fear candidate. And it seems like it's the same two kids that are asleep in America with both of these campaigns.

KING: Peter, who won that ad?

BEINART: I think the problem that Hillary Clinton has is that people don't think the world is as dangerous as they used to. This is not 2002 or 2004. If you look at the percentage of Americans who say that terrorism is the biggest concern, it's plummeted. And that has really made it easier for Barack Obama as a guy who doesn't have experience to run so strong. If people were really frightened, then I think that ad might work. But they are not frightened in the way they were a few years ago.

KING: David, how do you see that?

FRUM: I think there is a lot of truth in what Peter said. I think that ad only works on people who are already persuaded that Hillary is a credible commander-in-chief. I think to those who are not as impressed with her that the idea is - would say, well, I don't know. That beats the heck out of me. Whose ad is this anyway? It's Hillary Clinton's ad? And I think it is actually an ad for John McCain and I don't know why she wants to do that.

KING: And Chris, how do you see it?

CILLIZA: Well, you know, I think that David is exactly right. The danger Sen. Clinton runs into when she does something like this is Democrats will say she's giving Republicans talking points for the general election. She's giving them the blueprint. She's saying things in a race that is pretty much decided. That's the fine line with the Clintons - and I say the Clintons, because I think former President Clinton is very much wrapped up in this.

It is a battle between winning this election which is - I don't want to say a long shot - but is much more difficult than it is for Barack Obama to win and managing their legacy. Remember, this is the family that entered the race as the first family in Democratic politics. They have that legacy to think about.

If it looks like they savaged the eventual Democratic nominee, bloodied him to the point where John McCain can swoop in for the kill, that's going to be a very, very hard thing for the Clintons to explain to all those Democratic activists who is revered them before this campaign started. KING: Up next, the Clinton versus Obama debate. Supporters of each will discuss issues and strategies, a surprise couple by the way. And then our panel will return. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It seems like this change thing is catching on because everybody is talking about change now. Everybody is saying how they stand for change. But I want you to understand what real change is. Don't be fooled. Real change means saying what you mean and meaning what you say, not just during election time, but all the time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: An extraordinary couple on the American scene - Michael Eric Dyson is in Washington, university professor at Georgetown, bestselling author and a supporter of Barack Obama. In Cleveland is Rev. Marcia Dyson, contributing editor of "Essence" magazine, research associate of university of Pennsylvania and a supporter of Hillary Clinton. Bedtime must be interesting at the Dysons. What's going to happen on Tuesday, Michael?

MICHAEL DYSON, UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY AND AN OBAMA SUPPORTER: Well, I think that Barack Obama will prevail. I think that it's a close race obviously. But I think he's surged significantly in Texas and think Ohio is the contestable.

So I think that the momentum is behind him. The wind is beneath his wings, whether it's 3:00 a.m. or 3:00 p.m., I think he's got the whole card, so to speak. And I think he is organizing an extraordinary range of supporters to reinforce the fact that the kind of experience he has is the size and the kind of experience that America needs.

KING: Marcia, how do you see your candidate doing?

REV. MARCIA DYSON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "ESSENCE MAGAZINE" AND A CLINTON SUPPORTER: I think that she's doing very well. I'm here in Ohio. Last night, I was in Texas and I'm going back early tomorrow morning. And when I stayed at the polls, I see a lot of people still undecided. We had a great rally in Texas where we had a diverse group of people - African-American, Asian, Latino and other folks that have been missed in the American politics in this particular race.

And I'm still not only hopeful - I just think that people realize that we have a helpful candidate, and I'm just going to wait until Tuesday. I think that we're doing a great job in Texas and the Texas two-step, a dance that we have to take.

And you know, I heard somebody earlier talk about how Obama's camp got clarity to the people. But when I stood in line and I asked the people if they understand about the primary vote and the caucus vote, there was a lot of un-clarity about that particular process. Because Texas is the first time for the citizens there to really get that engaged into it and as it's gone this far with a primary candidate.

KING: Michael, is this battle hurting the party?

