Return to Transcripts main page


Discussion of the Use of the N-Word; Panel Discusses Obama Abroad, McCain at Home

Aired July 22, 2008 - 21:00   ET


JOY BEHAR, GUEST HOST (voice-over): Tonight, Barack Obama dines with royalty then takes his road trip to Israel, all in front of the cameras.

John McCain's stateside campaign is hurting for coverage. Is the media taking sides?

Plus, the vice president buzz is getting louder. Are the candidates close to announcing their picks?

And the word that made my co-host cry, what is it and why won't the controversy go away? Hot topics, we'll touch them all next on LARRY KING LIVE.


BEHAR: Good evening out there. I'm Joy Behar, sitting in for my pal Larry who is on a well-deserved vacation. And joining me tonight are Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of "The Nation," she supports Barack Obama. From Rancho Mirage, California, Ben Stein, commentator, economist, attorney, actor, and TV personality. His newest book is "How to Ruin the United States of America" co-authored with Phil DeMuth, I believe. Ben supports John McCain. From New York, Nancy Giles, social commentator and contributor to "CBS News Sunday Morning." She supports Obama. And also from New York, Kevin Madden, Republican strategist and former spokesman for Mitt Romney. Kevin supports McCain.

OK. Let's talk about Obama's trip abroad, first of all. How did he do? What do you think, everybody, anybody?


BEHAR: ... the conservative, go ahead. What do you think, Ben?

BEN STEIN, AUTHOR: I think he did unbelievably, fantastically well, just mind-bogglingly well. I mean, it seems as if he had Nouri al-Maliki in his back pocket. He seemed to be much better briefed on what was going on in Iraq than Senator McCain. I was absolutely floored at what a good job he did and my head is spinning at what a good job he did. He is the master -- most masterful campaigner, I think, of my lifetime.

BEHAR: And Maliki seems to agree with him now that we should have a troop withdrawal.


KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: First of all, I think Ben just raised the expectations to a level...



NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: I'm waiting for Ben's punch line. Anyway, go on.

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, "THE NATION": But putting aside how masterful Barack Obama has been, and the trip has been as a masterful. He has left John McCain scrambling. And this is a trip McCain kept saying you've got to take, you've got to take to show you're experienced, it shows a world desperate for an America to reengage in a different way than it has in the last seven years.

Too much of the world has thought of America as Abu Ghraib, as Guantanamo, instead of a country that is trying to aspire to the democratic ideals it has espoused. And I think Barack Obama shows a different America. I mean, he needs to have some sane and humane policies, and it's not enough just that he's elected, but boy, there's -- you know, allies want us to...

BEHAR: Well, he and Maliki now are saying that there should be a troop withdrawal by 2010, right? And even Bush is sort of getting on that train. So McCain seems to be the only one who is not for troop withdraw. What do you think about that?

MADDEN: Well, we've a couple of things now. I mean, the campaigns are essentially on two parallel tracks, style and substance. On style, the pictures coming back from overseas are very favorable for Barack Obama. He's starting to meet this threshold of whether or not he looks presidential overseas. On substance, we have seen a war of words and a war of competing ideas on how we accept the conditions that are on the ground right now in Iraq.

And I still think that on substance, Barack Obama gets a D-minus for the simple fact that he went over there and said that he's against the commanders on the ground's recommendations when it comes to making sure that we achieve success there versus...


GILES: He never said that.

BEHAR: What did he say, Nancy?

MADDEN: Well, no, I'm talking about his idea against keeping the troops there in order to make sure that we have a condition for withdraw is at odds with where General Petraeus is. So that's where... VANDEN HEUVEL: It's not at odds with the strategic interest of America. And if 65 percent of Americans want us to get out and the majority of Iraqis and the prime minister, what the hell are we doing there? Shouldn't we be moving out to restore our position in the world?

GILES: And Ii President Bush and John McCain said that the Iraqi government...

STEIN: Well, I'm not sure...

GILES: Hold on, Ben. If both President Bush and John McCain said that if the Iraqi government said we're ready for the United States to leave, they would leave. What more is there to discuss? I mean, really...


VANDEN HEUVEL: ... legitimate, you have to end the American occupation, you will not have a legitimate Iraqi government or stability with us there.

BEHAR: OK. Ben, what were you saying?

STEIN: Well, wait a minute, there is something more to be said, though, and that is, the views of General Petraeus and the views of the other American generals that maybe we should have people there longer. I mean, maybe Nouri al-Maliki is not right. I mean, for a long time the American left were saying that the Iraqi leadership was not to be trusted, not to be believed, now suddenly when the Iraqi leadership is on the left side, they say, oh, we trust them, we believe them, we're -- they're great guys.

It may be that they're wrong. I would like to hear what General Petraeus says about the timetable before adopt that as policy.

