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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Obama: I've Picked My Number 2

Aired August 21, 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, who is Obama going to pick?
He says he's made up his mind about a running mate, but he's mum on the name and the announcement date.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: I've got to say that I've made the selection and that's all you're going to get.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Will it be him or him or him or maybe her?

How has the Hillary factor played out in the V.P. choice and decisions about next week's doings in Denver.

(VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Plus, the "American Idol" finalists on tour together and talking just to us. We'll check out the action on stage and go behind- the-scenes for some inside scoop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Larry.

KING: All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show time.

KING: Good evening.

We begin with two outstanding American governors.

In Sante Fe, New Mexico is Governor Bill Richardson, Democrat of New Mexico, the former Energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the U.N.. A supporter, of course, of Senator Obama.

And in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Governor Bobby Jindal, Republican of Louisiana and a supporter of John McCain.

Governor Richardson, Barack Obama has said he's made up his mind.

Do you think you're on that list?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Well, I don't know, Larry. I'm in, on, off lists. All I know is that I've signed up for that e-mail alert to make sure that I get notified whether I'm in or out.

But, you know, the good news about this whole process is that the expectations are really high. There's enormous interest in the country in who he's going pick. It's perfect for the Democratic Convention -- the excitement. I think it's going be an exciting pick. I think it may be somebody that we haven't talked about or know about.

They have been very good, the Obama campaign, about no leaks, about being very civil about the whole procedure, very honorable. And there's just enormous interest in...

KING: We don't know.

RICHARDSON: But, you know, I've signed up to see if I'm going to be picked with that e-mail.

KING: Governor Jindal, as an American, you, of course, want to -- you're interested in everybody who's picked.

Who do you think it should be? Who would you like to see picked?

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, you know, I think they've got several great choices. I'm a little biased. I'd love to see a governor picked or somebody with some executive experience, somebody who's happened to run things.

He's being very modest. I think Governor Richardson would be a great pick for Senator Obama. But, obviously, Senator Obama doesn't ask me what I think about it.

Senator McCain has got several great choices he can pick from -- several good governors and executives.

I think the most important criteria -- and everybody talks about geography and politics and demographics. I think the only thing that matters is you pick the person you think that, God forbid, could step into that job if something should happen...

KING: Yes.

JINDAL: ...somebody who's ready to be president on the first day.

KING: And conversely, Governor Richardson, who do you think McCain should pick, in the best interests of the country?

RICHARDSON: Well, I -- well, look, I'll return the compliment. I think Governor Jindal is one of the most exciting political figures in the country.

I, too, agree, Larry, that governors -- we run things. We balance budgets. We build schools. We create jobs.

I think that because Washington has been so ineffective, the Congress, the relationship with the president, solutions are being turned over on renewable energy, on transportation, on job creation, to the states. But I agree with the governor, too, the first criteria is can you be president?

Are you ready should there be a tragedy?

Secondly, national security experience, I think, is very important.

Do you trust a person?

Because you're going to be together, potentially, for four to eight years. There has to be a relationship between the vice president, the president and the staffs. There has to be total trust. And then, of course, an added benefit is can you bring some states, a region, a certain constituency.

KING: Governor Jindal, I want you to watch this.

In a recent interview with Politico.com, John McCain was unable to say how many houses he and his wife own and the Obama campaign jumped all over it.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM BARACK OBAMA CAMPAIGN AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When asked how many houses he owns, McCain lost track. He couldn't remember. Well, it's seven -- seven house. And here's one house America can't afford to let John McCain move into.

OBAMA: If you're like me and you've got one house or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, you might have a different perspective.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And John McCain answered, governor, does a guy who made more than $4 million last year, just got back from a vacation on a private beach in Hawaii, bought his own million dollar mansion with the help of a convicted felon, really want to get into a debate about houses?

How do you respond, Governor Jindal, to all of that?

JINDAL: Well, Larry, you know, I think, unfortunately, as the polls get closer and Senator McCain is catching up, you see -- I was hoping that Senator Obama was going be a different type of politician. He said he wanted to transcend all the divisive politics. I don't think the country really cares about this kind of back and forth about, well, Senator Obama got help from a convicted felon, Senator McCain owns multiple homes.

I think what they really care about is how do they keep their own homes, how do they pay their mortgages, how they afford gas? What I think the candidates should be talking about is how do we get energy independence. I prefer Senator McCain's approach, with more domestic production, more nuclear, clean coal, conservation.

