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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Will Clinton and Obama Unite Dems?; Do Most Former Hillary Clinton Supporters Favor Obama?
Aired June 26, 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 breaking news -- their first fundraiser together just ended. Former rivals now united?
Hillary Clinton asks her fat cat donors to ante up for Barack Obama.
Will they show him the money and their votes? But where does that leave her? What will Hillary Clinton do now?
And then there's Bill. Can he leave the bitterness behind?
It's all right now on LARRY KING LIVE.
We begin tonight with breaking news a short time ago in Washington, Hillary Clinton introduced Barack Obama to some of her top fundraisers. This comes just days after Obama asks his finance folks to help her pay off millions of dollars in campaign debt.
We'll start with CNN's senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, who's got all the latest on the meetings and money.
Any surprises -- Candy?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, a little bit of news. Tonight, Barack Obama put his money where his mouth is. You were just saying that he told his top donors if they wanted to, they should contribute to Hillary Clinton so she could help pay off her debt. And tonight, he cut her a check for $2,300, which is the maximum amount that Barack Obama could give to her, as did the Obama finance chairman.
So she walked out of there $4,600 richer. I can tell you that.
KING: Are the big donors -- his big donors -- ready to open their wallets to cut some of her campaign costs?
CROWLEY: We'll see. Somewhat. But, you know, she has a $10 million debt. His top donors, probably about 300 or more. He has his finance committee, so there's probably about 300 or more. They can only give $2,300 apiece. So there's still a significant debt there. But they will chip it down. I think they will -- most of them will, in fact, do what they can to help at least cut down on that $10 million debt.
KING: But, Candy, will her people support him?
CROWLEY: Most of them. I talked to a lot of these fundraisers -- her fundraisers -- over the past couple of days. There is a cadre of fundraisers, many of them women who have been with her for a while. They were described to me as women who grew up in the late '60s, early '70s during the feminist movement. And they're in the no way, no how column at this point. Whether they'll change their mind, I don't know.
But in varying degrees, Hillary Clinton's fundraisers are being urged by her to move over and help Barack Obama.
Tonight, both of them recognized to this audience that there were hard feelings on both sides but said, look at the bigger picture. We have to come together to do this. So, yes, by and large, her fundraisers will help him out, but there'll be some holdouts.
KING: We'll check back with Candy in a couple of moments, right after we talk with Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman.
But let's go to Chicago and check in with Robert Gibbs, Obama's campaign communications director.
What do you hear about this meeting? Was it a success?
ROBERT GIBBS, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: I think the meeting was a success. I think what donors tonight is the same thing that voters are going to see tomorrow in Unity, New Hampshire, and that is a team united to bring change to this country, to drive down oil prices, to make health care more affordable, to provide people -- hardworking people with jobs. I think it's an agenda for change and I think it's what was previewed tonight.
KING: What about reports, Robert, that President Clinton, Bill Clinton, remains miffed that, for example, Obama has not called him -- true?
GIBBS: Well, we are -- we're working to arrange that call to the president right now. The former president is in Europe. He's got an extremely busy schedule. His office released a statement a couple of days ago.
We think that both former President Clinton and Senator Clinton are going to be very helpful to this ticket, that we need their support and we need their enthusiasm. And I think we're going to get it. Because I think, again, what you're going to do is see two candidates tomorrow united to bring this country together and move this country forward.
KING: The latest polls give your candidate a double digit lead.
Is the Bill Clinton support necessary?
GIBBS: Well, absolutely. I think we -- we want the insight and the wisdom of the former president. His presidency, eight years, was terrific. It created millions and millions of new jobs. Lots of other things happened that were positive for this country. Home ownership was up. Poverty was down. The welfare rolls were down.
Those are the kind of changes that I think we have to get back to in this country, because we've seen eight years of progress on the other side, which is back sliding on that. Health care is more expensive. Jobs have gone overseas and people have lost their jobs. We can't afford -- America can't afford four more years of George Bush's policy and John McCain as president.
KING: Do you know, Robert, if Senator Obama agreed with the Supreme Court decision today to strike down Washington, D.C.'s gun law?
GIBBS: Well, he acknowledges and he's always said that an individual has a right to bear arms. That's one of the things that the court decided today. The court also said that communities throughout the country can set reasonable safety measures that they deem necessary.
