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Republican Reaction to Day Three of the Democratic Convention

Aired August 27, 2008 - 00:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much for joining us. Let's go to "LARRY KING LIVE."

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): This is a special up-to-the minute edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Bill Clinton leaves no doubts.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: I'm here first to support Barack Obama.

KING: It's a ringing endorsement in a rousing speech.

Tonight, history in the making.

Witness at hand, hear what the Republicans think right now on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening. All this week and through tomorrow night, we present the loyal opposition from now until 1:00 a.m. Eastern and 10:00 p.m. Pacific.

And as for usual, Tucker Bounds joins us. The McCain spokesman, Tucker, is in Denver.

We saw history made tonight for the first time in U.S. politics. A major party has nominated an African-American as its standard bearer.

Here's "King's Convention" clip.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Barack Obama is our candidate, and he will be our president.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Senator Clinton has moved in the spirit of unity to suspend the rules of the convention and to nominate Barack Obama by acclamation of the Democratic Party.

Is there a second?

(CHEERS) PELOSI: All in favor of the motion to suspend the rules and nominate by acclamation Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, please say aye.


PELOSI: All those opposed please say no. Two-thirds of the delegates having voted in the affirmative, the motion is adopted.



KING: Tucker, we know you're a spokesman for John McCain, but taking off the partisan hat for a moment, what was it like to be witness to that special moment?

TUCKER BOUNDS, SPOKESMAN, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN: Well, it was a special moment. And I think all Americans agree that it was a special moment. I think it's appropriate for everyone to come together and recognize that what happened today -- nominating the first African- American as a major party nominee -- is an important thing for all of us.

An -- so at the McCain campaign, it wasn't lost on anyone that we are watching history and that important things were accomplished for all of us.

KING: Tucker, Barack Obama may be the Democratic nominee, but for the second night running in Denver, the spotlight was grabbed by somebody named Clinton.

I'm going to play this clip and ask you to respond.


B. CLINTON: My fellow Democrats, I say to you, Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world.


B. CLINTON: Barack Obama is ready to honor the oath to preserve, protect and defend the constitution of the United States.


B. CLINTON: Barack Obama is ready to be president of the United States.



KING: Tucker, any doubt that this is now a united party?

BOUNDS: Well, I think there is some doubt. If you're evaluating the campaigns and Barack Obama on the issues and if you're taking a close eye at this convention, I think that there are some serious doubts that remain.

I mean, I think that most observers of the Democratic National Convention this week will note that President Clinton was virtually forced into testifying for the readiness of Barack Obama.

And it's in sharp, sharp contrast to things that he said for a long time about Barack Obama's readiness. Everyone that saw that clip noticed that he was in a very forceful, deliberate way said, you know, Barack Obama is ready.

Well, that's -- sharp contrast to what he was saying just a short time ago when he said voting for Barack Obama would literally be like rolling the dice. We've never seen a candidate in the modern era run for president with so little experience.

In fact, President Clinton had once remarked that it would be as if a TV commentator who was so spectacular was able to run for president with so little experience. I mean, there -- this came in a lot of contrast to what he'd said before.

KING: But...

BOUNDS: But I think as voters -- yes, Larry?

KING: I mean, in all honesty, Tucker, every primary campaign, people say things against people. McCain said things against Romney, things were said against other people, Johnson and Kennedy back in '60, things were said.

But that all comes together, and a party hopefully comes together, and we have an election, right?

BOUNDS: Well, I -- don't doubt that they're putting a good face on party unity. I mean, they're -- they have signs strewn all about their convention center with the word "unity" written right on them.

But just yesterday, President Clinton proposed a scenario where he referred to candidate X and candidate Y. And candidate Y had a strong resemblance to John McCain. Someone that you don't always agree with every time, that's able to build consensus and has proven that he can get things done versus candidate X, that just doesn't have a lot of experience.

Those were Bill Clinton's words yesterday. So to pretend that he believes that this is a candidate that really is ready to lead, I think what he was doing was in a forceful, deliberate way, being the good partisan president that he is, and advocating for his party's nominee.

KING: All right.

BOUNDS: And you can't begrudge him that.

