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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Obama Wins Mississippi
Aired March 12, 2008 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Suzanne Malveaux is in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, tonight on the Clinton campaign.
In Washington, Lanny Davis, he was the White House special counsel to Bill Clinton and a Hillary Clinton supporter, Lanny is. He has known her since their law school days.
Ed Schultz is the national syndicated radio host, the host of the "Ed Schultz Show." He's a Barack Obama supporter, although he says he would support Senator Clinton if she wins the nominee.
And here with me in New York, Mark Green. He's the president of Air America Radio, the author of "Losing Our Democracy," a long time Democratic activist in New York City and New York State.
I want to begin tonight with Candy Crowley. You're in Chicago, Candy. A big win for Barack Obama. A sweeping win in the Deep South again fueled largely on the support of the African American voter. Do they see it as just a win in Mississippi or do they see something in the results, Candy, that they say, we'll take that and carry it to Pennsylvania and beyond?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what they see here primarily is a pick-up of delegates because that's where they're going in this. I mean they realize the more they can add onto their margin and they are more than 100 pledged delegates ahead of Hillary Clinton, if they can add that, it becomes this powerful argument, if as everyone thinks it may, it gets down to those superdelegates because he has this argument, I have more pledged delegates. Not only that, I have more than 100 pledged delegates. That's clearly their primary win as they see it tonight.
But obviously in the big cities, when you look at Philadelphia, for instance, going into the Pennsylvania primary on the 22nd of April, obviously that's where he starts. That's where one of his main bases of operation will be in trying to get at that African American vote which has not been a problem thus far. That's where you start.
But then as you know John, you've got to start to build out. And he has to, again, try to go back at her base and get those very important working class votes in Pennsylvania.
KING: And we find Suzanne Malveaux in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, tonight. I think Candy is the great segue from where you just ended.
Suzanne, the Clinton campaign obviously disappointed by any defeat. What do they see as the lesson of Mississippi, if there is one, and obviously, Barack Obama does gain a few more delegates. He is, as Candy just noted, building his lead, especially among the pledged delegates. Just like Ohio and Texas were firewalls, Pennsylvania is the new firewall for Senator Clinton, is it not?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, John. And it couldn't be clearer where the campaign was going.
Maggie Williams, the campaign manager, fired off an e-mail pretty early in the evening essentially saying congratulations to Barack Obama; we thank our volunteers and then let's move on. Let's get on to the business of Pennsylvania.
Hillary Clinton started her Pennsylvania kickoff campaign yesterday in Scranton. She's really trying to hone in on a couple of things here, trying to take advantage of being kind of a hometown girl of Scranton where her great grandparents are from. She talked about fishing and being taught how to shoot a gun from her father in their old cottage there.
They're also looking to really spend some significant time here. We're going to see Bill Clinton here back again in Pennsylvania. We're going to see lots of Chelsea in the next six weeks or so, all three of them hitting this state, looking at those key demographics, white voters, older voters, female voters, rural voters.
And one thing that we should be aware of is they're not ruling out the African American vote. We saw in Mississippi the results. Obviously disappointing for the Clinton campaign. But they didn't give up on the black vote. They're not going to give up or cede it here.
Just today in a rally Philadelphia mayor, Michael Nutter, African American of a predominantly black city here, major city, big Hillary supporter. Got a rousing applause, great introduction. They really hope to make some end roads at least when it comes to Philadelphia and some other key pockets, demographics where Barack Obama obviously would do pretty well, John.
KING: Lanny Davis, as the campaign moves on to Pennsylvania and Suzanne notes the Clinton campaign tries to do better among African American, one of your trademarks, Lanny, is crisis management and crisis communications. How does the Clinton campaign deal with this?
Geraldine Ferraro, the former vice presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter saying this in an interview with the Daily Breeze of Torrance, California, "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position, and if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is and the country is caught up in the concept."
Lanny Davis, that's a remark that put the Clinton campaign back on its heels. They say well Gerry Ferraro is speaking for herself. How do you clean that one up?
LANNY DAVIS, FMR. SPECIAL COUNSEL, PRES. CLINTON: Well I wouldn't agree that it put anybody in the campaign back on our heels. Other than Senator Clinton said, we strongly disagree with Geraldine Ferraro, as I just said a little while ago. But Geraldine Ferraro made a mistake of speech, not of her heart. Everyone who knows Geraldine Ferraro knows she's a liberal Democrat, a post civil rights Democrat, has fought for the rights of African Americans.
