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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Rating the Running Mates

Aired June 9, 2008 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a new political brawl with Hillary Clinton in the middle. Eighteen million Americans supported her in the primaries. Now Barack Obama wants those votes, but so does John McCain.
Who's going to get them?

The answer is making some Democrats nervous.

Plus, the veep stakes -- we rate the possible rubbing mates.

And what about Bill?

Who was hurt more during his wife's campaign, he in his legacy or she in her candidacy?

It's all right now on LARRY KING LIVE.

And a quick reminder. Exclusive, Hulk Hogan tomorrow night -- exclusive right here.

Every segment tonight will be devoted to a different aspect of the campaign.

Segment one is Hillary Clinton. We present the panel.

Here in L.A. Stephanie Miller, the talk radio host of "The Stephanie Miller Show," a supporter of Barack Obama.

In Washington is Ana Marie Cox, a contributor to "Time" magazine and Washington editor of "Radar" magazine.

In New York is Hilary Rosen, Democratic strategist, political director and Washington editor-at-large for The Huffington Post.

And in Washington is Amanda Carpenter, national political reporter for Townhall.com.

All right, Stephanie, where goes Hillary now?

STEPHANIE MILLER, TALK RADIO HOST: Well, you know, I think that she has done a great service. I think that she has broken that glass ceiling, as, you know, people have been talking about. I think that we owe her a great debt for that.

I don't think it's going to be vice president. I don't think that fits with his message of change and all of that. But I don't know. I think, you know, Senate majority leader. There's certainly a lot of positions she could go into.

KING: Ana Marie, what do you make about just going back to the Senate?

ANA MARIE COX, CONTRIBUTOR, "TIME": I think that the Senate is a great place for her. She's shown her skill in being a senator time and time again, which is very different than being a president and it's very different than being a presidential candidate. She's really good at negotiating. She's really good at sort of like making things work.

And that kind of attitude and personality obviously didn't work out as well for her as a presidential candidate. And there is, of course, talk about her running for Senate majority leader.

KING: How well did she do on Saturday, Hilary?

HILARY ROSEN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR, THE HUFFINGTON POST: I thought she gave a great speech on Saturday. And she sort of -- she did everything she needed to do. She made her supporters feel like they were right to stick with her until the end and admire her grit. And she gave a full-throated endorsement to Barack Obama.

But go back to the future for a minute. Hillary Clinton is a great friend and supporter of Majority Leader Harry Reid. She's not going to run against him for majority leader.

Nonetheless, she can be extremely successful in the Senate. Barack Obama has already said that his top priority, when he's elected president, is going to be health care. Hillary got tarred and feathered the first time around on universal health care. The country has moved a great distance on this issue now. I think the idea of "Hillary Care," as it was previously branded, is now going to be a really good brand for her. And I think she's going to help President Obama see it through.

KING: Amanda do -- and I know you're a probable -- you're a supporter of John McCain. Do many of the Hillary votes go to him, do you think?

AMANDA CARPENTER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, TOWNHALL.COM: Well, I wouldn't necessarily classify myself as a supporter of John McCain. I'm a conservative Republican and I'm doing my best to cover this election.

But as opposed (ph) to what's going on with John McCain right now, he certainly has a good chance of picking up the disaffected Hillary voters, particularly in places like Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, where, you know, he sees those districts as going Republican. And he also has a good chance to be making inroads with the women, I think. I noticed this when I covered Hillary Clinton's exit speech on Saturday, that there was such an emotional bond that these women had to Hillary. And it's essentially been broken. And now they're looking to put their votes elsewhere.

KING: Stephanie, how do you assess the whole Hillary campaign? MILLER: Well, I've said many times, Larry, that I think she was not well served by her surrogates. And whether that goes to her judgment or not is for people to decide. But I think she was much better than the campaign that they ran.

KING: Did she finish strong?

MILLER: Well, you know what, I think she did great despite a really badly run campaign and some really bad advice from surrogates. If only she had Hilary Rosen full-time, she would have been fine.

CARPENTER: You know, she has...

KING: Ana Marie, do you think she was served poorly?

COX: I think that there were a lot of mistakes that were made in her campaign. But I think overall what you have to look at is how well she did despite the numerous mistakes we can point out, whether you want to point out Bill or you want to point out, I think, this the inevitability narrative that turned out to be a real sort of yoke for them in the end.

She did get 18 million votes. It's really kind of incredible. I mean I think sometimes we have to sort of step back and think about it. I wasn't actually at the rally on Saturday but I was text messaging with people and talking to my mother, of course. And it is sort of incredible to imagine just how close she got.

And I have to add, I don't think that those 18 million votes are a gimme for John McCain. I mean, as other people have been pointing out, there is -- there's a vast sort of, you know, difference between the policies of Barack Obama and John McCain on women's issues. And I think that women who supported Hillary were probably Democrats first before they were, you know, Hillary supporters and just sort of a naked affiliation to gender.