KING: Also on the podium tonight, Barack Obama's newly nominated vice presidential pick, Senator Biden.



JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John McCain is my friend. We've traveled the world together. It's a friendship that goes beyond politics. And the person, courage and heroism demonstrated by John still amazes me.

But I profoundly...


BIDEN: I profoundly disagree with the direction John wants to take this country from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Amtrak to veterans. You know, John thinks -- John thinks that during the Bush years, quote, "we've made great economic progress." I think it's been abysmal.

And in the Senate, John has voted with President Bush 95 percent. And that is very hard to believe.


KING: And was that not effective, Tucker?

BOUNDS: Well, I think it was a harsh criticism. I will give it to Senator Biden. I -- he's come out, he filled his attack dog roll in an admirable way, I suppose, if you're a Democrat.

But I think what it does is glaze over the serious issue of what this campaign is going to be about. I think that when voters are in the ballot box, they're going to be able to consider where these candidates are on the issues.

And where they are on the issues is John McCain has his plan to grow jobs by keeping taxes low on small businesses. Most -- every American understands that small businesses provide the job growth that Americans need.

So why would you put more taxes on small business job growth when our economy is struggling like it is?

All the peripheral issues that Barack Obama talks about on the campaign trail, and I'm sure Joe Biden's going to take up that same mantel, those things revolve around Americans having living waged jobs.

So whether they're talking about petitions or health -- or pensions or health care, it all revolves around jobs.

KING: Yes. Well...

BOUNDS: John McCain is going to grow jobs. I don't think Barack Obama's candidacy or his ticket is going to. KING: Tomorrow night we'll talk about whether it resonates. We certainly thank you for being with us all week.

Tomorrow night Tucker will be back.

One quick thing, we hear that Senator McCain has decided on a running mate. Have you heard that? We're not asking you who, but have you heard the fact that he has decided?

BOUNDS: Well, I've heard a lot of reporters calling my cell phone this evening. I know there's a lot of speculation. And there haven't been a lot of sourced reports. I know they've been blind sources. Nothing that I can confirm and we certainly haven't made any announcements, Larry.

KING: And we'll be back with no more Clintons in the wings. We're going to talk about Obama's big night next.

ANNOUNCER: The coverage of the Democratic National Convention is sponsored by...


KING: A quick note before we meet our guest. We're taking you to a unique approach to our nightly wrap-ups of the Democratic convention by limiting our guests to Republicans and McCain supporters.

Next week, we'll turn it around. Democrats and Barack Obama supporters will be joining us to discuss the GOP convention in St. Paul.

Joining us now in Stanford, Connecticut, Congressman Chris Shays, a Republican of Connecticut, a supporter of John McCain.

In Atlanta is Ralph Reed, old friend, haven't seen him in a long time. He served as senior adviser to the George W. Bush campaigns in 2000 and 2004. He's the author of political thriller "Dark Horse" and a supporter of John McCain.

And in Portland, a returned visit with Lars Larson, syndicated talk radio show host of his own show. His Web site is, describing him as right on the left coast. He has not yet endorsed a candidate.

OK, we'll start with Congressman Shays. What was your reaction to Bill Clinton tonight?

REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS (R), CONNECTICUT, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, first, let me say congratulations to Barack Obama. I mean, this is an historic night. And I think all Americans are pretty proud of what he's achieved. It's an incredibly impressive thing.

The president was rousing. He made a strong case for Barack Obama and a strong case for why you want a Democrat over a Republican. And I'm struck by the fact that I played competitive tennis, and you sometimes wanted your opponent to double fault. There are no double faults. There's no easy points. John McCain is going to have to make a real strong case next week. And I think he will.

KING: All right. Ralph, I want you to watch this clip and then comment.

While much of Bill Clinton's speech was devoted to boosting Obama, he did take aim at Senator McCain and the Republicans.



B. CLINTON: The Republicans, in a few days, will nominate a good man who has served our country heroically and who suffered terribly in a Vietnamese prison camp.

He loves his country every bit as much as we do. As a senator, he has shown his independence of right-wing orthodoxy on some very important issues.

But on the two great questions of this election -- how to rebuild the American dream and how to restore America's leadership in the world -- he still embraces the extreme philosophy that has defined his party for more than 25 years.