She said something that was just very unwise which I strongly disagree with and so did Senator Clinton. I wouldn't say it set the campaign back at all. We have a lot of supporters who say things that Senator Clinton doesn't agree with. She immediately said she disagreed with it. I don't think it's a big deal.
KING: Well Ed Schultz, does it potentially set the party back? Are Democrats on a track that at the end of the campaign, that's going to be a racial divide, perhaps a divide between African Americans and women, who most women in the party especially the institutional organizations like the National Organization of Women, like Emily's List, rallied around Hillary Clinton essentially saying, this is our turn, more and more African Americans around Barack Obama saying, this is our chance? Do you see in the voting and in the fight over comments like this a potential for a train wreck in the Democratic coalition at the end?
ED SCHULTZ, HOST, "THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW": Well John, as this goes on you've got more and more people choosing sides. You've got more and more of an opportunity for people to make mistakes like Geraldine Ferraro made today. When a comment like that is made, where do you think the black votes is going to go? That's going to alienate a lot of people. There's going to have to be some healing within the Democratic Party when it's all said and done.
As far as tonight's results are concerned, it's just another night at the office for Obama. The momentum that was talked about a week ago with Senator Clinton winning in Ohio by ten and then winning the popular vote in Texas, all that momentum now, where is it? It's all gone. Now we're talking about Pennsylvania.
So I think -- and keep in mind, Barack Obama won the caucus in Texas. So I don't know how that is a complete win for the Clintons. But as you move forward, there's going to be more Geraldine Ferraro comments coming from other people, a lot of people choosing sides. I think Pennsylvania is very, very close. Senator Obama is closing in on Senator Clinton already.
KING: Mark Green, Ed says there will be more of these comments. You remember how ugly it got in South Carolina where many thought even President Clinton, former President Clinton, had stepped over the line.
At that point, both the candidates, Senator Clinton and Senator Obama seemed to sense that it had gone too far and they essentially called a time-out. The two candidates took charge and said, whoa, let's calm down. Let's dial back a little bit. Let's fight on the issues. Are we at a moment where the candidates have to step up?
MARK GREEN, AIR AMERICA: They have and they will. If I can make a journalistic suggestion, every couple of days now there will be a Samantha Power or a Geraldine Ferraro saying something that actually is indiscreet and foolish or the PC police may interpret it that way which is easy when you have the first African American and the first woman who could be the president.
I'd like to put that all aside. What Ferraro did is foolish. And she then dug herself deeper when she said later said of the criticism, they're criticizing me because she's white. She should now stop being a surrogate.
Obama and Clinton make very few mistakes. They're such brilliant-focused candidates and they make very few errors. At this point, it's between them.
I agree with Ed and you that Obama has padded his lead importantly in delegates and vote totals but he is setting himself up for a problem. If Hillary Clinton wins Pennsylvania and redos in Michigan and Florida. By the margins, we know she won in Ohio, with the coalition she put together in Ohio of older and women and Latinos, then that lead of Obama's, which is critical to his argument that he's winning, shrinks and reverses. The only issue now with these two brilliant central left democrats is who can beat McCain? Who decides that? It's not maybe, will be superdelegates because neither can get to the 20/25 without them.
KING: So Candy, how do they deal with that inside the Obama campaign? Even Obama supporters, he's good in the ring, he's a great fighter but can he deliver a knockout punch?
CROWLEY: Well, number one, they sort of are moving him ahead just sort of to in the campaign be a little bit more aggressive.
We talked earlier about can he throw a punch? They feel he hasn't closed strongly enough. That's been the criticism of Obama. They think he needs to get out there and take some whacks.
But as you know, he's in a box of a certain sort because every time he comes out and takes a swing at Hillary Clinton, the Clinton campaign says, oh, well, what happened to the politics of hope? So he has to find that kind of sweet spot where he can go after her and show that he can be a tough guy on the stump because that will go a long way towards closing, a lot of people think, if he can show that, then he can move forward in the polls. But, again, he's got to find that place.
KING: How tough can -- rough-and-tumble can the politics of hope be? More with our panel when we come back in just a minute. Everybody stand by. Much more to discuss the fascinating Democratic race for the Democratic nomination for president; also, the scandal rocking New York and Democratic politics involving Eliot Spitzer, the governor of this state and the questions about whether he will resign perhaps as early as tomorrow.
Stay with us. You're watching a special midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I saw a sign up there, help wanted, experience required, day one. And I think that sums it up.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will take what I hear from you, your voices, your struggles, your hopes, your dreams, that's what I'm going to be thinking about every single day when I'm in the White House. I'm going to be fighting for you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think it's really premature for any of us to be talking about VP nominations when we're in the midst of a really important contest. And what I think the voters are still looking for is who's going to be the best advocate for them. Who is going to help them stay in their homes if they're threatened for foreclosure? Who's going to help make college more affordable? Who can overcome some of the toxic atmosphere existing in Washington over the last eight years?
