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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
John Kerry Continues to Support Obama; Hillary Clinton Continues Attacks; Could Autism be Caused by Child Vaccinations?
Aired March 6, 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, LARRY KING LIVE: Tonight, power players take sides.
John Kerry backs Obama. Ed Rendell supports Clinton. And Mike Huckabee's aboard the McCain train.
Plus, a first -- federal health officials concede vaccinations contributed to a child's autism like symptoms.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to know why my daughter, who had been completely normal was suddenly no longer there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The parents reveal their daughter's story in an exclusive interview. It's a major development and it's next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Good evening.
We begin with Mike Huckabee.
He's in Little Rock, Arkansas, the former candidate for the 2008 Republican nomination.
Mike, is it hard to hear that word former?
MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Oh, I've heard former things before -- former governor. It's something I'm getting a little used to. After 14 months of nonstop campaigning and being on the trail and spending a different night in a different hotel, it's kind of weird going home to my home, seeing my three dogs two nights in a row.
KING: Is it difficult to almost immediately endorse someone you were running against?
HUCKABEE: Well, I have always had great respect for Senator McCain. And, frankly, if I can't be the nominee, I'm very proud to support him. And I've said that all along. I'm a part of a team. We're a part of the Republican team. We fight hard for the starting quarterback position. But if somebody beats you out, you want your team to win. So you're going to do everything you can to see it.
And so the other night when, you know, the white smoke was coming up out of the chapel chimney and it was pretty apparent that I wasn't going to be the new pope, I think it was very evident that, you know, the right thing to do was to congratulation Senator McCain, not only wish him well, but pledge to do anything I can to be of assistance.
KING: What do you say to those steadfast, mostly, really, right- wing conservatives who refuse to get on the McCain bandwagon?
HUCKABEE: Well, I think when we get down closer to November and they realize what the alternatives are, they're going to realize that Senator McCain is far, far, far closer to their positions on issues that really matter to them than either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. And that's what we need to remind people.
Politics is rarely about the perfect. It's often about those that who closer to your views. There are very few times that you find somebody who is a hundred percent. And, you know, obviously, I would have loved to have been the nominee and I worked very hard at that. But that's not going to happen this time.
And so what I want to make sure is that we put our best foot forward, we go forth, we remind the American people that lower taxes are better than higher taxes, personal empowerment is better than government empowerment. As I've said on the trail -- and I believe this will be true with Senator McCain -- it is not government's job to fix us, it's our job to fix government. That's a message that I think will starkly contrast with the Democrats' message this fall.
KING: We have an e-mail question from Marie in Birmingham, Alabama. She said: "Isn't the ongoing Democratic race going to mean less media attention for John McCain?"
HUCKABEE: It probably will.
KING: Will that help or hurt him?
HUCKABEE: It'll keep him on page two, not page on. You know, these people who thought that I needed to get out earlier because it was hurting him, quite frankly, it's in, really, his best interests to have some traction in the course of the campaign. I never believed that. And, frankly, I never felt that it was appropriate to get out before someone -- in this case him -- got 1,191 delegates, because the game is still going on.
I owed it to my supporters, who, by the way, are the greatest people in the world. Larry, you know, I feel so incredibly blessed. The support I had -- we never had the amount of resources others did, but my people, the ones who supported me, they made up for it with the kind of commitment and fervor that absolutely overwhelmed me every day that I was in this. And I will forever be grateful. I hope I didn't let those folks down. I gave it my best. But I know they gave it their best and beyond. And I'm so proud of the wonderful people across this country who made great sacrifices to help us.
KING: Mike, how does a McCain/Huckabee ticket sound?
HUCKABEE: Well, you'll have to ask Senator McCain, because that'll be his choice to make. I don't have any illusions that that's going to happen. I'm not, you know, sitting by the phone waiting on that call. I'm going on with my life. I've got a lot of things I've got to sort of sort out. And I'm taking a couple of days to decompress and sort of go through a re-entry.
And, you know, then I've got to figure out what am I going to do when I grow up. And so that's the next stage of this process. But I'm not sitting around saying oh, boy, I think, I'm going to get called, you know, to be the backup. I don't think that's going to happen.
