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Obama Slams McCain, McCain Strikes Back; Interview with Barbara Walters

Aired May 17, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Barbara Walters. She's done it all. And now she's telling all. About her secret love affairs, her climb to the top of TV and her views of Star and Rosie. Tonight, what you didn't know till now.
Plus, campaign strain -- it's down and dirty and it's a dog fight. Barack Obama has a new target in his sights -- and it's not Hillary.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If George Bush and John McCain want to have a debate about protecting the United States of America, that is a debate that I'm happy to have any time, any place. And that is a debate that I will win.


KING: John McCain gets into the mud.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I welcome a debate about protecting America. You should have known better.


KING: Mike Huckabee puts his foot in his mouth and Michelle Obama takes it on the chin. Republicans versus Democrats -- let's get ready to rumble, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: We're back with my long-time friend, the author of her autobiography, "Audition." Barbara Walters, the legendary broadcast journalist, ABC News correspondent, host of "The Barbara Walters Special," creator and co-host and co-executive producer of "The View." Her memoir "Audition" is out and it's an instant best-seller. I'll tell you how instant. See this cover? It has sold an unprecedented 250,000 copies in less than a week. Does that surprise you?

BARBARA WALTERS, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: It delights me. I don't know very much about publishing, but I hear that that is unprecedented, and it makes me very happy.

KING: Of course the press was unprecedented too. I mean, you got so much.


KING: No, you did. You got a lot of attention.

WALTERS: Yes, mm-hmm.

KING: So it must make you feel good.

WALTERS: It does make me feel good. The fact that people are buying the book, I mean, I'm not trying to do plug, plug, plug, but that young people have been coming up to me and old ones. Especially the young people, especially the young women who say, you know, you helped us. I mean, that gives me enormous satisfaction.

KING: Well, you did. You cut a path.

WALTERS: Well, I don't think that I was waving the flag for it, but -- and then I had terrible failures, which I write about. When I first came to ABC from NBC to be the first female co-anchor of a network news --

KING: At a million dollars a year.

WALTERS: Well a million dollars, $500,000 for the news, which is what my partner Harry Reasoner was getting, $500,000 for specials, which are still going strong after 30 years. But I was a total failure. And I was supporting my mother and my father and my sister and my child. And I think of people today, you know, who are going through it. And I hope that this -- you know, losing jobs. And I can't exactly compare. But I hope that my survival gives them, what, some hope, you know?

KING: You said you couldn't have written this earlier. Because?

WALTERS: I could not have written it while my mother or father or sister were alive. I talk about my sister, who you knew, Larry. And you knew my father. Because my sister, who was older than I, was considered mentally retarded. And I loved her and I felt resentment about her.

I think a lot of people can relate to that. My father, who was this giant in show business, Lou Walters, Latin Quarter, and then lost everything.

It was a fascinating childhood because it was all these glamorous show people. So I grew up knowing the show people, and I write about celebrities also have their problems. But it was also very lonely. I used to sit in the lighting booth of the Latin Quarter in Florida when I was 7, 8-years-old. I could do everybody's act. Larry. Hello, Larry. Who is this, Larry?

KING: Senor Wences.

WALTERS: Senor Wences.

KING: It's all right.

WALTERS: I'm afraid. And then there was the man in the box, remember? Open the box. Close the box.

KING: Close the box.

WALTER: I ask you, is this a childhood?

KING: This is television history here. All right, let's discuss some areas of the book that are getting a lot of attention.

WALTERS: Now you've done the nice questions.

KING: No, one of the things that's getting a lot of attention is the Star Jones question. And I feel involved, we'll show a clip in a minute. Of course she did come on the show after she left "The View."

WALTERS: She did a lot of shows after she left "The View."

KING: But she did us first. She flew here and did us. You were in England when it happened. What happened?

WALTERS: Star was wonderful. And you know, Star is going through a very hard time now. She lost her show. She's getting a divorce. She went into that marriage, you know, so in love. And I really want to remember the happy days and the good days because Star was a wonderful talent. What happened was that she had a gastric bypass which she has talked about recently, but didn't then. The audience knew she'd had it. And we were --

KING: She said it was a diet, right?

WALTERS: She said it was portion control and pilates. It used to drive Joy Behar crazy. She was our colleague. And we had to lie for her because she didn't want to be exposed. But audiences are very smart. And the ratings started to go down. And then there was the whole thing with this most lavish wedding, without going into great detail on how she was promoting some of the things.