ROSEN: Well...

COX: I think that they're probably going to be doing a lot of thinking, of course, and make intelligent decisions, but not necessarily for McCain.

KING: Can we say...

ROSEN: The other advantage you have...

KING: Go ahead.

ROSEN: Sorry, Larry.

The other advantage you have with those 18 million voters that Hillary had and the fact that they did stick with her until the end, with overwhelming amounts of support, is that she's really in a position to deliver them to Barack Obama. And she has no intention of delivering them or losing them to John McCain. And she's going to work extremely hard at that. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ROSEN: And that will make a big difference.

MILLER: No, Larry, I agree. We've been, as a party, like a toddler having a tantrum in the Wal-Mart parking lot, spinning on our back.

(LAUGHTER)

MILLER: But I think we're all going to breathe and we're going to take a good look at the really serious issues that are coming up. And I think that they're right, we're going to go with Obama.

KING: Can we say, Amanda, that Hillary is not going away?

CARPENTER: Oh, I don't think Hillary is going away. But I will say, I think -- I see that all of the people in the press made a big deal of saying that Hillary Clinton put her full-throated support behind Barack Obama at that rally.

I did not get that impression. I saw that as a speech being about Hillary Clinton and a lot about sexism, which I think is a little bit over the edge when you consider the fact that Hillary Clinton was the establishment candidate. And for her to cry sexism, that sexism still exists and bias in the media still exists, I think is a tad bit manipulative with these women that were in the audience...

KING: All right.

COX: And she's holding them as a chit to give to Barack Obama as a favor later.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, this is...

KING: Thank you, Stephanie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is going to...

KING: We'll see you again soon.

MILLER: Thank you, Larry.

KING: The rest -- Amanda, Hilary and Ana Marie -- will remain. And David Gergen will move in.

And Bill Clinton -- is he an overall plus or minus for his wife's campaign?

He's the topic next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did not mention his name.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Your husband did.

CLINTON: Well, I'm here. He's not. And I...

OBAMA: I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes.

CLINTON: You know, well...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen.

And Jesse Jackson won in South Carolina twice, in '84 and '88. And he ran a good campaign. And Senator Obama has run a good campaign.

They're feeding you this because they know this is what you want to cover. This is what you live for.

You are contributing...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

B. CLINTON: What?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

B. CLINTON: Wait a minute. I listened to you. You interrupted my speech.

You let me talk, will you?

I never thought that it would be the Democratic Party that didn't want to count votes in Florida.

This may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: This segment the topic is Bill Clinton.

Ana Marie Cox, Hilary Rosen and Amanda Carpenter remain.

And we're joined by David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst, who was an adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, and is professor of public service at Harvard's JFK School of Government.

We'll start with David.

Was Bill Clinton a plus or a minus for the campaign?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Larry, on balance, I think he was a plus. And you have to go back to fundamentals. Hillary Rodham Clinton's partnership with Bill Clinton as first lady during the Clinton years was a huge plus going into this campaign. A lot of those blue collar voters, including men who voted for her over Obama, did so because they had such a good economic experience during the Clinton years and they've had such anxiety and downturn in the years that have followed.

So, I think overall, he was a big plus.

Did he make mistakes along the way?

Yes. And there are some he, I'm sure he regretted. He lost his temper on several occasions -- very unusual for him -- in public.

But I don't think that that cost her. I think it cost her some. I think that the Obama people were very angry about that. But I think if you take it -- if you add it all up, I think the pluses far outweigh the minuses.

KING: Ana Marie, if that's true, if you were Obama, would you strongly use him in the campaign?

COX: I don't see that happening. And I have to disagree with David. I do not think he was overall plus to Hillary Clinton's campaign. An overall plus to her career in general and her life in general, perhaps. But he made a lot of mistakes in this campaign that really solidified some of the negative feelings people had about Hillary and some suspicions they had about her and him.

And I have to say that one thing, looking at that reel that ran just before we came back, it was -- I had to cringe a lot. And it reminded me of the fact that Clinton really ruined his own legacy in helping out his wife this way -- or not helping her, as the case may be.

KING: OK...

COX: I think that the sort of legend of him as the consummate campaigner has been irrevocably damaged.

KING: Hilary, break the tie.

ROSEN: Well, I'm falling down on David's side, but just barely.

What I think probably is most important about this is that, as Bill Clinton started this campaign, in essence, being the more important Clinton, I think this campaign has ended with Hillary Clinton being the more important Clinton going forward. I think she, in many ways, has really redefined the Clinton brand to the point where she's kind of the contemporary political powerhouse and he goes -- steps back into more of a statesman like role, much less a political force, more sort of a, you know, a legacy.

KING: Amanda, what do you think?