VANDEN HEUVEL: So you're going to occupy a country against its peoples and its governments? Well, by the way, Maliki's statement is not that new.

STEIN: We don't know what their will is.

VANDEN HEUVEL: A majority of Iraqi's members...

STEIN: We don't know their will.

VANDEN HEUVEL: ... of parliament have called for the U.S. to withdraw for two years now. And the mainstream media has not covered it. I always knew you were a closet imperialist out there in California, Ben.


STEIN: With all due respect, Katrina, it has been well covered in The New York Times. It has been thoroughly well-covered in The New York Times. VANDEN HEUVEL: I disagree.

STEIN: The fact that a certain poll says something is not the answer. I mean, during the civil war, a huge number of Americans did not want to continue fighting the South, a huge number of people in the north. Nevertheless, President Lincoln persisted in fighting the Civil War. Was that the right decision? I think almost everybody would say...


BEHAR: OK. I want to talk about the surge for a second. Obama opposed the surge. Now, the conventional wisdom is that the surge has worked. Everybody agree with that? You don't agree with that, why not?

VANDEN HEUVEL: I'll tell you why. The surge -- first of all, the surge had more to do with bribery, with sectarian militias fighting each other out, with exhaustion than with the U.S. troop force. It had more to do with conditions on the ground that when you had troops come in, then led to a reduction of violence.

But by the way, we're talking about 1,600 people last year dying in June, 554 this year, with still people dying. But you know what, if you want to argue about the surge, argue about the surge.

STEIN: That's a heck of an improvement.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But seize the moment and it's time to take the opportunity because it's looting our country and there's no strategic purpose anymore. We need to reengage the region in a different way.

STEIN: If we're wrong, Katrina, if we're wrong, it's a disaster. If we're wrong and we leave too early and it turns out that the al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and the various other terrorists are just laying low and they spring out when we leave, we've lost something very, very serious. I sure would like to hear what General Petraeus has to say.

GILES: You know confuses me, though, is what is the definition of success in Iraq? First it was to go in for weapons of mass destruction, they weren't there. Then it was to topple Saddam Hussein, we did. And then it was to help establish a democratic government. We did.

I mean, I'll tell you what really burns me, Joy, I hate when people -- and I've heard a lot of politicians say this, that we have to win this war. Number one, I don't know what war we're really talking about. And I don't understand the fact that the Army and then -- and all of our troops have done a terrific job, whether they come home now or after we've quote-unquote "won." I mean, they've done everything we've asked them to. And the bar keeps changing about what is success.

BEHAR: OK. Thank you. We're going to continue this conversation. Ahead, the N-word controversy. I'll tell you what it was like being in the middle of all of that. Plus, more politics. You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.


BEHAR: OK. We're back. Kevin, let me ask you a question. You know, McCain keeps talking about a victory, a victory, we're going to win. What exactly is his definition of a victory?

MADDEN: Well, I think John McCain believes that we have to leave Iraq with honor. He said that over and over and over. And that's the argument that he's going to make is that a withdraw that is unconditional would cause chaos in that region. It would essentially be a disservice to all of those that have fought and died there and shed their blood in order to try and stabilize that region in a larger war on terror.

And I know a lot of the discussion that we have is, OK, well, what is victory if it's here, what's victory if it's there? But ultimately, and whether or not we were right to go in, those were all legitimate arguments, but I think the McCain campaign is going to continue to make the argument that Barack Obama's judgments, his decisions now would lead to more a destabilized region and would make America less safe.

VANDEN HEUVEL: It is a destabilized region and I do think that you leave...


VANDEN HEUVEL: But you leave with honor now because the longer we stay, the more lives will be lost and we have a diplomatic surge because the surge is about...


MADDEN: Just one question, if we were to pull out right now, what -- would the situation get better or worse there?

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think that the situation is militarily unwinnable. A military occupation...

MADDEN: Better or worse?

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think we don't know but what we do know is that...

MADDEN: We do know. We do know.

VANDEN HEUVEL: ... the alternative is endless occupation.

MADDEN: If you were to pull out troops right now, it would hurt any sort of political progress that we've made, any military progress.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Other countries in the region want us to pull out so they can -- they are not going to come and work on a diplomatic surge until we pull out.

MADDEN: Well, that's what makes America great, is that we lead, we don't just pull...


BEHAR: Is McCain's definition of victory the same as the Iraqi's definition of victory?


MADDEN: No. And I think that there are folks within the Iraqi system, it's not just one silo of opinion, but there are a lot of folks within the Iraqi system -- the political system, that believe that we do need to have an American presence there and that we do need to work towards not only a military solution, but a political solution. John McCain agrees with that.

But I think that the difference between the two judgments is that Barack Obama wants an unconditional withdrawal now and that would be bad for America.