I do expect to go out and campaign for Senator McCain, as well as for candidates running for Senate, House or governor. You know, any time I can be of help to help our party, I want to do that, because that's part of how I ever got elected.
People were willing to help me. So I owe back to those who have gotten me where I am. And I want to make sure that, you know, I help others who are out there trying to struggle through their own campaigns.
KING: Will we see you on the speaker circuit?
HUCKABEE: Well, I hope so. I've got some, you know, speaking opportunities out there and I think that will be one thing that I'll do. You know, I've written five books. I hope to -- will continue the writing. It's very therapeutic for me. Beyond that, I don't know what's up. You know, a lot of people think I had all this stuff figured out, what I would do if.
But the truth is I never played the game with an idea that I would fail, because I've found through life that if you have a plan for what to do if you fail, that plan for failure is a lot easier than the plan for success. And you'll always gravitate toward it because people are like water, they flow where the resistance is least.
And so I never had a plan of what am I going to do if I don't make it. My plan was we were going to make it. So now I've got to sit down and say, OK, let's take the next step.
KING: Well, good luck Mike. We'll be seeing a lot of you, I hope.
HUCKABEE: Well, thank you, Larry. You've been awfully good to me and I appreciate all the kindness and respect you've given. And it's always been an honor and a pleasure to do your show.
KING: All of it, by the way, deserving for you.
HUCKABEE: Thank you.
KING: Mike Huckabee.
Next, we'll hear from the last man to make it to the top of the Democratic ticket. Senator John Kerry joins us right after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe the real gamble in this election is playing the same Washington game with the same Washington players and expecting a different result. That's a risk we cannot afford to take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, from Washington, Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, a supporter of Barack Obama.
Senator, doesn't this protracted campaign between Clinton and Obama hurt the Democrats?
SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS, 2004 DEMOCRAT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, SUPPORTS OBAMA: No, I think it's going to strengthen us. There are more Democrats that are taking part in the caucuses and in the primaries.
There are more people being energized and excited. There are more people voting on our side than on the Republican side. And I believe we're going to be a unified party and it's going to help us in November.
KING: You served with both in the Senate, with Senator Clinton longer than Senator Obama. What took you to the Illinois Senator?
KERRY: Well, I have great respect for Hillary Clinton and I like her. I think she's a very, very capable person. And my decision was not a decision against someone or anything. It was a decision for something -- for a person that I believe has the qualities and skills of leadership, to be able to bring the country together.
We've had gridlocked politics in our city for too long -- and our country. He's attracting Democrats, Republicans and Independents. And I think if you look at the 12 out of 15 races that he has won now, in the last -- in the last, you know, days of election, he is putting together the most interesting and powerful coalition of people across the country.
He's won the support of red state governors and senators. He's won a broad cross section of people in almost every state -- in Virginia, in Wisconsin, in Georgia. And I think that is what excites me about the ability not just to win an election, but the ability to win the right to govern and to bring change to the country.
KING: Should he get tougher?
KERRY: Well, he's going to have to be tough in response. I mean the lesson of Ohio -- and I think he's learned it and in the campaign has -- that negative campaigning works. It's unfortunate that that's the turn people chose to take. He's trying to produce something different. I think he -- you know, he's going to show his toughness, because I know he's tough. And I think we've seen that just over the last year of coming from nowhere. I mean people forget that he was 20 points behind in Ohio and Texas just a few weeks ago. He has made this unbelievably close. In fact, he's probably won more delegates out of Texas.
And so he's ahead in delegates. And I'm confident you're going to see that toughness over the course of the next days.
KING: What, Senator, should you party do about the Michigan/Florida dilemma?
Elected, Hillary gets both, but they're not allowed to vote.
What -- where...
KERRY: Well, it's not...
KING: Where do you stand in this?
KERRY: It's really not -- I stand where I think the majority of the party stands, which is the place of common sense and of fairness. And that is that we have to obey the rules. We have to live by rules, all of us. And the rules are the rules. They were clear. I think the party and the states need to work together to work out something.
