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Eliot Spitzer Resigns; New York Senator Charles Schumer Talks About Spitzer's Situation; Will McCain Consider Romney for Runningmate

Aired March 12, 2008 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us, everybody.
Well, it took 24 years for Eliot Spitzer to build his career in law and politics and just 48 hours for it to all come tumbling down.

His resignation letter is short, but to the point. As New York's attorney general, Spitzer inspired glowing headlines, touting him as Eliot Ness and the sheriff of Wall Street.

Well, now he's Client Number 9. During his gubernatorial campaign in 2006, this rising political star promised to clean up New York politics.


NARRATOR: Don't worry. He does. Spitzer for governor.


BROWN: Well, he certainly brought some passion, but I guess you might say the wrong kind of passion.


JAMES TEDISCO (R), NEW YORK ASSEMBLY MINORITY LEADER: We have asked the governor to resign. It's a nightmare that is not going away that has became a reality for this state.


BROWN: And, today, the Spitzer freefall landed with a thud.


GOV. ELIOT SPITZER (D), NEW YORK: Over the course of my public life I have insisted -- I believe correctly -- that people, regardless of their position or power, take responsibility for their conduct. I can and will ask no less of myself.

For this reason, I am resigning from the office of governor. At Lieutenant Governor Paterson's request, the resignation will be effective Monday, March 17, a date that he believes will permit an orderly transition.


BROWN: And there is startling new information we're just learning tonight about Kristen, the alleged prostitute at the center of the scandal.

She's described in a federal affidavit as having a rendezvous last month with Spitzer at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. Well, tonight, "The New York Times" is reporting she's really a 22-year-old New Jersey woman by the name of Ashley Dupre.

CNN has contacted a lawyer who confirms he represents Ashley Dupre, but can't -- but says he cannot confirm that his client is Kristen.

Well, joining me now, a journalist whose beat is New York, covering Spitzer through the good times and now the not-so-good times. Andrew Kirtzman is a correspondent for WCBS-TV in New York City.

And, Andrew, good to have you here.


BROWN: Knowing him as well as you do and as long as you have covered him, did he really have any other choice?

KIRTZMAN: I think, if he felt he had any other choice, he wouldn't have quit. This is a man who wanted to hang on to this job at all costs. But he had legal problems. He faces possible indictment. And he had political problems.

He faced potential impeachment hearings, which could have dragged out his sexual practices for weeks. He had a relentless New York tabloid media which would have had a field day with this forever. And, finally, he had no support politically, had alienated virtually everyone in Albany, people whom he needed. And by the end, he was alone and friendless.

BROWN: Why did it take so long to make the decision? I guess 48 hours really isn't that long, but what was going on behind closed doors?

KIRTZMAN: I think a lot of agonizing. He was making a lot of frantic phone calls to political leaders trying to gauge whether or not he had any kind of support, and I think the answer was pretty clear that he didn't.

And I think a bunker mentality kind of set in. A couple of days ago, he appeared, made a one-minute speech, in which he called it a private matter, and then took off and wasn't seen again for two days. That speech was kind of widely criticized as being kind of self- centered and not in the public interest.

And then he was gone. And if that was his way of kind of soliciting public support, it wasn't the best way. The support just completely shriveled.

BROWN: And there's been a lot of reporting too that his wife actually wanted him to hang on to the job.

KIRTZMAN: Right. Well, that's a family dynamic that we may never quite get inside of unless someone writes a tell-all book someday.

BROWN: Right.

KIRTZMAN: But this is an extremely intelligent corporate lawyer, Mrs. Spitzer. And she came to his defense. And there were reports that she was the last person to let go. She wanted him to hang on and salvage his reputation.

And by all outward accounts, this is a family that really means something to one another. And it looks like they were trying to salvage the family and also his reputation.

BROWN: Let's talk a little bit about the guy who's going to take over for him, the current lieutenant governor, David Paterson, who's a pretty interesting guy.

KIRTZMAN: Totally interesting guy. He will be the first black governor of New York State, which itself is a milestone. He's legally blind. And he's a pretty interesting personality.

He's got an incredibly sharp sense of humor, very laid back, really smart, and self-deprecating. He's kind of the personality opposite of Spitzer, very kind of modest and self-deprecating, doesn't have that kind of air of arrogance that a lot of people charged Spitzer had. And I think right now he's going to come in kind of as the Gerald Ford to spirit's Richard Nixon.

BROWN: You mentioned earlier that he didn't have a lot of, Spitzer -- going back to Spitzer -- that he didn't have a lot of friends in political circles, to say the least. We keep hearing that. What was it about him? How did he make so many enemies?


