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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Choices for VP

Aired August 22, 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, Barack Obama has made his V.P. pick.
Why won't he tell us?

His running mate could be revealed any minute now via text message.

Are you signed up to get it?

If the news of Obama's choice breaks during this show, we'll have the who and the why and what it all means, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

The million dollar question tonight -- who is it and when will we know?

We're keeping an eye on everything this hour. There you see live shots of Senator Evan Bayh's home in Washington, D.C. and Senator Joe Biden's house in Delaware. By the way, a police car has just left Senator Biden's house. And CNN just received video of Senator Obama headed to dinner at a Chicago restaurant. So rest assured, we're on top of it all.

We begin tonight with two outstanding guests, both major governors in the United States. Governor Bill Richardson returns. He's in Santa Fe, Democrat of New Mexico. He was energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and, naturally, a supporter of Senator Obama.

And in Dallas, Texas, another old friend, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, author of "Leading Ladies: American Trailblazers" and a supporter of John McCain.

Well, it's unlikely, Governor Richardson, that it's going to happen tonight, because it's already past 9:00 Eastern time.

When do you expect we're going to know?

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Well, I believe after midnight. I don't know, Larry. I think what is so significant here is th at the Obama campaign has run this so skillfully. There's so much expectation, so much interest. It's perfect for our Democratic Convention, the unveiling of the vice presidential nominee next week. Obviously, it's going to be a pick that Senator Obama makes himself. He's made the decision. But, you know, they've handled this very well. I've never seen a presidential campaign that doesn't leak, that is so disciplined, that has created this great drama.

L. KING: When...

RICHARDSON: And it's going to be exciting.

L. KING: Governor, when do you -- when is your guess we'll get announcement?

RICHARDSON: Well, I don't know. You know, I just think, Larry, he said he's going to unveil the candidate in Springfield, Illinois. This was -- this is consistent with when he announced several months ago. I think you're going to get it very soon and...

L. KING: So that would be tomorrow?

RICHARDSON: ...it just shows the enor...

L. KING: He's in Springfield tomorrow.

RICHARDSON: Probably tomorrow after midnight. Yes. That's right.

L. KING: Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, when do you first -- when do think he's going to announce it, this just as a practical political matter?

SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R), TEXAS, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, I would say tomorrow. I don't see why he would -- well, I don't know. But I would think that he wouldn't do it tonight, that he would go into the news cycles tomorrow. But heaven knows, what the governor just said is true, that it's been held pretty close to the vest in both campaigns, actually.

L. KING: Governor Richardson, it's word -- the word is that he's told those on the list who are not going to be picked that they're not going to be picked.

Have you been told you're not going to be picked?

RICHARDSON: Well, you know, Larry, I've consistently said that I'm not going to talk about any discussions I've had with Senator Obama. The point is that he's made the decision. Although I did say that -- I did express regret that would I have to shave my beard if I were picked. Maybe that hasn't helped or it has helped. But, really, I don't want to talk about that.

L. KING: OK.

RICHARDSON: It's (INAUDIBLE).

L. KING: Fair enough.

RICHARDSON: ...handle it, the o... L. KING: OK. That's fair enough.

Senator Hutchison, who would you least like to see them pick?

In other words, from a Republican standpoint, what would represent the best or most formidable ticket?

HUTCHISON: Oh, I'm not going to say who would be the best on the Democratic ticket. I think people generally vote for presidents. And I think they are looking at both candidates for president right now. Most of the time, the vice presidential nominee is a do no harm choice. It's someone who could be president. But, really, people look at the presidential nominees.

The vice president will be the hot item for this week and next week, because that's the new thing in the campaign. And then it's going to go right back to the ticket being the presidential candidate and what that candidate is putting forward.

L. KING: Senator Hutchison, do you expect Senator McCain to play this out, like Senator Obama has with his nomination?

HUTCHISON: Well, I believe that Senator McCain is going to announce his vice presidential nominee right after the Democratic Convention is over and start the momentum now for the Republicans in the week to follow.

L. KING: All right. This is obviously a close race thus far with the polls.

Does that surprise you, Governor Richardson, with an unpopular president and an unpopular war, a lagging economy?

Why isn't Obama 15 points ahead?

RICHARDSON: Well, I believe Senator Obama will be significantly ahead after the Democratic Convention, after the first debate, when the contrasts are viewed by the American public. You know, the reality is, Larry, the race hasn't really hasn't started. It starts after the conventions, after Labor Day. This is when voters are focusing.

I admit Senator McCain has had a couple of good weeks. You know, Senator Obama was taking a vacation over a week and Senator McCain dominated the news.