Senator Obama has said he wants to raise taxes on gas on coal, on natural gas. He doesn't want more domestic production. He's against nuclear power for America.

I think they should talk about the issues that matter the most. Voters care about their own homes, not the candidates' homes.

This is a distraction. It's D.C. politics at its worst. Governor Richardson had it right -- D.C. is broken and it's all about partisan politics. People are looking for solutions, not mud slinging.

KING: Do you think this house thing, Governor Richardson, has any traction?

RICHARDSON: It remains to be seen. I mean Senator McCain should know how many homes he has.

But, you know, Governor Jindal is right, let's talk about the issues that affect the American people.

What do we do about creating jobs, about the defect, about foreclosures, about the need for universal health care?

How can we have energy independence?

That's what the American people need to see the candidates and this is where I think Senator Obama has a vast advantage. He represents change. He represents bipartisanship. He represents bringing people together, healing. He has appeal among wide groups of people. He's going to attract numerous new voters to the polls.

I think that that's where we want to head after the conventions, after the Republican Convention. Let's get into the debates...

KING: All right...

RICHARDSON: ...let's get into the issues. The tickets will be known. That's what the American people want to see.

KING: Governor Jindal, as a member of a political minority yourself, does it concern you that a lot of the attacks against Senator Obama and a lot of the feelings about Senator Obama deal with his race?

JINDAL: You know, at the end of the day, there's no room for that in the Republican Party and the American political discourse. I think this is a debate about issues. And I'm proud that Senator McCain has said that he won't tolerate that.

Look, there's -- the only colors that matter in this race are red, white and blue. This is two honorable men, two patriotic Americans, two good honorable senators who happen to disagree on many core issues.

I'm supporting Senator McCain because throughout his career he stood up to his party, to his own president, when he thought that was best for the country, whether it was fighting earmarks, wasteful spending, corporate subsidies. He's a man who stood on principle.

I think on international issues, on national security -- we saw in his response with the Russian invasion of Georgia, he is a man that has the experience to lead our country...

KING: All right.

JINDAL: Look, they're both good, loyal Americans. Let's make this a debate about the issues.

KING: Well said.

Governor Jindal and Governor Bill Richardson, thank you both.

We'll be calling on you again often.

JINDAL: Thank you, Larry.

KING: We'll take a closer look at the Democratic V.P. with a Democrat and a Republican next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: You are not going the get anything out of me on the vice presidential.

(CROSSTALK)

OBAMA: Nothing.

QUESTION: Have you made up your mind, though?

QUESTION: Have you made up your mind? We're just wondering if that's what you told her?

OBAMA: I did say that I made the selection and that's all you're going get, all right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Who should be Obama's V.P.?

Vote now at CNN.com/larryking.

Two of the top political pros in the business, strategists Paul Begala and Kevin Madden -- there they are standing by in Washington. Paul, of course, the Democrat; and Kevin the Republican.

And we're going to go over the pros and cons of the various political candidates.

Let's start with Hillary Clinton.

What's the pro and con, Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Well, set aside that politically she obviously helps him more than any other candidate might. That's what all the polls say. And let's go to what Governor Jindal and Governor Richardson were saying, which is two standards.

First, God forbid something happens, who could step in. I think most people agree she could definitely clear that hurdle.

And number two, God willing, if nothing happens, who do you want to advise you?

Well, she's an expert on health care. She's an expert on foreign policy. Serves on the Armed Services Committee.

KING: All right.

BEGALA: I think she's the best choice. But, as I tell my kids, NHD -- not happening dude. It's not going to happen.

KING: Kevin, what's -- what's the cons of Hillary?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, the cons for Hillary is that there's nothing that generates the Republican base to come out like running against a Clinton -- whether it's Hillary or Bill. So this is a chance to really galvanize a lot of Republicans to run against the ticket.

And, also, Barack Obama is running on a change message. And Hillary Clinton is very much associated with the past in Washington.

KING: OK.

Next is Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.

One note. On October 3rd, Joe's son, 39-year-old Bo Biden, will be deployed to Iraq. He's a captain in the Army National Guard.

All right, what's the plus, Kevin, for Joe Biden?

MADDEN: Well, Joe Biden tends to bring a lot of blue collar Democrats out. He's somebody who can appeal to the everyman in a lot of these target states that Barack Obama really needs to win. He's also very, very good on national security and very good on foreign policy. And Barack Obama is seen by a lot of people as incomplete on those issues. So this helps fill the void that Barack Obama has.