KIRTZMAN: Well, I think it's fair to say at this point that Eliot Spitzer made a better prosecutor than a politician. And when he came to Albany, which is famously paralyzed, this incredibly Byzantine institution, he promised to kind of break some heads and break the logjam.

And his way of doing it was very heavy-handed. A lot of threats, a lot of kind of private blowups, and, one by one, he antagonized people.

There was a famous incident in which his aides dug up dirt on the Senate majority leader and ended up the subject of three investigations, one by a grand jury. And, by the end, that guy did not have a single friend in Albany, Republican or Democrat.

BROWN: Right. Well, Andrew, thanks for being here. Good information. Good to see you.

KIRTZMAN: Thanks for having me.

BROWN: All right.

And one of Governor Spitzer's close Democratic colleagues in New York is New York senior U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. And he's joining me right now from Washington.

Senator Schumer, good to have you here. Welcome. Appreciate your time.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Good evening. Good evening.

BROWN: Let me ask you, because you know the governor well. Take us back a little bit and just tell us, how did you first hear about all this and what was your reaction when you did?

SCHUMER: Well, actually, I was with Nita Lowey, the congresswoman from Westchester, and a whole bunch of police chiefs and mayors in Westchester. We were talking about restoring the cops grant. There was a press conference.

And in the middle of the press conference, the beepers start going off. The BlackBerrys start going off. And on the BlackBerry, it says that Governor Spitzer is involved in a prostitution scandal. And my immediate reaction is, this is some joke. No one really believed it at all.

BROWN: Right. Have you talked to Governor Spitzer? Have you tried to reach out to him at all?

SCHUMER: I have not talked to him. I have talked several times to the lieutenant governor, Paterson. I think he deserves his privacy. I do expect to talk to him in the next few days.

BROWN: Yes. Senator Schumer, you have been in politics a long time, just as Spitzer has. You have butted heads with people for a long time, just as Spitzer has.

But it's still amazing to me just to see how many people seem to be reveling in his downfall. Can anybody survive in politics when you have that many enemies?

SCHUMER: Well, I think that this is a tragedy. And I think the average citizen -- I don't know if some people who don't like him are reveling. But the average citizen sees this more as a human tragedy than a political tragedy, not much differently than if it happened to somebody who lived in their neighborhood or went to their church or worked in the same job area as they did.

And so it's a sad thing. And all you have to do is think of his wife, his children. I was thinking this morning, how's his daughter going to go back to school? How are these three nice girls going to go back to school?

It's just a tragedy. Now, Eliot Spitzer was a hard-charging guy. I'm sure he would say to himself, to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs. But that doesn't take away from the tragic nature of this.

BROWN: Right. You're a lawyer. And Governor Spitzer's been very careful to say in his statements that this is a private matter. But isn't it also a public matter? And if in fact it turns out that he did break the law, do you think he should be prosecuted?

SCHUMER: Well, on the first score, politicians are human, and this shows it. We all have our frailties. And that's for sure. But we should be held to a higher standard. I don't disagree with that. When you hold yourself out as a leader, whether it's in politics or entertainment or sports, you have a higher obligation.

So, the fact that maybe somebody else might not have been subject to all of the brickbats and everything else, so be it. That's how it is. As for any prosecution, I can't really comment on it. I don't know all the details. But I will say this. I think that Eliot Spitzer has suffered plenty already. There's no question about it, even if there weren't to be a prosecution.

BROWN: All right. Senator Chuck Schumer tonight -- Senator Schumer, thanks.

SCHUMER: Thank you.

BROWN: Well, the Spitzer scandal has got everybody talking.


MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just hope that, now that he's resigned, it's not so much to give him a break, but give his family a break, because they don't deserve the really challenging situation they're experiencing.


BROWN: Well, we talked with Mike Huckabee about that challenging situation coming up.

Plus, who compared the leading Democratic contenders to this little guy? That's ahead in the CNN ELECTION CENTER.



WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": But the papers are saying today that he has spent $80,000 on hookers over the last 10 years.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": No wonder he wanted to raise my taxes.



BROWN: Well, as you can see from "The View" today, Eliot Spitzer's nationwide round of public humiliation continues, apparently.

And if he was hoping his resignation as governor of New York would get the feds off his back, no sale there either. Today, his lawyers were still trying to cut a deal to keep him from facing federal charges for allegedly using a high-priced escort service. So far, the U.S. attorney says there's no agreement.

Well, joining me now from Boston, we have got Dee Dee Myers, who was President Clinton's press secretary and now the author of "Why Women Should Rule the World." With me here in New York, screenwriter and NPR contributor John Ridley, and criminal defense attorney and legal analyst Mickey Sherman, author of "How Can You Defend Those People?" And also joining us from Albany, Elizabeth Benjamin, political columnist for "The New York Daily News," who also writes their blog called "The Daily Politics."