MICHAEL DYSON: Well, it's a closely contested battle. I think that when you have an African-American and a female, I think that some of the rules have gone out the window. People are a bit more sensitive. They think that certain things are exaggerated. I think, look, you've got to fiercely contest this. Hillary Clinton has to step up to the plate and regardless of the gender bias against her, can (UNINTELLIGIBLE) very closely. And Barack Obama is the same thing.

I think that ultimately, obviously, we don't want to undermine, subvert or in any way, distort the message of the party, which that more broad message that we must get there, that we are here to win. Our enemies are not each other. The enemy, of course, in this sense, the opponent, is the Republican Party. So I think, ultimately, we haven't gone too far yet, but we do risk that possibility.

KING: Marcia, do you think that 3:00 a.m. commercial will be effective?

MARCIA DYSON: I think that it would. Somebody tried to relate it only to foreign policy. I'm the grandmother of a week-old granddaughter. And when I look at her photo, when I look at other children, there many other fears into which someone who will wake up at 3:00 and don't go to sleep, as President Bush admitted, at 9:00 p.m. in the evening.

And Hillary Clinton is that person. And what she's basically saying is that she can rest and have your dreams because she's going to allow us through her administration and capable people around her to do the job so America will be safe, not only from foreign threats, but internal things. You know, children are waking up every day with asthma. And I talked to many parents who are concerned with the fact that their children won't have health care. So there are many other -

(CROSS TALK)

MICHAEL DYSON: Well, can I say this? Let me jump in and say this. The fact is that it's different being up at 3:00 a.m. if you've got insomnia or you can go to bed restful because you've taken care of the world.

I think that Barack Obama has the kind of credible team around him, along with the superior intelligence to be able to discern the necessity for what has to be done, what doesn't have to be done, what must be taken care of.

So the reason we're able to sleep at night is precisely because we've already prepared for the eventuality of what may happen during the night. So I think that that commercial may have to be readjusted.

MARCIA DYSON: I think if you're sedated by words only. Sure, you can have that opening in which to sleep. Hillary Clinton will help people to sleep restfully, because not only will she has given you an (UNINTELLIGIBLE)she has already shown you, not only what she would do, but she has already shown that what she can do via, not only her experience but her work in the world whether it's on healthcare, education. She may have shot the goose, but she didn't chicken out on that. There are six million children who will benefit -

(CROSS TALK)

MICHAEL DYSON: Well, you know, Rev. Dyson -

MARCIA DYSON: Who will get a head start -

MICHAEL DYSON: Let me jump in for a second. You are a Christian minister.

(CROSS TALK)

You're a Christian minister. You believe in the Word.

MARCIA DYSON: Yes.

MICHAEL: Why is it this dismissal of the necessity of speech, "In the beginning was the Word. The Word became flesh and blood among us." It seems to me that the cosmic principal of creation rests upon the Word. Why the dismissal of the Word? It's the joining of the Word to the fruitful action and purposeful in the world. And I think to dismiss Barack Obama if he couldn't speak, oh my god. Look at this inarticulate bum with character.

MARCIA DYSON: Oh, no. I like the word, Dr. Dyson.

MICHAEL: Now that he has the capacity to speak -

(CROSS TALK)

MARCIA DYSON: I sure like the word when he said that he wasn't for the war, but yet basically voted in 2004 that he agreed with President Bush on how he was handling the war, as well. And he basically voted the same as Hillary Clinton (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: All right, guys.

MARCIA DYSON: And he was missing in action. So I believe in the word -

MICHAEL DYSON: He didn't vote for the war.

not in my (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and in action.

MICHAEL DYSON: He didn't vote for the war.

MARCIA DYSON: I didn't say he voted for the war.

KING: We look forward the Dyson appeared together for the same candidates.

MARCIA DYSON: Yes, Hillary Clinton -

KING: Thank you, Michael Dyson and thank you, Marcia.

MARCIA DYSON: Thank you, Michael Dyson.

KING: And we'll be back with our panel. I think they are both no fault states. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: You see, I do think this is a hiring decision and I'm asking to enter into a contract with you. You give me the vote and the trust that comes with the confidence that represents and I give you my best efforts every single day to translate these speeches into action. Because there's a big difference between speeches and solutions, and rhetoric and reality.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: David Frum, now back with our panel. David Frum, all this obviously has overshadowed McCain. Will that go away once they have a nominee for the Democrats?