The court ruled today that Washington had gone too far. But the important thing that the court did agree on today was, one, something that Barack believes in, which is an individual's right to bear arms, as well as communities that can set reasonable and common sense safety measures, as long as those two equal up. And I think that's the guidance that the Supreme Court offered cities throughout the country today.
KING: Senator McCain says that Obama has changed his position on gun control to suit the mood of the country.
What do you think?
GIBBS: Well, it's the same old Washington political talk that we get from the McCain campaign every day. I think our statements have been crystal clear on this. Again, he supports law abiding gun owners and their right to bear arms. And I think that's what he'll -- that's the right he'll uphold as president. And I think that's what he talked about today.
KING: I mean how does -- what does he expect in this campaign? Does he expect tough going? Does he expect a rough ride, your candidate?
GIBBS: Well, look, I -- nobody thinks this is going to be easy. The primary wasn't easy, as both the Clinton and the Obama campaigns can attest. But I think what's important is that we talk about the issues that matter most to this country -- an energy policy that weans us off of our dependence on foreign oil. That we create millions of new jobs, that we work hard every day to ensure that our troops can come home safely and that we take care of them when they do come home.
I think what Senator Obama looks forward to is a vigorous discussion on the issues and the vision that he has to bring change to this country.
KING: Robert, what do you expect at the unity rally in New Hampshire tomorrow? GIBBS: Well, I think it's going to be a great day. I think you're going to see Democrats, Independents and Republicans all coming together in Unity, New Hampshire, again, united to bring change to this country and move this country forward again.
KING: A big crowd?
GIBBS: I think so. I think there will be several thousand people. I think it will be a good time. I think it will be a great picture. And I think Democrats, Republicans and Independents all over this country will be excited by what they see tomorrow.
Barack Obama has the ability to bring groups of people -- different groups of people together to move forward and make progress. You'll see that tomorrow and you'll see that throughout the rest of this campaign.
KING: And one other thing, Robert, just to double check. You did say that Obama is in the process of contacting President Clinton?
GIBBS: Yes. I assume they'll speak very soon. He has great admiration and respect for President Clinton, for what he accomplished in his presidency and for his vigorous support of his wife in this campaign. We look forward to talking to him and we look forward to his support and his work in this campaign. It's crucial for us to move forward and move forward together. And I think that's what you'll see tomorrow.
KING: Thank you, Robert. Robert Gibbs, the Obama campaign communications director.
What's Hillary Clinton thinking tonight?
We'll hear from man who knows ahead on LARRY KING LIVE.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Senator Obama has inspired so many Americans to care about politics.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: She's been on a extraordinary public servant for years.
CLINTON: I am standing with Senator Obama to say yes, we can.
OBAMA: She ran an historic race, an historic campaign that shattered barriers.
CLINTON: Help elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We'll be hearing from Terry McAuliffe shortly. Terry is the former -- or current campaign -- I guess he's still campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton.
By the way, would you like to see an Obama/Clinton ticket?
That's a direct question. Please vote now at CNN.com/larryking.
Let's meet Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She's in Washington, Democrat of Florida, an early and enthusiastic backer of Hillary Clinton. She was at today's meeting introducing Obama to Hillary Clinton's troops and donors.
And here in Los Angeles, Tanya Acker, a Democratic analyst who worked on the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign and supports Barack Obama.
What was it like today, Congresswoman Schultz?
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMANN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA, SUPPORTED CLINTON, ENDORSES OBAMA: Well, we all support Barack Obama now. So let me just make that absolutely clear.
And in addition to the meeting at the Mayflower Hotel with Hillary's donors, Senator Obama also met with the Women's Caucus in the House of Representatives. And both meetings went extremely well.
The reception for him was enthusiastic. He was warm. He started doing things he needed to do to reach out to her donors, say the things that they wanted to hear, hit the -- hit the important points that -- and then also emphasize that he's going make sure that she is a strong and intricate part of his campaign, which they were very enthusiastic about.
KING: Tanya, was this a big, big day?
TANYA ACKERMAN, DEMOCRATIC ANALYST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: I think it was a really big day.
Is the primary over?
I was hoping it would go on until December and we could have some Christmas parties around (INAUDIBLE).
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think we're done now. It's time to come together.
ACKERMAN: I think it was a really, really good day. I think that -- I'm so happy just to see these two incredible candidates, these historic candidates, come together and move forward and start getting the work and taking the country back.
