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Primary Pressure

Aired March 3, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, voting with the stars -- Hayden Panettiere, Rosario Dawson, Lance Armstrong, Josh Groban and Wyclef Jean. Celebrities speak out on why it's important for you to help pick America's next president.
But first, primary pressure -- it's the eve of four crucial campaign contests.

Will Obama knock Clinton out of the race Tuesday?

Can she survive and come back?


On this very important election eve, we have an outstanding panel to kick off things in the first half hour.

In New York, Kellyanne Conway, president and CEO of the polling company, a Republican strategist.

In Las Vegas, Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary for George W. Bush.

In Washington, Paul Begala, CNN political analyst and a former adviser in the Clinton administration and a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

And in Dallas, our old friend Tom Joyner, host of "The Tom Joyner Morning Show," a supporter of Barack Obama.

The big story of the day is this Canadian situation.

We'll start with you, Kellyanne, even though it involves two Democrats. The story is that a top financial adviser -- foreign adviser to Mr. Obama met with Canadian officials and supposedly said don't mind what he's saying about NAFTA, he doesn't really mean it, it's a political thing.

Everybody seems to be denying it all the way around.

What's its impact?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, they finally confirmed that the meeting actually did take place.

KING: Right.

CONWAY: So that's progress. And he's quoted as saying, Larry, that this is "just political campaign rhetoric."

The problem is, on the eve of such an important night, you don't want this kind of distraction. If you're Barack Obama and his chief advisers, you don't want to need to be playing defense in any way, to sort of disclaim and explain away. You want to be out there optimistically drawing the unbelievable crowds that he has drawn in these two states, Texas and Ohio. I think he's got that distraction.

I think on a lesser scale, Mrs. Clinton has the distraction of Gloria Steinem attacking John McCain for being a POW, saying it doesn't -- that military experience doesn't make you fit to be commander-in-chief and so what that he was a POW. I think that's a lesser distraction. But you don't want to be in either position.

KING: Yes.

CONWAY: You want to be able to focus on offense.

KING: Paul Begala, what's your read on this?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, you know, Obama's whole campaign is premised on his really remarkable oratorical and leadership skills. And so if something comes up that makes him more like a typical politician -- you know, he's doing so well because he doesn't come across as a typical politician. But a typical politician says one thing to the adoring crowds when they are opposed to NAFTA and then has his advisers back door -- some back channel communication, oh, he didn't really mean that.

I think that's particularly troublesome for Barack, because his brand is change, new, different.

And if it's true -- and I think it is -- that one of his top economic advisers was telling the Canadians, you know, wink, wink, don't pay attention to what he's saying on the campaign trail, that could be really problematic for him because Ohio, with votes tomorrow, is -- Democrats in that state are bitterly opposed to NAFTA. And both candidates have been attacking the other on that issue. And it does -- I think it undermines Barack's central premise.

KING: Ari, what is a voter to do?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it's interesting, Larry, in talking with Republicans for the last couple of weeks, there's a growing sense that as much as we always said we want to run against Hillary, she'll be easier to beat, there's now a growing confidence that actually Barack Obama is just a blank slate, that he is lofty, he gives wonderful speeches. But he is so far to the left. And then things like this come along, and, as Paul said, make him sound just like any other politician.

I've been detecting a growing sense of optimism, but there's a lot of things that people don't yet know about Barack Obama that will come out. And things like this definitely hurt on the night before a primary. This is definitely not what you want. And I will say this. In this odd year, where so much has happened that no one has predicted, don't be surprised, if Hillary wins Ohio tomorrow, for the press to swing in a manic mood and say is she back?

That might happen.

KING: And Tom Joyner, finally, what do you think?

TOM JOYNER, RADIO HOST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: This is an amazing time, isn't it, Larry?

KING: Well, put.

JOYNER: This whole Obama phenomenon of people going the polls and voting and hearing all of these rumors and rumors of rumors. It's going to get pretty nasty and it's starting to get nasty right now.

I think that the black America is ready for it. Black America sees through the rumors and the innuendoes. And I think black America overwhelmingly is going to go to the polls tomorrow, vote for Obama...


JOYNER: up for the caucus and whatever.

KING: Since you're there in Texas, who wins Texas?

JOYNER: Texas is going to be a mess tomorrow. This whole Texas two step business is going to be a real, real, real mess. You know, they say -- they have this saying in Texas, don't mess with Texas. Well, Texas is going to be a mess tomorrow. Because you have to come back to the polls and vote in the caucus.

What we have done on the show, with the help of the NAACP and the Voters Fund, is we've documented all of these irregularities. We've gotten over 35,000 calls since we started this thing in January, in the first -- in the first primary in Iowa.