KING: Barack Obama talking to our Wolf Blitzer a bit earlier tonight trying to put to rest talk he says is coming cynically, his campaign insists, from the Clinton campaign suggesting, if you like him, don't worry, vote for her, she'd put him on the ticket.
Suzanne Malveaux is with the Clinton campaign in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Suzanne, Barack Obama essentially trying to say to the Clinton campaign, turn it off, shut it down. That's not going to happen. And you know what the Obama campaign is saying, it's all cynical political ploy. Message received on the Clinton end?
MALVEAUX: Well we certainly heard from Senator Clinton who said it's all premature to talk about these things but obviously she was talking about it as well as her husband. What's really fascinating about this is where she made those remarks, in Mississippi, obviously a lot of people felt there was an appeal to those who were leaning towards Barack Obama perhaps uncomfortable with his experience level, saying look, you get a 2 for here. She doesn't use that language in Pennsylvania.
But what was fascinating when you talk to some of the people inside the campaign, they say it wasn't necessarily for the folks in Mississippi, but for the superdelegates, that she was sending a clear sign to them saying, look, I will give you this. This is a real possibility of this so-called dream ticket. Come aboard with me. She's really trying to direct this message, making an appeal to the superdelegates, the folks that she really needs to bring her over the edge.
KING: Lanny Davis, with so long to go before Pennsylvania, we'll have a lot of hypothetical discussions, if she wins by this amount. If that happens, if this happens, if that happens.
Let's assume she wins Pennsylvania and let's assume she wins it by a pretty good margin and she's closing the delegate gap to pass Barack Obama and to be able to make the case to those superdelegates, I'm winning at the end, I have momentum at the end, I should be the nominee. She needs to get Florida and Mitchell back in the mix.
Those negotiations are very sensitive. The Obama campaign doesn't want to sign anything it thinks would leave them at a disadvantage. What is your sense as someone who's been involved in some sensitive negotiations over the years of where this one is headed?
DAVIS: Well first of all, the Obama campaign and the Clinton campaign know if those delegations aren't seated and those chairs are empty, neither one is likely going to be the next president because Michigan and Florida are needed in the next general election against John McCain. We have to find a way to seat them in a fair way.
Secondly, it's going to be very difficult for Senator Clinton who prefer the Florida results that it occur by just seating those delegates that would reflected in the results that violated the rules versus Barack Obama that doesn't want to be disadvantaged if that were to happen to find a compromise.
Neither one can afford to be against a small "d" democratic solution, which is the obvious solution that we heard, both governor - I guess Senator Nelson and Governor Corzine and a number of other Democrats are now proposing, which is a mail ballot with a small "d" democracy which Senator Obama can't be against. Neither can Senator Clinton and that's going to be the solution. And will raise the money.
I don't know why Howard Dean is as opposed to raising this money that will be necessary to win the general election. That's what this is about is getting the White House back. And superdelegates are going to look at the pattern.
Tonight, we have Barack Obama winning again in a small state that hasn't gone Democratic in 30 or 40 years as he did in Utah and Idaho. But those aren't states that we're going to win back the White House. But we need Ohio, the bell weather state. We need Pennsylvania, the battleground state. We need Florida. We need two out of those three to win the White House back.
Superdelegates are looking at this not as a student council election but as an election for the presidency. And Barack Obama, who's a great candidate, and Hillary Clinton, who's a great candidate, agreeing on most of the issues, ultimately this is going to be who is electable and who shows the patterns in those battleground states.
I'm biased. I think Hillary Clinton's shown that she wins those battleground states. Barack Obama's winning in Kansas, North Dakota, Utah, Idaho and now Mississippi --
KING: Lanny you make a couple of points you make. Let me address them in order. Let me start with Mark first.
Is this -- if the Democratic Party cannot resolve Michigan and Florida, is it a disaster? No way to win the general?
GREEN: It's a disaster for the general. It's a disaster for the primary. Some people complained, superdelegates are undemocratic. As if governors, senators and congressmen are Martians out to do the country and the Democratic Party harm. They're pretty sophisticated people.
KING: We could do a whole show on that one.
GREEN: You can't win without these automatic or superdelegates. And if Obama should be the nominee because these two big states which probably tilt toward Hillary Clinton are not counted, he would be as tainted as if superdelegates overrode a 300-delegate edge for Obama.
