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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Eliot Spitzer Involved in Scandal
Aired March 10, 2008 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: Tonight, a scandalous shocker. The apparent straight arrow who became governor by crusading against crime and corruption is under investigation himself. New York's Eliot Spitzer allegedly met with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ELIOT SPITZER (D), NEW YORK: I apologize first and, most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Plus, Barack Obama fires back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not running for vice president, I'm running for president of the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He wants to give orders as president, not take them from Hillary Clinton as her V.P.
What will primary voters in Mississippi say tomorrow?
Next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Thanks for joining us tonight.
I'm John King in Washington filling in for Larry King. It is a great treat to sit in for the master tonight.
And as only Larry could tell you, better than anyone else in the business, some days you come to work expecting to cover one story. By the end of the day, you are off on a dramatically different track. And this is, indeed, one of those days.
We will continue tonight, for most of the next hour, our continuing coverage of the breaking news story that has shocked New York politics and, indeed, reverberated across the country -- allegations today that the governor of New York, Democrat Eliot Spitzer, a man who has campaigned as attorney general and won the governorship on a Mr. Clean image -- was involved in a prostitution ring, including a rendezvous here in Washington, D.C. And we have an expert panel throughout the night to help us consider all of this.
And let's get right to it.
I want to introduce -- our first group is Diana Williams. She is the well-known anchor of WABC in New York.
Also with us, Chris Smith, contributing editor of "New York" magazine.
Also with us from New York, Dina Matos McGreevey, who is the estranged wife of the former governor of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey. In August 2004, any of you watching this program would remember then Governor McGreevey publicly admitted to an extramarital relationship with a male employee and declared: "My truth is that I am a gay American."
Governor McGreevey resigned from that office three months later.
Let's get back to the dramatic news today.
And, Diana, take me inside the newsroom. You're sitting around covering the day's stories and all of the sudden this one hits. Take us inside the newsroom.
DIANA WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, WABC-TV, NEW YORK: Sitting around -- I had actually been giving a tour to a young student and telling her this was going to be a really slow news day, nothing was going on. And we get back up into the newsroom and suddenly we hear the news that the governor has been linked to this prostitution ring.
And it was absolutely shocking. I think every single person in the newsroom was stunned. This was information that was coming across from "The New York Times" on the Internet, on their Web page. We printed it out. We looked at the few paragraphs that they had and we were all questioning is this true, because this is the last thing any of us expected from the governor of New York State.
KING: You mentioned the last thing anyone expected. That story hit "The New York Times" Web site -- and, Chris, I want your thoughts in just a second.
But, first, for any listeners or viewers tonight who have not seen it already, let's play it. The governor did come out. There was a time that he would come and speak, then there was a delay and a delay as he met with his family and with his attorneys. Then he finally did come out to speak. He did not take any questions, a very brief statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. ELIOT SPITZER (D), NEW YORK: Good afternoon. Over the past nine years -- eight years as attorney general and one as governor -- I've tried to uphold a vision of progressive politics that would rebuild New York and create opportunity for all. We sought to bring real change to New York and that will continue.
Today, I want to briefly address a private matter. I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and that violates my or any sense of right and wrong. I apologize first and, most importantly, to my family. I apologize to the public, whom I promised better. I do not believe that politics in the long run is about individuals. It is about ideas, the public good and doing what is best for the State of New York. But I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself.
I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.
I will not be taking questions.
Thank you very much.
I will report back to you in short order.
Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Chris Smith, an apology there. He would not take any questions. He would not discuss any of the details, although clearly acknowledging some wrongdoing. But then, of course, most of us have looked through the affidavit throughout the day. We'll discuss that a bit as we go on.
But you know Eliot Spitzer. As you listened to him deliver that statement, what did you think?
CHRIS SMITH, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "NEW YORK" MAGAZINE: I thought here's a man trying to lay a foundation for any avenue he could possibly find to hold onto his job or, as a last ditch effort, cut a deal with the federal prosecutors who have busted this prostitution ring.
No doubt things have unfolded so rapidly and so painfully, especially in his household, that there's still a great deal of denial and difficulty that he's trying to sort out on the fly.
But he didn't deny anything.
At the same time, he's trying to pitch it as a public versus private matter -- the sort of two track argument that Bill Clinton made. One of the many huge differences in the case is that Clinton had an enormous reservoir of goodwill in public polls -- to some extent in Congress. Spitzer has nothing similar. He has antagonized virtually everyone in his own party, the Republicans on the other side of the aisle in Albany. His public approval ratings are in the mid-30s at this point. He's made some good enemies. He's taken on some serious, genuinely difficult issues. But he doesn't have anyone, at this point, who's going to come to his defense, in a political sense.
KING: And Dina McGreevey, this is a political scandal, but it's also a family and a personal tragedy.