CARPENTER: I'm going to side with Ana Marie on this one, for the very reasons demonstrated in the clips you used to preview this segment. Anytime Bill Clinton became the headline in the Hillary story, it was largely negative. And although Bill Clinton can revive and sort of recover his presidential legacy, he cannot revive Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

KING: David?

GERGEN: Well, listen, I can see people having different points of view on this. But I think that the notion that somehow he has irrevocably has changed his place in history, I just think is nonsense. This is one chapter in a very long book.

He's had positive chapters in the past. He's had some negative chapters. And there are a lot of chapters to come.

You still cannot discount the possibility that Hillary Clinton is going to be on the ticket come this fall. And I think even if she's not on the ticket, Barack Obama is going to showcase Bill Clinton at the Democratic convention in Denver. They're not going to keep him under wraps. He's a former president who's very popular with a lot of Democrats.

ROSEN: And I think David is absolutely right about that.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Ana Marie?

COX: Yes...

(CROSSTALK)

GERGEN: ...ask him to campaign.

ROSEN: I think David is absolutely right about that. There's no question that Bill Clinton remains a popular politician, a popular Democrat. What -- I wasn't talking about his legacy being erased, I'm talking about him being a contemporary political force going forward. I think that's Hillary Clinton's role.

But there's no question, I think that Barack Obama wants Bill Clinton to campaign with him in many of those areas and states where he wasn't getting good primary votes. And Hillary Clinton's going to be out there with him.

KING: Ana Marie, how can you not have someone as terrific -- and his strongest opponents would say he's a great campaigner.

COX: Well, actually...

KING: You couldn't leave him out, would you?

COX: You wouldn't leave him out entirely, but I think you're going to need to control him much more firmly. Almost all of the clips that you showed are examples that his campaign has usually used back channels to say he was off the reservation on that one. Like when he said that he wasn't going to be campaigning in this forum anymore, I heard pretty directly that that wasn't the message of the day, let's say.

And I think of course he'll be showcased at the convention. And the American people have a lot of -- have a deep reservoir of affection for this guy, OK?

But I was very, very specific. I think what the fiction here is, is that he is the consummate campaigner. And I think maybe that was once true. I'm actually not sure it was even true in the 90s. But, clearly, in this day and age, in the day of embed reporters, of blogs, of Twitter, of YouTube, he cannot campaign in that environment effectively.

KING: Amanda, do you think, though, whatever your opinions aside, do you think that Obama will use him?

CARPENTER: I think Obama's most effective use of Bill Clinton is probably to deploy him to the rural areas, where he can essentially be off the reservation and away from the mainstream media, but be able to attract people that may not be used to seeing a former president. And perhaps sending him down to Arkansas with the mission of solely winning that state for Obama.

KING: Do you think his reputation can -- will hurt him, the "Vanity" -- David, the "Vanity Fair" story?

GERGEN: Well, I think the "Vanity Fair" story took a toll. And the response -- his over response, his excess in responding, I think also took a toll. Listen, I think -- I think he -- I think overall he was a plus to her.

Has he diminished himself in this campaign?

Yes, I think he has.

But can he bounce back from it?

Absolutely. He's done it many times before. His Clinton Global Initiative is going to continue to do great works. He was just at the U.N. today.

If Barack Obama gets elected, I will bet he sends Bill Clinton to the Middle East. We may have Bill Clinton, you know, teaming up with Tony Blair, working in the Middle East. You could and the Bill and Tony show over there, reporting to the two governments. There is a lot that he's going to be doing.

And, you know, and he -- the other thing, Larry, is he's better than anybody else in the Democratic Party, including Barack Obama, at framing the issues of a campaign. And there are times when Barack Obama is going to need an effective surrogate and he might just be one of those people.

KING: OK. David remains.

Amanda, Hillary and Ana Marie, thank you.

Who might be Barack Obama's vice president?

We'll rate the running mates, when LARRY KING LIVE returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Welcome back.

Now, a look at the potential Democratic vice presidential nominees.

In Washington, Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist, president of New Future Communications. He's a Barack Obama supporter.

And Kevin Madden, Republican strategist, who served as spokesman for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. They look like they're going to debate each other.

And in Boston is David Gergen, remaining with us.

All right, Jamal, let's run them down one by one.

James Webb of Virginia.

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, OBAMA SUPPORTER: Senator Jim Web, he's a great senator. He's got military experience. We like Jim Webb because, in fact, he can bring Barack Obama, perhaps, a state like Virginia. If you're averaging into the math, you don't necessarily need Ohio if you can win all the rest of the John Kerry states.

KING: Kevin, Webb?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, let's look at that he is a fact that he is a military vet and he's going to bring help on that edge. But he's another Senator.

Can some -- can two senators really go up against John McCain and potentially another running mate?

KING: David?

