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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Joe Biden Selected as Obama Running Mate
Aired August 22, 2008 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Thanks, John. And we'll be checking back with you and welcome to LARRY KING LIVE. Here's what we know. Hillary is out, Bayh is out, Kaine is out. Text messages are going out soon.
And there are reports the Secret Service has dispatched a protective detail to Senator Joe Biden in Wilmington, Delaware. We're continuing now with our round the clock coverage on this special live midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
Remaining with us from the last program that we did earlier, Reed Dickens, the former assistant White House secretary for President George W. Bush and Tanya Acker, she is the Democratic strategist that worked on the Kerry-Edwards campaign as a supporter of Barack Obama and on the phone is CNN reporter Suzanne Malveaux, also on the phone is Paul Begala, our political contributor.
Let's do a little round robin here. Reed, if as ABC reports, the Secret Service is going there, planes are going there, if everybody else has been eliminated is this something, if it looks like a duck and acts like a duck and looks like a duck ...
REED DICKENS, FORMER BUSH PRESS SECRETARY: I think so. And the Secret Service doesn't participate in political stunts so I think if the Secret Service is on the way, it is what it looks like and I think this is a good choice for him. He said this is his most important decision, pre-presidency, which is an inevitable thing to him, and I think this is a good choice for him.
KING: Paul Begala, what's your read?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think actually Reed has got a good point. You have to admire the rigor, the discipline, that the Obama team brought to this. I think all signs point to Biden, it's going to be Biden. I think it's looked that way for several days or even weeks now and I think frankly one of the people who played the biggest role in making Joe Biden the running mate is going to be Vladimir Putin.
When he invaded Russia all of the sudden, national security and Biden's really remarkable depth of experience on those national securities issues experience became more important than ever.
KING: When he invaded Georgia. What's your read, Tanya Acker?
TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think this was a great pick for a number of reasons. One, he wasn't one of the people I thought - while he's certainly been on the short list, he's not who I thought would eventually made the cut. It was really a masterful choice. He's been in the senate 35 years. He has an encyclopedic knowledge, he's got an amazing foreign policy and national security credential.
And so he is really going to add a lot to the ticket. And he's got - he's a little older and it is going to really bring some more experience credibility to the ticket.
DICKENS: Two things, gray hair and gravitas. He has got presence.
KING: Candy Crowley, he has also had quite a life. He had a brain aneurysm. He is - he is the least wealthy in the Senate. He takes the train everyday from Wilmington to Washington. He doesn't have a place in Washington. He lost his wife and daughter in a car crash. He's quite a resume.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He really does. There is so much of what you just listed that speaks to the very demographic that Barack Obama has to reach. That is working class rural Americans. This is a man the last time we checked in 2006, he listed his net worth as minus $300,000 so this is not a wealthy man. And this is a man, by the way, just in terms of political skills, who will have no problem slipping into what is the traditional vice-presidential role. And that is that of attack dog. He can slice people up and down and have a great smile on his face while he does it.
KING: Suzanne Malveaux who is in Denver. He's also had a history of gaffes, does he not?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you're absolutely right, Larry. He has. What they're counting on, perhaps, is because he is well liked by some reporters that won't be emphasized. That's not necessarily guaranteed. But yes, he's the one who said and some raised eyebrows certainly during the primary season when he talked about Barack Obama as being someone in his words who is articulate and clean and he tried to clean that up, if you will, a little bit, explain himself. Barack Obama accepted that explanation but he is known to kind of go off script from time-to-time. He says it like it is essentially. But Barack Obama has said in the past that the person he is looking for is someone who is willing to basically tell him what he thinks, his honest opinion even if he does disagree with him.
But Candy is right. He is a scrappy campaigner, he is somebody who attracts a lot of attention, sometimes goes off script, has an awful lot to say, Larry, it's somewhat of a joke, as you know, but he is someone they believe is a strong possibility.
KING: Paul Begala, how will he handle the vice-presidential debate?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think very well. I think Suzanne and Candy makes a good point he's an extraordinarily gifted debater. He is a happy warrior type. From an Irish Catholic family, grew up in Scranton, he has got every day guy ability to appeal to sort of lunch bucket voters and yet also 36 years in the Senate and he's traveled the world and I think whoever John McCain picks is going to have their hands full debating Joe Biden.
KING: Will the Republicans treat him as a genuine threat, Reed? DICKENS: Absolutely. Joe Biden brought the two things Barack Obama needed to this ticket. Gray hair and national security credentials, he's got gravitas, he was a legitimate presidential candidate. He debated well during the primaries. So I think whoever Senator McCain picks is going to have to be on his level. One thing I will tell you from experience, going through two presidential campaigns and I think Paul would agree with this, for all the strength and up sides of Joe Biden, the Obama staffers are going to be able to control him and keep him on message about as successfully as we did Vice President Cheney.
KING: Do you agree, Paul?
BEGALA: Yes, I do. And I think it actually does speak well of Senator Obama. He's not picking a robot here. We'll have days, Larry, we'll do shows, where you'll ask me, why did Biden say that? And I'll be stammering and stumbling. I think that's well worth it to have a guy -- the most important question. I remember when Bill Clinton picked Al Gore, why are you picking him? Of course I was for Dick Gephardt or Harris Wofford because they had the most important qualification, they were clients.
And I asked him why he picked them and he said four words. He said, "I might die, Paulie." And God forbid something happens, Joe Biden could step in. God willing nothing happens, he will be a great advisor to soon to be President Obama. At least I hope so.
KING: We'll have more of this special late edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll also be with you with a special edition live tomorrow night, Saturday. Don't go away.
KING: Welcome back to our special late night edition of LARRY KING LIVE. With us on the phone is Jessica Yellin, CNN reporter who is in Springfield, Illinois. What's going to take place there tomorrow and what time is all this going to happen, Jessica?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The big event happens at 2:00 local time, which is 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. And they already have started setting up the site. It's this same area where Barack Obama announced he was running for president in 2007. And of course, also the place that launched Abraham Lincoln's own political career.
So there's a lot of historical significance that Obama wants to nod to here. We think we're going to get that text message, we're looking for it any minute. Please let them send it soon. We think we will get it at 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. and the square will start filling up. No doubt, it will be a camera friendly image and something the Obama campaign will carry our coverage straight through the convention and drown out any criticism we might come up with of his V.P. pick.
KING: Can we expect now Senator Biden will be there?
KING: Jessica, do you hear me? We lost Jessica. Let's check in with John King, who is in Denver. He'll be doing a lot of coverage at the Democratic National Convention. John, we have said earlier, apparently while this is not official, it sort of looks like a duck and acts like a duck, it could be a duck. You're not hearing anything contrary, are you?
JOHN KING, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Not at all, Larry. That's a great way to put it. Nights like this, I've been through too many of them to count, sort of like Hansel and Gretel following the crumbs at some point. The Obama staff has been incredibly disciplined in keeping this information. And I'm looking down to see messages coming in.
I just talked to somebody, a senior Obama advisor who says the Biden team tonight is doping they are doing things they simply would not do if they were not the choice. That doesn't get you to the finishing line. But we are told they have been provided a list. They have been asked for a list from the Obama campaign and that's an important point. The Obama campaign our sources told us have asked the Biden people to put together a list of people so when reporters say, what about this part of his life or what about that part of his life, we can give them contacts to make.
They've asked for a list of top Biden aides who would travel on campaign plane, that would necessary not only so the Obama people can match them up politically with their staff but also so the Secret Service could do the quick security checks they have to do for times like this.
I'm also told the Biden people are putting together a list of their people from the primary campaign. Joe Biden didn't get many votes but did have organizations out there in some key states, did have some labor leaders out in some of the battleground states who were for him and we are told they are putting together that list to provide the Obama campaign and to get ready to make the kind of political calls you make when you have a big announcement like this.
Gloria Borger who was with me a little bit earlier here tonight also said he has spoken to his colleagues in the Senate who say every indication they are getting is that it is in fact him. We have a number of sources.
I'm just looking down, Larry, at a message that says, "I don't have direct indication from the Obama campaign but my Biden sources are very busy tonight. No reason for them to be up past midnight unless.
So these are the kind of indications we are getting. We need to be careful. We can't get you to the message just yet but trust me, a lot of us making a lot of phone calls.
KING: Tanya, would you bet that he'll be in Springfield tomorrow?
ACKER: I am going to bet that he is in Springfield tomorrow. And you know what's great about this pick, as well, you mentioned some key points about Senator Biden's background, this really allows Obama to create a new narrative about being of the common man and woman and being right down there and understanding the problems Middle America does. Remember, this is coming off a news cycle where we talked about John McCain not remembering how many houses he has.
Now his running mate is going to be a guy who is in debt like a lot of the country. So this really allows this campaign to move forward and tell a story and make his campaign more relatable to the average American.
KING: Paul Begala, is there any down side to Joe Biden?
BEGALA: There's a downside to anybody but I think there is probably less to Joe than to almost anyone else. The rap on him, the "L.A. Times" said this last year in an editorial, they called him a gaffe machine. Well, so is John McCain. Anybody who develops a reputation as somebody who speaks their opinions is going to get that accusation. I think it's well worth it. I think it speaks well of Senator Obama, this is somebody who will march right into that Oval Office and say, you know, sir, you're messing this up.
And I think on the campaign trail, we're looking for authenticity in this election cycle. I think we've had enough duplicity and phoniness and I think that Biden is just the most authentic guy around.