KING: In New York is Andrea Tantaros. She is a Republican strategist, media consultant, former press secretary for the Republican House Conference.
Always good to see her. She supports John McCain.
How, from your perspective, how do you look at this day on the Democratic side, Andrea?
ANDREA TARTAROS, GOP STRATEGIST & MEDIA CONSULTANT: Well, it's pretty interesting, Larry. It almost reminds you -- and I don't want to be accused of hyperbole here -- but of Reykjavik, when you had the meeting of, you know, two enemies -- Reagan and Gorbachev.
TARTAROS: And there is a certain element of mutually assured destruction here. You know, they both need each other. Obama needs Hillary's eight million supporters and he needs them to actually believe that she wants him to win, that she's not looking ahead to 2012. And she needs him, as well, to help her pay some of this campaign debt.
So, it is -- there is a certain aspect here of they need each other. We'll see how -- how she relinquishes control going forward. But I think for Democrats, it was a good day. The quicker they unite, the better it is for their party, that's for sure.
KING: Also in New York is Kellyanne Conway, the Republican strategist and pollster, who also supports John McCain.
How do you view this day, from the Democratic standpoint to the Republican standpoint?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, GOP STRATEGIST & POLLSTER, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: You can't take much away from the Democrats. It's a big day for the home team.
But, Larry, at the very fundamental level, should it be a surprise that a sitting United States Democratic senator who also ran for president as a Democrat is endorsing the Democratic nominee?
The headline would be if that weren't the case. And it doesn't seem to be the case yet with Bill Clinton. It's really remarkable that these two gentlemen, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, have not yet spoken. And I think Republicans will be very curious to see how that all plays out, because we all know the recent history of this campaign has been that Bill Clinton got in the way of himself quite a few times.
KING: Candy Crowley, Robert Gibbs, the campaign chairman -- from the standpoint of communications -- for Obama, just told us that Obama will be contacting Bill Clinton very shortly and arrange a get- together.
CROWLEY: Well, what's interesting is they've been trying to do this for a couple days. At one point, I said to somebody in the Obama campaign, what, there's no cell phone that Bill Clinton carries around?
CROWLEY: So, you know, they've been trying. Listen, there is absolutely no doubt that Bill Clinton has taken this very hard. This is -- you know, there's two levels here. There is the practical. And I think they have done very well with the practical part. Hillary Clinton has done everything that she possibly could, I think, or that you could ask for of someone through such a tough, tough campaign.
I think Barack Obama has said all the right things, been very complimentary, talking about how much he needed her.
I think it will take a little while for Bill Clinton to come along, because he felt his legacy had been tarnished. He felt he was framed as a racist. He, of course, wanted his wife to win. So it's kind of a trifecta there for him to try to get over. But he's going...
CROWLEY: He's going to come along eventually. For heaven's sake, he's a former Democratic president. So it will happen. It's just -- I think he's dragging his feet at this point.
KING: Congresswoman Schultz, do you agree?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I do. I mean people are making so much out of the fact that he's only issued a statement through a spokesman. But that statement and what it said is important. He said he is willing and ready to do anything that Senator Obama asks him to do. He will be out there campaigning on the stump. There's nothing that President Clinton likes better than being out there with the folks in this country. And he is going to be enthusiastically behind Senator Obama.
But, yes, I mean it is the guy's wife. And, at the end of the day, there is a mourning -- if there was a mourning period for supporters like me and the folks that were at the Mayflower today, imagine the mourning period that her husband is going through.
KING: Before she introduced...
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: We've just got to give him a little bit of a break.
KING: Before she introduced Obama to her most loyal fundraisers a short time ago, Hillary Clinton lauded him in speeches before two trade groups. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We cannot afford four more years of the same. It won't be good for any of us. And therefore we have to be determined to chart a new course. And we cannot do that without electing Senator Obama our president.
So that is what I'm going to be working for. That is what I'm going to be fighting for. And I look forward to traveling around our country and seeing so many of you again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tanya Acker, had Al Gore used Bill Clinton more in 2000, would he be president?
ACKERMAN: Yes, absolutely. He absolutely...
KING: A big mistake?
ACKERMAN: A huge mistake. I think that was a big mistake. And, look, I think that President Clinton will come out for Senator Obama when the two of them decide the time is right. President Clinton was not running in this race, Hillary Clinton was. It was Senator Clinton's endorsement that was key. I agree with Kellyanne. It's no big surprise that she's come out for him as strongly as she did. I think we -- I think the media tended to make it more of a surprise than it was, because the primary was so hard-fought.