I would never have let Star go. I was very fond of Star. But I don't control -- this is a network program. And the network wanted us to let her go. The ratings were going way down. The focus groups showed it. They wanted us to let her go before Christmas. I wouldn't do it. And finally, they said it has to happen.

And again, we lied for Star. We said "you can say anything you want to say." And she came out, did an article in "People" magazine and said she's telling the truth, we're liars. It took her a long time to get a job. Star is a very special person, and I have -- it may sound funny. But you know, we had wonderful times together.

KING: You were hurt.

WALTERS: -- on that show. I was very hurt. And you know what, this is not the time -- Star is -- as I said, Star is going through a very difficult --

KING: You wrote this before she got divorced and everything, right? WALTERS: Yeah. Well, just when it came out I knew -- and I was very sad because she went into that, you know, so lovingly.

KING: The night after she left "The View," she was on this program, and said this. I want you to watch, get your reaction.


STAR JONES, TV HOST: I'm sad that I learned everything I could about one of the greatest broadcasters in the history of the world over nine years and she didn't learn anything about me because obviously it is -- to leave with dignity is to tell the truth. And I wanted to put all that baggage aside in every aspect of my life.


KING: She also said --

WALTERS: She's right. You know, we should not have -- we did lie for her. We did.

KING: But she also said --

WALTERS: I don't -- we were trying to do good for her. You know, but I really don't want to rehash Star. I don't, Larry.

KING: You write about it.

WALTERS: Well, I wrote about it in the book. But you know, it's tough for her now. Why should I add to that?

KING: Just one other quote from her. "It's a sad day when an icon like Barbara Walters in the sunset of her life is reduced to publicly branding herself as an adulterer, humiliating an innocent family with accounts of her illicit affairs and speaking negatively against me all for the sake of selling a book. It speaks of her true character."

So she's still pretty ticked. You're not ticked?

WALTERS: You know, poor woman. You know, she's gone through so much. And you know, to write that, I mean, what she's talking about is very tiny -- you and I can talk about it. Such a small part of what is a very good and honest book.

We made a mistake. We should have told the truth about Star from day one. She didn't want us to. She said, "I don't want to be a poster child for gastric bypass."

And now she's talking about the fact that she's being so truthful. I wish her well. I think Star is a great talent. I think that she's suffering now. And that's why she's lashing out. And I'm not going to be a part of that.

KING: We're going to leave it. You admit, Barbara, in the book to telling some other things that weren't true or hiding things. WALTERS: No. This book is very, very --

KING: No, you admit -- your honesty is also in the book.

WALTERS: I think that a lot of people have felt that I was -- look, when I decided to do this book, one of the reasons was that young people came up to me and said, what a wonderful life you've had, I'd like to be you. And I said, then you need the whole package. And the package has to do with presidents and heads of state and murderers and Monica Lewinsky and my own ups and downs in my life and some of the things that I never talked about until now in this book.

KING: Was it hard to write, then?

WALTERS: Yeah because I thought I either do this book and I'm honest or what's the point of doing it at this point in my life? I did not want to do -- and then I interviewed, and then I interviewed, and let me tell you. I wanted to tell the truth. And it's a happy story and a funny story.

KING: It is.

WALTERS: You've read the book.

KING: I'm three quarters of the way through. It's a terrific read.

WALTERS: I wanted to tell if all.

KING: And very open. So we'll move to another area, Rosie O'Donnell.

WALTERS: Oh, I love Rosie. And Rosie and I e-mail each other all the time.

KING: What happened there, though?

WALTERS: Well, what happened with Rosie at the end, Rosie decided not to come back. It was her decision not to come back. I was sorry. I thought that Rosie -- I mean, she -- she had some feuds. She had the Donald Trump feud, which I got in the middle of. Didn't want to be but was. She had her own very strong opinions.

But Rosie and the network could not come to agreement. She only had a one-year contract. And she decided not to come back.

KING: Were you ticked over what Donald said about you?

WALTERS: Well, I didn't know how I got in the middle of it. You know, and suddenly there I was. Donald had been my friend. I went to Donald and Melania's wedding. So suddenly I was in the middle of this mess. I mean, when Rosie started to pick on Donald, I was off on a friend's boat. So suddenly, I'm in the middle of --

KING: Have you heard from Rosie since the book? WALTERS: All the time. I just e-mailed Rosie yesterday because she's in the revival of "No, No, Nanette." And Rosie sent me flowers. And Rosie, if you're listening, there was no one home. Thank you, darling, but they're dead by now. No, Rosie --

KING: More to come.