I know that Senator Obama wants those delegates appropriately seated. He wants those states to be able to participate. He cares about the voters in those states having their voices heard. He just wants it done the way the rules laid out that it ought to be done. And I think we need to find, through the party and the states, the right compromise.
KING: What do you do?
Are you going to hold a reelection?
KERRY: Well, that's up to the party and the states. I think the most important thing for Obama to do is in these next days is to continue to remind Americans why he is the strongest candidate for change and to unite the country.
I mean, let me give you an example, Larry. You know, Barack Obama, in fact, I think, is the most qualified to be commander-in- chief of the three candidates still remaining because he was absolutely correct about Iraq, because he was absolutely correct about Pakistan and Afghanistan, because he had a policy that was visionary about Afghanistan and Pakistan over a year ago. And now that's the policy that the Defense Department and other people are coming to. That's leadership.
And each time we've had a critical vote in the Senate or that issue has been on the table, I think he has contributed the right judgment, which is what we want in a commander-in-chief.
KING: When those -- don't you have some affection for John McCain?
KING: When those Boat folk took off against you and the record in the Vietnam War, I think Senator McCain was one of the first to come up in your defense.
KERRY: Yes. John McCain and I are friends. And I have great respect and affection for John. We worked very hard on the POW/MIA issue. But I regret enormously that John McCain is wedded to a Bush policy not just with respect to Iraq, but with respect to health care, education -- a host of issues that really matter to the pocketbook and the lives -- the quality of life of Americans today.
And I will tell you, John McCain and the Republican Party are on the wrong side of history when it comes to defending the security of our country. And Barack Obama, frankly, has been more clear about the alternative foreign policy we need and more clear about the ways in which the Republicans are making America less secure.
Hamas is stronger today, Larry. Hezbollah is stronger today. Iran is stronger today. The Middle East is more fragile today.
Our friends in Israel and the State of Israel is more threatened today.
The fact is that the policies pursued by John McCain and this administration have created more terrorists and made Americans less safe in the world. Al Qaeda is now in 60 countries.
I just had a CIA briefing a couple of days ago. I can't, obviously, go into all of it. But suffice it to say that the public intelligence about Al Qaeda tells us that they have reconstituted. They are stronger. They are more threatening. That is a failed foreign policy. And I believe Barack Obama understands that. He knows exactly what we need to do to strengthen our nation.
KING: We're running out of time. Do you expect the possibility of a -- maybe more than a possibility -- of a brokered convention?
KERRY: No, I don't expect that. I expect this nomination to be decided. And I expect the states -- the people voting in those states in these next weeks to make that decision. And I think that's the way it's going to turnout.
KING: Good seeing you, John.
KERRY: Great to be with you.
KING: We'll see a lot of you down the road.
KERRY: Thank you. Thank you, my friend. You look great. Bye now.
KING: Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate. Pennsylvania is the last big delegate prize. Is it the keystone to victory for Clinton or Obama?
Governor Ed Rendell has some thoughts on that. He's an old friend. He's here right after the break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Since we now know Senator McCain will be the nominee for the Republican Party, national security will be front and center in this election. We all know that. And I think it's imperative that each of us be able to demonstrate we can cross the commander-in-chief threshold.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: OK. We welcome an old friend to LARRY KING LIVE.
He's is in Orlando, Florida. Governor Ed Rendell, Democrat of Pennsylvania and a supporter of Hillary Clinton.
Did you, in fact, expect this race to get to your state?
GOV. ED RENDELL (D), PENNSYLVANIA, SUPPORTS CLINTON: No. We thought it was going to be over on Super -- the first Super Tuesday, Larry. In fact, I tried to move the primary up to Super Tuesday and the legislature said no. And I said you're consigning us to irrelevancy. Well, I guess I was wrong.
KING: And how does it look for Mrs. Clinton?
RENDELL: Well, right now, it looks great. She got a terrific bounce out of Ohio and Texas. And the shift that you saw in voters in Ohio and Texas has taken place in the polls here in Pennsylvania. But remember, Barack Obama is a great campaigner. We haven't seen the likes of him in a long time. And we've got seven weeks to go. So we're not taking anything for granted.
KING: Why are you in Florida?