But again, I think that Senator McCain right now is -- if you're going to vote for him, you're going to vote for more Bush policies. If you vote for Senator Obama, I think you're going to see change, bipartisanship, results. That's going to come through in a fabulous Democratic Convention that is enormously expected by the American public to unveil the policies of Senator Barack Obama.

L. KING: Senator Hutchison, why is it so close thus far?

HUTCHISON: Because people are beginning to see the differences on the issues. And I think the energy issue is affecting everything in our country right now. It's affecting people's food bills, their electricity bills. It's affecting their gasoline at the pump. And if you have filled up a car or any kind of truck lately, you're just in sticker shock. It just makes a difference in the way you live your life.

And John McCain is addressing that with solutions. And Senator Obama is not. When you say that we can solve the energy problem without increasing supply, that is not a solution. It's not going to work. And I think the people of America are seeing the differences on those issues.

L. KING: We'll take a break and come back with Governors Bill Richardson and Kay Bailey Hutchison on this edition -- oh, by the way, we will be with you tomorrow night, Saturday night, with a live edition of LARRY KING LIVE. And my guess is then we will have the vice presidential nominee of Senator Obama's.

And all next week, Monday through Thursday, we'll be with you at 9:00 Pacific, 12 midnight Eastern with counter programming. We'll have Republicans on talking about the Democratic Convention.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: I want somebody, who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policymaking.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: Who should be Obama's vice president?

Vote now at CNN.com/larryking.

And, by the way, Bill Maher is our new podcast, taking on religion and politics. It's a must see pod cast. Check it out while it's still available at CNN.com/larryking.

Senator Hutchison, the McCain camp has sent out a memo saying Obama could get a 15-point bounce from the campaign.

Are they trying to set expectations really high or prepare McCain supporters for a Democratic surge?

How do you see that, Kay?

HUTCHISON: I think it's the convention that always gives a surge. And I think that it is to be expected. It will be a wonderful spectacular, I'm sure. And I would expect the bounce in the polls.

But then, I think when the Republican Convention starts, that it's going to be a great convention. It's going to be upbeat. There are going to be a lot of wonderful speakers. And I think that will create a surge, as well.

And I think it's going to be about even. Probably Obama will be ahead some. He's a wonderful speaker. But I think when you get to September and people start reading really about the issues, that's what is going to make a difference. And I think John McCain has set out the agenda for the issues and it's his campaign. It is the -- he has taken an Independent course. He has a record of bipartisanship and I think he's going to be talking about what he would like to do, in a bipartisan way, to lead the country out of our energy crisis and to bring prosperity back.

L. KING: Governor Richardson, the United States and Iraqi negotiators have pretty much worked out an agreement to give us -- give U.S. combat troops the time to get out of Iraq by the end of 2011. And although the deal has to be officially approved by both sides, if it happens, which candidate benefits?

RICHARDSON: Well, Senator Obama has been -- his whole cornerstone of this foreign policy has been that he was first saying that this war was not working, that we needed to withdraw our forces, that we do it with diplomacy, protecting our interests.

When he was in Iraq, even the Iraqi prime minister said he agreed with the timetable of 16 months, getting our troops out safely and securely, finding a way for there to be a political reconciliation in Iraq, division of oil revenues, a political settlement.

So I think the American people want us out of Iraq in a dignified, safe way for our troops. And what Senator Obama has said is the threat is in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, the Taliban. We've neglected our relationship in Afghanistan, in North Korea, where we need to be really strong.

L. KING: All right...

RICHARDSON: ...with Russia. I believe that Obama is viewed as somebody that is ready to use diplomacy to achieve our goals. And, you know, I have to disagree with Senator Hutchison on the energy issue. Senator McCain has been in the Senate 25 years. It's been President Bush's policies that have raised the price of oil so dramatically, our dependence on fossil fuels, gas prices. I don't see how can Senator McCain can look the American people in the eye and say that he has a viable energy policy when all he wants to do is drill, drill, drill and nothing else -- nothing in renewable energy...

L. KING: All right, Senator, you've got two things...

RICHARDSON: ...global climate change.

L. KING: Two things to respond to -- the Iraq situation, who does it help; and his statement about energy.

HUTCHISON: Well, first of all, on energy, that -- I just couldn't disagree more with Bill Richardson. We do need to drill. We need to use our resources -- our natural resources and our creativity. And that's what is going to bring us out of this. When you close off, which is what Congress did, not President Bush, all of those avenues while you are working on renewables and with environmentally friendly policies, that's why we're in the crisis we're in.