KING: Candy, will Biden be the attack person?
CROWLEY: That's the traditional role for the vice president. Yes, I'm sure he will. This is something he does really well. He can really take after a person without leaving you a taste he has been mean or ornery. It's done so kind of easily and with a smile. That's the traditional role and certainly it is going to be one that Joe Biden is going to pick up, particularly so with this campaign.
Because remember, this is the campaign that sells itself as the new kind of campaign hope, and we don't want all this negative campaigning. So you can leave that to your surrogate, your biggest surrogate of all is your vice-presidential candidate. Joe Biden is certainly up to the task.
KING: Sorry. Go ahead, Reed.
DICKENS: I think if there was any doubt in Senator McCain's mind, if there was any left lingering uncertainty, this should force Mitt Romney as being the choice on the Republican side. Joe Biden, I think, this is my humble opinion, would destroy the other two youngsters that McCain seems to be considering right now. I know Senator McCain may not be best friends with Mitt Romney but they don't have to use the White House bowling lanes on the weekend, they have to campaign and govern together.
And I think this should -- Mitt Romney was a legitimate presidential candidate. I think it would be a clash of two telegenic, credible, very accomplished people, Mitt Romney coming from the private sector. Joe Biden from the public sector.
KING: So you're saying the Obama pick will affect the McCain pick?
DICKENS: I'm saying if Senator McCain hadn't decided this should solidify that Governor Romney, I think would be the best match-up for Joe Biden in a debate.
KING: Do you fear anything? John King, you've covered Joe Biden for a long time. Is there anything about him that Obama should worry about?
I'm sorry. No one told me John was gone. But I'll be gone and come right back. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Let's go back to Denver and Suzanne Malveaux. What in your opinion makes Biden an attractive candidate?
MALVEAUX: Speaking with the Obama folks, those inside who have really been familiar with the vetting process, the thinking of Barack Obama and his team, essentially they say it really depends what happens on the ground. What they mean by that is what had happened the last couple of weeks that has changed the equation. You take a look at Pakistan, its leader has stepped down.
You take a look at the conflict between Russia and Georgia, you had Biden who was directly involved in trying to negotiate some sort of talk between those two nations. That really the person who would emerge as the person who would fill the void, the vacuum when people take look at what does he need to accomplish? What does he need to put forward (AUDIO GAP) very strong by Clinton and McCain. It is really Biden who is filling that gap when it comes to the foreign policy experience.
And if you look at the polls now, here, you see that the gap between these two candidates is narrowing here and people dramatically saying they believe it is McCain that would do a better job when it comes as commander in chief dealing with national crisis. It's those kinds of things that voters are paying attention that really resonates with them and specific areas where Biden has really emerged as a stronger candidate out of those on the short list.
KING: Paul Begala, was Hillary ever a serious candidate for this?
BEGALA: No, she wasn't, Larry. I got to tell you, a lot of Hillary supporters are upset about that. It's not that Senator Obama had to pick Hillary, if he picks Biden, which I think he will, it's great choice. But he did say that Hillary would be on anybody's short list. Today, there was some reporting and I think it's accurate, he never began the vetting process with her and didn't actually consider her in any meaningful way. And I didn't think it was a good option for Hillary. I was on our air saying that. I didn't think it was a good option for her, think she would like the Senate a lot better. Still, I think it could cause some problem with the Hillary supporters that he didn't follow through on his promise to keep her on the short list.
KING: Go back to Denver and senior political analyst Gloria Borger who has been around the trail quite a bit. What's your read on Joe Biden?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the discussion is going on inside the Obama campaign ...
KING: I'm sorry, Gloria, we are going to have to fix your audio. We're not hearing Gloria Borger as well.
KING: Candy, do you think this ticket is energized? Candy Crowley?
CROWLEY: Listen, I think any time you pick a V.P., this is going to dominate the news for the next two days which is precisely what the Obama campaign wanted so they can roll into the convention on Monday with a sense of excitement so people will stay tuned for four days while basically they do or try to do an advertisement for the Democratic Party. I think also, it's one of the reasons why they waited so long, or it seems so long for us. A vice-presidential pick is important, it's your first important decision after you secure enough delegates for the nomination. Bit it's not definitive. If you go back, you'll probably find that Lyndon Johnson may have helped sway the election for JFK. But vice president, I think you can have a bad pick that can doom your chances but a good pick helps, but it's not definitive in who people in the end vote for. In the end, people vote for the top of the ticket.
KING: Of course, Candy, John Kennedy won Texas. The thinking is he would not have won Texas without Lyndon Johnson.
CROWLEY: Yes. Exactly. And Delaware is in a state democrats have to worry about too much and yes, Joe Biden can speak directly to working class voters but people vote on the top of the ticket. And while Joe Biden can certainly get people to listen to him and brings credibility to many of the constituencies that can help him. Joe Biden has strong union tie, he has strong ties with teachers' unions, as well as the working class votes so he can help in all those areas, bring attention to Obama's agenda but people are going to vote on Obama.
KING: Jessica Yellin, Joe Biden is also very popular in Pennsylvania, he was born in Pennsylvania, neighboring to his state of Delaware. Will that mean a lot?
YELLIN: I tell you, the Obama people certainly are banking on it. I spoke to a House Democrat not long ago, said to me, this is a quote, "Pennsylvania loves Joe Biden." They gave me an example biden is from Scranton and a Scranton congressman running for re-election and the Democratic leadership said, we will bring any Democratic Party star into this district to get you reelected, you name the person, we'll deliver them, who do you want to make sure you turn out the crowds and get the vote? They said Joe Biden, period. There is a sense he is so wildly popular with that hometown connection, but that he really makes that kind of connection with Catholic voters, blue collar voters see. Can go into, if you will, bitter America, the area Barack Obama once described as bitter America and really make a connection sometimes Obama is lacking. They hope no doubt he can deliver Pennsylvania but also some of these other areas, Ohio, places in Michigan, where they hope Biden also gives Obama sort of Middle America credentials, if you will.
KING: Do you think this played well - I mean, I know they wanted to wait until tomorrow morning but obviously, if the Secret Service goes there, according to ABC, that spills the beans. Do you think they got uprooted here or was this still a very successful play?
ACKER: I am not one to second-guess the strategists who've got Senator Obama's ear or Senator Obama himself for that matter. But the timing to me does seem a little odd. And it's a little anti-climatic, there's been this sense of dominos falling all night, it's not Tim Kaine, it's not Evan Bayh, it's not Hillary Clinton. So I think we lose a little bit of drama, but it gives us a little more to talk about over the next few hours.
DICKENS: Having sat in on a lot of campaign strategy meetings on a presidential campaign I don't think it was their idea for this to dribble out at midnight on a Friday night.
KING: It seems the worst hour.
DICKENS: It would. This is when you try to bury and hide news on things they're embarrassed about. So I can't imagine this was part of their plan. This story - let's step back and look at this picture, this story is a couple day story, then you've got Obama's speech and they you've got presidential debates and then the debate about who won the debate and then the election. This is just a few day story.
KING: Paul, do you think breaking it a little early was premature and will hurt or not?
BEGALA: Not in the least, Larry. In fact, I really admire how they kept the lid on this, how they kept this within the family for so long. They're still not confirming it. Way back in the dark ages, when Bill Clinton did choose Al Gore, he kept the lid on it. It was early in the morning, 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, that I was woken up by the most annoying reporter on the planet, who had finally figured it out. Somebody had actually -- back in those days, we had pagers, not text messages, somebody had paged him with the numbers on the phone that spell out G-O-R-E.
And finally, about 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, this really difficult, awful and ornery reporter called me and he had it. It was Gore and of course that reporter was John King. Still just as annoying and still just as talented as anybody in this business. And it was King the first one with the Gore report. It didn't hurt it broke at 3 clock or 4:00 in the morning and we announced Gore about noon the next day.
KING: We can say this, if it isn't Biden, they have really pulled a switch. You're watching a special live midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We're watching Joe Biden. Stay with us.
KING: We're back with our group of correspondents, reporters and analysts on this special late night edition of LARRY KING LIVE. We'll be back at our regular time, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific on the Saturday edition tomorrow. Back to Gloria Borger, we didn't connect before because of microphone difficulties. We have got a connection now. I'll repeat the same question. You've been around him a long time. What's your read on Joe Biden? BORGER: Well, I think Joe Biden is somebody who adds a lot of credibility to Barack Obama in the foreign policy field. And I think there was a debate going on in the Obama campaign, I was talking to somebody who was very close to Obama who said look, he had a choice here. He was trying to decide whether to reinforce his message of change, which would have been somebody younger perhaps or reassure voters who are a little worried about Barack Obama on the national security front. If the choice is Joe Biden, reassure will be the way he's gone.
And I think that that means they think Joe Biden can go toe-to-toe with John McCain on foreign policy issues. And the McCain campaign is trying to portray Obama as a risky candidate. And Joe Biden might be able to say, he's no risk, because I'm with him.
KING: Well said. Ed Henry, our senior White House correspondent comes to us from Washington. Any read yet from the White House or is it too late?
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's too late to get it from them. I can tell you I've been talking to a lot of Democrats maybe staying up a little later trying to get a handle on this. And one told me tonight, one senior Democrat, that he was excited at this prospect, because he said, I think to follow on what Gloria said, the way he put it was Joe Biden can take a punch but he can also deliver a punch.