When you see the pictures of the governor standing there with his wife, Silda Spitzer, it has to bring back enormously painful memories for you personally.
DINA MATOS MCGREEVEY, ESTRANGED WIFE OF FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: Well, you know, as I watched her, my heart just broke for her because I know exactly how she's feeling. It's always difficult to learn that, you know, the person you love has betrayed your trust. And it's, you know, a hundred -- the difficulty is increased tremendously when you have to face it in such a public manner. And, you know, she's ridiculed and shamed in front of, you know, virtually the entire world.
KING: And you made that decision to stand in essentially the same spot by your husband back in August of 2004. And, obviously, you meet and discussed beforehand not only with your husband, but I assume with attorneys and political advisers, the importance of that moment.
Take us inside the dark room for the more difficult conversation.
MCGREEVEY: Well, John, I was sort of left to make these decisions on my own. My husband, you know, spent two or three days, you know, locked in an office with his advisers and attorneys and I wasn't really privy to any of that decision-making, although they were making decisions that certainly affected the rest of my life. But I was not, you know, part of that. And I was left alone to deal with it on my own.
And I don't know, you know, what's going on in the Spitzer household or how they're handling it, but I do know that it's difficult. And for his wife, she's not only dealing with her own personal pain, but trying to protect her daughters from this.
KING: Diane, I want to come back to the point Chris was making a moment ago about what next here. There were -- I spoke to a number of sources in New York Democratic politics -- and I'm sure you and colleagues in the newsroom spoke to more, because you're closer to the story, who said they had been told without a doubt that Governor Spitzer would, in fact, and then, of course, he did not.
Do we know anything about what are the calculations behind the scenes and where this goes next?
WILLIAMS: Well, I think that was the big surprise. I mean when Governor Spitzer walked into that room in midtown this afternoon, you could have heard a pin drop. Everybody who was there said it was absolute silence except for, you know, the flashing of the cameras, the light bulbs. And so everybody was expecting that the words out of his mouth would be to the effect I am resigning. That was the expectation.
And everybody left there absolutely stunned. When he finished speaking and said no questions, nobody asked a question. And I think everybody just turned to each other and was just stunned that he was not offering up his resignation. Because Jim McGreevey took three days to think about it, to ponder it. And when he finally did make his first public statement, he offered up his resignation -- after announcing that he was a gay American.
And so I think that's why were expecting that from this governor, as well. He has had time to ponder. He's had all weekend, as we understand, to kind of deal with this and to discuss it with his family.
And so the question all of us had was well, why didn't he resign?
Why isn't he, at this point?
KING: And, Chris, what are your sources telling you to that degree?
There's a great deal of speculation that he's doing it on the advice of legal advisers, who would tell him that if he's going to enter into negotiations with prosecutors -- and the potential here is that he committed a federal offense, transporting a prostitute across state lines to commit an illegal act. The speculation -- and some informed speculation from New York Democrats, who are saying that he's -- this is only leverage in negotiations.
SMITH: Exactly right, John. We should also make the disclaimer that there's a lot we don't know here. There are a lot of documents online, obviously; a lot of allegations. But we don't know the amount of money involved. We don't know the length of the involvement. We don't know, you know, if Spitzer has any leverage or room to try to make a counter argument here.
But, yes, that is the discussion right now -- you know, are the federal prosecutors going to attempt to charge him with anything?
And his biggest chip remains his job -- you know, that he could potentially barter his resignation for the dropping of charges. There are no charges at the moment, but the prosecutors don't pursue charges or that they pursue charges but, you know, at some lower level.
Right now, that would appear to be the only leg he has to stand on.
WILLIAMS: I do believe him, also, John, when he's saying he's taking time to think about this and to spend some time with his family. Even though he's had time to deal with this, he's been married to Silda Wall, who is this beautiful, charming Southern woman -- he's been married to her for 21 years. They have three children, one of whom is about to go off to college this year. She is editor of the school newspaper.
When I talk to him, he's always bragging about his three girls. He's so proud of them. And I've talked with Silda before. They have always seemed to have a good marriage.
So I'm sure he's taking that time to be with his family and to figure out the best thing to do for them.
KING: And Much more on this shocking story after a quick break here on LARRY KING LIVE.
Diana Williams, Chris Smith, Dina McGreevey in New York.
Back to our panel in a moment, and much more to come on the political fallout, the personal tragedy.
Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPITZER: I have acted in a way that violates my obligations to my family and that violates my or any sense of right and wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: John King filling in for Larry King tonight.
Joining us now from Los Angeles is Robert Weiss. He's the founder and executive director of the Sexual Recovery Institute. He's an expert on sexual addiction and sexual offending.
Also in Los Angeles, Mark Geragos. No stranger to any frequent viewer of this program, Mark is a high profile attorney out in California.
Also joining us from New York, Paul Callan, a former New York City prosecutor.