GERGEN: Enormously attractive. He brings -- he's a fighter, Larry. He's a Scotch Irishman and he's sort of a brawler. And some people think he actually has too much of a temper. But he's been very effective in the Senate. You know, he's written a lot of interesting novels and books. It will be an interesting choice. I'm not sure it's the choice Barack Obama would make if he's locked in a very close race.

If he can open this up -- and I think the big test for Obama, can he crack the general election open in the next six or eight weeks, before he makes his vice presidential choice?

If he cracks it open, Webb becomes very attractive. KING: Jamal, Hillary Clinton?

SIMMONS: Well, everyone knows all the big numbers. Hillary Clinton won almost as many votes as Barack Obama during the course of this election. There was 17 million plus voters who decided they thought she was the best candidate for president.

Again, you know, Hillary Clinton also. The real question about her, though, is she's from New York. You know, Barack Obama can win New York, probably, without her. So that's going to be a part of the equation. There are a lot of women, though, that are very fascinated and into the Clinton phenomenon. So we may see Hillary Clinton make it.

KING: Kevin?

MADDEN: Barack Obama is running on a message of change. And I think Hillary Clinton could possibly saddle Barack Obama with a lot of the years of the past, what people don't like about Washington, essentially pouring ink into the water of a very refreshing change message. It could help -- it could weigh him down.

KING: David?

GERGEN: Six weeks from now, if he's 10 points ahead, not on the ticket. If he's like tied two points down, a good chance she'll be on the ticket.

KING: Jamal Simmons, Governor Ted Strickland of Ohio.

SIMMONS: Well, you just said it right there, Larry. He's from Ohio. And if Barack Obama wins Ohio, it's very hard for John McCain to pick up the presidency. He's a governor. He's got executive experience. He's got a very good reputation with religious and faith values voters. So all of those things play. And he's a Hillary Clinton supporter.

KING: Kevin?

MADDEN: Well, Jamal is right, it's all going to come down to Ohio. So it's important to maybe have somebody like that on the ticket. But not many people know him.

He does have a strong populist message that would help in Ohio, but is he going to help elsewhere around the country?

KING: David?

I've got the easiest job in the world.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I'm just naming names.

David?

GERGEN: Well, I would be interested to know what you think, Larry.

If Barack Obama is 10 points ahead six weeks from now, he, like Webb, would be a very good choice. If Barack is tied, then I'm not sure he goes there. I think he needs someone with more national experience and stature.

KING: OK. Round and round we go.

Jamal, Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

SIMMONS: So, Kathleen Sebelius, she's a governor. Obviously, you've got executive experience. She's a -- she's someone that a lot of the Obama supporters really, really liked. She came out for Barack Obama when it counted. I think she and Obama have a good working relationship.

And when you get down to the vice president, it's one of those things where chemistry and trust really play a role.

KING: Kevin, but not many people know her, right?

MADDEN: Right, Larry. Not many people know her and she's kind of like Hillary without the Clinton. And, you know, there's probably going to be a drive there in order to get another woman on the ticket to go out and get those voters that he's having a hard time with, those older women voters. But not many of them know Sebelius and there's not that much time to get to know her.

KING: David?

GERGEN: Very attractive, but I'm not sure what she brings to the ticket. If you need to bring back disgruntled Hillary women, I'm not sure if she does that for you at all. And geographically, in terms of the Electoral College, I'm not sure what she brings. She's -- as attractive as she is, I don't quite see the argument for her.

KING: OK. We've thrown out the names. Let's get yours.

SIMMONS: The one name...

KING: Jamal, throw one out.

SIMMONS: The one name that's not on this list is Evan Bayh. I think Evan Bayh is a good looking senator. He's got a great looking family. He's safe. He's somebody that settles the stomach when it comes to Barack Obama. He's got some foreign policy credentials from the Senate. He's been a governor. He's ready to be president. So let's not forget about him.

KING: Kevin?

MADDEN: I actually like that pick. I think if Democrats are looking to go after these rural American voters, these lunch pail Democrats that they've had a very tough time with, that would be a good pick. Another name might be Sam Nunn, somebody who has got the national security credentials to help bring up and boost up some of the negatives that Barack Obama has.

KING: David?

GERGEN: Let me echo Kevin on that. Sam Nunn has been mentioned as a vice presidential candidate for 20 years now, going back to Michael Dukakis. He's almost 70, Larry. But you know, there's something golden about 70 these days, especially when John McCain is like 71, going on 72.

And he does bring this great stature and weight on national security. He's a man who clearly should be at Barack Obama's side in making national security decisions, wherever he may be in the administration.

MADDEN: And, David, that's one thing that Democrats are going to need. They're going to have to have somebody who's going to be able to go toe-to-toe with John McCain on national security and foreign policy and do so with the street cred that Sam Nunn might bring to the ticket.

SIMMONS: Well, I can't wait for us to get to the Republican list.