But I think President Clinton will come out in good time.
KING: We'll be right back with our panel.
Terry McAuliffe still to come. Don't go away. Hillary Clinton's main campaign man is Terry McAuliffe. Hopefully he'll join us right after the break.
KING: Hey, we're rock and rolling tonight. We'll be back with our panel in just a moment.
But let's now go back to Washington and Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, now supporting Barack Obama. He was the emcee of this event tonight.
How did that go?
TERRY MCAULIFFE, CHAIRMAN, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Well, I could never be the emcee you are, Larry. I did the best I could. But we had about 300 people came in tonight to meet with Senator Obama. And Hillary was there. And, you know, this group raised about $230 million for Hillary's campaign. So tonight was let's move the torch on and let's all get together behind Senator Obama. Let's move forward.
We've got to win the White House. You know, it's no fun losing. But you know what, there are bigger issues out there -- health care, education. And I think tonight was the beginning. Let's move together toward the fall campaign. Senator Obama personally gave me a check for Hillary Clinton. His finance chairwoman, Penny Pritzker, gave me a check for Hillary Clinton. So there were a lot of checks being exchanged tonight.
KING: What -- do you have a figure in your mind, a percentage of women strongly for Hillary who will go for Obama?
MCAULIFFE: Well, listen, she got 18 million votes. She actually -- more people went in and voted for her than any candidate in the history of our country. You know, listen, it's going to take some people more time than others. I mean, listen, I'm a party guy. I understand the issues. Hillary said Terry, we've got to get everybody behind Senator Obama.
But women are going to be key. They were 54 percent of the vote in 2004. I think in 2008 they could be 56, 57 percent. That's an extraordinary number. And we've got to make sure that women come out in an historic number.
Senator Obama, onstage tonight, said I want Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail every day with me, out on the road, energizing those folks.
So it was -- it was a great moment tonight. It was a lot of fun. People were excited. And I think as we move forward, this is a historic time for the Democrats. We could win anywhere from six to eight, nine seats in the Senate. We could win 20 to 30 seats in the House, win the White House back. And many of us are still upset -- you know, a 537 vote difference in 2000 and 2004. If we'd shifted 60,000 votes in Ohio, John Kerry would be in the White House.
We can't get this one go and we can't do it unless we're unified. And that is what tonight was all about.
KING: Is your good friend, Bill Clinton, going to be heavily involved?
MCAULIFFE: He is. And, you know, I don't understand where this comes from. You know, I spent -- I was up there Monday. I spent the entire day myself in Chappaquiddick with the president and Hillary. And Hillary had to go off and do some events. I spent the rest of the afternoon with the president.
He is ready to do -- he said, Terry, 24/7. I will do whatever it takes. He issued a statement and said I'll do whatever anyone wants me to do. And all of this press hype about what Bill Clinton is doing, he will do anything he can to help Senator Obama and to help the Democrats up and down the ballot.
We are all ready to go. Tonight was a big indication of that. The president is on a five nation trip. He's all over the world. Actually, today, he's actually, as you know, at Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday party, something he committed to a long time ago. Otherwise, he would have been there tonight.
KING: A new A.P. Press/Yahoo! news poll says 23 percent of Clinton's backers say they'll back McCain.
Do you buy that?
MCAULIFFE: You know, it's early. I try to remind everybody, we were in -- this was a tough race, as you know, Larry. And we were in this thing for 17 months. It's going to take some time for people. But I believe once we get through Labor Day -- and I don't pay attention to any poll until after Labor Day, because people aren't really paying attention.
After Labor Day, I do believe the issues of education and health care, the war in Iraq and all of the things that people care about, people are going to come home.
It's just going to take some people time. I understand it. As I say, I don't enjoy losing. But you know what, it's not about us, it's not about Hillary, as she keeps telling me. Terry, it's about all those people who tonight, you know, Larry, aren't being able to educate their children, give them the quality education that they deserve or being able to feed their children. That's who we're fighting for. And that's what it's about.
And I just say we...
MCAULIFFE: ...listen, look in Pennsylvania -- 300,000 people switched party I.D.s to become Democrats. We had 36 million people vote, Larry, 20 million more than 2004. Twenty million more people. Extraordinary.
It will be a great year for the Democrats if we move together.