And still with us, Dina Matos McGreevey, the estranged wife of the former New Jersey governor, Jim McGreevey.
Robert Weiss, I want to get you first.
What drives a man to do this, especially a man in such a powerful position?
He is the governor of New York and he's a former prosecutor who has publicly railed against prostitution rings. And yet if this court filing is to be believed, this man who knows all the tools of law enforcement, who knows about wiretapping, who knows about wiretapping, who knows that it is a federal offense, presumably, to transport a prostitute from one state to another state, is accused of doing just that.
ROBERT WEISS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SEXUAL RECOVERY INSTITUTE: And I really appreciate your bringing that up because what concerned me was this uncomfortable was this idea of being a private matter. Because when a public figure engages in illegal behavior, it's no longer a private matter, it's a public matter. And so if someone is a public figure and makes the choice to put themselves at such risk, there's clearly some emotional problem going on and probably a lot to do with the intensity at which he's living and the driven lifestyle he's got.
KING: And, so, Mark Geragos, if you're sitting down with Eliot Spitzer tonight and he is your client or calling you up seeking advice, you're in a different league, aren't you, when your client is someone who was once the state struggling, who knows the law inside out -- from a legal perspective, never mind the political ramifications of all this?
There's -- this is not a man who can sit across the table and say I didn't know.
MARK GERAGOS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, it's extremely difficult to go to a prosecutor -- one of the federal prosecutors -- and say he didn't quite understand that transporting somebody from one state to another could have constituted a federal violation, number one. I think that your previous guests in the previous segment were right on. He is not going to resign, I don't think, unless the political pressure gets to be too intense, if he's listening to his lawyers, because his lawyers are going to use that as a potential chip.
Here in Los Angeles, that was one of the things of the negotiations that took place with the Orange County Sheriff was this idea that we'll dismiss against some other people if you resign and that was kind of the quid pro quo. It failed, but that's always one of options. You will argue collateral damage and collateral consequences.
And, in this case, there's quite an argument to be made from a lot of people that if he's one who's railing, how in the world can you go soft or not prosecute him given the situation and given his past?
It's an awful, awful situation to be in.
KING: Well, Paul Callan, follow in on that point. You know Eliot Spitzer. This is a man, if you Googled his name, you would get Eliot Spitzer and within five or six words, Mr. Clean -- a straight shooter, anti-corruption crusader.
And yet here we are tonight talking about a governor of a large state and an influential state here in the United States, who is accused, essentially, of putting a prostitute on a train and paying her several thousand dollars for a sex act in a Washington, D.C. hotel.
PAUL CALLAN, FORMER NEW YORK CITY PROSECUTOR: Well, it's amazing. He was known as "the sheriff of Wall Street." He's sort of the symbol of moral rectitude and, you know, conservative values in terms of morality. And, boy, here he is, what a fall.
I think, in looking, John, at the federal statute involved, which is called The Mann Act, he has violated the act in such a clear-cut way if he, in fact, is this person Number 9, as specified in the FBI affidavit. He knew that this prostitute was being transferred from Penn Station in New York to Washington, D.C. , he forwarded money to assist in the transportation. It's a classic Mann Act case punishable by five years in prison and huge fines, if federal prosecutors want to go that route. KING: And, so, Paul -- and then, Mark, jump in -- he publicly comes out today and says he has to apologize to his family, clearly acknowledging he has done something wrong. He was very careful not to say what he has done wrong.
Is just from what he said today, did he increase his legal jeopardy?
GERAGOS: Well, did he increase his legal jeopardy?
If he's the one who's been -- and I say if -- if he's the one who is identified in that indictment under that Paragraph G as "Client Number 9," they've got all the elements. So maybe there's -- already who knows, there could -- for all I know, there could already be a deal in the works and they've got a -- some kind of an understanding that he's at some point very shortly going to resign.
The problem is here I don't know where the political people -- or what the political people are advising versus what his lawyers and he himself, who knows what the system is all about, is telling him. Because there may be some disconnect there between the people who are advising him politically and those who are advising him from a legal standpoint and (INAUDIBLE).
CALLAN: And, you know, what's interesting about this, John, is that normally, the John in one of these cases is not prosecuted. You never see prosecutions of Johns in New York State. But, hey, when the John is the governor of the State of New York, someone who has based his whole career on being the sheriff's sheriff, the D.A.'s D.A. I think you see a much greater likelihood that he'll be prosecuted when others would not.
KING: (INAUDIBLE) we're going to take a quick break.
In a minute, we'll be back.
But before we take the break, I just want to get Dina McGreevey in for a second.
Dina, your husband stayed on the job for -- I think it was three to four months before he finally resigned.
MCGREEVEY: Three months.
KING: What were the competing pressures on leaving and staying?