And I think there's been some unease in Democratic ranks as John McCain has gained so much ground on Barack Obama recently, as to whether or not Obama cannot only take a punch but deliver a punch. Joe Biden is someone who as you know, Larry, has been through a lot in his life. He was elected to the Senate in 1972, a great high and shortly after that election, he tragically lost his wife and a child in a car accident.
And then fast forward to 1988, he runs for president and thinks he is going to win that and loses awfully because of the plagiarism charges, who would have thunk 20 years later past 1988 that he might have been in the precipice of this post. At least of this nomination. It's a remarkable career of highs and lows.
KING: Do you think the Republicans will bring up that plagiarism - Neil Kinnock was running for prime minister of Great Britain, an eloquent speaker and Biden used some of the direct language Kinnock used without crediting him. Do you think that will come up now?
DICKENS: I hope not. I think that's a real stretch. The guy's been in the Congress for, I think, 36 years. So I hope that doesn't come up. I think what you're going to see going back to earlier about what I was saying about Governor Romney, Governor Romney also has the ability to effortlessly attack and look pretty pleasant in the process, has a lot of credibility. I think what you are going to see on this campaign trail is Joe Biden being the attack dog. And I think the Republican V.P., they need to have someone who can return the attacks.
KING: Paul, do you agree that Romney will be the selection for McCain?
BEGALA: I defer to Reed. He knows his party a lot better than I do and Romney's enormously gifted and he's been terrific on television for John McCain lately. Although I'll throw another name out. If I were McCain and I look at Joe Biden, who is the third senator from Pennsylvania, and our correspondent has been saying that, born in Scranton, his Delaware state is in the Pennsylvania media market, I would look at Tom Ridge, very popular Pennsylvania governor, former Pennsylvania governor, war hero, like john McCain but he's pro-choice on abortion. So it would mean McCain taking on his base. If I were advising McCain, I'd look hard at Ridge and not concede Pennsylvania to the Democrats. Because if they don't pick a guy like Ridge, I think Biden might be able to swing Pennsylvania to Senator Obama.
KING: You say no, Reed?
DICKENS: Just can't do it. I've said this often and I'll say it again. If you're already going against the win, you don't want to cut off the motor and say, hey, let's paddle to shore. The climate is already, the wind's blowing in Senator McCain's face in this climate. I think the base already has a mistrust of Senator McCain. Conservatives are very leery getting on board with Senator McCain, so to nominate a pro-choice V.P. would affirm -- In politics, you never want to affirm people's worst fears or perceptions. And I think that would do that. So I would really advise him against it if he were listening to me.
KING: Candy, what's your word on McCain selecting Romney?
CROWLEY: I think he has been certainly the front-runner in terms of chattering class for some time. He seems like a natural fit. In the same way Joe Biden fits a hole in the resume for Barack Obama on foreign policy. Mitt Romney is a wildly successful businessman. He understands economic forces and he can fill in what has been seen as a hole on John McCain's side because John McCain is obviously running on foreign policy expertise but he famously said at one point or intimated at one point that he didn't know that much about the economy. Well, Mitt Romney can fill in that hole for him. When I look at Ridge, Ridge obviously is another person with very strong foreign policy credentials. He's been governor of Pennsylvania so he also knows something about the economy. But Mitt Romney is the one who I think most forcefully fills the vacancy in John McCain's resume.
KING: With Biden and the convention coming, what kind of bump does he get in the polls?
ACKER: I think he is going to get a good bump from precisely the category of voters that Joe Biden appeals most to. Again, it's those same voters, who after the end of the primary season were seen as really being Hillary Clinton's core, some of whom have been reluctant to give the same sort of full throated endorsement to Senator that Obama Senator Clinton did. I think that we're going to see a lot of those voters coming to the table and being much more excited and comfortable with this candidacy.
And I think obviously, there's the typical 10, 15 points that he can expect to get after the convention in any event. So I think that will all be compounded.
DICKENS: I trust polls less than ever in this election.
KING: Look at Iowa.
DICKENS: I think my parents are the only ones I know with a landline still. I don't really trust polls. I think that we have to be very leery of these polls. This is a unique election. I think people are very uncertain about Senator Obama and Senator McCain's base has been slow to get on. And it's before Labor Day, and I don't particularly think anything before Labor Day matters so I think the polls are very deceiving.
KING: We'll be back with more. Don't go away.
KING: Gloria Borger, do you expect this ticket to get right on the get-go, right after the Republican convention?
BORGER: I'm sorry, Larry, I didn't hear you.
KING: Do you expect this ticket of Obama and Biden to get right out on the road right after the Republican convention?
BORGER: Absolutely, Larry, if it indeed is Biden and we think it is. Joe Biden is a very energetic campaigner. Those of us that have covered his previous presidential campaigns know that he's likes to get out there. He loved campaigning this time around. He'll be a very enthusiastic spokesman for Barack Obama. And I think he's going to tell people why they ought to support Barack Obama on the foreign policy front. Joe Biden said that his vote for the war in Iraq was a mistake. He'll be able to go out there and say that Barack Obama got it right the first time around. So he will be a very forceful advocate. He does everything he does with an awful lot of energy, Larry.
KING: Candy, do you expect Hillary to be a very forceful aid in this campaign?
CROWLEY: I expect from her standpoint she will and that there will be a lot of others reading the body language and reading the verbal language and saying, she doesn't really want him to win. It is part of being a Clinton, that there are people who are going to doubt what you say.
I, today, she said to reporters, I think I've done more for a nominee than anybody has previously, you know, in my position thus far. Look, she's helped him raise money, she's been out campaigning for him. She has been talking back and forth, her aides have, to the campaign. But having said that, there's bitterness between these two campaigns. Hillary Clinton supporters do not believe that Barack Obama has recognized the power of her campaign, the history of her campaign, the 18 million people that voted for her.
And the Obama camp believes what deals we need to do here? She is on the program at the convention, her husband's on the program, she got some things she wanted on the platform. So that tension remains and it is going to remain a long time. I remember John McCain and George Bush had quite a time getting back together and honestly I still don't think they're quite there.
KING: Let's go back to John King who has some breaking news. John?
J. KING: Larry, CNN has learned that Barack Obama tonight offered the number two spot to the man on the Democratic ticket to the man you've been talking about all night long, 65-year-old Democratic Senator Joe Biden of Delaware. We have two Democratic sources telling us this. We cannot describe those sources because of the sensitivity of the matter but we have confirmed that Barack Obama offered the number two spot on the ticket to Democratic Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.
Again, he is 65 years, he was first elected to the Senate back in 1972. Like Barack Obama, he teaches constitutional law. He got his degree from Syracuse University.
Worth noting as we look at the battleground states ahead that he lives in Delaware but he was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Think back to the Democratic primaries, that's the blue collar gritty area, where Hillary Clinton did so well and where Barack Obama still has a problem. Candy has been saying all night long, he's a scrappy guy, he is a fighter, he has strong support among labor unions on the domestic policy front and he also brings to the Barack Obama ticket something that many, especially the Republicans have been saying is lacking, detailed and years of experience on foreign policy and national security.
The official text message will go out in the morning but Larry we have confirmed from Democratic sources that Joe Biden has been offered and has accepted the number two spot on the Democratic ticket tonight.
KING: Great reporting, John. And we've been saying it and this is of course no surprise but it is now official.
Let's get a call. York, Pennsylvania. Hello.
CALLER: Hi, everyone, I'm a teacher here in York and life long democrat, now that it just heard he's going to be on the ticket for Obama, there's no way I could ever vote for him. He represents plagiarism and the establishment and I think many of us were hoping for a Hillary Clinton and don't you think he's now going to alienate Hillary Clinton voters even more. I know I am just going to sit this election out because I couldn't look my students in the morning and say I voted for someone who's plagiarized.
KING: Are you surprised at that Tanya?
ACKER: I'm a little surprised. That was pretty vehement given the fact that we were suggesting that Joe Biden was going to deliver Pennsylvania wholesale. But look, I think there are a lot of disgruntled Hillary Clinton supporters who remain disappointed, who thought that she should be on the ticket.
KING: You don't think that will be an issue. I have to check back with John. Let's go back to John King for an addendum. John?
KING: Larry, we're outside the Pepsi Center and about to be moved because of a very important security sweep here. But again, we've been working our sources all night long, the indications were all night long that all the signals pointing to Joe Biden, a highly sensitive matter.
I wish I could give our viewers because we want our viewers to know we take this very seriously, I wish I could give you more on the sourcing but I can't because of the agreement. We have had confirmation from two Democratic sources, people I trust incredibly, Larry, who have told us in fact that they have first hand knowledge that Barack Obama did offer the number two spot on the Democratic ticket, the vice presidential nomination, to Joe Biden. It's an interesting choice. I heard your caller right there. He's 65 years old, remember, he said a lots of harsh things about Barack Obama back in the beginning of the Democratic primaries, but I know from my sources and Candy and Jessica and others have talked about this, Barack Obama came to really like and respect Joe Biden, even when he was on the receiving end of some of those barbs. He's a very aggressive debater, remember Democrats were not happy with Joe Lieberman in 2000, with John Edwards in 2004, believing they did not win their debates with Dick Cheney. In picking Joe Biden tonight Barack Obama has gone with somebody who fiercely argue, would argue with Barack Obama as well as make Barack Obama's case in public.