On Iraq, I think you have to remember that it was John McCain who stood really against the administration in saying that the surge is the right thing to do. The administration, of course, did do the surge. But John McCain had said that we should have more troops in there and we should have a different strategy from way back. And while the Democrats and Barack Obama were saying that the war was wrong and we should get out -- which was exactly the wrong signal that should have been sent in the Middle East -- John McCain was saying no, we're going to win the war and the surge is working. And that is laying the groundwork for the eventual exit.

And what John McCain said that was different from Barack Obama is that we will only leave Iraq when Iraq can sustain itself so that with terrorists who are in Iraq right now, trying to keep Iraq from stabilizing, if they can be kept down and out, then Iraq will be able to sustain itself. And that is the criteria, not just a timetable.

L. KING: And Governor Richardson, can you give me -- I know you don't like to discuss your own discussions.

Do you want to give me as forecast as to who the vice president will be?

Just your own opinion. We won't hold you to it.

RICHARDSON: Well, look. No, no, but my point is this on that, Larry. It has to be -- there's something else that wasn't discussed in the criteria for a vice presidential candidate. There has to be absolute trust between the two. Otherwise it's not going to work.

Obviously, it has to be somebody that can step in and be president should there be some kind of a tragedy.

Third, obviously you want something that can bring some electoral strength, some political, support some region or some state. And then, obviously, you want somebody with strong national security credentials.

L. KING: So...

RICHARDSON: So that's the criteria. There are a lot of candidates in those lists, Larry, that have surfaced that have those qualities.

L. KING: I tell you, Senator Hutchison fits it.

HUTCHISON: I...

RICHARDSON: Well, she's the wrong party for Obama.

(LAUGHTER)

HUTCHISON: Oh, I thought you were talking to me.

RICHARDSON: But, obviously, you want...

L. KING: It would be an interesting choice.

RICHARDSON: No, no. You want a...

HUTCHISON: Yes. Really interesting all right. That's a change. It's the change we've been waiting for.

L. KING: All right, guys, we're out of time.

See you again soon.

RICHARDSON: Thank you.

L. KING: Governor Bill Richardson and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

HUTCHISON: You bet.

L. KING: Still ahead, live reports from the DNC and from Chicago. Stay there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: Let's check in quickly first with one of my favorite people, our CNN chief national correspondent, John King.

He's on the scene in Denver at Democratic National Convention, which convenes on Monday.

He's got a lot of work to do. He's going to anchor the top of the hour, the "A.C. 360" tonight.

One question, John. The A.P. is reporting that Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia is out of the running.

What are your thoughts?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we had had some indications earlier tonight that that might be the case, Larry. We do not have our own independent confirmation as yet of that -- I don't believe we do, anyway.

There have been some indications earlier in the night, you know, a lot of the tea leaves suggest that it's not going Governor Kaine's way; perhaps it's going toward Delaware and Senator Joe Biden.

But we're still making a lot of reporting calls on this. And the tea leaves aren't always right. And we should be very careful in making that clear.

I can tell you this. Democrats are starting to slowly trickle in here. The convention doesn't start until Monday, but many Democrats are showing up for weekend events, the weekend parties here in Denver. And they're asking us. There is a sense of anticipation.

They're saying, what do you know? Who is it?

So there's a sense of anticipation building in the party. The Obama campaign has this elaborate plan. And I know -- I think Candy Crowley is in the show a bit later. She's been on top of this all week long.

They want to do this text message thing. They're trying to gin up excitement not only among the news media and among, say, older Democratic delegates and the like, but this is all part of their way to use the Internet, to get younger people involved, to create a grassroots campaign...

L. KING: Yes.

J. KING: ...and even raise money off it, as well. So this text message plan, the way I understand it, it will take several hours, so many people have signed up. And they think the optimum time to do that is in the early morning hours.

And then, of course, he has that big rally planned in Springfield, Illinois tomorrow. So the clock is ticking. Everything tells you we will get the official word some time probably overnight and in the early morning hours.

But these things are unpredictable, Larry. I've been through probably too many of them in my career.

L. KING: I know.

Thanks, John.

John King.

He'll be anchoring "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour.

Let's go to Candy Crowley, our CNN senior political correspondent in Chicago -- is it logical, Candy, that this announcement is going to come at rally in Illinois tomorrow?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: No. You'll get the text message first because -- first of all, because they've promised this. And, second of all, for the reasons that John has mentioned. He needs to keep young people interested. There is nothing that interests young people, I can tell you, having some of them myself, more than a text message.

They've been promised that they will be the first to know. They want to do this to help the volunteers stay excited and to bring in new people. By the way, they get all those phone numbers. So can you imagine on election day having this bank of millions of phone numbers...