FRUM: Well, McCain faces this disintegrating situation, beyond what's happening with the Democrats, which is the economic news keeps getting worse and worse and worse. If you compare where we are to where we were at the beginning of this primary process, we've got this terrible negative equity situation. One out of every ten American homes worth less than the mortgage on it. We had a terrible month of economic growth in January practically flat. It looks like signs of a gathering inflation, of a disintegration of the dollar. Oil well over $100. So that's going to be an important driver of this election. And all of that hurts the incumbent party which happens to be the Republicans. And so, in many ways, I think we're going to look back on this and say, this was snap, crackle and pop while the real landslide was happening on the market place.

KING: Laura, what happens if Hillary wins Texas and Ohio?

SCHWARTZ: She stays in and lives to fight in Pennsylvania on April 22nd. Gov. Rendell would have said the same thing. He thinks that she can take Pennsylvania if she wins Texas and Ohio.

KING: Then they could go to Denver without a nominee?

SCHWARTZ: They could and then we have the whole Michigan-Florida fiasco and superdelegates. But you look at lately, since February 5th, Hillary Clinton's lost six superdelegates. Barack Obama's gained 38. Superdelegates may close in, in the next few weeks.

HOLMES: Plus, we see that superdelegates, whether it's Barack or Hillary, are going to be deciding this race, that neither of them - You know, our John King has done the models. You know, they would have to sweep 70-80 percent in order to have the pledged delegates, get them over the finishing line. So if Hillary wins Texas and Ohio, it still does not answer the question of how Democrats are going to settle this. And going to David's point about the economy, if Democrats are still fighting, that does give John McCain time to start to own this issue while they're still involved and trying to pick their candidate.

(CROSS TALK)

BEINART: The problem is that John McCain is very weak talking about the economy. It's clear that the guy loves talking national security. Eyes light up, but when he starts talking about economy, he seems palpably bored. Mitt Romney was much better talking about the economy. Even Mike Huckabee was talking better about the economy.

If I were John McCain, I would go for a couple of weeks away and just spend my time immersing myself in economic issues. He is going to try to make this election about national security. It will be partly about that, but, as David said, it will be more about the economy and right now, he is weak on that.

KING: Chris, is the situation between Clinton and Obama resolvable? In other words, has it gotten so bad a breech, that one will not heartily endorse the other?

CILLIZA: No, Larry. I don't think it has. You know, I think we have a tendency in every election to say this is the nastiest worst election where the candidates are bashing each other worse than every election that went before it. But I actually think that generally this has been a pretty polite election between senators Clinton and Obama. There was a little nastiness obviously in South Carolina and the Clinton campaign was chasing. Barack Obama won very easily there. They've largely stayed away from it.

I think now, as you get closer to the end of the game, you are seeing Sen. Clinton clearly taking on the underdog status and going after security, the one issue I think she thinks is still the wild card in this race.

But I don't see it, Larry, that there is somehow a fracture in the party. I will say the possibility does exist if Hillary Clinton winds up being the nominee, that a lot of these people have come out for Barack Obama, and they come out in droves. I do think some of them may again just absent themselves from the political process.

I'm not sure they'll go and support a Republican, but I'm not sure that Sen. Clinton has the ability to broaden the electorate in a way that Sen. Obama does. Now, Democrats may not need that, given the atmospheric edges they have going into 2008, as David mentioned, about the economy and I think that's crucial. But I do think there is a group of people - how large it is, I'm not sure - that walk away if Sen. Clinton is the nominee that probably would stay within the party of Sen. Obama is.

HOLMES: You know, I have to disagree though, on the question of the nastiness between the candidates. I mean they're grown ups and they both, you know - At the end of the day if he or she is at the top of the ticket, and they're considering the other person for VP, they'll make a grown up decision about that.

But in terms of the nastiness - in January, it got incredibly intense. Hillary brought it up again in Louisiana saying that African-American voters were voting out of a sense of pride even though that weekend, it was actually in Louisiana where he had the smallest margin. He did better in majority white states. And you saw the fund-raising in January for the Clinton campaign was paltry - 13 million. They were punished.