And what's going to happen tomorrow in Texas and Ohio, with the long lines -- you see, our people -- this whole Obama phenomenon, people are going and voting for the very first time. People are participating in primaries like they've never done before.

KING: All right.

Kellyanne, from a Republican standpoint, is all this beneficial to you or, on the other hand, does it focus too much attention on them and is -- spell my name right?

CONWAY: Right. No, I think the Republican Party is in the unusual position of being the beneficiaries of this. The only thing that would scare me, Larry, is the incredible turnout that has occurred on the Democratic side, about 8.5 to 5 Democrat/Republican so far in all these contests. But part of that is because there's still a major contest on the Democratic side, let's be fair. And I think that this really benefits John McCain. For example, he's competing -- who do you trust to answer the phone at 3:00 a.m. ads that the Clinton and Obama campaigns launched over this weekend. In the end, it really helps John McCain. Because the answer to that question -- in 1984, when Mondale ran this similar add against Hart -- it made people remember, gee, I think I really want Ronald Reagan to answer that phone.

And I think it recasts John McCain where he's strongest, as the commander-in-chief; as the person who can restore confidence around the globe; and as the person who, despite Hillary Clinton's claim, is truly ready on day one.

But I have to tell you, as a Republican, I can sit back and just make a cup of popcorn every night and watch this unfold, particularly because Hillary Clinton seems adrift in that she doesn't have the vast right-wing conspiracy to blame for the fact that she's the underdog now. Republicans do not vote in the Democratic primaries and caucuses.

KING: All right, Paul Begala, what's going to happen tomorrow?

BEGALA: Who knows?

I've been wrong at every critical juncture. And my predictive capacity is just zilch. But I do think Tom makes an important point. I'm a brother Texan with Brother Joyner and we have, I think, really a difficult system and one that disadvantages way too many Texans. But it is what it is, and that is Texans need to go and vote. And then, if they can, they need to go back to the polling place afterwards and caucus. And I think Tom has done a wonderful job on his show, as he has for so many years, in encouraging folks to vote and participate.

Ohioans in the Buckeye State have it easier. It's just a plain old American vote. You go out and you vote...

KING: Sorry...

BEGALA: ...and you vote for your candidate and then you go on. But, look, I think it's too...

KING: You won't predict.

BEGALA: It's too close to call. I mean, you know, my personal bias is I'm for Hillary. But I've already voted. My mom in McKinney has voted for Hillary. The rest of my family won't tell me who they're for, so I don't know, Larry.

KING: All right, so Hillary is ahead 2-0.


KING: We'll take a break and come back and get Ari Fleischer's expert thoughts, as well.

We'll be right back.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm certainly the most experienced and qualified to answer that phone and act in America's best national security interests.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Intend to do as well as I can on Tuesday. And you know, we'll see what happens after that.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will carry your voices with me when I'm president of the United States if you give me that opportunity.



KING: Tomorrow night, with all the vote counting going on, we'll be on at midnight, 9:00 Pacific with complete wrap-ups.

Ari Fleischer, supposing Hillary wins Ohio close and loses Texas close.

Does she stick around?

FLEISCHER: Oh, absolutely. She should stick around. You know, Larry, there's only about a hundred delegates that separates Barack Obama from Hillary Clinton, despite Barack Obama winning 11 primaries in a row. And the giant state of Pennsylvania is next, after a great lull. We'll wait until April 22nd. And then comes P.A. Of course she should stay. She has a chance to whittle down the delegates. And given the proportionate representation of the Democrat Party, it's not over.

The Democrats have created a system to stretch themselves out, drag this thing along and make Republicans happy. The Republican dream come true is that it stays divided on the Democrat side all the way to the convention.

And what fascinates me in the big picture is despite how bad the environment is for Republicans, lots of polls show McCain is beating both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

This is a real Republican opportunity and John McCain, interestingly, as much as he's not the conservative dream come true, he's got that ability to reach across the center. And the fact that he can run against this generic anti-Republican tide is a powerful sign of things to come.

KING: And isn't it, Ari, the center that wins elections?

FLEISCHER: Well, it's the center. But you also have to turn out your base. If John McCain alienates too many conservatives, he's got a problem. But the trick is to solidify your base. And I think especially if Hillary is the nominee, that will happen automatically, regardless of John McCain. If Barack Obama is the nominee, there's going to have to be some work done to educate people about Barack Obama's record -- his voting record, how he voted present when things got tough in Illinois. A lot more work to be done if Barack Obama is the nominee.

KING: Yes.


FLEISCHER: But as I said earlier, increased optimism.