L. KING: Yes. Give me a...

CROWLEY: ...to sort of put in a text message and say hey, go to the polls.

L. KING: Give me a timetable.

When do the text messages start going out?

CROWLEY: You know, tomorrow morning, because it's going to take a while to get these out, not that they do them individually, but there are so many of them. As John says, as far as we understand the process, it's going to take a couple of hours. So I think you will see it early in the morning. And then you will see the picture -- the television version of this in Springfield, Illinois, where Obama announced his campaign and where he will have his vice presidential candidate standing next to him.

L. KING: Of course, tonight -- late tonight would be silly. You don't make the morning press.

It -- who's around at midnight?

CROWLEY: Yes, well, you'd be surprised how many young people are up, you know, working their phones. So I think he could do it then and word could leak out. He could maybe make very late editions of the morning papers, depending on which coast you're on. So, again, it's going to take a while, so they will have to start fairly early.

But the plan -- the plan as of now is to start in the early morning, you know, I would say around 6:00 or so. But it may take a while to get those out, so it could be earlier than that.

L. KING: And what do your connections tell you about who's still in the running?

We got the word that A.P. says Kaine is out.

CROWLEY: I'll tell you, over the past couple of days, it has increasingly looked like Joe Biden. Nobody in the Obama camp is saying this. They have taken a vow of silence and there are still only a handful of people know -- at least the last time I checked. There were many more people in the Obama campaign that didn't know than that did.

So, you know, it's hard to tell from in there. But if you look at all of these little hints that we've been getting -- there's also a report out tonight that Evan Bayh has been told it's not him. Again, we have not substantiated that had report.

But, nonetheless, everything that has come in over the past 48 hours points to Joe Biden or a big surprise. It could be that, too, Larry.

L. KING: Help me with the text message thing.

(LAUGHTER)

L. KING: Let's hear the first person. Let's call him Oscar. Oscar, tomorrow morning, at 10 after six, gets a text message.

CROWLEY: Yes.

L. KING: Why doesn't he just call CNN and tell them who the vice presidential nominee is?

CROWLEY: Well, because, you know, he won't need to because all of us have signed up for the text message. So (INAUDIBLE)...

L. KING: So we'll all have it at 10 after six in the morning?

CROWLEY: ...enjoy getting it. Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. All of us have signed up to get the text message.

L. KING: Do you expect the possibility of a surprise?

CROWLEY: I expect -- I expect that it's possible, yes.

Do I think it's probable?

You know, I don't think so.

Do I think it would be Hillary Clinton, for instance?

We learned today, on the record, what we have known on background for a while, and that is that Hillary Clinton was not vetted for this. So that makes her from, you know, unlikely to very improbable. So, it seems to me, she would be the biggest surprise.

You know, we've heard all that, oh, well maybe it's Al Gore. I think a lot of this is just people trying to gin up sort of their ideal ticket.

It seems to me that all along, what the Obama campaign was looking for when we saw the context of those they were looking at, was a solid, not rolling the waters kind of candidate. They don't need a lot of excitement on the Obama ticket. He kind of provides that himself. So they can afford to go with someone that we'll all look and say, oh, well, it's this guy, you know?

So I don't -- I don't actually expect a surprise. But it's still a possibility.

L. KING: Do you really need to vet Hillary Clinton?

CROWLEY: Well, listen, let me tell you what they were worried about. It wasn't just Hillary Clinton. It was the fact that in the post-presidency, Bill Clinton has given speeches to any number of places. Some of them might be controversial. Some of them have been controversial.

He has never released a list of whose donated to build his library. Hillary Clinton helped raise some of those funds.

So there were any number of things that the Obama campaign would have had to have looked into.

But you're right. I mean she's certainly well-known and they knew a lot of things. But there are other things you would suppose they would need to look into that they did not.

L. KING: OK, everyone. Check your things tomorrow morning. Get your text messages. We'll know in this new way of knowing.

CROWLEY: Absolutely.

L. KING: Thanks, Candy.

CROWLEY: Sure.

L. KING: Candy Crowley in Chicago.

What do you think of the way Obama has handled the announcement of his vice president?

We'll get some thoughts in that area when we return.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: The vice presidential question continues. In Washington, Kiki Mclean, Democratic strategist, served as senior adviser to the Clinton campaign and is a supporter of Barack Obama, also in Washington, Joe Trippi, the Democratic strategist, was campaign chairman for the John Edwards campaign, has not endorsed another presidential candidate. Also in Washington is Todd Harris. He was press secretary for John McCain's 2000 bid, was communications director for Fred Thompson's 2008 bid and a supporter of John McCain, and in Portland, Oregon, Lars Larson, talk radio host of his show, the "Lars Larson Northwest Show," is well known for being right on the left coast. And he has not endorsed a 2008 presidential candidate.