And then, you saw Hillary's fireworks last weekend, "Shame on you, Barack Obama. Shame on you." And then, you know, the campaign fire basically calling him a liar and accusing him of plagiarism. I think there have been a lot of fireworks in this campaign.

KING: Laura -

BEINART: Wait a second.

KING: Go ahead.

BEINART: Chris has really got the better of this argument, I think. I mean, think about the McCain-Bush race in 2000 in South Carolina. The claims about McCain being nuts, the claims about him having fathered an interracial child. I mean you got no where near. This has been a fairly tame race between two candidates who basically agree on the vast majority.

HOLMES: Peter, I've just got to disagree with you, I think, on the racial question. It has gotten pretty much -

(CROSS TALK)

BEINART: Compared to McCain and Bush in 2000?

HOLMES: I wouldn't compare it necessarily to that. But if you're looking at this campaign, I do not think it has been a pleasant contest when it comes to the racial issue in particular.

CILLIZZA: Amy, the only point I would make to that - I don't totally disagree. My only point is I look at television ads because I think that's what reaches the vast majority of people. I know Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have gone at each other quite a bit on the stump.

But in television ads, the nastiest it's gotten before this "3 a.m." ad, was Hillary Clinton saying Barack Obama won't debate in Wisconsin. That to me, at least, having watched a lot of house, senate, and governor races, that's pretty vanilla stuff when you get up to the level where the stakes are that high.

KING: OK. Hold on. Hold on, guys. We'll be coming back to our panel for the rest of the show. We're going to break for another segment with Bill Schneider, Suzanne Malveaux and Dana Bash. Don't go away. We'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe, as I've said, that my knowledge, my experience, background provides me with the judgment to be commander-in-chief. And I will run on those qualifications and my ability. And I will let the American people compare that. I respect Sen. Clinton. I respect Sen. Obama. I just think I'm the more qualified candidate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are going to spend this segment with three CNN crack journalists. They are in Providence, Rhode Island. Bill Schneider, CNN senior political analyst. In Dallas, Texas, Suzanne Malveaux, CNN's White House correspondent. And in Sedona, Arizona, Dana Bash, CNN congressional correspondent. Bill, what's the latest on the figures for Ohio and Texas?

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Close. Close in Ohio, close in Texas. Hillary Clinton is slightly ahead in Ohio but it's a single digit lead. And in Texas it's neck and neck. Barack Obama has been moving up in the Texas polls and in the latest polls, he's a couple of points ahead of Hillary Clinton. But it's too close to call.

But here's the big surprise. Little Rhode Island, I mean, with 32 delegates. Little Rhode Island - they're fighting over this state. That's how close it is. How amazing is that? This is supposed to Clinton territory, but Obama senses a big chance to win this state so he was here today, and we covered him. He was here in Rhode Island. If she can't win Rhode Island, a base state for Democrats, she is in big trouble.

KING: Suzanne, what are do you read in Dallas?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What's happening here in Dallas is essentially - you are seeing the Clinton campaign really trying to latch on to this issue of national security that she has a stronger resume than Barack Obama.

The reason that that is happening now, Larry, is because of two things: because Sen. John McCain has made it his issue. They see this as an opening, a way of showing she's got a beefier resume when it comes to experience in dealing with national foreign policy issues. And secondly, they see this as a campaign Barack Obama strong enough to take down the criticism here with those 11 straight wins and momentum. They need to break that. They believe this is an issue that is going to resonate with voters particularly in Texas because of the military families, because of the veterans and because national security issues. People are listening, Larry.

KING: And Dana, I know there is no primary in Arizona. What takes you there?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There isn't? Sen. John McCain, the senior senator from Arizona, is here. He's home. He is here in Sedona at his ranch. That is a tell-tale sign, Larry, of where he thinks the race is right now in terms of the primary. He's not on a campaign trail. He's not in Texas. He's not in Ohio. He's not in that tiny state that Bill Schneider was talking about in Rhode Island. He is home, and he's actually greeting and hosting some of his supporters, some of his colleagues in the senate, some governors who endorsed along the way. He's going to have some of the press at his ranch tomorrow.