Look, for some reason, when Hillary Clinton was down match point in New Hampshire and in Ohio and Texas and in Super Tuesday in California, New Jersey and Massachusetts, in the last three days, she gets 60 percent of the vote. Senator Obama has to figure out why she is currently connecting better to blue collar Democrats, white Catholics. She won white Catholics in Ohio by 31 net points. Should she replicate that, she'll close the vote margin of Obama in the three big states. If he can figure out how to better empathize and produce better programs for people in this Republican recession, he would win.
KING: Ed Schultz, you're in Washington, D.C. tonight. But normally you're one of Larry's guests you're out in one of those red states that Lanny Davis says, well, so what, Barack Obama is winning out in those red states. What do Democrats think in the red states when they hear, Idaho, you don't matter, the Dakotas, you don't matter Utah, you don't matter, what I do they think?
SCHULTZ: It's easy to sit inside the beltway and say that, John. It's easy to be in the big apple and believe that stuff. The fact is in flyover country there's change happening in this country and people are yearning for change and who can be the change agent.
If I were the Clinton camp, having lost 14 out of the last 17 contests, I'd be a little bit leery of a re-do anywhere. Barack Obama's fund-raising is very strong. Let's keep in mind, he won tonight, he bounced back, a week later, he didn't go negative. He listened to a lot of people around him saying, take the high road, you're about a new age of politics. You don't have to do some of the things that the Clinton camp did down in Texas. They could talk themselves to a championship if they want. But the victories continue to pile up. The delegates continue to pile up and the superdelegates don't want to make these phone calls. They don't want to get these phone calls.
And the way it's playing out -- I keep hearing all this negativity as if Barack Obama's not even going to show up in Pennsylvania. Listen, this is going to be a battle in Pennsylvania. It's going to be very close. And all he has to do is be in the neighborhood. He's not going to lose by 15 or 20 points in Pennsylvania. It's not going to happen. I think the Clintons are still pretty much in denial. KING: We're going to talk more about Pennsylvania and the politics to come after a quick break. Ed will stay with us. Mark will rejoin us later. We'll say good night to Candy and Suzanne. Lanny will stay with us as well.
We'll be back in a minute. You're watching a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I have the greatest respect for my opponent. But I believe that in these times, what I am offering, my experience, my qualifications, my understanding of what we need to do is exactly the direction we should be headed.
OBAMA: I'm grateful to the people of Mississippi for the wonderful support. What we've tried to do is steadily make sure that in each state we're making the case about the need for change in this country. And obviously the people of Mississippi responded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Barack Obama speaking earlier tonight to our Wolf Blitzer after his big victory in the Mississippi presidential primary on the democratic side.
You're watching a special midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE. I'm John King in for Larry tonight standing at what Larry likes to call my job security board.
Still with us in Washington, Lanny Davis, the former White House special counsel in the Bill Clinton administration. He's a Hillary Clinton supporter. Nationally syndicated radio talk show host, Ed Schultz also with us from D.C. tonight visiting the nation's capital. And joining us, Amy Holmes, CNN political analyst and Republican strategist. And David Frum, former speech writer and special assistant to President George W. Bush and a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Amy and gentlemen, stay with me as I go through a couple of scenarios here and get your thoughts on where the race goes from here. We start with this map tonight.
Senator Obama ahead, adding a little bit to his lead after the win in Mississippi tonight. And the contest of course now goes on to the state of Pennsylvania. I want to play a little game. This is a hypothetical. But the big question is can Hillary Clinton catch up. That's the big question. We're going to stay in the state inform Pennsylvania that she not only wins but she wins 65/35. That's a scenario we'll play out. You see what that would do A win like that would not get her there. But she would start to catch up to Barack Obama.
The next challenge, of course, would be to keep that momentum going. Let's say she wins around Pennsylvania and Ohio by more traditional margins. This is 55/45. We'll give her these states.
Senator Obama has done well, as you see with his blue is the darker blue. Let's give him these states out here 55/45. Where does that get us? It get us to a scenario where Obama is still ahead, raising the stakes enormously. First for North Carolina, no guarantee she would win it b. Let's, for the hypothetical, give it to Senator Clinton and also Puerto Rico.
That brings us to the question, at that point, Obama would still be ahead. Clinton would have narrowed the gap somewhat. We come to Michigan and Florida, and this is the key question for everybody, how much would she have to win by to make this work because, watch. If she wins that state, let's take this off, if she wins those states, Michigan and Florida, 55-45, there's one, there's two. She's still behind Barack Obama.
So, David Frum, let me start with you. Yes, she's still in this game. But the numbers, the math is prohibitively against her.