MCGREEVEY: Well, he was, you know, fighting to stay in office and sort of, you know, clean up and working on, you know, his legacy. Certainly, they were pressures from, you know, the opposite side and within his own party for him to resign so that they could have a special election -- hold a special election and elect their person.
He fought that and remained in office. And the president of the state senate took over as governor. But it was very difficult for the family. You know, it would have been easier if he resigned immediately and we could have started to try to put the pieces of our lives back together. I thought that Governor Spitzer was going to announce his resignation today. By not doing so, he's only prolonging the pain and anguish and humiliation for his wife and his family.
KING: We'll ask all of you to stand by.
We'll be back with more on the political, the legal and the personal fallout of this amazing, shocking scandal involving the governor of New York State, Democrat Eliot Spitzer, when LARRY KING LIVE returns in just a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SPITZER: And I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's get straight back to our discussion of this sad and remarkable political story today, word that Eliot Spitzer, the Democratic anti-corruption governor of New York State is involved and has been linked by federal authorities to a prostitution ring.
Robert Weiss, you run the Sexual Recovery Institute. Help us understand -- and Robert is in Los Angeles.
Is there something about power?
This is, as we discussed earlier, the governor of a large state in this country, a former attorney general of the state, a man who knows the law full well. Many in this town where I am tonight, in Washington, when this story broke today, were talking about and drawing comparisons to Bill Clinton, the president of the United States, who had a sexual relationship with a young intern in the White House just steps from the Oval Office.
Is there something about power that blinds a man to the threats and the risks and, in fact, the law?
WEISS: Well, I don't -- I don't know that it's necessarily about power, but it is about living a lifestyle that's beyond your ability tolerate and looking for distractions and intensity to compensate. People who do this are not connected closely to the people who really can support them and be there for them. They're so involved in the intensity of what they're doing in their lives that they're not really paying attention to what they need inside.
But I have to say, you know, the sad part to me about this -- and I agree with Mrs. McGreevey, is the family. I mean, if I see one more politician drag out his wife in a moment of pain to try to save his career, I just don't know. It makes me very frustrated, because I can only -- having worked -- you know, I work with men who sexually act out -- and women. And when I see their spouses, I know that this woman is in shock.
You can see it on her face. She's completely flat. She doesn't really -- isn't even really connected to what's going on. She's kind of shuffling along behind her husband. Maybe, in some ways, she has in his professional life for many years.
But this is a personal situation from that standpoint. And it's horrible for her to have to stand there in this kind of situation. I feel for her, I really do.
KING: Dina, jump in on that point because, as you know, life is not fair. And life sometimes is very cruel. And you know there were people watching these pictures today that we're watching right now and people watching the pictures when you were in a similar position back in 2004 saying why -- why would this woman stand by her man playing Tammy Wynette songs and the like -- and essentially mocking the woman for standing there.
MCGREEVEY: Well, first of all, it's, you know, regretful that people are mocking her. We have to remember that she is not the elected official. She happens to be married to someone who was elected, but she is a private person and she should be left to deal with this, you know, privately.
Certainly, you know, he has his issues and, you know, possibly a criminal prosecution. But she, you know, is a woman who happens to be married to the governor of the State of New Jersey -- of York. I'm sorry.
But she's a private person who has a family that is experiencing excruciating pain right now and should be allowed to deal with this in a private manner.
I know that I had, you know, reporters staked outside the governor's mansion for weeks. I couldn't get out. I felt like a prisoner. I was a prisoner in my own home. And even, you know, months and years after Jim's resignation, you know, I'd go out and people would be in the corner whispering and talking about me.
So we have to be respectful of her as a private person and not criticize her because, you know, I know that I was criticized for standing there. Hillary Clinton was criticized for standing, you know, with her husband. Larry Craig's wife.
KING: Larry Craig.
MCGREEVEY: We all do it for very personal reasons. I did it because he was my husband. I had always supported him. I loved him. I had a daughter that, you know, would one day -- will one day look back and recognize that this was one of the most difficult experiences in her father's life. And I wanted her to know that I was there for her father. So we all do it for very personal reasons. And I would just ask people not to criticize her because you don't know what it's like unless you're in the person's shoes.
KING: And Paul and Mark, before we go -- and we're short on time -- I want to get back to the legal ramifications a little bit.
Paul Callan in New York, do you see any possibility that Eliot Spitzer can keep his job?
CALLAN: No, I don't. I think that he has made such a reputation about being the lawyers' lawyer and the D.A.'s D. A. that, in the end, the hypocrisy that's present here is going to be his downfall. And I also think the prosecutors here are going to be under enormous pressure to either force his resignation or to proceed with a prosecution, because he is the highest ranking law enforcement official in New York and it's very, very hard for them to walk away from this case. The pubic will think they're letting him get away with a major crime.