But big picture - what we have seen when McCain has been on the campaign trail up until yesterday in Texas, he's really been looking ahead to the general election, Larry, really been trying to more clearly find the dividing lines between him and his campaign and his issues and the Democrats, no matter who it's going to be, either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

We see him doing it on Iraq. We see him doing it on the issue of taxes, even seeing him jump into that issue of NAFTA and free trade, looking at their internal fight -the Democrats' internal fight. Well, they're fighting about renegotiating NAFTA on somebody who is for free trade. So he is trying to test drive some of those general election themes already, even before he officially locks up the nomination.

KING: Bill, you have given me the that about the Rhode Island. Give me the why about Rhode Island. Why is it close?

SCHNEIDER: Why is it close? Well, because he is digging into her base vote. This is the most Catholic state in the country, and Catholics have delivered for her time after time in the primaries. But he has begun winning Catholic voters in some of the recent primaries - Louisiana and Wisconsin. So it shows that he is willing to go after her base vote.

He's got the big mo. That's really what it amounts to. Momentum means you are winning because you're winning, and that's what's happening to him. She hopes to stop his big mo in Texas and Rhode Island and Ohio by suddenly screeching it to a halt and showing that she is now, for the second time in this campaign after New Hampshire, she is the come back kid. If she can do that, it will be a big story and this race will go on for sometime.

KING: I love your hat.

SCHNEIDER: Thank you. It's cold here.

KING: I gather. Suzanne, now, give me the read on Texas as to where it's swinging.

MALVEAUX: Well, it's really interesting because they certainly hope - we see that there's essentially a tie here. We did see Sen. Clinton having quite a lead here. When I came to Texas, she's got plenty of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) votes - she and her husband. But they are really looking here at two different groups - of course, the Hispanic population when you look at those numbers back in 2004. It was about 37 percent of the Democratic voters in the primary that represented that particular group, about 20 percent African-American.

Well, pollsters are now looking at different numbers. The Hispanic numbers are going down and African-Americans going up. So it looks like it's pretty even here. So Sen. Hillary Clinton trying to hang on to that Hispanic vote. You see, Barack Obama trying to hang on to the African-American vote. But she's got to make some inroads here. We're seeing extraordinary numbers when it comes to early voting. People tend to look at those numbers and say that it works in Hillary Clinton's favor. We'll have to see how that pans out. But they are certainly hoping that they at least have that group and that they don't lose them. That is the key here - not to let that support diminish.

KING: And we urge you to watch this on Tuesday night. You won't get better coverage anywhere as we put the full CNN force behind this. And we'll be on the late edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And by the way, you're watching a special live edition for Saturday.

One other question, Dana. What do the insiders in the McCain camp tell you about who they'd rather run against?

BASH: Well, I think you just watch and listen to what John McCain has been doing recently. It seems as though he has been focused on Barack Obama and much more focused on trying to figure out what the messages are against any kind of Barack Obama opponent. You know, Hillary Clinton is a known quantity. They know what they can run against Hillary Clinton. They know all of her foibles and they know they have a big chance of opposition research when it comes to Hillary Clinton and all of her experience and all of her past.

Barack Obama is really an unknown quantity. And you know, he's somebody who - if you talked in the McCain campaign, they admit that he is much more difficult to run against. But you are already seeing the beginnings of the argument that they would make in the McCain campaign against Barack Obama.

It's not that unlike what Hillary Clinton has been doing. It's experience versus inexperience, judgment from McCain's perspective versus somebody who doesn't really have a lot of judgment. So that's the kind of thing they are working on right now. But, I mean, reality is, any Republican - they will tell you if they're being candid, they would rather run against Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama. And that's the truth, Larry.

KING: Thank you, Bill Schneider, Suzanne Malveaux, and Dana Bash. All will be part of the coverage, of course, on Tuesday night. We'll be back with our panel in a minute. And as we go to break, we sent our King Cam to Ohio where found Obama supporters. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CROWD: Ohio! Ohio!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Hey, Larry, we brought King Cam to Columbus, Ohio, where supporters of Barack Obama are marching down the street to vote early in the Ohio primary. CROWD: Yes, we can!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The State of Ohio is one of the main states that's going to break the tide between the two candidates. I believe we're going to set the trend right here in Columbus, Ohio.