KING: Are you going Unity, New Hampshire?
MCAULIFFE: Yes. You bet. I'm all about unity and anywhere Hillary goes, I'm going with her. And I told Barack tonight, listen, our folks are going to be there for you. We're going to do anything we can to help you win, to help the down ballot elections (ph). Let's go. The issues are too great.
KING: Thank you, Terry.
MCAULIFFE: Thanks, Larry.
KING: Terry McAuliffe, the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman, who emceed the event tonight.
Back to Candy Crowley. What do you make of Terry's optimism?
CROWLEY: I expect nothing less from Terry, I can tell you. He is the eternal optimist. If you went to any of the primary nights, regardless of what exit polls said, he was expecting a big night.
So, listen, I really do think he is right about this, that it is going to take some people more time than others, that there will be people who are not going to go ahead and vote for Barack Obama because they still have sore feelings or because they simply don't like him.
But the vast majority of Democrats, I think, are coming on board. Certainly, the fundraisers, most of them, are coming on board.
KING: What... CROWLEY: It's an eyes on the prize sort of pitch that she is making and that Obama is making -- look, what is this about?
It's not about the primaries. It's about November. So -- and now, if you noticed -- and Terry did it, too -- they are all talking about the House and the Senate now. So I suspect you'll see Hillary Clinton out there for some Senate folks, as well.
KING: Terry also said that he spent the day with President Clinton the other day and that he's committed fully to gung ho all the way. Do you buy that?
CROWLEY: Sure. I think it would better if he told that to Barack Obama. I mean, look, here's the thing. I mean I think Obama is perfectly right, it wasn't Bill Clinton's campaign. It was Hillary Clinton's campaign.
And what mattered was getting her on board.
However, the Obama campaign has been trying for three or four days to get a hold of him.
So -- but I have absolutely no doubt that Bill Clinton is going to go out and campaign for Barack Obama. Legacy, legacy, legacy. He's a Democrat. He's going to go do it, you know. And it may take him some more time.
KING: Yes. Thank you, Candy -- Candy Crowley.
Thank you, Terry McAuliffe.
Bill Clinton on the campaign trail again -- is that a Republican nightmare or maybe a secret dream?
Some answers after this.
KING: We're back with our reassembled panel.
In Washington, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
In Los Angeles, Democratic analyst Tanya Acker.
In New York, Kellyanne Conway, Republican strategist.
And in New York, as well, Andrea Tantaros, also a Republican strategist and media consultant.
Kellyanne, does the thought of Bill Clinton out there daily for Barack Obama bring fear into your McCain heart?
CONWAY: No, it does not. I think the big question is not is Bill Clinton fully committed to Barack Obama, but what will Senator Obama actually ask Bill Clinton to do? That to me seems to me that it would be the focus because Al Gore didn't want Bill Clinton to do much. I think that was a mistake.
This is Senator Obama's campaign now. He has the right as the nominee to choose his own vice president, to decide what he wants Bill Clinton to do. If you're Senator Obama, as a presidential nominee for the Democrats, do you really want to spend part of your day either adopting or disavowing or chastising one of our chief spokespeople, who also seems to just happen to be a former president of the United States? That's difficult for him.
Everyone is being polite tonight. It sounds like Obama and Hillary Clinton are going to do the three legged sack race together at the Democratic picnic, but you can roll tape. Hillary not saying such nice things about Barack Obama not so long ago, Larry. I think you'll see some of that.
KING: Congresswoman Schultz, how will President Clinton be used?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I think he'll be used particularly where we're in an economy that has taken a significant downturn to remind people what this nation was like during eight years during sustained growth under his presidency. I mean, his whole mantra in his campaign was "it's the economy, stupid." Right now, we are in the doldrums. So reminding the American voters about the prosperity that they enjoyed when he was office is going to be an important thing to get him out to talk about, because Barack Obama is going to run this campaign on improving the economy, expanding access to universal health care, and making sure that we can bring our troops home. Those are the things that Americans care about right now.
KING: Andrea, does that give you pause?
TANTAROS: You know, Larry, talking about Bill Clinton, I think this might actually be the shot in the arm that the Republicans need. Looking up and seeing Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama on a stage, nothing starts getting Republicans licking their chops more than that. I'm going to say what all of the Democrats haven't said tonight. And that is, look, Barack Obama, I don't think he needs Bill Clinton's help. I don't think he wants Bill Clinton's help.