WALTERS: Rosie, by the way, is an enormous talent and that's why she keeps getting hired.

KING: More to come with Barbara Walters. She's had her share of romance. Her involvement with a married senator, who I knew. I knew Senator Brooke. I interviewed him --

WALTERS: But you didn't know the story.

KING: No. He came in and told me, "I'm having an affair with Barbara Walters." You're watching LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be right back.


KING: We're back with Barbara Walters. One more thing on Rosie. She talked about you the other day on "The Today Show," your old TV stomping ground where you were the co-host. Let's take a look.


ROSIE O'DONNELL, FORMER "VIEW" CO-HOST": She's a forerunner, a legend. She really did pave the way. You have to realize, when she was the weather girl here on "The Today Show," women weren't allowed to dream of speaking to foreign dignitaries and world leaders. This woman defied the odds. She did it when women were told they couldn't. And you know, that's pretty amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you're friends today, you and Barbara?

O'DONNELL: Yes. We e-mail. You know, I forced her to sort of be more emotional than she's comfortable with. When the whole thing happened with Trump and then we -- you know, I was upset that she didn't, like, call me and defend me. And so I told her. And I told her in crying hysterics -- you know, Barbara, you never -- and she was like, what are you doing?


KING: Everything true, but you weren't the weather girl.

WALTERS: I was never a weather girl. I was a writer on "The Today Show" before I started. They put me on for 13 weeks, and I stayed for 13 years. And I write about those years. They were wonderful. Most of it was wonderfully happy. Some of it was not.

KING: You've been romantically involved with two United States senators. Senator John Warner, great guy.

WALTERS: Wonderful man. Wonderful senator.

KING: Married to Elizabeth Taylor.

WALTERS: Married to Elizabeth Taylor.

KING: Your affair wasn't when he was married to Elizabeth Taylor.

WALTERS: My affair with --

KING: Senator Warner.

WALTERS: My friendship was before he married her. I interviewed both of them when he was married, and then after they divorced we saw each other for a long time. We are very good friends. He's happily married. And we still talk to each other.

KING: And he's leaving the Senate.

WALTERS: And he's leaving the Senate at the top. He is so well regarded, and I'm very proud of --

KING: Was it difficult to write about things like relationships?

WALTERS: Well, I wrote about very few. I mean, you read the book.

KING: There have been many more, is that what you're saying?

WALTERS: No, no. Would that there were. You know my favorite story about -- then we'll get back to it -- about my maternal grandmother, who when she was -- my paternal grandmother, when she was on her deathbed, she said -- because I write about the background of my family. OK. She said, you know, I'm a virgin. And the grand children said, well, grandma, how could you be a virgin. You had seven children. At least that means you must have been with grandpa seven times. She said, but I never participated. So I would like to say that now.

KING: You never participated.

WALTERS: But I wrote about Alan Greenspan and John Warner and Senator Brooke because they were meaningful relations in my life. But in particular about Senator Brooke because this book in many ways is history. And I was trying to show the difference between the way a relationship with an African-American was 31 years ago when this happened and the way it would be today.

KING: You could never be public?

WALTERS: No. And that is why it -- we knew that it had to break up/

KING: People don't know. If you're too young you don't remember. I've interviewed Senator Brooke. He was a charming, bright, funny. And he was a liberal Republican and the first African- American in the Senate since reconstruction.

WALTERS: Yes. And I met him during Watergate. I mean, I wasn't interviewing him, but we were introduced. And he was a fascinating man. It was a relationship at the time that was important. As I said, 31 years.

KING: Did you feel guilt knowing he was married?

WALTERS: Yes. And that's why we broke it up, because he was married and it was -- you know, there are people in life who have had relationships that had difficulties, maybe even with married people. We knew it was wrong. We broke it up. And I put it in because of the way I put other things in the book, because I was going to tell the truth about my life. I was not going to be this wonderful perfect --

KING: It's a great book in that regard. Was there any hesitancy -- And this is of courses because at the time of when it was in that decade -- about being with a black person?

WALTERS: But that's one of the reasons that I did it. Because today, I mean, look, Larry, we have an African-American who may be the next president of the United States. First of all, if he and I were together today, it would have been kept secret for about 30 seconds, with Youtube and everything. And second, there are a great many inter-racial relationships. At that time, there were very few.