A very interesting choice tonight and we're here in Denver, Larry, I can tell you in the hours and days ahead, as we await the official announcement first thing in the morning, we'll do reporting how this one will go over. We do know, strongly supported in organized labor and many friends in the United States Senate and throughout the party establishment.
The caller did mention he had a rocky presidential campaign back 20 years ago, make no mistake about it, 20 years ago, his history, all the things he said about Barack Obama in the primary campaign, this is going to come up time and time again in the days ahead. But in the Obama campaign making this choice, they decided they see him as someone they want not only on the ticket but out in small town America fighting for the Democrats in the fall election, Larry.
KING: John, how did this get out before they wanted it to?
J. KING: I wish I could tell you. I'm protecting a couple sources here who told us things they're not supposed to tell us tonight. And the official text message will go out in the morning. This is incredibly sensitive, this a night I've been involved in, in many campaigns, I heard Paul Begala making fun of me a bit earlier and one way we keep our credibility in this business is to protect the people who tell us things, especially when they are highly sensitive things. Maybe someday later down the road.
But obviously, more than two people know this has gone on. Barack Obama called Joe Biden tonight. You have to make arrangements to move him from one place to another. There are political considerations. Logistical considerations. Security considerations. And we were able to find this out from two sources I trust, Larry, very much. I wish I could say more but that's all I can say about the sources.
KING: Great work, John. Thank you. John King, an amazing reporter. On the scene in Denver is Suzanne Malveaux. Now that we know what we already knew I guess, now that it is semi - I guess it is official, why kid around? Where do we go from here, Suzanne? What happens next? Is the pressure on McCain now?
MALVEAUX: Well, Larry, obviously, the pressure is on McCain. It is clear people are quietly beginning to talk. I know John had two Democratic sources he was speaking with. I had a third I was also was speaking with who was able to confirm the selection is Biden. So they are getting all their ducks in a row. Obviously, the text message is going to go out early in the morning. This is something people are quietly discussing this evening. Obviously, a lot of discipline as part of the campaign that this didn't get out any earlier but certainly, people are talking about logistics of moving the candidates, the kind of people that will be a part of this campaign. So little by little, people are beginning to talk about this and to spread the news.
Clearly, McCain has to come up with somebody who will challenge somebody like Biden. Biden brings a lot to the table when it comes to Barack Obama, when it comes to addressing those foreign policy weaknesses, when it comes to age and experience, the type of thing many voters have expressed concern about. And also, the people inside the Obama campaign have been saying things have been very dynamic, very fluid. They have changed.
One week, one month, very much about the gas prices, it's about the economy and very important issues. But it is about national security. We have seen Russia and Georgia the past couple of weeks. Biden is a guy who can pick up this phone and essentially call the president of Georgia, have a conversation, get involved, we've seen unrest in Pakistan. He is, again, the same kind of person who can say, look, I've been doing this for years, for decades. I know what I'm doing. I'm experienced to this and I can lend a really strong hand to this team.
KING: Ed Henry, what kind of race is this going to be? What do you expect? Fireworks?
HENRY: Absolutely. What we've seen this week, the back and forth over John McCain's houses, for one thing, but as Suzanne was saying, on the issues, there are some real sharp differences, on gas prices, about whether to have offshore drilling for example, they have got a bit of disagreement there.
And I think the fact of the matter is that Barack Obama has a much closer race than he expected. The McCain camp a few weeks back had been advising their supporters, on the eve of the Democratic convention, we'll probably be behind, don't panic, stay in this thing, instead, we've seen John McCain whittle away at the lead so it's now basically a dead heat.
It's expected of course that with the Democrats going first they will get a bit of bump. We don't know how big.
Then John McCain will have his turn. But I think the choice in Biden in part shows a lot, it's a window into Barack Obama's thinking. He might have rolled the dice with someone like Tim Kane, a Washington outsider if he felt he was in a strong position.
But right now, this is a much closer race than Democrats expected and part of it was John McCain was really hitting Barack Obama on the question, is he ready to lead? Have enough experience as commander in chief? Bringing in Biden clearly tries to address that challenge right there so I think we're in for a very close race from here until November, Larry.
KING: Candy Crowley, do you expect to see the attack forces that have been really taking on Obama in the last month, the e-mails and the like and some of them rather vicious, to come out after Biden?
CROWLEY: Sure. Although there will be different. Listen, again, this is a 35 year career in the U.S. Senate. We already heard one caller who remembers from two decades ago about the plagiarism issue.
All of these things will come out because while many of us know Joe Biden well and he is somewhat of a national figure obviously, most voters, I would judge, know very little about him.
And what you want to do when you're a Republican is, looking at a Democrat, you're trying to frame him, this is what this man is about. And obviously Democrats for Republicans. But you try to frame your opponent before they get a chance to introduce themselves. So yes, you will definitely see critics going at Joe Biden, Republicans going at Joe Biden.
KING: Tanya, do you expect to see Democrats do what Kerry did not do? And that is fight back?
ACKER: Absolutely. I think we've already started to see that in Senator Obama's campaign, the last TV ad that he released, which was pretty aggressive. Again, Senator McCain and I think everybody on this panel has already said, Joe Biden is a master of a really sharp pointed but not off putting attack. And I think it's going to be very important Democrats be aggressive. We're seeing ads and e-mails and some of the other things you referenced not just from the principals, not just from the McCain campaign, but from allies and 527s. They are doing some pretty nasty stuff. It is going to get nastier. I think it's incredibly important that Senator Obama and the Democrats stay aggressive but stay on message.
KING: Do you agree with that, Jessica? Jessica, Jessica Yellin. I guess she can't hear me. Do you agree, Reed?
DICKENS: I do. If you look at the electoral map. Unlike Paul, I like John King and his magic map this primary. And if you look at the electoral map, it is a tough map for Obama, no matter how you look at it. Joe Biden did something Obama did something that he couldn't give on his own, is that he gives them strength in blue collar pockets of states like West Virginia pr Pennsylvania. He gives him so blue collar credibility.
All of the vulnerabilities in Obama has being disconnected or elitists, fair or unfair, Republicans have been trying to hang on him. Biden is a good answer to those things so I think he helps him even with the electoral map because as we know there's no national election.
KING: Gloria Borger, frankly, how much do you think in this whole campaign will be a race issue?
BORGER: Well, I think race is always going to be an issue in this campaign now. It's something f you said it wasn't, you'd be silly. We don't know how much. That's why some people who would like to see who support Obama would like to see him ahead in the polls because people lie to pollsters about the issue of race.
But on the Joe Biden thing tonight, Larry, I'd like to say that after John King broke the dam tonight and broke the story, a couple of my sources, who were really holding out, because they were so nervous about getting in trouble, also confirm this. And I think it tells you how tight a ship this campaign is running, the Obama campaign said to folks, we don't want the leaks coming out of the campaign and the folks who were close to Biden didn't really want to be the ones leaking it. They have got this number two slot and they want to follow him and the way he runs his operation.
KING: Paul Begala, this may sound naive, why was that so important? Secrecy? Why?
BEGALA: Well, a couple reasons. First off, presidents and vice presidents need to keep secrets, presidents and vice presidents need to trust people who will keep secrets for them. Particularly it's that confidentiality between the president and vice president. The vice president has no constitutional obligation except for to preside over the Senate, which is largely ceremonial, and inquire into the health of the president. The fact that Barack Obama knows now he can trust Joe Biden, for probably several days, maybe a couple weeks, Obama has known that Biden was going to be his choice, and yet it held.
I think it's a confidence builder. I think that helps enormously. I obviously don't support Dick Cheney but I think his relationship with the president allowed him to be so very powerful. In my experience with Bill Clinton in the White House, his relationship with Al Gore, his absolutely trust in Al Gore, allowed him to really lean on Al in the same way that I think Obama will be able to lean on Joe.
KING: Ed Henry, you know the Washington scene very well. How popular or how important a figure in Washington is Joe Biden?
HENRY: Well, he's been a very powerful figure two decades. He's largely because he's been able to, while a partisan Democrat, has reached across the aisle on many bills, crime bills in particular when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And we're going to hear about that more from the Obama campaign.
Because he's largely known now as international figure, because he's chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
I can tell you most of the time I covered him on Capitol Hill, most of the time I know that Candy covered him Capitol Hill, he really was a power on the Judiciary Committee, handling Supreme Court nominations, like the Bork nomination in 1987, very, very controversial.
So I think he has a long track record. What Paul was saying, about Barack Obama being able to trust him, they have saying in the Senate, your word is your bond, and he is someone that senators in both parties have been able to trust, even if they didn't agree with them on every issue and I think that's why he's really been a survivor when you think about someone who had such a spectacular crash in the presidential race in 1988 to climb all the way back the 20 years later and be on this post says a lot about his ability to survive.
DICKENS: Since we can't measure the race issue will mean, do you have to guess what it will mean? How much does it cost Obama if people are going to vote against him just because he's black?
DICKENS: I think we have no idea which is so interesting. One of the things we found out in 2000, 2002, Matthew Dowd, our poll master found people vote on candidates they feel are just like themselves. And so just by sheer statistics alone, there's not a lot of people in this country that think, oh Obama looks like me. Of course there is going to be a race -- We don't know how much. I read the other day, someone said it would cost him one to two points in the polls. Where they got that I have no idea. I think there's a lot of unknown variables going into the fall.
KING: Does Biden strengthen it?