I came all the way from Chicago. It's about a six-hour drive. But I'm really hoping that Obama can win the nomination. And if he wins in Texas and if he wins here in Ohio, I think he can win the presidency.

MAYOR MIKE COLEMAN, MAYOR OF COLUMBUS: Larry King, this is Mayor Mike Coleman, Mayor of this great city of Columbus. I am giving a shout out because Ohio is Obama-land.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're here to support Hillary Clinton. Her place is in the White House. We will ensure she wins.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think if Hillary would have won in these other states, it wouldn't have been such an issue. But unfortunately, the ball kind of started rolling for Obama. And, I mean, hopefully Texas and Ohio will stop that ball a little bit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Hillary has got tremendous experience. She's proven herself throughout the years. You know, when you hear her make a point about any subject, it's like listening to a Power Point presentation. She's never backed down. She knows exactly what she wants to accomplish, and she knows what it's going to take.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was our King Cam in Dallas, Texas. Back to our panel. David Frum, what do you make of Michael Bloomberg announcing that he will not be an independent and sort of reserving who he might be for?

FRUM: Well, you don't get to make his kind of money by making foolish decisions. And entering this race would have been a foolish decision. I think the best thing in the world to be is a zillionaire potential candidate for president. Every consultant in America lines up to flatter you and tell you the country needs you. And I think he showed the kind of discernment that made him a success when he said, "You know what? I don't believe all you people.

KING: All right. Peter Beinart, how important is his endorsement?

BEINART: I don't think it's very important. Bloomberg is essentially a liberal Democrat. There is no Bloomberg vote that would not be a Democratic vote in a year where Democrats are very, very revved up as they are in 2008. John McCain - the person John McCain really needs, I think, is Colin Powell. That would be an important endorsement for him to get, someone with kind of moderate independent credentials. But I don't think Michael Bloomberg is going to matter all that much. There's no way John McCain is going to win New York State.

KING: Chris, as the vice presidential appointment this year, whoever gets the nod in both parties, very, very important or not so important because of the dramatic attention to the heads of the ticket?

CILLIZZA: Well, Larry, as someone who is going to spend the next three or four months speculating wildly about it, I would like to tell you it's extremely important. But I think - I will say that I think it is slightly more important than usual if we assume - and this is an assumption - that McCain and Obama are going to be the nominees.

Here's why. With John McCain, who is 72 years old on election day, I think that there is a concern. It's not voiced, but I think there's a concern. He'd be the oldest president ever elected into a first term. I think there is a concern there about his age. I think he might pick someone who is a little bit younger.

The names I've heard - John Thune from South Dakota in his 40s; Tim Polenti, the governor of Minnesota in his 40s; Just to balance it to reassure people.

On the Obama front, I think because he so new, even though it hasn't really hurt him so far in the race against Sen. Clinton, I do think he is going to want to pick someone with a pretty deep resume. Sam Nunn - I am just throwing it out there. You're welcome, by the way, Sen. Nunn. But you know, I'm just throwing it out there. You know, I think someone with a deep sort of resume like that.

Again, to offset people's, maybe not voice, but I think held concerns about Barack Obama that he's only been in the state senate - you know, he's only been in the U.S. Senate for three years. He was in the state senate before that, so I think a little more important.

KING: Amy?

HOLMES: There, I can jump in. John McCain's VP will be enormously important particularly among Republicans and conservatives. He needs to pick a VP who's going to be able to shore up that constituency for him, particularly on economic matters where he is weaker. We've been discussing it here tonight.

I agree with Chris on the question of youth and energy, picking someone who also represents that, to kind of shore up that weakness. On Obama's side, although there's a huge enthusiasm for him, the experience factor is still a question and that VP can go a long way towards assuring the voters.

KING: To get the whole panel in, I've got to take a break and we'll come right back, get the whole panel in on everything this and more when we come back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We won't just win Rhode Island. We will win this nomination. We will win the general election. And you and I together, we will change this country, and we will change the world. God bless you all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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KING: Well, again, some other thoughts about a possible vice presidency. Let's take a call. Bloomington, Indiana, hello.