GERGEN: I agree. And that's why Obama -- if Obama can -- yes, if Obama can define and seize the economy as his issue, then he -- Nunn would help him on national security. It would be a strong -- a very strong ticket.

KING: Jamal, you got a long shot?

SIMMONS: Maybe the long shot might be somebody like Chuck Hagel. You know, Chuck Hagel's a great senator who's from Nebraska. He's a Republican. But, you know, he's a fighting Senator. He's got that Vietnam experience. He could go toe-to-toe with John McCain any day.

KING: Kevin, long shot?

GERGEN: Let me say, he will not break with his friend.

MADDEN: Boy, that is a long shot, you know, picking a Republican. I think if they're going to go with somebody who's a -- somebody who has a lot of cred on the Democrat side, somebody also like -- somebody like Dick Durbin. That may be somebody that they may want to take a look at, somebody who has a lot of experience. But he's -- the problem is he's from the same home state.

KING: Yes. David, I don't think he can run then. I don't think you can have two people from the same state run.

MADDEN: You're asking a Republican to throw out Democrat names.

KING: All right.

MADDEN: I'm trying to ruin the Democrat ticket here. KING: David, quickly, you got a long shot?

GERGEN: Yes. Bill Richardson should remain in this, in the contention.

KING: Ah!

GERGEN: But, Chuck Hagel, he's a good friend of John McCain's. He's not going to break with him.

KING: Bill Richardson, it's interesting, though, that we should -- we should have mentioned him.

John McCain has got to put someone on the ticket with him. Who could it be?

Same panel discuss that ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: OK. Let's run down the Republican vice president potentials with Jamal Simmons, Kevin Madden and David Gergen.

First, the obvious, Mitt Romney. And we'll start this time with Kevin.

MADDEN: Well, Larry, Mitt Romney has what you would describe as the map, the smile and the money. He has broader regional appeal than probably a lot of the candidates out there, given the fact that he's from his home state of Massachusetts and can help in the Northeast.

But he also helps with Michigan, which is his home state, and also, the states where he ran strong in primaries -- Colorado and Nevada, states that are going to be important battlegrounds in this election.

The smile -- it's very important the Democrat -- that the Republican nominee be able to go after the Democrats on issues like health care and the economy. Mitt Romney is a master on those two issues.

KING: All right...

MADDEN: And lastly, the money. He can -- he's a proven fundraiser and he can help close that gap with Obama.

KING: Jamal, what do you think of the idea of Romney?

SIMMONS: First, I don't think there's any way Republicans catch up with Barack Obama when it comes to money. Also, for 20 years, Republicans have been telling people around the country, don't vote for Democrats because liberal politicians from Massachusetts, and now here you have Mitt Romney, who I think a lot of people think was a liberal politician from Massachusetts before he became a conservative Republican to run for president.

KING: David?

GERGEN: He has to be high, high up on any short list. And the reason is not just what Kevin said. But he also is a very, very good businessman, an organizer. And John McCain, given his weaknesses on economic issues, needs someone like that. He has the national security issue down. What he needs is someone to help him on economics. And Mitt Romney, Bain Capital, the Olympics, all of that has proven his record as an executive and knows a lot about economics.

KING: All right. What about, for Kevin, Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

MADDEN: Larry, this is a name if you went on a conservative blogs right now, you would see it bubbling up all over the place. People really like him because he helps with economic conservatives. He helps with social conservatives. But also, he adds youth to a ticket that would help balance John McCain's age. He also has a very compelling life story. He's the son of Indian immigrants. This is a pick that a lot more people are talking about than when this process first started.

KING: Jamal, he would be troublesome, would he not?

SIMMONS: Maybe. I think the real question about Bobby Jindal, seems like a great politician, but is a little bit green. He spent one or two terms in the United States Congress. He just got elected governor of Louisiana just last year. I think a lot of people would wonder if John McCain really needs to pick somebody who is ready to pass the commander in chief test. John McCain is a serious candidate who I think ought to be concerned about that. So the question is, is a 36-year-old, two-term Congressman really ready to be president of the United States?

KING: David?

GERGEN: A rising star, a man who could be on the national ticket very easily in the years to come. Right now, John McCain is 71, needs someone who is ready to step into the presidency, someone with gravitas, should something happen to him, to his health. I think this is just -- Bobby Jindal is just too young at this point. I think a little more grooming, he could be a very serious national candidate.

KING: OK, Kevin, Governor Charlie Crist of Florida.

MADDEN: Well, when you're governor of Florida, you're on any VP list, because it's such a critical state that Democrats and Republicans are going to compete very hard for. Charlie Crist is an absolutely wonderfully skilled politician. He's very popular in Florida. A lot of people like him. His drawback is that he's not very well known across the country. If you're looking to shore up Florida, putting Charlie Crist on the ticket wouldn't hurt.