KING: All right, Ralph, how do you react to that?

RALPH REED, FORMER ADVISER TO GEORGE W. BUSH CAMPAIGNS, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, you know, it's certainly rhetoric that's going to appeal to the Democrats in the hall, Larry.

But I think once you get outside of the Pepsi Center and you start asking voters whether or not they want their taxes raised or whether or not they want to keep taxes low and cut them even deeper as John McCain has proposed -- you know, I found it ironic that Bill Clinton, who vetoed the $500 per child tax credit twice before he finally signed it and vetoed welfare reform -- the most successful reform of a major social program in the modern era -- twice before he finally signed it, is criticizing John McCain who has proposed taking that child tax credit and doubling it from the current $1,000 to $2,000.

Larry, that would be the largest tax cut directed at middle-class families with children in the post-World War II era. And if Bill Clinton wants to talk about that, whether or not we want to raise taxes as Obama's proposed on small businesses that create 80 percent of the jobs, on working families, or whether or not we want to pursue John McCain's strategies, frankly, I think that's a debate that we're looking forward to having.

And I think we can win it. KING: Lars, they are, though, going to certainly start mentioning George Bush a lot, aren't they? And if not tomorrow...


KING: ... on the campaign trail. And correctly...


KING: ... you would, too, if you were running against a very unpopular president.

Is that going to play?

LARSON: I don't think so because they're not suggesting anything to replace it. Bill Clinton talked tonight about his era of peace and prosperity -- prosperity that came apart about -- largely because of tax cuts signed in by President Reagan.

And also peace because he succeeded in ignoring attacks on American assets during his tenure that really led up to the September 11th attacks on this country.

Peace and prosperity when you ignore things doesn't work for me. But to attack President Bush and say John McCain is just four more years of President Bush, there's significant differences between the two. And some of them I like and some of them I don't like.

KING: I know that. That may be true, though, isn't it, Congressman Shays, that Bush is very attackable?

SHAYS: Absurd times two to tie in Senator McCain who is so different. The irony is that John McCain is the very person that Barack Obama describes we need to be.

He is very bipartisan. He works with Democrats. He's in the trenches in all the key issues, and he stands up to everyone when he thinks they're wrong.

I mean, this guy is totally different than the president. And I don't think that connection sticks. Forget the...

KING: Even though he supports him? Even though he supports him 95 percent of the time? That don't stick?

SHAYS: Well, you know, you have to take the particular issues. You know, on the war on Iraq...

KING: Well, that's...

SHAYS: No, no, no. But the war in Iraq, they say it supports the president. No, he thought and believed that we needed to do it very differently. He said Rumsfeld needs to go, Gates comes in.

He totally saved our effort in Iraq, something that the president was reluctant to do.

KING: All right. We'll take a break and come back with more of Shays, Reed and Larson on this edition -- special edition of LARRY KING LIVE following the third night of the Democratic convention.

Don't go away.



B. CLINTON: Barack Obama will lead us away from the division and fear of the last eight years back to unity and hope. So if, like me, you believe America must always be a place called hope, then join Hillary and Chelsea and me in making Barack Obama the next president of the United States!


Thank you and God bless you! Thank you!


KING: What do you think of the Democratic convention? That's tonight's quick vote question. Go to, give us your answer.

Ralph Reed, here's another example of former President Clinton going after the Republicans and your response.



B. CLINTON: More tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that will swell the deficit, increase inequality and weaken the economy. More band-aids for health care that will enrich insurance companies, impoverish families and increase the number of uninsured.

More going it alone in the world instead of building the shared responsibilities and shared opportunities necessary to advance our security and restore our influence.

They actually want us to reward them for the last eight years by giving them four more.

Now let's send them a message that will echo from the Rockies all across America, a simple message.

Thanks, but no thanks.

In this case -- in this case, the third time is not the charm.


KING: Ralph Reed, even as a strong critic, you would have to admit, this is an effective campaigner. REED: Oh, yes. Look, Larry, Bill Clinton's one of the supreme political talents of the last 20 or 30 years in American politics. But he's both a blessing and a burden to the Democratic Party.