KING: Tom, based on Texas' voting history, wouldn't one say that McCain would be favored to win that state in the general election?

JOYNER: Well, you know, the Obama phenomenon of bringing out all these new voters, I don't think anybody is factoring that in their polls. I think what's happened is people are polling, you know, people that have voted before. Obama is bringing out so many people that have never voted before, especially in the primaries.

You know, we got so many calls from Georgia and Virginia, D.C. and Maryland, with this voter I. D. machine. And people were in line for two and three hours. That process is messed up, Larry, when you have to take off from work or whatever and try to vote and it's going to take you two to three hours. It should only take you a half hour to vote.

KING: All right, now, are you saying that Obama would beat McCain in Texas?

JOYNER: Yes. Yes.

KING: You're saying that?

JOYNER: According to what I feel and what I see when I go to these Obama rallies and you see all these huge crowds of people, yes. Yes.

KING: What, Kelly...

JOYNER: There's a lot of people that never voted before.

KING: What, Kellyanne, does McCain really do about the far right- wing?

CONWAY: Oh, he'll be fine with them, except for a couple of residual people...

KING: Whackos...

CONWAY: Whose commercial interests are tied up with another Clinton presidency. He's doing what he needs to do. And that's also the beauty, Larry, of being almost, by tomorrow, the general election candidate -- the nominee for the Republican Party. It frees up John McCain from battling this internecine warfare the way Clinton and Obama are and going out and quietly and privately -- and believe me, he's doing a lot of it -- making amends with conservatives.

So the other thing is the more you're exposed to John McCain's record, the more conservative you realize it is. If anybody really wants to take the time and look at it, this is a man who opposed the first Bush tax cuts that even Dole supported and people who serve in the Senate supported, who are supposed to be conservative. He's been very good to small business owners. He's about a hundred percent pro- life voting record, except for stem cell research.

But he'll be just fine. And I have to disagree. I mean, Texas is still a solidly red state. For all the red states that are bleeding purple these days and going to the blue column, Texas is a red state. It's got a huge number of military families. And I think that turnout you see for Obama is specific to Democratic primary voters for Obama and against Clinton. Those are anti-Clinton voters as much as pro- Obama voters. And some of them, I think you're not seeing the Republican primary electorate as ginned up, because we already have, for all intents and purposes, our nominee.

KING: Paul, when the Democratic -- when the dust settles, will the Democratic candidates unite?

BEGALA: Oh, absolutely, Larry. I don't think this has been at all bitter. I mean these are two very able people and they're going at it tough. But there's nothing bitter here. This is going to be fine.

And it's -- I'm glad that Ari and Kellyanne, my Republican friends, like watching this happen, because I like it, too. The longer this goes on, the more Democrats register to vote. Tom talked about these remarkable turnouts at rallies. More Democrats are donating money.

You know, the Republican Party was like one of those time trials. I know you've got Lance Armstrong on later and I'm wearing his wristband. You know, Lance, I've got family members living strong with cancer. And he inspires so many of us.

And this is more -- our primaries are more like the Tour de France. It's going on and on and on and, you know, now we're heading up into the Alps. And people love that story...

CONWAY: But, Paul...

BEGALA: They love the drama of people overcoming the odds.

CONWAY: Paul, in fairness...

BEGALA: Kellyanne, you all can go...

CONWAY: Paul, wait a second...

BEGALA: ...have your coronation.

CONWAY: But I've got to tell you, you guys are giving us our ads for the fall. We're going to run the ads. If Obama is the nominee, we're going to run the ads of Bill and Hillary Clinton attacking him as a fairy tale and inexperienced. You know, that's not unified.

And if Hillary is the nominee, we'll run Obama just this weekend...

BEGALA: You've got to...

CONWAY: ...saying that she didn't even read the actual intelligence...

BEGALA: But you're going to do that anyway.


KING: Kellyanne...


KING: Hold it.


KING: Kellyanne...

BEGALA: We'll beat you all, don't worry.

KING: Aren't the Democrats going to run some ads from Romney?

CONWAY: Oh, I'm sure they would, especially if McCain chose him as V.P.

KING: What's the difference?

CONWAY: But, Larry, Romney got out of the race in time for McCain to go ahead and save some money and some time and husband those resources going into the general.

This is fundamentally different. I mean these people are attacking each other's credentials and truthfulness. They're basically arguing about who lied less on NAFTA now in Ohio. And in Texas, they're arguing about...

KING: All right, let me...

CONWAY: ...who was right and wrong on the Iraq War.

KING: I've got to...

CONWAY: We're going to run those ads.

KING: Let me get a break.