DICKENS: Absolutely, I think this was a good choice. I think V.P. picks can potentially be a lot of down side like Candy said and not a lot of up side.
But in this case I think Joe Biden does strengthen the ticket.
KING: Because Bush one with Quayle which was regarded initially as laughable.
DICKENS: Let me bring up one thing people brought up earlier about Vice President Cheney. I think Joe Biden has a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses of Vice President Cheney. Here's why.
Vice President Cheney has been hard to keep on message because he doesn't really answer to anybody, so the wisdom goes.
KING: His own drummer.
DICKENS: He beats to his own drummer but he has a lot of gravitas and presence and wisdom and Washington expertise, I think Joe Biden inside the White House. He may turn into his own little power empire like Vice President Cheney and I don't mean it's all bad.
I'm saying I think he's a very powerful person. It is going to be hard for young Obama staffers to brief him and tell him to use talking points. If you know what I mean?
KING: You think he'll be like secretary of state and secretary of defense all rolled into one.
DICKENS: I think he will be a powerful vice president if Obama were to govern with him, in terms of I think he will be a powerful vice president. Which I don't think is necessarily a bad thing.
KING: And in Obama's case, with his youth, probably a good thing.
DICKENS: I'm not one to point out the fact that Obama is a young guy, but some people point that out.
KING: You're watching a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE with our panel of experts, some on the phone, some live in the studio. We will have a live edition as well tomorrow night at our regular time of 9:00 and all next week, we'll be on at 9:00 p.m. Pacific midnight Eastern.
CNN has confirmed what had been a closely guarded secret is well- known, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware is Barack Obama's pick as vice president. Text messages will be send out early Saturday morning. But we have the news right now.
And you're watching a special live vice-presidential edition of LARRY KING LIVE carrying into another hour. We'll be with you one hour more with our guests and some more may be joining. By the way, if you'd like to join us by phone, you can do that or send us e-mails and we'll answer the questions or check in with our analysts. Now that it's official, Paul Begala, what do you expect, what are you looking for in the two months ahead?
PAUL BEGALA, CNN ANALYST: I think Candy Crowley had it right earlier. Joe Biden has to be the attack dog, but not a snarling one, kind of a smiling one. I think he's got that ability. If Barack Obama is going to win and I think he can and I think he will. It will take a relentless negative attack linking John McCain to George W. Bush, in part because there's still prejudice in America, tragically, there are some people, no matter how able a candidate is, they will vote against him if he doesn't look like him. Biden can help a lot by first reassuring but even more important, by putting Bush and McCain on trial and showing Barack Obama is change. That's what I think we'll see Joe doing for the next couple of months.
KING: Obama, by the way, has talked a lot about Joe Biden. Let's take a look at a clip from the 2007 debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've worked with Joe Biden. I have seen his leadership. I have absolutely no doubt about what is in his heart and the commitment that he's made with respect to racial equality in this country. So I will provide some testimony, as they say in church, that Joe is on the right side of the issues and fighting everyday for a better America.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Suzanne Malveaux, what kind of candidate will Joe Biden be?
We lost Suzanne Malveaux. An in and out scene here, folks. Candy Crowley, what kind of candidate will he be?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He will be an energetic, almost tireless campaigner as he was during his presidential bid earlier this year. He is sharp as a tack. He won't have to learn these issues, he knows these issues. They will send him into rural America to court the white working class vote. He is a hands-on campaigner. He likes to get out and there shake the hands and press the flesh, talk to people one-on-one.
So they wanted someone energetic and they wanted someone who can take on with authority John McCain. Remember John McCain and Joe Biden have been colleagues on the senate floor together and while I think this will be tough for him, because he is friends with McCain, I have absolutely no doubt that he will do precisely what the Obama campaign want him to do, and that is link John McCain with George Bush and tear him apart with a smile.
KING: Jessica Yellin, any down side as a campaigner? We don't have Jessica Yellin. I think we have nobody. Paul Begala. Any hint, I'm running out of people to go to.
BEGALA: I'm right here. I'm with you to the end, buddy.
KING: Paul, if you leave, you have me kicked. Any down side as campaigner.
BEGALA: He does say a whole lot. He's sometimes unacquainted with his grammatical friend, Mr. Period, so his sentences will run on and he occasionally will make the gaffes you heard in that piece of tape you just played, Senator Obama very graciously defending and excusing him when Senator Biden - Senator Biden, I keep calling him O'Biden, combines the names, when Joe kind of made a gaffe about Barack being quote-unquote "clean" but that's about it.
I think his deep mastery of foreign policy, particularly for a guy at the last Democratic convention was in the State Senate for goodness sakes, I think that more than outweighs any potential negatives. Add to that his blue collar lunch bucket middle class appeal for a guy who was a constitutional law professor, it's just a wonderful balance.
TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It's interesting. I want to go back to that gaffe in that conversation we've been having about race. In some ways this can play to Obama's benefit masterfully. Here's Joe Biden making this comment, he's articulate and clean and there was endless coverage amongst the chattering classes about what were the racial indications of that and now he picks him as his V.P. What this allows. If you were to ask a lot of white folks in America what's complaint they have, they sort of feel like every time they say something, there's a non-P.C. blunder, that their feet are held to the fire and feel like they can't really be comfortable. Here is somebody that made a pretty non-politically correct statement about certainly the most prominent African American politician ever and it's really not a big deal to that candidate. I think this really allows Obama to say, look, there's no racial politicking going on here, I'm interesting in the issues everybody else is interested in, too.
KING: Reed, do you think in their hearts, in their hearts, Kaine and Bayh are ticked?
REED DICKENS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: They've been rock stars for the last few weeks. I don't know what the conversations were privately. I'm sure at some point ...
DICKENS: I'm sure at some point they wake up and say, and say to their wife, can you believe I might be the vice president of the United States or maybe even give a wave into the mirror. They're big boys and have good jobs, they're not unemployed. I think they'll be OK.
KING: John King, with all your sources, when was this --if you know, when was this selection made?
JOHN KING, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, we've been told and we moved across town now because of that security sweep. Our indication, I had some sources on this and I know Candy had some sources on this that Obama settled on his choice on his vacation in Hawaii. Now settling on your choice and pulling the trigger are two different things, you come back and you bring your closest circle of people in and kick it around and give them a last chance to tell you, we think you're crazy, senator.
But by all indications are Senator Obama had pretty much came to his conclusion on that Hawaiian vacation. It's an interesting choice. I've been listening to the conversations. Paul Begala used to run campaigns in Pennsylvania, he will tell you more about this. I would start simply, and I think others have said, with this simple premise, even as we focus on this tonight, and it is dramatic news, rare is the evidence that the number two person on the ticket makes all that much of a difference come November. But Biden does on paper address many of Obama's weaknesses. Paul was mentioning he's from Scranton, those blue collar lunch bucket voters have been a weakness and he is also a Roman Catholic, Catholics tend to be swing voters in very close presidential elections here in the United States.
So on paper, he fits the bill. You were showing a picture of him earlier, and I think that is more than anything else what the Obama people I am told see in him, he was smiling. He is a happy warrior, he is willing to be feisty, he is willing to carry the argument, Candy put it very well. This is a guy who will make Bush-McCain one word or McCain-Bush one word, choose it any way you want. But he will do it with a smile. He is tenacious but he is happy, he loves the sport of politics and he has a passion for policy.
The Obama people look at him, he has his faults, we go through the checklist on everybody, they all have their faults, in a year where Obama wants to say, I'm authentic, I may have my own faults but I'm new, I'm different, I'm authentic, they think Biden backs it up in that regard. He's obviously been in Washington a long time and they'll have to answer for that. They like what they see and in the end, they like his passion.
KING: Don't leave us, John, because we'll be right back with more of the second hour of the late edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Suzanne Malveaux, give us a little preview of Denver. When does the vice-presidential nominee and presidential nominee arrive?
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is all going to happen quickly. The night before that is when the vice-presidential nominee, Joe Biden will take the stage and the two of them will be appearing together at some point. But it's interesting to note, you talk about how these two actually feel towards one another, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, kind of different characters if you will. I was told by someone inside the Obama camp is that one of the things that happened was Senator Dick Durbin, somebody who is a long time friend of Joe Biden really kind of helped Barack Obama in some ways feel a little bit more comfortable with Joe Biden. They have an easy nature, an easy way about them, the two of them.
This is somebody, Dick Durbin, Joe Biden, that go back a long way, have a good sense of trust. They've worked well together. So this was a way in some ways of getting these three together, these two together and really feeling each other out and getting a sense they can work together and they get along. That was one of the key criteria as you know for Barack Obama in his selection.
KING: John King, with your sources, was Hillary ever in play?
J. KING: In a serious way, Larry, I think the best answer is no. All our correspondents and Candy has been out ahead of me on this one and Jessica Yellin has good reporting tonight, too.
Look, from very early on Barack Obama realizes the importance of Hillary Clinton to the party but he did not think she was a good match on the ticket. Personal rivalry between them. But it's more the match and they didn't want the Bill Clinton baggage inside the Obama campaign. They think there are great advantages to Bill Clinton, we were talking to the Obama people in Southeast Ohio for example the other where they have a problem again with those white, small town, rural Americans and they say one of the assets they want on the campaign trail is Bill Clinton but on the ticket, they wanted somebody to enforce their message and by all accounts, Hillary Clinton was not even vetted.