KING: Ken -- Paul, what's the con?

BEGALA: Well, the word you keep hearing is, well, you know, he talks too much or he's prone to gaffes. "The L.A. Times" last year called him a gaffe machine.

I think that's all in the past, I have to say. He's my betting favorite right now. I think he brings a lot to the ticket.

KING: All right, next, Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia. Obama was with him today on the campaign trail. They had a short private meeting, as well.

Paul, what are the pluses for Kaine?

BEGALA: Well, the pluses are he embodies change the same way Barack Obama does. He's a remarkable guy. He was a Christian missionary in Honduras. Now he's the Democratic governor of the very Republican State of Virginia. He really is a guy who I think embodies the sort of values that Barack Obama does of change and faith and family.

So I think he would -- he would bring a lot in. Virginia hasn't voted Democratic since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.

MADDEN: Right.

KING: What are the cons, Kevin?

MADDEN: Well, there's going to be a lot of voters out there, should Barack Obama decide to go with Tom Kaine, and the first question is people are going ask is who is the Tim Kaine?

Nobody really knows him. He's not somebody who is going to galvanize a lot of these voters that Barack Obama is trying to bring in.

Yes, he's from a target state. But let's remember this -- only about four years ago, Tom Kaine was dealing with the Richmond City Council. When you've got -- when you have a campaign like this, where John McCain is going to hit Barack Obama every single day on the issues of experience, he can't have somebody as inexperienced as Tom Kaine in his number two.

KING: Next, Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.

Paul, what are the pros?

BEGALA: Well, the pros are he's, you know, from the heartland. Everybody believes he could step in -- again, God forbidding -- and be the president. He's on the Intelligence Committee. He's on Armed Services. He understands national security.

And, you know, look at the optics, Larry. I mean these are two great looking guys, not to be too superficial about this. And I think that -- that picture could be pretty overpowering.

And, again, coming from the Midwest, where Senator Obama didn't run as strong in some of those primary states, in the Rust Belt in the Midwest, a big political plus there from Senator Bayh, too. And he's also the kind of guy you'd probably want in a fox hole with you -- endlessly loyal, really embodies those Midwestern values.

KING: What are the cons, Kevin?

MADDEN: Well, Paul is talking about the campaign trying to double down on the generational change argument. And that's probably a very compelling argument.

But the real biog problem with Evan Bayh is that he's about as fun as watching grass grow. He just doesn't bring a lot of excitement to the ticket. He's not somebody that people know as a real firebrand. He's not somebody that's going be able to go out there and really jazz up the crowds. And that's exactly what Barack Obama does.

So he's really not going to be able to go out after John McCain on a lot of these issues with the gusto that you really need from a number two who's going to go out there and fight hard.

KING: Paul Begala has a long shot. She's also -- he's also the choice of Nancy Pelosi.

BEGALA: Right.

KING: He's Congressman Chet Edwards of Texas.

Give me 30 seconds and tell me why.

BEGALA: Well, first, when Nancy Pelosi speaks, Democrats listen.

Second, Chet Edwards, a Congressman from Central Texas, his district includes the Bush ranch. He's George Bush's congressman, a great Democrat, probably the House's foremost expert on veterans -- a really important constituency. He really embodies the kind of values.

And talk about optics. I don't know if you can see it from the picture here. Chet's a good-looking guy. His wife Leanne (ph) is beautiful. They have these two great kids, J.T. (ph) and Garison (ph) who happen to be All Stars in Little League -- with the Begala boys, I have to confess. So I'm kind of biased toward Chet, just because he's really one of the best guys in this business...

KING: All right. Chet...

BEGALA: He would be a great vice president.

KING: And, Kevin, your long hot is retired General Wesley Clark.

MADDEN: Right.

KING: Why?

MADDEN: Well, one of the big arguments against Barack Obama, again, is that he's incomplete on national security issues, he's incomplete on foreign policy. Right now we're facing a lot of challenges around the globe. Just take, for example, what's happening with the Georgia crisis right now. So Barack Obama, if he's looking for somebody who's going to fill that the national void, somebody like Wesley Clark, who commanded NATO during the Balkan -- during the Balkan crisis -- there's somebody that can really fill in those national security/foreign policy credentials.

KING: All right. Paul and Kevin remain with us.

Jamal Simmons and Kellyanne Conway, two more top strategists, will join us for more right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I made the selection. And that's all you're going get. All right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to make a case for myself, because I'm not running for anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I promise you, I don't know anything. I have no idea. I've spoken to no one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back.