VANDEN HEUVEL: He's talking 16 months. He's talking responsible deployment...

MADDEN: But in 16 months if the situation is still the same, and you want to pull out, that's unconditional.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Could I say one thing that I think means a lot to Americans in this country?


VANDEN HEUVEL: Every day we're spending in Iraq what we could use to enroll 58,000 kids in Head Start, 153,000 kids with Pell grants to go to college. Homes, jobs are imploding and it's time to use the funds to responsibly bring our men and women home...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Iraq is also making money now, it's making money from its oil.

MADDEN: Let me ask you a question to a lot of Democrats and progressives, what happened to the Democrat Party of John F. Kennedy...


MADDEN: Democratic Party of John F. Kennedy...


MADDEN: ... that said, pay any price, bear any burden, what happened to that party?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Three years later he said, never negotiate out of fear and never fear to negotiate. And diplomacy, tough, smart, aggressive diplomacy is what is going to stabilize the region, which has been inflamed by our unnecessary war.


MADDEN: American principles don't defend themselves, Katrina.

BEHAR: Ben -- let me ask Ben a question, you're an economist, Ben. We're spending $120 billion a year in Iraq. How does this expenditure impact on the American economy? People out there watching the show, they wonder, what does it mean to me?

STEIN: Well, and it has impacted -- it means a lot. I mean, $120 billion would do the things Katrina said. And those are very important things. But on the other hand, if $120 billion keeps Iraq from being an endless giant piggy bank for al Qaeda, then that's worth a great deal of money too.

Frankly, I'm going to have to go a little beyond my friend, Mr. Madden here and say, we could afford to do both. This is a fantastically rich country. We did not need to have tax cuts on the very richest people. We could be taxing the rich more. And I know that is some of the people at the table in New York. And we could be taxing them more and we could be paying for the war in Iraq and paying for Head Start and paying police more and paying teachers more.

BEHAR: OK. Do you agree with that, Kevin? Do you agree with that?

MADDEN: That we should be taxing the rich more? No, I don't.

BEHAR: You do not?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Then how do you pay for this crazy...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't agree with you at all, Ben.

MADDEN: I mean, I don't want to get into a whole macroeconomic debate over this, but I mean, I do believe that the most important thing that we can do is live up to our responsibilities as leaders in the world. And I know you make the argument that...

VANDEN HEUVEL: But we can do so without looting our country and thinking hard about what is in our strategic interests and what will stabilize the region. Everyone is over-militarized. By the way, Robert Gates...


VANDEN HEUVEL: ... the secretary of defense -- the secretary of defense, not "The Nation" magazine, said last week that America's foreign policy is overly militarized. Can we think about that for a moment? Because there are other tools to think about that will loot this country.

STEIN: That's kind of funny since he is asking for about $120 billion a year more in expenditure that he thinks is overly militarized. I haven't seen that quote, but I'd respectfully want to see the context of that quote.

Look, this is a fantastically rich country. We have a very, very, very rich 1 percent of this country. They are paying much less of a percent of their income in tax than they ever have since the Great Depression.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think that's right. That's true.

STEIN: Let's change that and tax them more and have that money go for schools and infrastructure in inner cities. There's no reason very rich people...


BEHAR: So you're saying that the Republican Party -- wait a minute, this is new. Are you saying that the Republican Party will increase taxes on the rich if you have your way, Ben?

STEIN: Well, if I were in charge, you bet. You bet. Look, the rich people are called rich, Joy, for a reason. It's because they are rich. That means they can afford more tax. That's what rich means. And if they can afford to pay more taxes, let's give it to the people who need it.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I've got to say, though, that's totally at odds with what John McCain is running on. And so I'm very excited by that.

STEIN: I don't work for Mr. McCain. I don't work for Mr. McCain.

VANDEN HEUVEL: You're the true maverick. I love that, Ben.


STEIN: My job is to tell the truth.

BEHAR: Let's talk about Obama and his image abroad. I mean, they seem to be loving him everywhere and they are also complaining that the media has been loving him too much. But some people are saying that he looks arrogant a little bit.

I'll ask you this, Katrina, that he appears arrogant when he's abroad, that he acts like he's the presumptive winner by the things that he says, I'm going to be dealing with these people for the next eight years. What do you say?


GILES: I have had it with people calling a black man that is smart, arrogant. I tell you, it offends me down to my core. John McCain threw down the gauntlet, you've got to go, why haven't you gone to Iraq? Go to Iraq.

He's out there. He's not trying to represent himself as the president of the United States. He's not. He's talking, he's listening and he's a damned good story. What else can I say?

VANDEN HEUVEL: I was interested in people in Jordan, there was a New York Times story today, you know, they said there's sort of a mix of optimism and cynicism because until the policies change -- you know, it's exciting and symbolic.