KING: And, Mark, you've been involved in so many high profile cases, how big of a chip is the governor's office, essentially, in negotiations of a potential plea, in saying well, he'll resign if you go lightly on him, he'll resign his job?
GERAGOS: Well, you know, it's a big chip in two different ways. It's a big chip, number one, to force a resignation. But it's even a bigger chip -- I mean imagine you're the U.S. attorney who prosecuted the sitting governor of the State of New York. That's about as good a lateral jump into some big firm partnership as you can get out of the U.S. attorney's office.
I'm not saying that that's the way they think, but that's generally what ends up happening. The idea that somebody would walk away from that, some U.S. attorney, strikes me as almost inconceivable. I think that -- I think he's going to get prosecuted. I just can't see any way around it.
KING: More on this case, without a doubt, in the days and weeks ahead.
From Los Angeles, Mark Geragos and Robert Weiss. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
And in New York, Paul Callan and Dina Matos McGreevey with a remarkable personal story -- lots worth remembering, as we watch this one play out over the next several days and weeks.
Thank you all very much.
And when we come back, we'll ask our new panel about the potential national political ramifications of this political scandal in New York. And we'll move on to another fascinating political story. That would be the Democratic campaign for the presidency. The Mississippi primary tomorrow, pitting Barack Obama, the frontrunner, against Senator Hillary Clinton. More talk today of the dream ticket -- the so-called dream ticket. You won't want to miss it.
Stay with us.
You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Segue a bit more to national politics now. Joining me here in Washington, James Carville. He's the CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist, the Ragin' Cajun, and a Hillary Clinton supporter. And in Charleston, South Carolina, one of my favorite cities here in the country, Michael Eric Dyson. He's a Georgetown University professor, best selling author, ordained Baptist minister, and a prominent Barack Obama supporter.
Let me ask you both gentlemen, and Michael, to you first -- I want to move onto the presidential campaign, but when you see what unfolded in New York state today, specifically in New York City, the governor coming out, Eliot Spitzer, and apologizing, then the legal filings about his potential involvement in a high-priced prostitution ring. It's obviously a political scandal in New York, a personal tragedy for the Spitzer family. But are there national political ramifications in a climate in which Democrats have pointed the fingers at Republicans about corruption, both government corruption and personal corruption. Is there now, Eric, in your view, any sense of a backlash against Democrats?
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Well, failure, flaws and foibles, frailties and those things are not partisan. Democrats and Republicans fail. As an ordained Baptist minister and a Christian, I'm never surprised by human sin, though disappointed in it all. I can look into my own heart and see the flaws and the cracks and the fissures to understood that I will not ever point a judgmental finger at somebody else.
At the same time, I think we should be held publicly accountable for our behavior, in the sense that if he's an elected official who has done something illegal, not just immoral, then obviously he's going to pay the price for that. One of the difficulties is that Governor Spitzer has been especially pernicious and some would say hard hearted in his own pointing the finger at others. Therefore, at this particular time of grief for his family and himself, he has few allies to count on.
I think that, ultimately, all of us should look into our own hearts and see that we all make mistakes. We should go a bit easier on everybody, even as we hold each other accountable.
KING: James, are there national ramifications? You know what the discussion was here in Washington today. You have the Democratic governor of New York making this admission today, saying he needs time to reflect with his family. Senator Clinton is, of course, a Senator from New York. Many people here in Washington say the last thing Hillary Clinton needs is a public discussion about sexual --
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I'm looking at Senator McCain's campaign. His co-chair has been indicted on I don't know how many other things. No one is going to say that Senator McCain is -- you know, the other thing is I feel sorry for Spitzer. If this is all it is, I don't think he should resign. The worst thing is you have to listen to all these moralizing and self-righteous jerks on TV pontificate about all of this.
If this is what this man did and it's all he did, then it's a shame. It's a tragedy for his family.
KING: It's a federal felony.
CARVILLE: There's a lot of things. We don't know exactly what it is before we say things are a felony. I'm just a little bit --
KING: I agree with you on the if.
CARVILLE: I'm a little bit skeptical that this thing is not -- there's not some political motivation that's going to be uncovered here. I think the press needs to look into why are we sitting here going crazy on this about a man hooking up with a prostitute? It's not the first time it has happened. I know it shocks people in the press. Being from Louisiana, it's happened once or twice before down there.
KING: Michael, let me ask you to jump in on that point. James' point is we shouldn't be jumping up and down on person's personal failings, even if that person is an elected public official. I think that is a point many people out there watching would nod their head at. At the same time, even if -- even if -- James raised the prospect that this was somehow a dirty trick. He was lured into this. But he is the governor of a state. He was the attorney general. You mentioned his history. The Republican Congressman from New York, Pete King, called him self-righteous earlier today.
Even if he was somehow duped into this -- if it happened. And I will say if, if, if, if, over and over again -- if the governor and the former attorney general of the state of New York went into a hotel room with a prostitute, no matter who sent the prostitute there, his mistake, yes?