I think because my father was in show business, because I grew up seeing all these different acts, I probably was colorblind.

KING: More open to that?

WALTERS: Well, just my father, you know, they came from all over the world, and I think -- maybe not more open. Certainly, I was aware that this was something that would probably have ruined my career and his if it had been public.

KING: We have an I Ask question for you about Senator Brooke. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Barbara, what a few of us in Massachusetts would like to know is have you heard from the former senator since your revelations or have you heard from any members of his family?


WALTERS: I wrote to Senator Brooke to tell him that I was writing about him, and I got a very nice letter back, which I don't -- I won't say what I said and what he said, but it was very nice. And no, I've not heard from any -- he remarried. He has a grown son. I hope it's a very happy, happy marriage. We're talking about 31 years ago.

KING: But you wrote about him, and it got the first headlines. WALTERS: Well, the reason that it did was that I was doing Oprah's show, which was taped about ten days before the book came out. The book was embargoed. As you know, you got a copy, but nobody could buy it. The book isn't even out one week now. It will be a week tomorrow. And Oprah sent it out for the same reason you're talking about it. And I love Oprah. The program had very high ratings because of this. And it was the most startling thing in it. And it was all anybody knew about the book. They knew nothing about my sister, nothing about my father --

KING: But you want that. If you're going to sell a book --

WALTERS: Yes. I wish there had been other things. Yes, this is --

KING: But you knew. You're a veteran journalist. That would be a major story.

WALTERS: I did. But I didn't know that it was going to be the only thing that would come up. But it did. Fine. You know, I was not the one who released it. But it is part of the book.

KING: It is what it is.

WALTERS: It's part of the honesty that I hope I've shown in this book.

KING: The book is "Audition." I'll ask Barbara about one of the most important people in her life, her daughter. That's next.



WALTERS: I don't want to hurt your feelings, but this is the scroungiest Jeep.

CLINT EASTWOOD, ACTOR: We can try and see if it worked out.

WALTERS: I any think we'll stop and reload.

Only when you're a strangers.

AL PACINO, ACTOR: Here comes the dip.


KING: Have you always gotten like to set that thing up with guests, to go out on a farm with them, dance with them?

WALTERS: Well, I try.

KING: Beyond the interview.

WALTERS: I tried on the specials. The interview that was done with Ronald Reagan was six months after the assassination attempt at his ranch. And he was chopping wood. I write a great deal about Ronald Reagan. I probably did more interviews with him and Nancy Reagan than any other journalist. And as you know, there's a whole chapter on presidents and everything from, you know, the most austere -- and at Christmas time, when Walter Cronkite and I were at the White House, each of us trying to get a big scoop from Jimmy Carter. And here was our big scoop, that he had hemorrhoids.

KING: Tell me about it.

WALTERS: Part of this book I hope will make people laugh.

KING: Well, there's a lot of laughs. Tell me about Jackie.

WALTERS: My daughter Jackie, who has terrible stage fright. She's on "The View" tomorrow. We taped it earlier. She had to do that for mommy. This was the most difficult --

KING: You have two Jackies, your sister and your daughter.

WALTERS: I assumed you were talking about my daughter.

KING: Either way.

WALTERS: Let me start with my daughter because the book is dedicated to my sister and I daughter. My sister was three and a half years older than I. And she was in those days called mentally retarded. Today, they would call it developmentally disabled. And she stuttered terribly. And they made fun of her, the kids. And they made fun of me. And look how pretty she was. And I resented her. I loved her --

KING: Why?

WALTERS: She isolated me. People made fun of her. They made fun of me. I didn't bring friends home because they didn't understand about Jackie.

KING: You were not close?

WALTERS: Yes. But anyone who has somebody, who has a sibling can understand the guilt that I felt, because I didn't take her everywhere with me, and I always knew that she would be my responsibility. And when my father lost everything, and you know about that, Larry, because he had great ups and downs --

KING: Lou Walters.

WALTERS: Lou Walters. I was then supporting my mother, my father, my sister, my daughter. And I loved my sister, but I also -- when I was young, it made me feel different. I couldn't do a lot of things. I didn't have birthday parties because Jackie didn't. I didn't join the Girl Scouts because Jackie didn't. And I loved her, but I also -- and I admit it. I also resented her.

And when my little girl was born, I named her Jacqueline after my sister because I wanted my sister to feel that she too had a baby. And my daughter Jackie adored my sister Jackie.