DAVID FRUM, FMR. SPEECHWRITER, PRES. G. W. BUSH: As you walk through that, it reminds me of that theory of basketball games, they should start in the last five minutes at 100-100 and play them for five minutes long.
There is going to be a real danger of a nuclear con full graduation inside the Democratic Party. It's really frightening and even more amazing that this could happen in a year when everything is breaking the Democrats' way. I keep thinking of that headline, the onion when it seems impossible for the Democrats to lose, they vowed to give hopelessness a chance. It's astonishing we could be at a point where they're going to have like some 1964 style fight about seating which state delegation, racially charged inevitably. Sexually charged or gender charged. I have to say, when you look at this race and you see how bad it is for the republicans, at the beginning, I thought the only thing that could save it was direct divine intervention on behalf of the grand old party. That seems to be happening.
KING: And so Amy Holmes, do you share that view if you're a Republican watching this race, you want it to go on and I assume you want it to get more testy and more bitter and split the Democratic coalition?
AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Certainly, if you're a Republican. And I agree with everything that David just said.
And not only is math a problem here, it's time. Let's consider, that this would be going on for six months until August and then whichever nominee they choose would have to bring to party together quickly, turn on a dime and in two months bring those embittered factions together to try to defeat John McCain. Meanwhile, he's been building his support, been strengthening his coalition and I think in contrast, looking presidential, compared to these two democratic nominees fighting it out and bickering and slashing each other with 1,000 paper cuts. KING: Hang on. Lanny and Ed, I want you to weigh in before we squeeze in a break. But I want you to watch this. I went back to the same scenario, now I'm doing the last two, Michigan and Florida. Let me clear this up here. You see Obama would still be ahead. I'm going to do the last two, Michigan and Florida letting Senator Clinton wins by 65/35, there's no reason to believe she would do that. But let's say she did and pulled it off at 65-35, at that point and only at that point would Senator Clinton pass Barack Obama.
So, Lanny Davis, many would say the math is so stacked against her; obviously this becomes a momentum and a negotiation with the superdelegate questions, correct?
DAVIS: The superdelegates are going to vote and they're going to decide who's going to be the best president and all the other delegates are.
But my two friends here sound very wishful thinking. If you go through the major issues confronting the country, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton agree on all of them, starting with getting out of Iraq as opposed to Senator McCain's position which is staying in for 100 years, starting with fixing a broken economy and trillion dollar deficits. These candidates agree on the major issues.
In 1972, when I go back that long, we were divided as a party on the war. We're not. We have a unified position coming out of the convention better than we ever had before and the wishful thinking that -- agreeing on issues isn't as important as personality fights leading up to a convention, simply contradicts that.
HOLMES: But the wishful thinking is on your part. Over the next six months if they're fighting, that positive -
HOLMES: The headlines are going to be on what they disagree on like Geraldine Ferraro's comment today.
FRUM: Race and sex are the issues they disagree on. And those are big issues in the United States.
DAVIS: You're struggling ...
KING: Let the host of New York call a time-out for the guests in D.C. We have a lot more to discuss. Obviously we're just getting warmed up. We're going to take a quick break. This special edition of LARRY KING LIVE will be right back.
KING: We'll get right back to our panel in D.C. And I want to talk to Ed Schultz first. One more follow-up on the point we were discussing just before the break. Then I want to move on to the Eliot Spitzer scandal. You have women, African Americans, you have gender issues, race issues. Lanny Davis makes the point these candidates aren't all that apart on the issues. So there wouldn't be a big issue that divides the Democrats at a convention. But going into a general election competitive general election -- I suppose the risk is somewhat higher if Senator Clinton is the nominee and even a marginal slice of the African American part of the Democratic Party stayed home. But is there a growing concern and do you hear from your callers that the Democrats are going to end up fractured? And it wouldn't take much. If you go back to 2004 and you go state-by-state through the electoral college, it doesn't take much to tip the map in the Republicans' favor.
SCHULTZ: I think lefties have been at each other's throats for about three weeks and it seems to be getting worse. Here is where it comes down for the nominee whether it is Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Whoever is not the nominee is going to bear a tremendous responsibility to heal this party after a blow-by-blow description of how to get the nomination. I really think that both of them are going to have to have a conversation behind closed doors and say, I want it, you want it and our people want it, but for the good of the party, there's going to have to be a period of healing. I think they can do that. I think they both have tremendous credibility with liberals and progressives in this country and they can do a patch-up job. But it's all about trying to win the nomination right now. I also want to mention one more thing.