DYSON: Well, it's no question. I think that James Carville is absolutely right, in the sense that this has happened before. But the problem is that, like with many others, Mr. Spitzer promised a new kind of government, one that would find against the incremental accumulation, if you will, of devious deeds that had to be done away with. Here's a man who said it would be different. I think that part of the problem here, again, is that he's made his bone fides, his bones, so to speak, by working against the very thing that now he has succumbed to, allegedly.
The difficulty here is that yes, the national implication is all politicians ought to be very careful -- before you live in a glass house, be careful to throw those stones. Secondly, the thing is that yes, there are severe consequences. If you did something illegal or immoral, even if you were duped into it, stung into it, entrapped or even seduced. The reality is, they would have nothing to point out if he had done nothing wrong. Let's be honest about that.
KING: I just want to say, I didn't think Larry Craig should have resigned. I thought that was -- I didn't thing David Vitter should have resigned. I'm just saying -- he shouldn't have done it. It's a bad thing to do. It's unfaithful to his wife. It's against the law. But unless he stole something, unless he betrayed something, unless he wasn't doing his job, we ought to understand as a country and understand what this man's family is going through a little bit here. I understand. The man made a terrible mistake.
DYSON: Listen here. As person who looks in the mirror himself, I don't have to look any further than Michael Eric Dyson to understand what finality and frailty and what foibles are about. I can look at my own heart. I don't have to point my finger at anybody else. But the point is, when you're in a publicly accountable office, as Mr. Spitzer is, and making publicly accountable statements about others, and then putting folks behind the bars, it becomes much more difficult. Then you have to say to him retroactively, Mr. Spitzer, if you had anticipated your own downfall, perhaps you would have been a bit more sensitive to the charges you made of others.
Look, I feel completely like Mr. Carville does, that we should be careful here to rush to judgment. But all of us, whether Democrat or Republican or independent, should be very careful before we cast stones. We should be more sensitive.
Here's my point, though. We're concerns about high-ranking political figures, but very few people are concerned about people who are on the ground, who get dogged every day, who get judgments leveled against them every day, who don't have political office to shield them. Let's put this in perspective.
KING: Let's hit the pause button on this story for a minute and take a quick break. Michael Eric Dyson and James Carville here in D.C. When we get back, we'll get back to the presidential campaign. Talk that Senator Clinton might pick Senator Obama. Senator Obama saying today, wait a minute, I'm still leading this race. Much more to come on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Back with us in Charleston, South Carolina, Michael Eric Dyson. He's a Baptist minister, university professor and a Barack Obama supporter. Here in Washington, D.C., the Ragin Cajon, James Carville, a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Gentlemen I want to get right to this. Bill Clinton over the weekend talked about the potential unstoppable force of a Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama ticket. The Obama campaign thinks this is a cynical ploy. Senator Barack Obama spoke out himself today. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't know how somebody who is in second place is offering the vice presidency to the person in first place.
They are trying to hoodwink you. You can't say that he's not ready on day one, unless he's willing to be your vice president, and then he's ready on day one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: James Carville, a little gotcha there from Barack Obama. The Clinton campaign has spent a long time, especially the last couple of weeks, saying this guy is not ready to be commander in chief. Yet, Bill Clinton says, let's make him the vice presidential nominee. Bill Clinton himself is on the record repeatedly about picking Al Gore, saying the number one criteria is ready to do the job.
CARVILLE: I just can not -- the whole hypocrisy of all of this, everybody pontificating -- In 1980, George H.W. Bush said Reagan's economic plan was voodoo economics. He was pro-choice. He got one phone call. He switched his position from pro-choice to pro-life and then said, no, he had a great economic plan. The same thing happened in 1960 with Lyndon Johnson and John F. Kennedy. The same thing happened in 2004 with John Kerry and John Edwards.
I don't know how to tell you people out there who are listening, but this is politics. I don't go anywhere in the country where Democrats don't stop me and say, they ought to be on the same ticket. Of course if Senator Obama is the nominee, then Senator Clinton is going to endorse him.
KING: Michael Eric Dyson, if Barack Obama wins the race, do you think he would even consider Senator Clinton after the last couple of weeks?
DYSON: I can't speak for him. But I'll tell you, he made a heck of a point there when he said, look, if I'm not good enough to be the commander in chief on day one, then what makes me a heart beat from the highest office there -- what makes me capable to do that as second in command?
I think Mr. Carville is exactly right, this is politics. But, again, this is what Obama has been saying; this is politics as usual. We want to move away from that. What he's trying to say is this; if you're not in charge, if you're not in command, if you're in the lead, then it's not even your decision to determine that. Let the person who is in the lead determine who his particular vice president will be.