We'll be back with Kellyanne, Ari, Paul and Tom right after these words.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: With your help on Tuesday, we can change that Arizona tradition. I can get the nomination of the party and become president of the United States.

CLINTON: It took a Clinton to clean up after the first Bush. It's going to take a Clinton to clean up after the second Bush.

OBAMA: You'll have a president who has taught the Constitution and believes in the Constitution and will obey the Constitution of the United States of America.



KING: Hillary Clinton a good sport Saturday night on "Saturday Night Live".



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you for coming. I love your outfit.


CLINTON: Well, I love your outfit.


CLINTON: But I do want the earrings back.



CLINTON: Do I really laugh like that?




CLINTON: Oh, the campaign is going very well -- very, very well.



What have you heard?





KING: Good when you can laugh at yourself.

Ari, does Huckabee get out tonight, tomorrow?

FLEISCHER: Oh, I have no idea. I think he's having a good time. He's hitting the trail. He has a nice airplane. I couldn't guess. It doesn't matter.

But, you know, Larry, I want to go back to the point people were discussing before. I find this whole thing to be wonderfully healthy for democracy. The fact is people who are deciding who the nominee on the Democratic side will be and it's taking a lot of time. It didn't get settled early. And this is exactly the way you want our system to work.

And, frankly, come fall, I think the focus is really be on whoever the Democratic nominee is against McCain and all the noise today will largely be forgotten.

Our system is working. It's working well. And there's something heartening about all this at the same time.

KING: Well, put.

Tom, do you agree?

JOYNER: No, I don't. The system is working -- the system is not working well. You have a lot of people that are going to be in long lines tomorrow and that disenfranchises voters. That discourages voters.

FLEISCHER: Who are participating.

JOYNER: And a lot of people are going to be showing up who have never voted before. And it's going to be a real mess. This time tomorrow night, it's -- watch Texas and all these hundreds of people that show up for the caucuses when the polls close. They're not ready for it. They weren't prepared for it. They weren't prepared for it in Iowa. You know they're not going to be prepared for it tomorrow in Texas.

KING: Ari?

FLEISCHER: I think it beats nobody showing up. If the problem in our democracy is that so many people want to vote that they have to wait longer, that's a pretty healthy problem to have. And if the alternative was for the party leaders to decide who the candidates were before the voters ever got to decide, that's not good.

So democracy can be messy. Democracy can mean waiting in lines. But we're watching democracy in action and the people are exercising the final authority. That's pretty good.

KING: Paul?

BEGALA: Well, I think, actually, I hate to split the baby here. They both make very good points. We want more and more people to participate. But we know they will be participating. And so it's really incumbent upon Rick Perry, the right-wing Republican governor of my beloved Texas, and his secretary of state, to make sure the facilities are there.

You know, one of the reasons that Ari's boss, George W. Bush, was able to pull out a win in Ohio and therefore win the election in 2004 is because the Republican secretary of state sent ballot boxes -- plenty of them -- into the very Republican precincts and not enough of them into the very Democratic and overwhelmingly African-American precincts, thereby disenfranchising people.


BEGALA: People who have to work for a living had to wait in line an hour, two hours, three hours. There were some places where they were waiting in line for eight hours.


FLEISCHER: That was true in Republican areas, as well.

BEGALA: That was intentional disenfranchisement.

FLEISCHER: That was true in a lot of areas.

BEGALA: That was inten...

FLEISCHER: That's nonsense.


BEGALA: It was not true in Republican areas. It was true in Democratic areas.

FLEISCHER: That was true in Republican areas in Ohio. It was absolutely true.



BEGALA: There was a systematic disenfranchisement and Tom is speaking to that with great power.


BEGALA: We disagree about this primary...

CONWAY: Paul...

BEGALA: ...but we agree about democracy...

CONWAY: ...and start mentioning the hanging chads again.

BEGALA: We agree about democracy in my party here. I know you all find it, you know, sometimes a bit troubling that we believe in democracy, but we do.

CONWAY: I think it's great because people will stand in line for hours to get concert tickets and sporting event tickets and to wait in line for, you know, what some can consider ridiculous reasons. And here it's the most important decision they'll probably make, the most important activity in which they'll engage. And it's been very difficult, particularly to engage young people who are truly motivated this time around.

I mean even in the -- the first presidential election after the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 was the last time we had 50 percent turnout among 18 and 24 year olds. And we're poised to have that this time.

I just have to say, as a pollster, I think what is sad in some of these states is -- and Tom touched upon this earlier and it's absolutely true -- is that the modeling analysis is old. It pretends that past is prologue and that's it. If you voted before and you're 68, then you're going to vote again this time. And it discounts people who feel like finally they have a stake in the system.