Paul Begala and Kevin Madden remain with us.

We're joined now by two other top strategists, Jamal Simmons, communications adviser to the Democratic National Committee and a supporter of Barack Obama. And Kellyanne Conway. She's in New York -- the rest in Washington -- Republican strategist, pollster and supporter of John McCain.

All right, Jamal, since you're a communications adviser, you may already know.

JAMAL SIMMONS, ADVISER, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE, SUPPORTS OBAMA: No idea.

KING: Do you know?

SIMMONS: No idea, Larry. I think the only person who really knows is Barack Obama. Everybody else is guessing.

KING: OK. Who do you think?

SIMMONS: I have no idea. We'll see. We'll -- I mean three days from now, this will be old news probably.

KING: All right, Kellyanne, forgetting the fact that you're a Republican and an opponent, who would you recommend, for the country?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, POLLSTER: Well, sure. It's very fascinating to me. I think it should be Hillary Clinton for a number of reasons. She's a proven vote getter. I mean, look, Senator Kaine -- Governor Kaine or Senator Bayh, they give you geography. They give you a state. Joe Biden gives you statesmanship.

But Hillary's name is going be put into nomination. She got over 20 million votes in the primary. And I think that for all the folks who, after Senator Obama claimed the nomination said oh, you know, the Clintons, they're baggage to leave behind, you've got to look at them as luggage to take with you at this point.

And I think that Mrs. Clinton has been very gracious to the Obama campaign. In fact, she's out there as a surrogate. But you can't -- you can't say that all of her supporters, many of whom are going to be on the convention floor -- are into forgiving and forgetting so quickly.

KING: All right. Paul you supported her.

Is that a good idea?

BEGALA: Oh, it would be great, Larry, for many of the reasons Kellyanne mentioned. And, also, as I say, you know, Barack is going win. And so this choice really, really matters.

And I think she would be an outstanding adviser. I saw her serve her husband in that regard, as an adviser, when she was first lady. And God forbid something happens, she could step in.

But I'm telling you, pour cold water on this -- NHD -- not happening dude. It's not going to happen. I keep hearing from lots of people that, well, the chemistry wasn't right or whatever.

And, you know, my view is, at the end of the day, every president hates his vice president, so you may as well pick somebody at the beginning you already hate to save time. But I don't think it's going to happen.

KING: All right, Kevin, before we ask your thoughts, Jamal, what do you make of Hillary?

SIMMONS: Oh, I think that she would make a phenomenal vice president or even a phenomenal president. You know, again, I think -- we don't know who the ultimate choice is going to be. But however you stack them up against the Republicans, you're going have a breath of fresh air versus a lot more of what we've been seeing for the last eight years, which is just that same old George Bush/John McCain crowd.

CONWAY: Yes, but the (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Kevin, does it play?

Does Hillary play, Kevin?

MADDEN: Look, I think it would be a very formidable pick. I also think that those of us Republicans who would be then running against that ticket would find it easy to energize our base. Nothing is more associated with what's wrong with Washington than Hillary Clinton. And that would just be saddling Barack Obama's message of supposed change with all the scandals of the past, with the government programs, with the wrong approach on national security.

So, you know, I would see that there would be -- you know, I'm a very optimistic Republican. I would see opportunity in him picking Hillary Clinton.

KING: But, Kellyanne, a Clinton has defeated your party twice.

CONWAY: Yes. Well, the other one did and -- and I think that that...

KING: And he's going be involved with this one.

CONWAY: Well, he would be, sure. But I mean, look, the Obama campaign -- Senator Obama certainly wants the Clintons involved. They have two big speaking positions on Tuesday and Wednesday night respectively.

And, Larry, imagine the unprecedented historic moment of Bill Clinton, when he's finished his remarks on Wednesday night saying, "and I've got a surprise guest for you." You know, like when George Michael introduces Elton John all of a sudden at a concert and they get to sing the song together. Here comes Bill Clinton introducing Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.

But Kevin makes an excellent point. You know, for those less than enthusiastic Republican foot soldiers this time, I think they would immediately, you know, pull up the ranks and get on the front lines.

KING: By the way, all convention week, we've got a unique idea. We won't be at the convention. This show will be on live at midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. And we'll be interviewing Republicans all week long and vice versa when the Republicans convene. We'll be interviewing Democrats. So we'll be right here in our studios taking a -- letting the opposition have its say.