I think at this level I think Hillary Clinton is playing a bit of subterfuge here, in a way to trying to insinuate to the American public that this guy is behind, when, indeed, he's ahead. I think she is throwing everything -- this is part of the kitchen sink. This may be the faucet with the water rushing.
KING: I need to call time out with the plumbing right now. We'll be back with more of this in just a moment. I need to call a time out for just a second. We need to check in with Anderson Cooper. I think if Larry was sitting here, he would say something to the affect of, we need to check in with my man Anderson Cooper to tell us what's ahead on 360. Hi, Anderson.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey John. I think it's fair to say no one saw this coming. You talked about it earlier tonight. At the top of the hour, we'll bring you all the latest on the Eliot Spitzer prostitution allegations. Word he could step down, even tonight. Still unknown if he's going to face criminal charges. We'll, of course, be watching that and bring you a look at other men of power who have fallen from grace.
We'll also bring you the latest on the campaign trail. On this night before primaries in Mississippi, Barack Obama has some words, some choice words for Senator Clinton about her suggestion that Mr. Obama might make a good vice president. That's what you're talking about right now. We'll tell you what he said exactly. We'll show you the clip, as well as the latest on whether or not Florida and Michigan will redo their Democratic contests. The clock is ticking on that decision. All that and more at the top of the hour, John.
KING: We'll be back with you in just a few minutes. Anderson Cooper in New York. Anderson, thank you very much. We'll be right back here with more of our political discussion here on LARRY KING LIVE in just a moment. Don't go anywhere.
KING: A lot more ground to cover in our remaining minutes on the many political stories under way. Joining us to help us finish up tonight is Kevin Madden. He's a veteran of Capital Hill, a Republican strategist who most recently was chief spokesman for former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. Also Amy Holmes, a Republican strategist and a CNN political analyst.
I want to move back to the presidential campaign. But I want to ask you both, since you just joined us -- I'll start with you Amy, ladies first; are there national political ramifications of the Eliot Spitzer story?
AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's one that I can see. That's if Eliot Spitzer does not immediately resign, if this is dragged out and dragged out, the candidates will be asked, should he resign? I think that could pose some awkward moments for Hillary Clinton, sorry James, considering her husband's history and the fact that he stayed in office. Barack Obama maybe not so much. But he's still a member of the Democratic party. I see that as possibly one big warning sign.
KEVIN MADDEN, FMR SPOKESMAN, ROMNEY CAMPAIGN: Well, I don't think it's going to have a monumental impact on the state of play in this race right now. I think what happens is that every day now Hillary Clinton and pretty much every single Democrat in New York is going to be asked, should Governor Spitzer resign. Should Governor Spitzer resign? Until he does, it's a bit of a distraction.
I fundamentally don't think that voters in places like Mississippi tomorrow are going to render a judgment based on Hillary Clinton's tangential ties to Governor Spitzer. KING: What are the stakes, Kevin Madden, from a Republican's perspective first -- do Republicans believe Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee? Or does Ohio change the calculus and now you're back to, we don't know?
MADDEN: I think if you looked at the day before, a lot of people thought if Barack Obama wins -- a lot of Republicans thought, if Barack Obama either wins Ohio or Texas, then you're going to have a very -- you know, a very quick push for all of these super delegates to rush toward Barack Obama. You're going to have a presumptive Democratic nominee.
Now that has done is stopped a lot of super delegates in their tracks. The Clinton campaign has essentially gotten the tourniquet they need to go these next seven weeks all the way to Pennsylvania. Right now, Republicans, John McCain's campaign, they are in a holding pattern right now, raising money and building organizations.
KING: Michael Eric Dyson, there are many in politics who think the longer she can drag this on -- the Clintons are pretty good. They'll figure out a way to win. Is that the thinking in the Obama campaign?
DYSON: Well, yes, I think the Clintons are well known to bring out the knives, in the political intimacy of back room, smoke-filled areas. I think that unfortunately Mr. Obama has chosen the high load. Not unfortunately, I think he has chosen the high road, and, unfortunately, Senator Clinton has insisted on playing politics as usual.
The devastating consequence to the nation I think is in the offing, not just to her own particular campaign. That will survive. The question is, what's best for the nation? If we're certainly -- I'm not against her using everything she can to get what she needs to get, to get that nomination. But if it's clear, as it has been, that he's won in big states and small states -- he's 156 delegates ahead. She's not going to out pace him.
So at what point does she toss in the towel to suggest this is best for the country. I think that's what we're looking for, that kind of political states-woman-ship that would mark her career, subsequently.
KING: Not surprisingly, the Hillary Clinton supporter here, James Carville, disagrees. Mr. Carville gets the first word on the other side of our last break. Stay with us. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Back with our political panel. Going to make this the speed round. Get through a number of subjects in our few remaining minutes. But before the break, I promised Mr. Carville a chance to respond.