There is a sense that if Barack Obama is elected, America is more resilient than it has been shown in these last seven-and-a-half years. Again, another face. But the policies need to change. We have to stop occupying the land...


VANDEN HEUVEL: And we have to...

STEIN: What are you talking about? What are you talking about? What Muslim lands are we occupying besides having a war in Iraq? That is like straight Palestinian propaganda. What are you talking about?

VANDEN HEUVEL: Afghanistan, Ben, if you pay attention, there was a report yesterday...

STEIN: There's a war there. We are chasing down the people who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11. We're not occupying Muslim lands. That is pure Palestinian propaganda. I'm shocked to hear you saying that.

VANDEN HEUVEL: That is not Palestinian propaganda. That is reality, that is fact on the ground, Ben, and though I agree with you what you say...

STEIN: Well, of course you wouldn't say it was Palestinian propaganda...

VANDEN HEUVEL: I have agreed with your comments about the need to restore some sanity to our financial situation, for you to talk about how this country is rich, so rich it can take on these wars, have you been to Michigan? Have you been to Ohio? Have you been to Pennsylvania? Have you seen the jobs ravaged...


STEIN: Of course, I've been to as many places as you have been, Katrina. I know that not everyone in this country is rich, but there are a few, like you who are fantastically rich who could pay a great deal more taxes and that would raise a great deal of money.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But there are sane people who support a super tax on the rich and then there are people like John McCain, not you, who talk about -- or his former financial adviser, Phil Gramm who helped deregulate us into the mess that we are in and then flies off in the stealth of the night because John McCain flip-flops so hard on taxes, he doesn't know where to go.

BEHAR: OK. When we come back, we're going to talk about media bias. Is there any in the presidential campaign? The answer gives us a lot to talk about next on LARRY KING LIVE, don't go away.



SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My view, based on the advice of military experts, is that we can redeploy safely in 16 months so that our combat brigades are out of Iraq in 2010. As president I intend to work with our military commanders to assure that we redeploy out of Iraq carefully with the safety of our troops in mind.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And as you know, he just received his first briefing ever from General Petraeus. And he declared his policy towards Iraq before he left. Before he left. And so the fact is, we have made progress and we have succeeded and we will be coming home, my friends. Our troop also be withdrawing but they will come home in honor and victory. They will not come home in defeat. They will come home with honor and victory.


BEHAR: OK. The McCain campaign is saying basically that the media is in love with Obama. They are running ads that have them all in love with him and everything else. And there was a period of time when the media was accused of being too in love with McCain. So what is happening and what do you think about that?

MADDEN: Well, look, I think that the media goes where the story is. This is a really good story. And the fact that he's being covered over there is -- a fact that, you know, a lot of people say, well, don't make these trips political. I think the Obama campaign inherently recognized that this was going to be a very political trip and that they ought to court it, hug it, you know, get as much as they possibly could out of it.

BEHAR: Didn't McCain suggest that he go also?

MADDEN: Well, look, that's true too. I mean, that's an important part of that. And I think that everybody has to recognize that they raised the stakes and Obama is trying to meet that, he's trying to meet these expectations.

VANDEN HEUVEL: You know, I'm less worried about media bias, Joy, than the fact that so much of the particularly TV media has, it seems to me, failed America and failing to cover what is going on in the world.

We don't see much war coverage. Newspapers are cutting back on what's going on in foreign coverage. And I think that is something that is about public trust and public information and democracy. And that's...


MADDEN: And on that point, the public doesn't care. They are not motivated by a media bias argument, and that's one of the things that I think both campaigns have to recognize.

BEHAR: Do you think that the media is waiting for him to trip up though when he's abroad?

MADDEN: Well, I think that's part of the story, right? I think that's why they went there.

GILES: I think the first line in today's New York Times, the front page article was something like, it has been going surprisingly well, or something along those lines.

BEHAR: But in a way, it's better for McCain to be out of the spotlight in -- for this reason. His gaffes are not going to be as closely watched.

VANDEN HEUVEL: But he's scrambling. I mean, he thought -- he predicated this week on a gaffe, I think, and more attention. And let's not forget, as you said earlier, I mean, McCain once said, the media is my base. I mean, the media has been in love with a man they call a maverick who has...


BEHAR: Let's let Ben in here, what do you think about that, Ben?

STEIN: Well, I mean, the fact is that Obama is just a phenomenally more effective campaigner than McCain. McCain's strong suit is that he's a hero. He's incredibly brave. He took a lot of punishment and torture for his country. He is incredibly patriotic. He has a son serving in the armed services in Iraq. He never talks about it or brags about it. He's an amazing, upstanding American.

He's a pitiful campaigner. I mean, it's just heartbreaking to watch him campaign and then to watch Obama campaign. It's just -- it's a joke. It's like putting boys against men. It isn't really fair that the Republicans nominated someone so poor in campaigning abilities.