OK, Kiki, we're all hanging around. Who is it going to be?

KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's a great night for a dinner party, don't you think, Larry? Listen, we're going to find out when we find out. It's like I said all week, this is like Christmas eve. Is Santa there yet? What's under the tree? Who's going to open it? We'll know when we know. The good news is we have a lot of talent on the Democratic party bench, some great choices and opportunities for Senator Obama. He's going to let us know when he's ready.

L. KING: Todd, if it's Christmas, then it will be tomorrow morning, as Candy Crowley said. First, Todd, when do you think it will be and who do you think it will be?

TODD HARRIS, FMR. MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, I don't think it will be tonight. It's got to be sometime tomorrow morning. My money probably is on Joe Biden, the senator from Delaware. But I tell you, Larry, if they pick Joe Biden, they're going to have to give him a muzzle the size of the state of Delaware. This is a guy who has absolutely no history ever of being able to keep his mouth shut at really, really inopportune times. I think they're really going to have to restrain him. Having said that, he has the national security credentials to round out a pretty effective ticket. L. KING: He also Joe, is he not -- I think he's the poorest man in the Senate. He takes the metro line every day to work. He lives in Wilmington.

JOE TRIPPI, FMR EDWARDS CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: Yes, he does. He would be a strong pick. One of the things he brings is someone who is a fighter, who is going to take it to John McCain on a lot of the issues out there, just in his face and be tenacious about it. No one is tougher than Joe Biden. Among those that have been talked about, he would be very strong there.

L. KING: Lars, is it going to be him?

LARS LARSON, "THE LARS LARSON SHOW": It's probably going to be Biden. But if Biden's going to take it to McCain, does that mean that Biden is Barack's brain, that he will be his brain on foreign policy? That will be a whole new role for vice president. There have been people who have disparaged Vice President Cheney for actually making the vice presidency into something important, which I think he's done. But now we're going to suggest that a guy like Barack Obama doesn't have the credentials on foreign policy, so he's going to hire a second guy who can do it for him.

L. KING: Lars, correct me, if Cheney was Bush's brain and they won twice, what's wrong with that?

LARSON: No, I don't think he was Bush's brain. I just think he took on some projects as vice president. In this case, if we're saying Barack Obama doesn't have the background -- he suggests after Russia invades Georgia that we go to the UN, get a resolution quickly, because you know resolutions have done so much good in international conflicts. Of course, he apparently forgot that Russia would simply veto it. Maybe he does need a brain on foreign policy.

L. KING: Kiki, you want to comment?

MCLEAN: Well, look, I just got to say, the reason you pick a vice president is you pick somebody who is capable of being president. you pick someone that you have confidence in, that will change you, that will bring perspective and different points of view to the table. And there are a number of good candidates on the Democratic side for that, Governor Sebelius, Senator Bayh, Senator Clinton. You know, Larry, she's my personal favorite. Senator Biden.

These are people with terrific records, terrific experience, experience that's worthy of sitting at a desk with the president of the United States, discussing and helping that president make important decisions, and frankly, capable of leading on their own.

L. KING: Joe, considering all the pluses, why isn't Hillary in the mix?

TRIPPI: I'm not sure she isn't in the mix. There's no reason to vet her. She's been out there for quite a while. You know, we know many things about her. He knows where she is on the issues. He knows that she's been out there in the public venue for a long time. There's no reason to run all kinds of background checks on her. It's ridiculous. She's the first lady of the United States and somebody he's competed against. I wouldn't count her out at this point. I think we're going to find out late tonight, you know, early into the morning who Barack Obama's pick is.

As Kiki says, there are a lot of people out there. It's actually that so many people are still being talked about, just talks to the kind of diversity in the party, the kind of strength in the party, and the kind of spokes-people we have and our strength across many, many issues.

L. KING: Todd, who do you -- from want of a better word, who do you fear as a Republican the most? What candidate do you think would make that really a stronger ticket?

HARRIS: I'm not sure that I fear any of them. I think in terms of who would not make a mistake -- of course he's been ruled out, at least according to reports, but I think Evan Bayh, given how cautious he is, bordering, frankly, on boring, but there's very little chance that Evan Bayh would probably make a mistake. When Joe Biden is at his best, he can be really good. I agree with Joe. I think in debates, Joe Biden will be a formidable opponent. But anyone who has watched Joe Biden over the years knows that this is a guy who is prone to putting his foot in his mouth. I really think, in terms of trying to balance out the ticket, that the Obama people are going to have to have him on a very, very short leash.