KING: At that time there was not a lot known about mental retardation.

WALTERS: Jackie -- what you're looking at is my daughter Jackie, which is when she was like about four. For all I know -- and that's about 10. Isn't she beautiful? Anyway, my sister might have been autistic. We didn't know about autism. There were not workshops where people with special needs could go. Nobody hired her. It was a very different time.

But it affected my life. And I write about the things in this book that affected my life the most and that I think other people can relate to. This is not just me, me, me. This is -- maybe you went through this, too. Maybe you understand it. Now, my daughter --

KING: How's she doing?

WALTERS: She's wonderful. She runs an adult -- a therapeutic wilderness program called New Horizons in Maine for adolescent girls in crisis. The ironic thing about this, the amazing thing about this, is that she was an adolescent girl in crisis. And we had a terrible time. And this was the chapter that I did not know whether I -- I said to my publishers, I can't put this in. And Jackie, my daughter, said, mom, people have to know what we went through, because there are so many mothers and fathers going through this today with their children. We have to tell them how we made it and why we made it. You put that chapter in.

KING: That may be the most poignant.

WALTERS: It's the hardest for me.

KING: It is.

WALTERS: I'm not having such an easy time talking about it. But --

KING: Katie Couric and Barbara Walters both left "The Today Show" to anchor news. We'll ask her what she thinks of Katie, what happened to her. Stay right there.


KING: And I couldn't agree with you more, Anderson.

WALTERS: I love Anderson Cooper.

KING: Good guy.

WALTERS: You and I go back so far. So you're not even jealous. You know how I feel about you.

KING: I'm not jealous. Get off. OK, Barbara, the Katie Couric story. We don't even have to explain it. What do you make of it? WALTERS: Well, I understand it. I left -- when I left "The Today Show," And Katie and I -- I think Katie was on even longer than I was. I was on 13 years. To make that leap, to be the first female co-anchor of a network news program. And I had great difficulties. And it was a very difficult, unhappy experience. Katie did not have a partner as I did. I had Harry Reasoner. But I talked to Katie because Katie and I are friends. And I know that she's not sorry she left. She felt it was time for her to leave, and she's really worked so hard.

And Katie's going to be fine. She is such a talent. There will be -- if she wants to stay in the news, she can. If she wants to come off and do specials, if she wants to do "60 Minutes," if she wants to replace you in about ten years, you know --

KING: Was it a bad move for her as a journalist adviser?

WALTERS: You don't know when you do something whether it's going to be a bad move. You can think of all the possibilities. I think that perhaps some of the things that she thought she would be able to do, make the program a little different, do interviews in the program, some of the things that I thought I was going to do, sometimes they don't work out. You're ahead of your time or it's not what they --

KING: She's good.

WALTERS: She's very good. And Katie's going to be fine. Is it painful? Sure, it is. But I think she is handling it with such grace and such dignity.

KING: She is.


KING: Didn't get into the muck.

WALTERS: Katie won't do that. And you know, she's -- I'm not just saying this. Katie's going to be fine.

KING: Let's take a call for Barbara Walters. Mexico, Missouri. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. How are you this evening?

KING: Fine. What's the question?

CALLER: I was just wanting to ask Barbara how long has it been since your parents and your sister have been deceased?

WALTERS: I should have that -- my sister died of ovarian cancer. I don't have it in -- I think like in the late '80s, early '90s. You know, my mother died at -- they both lived long. My mother died at 91, and my father died before. You know, when my sister died, my mother was already going through some dementia. And I never told her that my sister died. I told her that my sister was with Carol Channing because Carol had loved my sister and my mother felt happy about that.

KING: You were speaking when you learned your sister died?

WALTERS: My sister had an operation for ovarian cancer, and I was supposed to speak in Milwaukee for ABC. And I left her, and I said, darling, you know, I'll be back, Jackie. And I went to make the speech, and just before I went on stage they told me that my sister had had an aneurysm.

KING: Did you speak?

WALTERS: She was gone. Did I speak? I didn't -- I just didn't know what to -- I went out. I don't remember what I said. I thought I could go out and say my sister just died. But you know, you don't do that when there are 2,000 people listening to you. But you know, --

KING: Life. Richmond, Virginia.

WALTERS: I just want to say that so much of all of our lives is a balancing act between our personal life and our career, the marriage, the children. And you do your best.

KING: If I do my major autobiography, I should tell everything?

WALTERS: Larry, you've got a lot to tell.