This talk about a dream ticket and these two being on the same ticket, I think this talk was spurred by real purists within the Democratic Party who look at the Supreme Court and the generational shift. They look at the middle class and rebuilding the middle class and if they can get the White House for four years, eight years, 12 years, 16 years. That was more generational talk than I think anything else. And I don't think it was really the divider that many people thought it was.
KING: Let's move ...
FRUM: One thing, when you talk about healing the wounds. Just keep in mind, money and time. How long will democrats dig deep into their pockets to sustain an intraparty feud? If you are the person saying to somebody, I want $500 more from you so I can wage war on a fellow Democrat, that's gets tougher and tougher. And they had this huge stockpile of money six weeks ago. They're burning through it. That is money that could have hurt McCain. If it's not gone, it's going to be.
SCHULTZ: Colorado we'll see just that.
KING: We have more than a month to go to Pennsylvania and plenty of time to discuss this. I want before I lose you to turn our attention to the Eliot Spitzer scandal. Lanny Davis, you were a troubleshooter in the Clinton White House, you were involved in some doozies behind the scenes, sensitive negotiations and issues including the Monica Lewinsky scandal. There's the threat of impeachment proceedings against Governor Spitzer in New York. If Governor Spitzer were on the phone tonight what would you tell him his options are?
DAVIS: I rarely do this. But I'm going to pass on that question. Eliot Spitzer is a friend of mine. I feel badly for him and his family and I'd rather not -- rarely do I ever do this but I'd really like to pass this over to my colleagues.
KING: I understand that and respect that one. Amy Holmes, from a partisan standpoint, obviously New York State Republicans think they have an opportunity here to embarrass the man, even though they are voicing public sympathy for his family, who they don't really like. Can there a national implication to this or is this in a New York political box, if you will?
HOLMES: Well, there are news reports that say he may be turning in his resignation as early as tomorrow morning. If that's the case it's a New York story, not a national story. If he decides to brazen it out and hang on and try to hang on to his governorship, then it becomes a national story and those Democratic nominees, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, will be asked -- candidates will be asked every day, should Eliot Spitzer resign for the good of New York State, particularly for Hillary Clinton, for the good of the Democratic Party? It could become a national story but we'll have to see what happens storm -- tomorrow.
KING: David Frum, Amy Holmes, Ed Schultz, Lanny Davis, Thank you all very much. Much more to come on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. More talk with experts here in New York on the political fallout, the legal fallout and the personal fallout of the Eliot Sptizer sex scandal. Stay right with us. You're watching a special midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Welcome back to our special midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE. I'm John King filling in for Larry tonight here in New York. Joining us now from Cincinnati, Mike Allen, he is a criminal defense attorney. Back in 2004, he decided not to seek re-election as the Hamilton County prosecutor, the Cincinnati area, following his public admission that he had an extramarital affair with a female lawyer in his office.
Here in New York with us tonight, Andrew Kirtzman, WCBS TV correspondent, Mark Green who was with us earlier, the president of Air America Radio, author of "Losing Our Democracy" and a long time Democratic activist here in New York State and New York City.
He and Eliot Spitzer are long-time friends and political colleagues. Mickey Sherman, the noted defense attorney and author of the upcoming book "How Can You Defend Those People?" and Dr. Robi Ludwig, psychotherapist and the best-selling author of "Till Death Do Us Part."
A lot of legal and political fallout here in New York. But Mike Allen, I want to begin with you. Because you understand this perhaps very close to home from a personal perspective. When you went through a similar experience back in 2004, it's obviously politically embarrassing, it is painful to your family. Take us, if you can, based on your experience into Eliot Spitzer's mindset and what's going on in his apartment here in Manhattan?
MIKE ALLEN, FORMER OHIO PROSECUTORS: The first thing you think about is your political survivability. I'm sure he's thinking about that. But if he's got close friends, they're telling him that's not going to happen. You think about the effect on your family. And that should be first and foremost, it was in my mind when I was going through it. And you also think about the effect on your party. But he's also thinking about the legal ramifications. His case is different than mine in that he faces some pretty serious criminal charges. So he's got a lot of things going on in his head and going on in his office. You need to be surrounded by family. You need to be surrounded by friends. But you also have to keep a clear head when all the bombs are bursting around you.
KING: Andrew, let's follow up, Andrew Kirtzman, with this bombs falling around and you've been tracking this story all day long. As you know, you talk to sources. They tell you the negotiations are ongoing. Look for a resignation. They're working on a transition. But to make those decisions, Eliot Spitzer has to look at legal documents and he has to cut a deal with prosecutors. He wants to make sure this is a package if he's going to resign that he resolves everything. Where do we stand late on this night when there is some talk this could all play out tomorrow?