MIKE, CALLER: Hey, Larry, this is Mike.

KING: Hi, Mike. What's the question?

MIKE: The question is, do you really think that come November, Obama will be able to stand up against McCain, given that national security and the economy are becoming more of an issue in the country based on the experience of Clinton and Obama?

KING: OK. Who wants to take it? Laura?

SCHWARTZ: Yes. We'll tie that one with the vice presidential, you know, possibility for Barack Obama. I think picking somebody really strong on foreign policy to balance himself out would be a great pick. Gen. Zinni has been talked about. Sen. Jim Webb from Virginia. But Zinni has a really good chance of going blue this year in a general election and he's a war hero.

(CROSS TALK)

FRUM: The man who brought a pistol into the senate so one can question his devotion to the Second Amendment.

KING: That's right. Peter, the economy is not McCain's strong suit, right?

BEINART: No. It's not. I mean he has trouble, I think, you know, giving the Republican line with conviction and passion that the best way to respond to the economy in all circumstances is to cut upper income tax. That's because he hasn't actually voted that way.

And if you look at him in the 2000 race against George W. Bush, when he opposed Bush's big tax cuts and he opposed him in the senate, I think that's going to be hard. That's going to be a problem for him in the general election. He's going to attack Democrats as wanting to raise taxes and Democrats are going to turn around and say you took that position yourself just a little while ago.

KING: What are your thoughts on the vice presidency?

FRUM: Well, McCain faces an almost unsolvable problem. He needs to unite a party that doesn't really trust him. So he will be tempted to reach for the right the way Bob Dole did in 1996 with the disastrous choice of Jack Kemp. The problem is the people whom the right will like will not help him with his other desperate need. And he's going to be the weaker candidate going to this thing. He has to appeal to the center, the moderates.

And will also need to deal with the age issue. He will need to deal with the economic issue. And he will be tempted to pick a woman or a minority to get some kind of the sizzle that is going to be from the Barack Obama camp. And it's a set of requirements that I don't think there is a person in America can meet.

HOLMES: But David, while it is, you know, sort of unusual to be tacking right for the general in order to shore up that ideological wing of your party. Don't you think that John McCain already has covered as a moderate for precisely the reasons that Peter Beinart is saying that he voted against those Bush tax cuts, he is able to draw those independents? So picking a vice president to the right of him is not necessarily going to hurt him with those voters who already like him and know him.

FRUM: Those voters are - those moderate voters are remarkably unexcited about him. And we just see that that is the essence of this Republican campaign. You see it in the fund-raising. You see it in the turn out. There's just a lack of excitement. And he may be tempted to do something like pick a Condoleezza Rice in order to generate some excitement.

The problem with that is the succession problem. Because I don't think that there are many people out in the country that think she is a great idea. Those who know her will say, this is not a president. She will be there right beside the oldest -

HOLMES: She certainly is much too tied to the Bush administration and it would be him making the argument it's a continuation of the past eight years.

KING: Let's get another call - Detroit. Hello.

CALLER FROM DETROIT: Hi. My question is if Hillary Clinton, Sen. Clinton, only wins Ohio, is it time - if she doesn't dropout, does the campaign become about her or does it become about uniting the Democratic Party come November.

KING: Chris, what do you think?

CILLIZZA: You know, I think that's a real danger that the caller points to. I think Sen. Clinton has said and her husband said publicly, we have to win Ohio and Texas to go forward. Bill Clinton said several weeks ago, in Beaumont, Texas, "If we win Ohio and Texas, she's going to win the nomination. If we don't, it's going to be really hard.

The Clinton campaign is trying to dial back those expectations. I was on a conference call yesterday where the Clinton's communication record guy by the name of Howard Wilson said, if Obama doesn't sweep these four states, it raises the question of whether he's a front- runner or not. Look, the burden of proof lies on Sen. Clinton at this point. Barack Obama has won 11 straight contests since February 5th, since that Super Tuesday when things basically split. She has to break that momentum. I think it's to the point that Bill made earlier. Everything follows momentum. Superdelegates, money, establishment, support. Sen. Clinton has to claim that back or at least push it back into neutral territory.