The media was in love with McCain when McCain was running against the conservatives. Now that he's the conservative...

BEHAR: But shouldn't the media be fair...

STEIN: ... they're not in love with him anymore.

BEHAR: Ben, shouldn't the media be fair to even bad campaigners?


BEHAR: Should they only go to the rock star? That's not the unbiased media.

STEIN: They love Obama -- but it's not -- they are not even close to unbiased. They've never been unbiased. The idea that there ever was an unbiased media, is just some high school sophomore's joke.


GILES: Well, I agree with what Kevin said in that they do go where the story is. And right now Obama is a much better story. But about fairness, it's like comparing like the Osmonds to the Jackson 5, the Jackson 5, they are just better musicians. It's a better story. Sorry, the Osmonds pale in comparison.

VANDEN HEUVEL: The problem with coverage of campaigns -- I can't beat that. I'm sorry.

BEHAR: I don't know how Marie is going to feel about that.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Is there is -- campaign coverage is so much about the horse race, where are, you know, the issues? OK. It is resolutely unsexy, but the issues are what so much of this campaign coverage should be about. So John McCain talks about how Social Security, the way it's constructed, is a disgrace. That's hard for people to grasp, but Social Security is like a bedrock of our America.

The Jesse Jackson gaffe got 90 percent more attention. Maybe that's part of our media environment. That's not bias, that's just kind of foolishness of where we're going as a country.


BEHAR: Before we go to a break, I want to ask you about McCain's possible V.P. choice. I know that Romney is top of the list, and you're a close associate. So what is your take on that?

MADDEN: Well, no, I think Romney is one of the top folks there being considered right now, I think, for a number of reasons. Three reasons, mainly: the map, the money, and the smile. The map works in his favor. I think he brings in states like Nevada and Colorado, Michigan and New Hampshire.

The money, the fact that he can go out there and help raise and build more organization, raise more money all the way leading up to the general election, but raise more money, help the organization with the RNC, that's very important.

But also the smile. I mean, he has an ability to really go after the Democrats on issues like the economy, like health care, and really hit the Democrats hard...

BEHAR: With a smile.

MADDEN: .. and do it with a smile. And that's important.

BEHAR: What about Giuliani? He's a good smiler. What do you think of him? I saw him...


GILES: Have you looked at his smile? It's like his face is broken in half. MADDEN: I think the toughest thing with him is the fact that he's pro-choice, would send a stampede of social conservatives from the party.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think the toughest thing with him is that America looked at him and said, we don't want this guy.

GILES: They knew what New Yorkers knew for a long time.

BEHAR: OK. We have to take a break. Thank you. We'll be right back after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mum is the word in McCain land but knowledgeable Republicans say there are some running mate candidates to take seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The biggest story we could get, Campbell, would be McCain having a vice presidential pick.

OBAMA: The vice presidency is the most important decision that I'll make before I'm president.


BEHAR: I have to, yes. OK, welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE.

I'm Joy Behar, sitting in for Larry, who is on a very well- deserved vacation. He works hard. I'm joined by our guests. We're talking politics, among other things, tonight. Here with me is the lovely and talented Fran Drescher and Nancy Giles is continuing to sit with us. We also have Ramesh Ponnuru -- hello -- the senior editor of "The National Review." He's co-written a "National Review" article called the strategy for McCain and the subtitle is "Hillary Clinton, Only More So." That's a good title. And then Ben Stein is staying with us.

OK, let's just continue with the vice president conversation for a second. Fran, what do you think? Who should be his vice president? I know that you were a big Hillary supporter. Do you want her to be the vice president?

FRAN DRESCHER, ACTRESS: I do. I think that would be a slam dunk for Barack Obama. I think that there's a lot of particularly women voters out there that would certainly be thrilled. I think that they are very symbiotic in terms of their issues. And I think that it would carve the greatest change into this 21st century, to not only have the first African-American be president of the United States, but to have a very qualified and brilliant woman be --

BEHAR: What do you think about that, Nancy, to have an African- American candidate and you have a woman; does that load the dice too much?

GILES: Well, I wouldn't chose Hillary. Not because she's a woman, but I just think that she represents too much of what Barack Obama has really run on, which is changing, fundamentally changing the way politics work in Washington.

DRESCHER: What better change would there be? Women's rights are eroding globally. What better change can ripple across the planet than to have a woman in that position?

GILES: I'm not saying that there aren't other women that might be qualified. But I think Hillary Clinton --

BEHAR: What other woman?

DRESCHER: Barbara Boxer.

GILES: Barbara Boxer, Jane Harmon, those two are two of my favorite. I like Claire McCaskill as well. Was that Ben Stein yawning? That's really rude.

STEIN: Was gasping.

GILES: That's really rude.

BEHAR: Why were you gasping?