KING: Yes...

CONWAY: And you hear all these people -- young, but not just on college campuses -- in their 20s, 30s, early 40s who have felt that there was never a reason to vote. And now they're saying -- Republican and Democrat, frankly -- that this is one of the most important elections in recent memory and certainly the most important in their lifetime.


CONWAY: And that's why they're showing up.

BEGALA: But Kellyanne, they aren't signing up and showing up to vote for John McCain. When you think about change, the image that comes to your mind is not a 72-year-old white guy who's been in Washington 25 years.

CONWAY: That's just not true.


BEGALA: They're signing up to vote for Barack or for Hillary...

CONWAY: Paul, Paul, I hope you try...

BEGALA: They're not signing up...

CONWAY: Paul...

BEGALA: Why is turnout collapsing in the Republican primaries... CONWAY: Paul, we already have our nominee.

BEGALA: ...and exploding in the Democratic primaries?

CONWAY: We already have our nominee. We're not -- the anti- Clinton vote on the Republican side...

KING: We're going to have...

CONWAY: ready to go in the general.

KING: Guys, we're going to have you...

CONWAY: The anti-Clinton...

KING: We're going to have you all back.

Thanks, Kellyanne Conway, Ari Fleischer, Paul Begala and Tom Joyner.

When we come back, voting with the stars -- Hayden Panettiere, Josh Groban, Lance Armstrong and Rosario Dawson are still ahead. We're going to be rocking the vote.

So don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Almost 20 years ago, Rock The Vote was founded by members of the music industry in response to a wave of attacks on freedom of speech. Today, it has become a household word -- shorthand for young people being politically engaged.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you care whether there's a military draft...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the only recognizable global brand for youth voter registration, political action and awareness.


KING: Getting out the vote; it's been kind of a slogan over the years. Now it means a lot more as these young people get active. Let's meet people really active. Hayden Panettiere, she's an actress and singer well known for her role on "Heroes." She's the official spokesperson for Declare Yourself, a national non-partisan voting campaign. In Austin, Texas, his home, Lance Armstrong, seven time Tour de France winner, a cancer survivor, chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and very politically active, in that he's making the fight against cancer a national political priority. Here in LA, Josh Groban, the renowned singer and entertainer, he's working with Rock the Vote, helping to get young voters to register and then vote. Also in L.A., but not on set with us, is Rosario Dawson, the actress and co-founder of Voto Latino.

All right, Hayden, what is Declare Yourself? HAYDEN PANETTIERE, ACTRESS: Declare Yourself is a non-profit organization that was created in 2003 by Norman Lear. Many celebrities have been involved with it, many political people. It's basically to encourage young people to vote and that their vote counts and it matters.

KING: Norman Lear is an outspoken Democrat and liberal. But this organization is not.

PANETTIERE: No, it's not at all. It's simply to encourage people to vote, not specifically vote for Democrats or Republicans, or any of that. Just to get out there and make a decision and have an opinion.

KING: Lance, the fight against cancer as a political weapon; Richard Nixon in 1968 declared war on cancer. Nothing ever happened. Why does nothing happen with this?

LANCE ARMSTRONG, SEVEN TIME TOUR DE FRANCE WINNER: It's a complicated disease and a complicated problem. It was in 1971 when Nixon declared war, he created the National Cancer Institute and funded it with 150 million dollars, which at the time sounded like a ton of money. Now, we spend approximately five billion, six billion dollars a year to fight this disease.

But at the end of the day, when you count up 560,000 American deaths every year, it's probably not enough. And I think there's other things along the spectrum of the disease that we could do as well. We're just trying to engage here and make sure that anybody who wants to be the president of the United States of America addresses the number one killer in this country.

KING: I was off by three years.

ARMSTRONG: I'm sorry. I didn't want to call you out there.

KING: It's OK, lance. You're a star. You're a champ. But I think he's the only president ever to declare war on cancer.

ARMSTRONG: Well, you know, it was the kick off of the war. By him declaring the war and him creating the separate body of the National Cancer Institute and giving it -- or giving the institute its own budget, he basically kicked off the war. I don't think anybody has ever come along and sort of restarted the war or refocused on the war. But that's what we need.

KING: Josh, what is Rock the Vote?

ROCK GROBAN, SINGER: Well, Rock the Vote is an organization that's been around since 1990, and primarily used music and created a platform for young people to feel like they had a voice. For so many years politicians were focusing on issues that didn't necessarily reflect youthful mentality. What Rock the Vote did through MTV and things like that -- now when you see shows like John Stewart and Colbert, it's at the forefront. Give young people the opportunity to understand that their vote is important and their voice is important. And it also sends the message to politicians that those are issues that should be considered in their campaigns.