Welcome, everybody.

Mickey, let me start with you. Resignation not necessarily going to end his problems, is it? What happens next?


MICKEY SHERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And I think everyone was mistaken thinking that the feds or the local district attorney or any law enforcement wanted as a condition of any deal that he resign. It has nothing to do with that. I think he resigned to stop the bleeding. But now the question will be is he going to be prosecuted, and by whom and for what?

BROWN: OK. So, what are investigators looking into right now?

SHERMAN: Well, if they go down the state road, it's going to be solicitation of a prostitute or patronizing a prostitute or maybe disorderly conduct, generally a minor misdemeanor, not a jail situation.

But if the federal people take care of it and they go down a different road, at the worst, it could be a violation of the Mann Act, an old 1910 law, where people were importing women across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. Technically, he might be considered guilty of that. And that's up to 20 years in prison. He's not going to get 20 years in prison, but it gives you a measure of how serious it is.

BROWN: Do you think he will get prosecuted?

SHERMAN: Well, I think he will get prosecuted, but I don't think it's a jail case. And I would like to think for his sake that it's a state case. The other federal thing is structuring money. And that's the most troublesome.

It's monkeying around with the movement of your money to keep below $10,000. So, it's like a consciousness of guilt, that you know you're doing something wrong. And if anybody should know that he's doing wrong, it's the attorney general. BROWN: Now, Elizabeth, there was no one really who was willing to go out on a limb for him over the last couple of days, it seems like. Why did he have so few friends up there in Albany?

ELIZABETH BENJAMIN, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": Well, he picked a number of battles almost as soon as he walked in the door. He had a pretty bruising battle with his fellow Democrats in the assembly over -- ironically, over picking a replacement for Alan Hevesi, the former state comptroller, who was brought down himself by a scandal of misusing state funds as a chauffeur for his wife, a state employee.

And Eliot Spitzer was very harsh on Alan Hevesi and withdrew his endorsement. And even though Alan Hevesi won reelection, he subsequently was forced to step down by the Albany DA. And there was a big fight over there.

BROWN: And let me go to Dee Dee. Dee Dee, do you think that his family and his friends, but his family in particular, have really come to terms with what has happened? And I'm asking, in part, because I was so struck by this quote that was in "The Wall Street Journal" yesterday from his brother.

And he said that, "If men never succumbed to the attractions of women, then the human species would have died out a long ago." That's his response to this. What did you think of that?

DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Right. Look, I think families in crisis go through a very difficult period. And I don't know that his brother speaks for him. His brother is, I'm sure, shocked, as is his entire family, and maybe not thinking about this in a broader perspective.

It is a tragedy not just for Eliot Spitzer, but for his entire family, as you point out. I think it will take them years to come to terms with this. How do you come to terms with the fact that your husband or your father is basically leading a secret life?

This isn't something he did once. It's not something that he came to in the last few months. It's something that has clearly been going on for a long time. And an ongoing investigation would probably uncover all kinds of uncomfortable truths.

BROWN: And, Dee Dee, you ran into him actually or you saw him at a big, fancy party in Washington on Saturday. How did he seem to you?


MYERS: I did. He seemed completely at ease. He didn't seem -- I don't know him. It was the first time I had ever met him. My husband knows him. But he was there at a white-tie dinner where the main dish is comedy and sort of a send-up of the Washington political and press establishment. And he seemed utterly at ease.

I was shocked on Monday for a lot of reasons, one of which was he apparently knew on Friday. But there was certainly no sign of it. So, maybe he was trying to keep the best face on it or maybe he was just whistling past the graveyard and hoping it was all going to somehow go away.

BROWN: And, John, some politicians survive these things. Some don't. Larry Craig is still in office. Mark Foley is gone. Bill Clinton, look at him. Why is it?

JOHN RIDLEY, FILM DIRECTOR/ACTOR/WRITER: Well, with Bill Clinton, I think he was a little bit of a known quantity. There were the allegations and there were the rumors and things like that. And he was a guy that people really liked. He was likable. And when the Republicans started going after him, it really seemed like piling on.

And, by the way, immoral, maybe, but not illegal, except for the lies later. This is a guy who a few years ago was prosecuting people for this very act. I think it's very difficult for someone who doesn't have a lot of friends in an election year who's prosecuted this crime to stand there and say, look, it's not that big a deal. It's a little different this time around.

BROWN: It's the self-righteousness that was bothering people?