KING: Richmond, Virginia, hello.

WALTERS: I won't to tell it. You tell it.

CALLER: Barbara, I have always been a real big admirer of your career and what appears to be a very strong ethical compass that you have. And I have not read the book, but I must admit I'm really shocked at your choice to include the Senator Brooke story in the book. Not because you had the affair. Believe me, I'm not here to judge you. But because that relationship I feel was and is a private relationship between the two of you. My question is how do you reconcile in your own mind the decision to include such a personal story that will have ramifications for him and his family outside of kind of what was expedient for --

WALTERS: I'm not sure you heard -- yes, did you hear the earlier part of the program when I talked about this?

CALLER: I did.

WALTERS: Remember, first of all, this was 31 years ago. Remember that he knew that it was going to be in the book. Remember that this is a new marriage -- a new marriage. He's probably been married 29 years or so. So I don't really think that it affects his marriage today. I was doing it because I also felt that it's a part of history. It's a part of the way the relationship was then and how it would be treated today. And I think that it was an important to discuss. I don't think that this was something that hurt his marriage, that hurt his children. He's happily married. It's 31 years ago. It's ancient history.

KING: You haven't made it till you've been satirized on "Saturday Night Live." Barbara was one of their original targets. We'll ask her what that was like when we come back.


KING: The book is "Audition," great title. My guest is Barbara Walters. Gilda Radner, the late Gilda Radner -- what a great lady she was -- playing you on "Saturday Night Live" is still one of everyone's favorite skits. Let's look.


GILDA RADNER, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" I'm Barbara wa-wa. And tonight we'll be talking to an actual living legend, the incredible Mawina Deutscheland (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. It is great to be here.

RADNER: Mawina, what is it like to be a living legend?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has been a really rich experience.


WALTERS: KING: Did you like that or not?

WALTERS: I didn't at the time. But you see I laugh today. Yes, because you know, I thought she's making fun of me. And I said -- my daughter said to me, oh, mummy, for heaven's sakes, where's your sense of humor? And I met Gilda. She and I had the same makeup person, it seems. She knew how I sat. She knew how I talked. And when she died, I --

KING: Of the same disease your sister --

WALTERS: Of ovarian cancer. I wrote to Gene Wilder, and I said, she made me laugh. I will miss her. And I signed it Barbara wa-wa. One of the things I love about doing "The View" is that people know I have a sense of humor. I wish I had more of it then when she was calling me Barbara wa-wa to realize there are a lot of people who didn't realize who Barbara Walters was, and she was making me famous.

KING: We have a King Cam question about the campaign. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Barbara. I was just wondering, who's your candidate for president this year?

(END VIDEO CLIP) WALTERS: Well, you see, part of being in the news department, because I'm part of ABC News, is we do not give opinions. I don't mind writing in the book about my own life, but I don't give my opinions about political candidates.

KING: What's your opinion of the way the race has gone?

WALTERS: It's one of the most fascinating races that we -- I mean, I've covered campaign after -- I've interviewed every president since Richard Nixon. I have never seen a campaign like this. Have you?

KING: No. I've interviewed every president since Richard Nixon. We're tied.

WALTERS: Between you and me, we could --

KING: Do you think it's going to be a tremendous turnout in the fall?

WALTERS: I think the wonderful thing, if it continues, and I think it will, is the young people who are involved, and what the Internet has meant. It's changed history. It's changed all our ways of not just how you raise money but how you reach out to people. It's an entirely new race.

KING: Have you had a major disappointing interview? We only have about 30 seconds. Someone you had looked forward to, didn't work out right.

WALTERS: Oh, I can't think of any now. People have asked me who I would like to interview who I haven't interviewed. The Queen of England has never done an interview. The Pope has never done an interview. I have said, I'm very mellow. I'm not auditioning anymore. I'm not out to get the great get. And then one reporter said to me, what if Osama bin Laden called? I said I'll pack.

KING: Who wouldn't?

WALTERS: Who wouldn't?

KING: You're a sensational friend.

WALTERS: And so are you.

KING: I mean it. Barbara Walters, the book is "Audition: A Memoir."


KING: Would you say this has been an interesting election year? What's going to happen tomorrow?

Anyway, our guests in these opening two segments, in New York, James Rubin, who served as an assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration; foreign policy adviser to Hillary Clinton now. In Washington, Amy Holmes, Republican analyst and CNN political contributor.