RENDELL: Because we're meeting -- our son Jesse is getting married in September and we're getting together with his fiance's relatives, who are from the Melbourne area.
KING: Do you expect your party to iron out that Michigan/Florida thing?
RENDELL: Well, it's a difficult and thorny decision. I don't think we can go to the convention and not have Michigan and Florida vote. Remember, the Florida Democrats, for example, Larry, they didn't do anything wrong. It was the Republican governor and the Republican legislature that moved up the primary. The Florida Democrats didn't want to move and they wanted to be on Super Tuesday. 1.7 million people cast their votes, so I think it's unfair to disenfranchise them.
Personally, I believe we should re-vote in Florida and re-vote in Michigan. And I think Senator Obama should join that effort. Governor Crist has said he'd be for a second primary. I think Governor Granholm would be for a second primary. I think both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, if that's the only way to resolve it, let's do it, because I'm confident that Senator Clinton would win Michigan and Florida all over again.
KING: Do you think, governor, if Hillary were to win Pennsylvania, there's a strong possibility you could go to Denver without a nominee in place?
RENDELL: There's a possibility, Larry. But I think it really depends on us as a party being in a position to count the votes in Michigan and Florida. Remember, those are two big states that have a whole boatload of delegates -- I think over 300 when you put them together. And it's going to be hard to have a mathematical winner without counting Michigan and Florida.
KING: All right, how does she do that? What's she been doing right and wrong? I mean, obviously, she slipped and she was inevitable awhile back and then she was not going to win and now she comes -- how do you explain her race?
RENDELL: Well, I think she did very well on Super Tuesday. You know, the media called it a draw. But I think winning California, New Jersey, Massachusetts -- how about winning Massachusetts in the face of the Kennedys and John Kerry and the governor?
I was -- and she didn't win by a little, she won by 10 points. But then the campaign didn't plan for what happens after February 4th. They were basically out of money. The Obama campaign out-organized them, outspent them and killed the Clinton campaign in those caucus states. And that rolled up a big, big margin in delegates -- not a big margin, but a hundred delegate margin for Senator Obama.
They didn't have a contingency plan, the Clinton campaign. They thought it would end February 4th. Of course, so did I and probably so did you. But they didn't have a contingency plan and Senator Obama did.
They regrouped for Ohio and Texas and Rhode Island. And, you know, I heard what John Kerry, my friend, John Kerry, said about Obama being 20 points behind. But you know what the polls were like in Rhode Island and Ohio and Texas Thursday and Friday before the primaries. They had either Senator Obama ahead or Senator Clinton winning by a point or two. And she scored big victories -- a 10 point victory in Ohio, an 18 point victory in Rhode Island.
So it was a real good comeback. And I think the comeback was based on people deciding that she's best to handle the economy and that she's got the experience to be commander-in-chief. And that's not saying that Senator Obama doesn't. But Senator Clinton has been to 80 different countries representing the United States and the United States government. She's been on the Armed Forces committee in the Senate for over seven years. She knows exactly what the U.S. military needs. She knows its weaknesses and its strength. She is ready to be commander-in-chief and there's no learning curve necessary for her.
So I think those two issues -- the economy and health care -- and I put that together -- and national security and national defense -- the voters came around and decided that she was the best choice.
KING: The thought is that to win she went negative.
If that's true, should she stay negative?
RENDELL: Well, I don't know if negative is the right word. You can always quibble over terminology. She was aggressive. She did a lot of comparative things. She can't stay entirely negative, though, and she won't, because voters want to hear what you're going to do and what your ideas are. And that's perfect for Senator Clinton, because she's got the best ideas.
Read her Web site, Larry, about the economy, about health care, about energy -- far and away the best of any of the 15 candidates who started out down the road.
She's got great ideas, a wealth of experience and she's ready to be president and ready to take on the challenges of the country.
So I think voters are starting to respond to that. Voters now know it's getting serious and I think they're responding to that.
KING: Would you want to serve in the cabinet?
RENDELL: No. I want to complete my term as governor. I know everybody says that, Larry. But in my case, it's true. I've been the number one person in politics for 31 years. I've been any own boss. And I don't think I'd be a good person to work for anybody. You know, I have this horrible trait that I always try to tell the truth. It gets you in trouble at times.