I should have stopped at the word, no. But there are a number of reasons the Obama campaign says they think she's a leader in the party, they want her out in the fall, they thing she has a huge role to play in the party's future but they don't think she is a good match for Barack Obama on the ticket now and more important, they say, in the government, should he win.
KING: Let's take a call from Idaho Falls, Idaho. Hello.
CALLER: Hey. My question is. With Barack Obama's main message being change, how will that affect him he chose Joe Biden, was has been in the Senate for 36 years?
KING: Paul Begala, good question.
BEGALA: Well, that's a great question. But you want a little bit of reassurance, too. You don't want - I think, if you look at we talked early about John F. Kennedy, a young guy, campaigning on change, against the established order and yet he picked Lyndon Johnson, the Senate majority leader.
If you look at Ronald Reagan, he was a candidate of change and he picked the most establishment figure in his party, George Bush.
And even my old boss Bill Clinton, very much a candidate of change. But Al Gore was much more of an establishment figure.
And I think Barack is in that tradition. He's very much a change agent. I don't think people need to worry about that. But it's also nice to know he has somebody on his ticket with him who can call the president Saakashvili in Georgia and know who he is and know what's going on in South Ossetia.
KING: Gloria Borger, you agree with that?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I do. I think it's interesting. They're kind flip sides of a coin. One represents change and one represents experience. One guy is kind of cool, the other guy, Biden, kind of hot.
And I think when you're trying to balance the ticket and reassure voters who don't really know a lot about Barack Obama that Joe Biden is essentially vouching for him, testifying for him, saying, you know what? I've been around and I know that this is somebody who can lead. So while it was a difficult decision and the caller was making the point that a lot of people were debating inside the Obama campaign, if you pick somebody with experience, do you step on your own message of change or do you essentially say, well, wait a minute, I really need someone with experience because I don't want have enough. You don't want to send that message either. I think they believe with Joe Biden, they will be able to balance it out pretty nicely.
KING: John King, we know that Senator Biden had a brain aneurysm a long time ago. Do we know if all his medical records were sent to the Obama people?
J. KING: That's a great question, Larry. I don't know the answer to that specific question. But we do know he was thoroughly vetted and in a case like this that would obviously be one of the questions.
I'm going to say here, we don't assume much in our business but that obviously would have been of concern to them and we know it was a thorough vetting. I am going to guess, which I don't like to do, I am going to guess the answer to that is yes.
We don't have that specific information but we know he was very thoroughly vetted and all that is out there in the public domain. They're not only looking at your votes, they're not only looking at your personal finance history, your finance, your taxes, they're looking at your health records. Without a doubt, that is something important to someone who is a prospect for the number two on the ticket, especially one who does have a past health history.
KING: John, who does the vetting? The FBI?
J. KING: They can actually get help if necessary, that's a good point, from the authorities in a presidential campaign. Most is done by the staff. And again, they brought in a very experienced lawyer, Eric Holder, who was a top Justice Department official in the Clinton administration. He took the lead but if he needs help there are resources at his disposal because of the sensitive nature of the job.
So they can reach out to the government, and say what are your files on this or what on that? We want you to look into this. Mostly what happened, the Internet has revolutionized this. They go back through all the votes, they go back through all the public documents, the back through if a candidate had legal issues, they go to court and pull the filings. And in the most sensitive cases, ask the candidate themselves, give us your health records and give us access to your doctors and the like like that.
But if they need help from the government, they can in fact get it in these cases.
KING: Reed, you worked with the White House, is that true?
DICKENS: I actually have to say I actually got a few e-mails after the first segment, asking what does the word "vetting" mean? They thoroughly go through with fine comb the life, the entire life, the entirety of their professional work, their personal life, any legal troubles, financial record, they get full physicals. It is a thorough investigation.
KING: All right, bright guy, where does vet come from? Why vet?
DICKENS: I have no idea. That's why I wanted to clarify ...
KING: Begala, do you know?
BEGALA: I have no idea.
DICKENS: Makes me feel better. Can I go back to the caller about experience versus change, this V.P. pick not representing change, to echo Paul's point, you have to have someone on the ticket, you don't have to, but it helps to have one on the ticket that speaks Washington. Washington is a strange place. I know when we went from Texas, and I know Paul comes up from the South, when we to DC from Texas there was a lot of Texans in our campaign running the campaign. We got a vice president who was a Washington establishment and actually a press secretary, Ari Fleischer, who spoke fluent Washingtonese. And I think it helps. I know I already floated the idea tonight Obama might not win and still sitting here.
KING: You're Republican.
DICKENS: But I want to go one step forward and say, all this love fest about Biden, he was a good choice for Obama. But I do not think at the end of the day, it is going to help Obama. At the end of the day, we saw in the saddle back forum, Obama equivocating, very nuanced, a lot of ambiguity and I think that's still is going to be Obama's weakness going into the fall.
KING: We'll take a break and be right back with this extra special extra edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: Look, you have a brilliant relatively young man, who is the nominee of the Democratic Party, who's leading John McCain in every area except the one where experience just intuitively suggests people think if you're experienced, you must know more. But 20 years of experience that has not been very solid, in terms of being projecting what was going to happen doesn't make you a better commander in chief. We don't need as a commander in chief a war hero. John is a war hero. We need someone with some wisdom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was Senator Joe Biden. He will be announced as the vice presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, selected by Barack Obama and you heard it first here tonight. Let's take a call.
Los Angeles, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Larry. My question is, my understanding in 2002, Senator Biden, who I think is a great choice was re-elected by the people of Delaware to his Senate seat. Does anyone on your panel know if he will do what Senator Lieberman did back in 2000, and that is run for re-election to his Senate seat simultaneously, as he runs for vice- presidency? Does anyone know?
KING: Candy Crowley, do you know?
CROWLEY: Ii do not have an answer to that question but I have a feeling it will come up in the light of day, around midnight at this point. So I don't know. I don't even have a guess, but I -- you know, he had every intention of staying and representing the people of Delaware. And I think he might hang onto that.
KING: Paul Begala, what do you think?
BEGALA: I believe, I could be wrong, I'm the world's worst lawyer. My dean in law school said if you want to hide something from Begala, put it in a law book. He'll never find it. But my understanding is that Delaware has a statute a little bit like my home state of Texas which allows a person to run simultaneously for the Senate and for president or in this case, vice president, I think he can be on the ballot for both and I bet you a pretty good chance of carrying both.
KING: As Lieberman was in Connecticut. Right?
BEGALA: Right. As John Connolly was. We changed it in Texas back in 1980 for John Connolly. It didn't work out very well for Governor Connolly. Maybe Joe Biden will have better success.
KING: San Diego.
CALLER: I was wondering how Obama would deal with the fact Biden voted for the war in Iraq and Obama was against it.
KING: Tanya Acker?
ACKER: Senator Biden has been pretty equivocal, he thought it was a bad vote. I think there's no inconsistency and they are certainly towing the same line on the war. I don't think that's an issue.
KING: Do you think that would be an issue, John, that one went one way and one went the other.
J. KING: Larry, if you're talking to me, I think the Republicans will try to make mileage out of that. As was just noted, Senator Biden has said he wished he could have that vote over again and said the Bush administration was incompetent in its administration of the war. But that's one of the differences we pointed out. No doubt about it. The president calls the shots, and that would be the case all the time and I'll bet your bottom dollar even though we don't know who it is, whoever John McCain picks is going to have some differences with him on some big ones, too.
But while we're on the subject, of differences, this is an interesting issue. Because Barack Obama has reached out to someone here, and you'll be hearing a lot about this in the next 24 hours, who has been pretty critical of him. Joe Biden said he didn't think Barack Obama was ready. Didn't say he was a bad guy, just said he didn't have enough experience to be president. During one of the debates, Joe Biden was much more muscular than the other candidates, said you can't just talk about things foreign policy, you have to use force sometimes, he was specifically talking about genocide in Darfur. He was the most muscular of the Democratic candidates saying I know we all thought the war in Iraq turned out to be a debacle, just because we are having bad experience in Iraq doesn't mean sometimes on rare occasions, sometimes you have to make the tough decisions to use military force.
So you have a guy in Barack Obama who established himself, defined himself by being the Democrat out early saying the war was a mistake and he was against it in the beginning up against a guy who yes, did vote for the resolution authorizing the war and has been among the group of Democrats in the Senate who say sometimes the United States has to put its muscle behind its mouth.
KING: Reed Dickens, good point?
DICKENS: Yeah. If I could speak for all Republicans, I think one thing you're going to hear a lot of, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, two of Obama's opponents, you will hear the McCain campaign focusing and honing in making one of their messages their own, not ready. You saw the McCain campaign, their theme for this week was not ready '08, a problem of the campaign, and I think it's an extension of the candidate, not just the advisors' fault, they have a hard time staying focused on a message, but I think the fair contrast, talking about Chicago businessmen and all these other things, I think that's getting off message, the fair contrast Republicans tend to make is that even Hillary Clinton and even Joe Biden said what we Republicans are saying, and I said it back in February on your show, he's smart, he's capable, talented, he's intellectual and in about 15 years he'll be ready to be president. Right now, I don't think he is. You'll hear Republicans echoing their own words.
KING: Not to be glib, you could have said the same thing about Lincoln.
DICKENS: You could have. That doesn't make the message less true now.
KING: Could he run a war, Lincoln? Come on.
DICKENS: In terms of campaign tactics, it doesn't make it less of an effective tactic.