STEIN: I wasn't yawning. I was gasping because Barbara Boxer is so much too left wing. Mr. Obama is the most left wing member of the Senate. She must be the second left wing. That means he's throwing out the attempt to move to center right out the window. I can't imagine that he would chose someone as left wing as Barbara Boxer. She's a ferocious competitor and she's a very good campaigner, but she is the very dictionary definition of a committed leftist.

BEHAR: Let me ask Ramesh Ponnuru -- Am I saying it right?


BEHAR: Do you think that the Republican party would be thrilled if Hillary Clinton were on the ticket?

PONNURU: I think so. I think that, for one thing, you've got Bill back into the picture. So you're not just picking a running mate. You're picking sort of a duo. And I can't imagine that Obama wants to do that. And the other thing is, if you look at Hillary Clinton supporters, you've got basically feminists who are, I think at the end of the day, going to be in Obama's corner. And you've got white working class voters -- there are plenty of other Democrats who can help Obama appeal to those voters.

BEHAR: Let's talk about McCain now and his vice presidential candidate. Who do you think he should -- let me ask Republicans first. What should his vice presidential candidate look like to you? Should he be young? Should he --

STEIN: He should be a southerner, good looking, evangelical or very close to the evangelicals, very strong, lively, energetic speaker to add some charisma to Mr. McCain's lackluster performance on the stand. There are people like that. Or the man whose name I could never pronounce right from Minnesota -- maybe Ramesh can pronounce it right.

PONNURU: Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota.

STEIN: Right.

BEHAR: They are also talking to Bobby Jindal, 37 years old.

PONNURU: That's a case I think where somebody can in fact be too young. You can't, I think, run the ticket where the message is, on average, we're not that old. And when you have Bobby Jindal, who was born while John McCain was in captivity in Vietnam, I think that's going a little too far. And I think Jindal can do more for the Republican party and for the country by turning Louisiana around than by running for president.

GILES: I think the danger that Ben was suggesting about a real vivacious -- he didn't say younger guy -- but then he might end up looking a lot better than McCain. Whether people want to talk about it or not, his age and his wellness is kind of an issue. He's up there.

DRESCHER: I don't think we need to get into ageism.

STEIN: What suggestion is there that he's unwell?

DRESCHER: Ben, I agree with you. I think that candidates are far enough in their policies we really shouldn't get into ageism at all.

GILES: I don't think that's getting into it, Fran. It's there.

BEHAR: But Ben, with all due respect, you made a statement that sounded like looks-ism to me. You said he had to be good looking. What if he's not good looking but has all of the other qualifications.

STEIN: Look-ism is a fact of life. Mr. Obama's appeal I think is partly based on the fact that he's very handsome. I think look-ism is a huge part of life. People in high school vote for the best looking guy or gal for student council. We do some of that in politics. Look-ism is a part of life. You may deride.

BEHAR: Why is that any more a part of life than ageism.

STEIN: Because we don't discriminate -- because you're suggesting not that he's too old, which is irrelevant, but that he's unwell. There's no evidence whatsoever that he's unwell. His health is extremely good. He's released --

GILES: It's really because when he did have a chance to release his medical records, as people do, he kept it very close to the vest. He only let a few reporters look at it. And there were a lot of questions that never did get answered. I don't think that's anything --

DRESCHER: -- about his policies on the issues and I think his voting records, as far as women issues go is really --

GILES: Of course.

DRESCHER: And these are the things that we should be talking about and exploring, the opposing policies of both these candidates. I mean, I'm pledging my allegiance to Barack Obama because I think that he's a man that is a breath of fresh air. I think that he is absolutely going to be for women's issues, as well as homeland and domestic issues. I think that's really, really important. This man paid his dues working in south Chicago and he has been around people that are very needy.

BEHAR: Go ahead.

STEIN: Fran, with all due respect, he's for your women's issues. He's not for the women;s issues of evangelical right to life Christians in the pan-handle of Florida. They, believe me, do not believe that he's for their women issues.

DRESCHER: I think that's one issue -- I think that's really you're really short-changing women and what their needs are.

STEIN: What are some of the other issues, Fran?

BEHAR: I'll tell you some of the others, "The View." "The View" made news last week when one of my co-hosts cried. What made the tears flow? We'll show you after the break.


BEHAR: No, I don't know. Jesse Jackson started a fuss recently when he got a hot mike -- a hot mike caught him saying he wanted to castrate Barack Obama, and using the N-word also. Feelings about the use of that racial epithet ran very high on "The View," especially between my co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Elizabeth Hasselbeck. Take a look.


WHOOPI GOLDBERG, "THE VIEW": Word that has followed us around. And basically what we did was we take it out of the hand of the people who were using it and put it into our hands. And we use it the way we want to use it.