KING: Does Hillary consult with you a lot, especially leading now, up now to Pennsylvania?
Will you be...
KING: ...a close adviser here?
RENDELL: Yes. She has not and I have not be in the inner circle of the campaign up to now. And I endorsed her about six weeks ago. And, you know, I told her a few things. But I certainly haven't been an insider.
But for Pennsylvania, yes. The Clinton campaign is smart to lean on locals and people who know the state. Governor Strickland did an enormous job for Senator Clinton in Ohio. And former mayor of San Antonio, Henry Cisneros, did a great job in Texas.
So the Clinton campaign is smart in the sense that they listen to local officials and state officials. And I assume that I'll be doing a lot of that. We had a telephone conference call today.
KING: We'll be seeing a lot of you in the next seven weeks, Ed.
RENDELL: Well, thanks, Larry.
KING: Hang tough.
RENDELL: It's going to be an interesting time.
KING: Governor Ed Rendell, the Democrat of Pennsylvania, a supporter of Hillary Clinton. And he's going to have a busy seven weeks.
Can childhood vaccinations contribute to autism? The government acknowledges that in one case, they did. We'll address the issue with the family at the center of this issue. It's an exclusive interview, when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for the first time, the court has conceded in a case that indicates that vaccines can, indeed, cause autism.
DR. JON POLING, FATHER OF DAUGHTER WITH AUTISM: We don't feel our story is as unique as some people would lead you to believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Extraordinary times in Atlanta. Joining us from Atlanta, Dr. Jon Poling, his wife Terry and their daughter Hannah. Dr. Poling is a neurologist, has an M.D. and a Ph.D.
Government officials have conceded that childhood vaccinations worsened an underlying disorder in their daughter Hannah, leading to symptoms of autism. The government says her and her family should be compensated from a Federal Vaccine Injury Fund.
Terry, by the way, is a registered nurse and an attorney. Their attorney, Cliff Shoemaker, is also here. Doctor, did you suspect that when your daughter developed autism, you would blame it on a vaccination?
J. POLING: Not in a million years, Larry. No.
KING: What led to it?
J. POLING: What led to the belief that it was related to the vaccines?
J. POLING: Well, Hannah got very sick shortly after a series of vaccinations that she received at about 19 months old. And after that rather acute illness, she never was the same again. And the autism itself did not come on immediately. It developed over months.
KING: Terry, did you suspect it?
TERRY POLING, MOTHER OF DAUGHTER WITH AUTISM: Oh, yes. I was the caretaker at the time. I was working part time as a trial attorney, and starting to slow down my practice for other reasons, and Jon was a resident at Johns Hopkins, and so he was often not present at home. And I knew almost, you know, the next day, Hannah had deteriorated.
KING: Cliff, as the attorney, did you present medical evidence to back this up?
CLIFF SHOEMAKER, LAWYER FOR POLING FAMILY: No, Larry, as a matter of fact, this case was conceded by the government before any expert reports were filed. Therefore, we did not have to go to a hearing. This was not a court victory. This was a concession.
KING: Were you surprised?
SHOEMAKER: I was surprised, pleasantly surprised, and the Polings are very happy, and I'm happy that this has been done, and I hope it bodes well for a lot of the cases in the future that are going to be going through the program, as well.
KING: There's 5,000 families, right?
SHOEMAKER: That's correct, Larry. And there will be a lot more if the statute of limitations didn't bar people from filing who are beyond three years.
KING: Dr. Poling, are you surprised that this concession was made without medical presentation?
J. POLING: Well, I'm still -- in terms of medical presentation, you mean --
J. POLING: Well, we did present evidence in the form of our affidavits, and the clinical case history. That was just never heard in a hearing setting.
KING: I see. Terry, how does Hannah's autism manifest itself?
T. POLING: When she was actually having what you would call full-blown autism, or when she -- excuse me. Actually, at first, what Hannah -- what happened right after the vaccinations, immediately after, Hannah started having a decreased level of consciousness, in the sense that when I would say something to her, she was very lethargic and she would not respond to me. She was very anorexic. She was not paying attention to her surroundings. But she was sick. Within the second day, she had a high fever. She just started to deteriorate over a period of time. And it was very surprising, but not, because when I called the pediatrician, they said that a fever is not unusual after a vaccine. And she got nine vaccines in one day because she was behind in her -- I didn't -- sorry?