We'll be back with more

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the senator really considering a candidate who favors abortion rights?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: McCain was still getting an ear full from conservatives about whether he might pick someone who supports abortion rights.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: I will nominate a person to be vice president, my running mate, who shares my principles, my values and my priorities. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Kevin Madden, concerning the Republican vice presidential nominee, would you eliminate anyone who supports the right of an abortion?

MADDEN: Well, I think the big problem with having a pro-choice candidate as the number two on the ticket is that a lot of grassroots Republicans -- really, those core conservatives that are part of your most important get out the vote effort, would believe that it would be diluting a very main, a very fundamental part of who we are as a party.

Abortion, Second Amendment issues, tax issues, they are who we are as a party. That's our identity. So when we begin to dilute those very important planks that protect national security interests, economic security and family, security, you really do start to worry a lot of grassroots conservatives.

KING: All right...

MADDEN: And I think, Larry, you will create a schism in the party.

KING: Kellyanne, but logically speaking -- and we go back to Reagan -- a president can't do anything about abortion, can he?

CONWAY: Well, while Reagan and Bush were president...

KING: What can he do?

CONWAY: ...actually, abortion rights were strengthened. I mean I think everybody looks to the Supreme Court, Larry. You've got -- I know I've been on the show before with my friend, Paul Begala, always saying that John McCain's too old.

But we have two liberal justices serving on the United States Supreme Court who are older than John McCain and have lifetime appointments -- John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And I think people are looking at possible retirements on the court...

KING: All right, so...

CONWAY: ...when they think about abortion.

KING: Do you...

CONWAY: Look, the Ridge thing was never real, either. That was floated by people who are pro-choice themselves. And I think Senator McCain, very diligently, shot that down almost the moment that it was raised.

KING: Paul, do you see the chance of a Joe Lieberman on that ticket?

BEGALA: Perhaps. He's, of course -- if there's a problem with Tom Ridge being pro-choice, he's otherwise a conservative, and, by the way, a highly decorated war hero. A remarkable man.

Then Lieberman would be an even bigger problem. A lot of Democrats -- I'm probably one of them -- would like to get rid of him. And but I guess he'd have to win, and that wouldn't be worth the price to see him as vice president.

He actually won the vice presidency once, but some of those thieves in black robes at the Supreme Court stole it from him back in the year 2000.

But, no, I don't see -- I don't think McCain can do it. And I don't think he really wants Lieberman. I think he really wants Ridge.

And this is a gut test for McCain. I don't think he's got the guts to pick a pro-choice candidate like Ridge, even though that's who he wants. I think he's going to cave in to the Bush Republican wing of the party that he has embraced for the last eight years.

KING: Jamal, who would...

CONWAY: How do you know what (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: Jamal, as an American now -- forgetting party -- who would you like the Republicans to nominate, for your country?

SIMMONS: Oh, you know, gosh.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMMONS: I can't even imagine who on the Republican side that they even could nominate that would be any good. The problem with the ticket is the top of the tight. The problem is you've got John McCain, who doesn't have any room to give the conservatives. So he can't pick somebody like Tom Ridge.

So I think he probably -- I agree with Paul -- he probably does want him. But you've got Rush Limbaugh and all these guys saying that he can't do it. So he's going to -- you know, it looks like he's going to cave into that group.

But the problem really is the guy at the top of the ticket, who's so out of touch. We saw it today with the thing about the houses. He doesn't even know how many houses he has and thinks $5 million is what it takes to be rich. He's not anywhere in touch with where the average American is. And I think that's the real problem.

KING: Kevin, does Rush Limbaugh affect who your party nominates?

MADDEN: No, look, Rush Limbaugh is an echo chamber. Rush Limbaugh speaks for a lot of grass roots conservatives. There are people out there who feel very strongly about the direction of the party. They make their voices known, whether it's on blogs, whether it's on the Internet, whether it's on talk radio. And Rush Limbaugh gives them a chance to make themselves heard. And I think this week, when you saw a lot of backlash against the idea of a pro-choice candidate being nominated as John McCain's number two, they were cruising Rush Limbaugh as a vehicle to express their discontent there.

KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be calling on you lots, trust me. Paul Begala, Kevin Madden, Jamal Simmons and Kellyanne Conway. Great having them all with us.

The "American Idols," they're next, direct from their 50 cities tour. Stay right there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Definitely we spent a lot of times with the fans. That's pretty much what we're all about.