ANDREW KIRTZMAN, WCBS-TV: Well, I think we're watching the death throes of Eliot Spitzer's public career. It's a very painful thing to watch and right now, it's a matter of negotiation. He's trying to find out how much leverage he has using his resignation as a bargaining chip. I think he's been trying to figure out whether or not there's any way to salvage this. He's been trying to find some support in Democrats but this is a man who has almost no friends in Albany when he needs them the most.
KING: Mark Green, a friend of Eliot Spitzer who's here in New York. Is the writing on the wall? If you could get him on the phone? Is there any chance he can stay at the governor of this state?
MARK GREEN, PRESIDENT, AIR AMERICA RADIO: Very small. President Clinton, Senator Craig had different scandals, they stayed. People said President Clinton is going to resign and he didn't. The problem, though, is Eliot Spitzer will be savaged by the tabloids and the national media. People, women will be coming forward saying true or untrue things. Should he even survive in the short term, I believe it's impossible that he had that he would win re-election in 2010. And then there's the putting his family through it. Which is -- should be number one, two and three. Finally in New York, Democrats in the State Senate have been in the minority for 40 years. They've been within one seat of taking over the State Senate. If you have a Democratic governor, Assembly and State Senate then you can really run the state. And that now would be seriously jeopardized were he to stay office. So it's possible, but very unlikely.
KING: So Mickey, the political take from mark, if you were Eliot spider's lawyer, how do you handle a case like this and how valuable is that chit, the resignation with a prosecutor who say, you're the governor, you were the attorney general, you know the law backwards, forwards in your sleep. This is inexcusable, therefore, you should do some jail time or you should do more than most because of who you are. MICKEY SHERMAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We expect him to set a higher standard. He is held to a higher standard. The problem is his criminal defense team, they're also listening to his handlers, his political advisers and their job is much different and the mission much different than what the political people have to say. They have to make sure that the governor will focus on defending himself, stopping the bleeding and minimizing the impact on the rest of his life in the criminal world.
KING: So Dr. Ludwig, if all this is going on around you, how does the brain work?
ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Well, I think that's something he should be asking himself at the moment in time when he was hiring these prostitutes. It sounds like -- your life is only as good as your character. And it sounds like, for some reason, Eliot Spitzer was very entitled and had this grandiose idea he could do whatever he wanted and not get caught. And this is what happens when you really only think about yourself. You hurt other people. You hurt those that you love. But clearly he made a distinction between the laws for other people and the laws for himself.
SHERMAN: He only hurt because he got caught. Essentially these are victimless crimes.
LUDWIG: Oh, please. Come on, he's not a victim.
SHERMAN: He's patronizing a prostitute.
LUDWIG: He's not a victim.
SHERMAN: But he didn't kidnap a Jamaican woman and take her across state lines.
LUDWIG: The problem is he's a hypocrite.
GREEN: Women's groups would convincingly argue it's not victimless, John, if I could say one thing, one public thing, usually there's an informal rule you don't chase people out of public life for private misconduct however egregious. Excess drinking, sexual misconduct. Of course, on the other hand, what Eliot Spitzer did has not yet been charged -- he's not been charged with criminal conduct, should he be, this is unlike the situations I mentioned before where the public officials were not so charged. So I don't like the idea of someone being railroaded within 36 hours based on allegations of private misconduct. I will say if we kicked every man out of Congress who's had an affair, no quorum.
KING: We're going to take a quick break. Just one second. We're going to take a quick break. More of this discussion. As you all notice this is a fascinating and a very sad and painful tragedy, both political and legal ramifications. More when we come back with this special midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Please stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK)\ KING: Back with our panel. Let's get right back to our discussion. And let's begin by rejoining Mike Allen out in Cincinnati many questions that people ask at a time like this, Eliot Spitzer was the former attorney general. He was the governor, the top law enforcement official of the State of New York. He should have known better, people will be saying, so therefore he should be held to a higher standard. You've heard that from our panel tonight. You were the prosecutor in Hamilton County when you had not exactly the same thing but you had a personal problem as well, a personal failing that cost you your political career. What were you thinking? What goes through your head? Is it an attitude in power and politics that you're better or that you can get away with or are politicians humans to and we forget that sometimes?
ALLEN: Your panelist, the doctor that spoke just before is right. I'll admit, you do get into that kind of mindset -- not necessarily that you're above the law, but the world kind of resolves around you. That's obviously wrong. In my case and I think in the case of many others, it takes getting hit over the head with a board to figure out that's not the case. In politics, I think you see a lot of that. I think where the difference is are those individuals that once they know that something like that has happened, once it's brought to the public's attention, do you stay or do you go? And I think it's imperative in his case that he go for the citizens of the State of New York and for the sake of common decency. He made a mistake and time to go. And you see too many people in his position that hang on and to what end? For their own personal end.