CARVILLE: I don't exactly know what Mr. Obama's peoples' problem with Bill Clinton's administration was. Was it the peace or the prosperity that they found so offensive. I'm trying to figure this out. The other point I would make is, if you want her out of the race, beat her. You had her on the ropes, Ohio, Texas. Just beat her. You have a feather punch.
Now you want to knock her out. I said right here on this set, she had to win Ohio and Texas. You want to knock her out? Knock her out in Pennsylvania. Then knock her out in Florida. Knock her out in Michigan. I'll be the first person in line to endorse Senator Obama.
All these people saying the Clintons are going on and on. No, the Democratic voters are in charge of the process. They sent a very clear signal in Ohio and Texas that they want the process to go on. Somehow or another, people come on and just say this is the Clintons hanging on. I don't think so. Just beat her in Pennsylvania. Beat her.
DYSON: But she's already said that John McCain has the experience to be commander in chief. She does too, but she doesn't know about Barack Obama. She's saying, essentially, if Barack Obama becomes the nominee, she's already given her vote to John McCain to be the commander in chief.
CARVILLE: For crying out loud. You need to develop a thick skin over there. Don't be so --
KING: Let me let the Republicans in the room weigh in. Kevin Madden, does it help the Republicans or hurt the Republicans, this longer, more exciting Democratic campaign? They're certainly going to get a lot more attention. Does the Democratic candidate come out bruised or tougher?
MADDEN: I think it totally helps us. I think at a certain point, a lot of this energy was building up in the grass roots. It was exciting the grass roots. It's hit a breaking point. Now, what you're seeing is every single day Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton exposing each other's negatives to a degree where it's the only message coming out of this campaign. While John McCain is going out the plodding work, the grunt work of building up the organization and raising the money.
This is going to go all the way through April and possibly beyond. So, you know, we get to sit on the curb and clap as the parade goes by right now.
KING: Part of the grunt work, as Kevin just said about John McCain, is he's going to take an international trip next week. He's going to go to the Middle East. He's going to go to London. He's going to go to Paris. He's going to meet foreign leaders. He's going to look presidential on the global stage. But -- but, he's going on this official Congressional delegation with Lindsey Graham, a Republican Senator from South Carolina, and the John McCain supporter, and Joe Lieberman, the Democrat turned independent from Connecticut, a John McCain supporter. Those are the three lawmakers on the trip. It's a Congressional delegation because you have a Democrat, nominally, Joe Lieberman. The tax-payers are going to pay for this trip by John McCain. He's against earmarks. He's against pork barrel spending. Should he be held accountable for that?
HOLMES: I don't think so, because he will going in his capacity as a senator. He's still a sitting senator. He's being accompanied by Senators. He'll also be accompanied by all of those campaign reporters, who are then going to be writing the stories about John McCain being presidential. I would add to Kevin's point about, you know, does this help or hurt him for Democrats to be fighting each other? It also helps him when he's doing some of the awkward work of reaching out to conservatives.
There was this story of John Hagee, the pastor making remarks about Catholics. For John McCain, this mostly flew under the radar, because all the headlines are about Democrats. That's good for him when he is doing some of this more awkward outreach.
KING: Kevin, not hypocrisy at a time Republicans are pushing a new proposal to get rid of earmarks and pork barrel spending for John McCain to have the tax-payers pay for a trip that -- sure, he's still a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He's going with two prominent campaign supporters, and he's going to say, look, you're comfortable with me on the world stage.
MADDEN: Well, these are national security issues, and national security is going to be an important part of who the next president is. I think that's important for him to go, in order to get, you know, the facts that he needs to continue to be the right U.S. senator. The same thing with Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. I mean, this is part of the machinery of how the U.S. Senate works. I think that voters are very good at discerning what's an earmark and waist and what's something that's actually going out on a fact finding mission, as far as national security is concerned.
KING: We have a little less than a minute left. I want to give everybody about 10 seconds for a final comment. Michael Eric, as I go to you, Barack Obama is expected to win Mississippi tomorrow, after winning Wyoming this weekend. Does that put all right, or does he have to prove, as James was saying, that he can go to big state and Pennsylvania and take a punch?
DYSON: No, he's won many more primaries, twice as many as Hillary Clinton. He's proved his leadership in predominantly white states and predominantly black populations. This man has done everything but sown up the nomination. What stands in the way is the refusal of Hillary Clinton to acknowledge that he has really appealed to the very constituency that he she now claims.
I think that he has proven what he has to prove and I think there is nothing left for him to prove but to keep winning.
CARVILLE: How many Idaho's equal one California? Come on? Please. KING: There's our question for tomorrow night; how many Idahos equal one Ohio? Everybody at home will have a quiz for you. For now, thanks to all of our guests. Anderson Cooper, "AC 360" starts right now.
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