DAVID COOK, "AMERICAN IDOL" WINNER: We had a chance to do this every night. It's beyond our wildest dreams.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just going to give 110. You know?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really, really big crowd, big arena.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The concert was great. She was excellent.

COOK: It's why I got into it in the first place, for crowds like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE. What a pleasure to welcome the ten Idols who made the finals. They're all in Duluth, Georgia. What are they doing in Duluth, Georgia? I'll tell you what they're doing. They're part of a 50-city tour that's in the waning days. We're going to begin in the first session, with the winner, the "American Idol" winner David Cook. There you see him on the left. And on the right, the runner up, David Archuleta.

OK David Cook, what's this been like? Have you enjoyed it or not?

COOK: Yes, Larry, I have enjoyed it. I think to be able to tour the country with nine of your best friends, really get outside the show and not feel like such a competitor and just be a performer, it's a good feeling.

KING: David Archuleta, has anything about touring surprised you?

DAVID ARCHULETA, "AMERICAN IDOL" RUNNER UP: I guess not really. I mean, it's been a lot of fun. Hanging out with these guys and sometimes they do pretty weird things, those are kind of unexpected. Other than that, it's a lot of fun, and we just have great times.

KING: David Cook, are there any nights you forget what city you're in? COOK: Knock on wood, not yet. But we've got, I think, 17 or 18 shows left. So you never know -- 19 shows left, so you never know. Thank you, Brooke.

KING: David Archuleta, you must be pretty happy, because your song, "Crush," is the number one single on iTunes right now.

ARCHULETA: Oh yes, still?

KING: Yes, still is.

ARCHULETA: That's cool. That's really neat. I mean, it's been so great to see that we're still getting support from all the fans, even after the show, just to know that they're appreciating the hard work I'm putting into working on the album and stuff. It's really neat. I'm so grateful for all of them and all the help they've given me too.

KING: Let's meet the rest of the Idols, all assembled in Georgia, where they're continuing their 50 city tour. They are Syesha Mercado, Jason Castro, Brooke White, Carly Smithson, Michael Johns, Kristy Lee Cook, Ramiele Malubay and Chikeze. We'll start with Syesha. Why is that funny? How's the tour been for you?

SYESHA MERCADO, "AMERICAN IDOL": It's been a lot of fun. I really enjoy meeting the fans. I'm taking in the experience. On the show, I was really stressed out. So now it's a lot of fun hanging out with everybody.

KING: Jason, are the fans different from city to city?

JASON CASTRO, "AMERICAN IDOL": Yes, they are, but they're consistently there. They're consistently cool. It's a pleasure.

KING: In other words, you don't have a bad night?

CASTRO: No, never.

KING: The hair is growing. You're starting to look like Manny Ramirez. Brooke White, take us through a day. What's it like? Are you on a bus? How does this work?

BROOKE WHITE, "AMERICAN IDOL": You asked the long windowed person on the entire tour a very loaded question. The day usually starts -- it's hard to know where the day starts and ends, quite honestly. Midnight, we crawl on the bus, drive to the next city. We get off and get into the hotel around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. We sleep for a couple of hours. Then we get back on the bus and head to the venue, which they're -- like you said, those fans are lined up outside.

We go out. We talk to the fans and sign and take pictures and all that jazz. Then we go in and we meet more fans. Then we do press, and then do sound check. Then we do hair and makeup. Then we do the show. And then we do another meet and greet. Then we go outside, and there's like 1,000 fans there. Then we do that. Then it's midnight, and it's time to get back on the bus again.

KING: Well said.

WHITE: That was really short.

KING: Carly, I understand there's a boys' bus and a girls' bus. Is that right?

CARLY SMITHSON, "AMERICAN IDOL": Yes, there is. And I'm going on record, for David, the boys' bus is very clean.

KING: I'm told.

SMITHSON: Yes, because he complained. It's very clean.

KING: Christie Lee, how does the show work? Who opens? How do you pattern the whole program?

CHRISTIE LEE COOK, "AMERICAN IDOL": It's basically from elimination. Chikezie starts out the whole night, and then it goes to Ramiele, Michael, me, and then it goes all the way through. Then David Cook comes out and finishes the show. Then we come out with a group number and we have a lot of fun on stage. It's pretty crazy. The maven takes over. It's a lot of fun.

KING: And Michael Johns, is show business all you thought it would be?