RIDLEY: The self-righteousness and the clear hypocrisy, not just the hypocrisy of, yes, I'm married and I shouldn't be doing this, but I prosecuted these people, I know better, I know this is illegal, but that's for them, it's not for me.

BROWN: And, Mickey, the final word. Where do you see this going from here over the next few days?

SHERMAN: Well, his political career seems to be at a standstill. The question is, who's going to pick up on it, the feds or the state? If it's the state, it will happen fairly quickly. But the federal people will take a long time to follow all that money. And that's the problem.

There's a lot of money involved over a long period of time. And they're going to follow that money and see whether or not there was any public funds used, any misuse of public funds. Did he have his security guys watching in the room? That's where he could have some problems.

BROWN: Thanks to everybody on the panel. Appreciate your time tonight, everybody.

Well, coming up next: the race card vs. the sex card. It's the first female vice presidential nominee. A Clinton supporter takes a fall for her controversial comments about Barack Obama.

And then campaign attack and counterattack, but in song.



(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: They make a lovely pair, don't they? Come on. The campaign music blow-by-blow is still ahead.


BROWN: Coming out of the Mississippi primary, Barack Obama increased his lead slightly in the delegate count. His total by CNN's count now 1,611 to Clinton's 1,480, a gap of just 131. Needed to clinch the nomination, 2,025. So, a long way to go, a tight race.

But the campaigns are far apart on racially charged comments about Obama by a now former Clinton campaign fiance chair, former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro. Well, just hours ago, Ferraro told CNN she's quitting the campaign, saying in a letter to Clinton, "The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you."

She also said the Obama camp twisted her remarks. But Obama, of course, sees it differently.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The notion that it is of great advantage to me to be an African-American named Barack Obama in the pursuit of the presidency, I think is not a view that has been commonly shared by the general public.

The Clinton campaign has talked more during the course of the last few months about what groups are supporting her and what groups are supporting me, and trying to make a case that the reason she should be the nominee is, there are a set of voters that Obama might not get. And that seems to track a certain racial demographic. And I disagree with that.


BROWN: Senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is following the Obama campaign today in Chicago.

And, Candy, give us your take on the fallout of this whole episode with Ferraro and Obama.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we will have to see. This is another one of those things. As you know, Campbell, race has been this huge issue in the campaign. But it's been kind of a subterranean issue. It kind of blows up every once in a while. It did in South Carolina with certain of the things that Bill Clinton said.

So, here they are again kind of right on the cusp of something like that. But they both kind of pulled it back. Obama in that press conference said, I don't think the Clinton campaign has some directive out there saying bring up the race issue.

Hillary Clinton, late today, after Ferraro had resigned, said, both of us have had these problems with our surrogates and people attached to our campaign. We both understand that this is about the issues and so we act the way we do.

So, there was this sort of concerted effort at the end of the day to say, OK, this is all over and we're not going down that road again. The fact of the matter is, both these candidates, I think, get hurt, to some degree, when the subject is race. Barack Obama is running this campaign sort of based on transcending race, transcending partisanship, transcending gender, and getting together for the country's sake.

He's about to go into Pennsylvania, where the white working-class vote is very important. It does not help him to have the focus be on his race.

For Hillary Clinton, who's already been criticized by some Democratic officials of the sort that are superdelegates and who may decide the fate of these two candidates, she's already been under some scrutiny for what some people think is going across the line in some of her criticisms of Barack Obama, not necessarily about race, but other criticisms.

So, both of them really walk this line. And I think, if politics is zero-sum game, they both come out zero on the race thing. And I think that's why you saw, at the end of the day, they both kind of stepped back.

BROWN: Right, canceling each other out.

Let me switch gears a little bit and ask you about Florida and Michigan. Hillary Clinton talked about the possibility of a revote there today.

Let's listen first to what she had to say.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, in my view, there are two options, honor the results or hold new primary elections. I don't see any other solutions that are fair and honor the commitment that 2.5 million voters made in the Democratic primaries in those two states.


BROWN: All right, well, Candy, she's making her position clear. Where are we in these discussions about trying to resolve this?

CROWLEY: Basically, we're in the position of saying everyone thinks there needs to be a solution to this, but they haven't found one. She, of course, would like to seat the delegates because she won both Florida and Michigan.

He doesn't want to do that. He said, oh, fine, let's seat them, but let's just divide up the delegates. Neither one of those things are going to happen.

The Obama campaign is saying, we will go with whatever the DNC says is OK. But I have to tell you, both these campaigns are in touch with the state parties. They're in touch with the DNC. This is being very fiercely fought. But I don't see that we're any closer to a resolution than we were before. But everybody agrees there has to be a resolution.

BROWN: All right, Candy Crowley from Chicago tonight -- Candy, thanks.