KING: Andrew Kirtzman, help our viewers around the country and around the world who might not understand Eliot Spitzer. Many say the reason the bar is even higher for him because he was so uncompromising when he was the attorney general, that he was so public in denouncing things including prostitution rings when he was the prosecutor.
KIRTZMAN: Right, Eliot Spitzer's entire kind of rationale as a public official was his integrity. He was the man who cleaned up Wall Street. He was the man who promised to kind of clean up the ethical morass in Albany. The first proposals he made when he went to Albany were ethics reform. He was probably according to both Democrats and Republicans the greatest hope for ethics reform that Albany has seen in generation. So it's not just a personal and public tragedy because it set back that effort by a long way.
KING: And so, Mark, if he is being held to a higher standard, did he put the bar up there himself?
GREEN: Sure. The hypocrisy point came up with Republican officer holders who denounce gay rights and engage in gay sex, here it doesn't have to do with that but it has to do with a man who said that he would only pursue righteously -- issues of right and wrong. His ads, unfortunately, from 2006 said he wants to bring passion back to Albany. And so the tabloids and the cable shows are going crazy with that.
But I just think it's so phenomenally sad. Andrew and I who have known Eliot a long time were just commenting, 36 hours ago, he was this huge figure, the governor of New York, coming back he had just won an Upstate State Senate seat and now this. So even if, like Larry Craig, who will survive his term toward what end because Craig cannot run and cannot win, so I don't challenge the odds that he would be resigning. If he did, by the way, his successor is a brilliant, funny, legally blind African American lieutenant governor who is a get-along guy, not a pugnacious guy. And the irony might be that we could get ethics reform or other issues because the Republican leadership in Albany would want to show that they were not just barking but were hostile to Spitzer personally.
KING: We'll sneak in one more quick break.
More with our panel when we come back. It's a fascinating story and it's developing as we speak. You're watching a special midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Running short on time here we want to get a few final thoughts from our panelists. Mickey Sherman, Eliot Spitzer as attorney general often said, I will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law. What is the fullest extent of the law he could face here?
SHERMAN: They could come after him for the violation of the Mann Act in federal court, five, ten years. I can't see that happening. One other thing, it's an interesting thing. It's such a juicy story. It's a train wreck. We can't pull our eyes away from it. We cannot pull our eyes away from it. And that's the problem. It's like reading that Oprah drowned kittens or something. It's an incredible, sensational story.
KING: And Dr. Robi Ludwig, as Mickey makes that point. It is a fascinating story. A man who did raise this ethical bar for himself. You saw the pictures yesterday. He also as a wife and a family and they're going through torture at the moment.
LUDWIG: Absolutely. And it is painful to watch his wife go through that. But he betrayed not only his wife and his family but his state. And he really needs to take responsibility for his self- destruction and step down and now do the honorable thing.
KING: Does he survive the week?
GREEN: I don't give odds on friends. I'll turn it over to Andrew.
KIRTZMAN: I think it's unlikely that he will survive this. All it takes is for one major Democrat, Chuck Schumer or someone else to come out and call for his resignation and that's it and he knows that and he doesn't have a lot of friends. He's kind of created the situation where he does not have enough support to survive, I think.
KING: Mike Allen, what's the road back when you leave an office like this embarrassed, humiliated, some would stay in disgrace, what's the road back? ALLEN: The road back is you stay out of sight for a while, you regroup, you reconnect with your family, you reconnect personally, you get back out and you do it. I have a very successful criminal defense practice now. I've worked hard at it for the last three years. And the one thing I would tell Governor Spitzer right now would tell him is there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's always darkest before the storm. But he'll survive and he'll probably end thriving at some point, too. There's no way he thinks that now but that will happen in his case.
KING: Anyone here think that Governor Spitzer would spend any time in jail?
SHERMAN: First offender under any circumstances.
GREEN: It would not normally be prosecuted if his name was Eliot Smith.
KING: It's a fascinating story. I want to thank all our panel for that. I wish we had more time. Mike Allen out in Cincinnati, Andrew, Mark, Mickey, Dr. Ludwig here in New York City. It's been a treat for me these last two days filling in for Larry. Larry will be back tomorrow. With more on this story and many others, thanks for watching tonight and join Larry here tomorrow. "ANDERSON COOPER 360" up next.
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