And here in Los Angeles, Tanya Acker, a Democratic strategist and Obama supporter.

The senator from Illinois blasted Bush today for comments the president made in Israel.

Watch and then we'll get the comments of our guests.


OBAMA: On a day when we were supposed to be celebrating the anniversary of Israel's independence, he accused me and other Democrats of wanting to negotiate with terrorists and said we were appeasers no different from people who appeased Adolph Hitler. That's what George Bush said in front of the Israeli parliament.

Now, that's exactly the kind of appalling attack that's divided our country and that alienates us from the world.


KING: James Rubin, the White House, through Ed Gillespie, said today that the president was not referring to Obama when he made that statement at the Knesset.

Do you buy that?

JAMIE RUBIN, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: No, I don't. In 2004, George Bush said the same thing about Senator Kerry.

They do it by saying, "some people say," and then on background they say that that's John Kerry. And they're trying to create the classic straw man in politics. By inventing the position that your opponent doesn't have, in this case, the idea that Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton want to appease terrorists, and then accusing them -- and this is -- imagine where this is. This is the Israeli Knesset, the country that was created out of the ashes of World War Indiana, the country that was created from the Holocaust.

To call someone an appeaser of Adolph Hitler is about the lowest thing you can call somebody in that setting. And for the president to use that setting for this kind of classic political charge is really a new low of the presidency.

KING: Amy, the word appeasement seems not to apply. Appeasement doesn't mean meeting with someone. It means giving away something. Neville Chamberlain didn't appease Hitler by meeting with him, he appeased him by giving him the Sudetenland.

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, that's right. But getting back to Jamie Rubin's point, President Bush did not mention Democrats and he did not mention Barack Obama. And I actually take Joe Lieberman's position yesterday when he said that the Illinois senator, "Me thinkest he doth protest too much."

I think what we're getting into here is classic partisan hackery. I talked with a Democratic strategist yesterday as we were leaving this bureau, saying they wish that George Bush would be on the ballot. And I think today in Barack Obama's comments, the dead giveaway was that he said George Bush/John McCain -- that phrase -- at least a dozen times, trying to basically hang George Bush around John McCain's neck.

KING: All right. Tanya, we're going to show another tape here -- Obama accusing McCain of weakness on foreign policy. And McCain hits back.

Watch this and you'll respond.



OBAMA: Our Iran policy is a complete failure right now. And that's the policy that John McCain is running on. He has nothing to offer except the naive and irresponsible belief that tough talk from Washington will somehow cause Iran to give up its nuclear program and support for terrorism.



John McCain You know, it would be a wonderful thing if we lived in a world where we don't have enemies, but that's not the world we live in. And until Senator Obama understands that reality, the American people have every reason to doubt whether he has the strength, judgment and determination to keep us safe.


KING: Tanya?

TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: What is remarkable is that Senator McCain would take what Barack Obama said and what he said about perhaps engaging with people with whom we don't agree and turn it into that. Barack Obama has never suggested that we don't have enemies. I mean that's such a disingenuous characterization of the statement.

What I think is interesting from the Republican position and what you see coming out of the White House and the McCain campaign is this really an ahistorical view of American foreign policy.

We have long engaged with people with whom we disagree. John F. Kennedy did it with Nikita Khrushchev when, by the way, there were real weapons of mass destruction pointed squarely on the United States. Richard Nixon did it with China. Ronald Reagan did it with the Soviets. And now, you know, we're playing this -- or this administration seems to want to play this cowboy and Indians game, which is, you know, it's not a video game. American foreign policy is not a video game. It's much more serious than that.

KING: Do you think this has benefited Obama these last few days?

ACKER: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean this sort of name calling is simply not going to advance American interests around the world.

KING: We'll have more with our panel right after this.


KING: We're back.

James Rubin, you did an interview with Senator McCain two years ago where he talked about dealing with Hamas.

Let's watch.


RUBIN: Do you think American diplomats should be operating the way they have in the past and working with the Palestinian government if Hamas is now in charge?

MCCAIN: They're the government. And sooner or later, we're going to have to deal with them in one way or another. And I understand why this administration and previous administrations had such antipathy toward Hamas. It's because of their dedication to violence and the things they not only espouse, but practice. So -- but it's a new reality in the Middle East.


KING: James, why do you think McCain seemed to take a different tack today?