And we want to go back, I think, to the Ferraro matter. The remarks she made were pretty controversial. But was she saying what a lot of people are already thinking?

And bringing back our panel into this, Dee Dee Myers and John Ridley, and also a new addition to the panel, Steve Hayes, senior writer of "The Weekly Standard." He's down in Washington.

Hey there, Steve. Welcome to you.


BROWN: And what about this question of whether or not Ferraro may have struck a nerve, John?

RIDLEY: I think, clearly, she struck a nerve. She had to resign. There was no choice for her. And I think the beginning of her first statement, there's a little bit of legitimacy there. People are interested in Obama because he's different.

But to say that he's lucky to be a black man, I mean, Campbell, I will be lucky if I can walk out of here in my suit and catch a cab uptown. Honestly, are people of color lucky to learn half as much as our white counterparts, to have less access to health care, less access to higher education? No.

I mean, I'm lucky to have the parents that I had. I'm certainly to be born in America. But that phrase, to say that a man who's had a very well-run campaign, is smart, is shrewd, is sharp, is, in a lot of ways, self-made, is lucky, that's a really unfortunate statement.

BROWN: Steve, do you agree?

HAYES: Yes, I don't think I would have said it that way. I mean, I think there are reasons that people are supporting Barack Obama that have nothing to do with his race. And all you have to do is sit through one of his rallies to understand that. I mean, the guy is a powerful speaker. He moves people. He talks about the America that I think we all aspire to live in.

I think the problem for Obama down the line if he becomes the democratic nominee, is that at times, his policies are at odds with the kind of America that he talks about.

BROWN: Dee Dee, who is this helping in the political sense? Is putting the race card out there helpful to the Clinton campaign?

MYERS: Well, first of all, I don't think Geraldine Ferraro was trying to put the race card out. And I think -- but her comments I think did remind us how difficult it is to talk about race in this country and how race remains an issue. I think she was wrong to say that that's -- as Steve just pointed out, that that's his only qualification.

He obviously brings so much to this race and he's, I think, proved again and again and again that he brings these unique qualities to his candidacy, and people are responding to him in a very authentic way. But it's very difficult to talk about race and I think to assume that race isn't going to have some kind of an effect could be some kind of a subtext, particularly if he's the nominee, is just wishful thinking.

BROWN: Do you think, Dee Dee, though, that the fact that we're talking about this and it was, you know, something else a couple of days ago and the week before the sniping in the Democratic Party right now, that there's possible long-term damage that's benefiting the Republicans? Do you think that this can be sort of sewn up and cleaned up later on once there is a nominee?

MYERS: I hope so. I mean, there's a history in both the Republican and the Democratic Party as having contentious primaries and the party coming together at the end of those. I think the mistake here for both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton is that this takes the focus off the voters.

It takes the focus off the issues. It takes the focus off all the reasons that democrats believe that they should take over. One of these two candidates should take over the White House and lead the country forward out of the mess that we're currently in.

So the more we talk about sort of these distracting issues, I think the better off the candidates are in the long term. Although these are -- you know, it's not to say these aren't important things.

I think, you know -- I think Geraldine Ferraro wasn't in a way responding to the frustration that a lot of women feel that Hillary Clinton has been often subjected to a double standard. But that said, I think we need to move beyond this and get back to the issues that affect actual voters.

BROWN: Steve, how helpful is this to Republicans, to John McCain right now?

HAYES: Look, I think Republicans are sitting back and they love this. Dee Dee is right. I mean, fundamentally right now, if you look at poll after poll, you've got Americans generally siding with Democrats on more issues than they side with Republicans. So to the extent that we're talking about, you know, either these side distractions and what advisers are saying and what they're not, and who's leaving whose campaign, Republicans are almost gleeful about that.

And I think to go back to the other thing that Candy Crowley talked about, to have the Democrats involved in this sort of fight -- and I think we're just seeing the beginning of it, about seating delegates in Florida and Michigan, you have the rest of the country, Republicans and also sort of independents who are sitting back and thinking, wait, didn't this already happen? Why are we talking about re-votes? Is this going to be, you know, -- is there going to be a litigation? This is not something we want to deal with.

BROWN: Let's talk about Florida and Michigan. And John, what are your predictions? What do you think is going to happen?

RIDLEY: Well, they've got to do something. I mean, you're talking about maybe two million voters who are going to be disenfranchised.

BROWN: Right.

RIDLEY: That can't happen. I think the issue is they're going to do something. But I think the issue is for a lot of people, look, the Democrats should be able to stumble into the White House. But you look at the sniping back and forth, the pejoratives, you look at the fact that they rewrote the calendar to try and prove things, it made things worse.