KING: How is she now?
T. POLING: Autistic, still. Much, much better, though, after just hundreds and hundreds of hours of applied behavioral therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy. We had people in our home 45 hours a week for three years. She was not speaking. She had stopped speaking. She had lost motor tone. She could not put food in her hand and put it up to her mouth. She did not know where her mouth was.
KING: She is -- I'm going to say here, she's a beautiful girl.
T. POLING: Thank you very much.
KING: The statement from -- the Health Resources and Services Administration has issued this statement on autism and the vaccine injury program; it says, in part, "HRSA has reviewed the scientific information concerning the allegation that vaccines cause autism and has found no credible evidence to support the claim. HRSA has maintained and continues to maintain the position that vaccines do not cause autism and has never concluded in any case that autism was caused by vaccination."
So, there they are disagreeing with the opinion stated by the vaccination group the government had look at it. What do you make of that, Cliff?
SHOEMAKER: Well, Larry, I think that we might be dealing with semantics here. Certainly, this was a case that was planning to go ahead as a test case in the Vaccine Compensation Act. It was one of the cases that was selected to go to a hearing in May of this coming year, on the theory that the vaccines caused autism. It did not go to hearing because of this concession.
You can say all you want about what the reasons are for it, and we aren't really at liberty to talk about what is actually in the document, the concession that was made. But it was a case involving vaccines and clearly this child does have autism.
I think we had two theories of causation which Dr. Poling can probably describe to you better than I can.
KING: I'll get a break, come back and get that description in a minute.
By the way, audience, do you believe vaccines cause or contribute to autism? That's the quick vote right now on our Web site, CNN.com/LarryKing. Head there now and vote. We'll be back with more on this controversial debate and this historic ruling when LARRY KING LIVE returns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I help you make a mouse again?
HANNAH POLING, AUTISTIC CHILD: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I sit down with you? Scootch.
H. POLING: Hi. I hope you have a nice day in first grade.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who, me?
H. POLING: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not in first grade anymore.
Can I use this or is that for the worm?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joining our panel is Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, a practicing neurosurgeon and assistant professor of neurosurgery.
What do you make of this, Sanjay?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we've been reporting on this for so long, Larry. I think it's long been believed that a child may be born with some sort of predisposition to autism and then something pushes it over the edge.
It's been unclear what those things are for some time. This is obviously just one case, but it's a case that talks about the fact that maybe Hannah was born with this predisposition in the form of this mitochondrial problem, and that possibly the vaccines pushed it over the edge.
It's a very interesting case. I'm not sure how much of an impact it's going to make. I've been trying to figure it out all day and it's really hard to say. Is it going to apply to these other -
KING: It is -- it's a pretty historic ruling, though, isn't it?
GUPTA: Yes, it's unprecedented, no question, for what it is today. I think it's going to be really interesting, as they go forward, to figure out, does this apply to the thousands of case that are still waiting to be heard.
KING: Yes. Dr. Poling, before I get a comment from you, I want to read a statement from the CDC. The CDC director, Dr. Julie Gervading (ph), issued a statement to LARRY KING LIVE about tonight's program. It says: "We do know that some children with autism were born with genes that result in their developing the disorder, but we don't know the causes in most cases of autism. Parents who are watching the show tonight may have concerns about vaccinating their children. That's understandable. However, they should know that current recommendations to vaccinate are based on years of scientific research by the world's foremost experts. If any parent out there is concerned, please sit down and discuss your concerns with your child's doctor."
Would you agree with that statement, Dr. Poling?
J. POLING: I would agree with almost every word in that statement. In terms of vaccinations, I'm certainly not anti-vaccine. I think vaccines are one of the most important medical developments within the past century-plus.
What we're trying to say, and the theory of what we felt happened to our daughter Hannah, is that she has a susceptibility to injury from stress of vaccination or potentially stress with the mitochondrial disorder of other potential insults. But clearly, what happened with our daughter was following a series of vaccinations that occurred in July.