Just yesterday, we saw Bill Clinton's buddies grace the covers of the major papers. They're involved in another one of their screams. This runs in direct contrast to Barack Obama's message. I think you will not see Bill Clinton be a giant part of this campaign. His wife will be, but not him.
KING: Tanya, why do you laugh?
ACKER: I laugh at my good friend Andrea because notwithstanding the contentiousness of the primary race, Bill Clinton is a hero among Democrats and he's a hero, frankly, to a good part of the country. There's the extreme right wing. He won two elections. We were a prosperous nation when he was president. I point out there is a big difference between being on the campaign trail when your wife is in the fight of her life and being on the campaign trail when you're supporting a fellow Democrat. I think that certainly President Clinton had moments during the primary season where he said things that he probably now wishes he hadn't. I think that it was a much more emotional campaign for him than will be the case when you see him campaigning for Senator Obama. I think it's apples and oranges frankly.
KING: Kellyanne, do you think he'll be out and around a lot?
CONWAY: Sure, he can't help himself. He's Bill Clinton. It's human nature. You want everyone to like you and to meet and greet everyone. Political human nature for Bill Clinton is that you thrive on it. I think he needs to reestablish himself as the international figure we would like to be. At the same time, if Barack Obama were not to win the presidency and Bill Clinton were not to be actively involved, he could be blamed for that as well. After someone does not succeed, they try to play the blame game quite a bit.
I think what Bill Clinton can do for Barack Obama, ironically, is he has more of a hold on the women's votes than Hillary Clinton did this time. Bill Clinton is better among women in the general election, particularly in his re-election, than Hillary Clinton necessarily did in the Democratic primary. She got less than 60 percent of all women to vote for her. Frankly, I think that's important because in the last ten presidential elections, Republicans have won seven of the ten times and women have been a majority of the vote in all ten of those elections.
KING: I'm going to break it up for a second. Our panel will be coming back. But in the interim, who will Hillary Clinton supporters vote for now? A couple of Hillary Clinton supporters will be with us. One is going to be for McCain. He'll tell us why next.
KING: Two interesting ladies with interesting viewpoints. In Washington, Ellen Moran, executive director of Emily's List. Emily's List endorsed Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. She's now supporting Barack Obama.
In Columbus Ohio, Cynthia Ruccia, co-founder of Women For Fair Politics, a Democratic party activist, former Congressional candidate, supported Hillary Clinton's bid for presidency, will now vote for John McCain. Cynthia, why?
CYNTHIA RUCCIA, CO-FOUNDER, WOMEN FOR FAIR POLITICS: We don't think that the Democratic party needs to be rewarded for the behavior that came out during this campaign. Many of us -- I represent a group called Women For Fair Politics. We're part of the just say no deal coalition of over three million Hillary supporters who have given their heart and soul to the Democratic party over the years, and felt absolutely appalled that the party did absolutely nothing to step in and stop the sexism that came out. Really, we should have come out sooner and stopped it ourselves.
KING: You now support someone who basically you disagree with a lot. RUCCIA: We don't really disagree that much with John McCain. You know, part of our coalition are also people who feel that Senator Obama isn't qualified to be president, and feel much more strongly that Senator McCain is. You know, he's -- I'm sorry.
KING: Go ahead.
RUCCIA: He's made promises to us that he would appoint more cabinet level and high level positions to women than any other president in history, and we know that's a promise that he can keep. And we appreciate that. That would be a great advance for women.
KING: Ellen, how do you counter that?
ELLEN MORAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EMILY'S LIST: Certainly what we're hearing from Cynthia reflects the passion that so many of Hillary Clinton's supporters brought in this campaign, and for so many of us who worked really hard to try to elect Hillary Clinton. These are some tough times. I look at this as a choice for our future and what kind of agenda the next president is going to bring this country.
Quite frankly, the choice for so many of us between Senator Obama and Senator McCain could not be clearer. If you want to end the war in Iraq, if you want to try to dig our way out of the hole that we're in this economy, an economy that is punishing women in much larger numbers, the choice is very clear. Senator Obama certainly offers the new direction for this country that we so desperately need, that women voters need, that Senator Clinton has urged us to try to join and help support Senator Obama in becoming the next president.
KING: Cynthia, are you against the war in Iraq?
RUCCIA: I am against the war in Iraq and I believe that John McCain will end the war in Iraq with honor and dignity.