I think there are a lot of people in the middle who are going, why are we voting for this party? They keep talking about change, but it's the same old -- for some people, Democratic Party. That's not helping.

BROWN: And Dee Dee, how important is it for Hillary Clinton that there is a redo?

MYERS: Well, I think it's important for the Democratic Party. It's particularly important for Hillary Clinton, but I think it's important for the Democratic Party. We cannot count those delegates the way they were elected.

Neither candidate campaigned, and Senator Obama didn't even appear on the ballot in Michigan. That doesn't represent the will of the people in two huge states which will be critical in a general election. So it's incumbent on the Democratic Party to find a way to resolve this, and that means there has to be some kind of do-over.

I think, you know, the party and the candidates have to lead. They have to find a way to do it. They have to agree on it. They have to put the chips on the table and then go and campaign and try to earn the votes of those two states.

But, you know, John is right, it's like, didn't we already do this? Or why are we going back to this? And the longer we sort of drag out the process, conversation, the less we're focusing on the issues that people care about.

BROWN: All right. We've got to end it there. Thanks, guys. Appreciate your time tonight.

MYERS: Thank you, Campbell.

And coming up, our other top story of the day. Just about everybody weighing in on the Spitzer affair, including Mike Huckabee, who I spoke with a little earlier. We're going to have that interview coming up.

And while Governor Spitzer's story plays out like a Greek tragedy, there are New Yorkers who are delighting in his disgrace.


BROWN: Mike Huckabee may not have had enough delegates to win the Republican nomination but his campaign proved one thing -- a sense of humor has bipartisan appeal.


HUCKABEE: Tell them the election has been moved to April and it's not necessary for them to go vote. Let the air out of their tires that day. Do what you got to do --


BROWN: Tonight, Mike Huckabee weighs in on the presidential campaign, the Democrats sniping about race and the Eliot Spitzer scandal.


BROWN: Let me first ask you about Governor Spitzer and just tell us what you think about what has happened.

HUCKABEE: That's a tragedy for the people of New York, but most of all for his family. I guess my heart more than anything goes out to his three daughters, to his wife. He did what he did. It's a terrible thing. But they didn't do anything. And they're going to pay a huge price for that.

I just hope that now that he's resigned, it's not so much to give him a break but give his family a break because they don't deserve the really challenging situation they're experiencing.

BROWN: Speaking as a minister, as somebody who's counseled people, I mean, what do you think when someone has it all, when someone has every opportunity to throw it all away in such a stupid way?

HUCKABEE: Well, sometimes people sort of see themselves as beyond getting caught. They see themselves sort of above the law. There are a lot of reasons. Different people, you know, will do crazy things for sometimes approval.

Sometimes the reckless behavior is an indication of just saying, look, I don't have to answer to anybody. And I'm not going to try to second-guess what was going on in Spitzer's life. I just don't know. But I also know that for the friends that he does have, he needs them now more than he's ever needed them.

And I hope that those people who are really close to him -- and everybody has a circle of folks that have been friends before politics, not the friends of politics, the friends that we're friends namely (ph) in school. I hope that they will go to him and at least stick with him because, you know, not only does his family need a lot of love and support, but he needs to know that there are some people who will unconditionally still love him.

BROWN: Let me move on to presidential politics. And a lot of attention has been centered over the last couple of days on some comments made by former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro who basically that if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position today. What do you think of her comments?

HUCKABEE: Well, I don't think his race is really what's propelling his popularity. I think he is a very articulate, very energetic, charismatic person. I think his race is immaterial. I think it's a healthy thing. In fact, one thing I don't want Obama to be president. I'm going to work very hard for John McCain to be president.

But I admire the fact that we're at a point in this country where an African-American male can run as president and it's as if people are not seeing him as an African-American. They're seeing him as a human being. They're seeing him as a person who is a leader. But I think it's a positive thing. I don't think it has to do with his race. I think it has to do with his vision and his capacity to articulate it.

BROWN: But race has become a real issue in this campaign on the Democratic side. It may well be in the general election. I mean, you have a Republican nominee here who is a white guy, and he will be running against either a woman or an African-American. Does that, in and of itself, present certain challenges?

HUCKABEE: For a few people it might. But I'd like to believe that America's going to be asking, what is this guy going to do as president? What worries me about Barack Obama has nothing to do with his color. It has to do with I know that if he's elected, he's going to raise taxes substantially.

I know that he's going to -- I think pull us out of Iraq prematurely, demoralize our military, and perhaps create a very dangerous situation in the Middle East. So those are the issues that drive my own sentiments and I hope that of most of America.