KING: Good point. We'll be back more with this special extra edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. John King just referenced this. Here's Joe Biden at a debate talking about Obama not being ready to be president. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: You were asked if you're ready. You said, "I think he can be ready but right now I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on the job training."
SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I stand by the statement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: John, do you have a post script?
J. KING: I love the pregnant pause there, Larry.
We have been blessed as political reporters and the American people have been blessed, had pretty feisty debates and two guys emerging with different life stories. You saw Barack Obama just standing there. I'm told by people inside his campaign that he thought Joe Biden was great debater and at times during the primary season, he had to be urged by his own aides, worry about Hillary Clinton, stop worrying about Joe Biden.
One little piece of news I want to pass on, Larry. I just got communication with two Republicans who are very close to the Republican campaign of Senator John McCain who is saying look for John McCain to pick up the phone in the morning and try to call his friend, Joe Biden, they will have a friendly conversation. They had a lot of disagreements on policy. You know this, Larry, from your years coming to Washington. The Senate is a club. These guys are policy guys. They get along quite well, they disagree on a host of issues and you are going to hear a lot about that and they are friends and get along quite well and I'm told John McCain is looking forward to the opportunity to call his friend Joe Biden and say, "Congratulations, probably the last nice thing he will say about him for 10 weeks."
KING: We would probably bet, John, that they get along very well, those two, they've been in that body a long time.
J. KING: Well, they tell funny stories about each other. If you talk to the candidates, if you get to talk to the candidates when Senator Biden was running or after he was out of the race or you just go up and wander the halls of the Senate, which we don't get to do much in presidential election years but it's a great thing to do and you get to talk to these guys, no cameras around, they're both funny guys, McCain loves his job in the Senate and inner workings of politics, as does Joe Biden. Again, they're philosophically very different but personality-wise, they're very much similar.
KING: Paul Begala, what will it mean, if anything, that Senator Biden's son is about to go to Iraq?
BEGALA: I think he's scheduled to be deployed, October 3rd, that's Beau Biden, the senator's son who is also the attorney general of the State of Delaware. He's in the JAG Corps, the Judge Advocate General's, he's an army lawyer in the Army National Guard. John McCain's son, Jimmy I think recently returned from Iraq, he is a Marine. So he has seen active duty. McCain, to his great credit, has almost never talked about Jimmy's service in public and never has politicized it, I don't think Biden has either. It is interesting. If Reed is right earlier when he said that this helps push McCain toward Mitt Romney, it might remind people of one of Romney's few if biggest gaffes, when he was asked why his sons, and he has 38 sons and they're each gorgeous sons, just big hunky guys, and somebody asked why they aren't in the military and he said well they're driving my campaign and that's kind of like serving in the military. It was huge gaffe. A lot of military families were offended by that. Biden now is a military dad, he is an Army dad, he has a son in Iraq and I think that gives him special credibility.
KING: Laverne, California. We take a call. Hello.
CALLER: Yes, Larry. This question is for John King.
KING: All right. Go ahead.
CALLER: John King, do you think Obama might have asked Hillary for the vice president position and she turned him down because she wanted the -- to be president?
J. KING: I don't think there's any doubt Hillary Clinton still harbors presidential ambitions, but we have no indications at all, absolutely none, zero, she was asked to take the job or that they even reached out. Take Al Gore for example, you have private conversations with somebody like Al Gore, if we came to the conclusion you were the guy, would you say yes? The staff does that so that somebody doesn't say no to the nominee because that would be embarrassing if it got out. We have zero indications that such a conversation took place between the Obama staffers and Clinton staffers or between the two themselves.
By all accounts, while she obviously has huge appeal in the Democratic Party and will see it here in Denver, by all accounts she was never on the short list of people Obama was considering for this very important job.
KING: Gloria Borger, you want to jump in?
BORGER: Well, yeah. I think if Hillary Clinton had been asked, I think she probably would have accepted. People on her campaign were virtually campaigning for her to get the vice-presidency at one point after she pulled out of the race. I think she certainly would have accepted. People on her campaign were virtually campaigning for her to get the vice presidency at one point.
One interesting thing about Joe Biden is that the Obama campaign spent a lot of time talking to his Senate colleagues, vetting him, if you will, in the Senate. He had a lot of close friends in the Senate, some of them, Dick Durbin, as Suzanne mentioned before, but also former Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, very close to Joe Biden. People who are close to Obama, who were saying good things about Joe Biden when people in the Obama campaign had questions about could he stay on message? How great an advocate would he be?
And his Senate colleagues really came through for him. The senators that I spoke with today, a bunch of whom all thought it was Biden but couldn't quite get there with me were also saying that they had been called by folks in the Obama campaign and they were asked about Joe Biden and gave him a rave review.
KING: Tanya, what do you make? Three out of four candidates, the Senate, we have one more coming.
ACKER: I think there's always a risk of legislators on the ticket because there are so many votes. We talked a little bit about what the attack machine will be and certainly look, John McCain and Joe Biden may be great friends. John McCain has people who want him elected who are not going to be so tactful and respectful in dealing with the senator. So there are a lot of votes and a lot of things to pick through and you can create a narrative that sometimes, very often is unfair. Having said that, I think again this is an unusual election, we have an unusual candidate at the top of the Democratic ticket and Joe Biden, really, that wealth of experience and that wealth of legislative experience on a variety of issues is going to help him. KING: Can a candidate control what's being said in his name?
ACKER: Well, he can't completely control it but what you can do. Senator Obama has pretty much distanced himself from a lot of 527s and he said that the people funding those and getting behind those would not be welcome at his table. John McCain has taken much more of a hands off policy and said, I'm not going to control any of what they do and I think he has not done anything to sort of disavow the really blatant lies that have been circulated.
KING: Why do you think it is?
DICKENS: I don't think that's completely true. I think McCain is known for disavowing and scolding people. But it is difficult to control the party establishment. What I would say is you have three career legislators on the pathway of trying to get to the largest chief executive job probably in the history of the world. I think this is where, and I hate to say it again, Governor Romney can help a little bit. There's no chief executive experience on either ticket right now and you have a multi-trillion dollar economy, millions of government bureaucrats to manage, troops on the ground in a dozen country. So it's a big job and you've got career legislators going after it right now.
And I think that's a unique situation. It's not just the votes. Going back to Paul's funny comment about their friend the period. They talk and talk and when you get difficult questions like Obama did the other night at Saddleback Church, I'm not sure what his answers were on some questions, it's like intellectual mud wrestling.
KING: We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Senator Biden, words have in the past gotten you in trouble, words that were borrowed and words some found hateful. An editorial in the "Los Angeles Times" said in addition to his uncontrolled verbosity, Biden is a gaffe machine. Can you reassure voters you would have the discipline you would need on the world stage, senator?
WILLIAMS: Thank you, Senator Biden.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACKER: That was good.
KING: That may have been the highlight of all the debates.
Suzanne Malveaux wants to add something about Senator Biden and we have a caller. Suzanne. MALVEAUX: Larry, sure, there were a group of us also talking about some of the advantages to having Biden on the ticket. As you know, this is fast forwarding a little bit. But if you take perhaps two administrations of Barack Obama eight years, Biden is 65 years old, not likely to step into the fray and try to run for president afterwards would certainly allow Hillary Clinton perhaps another opportunity for that spot, to run for that spot. That could help those Hillary voters come along a little bit, to go to his side and be more attracted in that sense, Biden's not that much of a threat.
KING: Good point. We have a call from Chennai, India. Hello.
CALLER: My question was a little bit about what Suzanne just mentioned. That there's been a lot of talk McCain is old at 71. And Biden, at 65, is fairly old, as you said, in eight years, he'll be 73. Wouldn't that leave a vacuum on the Democratic ticket in eight years time if all goes well for Obama now. Can the panel comment on that?
BEGALA: You know what? I haven't thought it through that much. Suzanne's on it. I don't think of Joe Biden as 65, he is an awfully young 65. I was amused when King said his sources said McCain is going to call in the morning. Let's face it, John King broke the story, the first reporter in the world to have the story, he broke it at 12:42 p.m. Eastern Time. McCain goes to bed at 6:00, he goes to the early bird special at Denny's, plays shuffleboard and goes to bed.
KING: He also goes to Vegas.
BEGALA: Is that right?
BEGALA: I think Joe's vigor will stand him in great stead. As a Hillary guy, I supported her in the primary of course and I am close to her and worked for her husband, they're really not thinking that far down the road. They really, really want to see Barack Obama win this race. I suspect the Clinton people are going to be pretty happy with the Obama choice of Joe Biden.
KING: John King, it is a good point, isn't it, if he plays out eight years, Biden will be 73 and won't run for president. That does leave an open for Hillary, doesn't it?
J. KING: It leaves it open for a lot of Democrats, Larry but we're getting way down the track. Way, way, way down the track. We have an election in November. I can tell you this, every Democratic member in the United States Senate under 50, every Democratic member of the House of Representatives and a lot of Democratic governors and state legislators are now seeing their moment and already planning a trip to Iowa six or seven years down the road. We take this one at a time and watch how the dominos play out.
KING: Reed, what is this? A disease?
DICKENS: It's a lot of fun. This is one of the opportunities ...
KING: The running is a disease?
DICKENS: The perpetual - I think our government doesn't lend itself to governing.
KING: Lends itself to running.