KING: Then what does a parent do? Do they know if their child is susceptible or not? How do they know?
J. POLING: Well, Larry, there is not a good way to know at this point. Mitochondrial disease, there's no screening test. There's no clear sensitive or specific test to look for it. And as well, it's not well understood, whether this is a predisposing factor, if it was there first, and then later manifested, or if it developed afterwards. These are all questions that I think should be the goals of further research, Larry.
KING: Terry, should a parent watching the show tonight, when the pediatrician says, come in for the vaccinations, should they bring them?
T. POLING: Oh, yes, definitely. There is no evidence that children are like Hannah. We don't know -- we didn't know, actually. I don't know that she had a mitochondrial disorder prior to July 19th of 2000. I had no evidence of it in any biological tests. I don't know if it was the vaccines, getting nine at one time, that caused it.
I'm sure she has a genetic predisposition for this. I don't think that every family member has that. I don't think that every family does. And as everybody knows, there's a lot of children out there that do no not --
KING: I appreciate your honesty. I salute you, doctor, for carrying through with this. I'm very happy that Hannah got some relief today, in a sense, that at least one segment of the government said you were right. And congratulations, Cliff Shoemaker, on a victory.
SHOEMAKER: Thank you, Larry. I might add that one of the theories we were prepared to present in this case is the fact that mercury in the vaccine that were given back at that time can also lead to Mitochondrial dysfunction. In this case, we do not believe it was a genetic cause. We do not believe it was a cause.
KING: Thank you all very much. Dr. Gupta will remain with us, and we'll be joined with two of the leading pediatricians in the United States to discuss this important topic.
Right now, let's check in with Anderson Cooper. He will host "AC 360" at the top of the hour -- Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, thanks.
The finger pointing has begun. In Florida and Michigan, the talk is about whether or not to count the votes of voters in those two Democratic primaries. We'll examine the options. None of them are attractive right now.
Also ahead tonight on 360, Chelsea Clinton out campaigning for her mother. You've seen her for more than a decade. Maybe you have actually never heard her voice. We will hear her answering questions tonight.
And the question of safety at Southwest Airlines. CNN broke the story, now the federal government is taking action. The latest at the top of the hour, Larry.
KING: That's "AC 360" with Anderson Cooper, 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.
We'll be right back. Don't go away.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like the CDC to get a better schedule, 36. I would like to see them clean up the ingredients. I would like for parents to feel safer by offering the families the test for their baby to see if their immune system is strong enough to handle these.
I would love the CDC to give a piece of paper before they give my child a Hep-B shot in the hospital, saying, here are the possible side effects for each shot. I think parents would feel a lot safe every, and they're not right now.
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KING: We're back with the dilemma of vaccinations and autism. Dr. Sanjay Gupta remains with us in Atlanta.
In Denver is Dr. Harvey Karp, pediatrician, child development specialist. He is the best-selling author of "The Happiest Baby on the Block" and the "Happiest Toddler on the Block," and is a spokesman on children's environmental health for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In New York is Dr. Lawrence Rosen, pediatrician. More than 200 patients with autism in his practice. He's an expert on pediatric integrative medicine. He's a medical adviser to the Diedre Imus Environmental Center at the Hackensack University Medical Center.
All right, Dr. Carp, what do you make of what we've just heard?
DR. HARVEY KARP, PEDIATRICIAN: Well, you know, your heart goes out to the Poling family. It seems like there could be an association, or there is an association between the immunization she got and her tragic illness. I was happy to hear the Polings say that they are not saying that children shouldn't be immunized.
We have to separate the health from the hype here. And we know the best research on vaccines show there is no association between vaccines and autism. And we also know that millions of children are protected by vaccines. Children like Hannah are protected from getting Measles, and Polio, and Whooping Cough, which truly can cause brain damage and death in some cases.
KING: Dr. Rosen, if, as they said today -- if the vaccination caused Hannah to have autism, what does a parent to do?