BROWN: All right. Well, Governor Huckabee, we appreciate your time tonight. It's good to see you.

HUCKABEE: Good to see you, Campbell, thanks.


BROWN: On a terrible day for Eliot Spitzer, why are so many people cheering? We're going to explain. And a campaign ad with a real hook. You're going to want to see this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: On a day like today, who needs March madness when we've got politics? Well, Mitt Romney seems to be dropping hints he'd like to be on John McCain's team as vice president.


MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I think any Republican leader in this country would be honored to be asked to serve as the vice presidential nominee, myself included.


BROWN: But catch the Senator's reaction when asked if he thinks Romney would be available?


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Watching his interview last night, I got that impression, yes.


BROWN: So even if Romney doesn't get the number two slot, someone should give him the one-liner of the day award.


ROMNEY: Listening to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama talk about experience in a national security crisis is like listening to two chihuahuas argue about which is the biggest dog.


BROWN: Yes, Romney did go on to say that without question, John McCain is the big dog.

OK. So now, check out this political ad which has gotten something like 96,000 views on YouTube. It's from the U.S. Senate race in Oregon where one of the candidates was born without a hand but with a sense of humor.


ANNOUNCER: U.S. Senate candidate Steve Novick fought corporate polluters and defeated Bill Sizemore. But would you want to have a beer with him?

STEVE NOVICK, U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: We can't afford just politics as usual.


BROWN: That's very clever. And finally, political sex scandals do seem to be going around.

Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's alleged affair with his female chief of staff was revealed when their steamy text messages ended up in the news media. Well, last night, the scandal ended up in the mayor's State of the City speech.


MAYOR KWAME KILPATRICK (D), DETROIT: This unethical, illegal, lynch mob mentality has to stop.


BROWN: The mayor could end up facing perjury charges, so don't expect that story to go away.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is coming up at the top of the hour.

Larry, who do you have tonight?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Campbell, we're going to be talking about what everybody's talking about. Why do men who seem to have it all risk it all? It's a question so many Americans are asking in light of the Spitzer scandal. We'll have some answers from those who have been there and done that. You're going to like this, Campbell.

BROWN: Wouldn't --

KING: It's on "LARRY KING LIVE" at the top of the hour.

BROWN: Wouldn't miss it. We'll be there, Larry. Thanks.

BROWN: Thanks, dear.

BROWN: And there is a funny word with a mean spirit and it applies to the Spitzer sex scandal. We'll see if you can pronounce it --

And then there's this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE & FEMALE: I don't see what anyone can see in anyone else but you.


BROWN: Oh, Clinton and Obama in perfect harmony at last.


BROWN: Why does it seem Wall Street is so happy about Governor Spitzer's downfall? Well, there's no word for it in English, but there is in German. And it's all over the newspapers. Schadenfreude. So what does it mean? Let's put it through the decomplicator.

Schadenfreude. That's scha-den-freu-de. It means taking pleasure in someone else's misfortune. Now, if you're an average Joe and something bad happens, well, people usually feel sympathy for you.

But let's say you're a big, important politician and you've made a lot of enemies. If you take a big fall, all those enemies are going to be mighty happy. And that is schadenfreude. Nothing complicated there.

OK. So joining us now -- a long pause there. Joining us now to talk about Eliot Spitzer and schadenfreude is CNBC's Charles Gasparino.

He is the author of "King of the Club: Richard Grasso and the Survival of the New York Stock Exchange," and it tells the story of then New York Attorney General Spitzer's investigation of Grasso, the former exchange chairman, who might be one of those folks engaging in a bit of schadenfreude right now -- yes?

CHARLES GASPARINO, ON-AIR EDITOR, CNBC: Don't ask me to pronounce -- how do you say it? Schadenfreude.


BROWN: Yes. I practiced all day long.

GASPARINO: I know how to spell it. I don't know how to pronounce it.

BROWN: Anyway, it's great to have you here. Explain to us why do you think so many people seem to be so happy about Spitzer's downfall?

GASPARINO: Well, you know, he made his bones as a prosecutor on Wall Street, and he didn't go after the little bucket shop guys and, you know, the small potatoes.

BROWN: He went after the big guys.

GASPARINO: He went after the big guys, and that was what's so great about him. I mean, you know, his first investigation back in 2002 was into the big Wall Street firms, how they were misrepresenting stock research, saying that all these buy recommendations on all these Internet stocks that blew up, Spitzer proved essentially that these were lies, because he went back and he got these e-mails and he showed that not only were they lies, they were lies for a reason.

The firms themselves were getting paid investment banking fees. They were kind of being paid off essentially to tell the investing public lies about these stocks. So that was an amazing case.