You'll find that so many people campaigning now are listening more to youth voters now.

KING: How old are you?

GROBAN: I'm 27.

KING: When did you first vote?

GROBAN: I first voted when Al Gore was running. I had just been signed. I remember doing some campaigning for him and singing at some events for him in Nashville. It's empowering. It was really -- as soon as I could vote, I started voting.

KING: You feel good every time you vote?

GROBAN: Every time I vote. I wear that sticker.

KING: When did you first vote, Hayden?

PANETTIERE: This year, just turned 18. I'm a newbie voter.

KING: What did it feel like?

PANETTIERE: It felt very empowering, just like Josh said. Very empowering to have a voice and declare yourself, did that for me. On my 18th birthday, the first thing I did was walked out the door and went to see Norman and signed up on the computer at, which is also a wonderful thing, because it allows kids to have access to register to vote very easily.

KING: And Rosario, what is Voto Latino?

ROSARIO DAWSON, ACTRESS: I'm sorry. Say that again.

KING: What is Voto Latino?

DAWSON: Voto Latino is an organization that was founded in 2004. It was on the heels of Puff Daddy's Vote or Die Organization. It was specifically addressed at the Latino population, recognizing then, as it ended up being, Latinos were the swing vote in the 2004 election, and wanting to kind of continue to address that, knowing that 15,000 Latinos are turning 18 every month, 400,000 turning 18 every year. That's going to continue to be the case, with having Latinos be the swing vote.

We're not a monolithic group. So, it was important to address them and have people have a closer understanding and debunk the myth that they were just voting Republican. Now everyone is saying they're just voting Democratic. So we wanted to kind of have a little more access and put it into the hands of the Latinos themselves, the Latino youth.

We've been creating this with Voto Latino. It's an online presence. We use through cell phones as well to kind of get young people to engage themselves and each other to actually register each other and vote. When you watch in 2006, Latinos were mobilizing through Myspace and texting to come out into the streets in millions to talk about the immigration issue. You're seeing that there's a definite need there to have their voice heard.

KING: Watch this. We're going to show -- hold on. I want to show something. Organizations are trying to get these voters' attention, actually using the Internet. Forgive me for interrupting. I want to get this clip in before we take a break. Then we'll get back to you. Watch this clip from Voto Latino.


DAWSON: There's nothing that you can tell me that will change the way that I feel about Rodgrigo.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know he did not register to vote?

DAWSON: What? You're legal, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I'm legal.

DAWSON: So how come you're not registered to vote?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just never really got around to registering to vote.

DAWSON: But it's so easy!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never really thought that voting ever mattered.

DAWSON: No! I do not know! Who are you?


KING: That is great. We'll be right back. Don't go away. We'll be right back.


PANETTIERE: Hi. I'm Hayden Panettiere. Welcome to the power of 18.

Just like me, on your 18th birthday, you can go to and register to vote. I definitely feel empowered by being 18, by being able to call myself an adult, by participating in Declare Yourself and being able to choose our leader in this next campaign. I encourage all the youth of America to go out there and vote and participate in the choosing of who is going to run our country.




ARMSTRONG: We want to know how the next president is going to fight for us and our loved ones against this dreaded disease, and throughout this campaign, I promise to make it my mission to keep cancer at the forefront.


KING: Josh Groban, is the get out the vote, is that working?

GROBAN: I think it is. I mean, it feels -- you know, it feels like a big event now. Every election you find that youth voters are getting more and more to the table. The myth that youth voting is dropping is just that. It's a myth. Every time they feel like the issues get stronger and stronger and are talked about more and more. You know, the potential -- we have the potential to have 45 million youth vote. That would be 1/4 of the voting population.

We're hoping to get 20 to 25 million, hopefully more this year. Yes, you know, it's an incredible time. I think the people are feeling that.

KING: Do you knock on doors, Hayden? What do you do?

PANETTIERE: Do I knock on doors? Well, I will. I speak at schools. I've spoke on behalf of Save the Whales campaign about saving dolphins and whales. That's a very important thing to me, an important issue. It links up right there to Declare Yourself, because Declare Yourself speaks to young people. I've said to them, ask your candidates about problems, whether it be environmental or Lance with cancer or war. Ask them what their views are on it. Then let that weigh in on their decision.

KING: Before I ask Rosario about the impact of the Latino vote, Lance, do you expect cancer to be discussed in this year's campaign?


KING: You do?