KING: Sometimes, Jamal, Johnson won it for Kennedy by delivering Texas. If Charlie Crist could deliver Florida, that might win it. Good idea, Jamal? SIMMONS: Well, I think, as Kevin just said, every politician that is statewide elected in Florida is always on the short list. Ask my old boss, Bob Graham. The question for John McCain will be can he win Florida without Crist, and he may be able to. So if that's the case, does Crist help you anywhere else on the map? I don't know that he does.

KING: David?

GERGEN: Jamal is right. McCain is already up eight or ten points in Florida. What surprised me, Larry, is that Crist, who started out so popular in Florida, is much less so today. I was there not long ago, an audience of 600, Republican county, asked how many would you like to have Charlie Crist on the ticket? How many hands went up? Zero. I was very surprised.

KING: Why? What happened?

GERGEN: They were unhappy with him. They're unhappy over some tax issues and other things. I thought he was immensely popular. I went in there and I was totally surprised. So I'm not sure he helps you that much at this point. He would get a lot of Democrats. The Democrats are really agitated about what happened in the count down there in the Democratic primary. So, you know, I would be surprised if he goes there. Very attractive, but I'd be surprised if he goes there.

KING: Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota?

MADDEN: During the darkest days of John McCain's campaign, Tim Pawlenty was there by his side and he never wavered. That means something to John McCain. He has an incredible personal rapport and I think a lot of people who know John McCain well know that he puts a premium on that personal chemistry that he's going to have with his VP. That positions Pawlenty in the center of any debate we're going to have about who could be a potential VP.

And he's from the state of Minnesota. That's going to be a battleground in the Midwest and Tim Pawlenty on the ticket could very well help deliver that state. It went blue in 2004, and it could try to turn red in 2008.

SIMMONS: Larry, if Tim Pawlenty can help win Minnesota, it's probably not a bad choice. The other question though is not many other people around the country have heard from him. I was reading something in the "Minneapolis Star Tribune" where they some raised questions about whether or not Tim Pawlenty is really popular enough to help John McCain win a state like Minnesota, in the midst of all these Republican problems on the war and the economy and everything else that the Republicans face.

KING: David, what's your read on Pawlenty?

GERGEN: Kevin is right about the personal chemistry with John McCain. That's why someone like Rob Portman, for example, is a dark horse who might be on there from Ohio. John McCain wants to have somebody run he gets along well with. Beyond that, Tim Pawlenty is a truck driver's son. His dad was a Teamster from the south side of St. Paul. And Pawlenty has some of that quality. I think he would help McCain do the crossover and pull in some of the blue collar white voters in various parts of the country.

KING: Jamal and Kevin are going to remain with us. One more question for David: when do you think these vice presidential selections will be made?

GERGEN: I would think in both cases, Larry, they're going to want to wait until very close to the convention, maybe a week, two weeks before, because they want to see how the landscape changes. Barack Obama, in particular, needs to know if after this campaigning -- he's out trying to frame the economic issues today and the next few days. If he can crack this thing open, then I think his choices become quite different than if he's locked in a very, very close race. And you need to have some time to let things settle down and see where you are and then make the decision. I think probably the same for McCain.

KING: David, as always, thanks. We'll be back and we'll take now a look at the race between Obama and McCain. Thanks to David Gergen. The general election is around the corner. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: President Bush told the American people he thought the biggest danger arising from this housing crisis was the temptation to do something about it. That's what he said. Now, Senator McCain wants to turn Bush's policy of too little too late into a policy of even less even later.

MCCAIN: Senator Obama seems to want to go back to the failed policies of the '60s and '70s, bigger government, higher taxes, more government programs. I don't think that's the right way to go.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: By the way, our guest tomorrow, Hulk Hogan, an exclusive. We want to hear from you about it. Our quick vote is to go to CNN's number one show page and cast your ballot, CNN.com/LarryKing. Hulk Hogan speaks about his jailed son Nick on Tuesday's LARRY KING LIVE.

Joining Jamal Simmons and Kevin Madden are Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor in chief of the "Huffington Post." She's in New York. And in Washington, Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, a supporter of John McCain, who attended his rally in Nashville week.

We'll start with Arianna. How important in this campaign really is the vice presidential pick?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": I don't think it is incredibly important, especially for Barack Obama. Because as long as the vice presidential nominee matches his brand of politics, his emphasis on the future, his break from the past, his emphasis on getting the troops out of Iraq and changing what we're doing with the economy, then it doesn't really matter as much who it is. I think the key thing will be for the VP nominee to have some credentials in foreign policy because I believe in the end, despite how badly the economy is doing, national security will be the key issue.

KING: Congresswoman Blackburn, a new CNN Opinion Research poll shows 78 percent say that economic conditions are poor. If this is it's the economy, stupid, election, who will it help?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I think one of the things you're going to see is John McCain's message will resonate very well here. He has always been strong on reducing government spending. He has been with us, the House conservatives, on the issue of earmarks. And people have just about had their fill of that wasteful pork barrel spending. They've just about had their fill of government programs run amuck. And they want to see tax reductions and he understands that. He has some innovative tax proposals he is putting forward.