RUBIN: Well, look, Senator McCain got caught saying one thing two years ago and something else today. Two years ago, he was very open to a Hamas government, talked about how we're going to have to deal with them, talked about what are the ways to engage with them, didn't say what a lot of people said at the time, that there had to be stiff conditions before you deal with Hamas, such as recognition of Israel, such as renouncing of terrorism, such as recognition of previous agreements the Palestinians had applied.

So he didn't say any of that stuff in the interview with me. And two years later, he's running for president and he's adopting a different view. And that's fine. He's allowed to do that. He can adopt a different view. But he should admit that and not make charges to suggest that somehow Barack Obama is the preferred candidate of Hamas.

Those who were most open to Hamas have been, in my experience -- Colin Powell, a year ago, talked about engaging with Hamas. This is a view held in what you might call realist circles in the Republican Party...

KING: All right, Amy...

RUBIN: ...something that John McCain advocated two years ago. Now he's trying to run away from it.

KING: Amy, how do you respond?

HOLMES: Oh, boy, I have to vigorously, vigorously disagree with the whole characterization of this interview. I saw the whole clip. And, Jamie, I saw the follow-up question that you asked Senator McCain. And he said that the U.S. would have to step back and see how Hamas governs. Later that day, he gave an interview with CNN where he said in order to deal with Hamas, there would need to be preconditions, that they would need to renounce violence and they would need to recognize Israel's right to exist.

So I think showing only one half of that interview...

RUBIN: No, no...

HOLMES: gravely misleading...

RUBIN: Excuse me. Don't make that charge.

HOLMES: ...and gravely deceptive.

RUBIN: I didn't show only one half...

HOLMES: I watched it, Jamie, and I read the transcript.

RUBIN: Larry -- Larry, can I respond?

This is what the McCain camp has done today. They've given out phony talking points...

HOLMES: I watched the video myself.

RUBIN: ...these phony talking points and they've called me a liar, can you imagine that?

John McCain has to shoot the messenger. I accurately put out what he said to me in two questions. I gave him a second chance to try to include these conditions. There are no conditions in the interview. Look at the...

HOLMES: Larry, I...

RUBIN: ...look at the text...

HOLMES: ...I encourage all of your viewers to go online...

RUBIN: ...that...

HOLMES: go to YouTube...

RUBIN: Yes, and look online and there are no...

HOLMES: ...and look at the interview for themselves...

RUBIN: ...conditions in...

HOLMES: ...and to also watch the interview that John McCain gave later that day to CNN.

KING: OK. All right. Let me get -- I'm sorry. We have time problems tonight.

RUBIN: Larry, I really need to clarify this, because the John McCain camp is trying to shoot the messenger. Look at the clip. Look at the interview.


RUBIN: Look at the Internet. And what you'll see is a man who failed to make the distinction that now he wants to make...

KING: I got you.

RUBIN: He's insisting on conditions...

KING: All right, Tanya...

RUBIN: ...and then he accuses the messenger of lying. It's pathetic.

KING: Tanya, is Obama now running against McCain?

ACKER: Oh, no question. No question. I mean I think...

KING: Hillary -- he's beyond Hillary?

ACKER: I think that Senator Clinton has chimed in, and appropriately so, during various parts of this conversation that we've been having about foreign policy. I think that she appropriately defended Senator Obama, as did other prominent Democrats when George Bush made the incredible claim that talking to people constitutes appeasement.

And, again, I would respectfully agree with Amy. There's no question but we know but who George Bush was talking about.

I mean who else was he talking about?

He was talking about Senator Obama. He was talking about the Democratic position on this.

But, you know, I think that right now, we are seeing this race move from the Clinton/Obama race. It's now become into the general. We're now having a general election conversation and we welcome it.

KING: And is Obama going to run against Bush?

ACKER: McCain is -- McCain has suggested that he wants to be Bush III. You know, he went from -- I mean I...

KING: He disagrees with him strongly on the environment...

ACKER: And he disagrees with him...

KING: Stem cells.

ACKER: He disagrees with him on a few key issues. And I think that a number of people welcome that disagreement. But I think that he's suggested that he wants to continue this administration's economic policy -- its failed economic policies. He wants to continue this administration's failed Iraq War policy. And until very recently, he wanted to stay in Iraq another 100 years. I know that he's since amended that position and now, I understand, the war is going to be done by 2013 and Osama bin Laden will be caught and perhaps we'll all win a million dollars.

KING: All right, we're going to have all of you back very shortly, maybe Monday.

James Rubin, Amy Holmes and Tanya Acker.