ELIZABETH HASSELBECK, "THE VIEW": This is upsetting to me because --

BARBARA WALTERS, "THE VIEW": Just take a breath.

HASSELBECK: Because this is a conversation that is hard. We are going to have it here and we have it here well because we love each other. When we live in a world where pop culture uses that term and we're trying to get to a place where we feel like we're in the same place and we feel like we're in the same world, how are we supposed to then move forward if we keep using terms that bring back that pain, that -- GOLDBERG: I can tell you.


GOLDBERG: Here's how we do it. You listen and say, OK, this is how we're using this word and this is why we do it. You have to say, well, you know what? I understand that, but let's find a new way to move forward.


BEHAR: Reaction.

DRESCHER: Everybody loves each other on your show, apparently.


BEHAR: Is that how she wins battles with her husband?

GILES: I was wondering what it was like for you to be a white person and caught -- you know, caught in between this?

BEHAR: Truthfully, I didn't really speak that day, hardly at all. I didn't say much about it. My feeling is that if African- Americans want to use that word with each other, it's really none of my business. I use words with other Italian Americans and I would -- I wouldn't like it probably if others -- or female are awful, that when a man says a certain word, and you know what it is, it's very upsetting. But when women use it with each other, it's fine. So --

GILES: Go ahead.

DRESCHER: I'm just saying that I think we're at an interesting stage psychologically of what is considered politically correct. I think white people have a lot of white guilt and they feel like we cannot --

GILES: As they should.

DRESCHER: We can't say that. And so that's the position that they should have. And then I think that African-Americans feel empowered by taking the word and making it their own and using it their way. That's not to say that in two decades from now, anybody is going to be using that word. But you have to go from A through B to get to C. And right now we're in B.

GILES: Well, here's the thing that I think is really important remember, is that I respect Whoopi Goldberg very much. I think she's hilarious. But because she says that we African-Americans have decided to take over the word and what not, that doesn't really mean that's what everybody that is black thinks. I hate that word. My parents never used that word. That word has a history of violence. It was not a word that we coined for ourselves. And it's the only slang term for an ethnic group that somehow made its way into pop culture and music.

You talk about terms that you use --


GILES: But Joy, seriously, you're Italian-American and there are terms that you use within your own group. But have you ever heard those terms used in opera? Or has Frank Sinatra popularized it in a song? This is where it's really hard?

BEHAR: Ben wants to weigh in before we go to a break.

STEIN: The reason the N-word made its way into the culture was because black people put it into the culture. On the other hand, if I walked down through a restaurant and somebody said, there's that fat old Jew, and it's a gentile with blond hair saying it, I don't like it at all. If it's another Jewish guy saying it, it doesn't bother me in the slightest. So I totally can cop to the feelings that African Americans have about this. On the other hand, to fire someone or cause somebody his life or career over a political correct seems very, very wrong.

BEHAR: Thank you. Laughing at the candidate's expense. That's what we're going to talk about. Some people crossing the line? Or is everything fair game these days. Remember that cover on the "New York Magazine?" Let's talk about that coming up next on LARRY KING LIVE.


BEHAR: We have Whoopi Goldberg on the line. Whoopi, we've been talking about our conversation on "The View" with all the tears and the --


BEHAR: Not really fighting but arguing a point. So what do you think?

GOLDBERG: Well, I wanted to point something out. At no time do I ever think that I'm speaking for any black folks, except for myself. I just always want to make sure that people understand that black folks -- and this doesn't mean all black folks, just as when we say white folks, we're talking about white folks; it doesn't mean everybody -- have taken these words, these kids who are three and four generations away, my grandkids, for example, have taken this word which has no connotation to them except they know that it has been used for 200 years in a negative way and they just basically said, you know what? We're taking it. We're changing it and bringing it over here.

And so unless we can explain to people what that word means to the kids and to a lot of young people and walk away from it, because the only word that should ever stop anybody in their tracks is the worst word in the world to me, which is stupid. Somebody calls you stupid as a kid, you have it in your mind for all your life. That's the only word that stops me in my tracks because that's the only word I think to myself, oh, my god, I'm not, am I? As I said, I know they beep it and I know it's now on the list. I've never been the N-word. I knew any folks that are N words.

We can respond to the N-word in a way that our parents could not and our grand parents could not. It meant their death. So I understand why people have taken it and said, you know what? We're moving it forwards. We're not moving it in the direction it was going. We're taking it back, taking it someplace else. That was my point.

You know, Elizabeth wasn't crying because I said the N-word. She was crying because she just felt that there must be a better way, which we decided yes, there is, but you have to acknowledge the history and why these things have gone in the direction they have. That's all I wanted to say. You all look good. Hi Ben.