KING: Are you pro-choice?
RUCCIA: I am pro-choice.
KING: You know he's opposite polls there.
RUCCIA: Our organization is about sexism and we do have a position on Roe v. Wade in this election, if people want to go to WomenForFairPolitics.com. But our subject is really sexism. We feel there needs to be a change in women's issues now as well, because as long as the women's movement is defined by abortion, we'll never take on the horrendous sexism that came out. And our organization came together so that no woman running for president will go through what Hillary Clinton went through.
KING: Could Obama do anything to change your mind?
RUCCIA: I don't think so.
KING: Ellen, are you concerned about the sexism that Cynthia says was present? MORAN: Of course, I am. Look, there were some low moments in this campaign. We all learned a lot. And I work at Emily's List. We've done a fair bit to try to call to account the leadership of the networks where we have seen the media, you know, really not present a fair playing field for Senator Clinton. But, again, in looking -- if you're a woman voter out there, if you care about ending the war in Iraq, working on this economy, health care for all of us, Senator McCain just recently voted against expanding health care for poor children.
Again, the choice could not be more clear. And if you care about reproductive freedom and women's health, Senator McCain is wrong on those issues as well.
KING: Cynthia, did Obama do sexist things or the media and the coverage?
RUCCIA: We feel it was a trifecta also. We feel it was the media. It was the Democratic party for not standing up. And it was also surrogates of the Obama campaign who we believe were just brutal in terms of sexism. And we really feel that the party should not be rewarded for this. It takes a slight of hand to turn so many mainstream Democrats, which is what we three million are, against our own party. It's a very heart-breaking experience. This party has been like family to us. And it's been very disappointing for a party that we gave ourselves to, because we felt they would advance the feminist ideals that we believe in to have been so blind to all of this.
KING: Thank you, Ellen and Cynthia. Our panel will return and we'll find out what they think about what these two ladies just said. Don't go away.
KING: We're back with our panel and we'll start with Tanya.
What do you make of our two ladies, especially Cynthia and her feelings for McCain?
ACKER: Larry, I think you raised a very good point with Cynthia, which is that look, there was a lot of sexism in this campaign. That sexism was not coming from Senator Obama. As a woman, as an African- American, I was appalled by the sexism and, frankly, the racism that I saw emerge during this primary season. I think that there were certain surrogates who -- frankly, I think some of Senator Clinton's surrogates who said some pretty racist things.
Now, I would never attribute or ascribe those views to Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton, for that matter. I think even when he said what he said about Senator Obama's win in South Carolina, I think that was unfortunate, but here's somebody who has a history with African- Americans. So I think that to ascribe some of the horrific things that -- some of the sexism that Senator Clinton endured to Senator Obama I just think that's unfair. I think it's inaccurate.
KING: Kellyanne, I know you're a Republican supporter, but were you offended by anything that went on in the campaign against Hillary?
CONWAY: Yes, I was in a way. I'm involved in politics, too. I know prostitution is the oldest profession, but politics must be the second oldest where men still rule. There's no question, even at the consultant level. I think there were many female journalists who were most unkind to Hillary Clinton, always giving undue coverage to what she was wearing, how her hair looked, did she look too tired. I found that to be sexism coming from female journalists. I don't care what Hillary Clinton's hair looks like or what she's wearing. I think spill column inches into that is pretty catty and it detracts from the substance.
Larry, where is the comparable coverage of the members of Congress with the bear bellies and the bad comb overs? Where are these stories, ladies? You never read these stories anywhere. How about a couple of those? I thought the most eye opening thing I heard from your guest was she is absolutely correct and she speaks for millions of women across this country that abortion is not the number one issue to them. Look at everyone's polling now, look at the exit polls from the last presidential election.
Of course, everybody is passionate about the issue. Everybody has an opinion on the issue. But it's not what actually drives women to the polls. The A word that matters to women this year is not abortion. It's affordability. That is going to decide this election.
KING: Congresswoman Schultz, what did you make of what Cynthia had to say?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I agree with everyone on the panel who has seen the sexism. It was unbelievable. I'll tell you, as an elected official and as a candidate every two years, I experience it regularly. I'm a mom with three young kids. You know, the media and voters ask me all the time, how are you going to balance. That never gets asked of male candidates who have kids the same age as mine.