MICHAEL JOHNS, "AMERICAN IDOL": Yes. I mean, I've been dancing since I came out of the womb, Larry. When you got it, you got it, I guess.

KING: You have no thoughts of leaving the business?

JOHNS: No. No. The business is going to have to kick me out first, I think. I will knock on every door.

KING: Ramiele has every show been sold out?

RAMIELE MALUBAY, "AMERICAN IDOL": So I've heard. Most of the shows have been sold out. There's a couple of seats on the very, very top that there's not that many people. But it's pretty packed every night. So it's exciting.

KING: Chikeze, what are the meet and greets like?

CHIKEZE, "AMERICAN IDOL": Well, it's basically -- it starts out, we come into a room. We sit down, eat a whole bunch of Pop Tarts, then complain about how we're getting fat. Then a bunch of people come in to see me and they get to see the rest, too. They're still here. You guys are still here, good job. I sign a whole bunch of autographs. They take pictures with me. Then I go off to entertain them.

KING: Are you playing. Are you playing harmonica? CHIKEZE: Not right now, Larry. Not -- on the stage, no, not there either. Yes, no, no harmonica, but I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about it. Someone sent me one. I'm considering slipping it in here or there.

KING: Jason, how is the eukeleli going over?

CASTRO: It's going pretty good. I've gotten pretty good with it, I guess.

KING: Carly, have you gotten any new tattoos?

SMITHSON: We went to New York, myself and David, for a Mets game and he got a tattoo. I was going to get one, but the lady wasn't ready. They didn't have enough artists that day. But I will. I will get many tattoos by the time my life is over.

JOHNS: Really?

SMITHSON: Yes.

KING: Many more.

SMITHSON: I love them.

KING: You can answer this in unison, do you all miss Simon?

(CROSS TALK)

SMITHSON: I actually liked Simon on the show. I was frightened to death of him. I think I speak for a lot of people. He's quite an intimidating guy. But not that we don't miss him. We don't miss him being in front, judging us every week.

KING: We'll be right back with more of our "American Idol" winners, the finalists. They're all on tour. They're in Delutte, Georgia. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITE: My story from last night.

MALUBAY: They told you, didn't they? Crap.

C.L. COOK: We're very serious about this.

SMITHSON: Help me.

COOK: I probably say that's what I miss more than anything. That and Michael John's mustache.

MERCADO: My name is Syesha Mercado.

WHITE: We don't start out looking like this. Trust me. CHIKEZE: It was an amazing performance, I must say.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We didn't get a chance to see David Cook's tattoo. Can we get a shot of your tattoo, David?

COOK: Sure, right here.

KING: Does it say something or is it a symbol?

COOK: It's just an eyeball.

KING: An eyeball?

COOK: Yes, I got it for David Archuleta. That's a lie. I didn't really do that. No, just a personal meaning for me, just kind of represents the last year of my life.

KING: Has anybody at all changed their mind about show business on this tour? Any of you not want to be a singer?

JOHNS: No.

COOK: I'm pretty happy where I am at.

JOHNS: We're so lucky to be doing this very night, Larry, 10,000 people. It's ridiculous.

CHIKEZE: I've decided I'm not going to be a singer. I'm going to be an entertainer.

KING: Explain.

CHIKEZE: How about them apples?

(CROSS TALK)

CHIKEZE: Let me explain it. I've always sung. I've always been a, quote, unquote, singer. But going on tour, being able to get on stage, see all these people, it is a whole different experience. It's an entertainment experience, rather than just an audio experience.

KING: Brooke White, what are the meet and greets like?

WHITE: It depends on which meet and greet. When we're outside, it's a little different than when we're inside. When it's outside, it's just complete mayhem. When we're doing the indoor one, we're behind a table. And, as the security guards say, it's a sign and slide, and a meet and greet, where sign and slide. They walk and talk. It's very interesting to meet different people all day long, every day, talking about everything. Kind of same thing every day.

KING: Ramiele, at the end of the show, do you all -- are you all on stage together?

MALUBAY: There's a part at the end of the song where we kind of split apart. There's a Mavid (ph) going down. It's just Mavid.

KING: Christie Lee, do you all sing songs that you sang on the show?

C.L. COOK: I do "God Bless the USA" on the show. That's the only one that I do that's from the show. That's the only one I really like the most. That's -- I don't know. I think some of us have chosen some from the show, as well, and are doing it on tour, but --

KING: Michael, what is this experience? What's this experience been like for you. What's it like touring and busing and all of that?