He is a blessing in that he's, you know, very talented, very gifted, great fund-raiser. You saw him perform tonight. Only Democrat other than FDR in recent years to be elected to and serve two complete terms, but he's also a burden, Larry, because...

KING: How?

REED: ... he sucks the oxygen out of every room that he walks into. And, you know, he gave a great speech in Boston four years ago, and they lost that election. He gave a great speech in L.A. eight years ago, and they lost that election.

He gave great speeches when he was president. And everybody talks about how he -- remember when he gave his health care speech and they put the wrong speech in the teleprompter? And he had to kind of ad-lib for 20 minutes?

Nobody has ever doubted he was a good communicator, but what happened? They lost 53 seats in the House, they lost eight seats in the Senate, they lost control of Congress for the first time in 40 years.

So he's both. And I think, frankly, Larry, both he and Obama are really going to mobilize a lot of Republicans. And the Republicans are going to come home, and they're going to support John McCain.

KING: If the race is very close, and they're saying it's even, Lars Larson, do you think, frankly, race has anything to do with it?

LARSON: Race is certainly going to play a factor, as we talked about the other night. You know that there are going to be people out there, unfortunately, who vote for Barack Obama because he's black, and there will be people, unfortunately, who vote against him because he's black.

Nobody should vote for a man or a woman because of their skin color or their religion or anything else. But it is going to play a factor.

And to add to what Ralph said, the president also -- and President Clinton is also going to have to deal with the facts. And unfortunately, for him, people like me doing the talk show I do for Westwood 1 are going to point out the facts.

He talks about health care tonight. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau released numbers this week that said that 4 million additional Americans have health care and the most recent numbers that didn't have it in the year before.

So if he's talking about health care suffering under the Bush administration, he can say all the wonderful things he wants in his speech, but he's got to deal with the facts on the ground. KING: Lars, are you saying these are happy times?

LARSON: I'm not saying they're happy times, Larry. I do...

KING: Or wouldn't you say they're unhappy times?

LARSON: I think they're unhappy times.

KING: Or would you say the American perspective is -- according to 80 percent of them -- these are unhappy times?

LARSON: Actually, there's a new -- there's a new report out that talks about consumer confidence is up in the month of August.

So Larry, I would say there's certainly some unhappy people who took on...

KING: Some?

LARSON: ... loan mortgages they couldn't afford and things like that, but for the most part, the fundamentals of America are solid.

KING: All right, one more clip we want to show you.

Bill Clinton mentioning Barack Obama by name more than a dozen times. Also harkened back to his own bio in defending Obama.

Watch and then we'll have Congressman Shays' comment.


B. CLINTON: 16 years ago, you gave me the profound honor to lead our party to victory and to lead our nation to a new era of peace and broadly shared prosperity. Together, we prevailed in a hard campaign in which the Republicans said I was too young and too inexperienced to be commander in chief.


B. CLINTON: Sound familiar? It didn't work in 1992, because we were on the right side of history. And it will not work in 2008 because Barack Obama is on the right side of history.


KING: All right, Chris. What's your overall reaction to night three?

SHAYS: Well, first off, Bill Clinton ran against George Bush Sr. Barack Obama is running against Senator John McCain. That's a huge difference. And I'm just struck by the fact that, in my view, Republicans -- a new Republican majority in 1994 saved the Clinton presidency because we came forward with a lot of programs that this president takes credit for.

Welfare reform, as Ralph Reed has pointed out. It took us three times, but he finally accepted it, and then he takes credit. We balanced the federal budget. We were the ones that cut spending, slowed the growth of entitlements, and cut taxes to generate economic activity.

That was a huge success.

So, I mean, I think people are going to look and say, we like Barack Obama. He gives us hope. But is he ready to lead? And he's got to answer that question. Just as John McCain...

KING: Well, John McCain...

SHAYS: ... has got to prove...

KING: Right.

SHAYS: He's got to prove that he's not too old too lead.

KING: Does he also have to prove that he is not George Bush?

SHAYS: Well, I mean, it's an easy proof...

KING: They're going to hook him.

SHAYS: Well, they're not going to succeed.

KING: How do you know?