But, you know, one of the reasons why they hated him is I think because, after that case, and maybe even during that case, you got the impression -- and this occurred more and more so it went on that he was in it not just to bring justice to Wall Street, but to do what he's doing there, having a press conference and promoting himself.

BROWN: Right. GASPARINO: And his investigations became highly personal. I mean, you know, Dick Grasso is the perfect example, the head of the New York Stock Exchange. Eliot Spitzer is attorney general, regulates nonprofits, particularly the salaries of the executives who run these non-profits. New York Stock Exchange was a non-profit back then. Grasso made a lot of money, $140 million pay package. He sued him.

BROWN: So he went after these attention-getting kind of cases?

GASPARINO: But listen, he sued Grasso, but not only sued him whether his pay was reasonable. He looked into whether Grasso was having an affair with his secretary, whether they had a child out of wedlock. Stuff that had nothing to do --

BROWN: Had nothing to do --

GASPARINO: It was about -- it was just a matter of squeezing him into submission.

BROWN: But you yourself were actually in his cross-hairs at one point. Explain how.

GASPARINO: Yes, A little bit. I worked at "Newsweek" magazine and I did a series of stories about Grasso and others. This was back in 2004. And I did a story that raised questions about his fund- raising. And I said, listen, Eliot Spitzer is big on breaking the chops of Wall Street when it comes to conflicts of interest, but look at how he raises money.

He often goes after companies and people that are in industries that he's investigating and while he said he doesn't purposely go for specific companies that are under investigation, he would take money from their lawyers. And I wrote a fairly lengthy piece in "Newsweek" and, you know, he hit the ceiling.

And at one point, one of his PR people, Darren Dopp, who is no longer with him, ironically, Darren Dopp left amid the scandal that previously Spitzer had called Troopergate where he used state troopers to dig up dirt on one of his political rivals. Darren Dopp went to my editors and basically made -- and what I would say is my opinion, lies about me and how I purported myself, in an interview with Spitzer saying that I threatened Spitzer...

BROWN: Right.

GASPARINO: ... when in fact it was the other way around.

BROWN: So the counter to all this though is that -- I mean, he was elected governor by a huge margin, that the little guy liked him, you know.

GASPARINO: They don't like him anymore.

BROWN: OK. They don't anymore. But at the time...

GASPARINO: Right. BROWN: ... you know, they were very much behind him. They were applauding him going after these big guns on Wall Street.

GASPARINO: Yes, and I think some of it was a function of very good press. Listen, I love scoops. When Eliot Spitzer tells me stuff, I mean, I was the first to publish it. I think the problem was that a lot of reporters didn't kind of look into the motivations of the scoop, and also didn't cover the negative side of Eliot Spitzer which is what I tried to do. I mean, and I did over the years.

Essentially reporters -- it was almost like a payoff. You didn't want to bite the hand that feeds you.

BROWN: Right.

GASPARINO: And I think that sort of press attention, as it kept going, essentially propelled him into office.

BROWN: Charlie, good to have you here.

GASPARINO: Thanks for having me.


Obama fans gave the world the mariachi hit "Viva Obama." But Hillary Clinton supporters now have their own Latin infused melody. You're not going to want to miss it.

And at the top of the hour, Larry King is all about the Spitzer scandal. It's coming up.


BROWN: In this hard-fought democratic campaign, the lightning- quick reaction time of the campaigns has been pretty impressive. If there's a charge from one side, a countercharge will soon follow. Well, the same is holding true for unofficial campaign songs. First came this spicy mariachi melody called "Viva Obama" by a group called Amigos de Obama.


AMIGOS DE OBAMA, OBAMA SUPPORTERS: Viva Obama. Viva! Viva Obama. Viva!



BROWN: OK. Good stuff to be sure. So good that Hillary supporters, Walter Suhr and the Mango Punch, counterpunched with their own catchy Latin song, "Nuestra Amiga."

Well, the intense punch, counterpunching is also happening among reggae songs. First, came this smooth Hillary Clinton tribute from artist Rockefeller (ph) called "Woman Time Now." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a good woman. Woman's time now, oh yes.


BROWN: And then the rebuttal. Obama supporter Coco Tea linked to this ditty with the most original chorus.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama, Barack Obama, Barack Obama Barack Obama, Barack Obama, Barack Obama.


BROWN: Very clever lyrics.

Now, for those who are tired of this senseless musical sniping and you want to see these two candidates make beautiful music together, this duet, as anyone who has seen the movie "Juno" can tell you, ought to cheer you up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE & FEMALE: I don't see what anyone can see in anyone else but you.


BROWN: It's a beautiful thing. That is it for tonight.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.