DICKENS: The Republicans accused the Clintons of the perpetual campaign. And then now the Scott McClellan and the Democrats are accusing the Bushes of the perpetual campaign. This is our system and it is a clumsy one, but it has worked thus far. I think John is exactly right, there are about 25 guys right now already planning their exploratory committee.
KING: When we come back, I'm going to ask what role if any President Bush is going to play in this campaign. Don't go away.
KING: We're back. Let's take a call, Denver, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I'd like to know whether you guys it's possibility John Edwards may have been in this loop on this thing and Obama may have months ago really wanted John Edwards and when everything came out about the affair, he had to really rethink everything.
KING: John King, you buy that? John Edwards was earlier in the loop?
J. KING: No evidence of all of that. He was mentioned when people make all the great mentions that people make, who are the possibilities. And like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama's weaknesses with white, small town America, blue collar voters, and John Edwards did have some appeal there and did have some labor support. But I'll tell you, Larry. A lot of Democrats look back at his vice- presidential performance four years ago and did not think he carried the ball against Dick Cheney in the debate. I never heard any serious talk of John Edwards in consideration. He was always mentioned because he did run again and he was on the ticket four years ago. But I never heard the serious talk well before we learned about the things in his private life.
KING: By the way, Paul, is his career over?
BEGALA: Well, it's a long road. I never like to count anybody out entirely. I do think, I don't think this is too much of a reach or a bank shot, I actually think that John Edwards problem may have hurt Chet Edwards, the Texas congressman we now know was on the finalist and went through a very lengthy vet. I wonder if the fact that, you know, you had a John Edwards scandal just at the time they were vetting Chet Edwards, very strong family values guy, the congressman from Crawford, Texas, and a great Democrat and an expert on veterans affairs, wonder if the John Edwards thing didn't hurt Chet Edwards a little bit.
KING: Buy any of that, Tanya?
ACKER: I don't know.
DICKENS: Let me just weigh in on Chet Edwards. Obama picking Chet Edwards basically, some people have floated and not me, floated the accusation maybe Obama is a little arrogant and elitist. To pick Chet Edwards would have been basically saying, I'm going to just take this one on one. I'm going to go solo here.
KING: Chet has ...
DICKENS: No one, I don't know if it's Corpus Christi or Crawford, no one knows this guy is and most people would have thought up until Election Day it was John Edwards.
KING: Why did Nancy Pelosi like this guy so much?
DICKENS: I don't know. That's part of the Beltway conversation I don't understand. But I just have a hard time thinking this guy was a real option.
KING: Suzanne, was he ever in the mix?
MALVEAUX: Really, it was interesting to see just in the last couple of days we discovered he was being vetted. It was really was never somebody on the top of the short list there. There were some surprises we thought perhaps would happen tonight and that certainly would have been one of them.
KING: Paul Begala, a fellow Texan, would you have liked him on the ticket?
BEGALA: I think he would have been a terrific choice. First off I know Speaker Pelosi has been pushing Chet Edwards from the beginning. His colleagues in the House have been pushing him. He has the chairman of the military construction and veterans affairs subcommittee of appropriations. He is the champion of the veterans and they love him. The VFW and American Legion have all honored him. There would be poetic justice since he is the congressman whose district includes the Bush ranch in Crawford. I do know he was give an pretty serious look, if for no other reason, that Nancy Pelosi, when she speaks, Democrats listen, but I think they took a hard look at him in the Obama camp. I'm happy with the Biden choice. Edwards would have been an interesting, pretty provocative and would have surprised a lot of people.
DICKENS: Let me say -- I wasn't disrespecting him. I was saying with only 60 days to go to the election, they would have spent most of the time explaining to people after printing the signs he wasn't John Edwards.
KING: You have a post comment, John?
J. KING: We have the first official reaction from the McCain campaign to Barack Obama picking of Joe Biden. Let me read you this statement here.
"There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama's lack of experience than Joe Biden. Biden has denounced Barack Obama's poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing, that Barack Obama is not ready to be president."
We've been talking about that all night, the likely theme from the Republicans and there you have it, just look at Joe Biden's own words, he thinks the guy at the top of the ticket is not ready to be president. You'll hear a lot of that in the next 24 hours and in the next 10 weeks.
KING: We'll do a whole show to find out what things John King did not get first. We'll be off in five minutes. We'll be right back.
KING: Suzanne Malveaux, what part does President Bush play in this race?
MALVEAUX: Well, as Barack Obama has tried to make the argument consistently. It's McCain-Bush third term and he is going to continue to do so. What's interesting will be to see just how they are different. Joe Biden now standing beside Barack Obama and how they make that comparison. We have seen them time and time again say that it is very much the same type of deal. It will be very interesting to see who McCain picks as his running mate, how far out does he go venturing far from the bush administration and Bush policies to kind of counter that argument.
KING: Thank you. Suzanne Malveaux on the scene, around the clock. Reed, will Bush be active?
DICKENS: He will be active but I don't think it will be visually, optically.
KING: Not doing events in New York City.
DICKENS: What the president is very effective at is these off the record and of course if they don't end up on YouTube, these fund- raisers and meetings of power player conservatives where he just sits there on the stool and takes candid Q&A. I think the president will be very helpful to John McCain behind the scenes.
KING: He won't be in any commercials?
DICKENS: I doubt it.
KING: To Scottsdale, Arizona, hello. Scottsdale, are you there? Been one of those nights, folks. Occasionally, somebody's supposed to be there, ain't there. John King, what happens? What do you expect? What kind of race are we going to see?
J. KING: Larry, look at the polls. We have an incredibly competitive race, all the polls say we should not. The president's, you were just talking about him, his approval rating is somewhere in the mid to high 20 percent.
About 80 percent of the public think the country is on the wrong track. About 60 percent or more of the American people think the Iraq War has gone way off the tracks and the troops should come home. The economy is in very tough shape now. With those fundamentals, if you look back in history and look at today's polling, the fundamentals say the Democrats should win this race walking away, yet we have a dead heat going into the Democratic convention. Why? Because voters have questions about Barack Obama, a 47-year-old man and the first African American nominee of any major political party. Those are legitimate questions.
And why? Because John McCain, for all his faults, and they are many, he is not the greatest communicator in the world, done a great job creating a different brand. A unique brand. The Republican brand is in the tank right now. And even Reed Dickens, I think, would concede that point.
McCain has created a brand as a different kind of Republican. One more quick point, the point you were making about President Bush, we won't see President Bush on the campaign trail at all. But he is the president of the United States. I covered the White House for eight and half years. He will have an impact simply because the president is in the middle of everything, whether this new agreement to bring the troops home from Iraq, or anything that happens between now and November. The votes through the White House. Policy influences politics. The president still has a lot of say in policy.
KING: Paul Begala, you agree?
BEGALA: Absolutely. I think - I don't think, I know you'll see George W. Bush in ads, but it will be in the Democratic ads. I already know who McCain's running mate is, it is not going to be Romney, it is not going to be ridge, it will be Bush. My party is going to go after Bush. Bush these days is about as popular as a porcupine in a balloon factory and we're going to make sure he's there to pop McCain's bubble.
KING: Where did you come up with that?
DICKENS: I was ...
BEGALA: It's in the water in Texas. It's like you guys from Brooklyn. We have to have these witticisms.
DICKENS: I was waiting ...
KING: We're in Brooklyn and don't know what a porcupine is.
ACKER: One of the interesting things is going back to this notion of the brand that McCain has created as the maverick who constantly bucks his party and the president. Not to be hyperpartisan, you make take issue with this. That's just not true. He has supported the president. Granted, there's been diversions on key issues like immigration, but he's been in line with his party most of the time and been in line with the president most of the time. This is absolutely going to continue to be a campaign issue.
KING: Response, Reed?
DICKENS: A pleasure to disagree with you sometimes. I think he has bucked his party on major issues. As he's gotten closer to running for president, he has drifted back towards the base, obviously, which is a natural thing to do. I want to point out in 2004, and I know this isn't 2004, the president's approval was well below 50 and the Iraq war unpopular and economy was slowing and John Kerry was polling better than Bush on every single issue. We have to be careful reading too much climate in August into this race. 60 days from now, a week before the election.
KING: Are you saying you think it will go down to the wire?
DICKENS: I'm saying I think it will go down to the wire. I hope John and Paul will agree with me. I think it will.
KING: We only have a minute. Do you agree, John, this will be close right through November?
J. KING: I do. I think the conventions are important but I think the biggest event in this campaign will be the first presidential debate, see how Barack Obama stands up. The test will be, is he ready, just like it was for Ronald Reagan back in 1980 against Jimmy Carter.
KING: Paul, we've only got 20 seconds, you think so, too? You agree with John?
BEGALA: I think it will be very close. I think McCain has his skills, Barack has his, they're very different men. And I also think John's right. If you go back to the Reagan-Carter race, which I think is this is more like than any other, it was only in that debate a week before the election Ronald Reagan broke it open.
KING: Thank you all very much for two informative hours.
CNN is on top of this story and will keep you up to speed all weekend. Bill Maher, by the way, is on our podcast, it is available now at cnn.com/larryking.. Everybody signed up for Obama's text alert and we'll have you -- you can sign up, too, you can sign up on ours, all at cnn.com/larryking..
Saturday, a live edition of LARRY KING LIVE, we'll have the latest on the Obama Biden rally. A live Saturday edition. Here's CNN's continuing coverage of election 2008.