SHAYS: Well, we'll find out in November, won't we?

LARSON: Barack Obama's got to come up with...

REED: Larry, Larry -- George W. Bush's name...

KING: Yes.

REED: ... is not on the ballot. And I know the Democrats would like to run against George Bush again. I know that's the campaign they'd like to have. I don't blame for them wanting to do that.

But when the voters walk into the polling booth, it's going to be John McCain or Barack Obama, and you're either going to have somebody who has one of the most distinguished records in the U.S. Senate and House over the last 26 years, never asking for a single earmark for his district or his state, a 26-year pro-life voting record, never voted for a single tax increase.

You're either going to vote for that, somebody who was right about the surge and helped us win in Iraq before anybody else did, or somebody who, four years ago, was a state senator from the south side of Chicago and is totally unprepared for the challenges of the war on terror.

KING: So Ralph -- by that diagnosis, Ralph, it's going to be a romp.

REED: No, I think it's going to be close and very competitive for...

KING: Why?

REED: Well, for reasons you already alluded to, Larry, when you talked about the right track/wrong track number, about 81 percent of the American people say we're moving in the wrong direction. They do so for different reasons.

There's about a ten-point turnout advantage for the Democrats in current polling. I think it's going to be extremely competitive, very hard fought. I think this election is going to be at least as close as '04 and maybe as close as 2000.

KING: Joe Biden was in the spotlight tonight. Was anybody listening after Bill Clinton left the stage? We'll talk about that with our distinguished group of three, right after the break.


ANNOUNCER: Republican Response! Larry King! CNN tomorrow night at midnight Eastern.


SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: Barack Obama is our candidate, and he will be our president!

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D) HOUSE SPEAKER: I have been asked to inform you that Senator Obama accepts the nomination.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Like Hillary, I want all of you who supported her to vote for Barack Obama in November.

SEN. JOE BIDEN, (D) VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The choice is clear. Now is the time to make Barack Obama president of the United States of America.

Let me say this as simply as I can. Yes, yes, I accept your nomination to run and serve with Barack Obama, the next president of the United States of America!


KING: Day three was not all about the Clintons. Senator Biden, as you just saw, accepted his vice presidential nomination. He also spoke. Here's a sample.


BIDEN: And when John McCain proposes $200 million in new taxes for corporate America, $1 billion alone for the largest companies in the nation, but no, none, no relief for 100 million American families, that's not change. That's more of the same.

Even today, as oil companies post the biggest profits in history, nearly a half a trillion dollars in the last five years. John wants to give them another $4 billion in tax breaks. That's not change. That's the same.


KING: Lars Larson, is that a good point?

LARS LARSON, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: Oh, I guess it's a good point, but I thought the better point was seeing who introduced Senator Biden. I like the fact that he chose his son serving in the United States military instead of the son earning multi million dollars lobbying fees in Washington.

KING: They may have chosen him because he happens to be an exemplary speaker who's an elected official.

LARSON: I have a feeling ...

KING: He never mentioned he was going to Iraq.

LARSON: Actually, I think there was an allusion to it in his comments.

KING: No, he just said I won't be here in the fall.

LARSON: That's right, but I think the story is known ...

KING: What about tax increases - tax breaks for the oil companies?

LARSON: You know, the fact is when they talk about tax breaks for the oil companies, those are voted into place by the Congress for specific reasons to incentivize companies for doing specific things.

KING: Does the average guy know that?

LARSON: How about depreciating their equipment? The average guy like me knows when I fill up my pickup truck, I've got to pay somebody to get that oil out of the ground. I'm glad they do it. I'm tired of bashing the oil companies, frankly. I don't have any dog in the fight except I buy gasoline every week. But Larry, we all need gasoline. The Democrats apparently think we can wait 20 years for whatever alternative is made for us, you know, 20 years from now. I need gasoline at the end of the week so I can go to work on Monday.

KING: Congressman Shays, how long will offshore drilling take?

REP. CHRIS SHAYS, (R) CT: Well, first off, let me just make this point. I thought Joe Biden's speech was more of the same, the same political arguments. It, to me -- I think he's a great senator and a good voice for vice president, but I thought it was somewhat a tired speech. The oil companies are owned by retirement funds, by endowments, by colleges. The oil companies have to pay taxes.