L. KING: Lars, who would be the most formidable candidate?

LARSON: It would be Hillary. I got to tell you something, Larry, there's no reason on Obama's part, other than emotion, not to pick Hillary. She would be a power house. She would bring that party back together. And she would satisfy some of this rift that's happened. I guess I have to ask you this question, if he doesn't pick her, and he's supposed to be the guy who's going to reach across the aisle and do all these bipartisan deals with Republicans, even though he has no history of ever doing that in his career, if he can't reach across his own party and pick the most logical person, the person picked by half of Democrats, slightly less than half, as the presidential choice -- if he can't reach across that aisle, how is he ever going to get across to the Republicans?

L. KING: What we're going to do now is make Hillary Clinton the subject of the next segment. We'll have Kiki and Lars. Then the entire panel will return when LARRY KING LIVE continues.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: This just in: CNN is told by senior Obama campaign officials that they plan to send out their text message Saturday morning, which is just about what everyone on our panel has said throughout the night tonight. So we'll know tomorrow morning. Kiki, we're going to devote in this segment a little discussion about Hillary. I know you were very close to Hillary Clinton. Do you think she's still in the mix? MCLEAN: I think that they're all in the mix. You know, there's another person we haven't talked about, and that's Chet Edwards from Texas. As a Texan, I like to promote Texans. So he's also been talked a lot about. I think that there's probably only one person in the mix because we know that Senator Obama said he has made his decision. We just don't know who that is. I think one of the interesting things -- a call-in listener on a radio show was on recently and said, you know, I'm not sure I want Hillary Clinton to be vice president. I want her in a real policy making role, where her policies are with us long after she's gone. I want her judgment on the Supreme Court, as the attorney general.

You know, it's not just about Hillary Clinton. When Barack Obama is making this decision, he makes choices that aren't just about election week in November. They're about where these leaders serve in our party and our country for many years to come. Does he want Joe Biden leading the Foreign Relations Committee?

L. KING: Hillary Clinton has publicly endorsed Obama. But what's in her political heart of hearts? Today, she was asked about critics who say she's not doing enough for the man who defeated her for the nomination. Here's what she said. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLINTON: I've probably done more for Senator Obama than anybody in my position has ever done by this time. And maybe it's because I know what other people have done and the fact that very often these contests went all the way to the convention, they were contested, there were fights, and most people never got around to endorsing the winning candidate until the convention, sometimes even later. So I think it's a fair assessment that I've done more than anybody has done in my position. I intend to keep doing everything that I can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

L. KING: Lars, what's your comment on that?

LARSON: I don't think she's doing very much. I don't think she's very enthusiastic about this guy. But she understands how the game has to be played and she understands what she has to do. It's that thank you note to grandma that your mom made you write. She has to do it. She's going to do it. She's going to do the bare minimum, as far as I can tell. It's not going to do him much good. If he picks her as vice president, I think they have a real power house combination, not that I'm a fan of either one of them.

MCLEAN: I've got to tell you, she's done a tremendous amount for him and intends to do as much as she can until he's elected president.

LARSON: What has she done?

MCLEAN: She's campaigned for him. She's helped raise money for him. She's encouraged her supporters to go with him. She's been on the road in Florida, in Nevada. She's going to the convention. She's doing everything she can to visit with delegations, roll up support, roll up a unified party. She's done an amazing job for him.

You know who knows it? Barack Obama knows it. Because the two of them understand what a united party will do for this country. I know Hillary Clinton, and I know what she wants. She wants Barack Obama in the White House, not John McCain. She's going to do everything in her power to lead the 18 million people who voted for her to the same place she is, which is voting for Barack Obama.

LARSON: She's raising money, but she wants to pay off her own debt as well.

MCLEAN: She's helping raise money for him, Lars.

LARSON: Tell me you don't think there's a quid pro quo coming? She wants the 30 million back.

MCLEAN: Lars, first of all, the numbers are all wrong. I don't really think you know what you're talking about on this. The fact of the matter is everybody in America knows Hillary Clinton has been out there publicly campaigning for him, bringing supporters to him.

L. KING: Kiki and Lars remain. Joe Trippi and Todd Harris come back when more of LARRY KING LIVE continues. Again, we're told by senior Obama campaign officials they plan to send out their text message Saturday morning. The guests continue to go at it. Stay there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: You're looking at the homes of Evan Bayh in Washington, D.C. and Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware, as camera crews, of course, standby for what might happen. Again, the announcement from a senior official will be coming tomorrow morning. I guess the candidate will be with -- I'm going to guess with Senator Obama in Illinois tomorrow.