DR. LAWRENCE D. ROSEN, PEDIATRICIAN: That's an excellent question. This is a discussion that I and I'm sure Dr. Karp has in his office many times a day. And I think it is important, and I agree with what Dr. Poling said, that vaccination is a very important development in this country over the last 100-plus years.
However, I think what this case tells us is that in Hannah's case, clearly, there was a connection between vaccines and the development of autism. And we can mince words and say it was a mitochondrial disorder manifesting the symptoms, but she has autism. And I think it would be naive to believe that Hannah is the only child in the world for whom that is true.
KING: So then, Dr. Gupta, what is one to do if you're parent with scheduled vaccinations?
GUPTA: It's a great question. Again, I don't know that the science can lead us in a direction other than what the recommendations are right now. It's difficult, because everyone says, yes, get vaccines, but, you don't want to get into a situation where you demonize parents for having some concern. What might these vaccines do to my children.
You know, it's interesting. I have talked to a lot of different pediatricians -- and obviously, you have two pediatricians on now. Some of them have told me, look, maybe it's this idea that the body can't tolerate all the shots all at once. So maybe separating them out. I don't know if that makes a difference. The schedules, as we have them now, five shots, nine shots the Poling family said, is really done out of convenience, so the parents and the child don't have to make so many trips to the office.
Could they be separated out? Would that make a difference? We don't know, Larry. I think that's what so hard here. We don't know what causes autism, so it's hard to know what to avoid. KING: We'll take a break, come back, and get Dr. Karp. I noticed he was shaking his head, to respond what to do. Multiple vaccinations, yes or no? Don't go away.
KING: Dr. Karp, you were waving your head back and forth the opposite way when Dr. Gupta mentioned multiple vaccinations.
KARP: Well, here is what I want parents to understand, Larry. One thing is that when it comes to immunizations and autism, we got rid of mercury from the vaccines. There's a study in Denmark, where they looked -- after they got rid of mercury from the vaccine, autism rates continued to go up dramatically.
So, it doesn't seem like mercury is related. It doesn't seem that Measles is related, either, because when we look at the children developing autism, they are usually signs of autism before they have gotten the Measles vaccine.
But we need to find out what's causing the sky-rocketing of autism in this country. And I think the best opportunity that our generation will have to solve that problem is the CDC's National Children Study, which is going to look at 100,000 children from birth and do blood tests to analyze their blood for a whole host of chemical exposures.
There are hundreds of chemicals that are neuro-toxic that we're exposed to every day, like pesticides and flame retardants. That has -- I mean, if we can get the Bush administration to stop blocking that study, that has the potential for answering this question in just a few years.
KING: Dr. Rosen, you certainly wouldn't deny the Polio vaccine, would you?
ROSEN: No, I think absolutely there have been heroic live saving measures. I think if you go back to people who lived during that time, they would say that that was a crucial development. And I support that in my practice, with my own children. However, I would say that there is a lot that we don't know. I support looking at all environmental causes, because clearly this epidemic of autism has multiple causes. All the kids are different.
And I just encourage parents in my practice to have these conversations with me. I think it is something that as pediatricians we can do.
KING: And we only have 30 seconds, Dr. Gupta. You think we're ever going to really find an answer?
GUPTA: Yes, I think so. You know, I'm an optimistic guy. I think we will one day. And, you know, as the science declares itself, we have more information. Until we know something, it's hard to, again, to rule things out or to demonize people for being concerned parents or being concerned citizens. KING: Thank you all very much, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Dr. Harvey Karp and Dr. Lawrence Rosen. We're going to do a lot more on this. I promise you, when we do, we'll have all three guests back. We ran out of limited time tonight. We expect to have all three back.
Before we wrap it up, we want to note the passing of Todd Morgan, director of special projects for Elvis Presley Enterprises. He died Saturday at his home. He was only 45. Todd Morgan was a great friend to LARRY KING LIVE. His help was crucial to the very special show that we did from Graceland in August, and to the many Elvis Presley programs that we've done over the years.
Our thoughts are with Todd Morgan's family and friends. He will be greatly missed.
We want to remind you that our political players will be back tomorrow night to wrap up this great week in the presidential race.
Speaking of greatness, here's Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."
Anderson, you got to live up to that mantle.
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