I'm not sure what was in Cynthia's Corn flakes. At the end of the day, if her response to support McCain is the opposite of what matters to women. When it comes to the economy, women are more likely to be beneficiaries of the increase in the minimum wage, which Senator McCain opposed. Women are more likely to be facing foreclosure because of subprime loans. In fact, John McCain voted against the Fair Pay Act. So he opposes equal pay for equal work.
It's a bizarre response. I just think it was overstated. There aren't three million members of Cynthia's organization. I think we should be cautious about how significant we attribute her comments.
KING: Andrea, how did you react to the supposed sexism in the campaign?
TANTAROS: I agree, there was sexism in the campaign. Look, that's not why Hillary Clinton lost. It was not the overarching theme of her campaign by any means. I agree with Kellyanne. Women are not one issue voters. And they are not even as nuanced as Congresswoman Schultz was bringing up. It's not just equal pay. It's a broader theme, as Kellyanne said, about affordability. A lot of women are small business owners. A lot of women are making even more money than they were before. A lot of women are care-takers. And they care about a broader sense of the issues out there.
I think, Larry, when it comes to John McCain as a candidate, he's not as conservative as other Republicans have been. He's almost the un-Republican, the un-cola. He's stuck his neck out there and expended serious political capital when it wasn't convenient, no matter what his party thought, and I think that's admirable. I think he's worked across the aisle on the environment. And I think a lot of women will recognize that.
KING: Let me get a break. Take a look at some of these exclusive cell phone pictures from the Obama/Clinton meeting tonight. Anderson will have more at the top of the hour on this very busy political night. We'll be right back.
KING: We're back. Even as Hillary was touting Barack's candidacy today, she couldn't help talk about her own campaign and her supporters. Here's a sample.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: We had a lot of fun in this campaign. It was hard. There were some tough times. But what I remember were all of the faces, all of the people who came out to support me, all of the elected officials who stood by my side, all of the funny things that happened in a campaign that you don't ever predict, but which are memorable. And I will never forget you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tanya, what does she do? Stay in the Senate forever like Senator Kennedy and be a power house or what?
ACKER: I think she could certainly stay in the Senate and be a power house. There's some talk of her being majority leader. I think that Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer might take issue with that. I know there's also been some buzz about Hillary on the Supreme Court. I don't really see that because I think the Supreme Court is a little too much behind the scenes and they can't be vocal.
Hillary Clinton is a policy maker. She's out in front on issues. I think that whatever she does next, be it in the Senate or elsewhere, she'll be out in front being vocal and passionate.
KING: What do you think, Kellyanne?
CONWAY: If she does want a future in presidential politics, she's going to have to come to grips with the fact that about 8.5 million women in the Democratic primary voted against her. They didn't vote against her because of her gender. They share her gender. They voted against her because of her. I think anyone that's going to be a leader of a major political party needs to bring on all kinds of different constituencies. She should be gracious and she should try to help Senator Obama bring in women, but also Hispanics, who overwhelmingly supported her in the Democratic primary.
KING: Congresswoman Schultz, the future for Hillary Clinton?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: The future for Hillary Clinton is probably just about anything she wants to be, including being president of the United States, which I do think is in her future. I would suggest Hillary Clinton for attorney general, because I agree with Kellyanne that she's a pro-active person, that she's a policy maker. Supreme Court maybe not so much. I could see her as attorney general. I think she's going to stay on the path toward becoming president of the United States.
KING: Andrea, what do you think?
TANTAROS: Since I don't have to read off the Democratic talking points, I'll just play straight baseball. This is Hillary Clinton we're talking about. She'll campaign for Barack Obama with her enthusiasm, but she'll wait on the sidelines to see what happens. If he loses this election, you can bet that she will start getting ready to run again.
KING: And if he wins?
TANTAROS: And if Obama wins, well, I think that she will look at other options. I think a cabinet position would be a natural fit for her. And I think she deserves it.
KING: Thank you all very much for a sprightly discussion. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Tanya Acker, Kellyanne Conway and Andrea Tantaros. I thank them all being with us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
By the way, you can go to our Web site, CNN.com/larryking. Our new podcast is available. Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher remembering the legendary George Carlin. We'll run that complete show Saturday night. We've also got a king of politics section. And an Obama/Hillary quick vote. Or you can check up on upcoming guests. They're waiting for your e-mails too. And I ask questions.
Right now it's time for Anderson Cooper and "A.C. 360" -- Anderson.