(NEWS BREAK)

L. KING: We look forward to John king and his board. John is the chairman of the board. John King, as always, on top of the scene. We'll have a live show tomorrow night, Saturday night as well. Our panel has reassembled. Joe Trippi, do you buy all this early morning, doing it text message, the whole kind of secrecy of it?

TRIPPI: Absolutely. This is a real key to the Obama campaign. They've been able to keep people's attention. They've got us up talking about it right now. They've got probably a whole bunch of people all over the country at parties tonight looking at their cell phones, waiting for this thing to come across. I know from being part of the 2003/2004 campaign, when you have to get this many messages out, it does take hours. So there's no way -- I don't think they would be doing this until the morning. That makes sense to me completely.

L. KING: Todd, what's your read on the way this has been handled? HARRIS: I have to tip my hat to the way that they've handled it. Larry, one of the most important things in the political campaign is capturing the names and contact information of high propensity voters, people who you know are interested and engaged in the political process, who are going to come out and vote. And when you think about all of the people who signed up to be on this distribution list with e-mail and text messaging, believe me, they're not just going to delete all of these names and contact information on Sunday afternoon. They're going to keep using that list, going all the way until election day.

And I also -- I have to tip my hat on the fact that none of this has leaked out. I tell you, if Barack Obama and his campaign, if they don't take the White House, they've all got a great future at the CIA, because these people can keep secrets.

L. KING: Kiki agree?

MCLEAN: I agree. Here's what's also important in this; it's not just tactical, but it's also the real ownership of this decision for Senator Obama. The announcement is coming from him. It's his judgment. It's the most important decision he'll make as hopefully the next president of the United States. And I think his team's work, but really his leadership and the way he wanted to own this decision. He wants to be the one to communicate it in the time and the way that he wants to is a real demonstration of strength in his leadership.

L. KING: Lars, are you impressed?

LARSON: Building a list is important, and that's great. I guess I just find it kind of funny, because I always thought of text messaging as the quintessential inconsequential communication, you know, two 12-year-old girls telling each other which guy they think is cute. It's used for the most inconsequential communication that we do, most of the time. I use text messaging. But it does build a list. In all, it does allow him to keep a secret, because nobody is on an airplane tonight that we can tell. So there's that. It's kind of a stunt, frankly.

L. KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be calling on you frequently, all of you. We'll come back with two of the best politicos in the business. And how might Obama's VIP (sic) pick influence John McCain's choice? We've got McCain and Obama supporters to discuss it. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

L. KING: We're back and we've got a shot, I understand, of Senator Obama and family leaving a restaurant in Chicago, heading home for the evening with the announcement coming, as announced by a key source in the campaign, the announcement will come tomorrow morning. We're all guessing about 6:00, 7:00 tomorrow morning. There's the senator leaving Chicago to a ring of applause. That's, of course, his home city.

Joining us here in Los Angeles now is Reed Dickens, the former assistant White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. He served as national spokesman for Bush/Cheney, and is a supporter of John McCain. And Tonya Acker, the Democratic strategist, who worked on the 2004 Kerry-Edwards campaign, a supporter of Barack Obama. What do you make, Reed, as to how this whole thing is being handled?

REED DICKENS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: First of all, I think this is the most fun part of the election, for the staff, for the pundits, for the candidates. These guys get to be rock stars for a few days. Most of them have no chance of being vice president. They're either floating their names themselves or their staffs, or they're being floated by the candidates to energize them. I think Obama, looking back on this pick, this -- what we may take from this week is who Obama didn't pick. If he wins, I don't think it matters, and I don't know if I can say this on national television without getting arrested for hate speech. But if he loses, I think he might get second guessed for not picking Hillary.

L. KING: Tonya?

TONYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He's not going to lose.

DICKENS: I'm sorry for even floating that.

ACKER: That aside, I'm finding the timing of this interesting. I was one of those folks who pontificated that he was going to pick today. Why he would announce in the middle of a weekend, that's a big surprise to me. I will agree with Reed, it is kind of fun just sitting around watching these respected journalists sort of act like paparazzi as they stalk the Obamas leaving the restaurant, and hanging out in front of Evan Bayh's house all night. It's a nice way to flip it. It's a bit of a distraction from Paris and Britney.

DICKENS: Isn't Saturday morning when you try to bury news? It just --

L. KING: Saturday is the worst news day.

DICKENS: Right.