Right now, everything is tipping Barack Obama's way. Anything short, I think, of wins in Ohio and Texas and I am talking about a raw vote win, just getting more of the votes counted than Barack Obama. I think anything short of that is going to make it very tough for her to make that argument that the establishment - that this nomination is still up for grabs, because it looks like it wouldn't be.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE right after these words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: And I have a feeling that it's beginning to grow. We're growing. We're going to we're going to make it happen on Tuesday!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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FMR. GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me give you a little hucka-math here today, OK? If nobody gets 1191 pledged, confirmed delegates, then that means this goes to the convention. And if it goes to the convention, then I believe the most conservative candidate left on his feet will be the nominee. And by the way, you would be looking at him right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: David Frum, does he have a point?

FRUMP: He has a point which is not the point he's making. The point he has is that if he does continue to do well, he will come out of that convention and he will make a great speech at the convention. It will be hilarious. It will be charming. And if McCain loses badly, the Republican instinct will be to say, "Gee, we should have stuck to our tried and true principles. Just like what worked for Goldwater in '64, what worked for the Democrats in '72 with McGovern(ph), having lost, we now need to go to our extreme. We've got this charming, funny guy and he will be positioned perfectly for 2012 against whoever McCain picks as his running mate. And if it's Huckabee, then it's a deadlock that Huckabee is the nominee in 2012 and that McCain loses.

KING: Do you think these tremendous turnouts will continue, Laura, in the general election?

SCHWARTZ: I do, especially if Barack Obama is the nominee. And I say that because when you look at his grassroots, not just the fund- raising, but the people getting registered to vote, getting active in whole the democratic process has really been from the Obama campaign. And Barack Obama, when you look at the polls, they say to the Hillary Clinton supporters, "Would you turn out for Barack Obama." They say, "Yes, I will." When you look at Obama supporters, "Will you definitely turn out for Hillary Clinton if she's the general nominee?" and it's a little bit less. So I think Barack Obama would have the biggest turn out among Democrats.

KING: What's the biggest surprise in all of this to you?

SCHWARTZ: Where we are, that John McCain is the Republican nominee is such a huge surprise; for many conservatives, an unhappy one. Barack Obama - a year ago, I would have thought Hillary Clinton was the inevitable candidate. But the Clinton apparatus, the Clinton machine, the rolladex, the money, and we see Barack Obama outracing her, you know, hand over fist. It's been incredible. He's even going to be - probably outstripping her about two to one in Texas and Ohio

KING: What's the biggest surprise to you, Peter?

BEINART: I think the biggest surprise is that we're seeing both the Republican and Democratic Parties being fundamentally transformed in our eyes. I don't think we will ever see another Republican nominee again who has the trifecta, the Reagan trifecta of upper income tax cuts, that kind of an aggressive foreign policy and that social conservatism. That particular characteristic is not working, that's why you had McCain come out of it, representing a somewhat different vision of the Republican party.

And my guess would be if he loses, rather than Republicans going back to Mike Huckabee, they will end up going someone of a Schwarzenegger or Charlie Christ mode is even outside the norm even more. Obama represents the end of new Democrat 1990s triangulation-style politics. That's a big deal.

KING: And Chris, we've only got 30 seconds. The biggest surprise.

CILLIZZA: The biggest surprise for me, Larry is that it's March 1st and we're talking about elections - primary elections that are going to matter. I think almost everyone and I'll put myself in that category, thought, if this thing possibly made it all the way to February 5th, there was absolutely no way that we wouldn't have a decision then. I think you have seen the Obama campaign smartly planned beyond that. I think that is why they have been successful.

KING: Thanks, Chris. And thank you all. By the way, for upcoming guests and schedules, go to CNN.com/LarryKing. And download the latest podcast. It's Sir Elton John.

I want to remind you about Monday's show, "Voting With the Stars." Lance Armstrong, Rosario Dawson and Josh Groban are among our politically-involved guests.

And we'll be back Tuesday with a special primary edition of LARRY KING LIVE. It will be a good one at midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. Stay tuned now for Tony Harris with more "BALLOT BOWL." Good night.

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