ARMSTRONG: If we have anything to do with it, we will. You just showed the clip for the Presidential Cancer Forum that we did last summer. We're doing another one next summer. We're going to invite, you know, the candidates again to come and discuss this disease. Again, I can't reiterate enough, I think if you want to be the commander in chief, you have to discuss something that kills one American every minute. We'll give them the opportunity in Ohio, in a critically important swing state, to come speak to the voters of Ohio and lay out an agenda, lay out a plan, and refocus the war on cancer.

KING: Damn right. Rosario, the impact of the Latino vote, I guess that's the largest minority vote in America.

DAWSON: Yes, Latinos are the largest minority as of March of 2003 in the entire country. So the numbers will only continue to grow. When you saw the numbers coming in from California in the primaries, I mean people who voted, that was 38 percent of the vote was actually Latino in California alone. Those numbers are continuing. You're seeing them in Texas. I think that's what all the hoopla is going on with talking about the Latino vote.

They're the swing election in the last election. They're going to continue to be now. What we're saying right now is we want 20 million strong. That was MTV's theme in the last election. We got 17 percent of the youth vote in that election. But everyone else came out in record numbers, so those numbers were put down. The young vote wasn't as strong.

We reached that 20 million and surpassed that. So we have so many people still to be registering. Looking at the primary numbers, things are so close over just the thousands. We have millions of people untapped right now. The Latino vote is specifically something that's going to be special with that, because you have 50,000 Latinos turning 18 every month.

KING: I salute you, Rosario. She's co-founder of Voto Latino. As always, Josh, great seeing you.

GROBAN: You, too. Thanks, Larry.

KING: When we come back Hayden and Lance will remain with us. We'll be joined by Wyclef Jean, the renowned musician who is working with Rock the Vote, and Michael W. Smith, the Grammy award winner, one of the best selling artists of Christian music, a conservative who fights AIDS and poverty in Africa.

Let's check in first with Anderson Cooper. He will host "AC 360" at the top of the hour. What's up, Anderson?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, a lot of politics tonight. Showdown time for the Democrats. The Clinton campaign has said their candidate needs to win Ohio and Texas to stay in the race. Now, they may be backing away from that. Regardless, we have new polling that show where is the candidates now stand. Plus, Barack Obama getting heat on positions about NAFTA and what exactly his staffers told the Canadian government. We'll explain.

And is the media soft on Barack Obama? Does he really get favorable coverage? Hillary Clinton's campaign says so. We'll dig deeper and tell you what we found. All that plus the latest on the Republican side and whether John McCain can sow up his party's nomination tomorrow. We'll get to it all at the top of the hour on 360, Larry.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper, "AC 360," 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. As we go to break, a few more people I think you'll recognize. Watch.


KING: Do you remember what it was like to vote for the first time for a president? BEN AFLEC, ACTOR: I remember getting there and getting it done and then having it be over and thinking, that's it? That's the whole thing? It went by so fast.

SNOOP DOGG, RAPPER: In the past I felt like my vote didn't count. But I feel like now that if we do get a new president and new people in office that our vote will matter and we have people now in positions that they will listen.

KING: Are you a conscientious voter?

STEVEN COLBERT, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Yes, I read the names before I pull the lever. What do you mean?

KING: That's what I meant. You read about who's running.

COLBERT: Pin the tail on the president. Larry, I don't know if I'm running. I don't know. Drop it. God, you're a bull dog.


KING: We're back. Hayden Panettiere remains with us, so does Lance Armstrong. Joining us now from New York is Wyclef Jean, the renowned musician, who is working with Rock the Vote. And in Nashville, Tennessee, Michael W. Smith, Grammy Award winner, one of the best selling authors of Christian music, a conservative who fights AIDS and poverty in Africa.

Wyclef, are you involved with Rock the Vote?

WYCLEF JEAN, SINGER: Yes, I'm involved in Rock the Vote. I've been involved since the '90s. I was born in Haiti. I came to America. The important thing is that voting is very important. And the idea of coming from Haiti, sometimes kids don't get chances to vote. So it's important that living in America you don't take nothing for granted. It's important to go out and cast your vote.

KING: Michael, are you involved in any campaigns to get people to vote?

MICHAEL W. SMITH, SINGER: Well, I'm not necessarily involved in a campaign at this moment. Every time I'm on stage doing a concert I'm always encouraging people to vote, do their research, get out and make a difference, because every vote counts. Unfortunately, some people feel like if their candidate doesn't get the nomination, they're just not going to vote, which I think is the wrong thing to do.

You know, fortunately people listen to what I have to say. Hopefully I can persuade them to vote because I think it's going to make a difference.

KING: Do you think more young people are going to vote this year, Hayden, than ever before?