L. KING: In and of itself. So why pick Saturday?

ACKER: Really, it's baffling to me. I have a theory that's pretty unsubstantiated, which is maybe that he wanted to have a couple more days of -- he wanted the McCain I don't know how many houses I have blunder, to be in the media for a few more days. But seriously, I can't really make much of this timing. I don't quite get it.

DICKENS: My general posture is who am I to question? They've run a good campaign to far, fairly mistake free. I'm sure they know what they are doing.

L. KING: You mentioned, if he loses, Hillary -- do you think Hillary should be his --

DICKENS: You know what? I don't think it would have actually worked, but if he loses he'll be second guessed. If you look back at John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, he didn't just choose Johnson, as we all know, for Texas, it was because he was a wildly powerful majority leader and he wanted him inside shooting out, and he needed that help with the establishment. So I think if loses, it will get second guessed in terms of uniting the party and the establishment.

L. KING: Do you have a favorite for him to pick?

ACKER: All my favorites keep dropping out. Jim Webb was my favorite for a long time. Kaine was my favorite until what, 15 minutes ago? So I don't think anybody should be listening to what I say about my favorites. My favorites seem to fly by the wayside.

L. KING: Who is McCain going to pick, Reed? Do you think his pick will be affected by Obama's pick?

DICKENS: I don't. And I think the announcement and the tactics of how everything is unveiled will, but I don't think his choice will. I think it should be Governor Romney. If it's not Governor Romney, it will be a peak in the McCain psyche. I don't think he's kept it a secret that he doesn't care for Romney that much. In terms of campaigning, economy, China, the portfolio, optics, and then in terms of governing and splitting the portfolio, Romney is a strong choice.

L. KING: Would it be a mistake to pick a pro-choice running mate?

DICKENS: Absolutely. I've been telling my friends for about the last week -- I've gotten calls from a lot of reporters about, what if McCain picks a pro-choice running mate? If you're going against the wind, why would you cut off --

L. KING: He's a maverick. He goes against the wind.

DICKENS: In a campaign, if you're going against the wind, why would you cut off the motor and say hey guys, let's paddle the rest of the way? It just doesn't make sense.

L. KING: What do you think?

ACKER: He's a maverick? I think that we make more of his persona as a maverick than is actually warranted. Having said that, I agree with Reed. He cannot pick a pro-choice candidate. He's got to keep his base, which is already very suspicious of him, energized. I'm not going to suggest that that base is going to turn out instead in droves and vote for Barack Obama. That certainly isn't going to happen. But when you're talking about very religious -- the Evangelical voter, a lot of them may just stay home if they think that John McCain -- exactly, if they think that John McCain is not going to be true to their core principles, they may stay home. I think he can't run that risk.

L. KING: CNN has just confirmed what AP reported, that Governor Kaine is out.

ACKER: There you have it. DICKENS: Back to one more thought on McCain. The one thing you don't want to do in politics is affirm the worst fears or perceptions of the public. The conservatives have a lot of mistrust and fears about McCain. So I think a pro-choice VP pick would affirm a lot of their worst fears, fair or unfair.

L. KING: Will the debate really matter in this one?

ACKER: I think the debate is going to matter for a number of reasons. One, we've seen that McCain and his surrogates are really taking Obama to task on experience, and he's going to really need to show the country, Senator Obama, that he's fluent in issues relating to national security and foreign policy, that he's thought them through. He's going to have to be pick and persuasive and speak in a way that the country can quickly grasp. We're going to need a few very good sound bites.

On the other end, I think that this debate visually is going to shape up like Nixon/Kennedy. I think that's going to have a real impact on the country. I think that watching the way these two candidates present themselves, you know, the ideas that they are passionate about, I think that's going to really tell us a lot about what they're --

DICKENS: It also could shape up like Bush/Kerry, in the sense that you've got concise, decisiveness, versus nuanced ambiguity. It could go either way. One thing I would say about these debates is as we head into -- this will be -- the first debate I think will be very significant and a defining moment in this campaign.

L. KING: Thank you both very much. Reed Dickens, the former assistant White House press secretary and national spokesperson for Bush/Cheney, and Tonya Acker, Democratic strategist who worked on the Kerry/Edwards campaign. CNN is on top of the story. We'll keep you up to speed all night long. Bill Maher is our podcast, available now at CNN.com/LarryKing. And everybody is signed up for Obama's text alert. And you can sign up for ours, too. It's all at CNN.com/LarryKing.

Tomorrow night, a live Saturday edition of LARRY KING LIVE with the latest on Obama's rally and we'll probably -- certainly know his running mate tomorrow night. That's a live Saturday edition. Now "AC 360" in Denver with my man, John King. John?