JOHNS: I mean, I'm 29. I've been waiting for this opportunity my whole life, personally. I've always seen like tour buses parked in hotels and going, I want to get on one of those. For me, it's the opportunity of a lifetime. But for all of us to get to play in front of 10,000, 15,000 people every night, you've got to sell a lot of records in your own career to get back that kind of level. I think we're all just drinking it in and having the best time of our lives. That's what I think.

KING: David Archuleta, you don't have Ryan Seacrest with you. Is there a host of the show?

ARCHULETA: I think we all kind of just say our own little things during our little sets.

COOK: There's a host.

ARCHULETA: Oh, yes. I thought you meant in between the sets and stuff.

COOK: Arch is playing a different show than everybody.

ARCHULETA: There is. Sorry about that. There's one before and during intermission and stuff. I was thinking during the show, in between sets, because like we introduce each other.

KING: Carly, what surprised you the most?

SMITHSON: About the tour?

KING: Yes.

SMITHSON: That I'm not nervous anymore. I'm not afraid. On the show, I was -- I don't know, I would walk out and the lights and the cameras would go on, and I think I kind of froze up a lot of the time. But on the tour, I don't know, I feel completely alive as soon as I walk out on the stage. And I love every minute of it. And I hate getting off it. On the show, completely different situation, couldn't wait for the song to be over.

But yes, this is definitely -- I was worried by the time the show ended that this wasn't really something that was for me. But the tour has kind of secured that for me. And everyone's voices are so much better. And the tour -- we're all just so much better than the show. KING: These guys have known each other a year now. Are they getting sick of each other yet? They're a great group. We'll find out after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSS TALK)

COOK: It's turned into a dance fest.

WHITE: This is what we will miss.

COOK: Waking up in a different city every day and having people to share the experience with.

JOHNS: It feels good. It's like a good friend walking up to you and you get to share that moment together. It's pretty cool.

WHITE: The audience loves it.

JOHNS: It's true.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: By the way, everyone in this troupe is involved with Stand Up to Cancer. It's on September 5th. We're going to be involved too. We all know it's very personal to David Cook, because of his brother. How's he doing by the way, David?

COOK: You know, this tour's been a blessing in more than one sense, in that a lot of the news that we've been getting since the tour started has been good. So short answer to your question is, he's doing very well. Thank you for asking.

KING: David Archuleta, do all of you get along? Answer truthfully.

ARCHULETA: Yes, I think so. I get along with everyone, at least. From my viewpoint, yes.

KING: Would everyone agree? You got ten people. You were strangers before all of this. The odds are someone doesn't like someone. You don't have to tell me, but you can say I don't like someone without saying who.

COOK: Honestly, Larry, a lot of people have tried to find some sort of like chink in the armor. But we really do all get along. It's kind of weird. I figured I would hate everybody by now. But we actually genuinely care for one another. We get along. We're brothers and sisters at this stage of the game.

JOHNS: We could have our fights, but we all do want to make up by the end of the day.

KING: Do you have to do -- Syesha, do you do run throughs in every city, because every stage is a different size, right?

MERCADO: At this point, no more run throughs. We just go on and perform. We have a warm-up in the beginning, kind of like we work on the finale song and just do a mic check. And then that's it. We just perform.

KING: You are all a wonderful, wonderful group. It's great knowing you. I wish you all nothing but success. David Cook, our winner, David Archuleta, our runner up, and the other gang, Syesha Mercado, Jason Castro, and Brooke White, and Carly Smithson, Christie Lee Cook, Michael Johns, Ramiele Malubay and Chikeze. All of you, thank you very, very much for some wonderful times together and great entertainment.

COOK: Thanks, Larry. Bye.

KING: Hey, another popular competition show is ready to tour. The top 11 dancer from "So You Think You Can Dance," they're touring from September through November. The show will include fan favorites, along with new numbers choreographed for the live stage show. And tickets are on sale now. A full list of cities and ticket information is available at Fox.com/Dance.

Now from the hit show "So You Think You Can Dance," here are Twitch and Carrington performing "Prison Break" to the Busta Rhymes song, "Don't Touch Me."

KING: What an hour. Our special thanks to all the Idols and the dancers from "So You Think You Can Dance." They may be soon in a city near you. So always check it out. You can do that at CNN.com/LarryKing. Tell us who you want to see on the show, or sign up for our text alerts or e-mails. We have ring tones and podcast too. All at CNN.com/LarryKing. Now Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."