That coupled with energy, the price of gas at the pump -- Larry, I think the economic issues are the number one issues. And do believe that those play to his strengths.

KING: For want of a better term, Jamal Simmons, is this going to be a vicious campaign?

SIMMONS: It's certainly shaping up to be a vigorous campaign. I hope it doesn't get to the point of being vicious. When you get back to these issue of the economy, I do think there will be some very important issues on the table for this election; whether or not we stay in Iraq, how we get out of Iraq, what happens in the economy when it comes to things like another -- not only maintaining the George Bush tax cuts, which is what John McCain wants to do, but then adding on top of that another 400 million dollars in tax cuts. Or whether or not John McCain wants to do for the health care industry what Republicans did for the credit card industry and deregulate it.

Americans are going to have some very tough decisions to make when it comes time to start really evaluating these candidates.

KING: Kevin, are we going to see a lot of debates?

MADDEN: I think we will. You're looking at two candidates who really want to engage the American public. They want to talk issues. And both of them, I think, believe that they are at their strength when they're dealing with the substance of the issues. And that's the best way to do it is in a debate. Go out there and really debate the contrasts, debate the intricacies of their policies, where they want to take the country. You've seen John McCain essentially invite Barack Obama to have ten town hall meetings across the country so that everybody can talk about these issues, dial down into the issues and really find out where they stand.

KING: Let me take a call. Dallas, Texas, hello.

CALLER: I love your show, Larry. I watch it every night.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: Is it likely that John McCain may choose Kay Bailey Hutchison or Rudy Giuliani? I think one of them would be good.

KING: Arianna, what do you make of those two ideas?

HUFFINGTON: I think he's more likely to choose Kay Bailey Hutchison than Rudy Giuliani. Given that he's already having a lot of problems with his conservative base, I think he's very, very unlikely to pick somebody who is pro-choice and who has had a lot of problems with conservatives. And picking a woman would be a very smart choice.

KING: More of your calls when LARRY KING LIVE returns. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": We now have a choice. Well, we haven't found out yet. We don't know what he's about. He hasn't -- that's what I'm saying. We don't know what any of them are about.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK, "THE VIEW": Yes, we absolutely do.

GOLDBERG: No, we don't, Elizabeth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Congresswoman Blackburn, just based on that little clip, can we say that this fall will be one of the most talked about, if not the most talked about, political elections in our history?

BLACKBURN: I think indeed it is shaping up to be one of the most talked about and it's great to see people are engaged in the issues. They're paying attention. They are gathering information. And we're going to hear from them. You know, people are all engaged on who the VP choice is going to be, what kind of decisions people are going to bring forward as to how they would address different issues that are going to be presented to us.

Larry, I think we're going to hear more about policy, more about issues at the town hall meetings they're talking about doing as something that is very well received. People want to be engaged.

KING: Arianna, do you agree this will be some kind of year?

HUFFINGTON: It will be. It already has been, Larry. It has already been some kind of year. What is so fascinating is that the way Obama is running his campaign is really bringing in many millions of the unlikely voters. If you look back at both the Clinton years and Bush years, Larry, the campaigns have been run targeting swing voters and really ignoring the almost 50 percent of eligible voters who regularly do not vote in presidential elections. Obama has changed that.

That's why when we hear so much about swing voters, working white man, all of that is a different game now because the numbers of young voters coming out in this election is unprecedented. It will dramatically change the general in the way it completely changed all the predictions about the primary.

KING: Kevin, do you agree?

MADDEN: I do. I've been struck -- if someone told me that we'd be sitting here with Barack Obama and John McCain as the nominees, I would have been shocked a year and a half ago. The idea that somebody not even through their first Senate term would beat Hillary Clinton and the idea that John McCain would be able to rally conservatives in a primary, which he's always had a historical tension between them, I would have been shocked.

I do believe that that process has brought a lot more people into watching the process, learning about the process and actually living and working in the process. It has been an incredible year 2008 in politics.

KING: Jamal Simmons, the largest turnout ever maybe?

SIMMONS: I think we will see be the largest turnout ever. With Barack Obama on the ticket, you will see people come out of the woodwork we haven't seen in generations vote. It's interesting, because what Democrats have figured out is, like the Republicans, we learned how to do field again.

I remember being in Georgia in 2002, and watching the Republicans turn out people in droves. I remember in 2004 when we were in Ohio and Republicans turned out people that nobody thought even knew would show up on election day. Now, I think you'll see the Democratic response to that drubbing we got from two election cycles in a row, and you'll see people really come out in support of this ticket.

And also because there are some very serious issues on the ballot and I think what Americans have figured out is that we've got a flood in the basement and our roof is leaking. We've been arguing about what color we want to paint the kitchen. People want us to deal with the real problems the country faces. They have been as engaged as I've ever seen in 16 years of politics.