PANETTIERE: Absolutely. It's been shown in polls all over the place that more youth have been involved in this election than ever before. We continue to encourage that. I only hope that if the candidate, as Michael said -- if the candidate that they want doesn't get elected that they choose another one and research that one and find out what they can do and who they want to support, and not just cancel their vote altogether.

KING: Lance, do you sense more of an involvement?

ARMSTRONG: There's no doubt. What we've seen so far in the primaries has indicated that. If you step back and look at the cast of characters that we have, for the first time in history you have a serious contender for the presidency in a lady. You have an African- American man running for president. And you have a former prisoner of war. Just those three people alone, it's a fascinating story.

It takes the Super Bowl and makes it looks small. Yes, I think young people are encouraged to come out and vote. At the end of the day, they want to see change happen. I think now is the time for them to step up and try to make that happen with their individual vote.

KING: Well said. Let's take a call. Pikeville, Kentucky, hello.

CALLER: I'm calling to ask the question for Mr. Armstrong there.

KING: Go ahead.

CALLER: I also was diagnosed with cancer in 2004. I was wondering who he thought of all the candidates would give us a better research for cancer and also the help for coverage?

KING: Who do you think? You're not supporting anybody?

ARMSTRONG: I'm not publicly supporting anybody yet. There may come a time when I do and the foundation does. It's a very interesting question. Cancer is not something you can vote against. It's not something you can be against. Everybody is for increased funding and everybody is for ultimately this disease going away.

When we hosted the first Presidential Cancer Forum, Senator Clinton was there and was very impressive. Senator Obama couldn't make it. Senator McCain, who himself, I should say, is a cancer survivor, also couldn't make it. Again, I think we give all of the candidates another chance to step up and talk about the disease and talk about how they're going to fight it.

Again, it's so tricky. We know what to do. We know that we have to control tobacco in this country. We know that we have to increase funding at the federal level for research. We know we have to do a lot of things. The play book is there. Let's just make it happen.

KING: We'll take a break and come back with more questions for Wyclef and Michael right after these words.





KING: By the way, young people can register to vote at, of which Wyclef Jean is involved. Do you feel you're succeeding? Do you feel it's working?

JEAN: It's definitely working. I perform every night for an audience of thousands of college kids, for example. The video you saw earlier, If I Was President, which we shot at San Francisco University. The kids this year, they really feel engaged, and they really feel part of the election. Definitely.

KING: Michael, do you feel you make the connection when you bring up voting?

SMITH: I believe I do. I believe -- I mean, hopefully there's been a change I think, you know, with young people who really care about issues. We're finding more kids who volunteer now and really want to, I think, really want to change the world. get out themselves and do something for somebody else. I really think there's a connection. I think you're probably going to see a huge turnout to vote this year.

KING: Hayden, do you get a satisfaction over what you're doing?

PANETTIERE: I do. It's kind of -- you know, I'm on a platform that allows me to have a stronger voice. It's kind of a way of pinching myself. It's kind of a way of giving back for everything that I have. If I can be a good influence on youths or whomever, then I'm going my job, and it makes me feel very good.

KING: Lance, do you think we're ever going to wipe out cancer?

ARMSTRONG: Yes, I do. I do. I'm an optimist. I like to think that we will. Again, it's important to keep in mind you're talking about hundreds of types of diseases. A perfect example is why am I sitting here 11 years on and having survive this disease, being blessed with the survival that I've had? Meanwhile, down the street, a 37-year-old mother of three is going to die of breast cancer. Why? Because they are different issues, different diseases, different cell types. They're fought differently.

KING: John McCain had melanoma skin cancer.


KING: And beat it.

ARMSTRONG: Correct. I mean, for us as a cause, that's sort of the good thing, is you have -- in Senator McCain, you have a cancer survivor. Barack Obama lost his mother to ovarian cancer some time ago. For a guy like Barack Obama who wants to be called President Obama, how happy and how proud would he be and how much do you think he wants his mother to be there the day he's inaugurated into the White House? It's a strong moment. You have to look at a situation like that and think that this senator would be a good warrior, a good soldier.

KING: I salute you all. I congratulate you. Hayden Panettiere, her organization is Declare Yourself. Lance Armstrong is chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Wyclef Jean works with Rock the Vote. Michael W. Smith is the terrific Grammy award winner, one of the best selling artists of Christian musician ever.

As always, you can head to You can email up coming guests and watch video clips or download our current podcast, Sir Elton John. We're always on at We'll be back tomorrow with a special primary results round up. LARRY KING LIVE for tomorrow only will be seen at midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific.

Speaking of voting, here's a guy I would vote for, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson, I'm pulling the lever by your name. Go.