We get a huge amount of taxes from the oil companies. And they need to be exploring for oil in the United States. I think the biggest weakness of the Democrats right now is they are content with shipping $700 billion of our resources overseas to foreign companies and are opposing drilling for oil and gas just off our coast. So I think we've got some great arguments to make, and I'm looking forward to the campaign this fall.

KING: Ralph Reed, isn't the problem, forget what may be right or wrong, the average American pulls into the pump, and he's angry. And he's angry at the -- who else is he angry at? He's angry at the oil companies, right?

RALPH REED, FORMER BUSH ADVISER: Well, I think certainly this is a major financial pressure on really every American family, but especially middle-class, hardworking families. But I guess the question, Larry, is what's the best way to go about it? You know, in my book, I talk about a Democratic campaign that goes all the way to the convention like this one, and then the vice presidential pick gets blown. And frankly, I think Obama -- Obama's pick of Biden, while I like Joe, I don't agree with him on the issues, I think this has largely been a dud.

And I think the reason why -- I can't remember a time in my career, Larry, where somebody picked their vice presidential running mate and had road blocked media coverage and lost two points in a Gallup poll in 72 hours.

And I think the question will be the referendum on this issue of gas prices and energy in November will be on whether or not we're going to be less dependent upon regimes that don't share our values and don't have our interests at heart, by having more energy produced here at home. Seventy two percent of the American people say they want to drill offshore, Pelosi, Reed, Biden and Obama are standing in the way, and the American people know it.

KING: Do they think that they will get immediate oil decreases tomorrow by drilling offshore, Rex, or Ron, Ralph? It's been a late night.

REED: That's all right. Larry, I think everybody understands that there will be an immediate and long-term impact. Immediately the commodity markets will react to the fact that America is changing direction and shifting policy. I'm not saying it will be a huge price cut, but I think long term, ANWR has 12 billion to 16 billion barrels. That will eliminate all of our imports from Saudi Arabia for the next 30 years. And offshore we have between 53 billion and 83 billion barrels of proven reserves.

Why aren't we drilling here, drilling now and paying less instead of relying on Venezuela, the Middle East and Russia?

KING: Key question for Lars. Lars?

LARSON: Yeah -- yes, sir.

KING: Go ahead, quickly.

LARSON: I'm going to tell you, one of the elephants in the living room is if Congress could change the laws right now, an awful lot of that five to 10-year lag on drilling and producing that oil is paperwork, bureaucracy and baloney in the form of draft environmental impact statements. Tell me we're not in an emergency the Congress couldn't act just as quickly as it did after 9/11, pass some legislation that stands between us and the oil the American people need.

KING: Lars, let me ask the question. When are you going to pick a candidate you're supporting?

LARSON: I've been none of the above up till now. I'll make my final decision next week in St. Paul.

KING: Let me say that if it's not McCain, people will think. The guests are Congressman Shays, Ralph Reed and Lars Larson. And the woman who wants Joe Biden's Senate seat is here next.



BIDEN: The choice in this election is clear, these times require more than a good soldier. They require a wise leader. A leader who can change -- change -- the change that everybody knows we need. Barack Obama's going to deliver that change because I want to tell you, Barack Obama will reform our tax code. He will cut taxes for 95 percent of the American people who draw a paycheck. That's the change we need.


KING: We're back. And joining us in New York is Christine O'Donnell, she is the Republican candidate for the United States Senate seat held by Joe Biden. Running in Delaware. She's a political commentator and marketing consultant, a supporter of John McCain as well. Thanks for joining us, Christine.

CHRISTINE O'DONNELL, (R) DELAWARE SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you very much for having me.

KING: When Joe Biden was announced, how did you feel?

O'DONNELL: Oh, I was excited for Delaware and proud of our state, but also a little disappointed. So far Joe Biden has been an absentee candidate. He has refused to debate me thus far. And now I know why. He has no intention of campaigning for his seat. He's taking his re-election for granted.