KING: San Diego, hello?

CALLER: Hi. Thank you for taking my call. My question is how come Joe Biden doesn't get brought up as vice president with Obama? He's the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee that McCain, Obama, and John Kerry all serve on. He would just rock the world when it comes to international relations. How come he's not mentioned?

KING: Arianna, a very bright guy.

HUFFINGTON: He is mentioned and so is Chris Dodd. Chris Dodd is mentioned more than Joe Biden, but they're both mentioned. I think they sometimes have a reluctance to have two senators on the ticket, the way we had with Kerry and Edwards. And I think Obama is going to look very carefully at who can appeal to the swing voters that we talked about earlier.

KING: By the way, Congresswoman Blackburn, do you have a favorite for vice president?

BLACKBURN: Well, I think one of the things you're going to see with the McCain decision, and this is just my own speculation, is that he will choose a non-traditional candidate. And I think that he will make --

KING: Like?

BLACKBURN: -- a late decision. It would not surprise me to see a female. It would not surprise me to see a person of color. It would not surprise me to see a businessman, maybe someone like Fred Smith, who is the head of Fedex, who knows how to run a business. I think that you're going to see somebody outside of the box. McCain has always been a maverick and I think you're going to see that come through as he chooses a running mate.

KING: We're going to take a break.

We'll wrap it all up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Tomorrow night, Hulk Hogan exclusive. There's still time to send him an I ask or e-mail. You can do that at CNN.com/LarryKing. Let's get in a call for our panel. Brandon in Florida, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My question is I'm wondering why Hillary Clinton hasn't directly addressed her supporters that are saying they're going to vote for McCain on different websites and blogs? Why has she not directly addressed that, considering McCain had a rally where someone called her B-I-T-C-H and he thought that was funny. So I'm wondering how can they --

KING: Good. Jamal, should she make another address to those supporters who are saying they're going to go the other way?

SIMMONS: I think we haven't seen the end of Hillary Clinton this campaign trail. She'll be out campaigning for Barack Obama and doing it with vigor and style and grace. And a lot of these voters are heart broken right now. They are considering someone else. But I think they may have this John McCain moment, but ultimately when the Democrats make their case, they'll realize he's just bad news for them.

KING: Do you agree, Arianna?

HUFFINGTON: Absolutely. And she's going to be around the country campaigning and drawing contrasts. Campaigns are about contrasts. Now there may be some Hillary Clinton disappointed voters who are considering voting for John McCain. But trust me, when they find out that John McCain wants to overturn Roe versus Wade, and when they find out that he is definitely going to appeal to his conservative base by speaking out against reproductive rights, against many of the women's rights that they passionately support, they're not going to be voting for John McCain.

KING: Congresswoman Blackburn, what kind of campaigner will John be?

BLACKBURN: I think he's going to be a vigorous campaigner. And, Larry, I will tell you, I have talked with women over the past few days who are taking a look at John McCain's candidacy. They agree with him when it comes to government spending. They agree with him when it comes to earmarks. They agree with him on the security issues, whether it is our national security or our retirement security. And I think he is going to pick up quite a few of those Hillary Clinton voters. And he is going to work very, very hard to earn those votes.

KING: Jamal, do you fear that?

SIMMONS: Yes, actually, I do. I think there is a lot -- there's a strong case to be made that a lot of women and a lot of other voters are upset about the way this election turned out. I'm not sure I agree with them that they should be upset, but that they are upset. Barack Obama is taking it seriously. You're seeing him campaigning very hard in states that he didn't do very well in during the primaries. And he's expanding his staff with a lot of very serious new female campaign advisers, Anita Dunn, a bunch of other people. You're going to see him campaign vigorously for women's votes. He won't take any vote for granted.

KING: Kevin, we only have 30 seconds left; do you fear a large young turnout?

MADDEN: Absolutely. I think Barack Obama has brought in a whole new array of voters that are younger. College campuses are very excited about his candidacy. So that's baking the cake. But I also think the younger voters, Larry, know that this election is going to have a large impact of where we go over the next 20 years. So they're very engaged on issues, whether it's the economy, national security, health care. They care about it, they are definitely going to be showing up in the polls and the Republicans have been to be ready.

KING: Thank you all very much, Jamal Simmons, Kevin Madden, Arianna Huffington, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. Go to our website, CNN.com/LarryKing for quick votes, our King of Politics section, transcripts and more. We got an exclusive for you tomorrow night, Hulk Hogan, his first interview since his son was jailed for that car wreck that critically injured a friend. That's LARRY KING LIVE on Tuesday. And by the way, Steve Carell will be here Friday. I saw "Get Smart" today, painfully funny!

Time now for Campbell Brown and "Anderson Cooper 360." Campbell?