BEHAR: Thank you. It's interesting that every time she said the N word, the actual word on "The View" it was beeped or bleeped. Which is it beeped or bleeped. It was bleeped. When I said the word nuts, which is what Jesse Jackson actually did say that we knew at that time, I was not bleeped. So testicles are not bleeped. But the N- word is.

DRESCHER: You know, technically --

BEHAR: So that's the reason.

GILES: Meaning, you know, basketball or baseball.

STEIN: You know, with all due respect to Whoopi, my neighbor in Malibu one time, it is the sense that people can say anything, that there isn't political correctness dictating what you can say that moved us out of the world where people could use the N-word in public schools like they did when I was a child. It is political open discourse that gets us there. I would hate to see political open discourse closed up by political correctness. That being said, I would be oftly sad if people called me a bad ethnic word.

DRESCHER: Ben, I just want to go on record as saying --

GOLDBERG: That's the thing, when we talk about -- what we said about ourselves has a whole other meaning than when someone outside of us says it. I challenge everybody --

STEIN: Understood.

GOLDBERG: If you feel you need to say it, try it and see what happens.

DRESCHER: Don't try it. Don't try it.

GOLDBERG: That's what I'm just saying.

BEHAR: We're all comediennes in this group. And we've been laughing at the candidates and making jokes about all of them. But some people are crossing the line. They might be crossing the line. Or do you think everybody is fair game? We'll talk about that when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BEHAR: OK, we're back on LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Joy Behar, sitting in for Larry. Guess who's on the phone now, my other co-host, the lovely and talented Elizabeth Hasselbeck.

HASSELBECK: Hello, I was busy watching "Hannity and Colmes," wanted to pop in and see you, Joy. I had to express my number one disappointment. Fran, you speak about women's rights and you certainly wasted no time trying to cut another woman down. I also have to address the fact that if this N-word debate is happening for a reason. And if you can answer the question and say yes, I would teach that word to my child, which I'm not sure many people would say they would do, then --


HASSELBECK: Examine that thought process. And I believe that most people would say no, I don't want that word to be taught to my children, whether we are white, black --

DRESCHER: I don't understand what you are crying about. That's all I was commenting on. It's --

HASSELBECK: Have you ever been emotional --

DRESCHER: I don't want to get into an argument with you about it. I mean, you've made your point endlessly. And I think that the two -- there were two African-Americans on the panel with you that were trying to express something. Now, I don't use the N-word and frankly, I think that it's probably abusive. Like on MTV, the average viewer on MTV is 12-year-old white boys from the suburbs, who probably want to be cool and emulate the rappers that they're watching use the N-word. So, in many regards, I think that you're right, that particularly --

BEHAR: We only have another minute.

DRESCHER: I'm sorry if I offended you. I really didn't mean to do that.

HASSELBECK: No offense taken. I just think we should walk with caution with one another and try to be understanding, not cut one another down. And I do believe, look, I would never teach a child that word. I don't think it makes the world better. Joy, you're doing a great job tonight. I just want to thank you for letting me in.


GILES: I'm sorry, Ben. It's the history of the word that I think is really important. And think that everybody, including Elizabeth, should make sure their children know their history. I agree with Fran that somehow the N-word has become as colloquial as dude. Kids using it thinking that they're sounding cool. Where it's a word that just has much more history and is much more complicated. BEHAR: She has a point.

STEIN: The word is -- it's a horrible, evil word.

GILES: Ben, I agree with you. I'm not saying teach your children --

STEIN: It's a horrible, evil word. But if the black rappers are keeping it in the public. Everyone knows its history.

GILES: No, Ben, I disagree.


BEHAR: I have to interrupt you.

STEIN: Now black people call each other that in an affectionate way.

GILES: Not really.

BEHAR: Thank you, Ben. I wish I could continue this for hours and hours. It's so interesting. But we have to end and thank you very much. We have to actually end on a sad note, because Estelle Getty, who played Sophia Patrillo (ph) on TV's "The Golden Girls" died today at age 84. The Emmy winning actress had been battling dementia. Estelle was very proud of her role as Sophia. She thought it was a boost to older people.

Here's a sample at Estelle as Sophia at her feisty, funny best.


ESTELLE GETTY, "THE GOLDEN GIRLS": Who invited the priest? You know I can't cut loose with a priest around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He happens to be a very nice man.

GETTY: He gives me the creeps. He's been following me. They always follow the old people. It's like parking tickets. They got a last rights quota.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sophia, there you are. I've been looking all over for you.

GETTY: Buzz off, padre.


BEHAR: She was funny. Estelle Getty will be missed. But her heart and humor shine on in "The Golden Girls."

And Larry, thanks for letting me sit in for you again tonight. Hope you're enjoying that vacation that everyone seems to say you deserve so much, my darling.

Go to for transcripts, ring tones, guest lists, photo gallery and more. Now that's a Web site.

Time now for the very fabulous Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."