And I find it very interesting that he had his son, Beau, introduce him because what he's doing is using his Senate seat as a fallback career as a consolation prize. If he doesn't win V.P. If he does win V.P., the buzz is that he's going to allow our Democrat governor to hand-pick his son to replace him. He's using this ...


O'DONNELL: The Senate seat should not be an inheritance. And that's what he's doing. KING: Let me get the rules. He can stay on the ballot in both the state and in the vice presidential election, right?

O'DONNELL: That's right. That's right. And he's not going to debate me, and that's what frustrates me.

KING: Same as Joe Lieberman did eight years ago.


KING: Stayed on the ballot in Connecticut and ran for the vice president. As he wins, the governor appoints the next senator who takes office when?

O'DONNELL: In January. And that's what the big question is. If we get a Republican governor, because right now we have an open seat. Nobody knows what's going to happen. It all depends on when Joe Biden would resign. You know, they -- Delaware can cast a vote for the person who will serve that seat if they cast a vote for me. If they vote for Joe, you don't know. You don't know what you're getting. And you're also allowing him to ...

KING: Yeah, I understand.

O'DONNELL: ... thumb his nose at democracy. He's not debating me. He is refusing to debate me. He's refusing to allow the people of Delaware to hold him accountable for things such as the global tax that he pushed through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee without a public hearing, something as serious as the United Nations taxing America's GNP should certainly have a public hearing.

KING: Yeah. There is a governor's race coming, then, in Delaware? The same night as the presidential race.


KING: And if a Democrat is elected, of course, he would appoint whoever is the success -- if Joe ...

O'DONNELL: Whoever Joe tells them to, that's right.

KING: If it was a Republican, though, wouldn't that person appoint you even if you lose the senate election?

O'DONNELL: Well, what I had said is even if this appointment works in my favor, I would ask the state legislature to call for a special election because the U.S. Senate -- first of all, like I said, is not supposed to be an inheritance that you pass on to your children. It's supposed to be a body of elected representatives. And even if it works in my favor, i would ask the people of Delaware to democratically elect me ...

KING: Well said.

O'DONNELL: ... to truly serve them.

KING: Won't his son be in Iraq?

O'DONNELL: We don't know. We don't know.

KING: But he's going for a year, isn't he?

O'DONNELL: That's what we're told. And ...

KING: Why are you suspect of that?

O'DONNELL: You know, there's all kinds of rumors going on in Delaware that something's going to happen and he won't go. But I do -- I do thank Beau for his service to our country. And if he does go to Iraq, my prayers are certainly with him. So I don't want to ...

KING: Christine ...

O'DONNELL: ... pull the service into a partisan ...

KING: Good luck, Christine.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

KING: Christine O'Donnell. When we come back, we'll meet three more outstanding guests on the Republican side of the ledger to take a look at the Democratic convention. Don't go away.

KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE on this special late edition Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. She's a Republican of Florida. Kevin Madden, Republican strategist, senior vice president of the Glover Park Group. He was spokesman for Mitt Romney.

And in Denver, Terry Holt, national spokesman for Bush/Cheney in '04, senior adviser to the Republican National Committee. It's the third day of the convention. Congresswoman, were you, honestly, just as an observer, were you impressed with anything tonight?

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, (R) FL: Well, I think rhetoric is always lovely, political junkies and folks who in politics, we love a good speech. We love a good sermon at church, but it's in the actions. It's what we do after church that counts.

It's what we do with those fancy speeches that really makes a difference. And sure, they've got great speech writers, but what are they going to do? This is a team that's going to increase taxes, that's going to increase government bureaucracy.

You've got a John McCain as a leader who's ready to serve from day one. He's got the experience. He's got the talent. And he's going to do a great job uniting all Americans. He's been bipartisan from day one. They want to tie him to Bush because they know that by himself, they don't have enough to attack him on.

KING: But if he voted with Bush 95 percent of the time, he can't be bipartisan.

ROS-LEHTINEN: Oh, Larry, those are ridiculous numbers. KING: Not true?

ROS-LEHTINEN: Ridiculous numbers.

KING: Easy to check.

ROS-LEHTINEN: And if they were true, how do you explain the great bounce that John McCain has gotten since Obama has been the nominee these last two weeks in a key state like mine in Florida? John McCain is doing better every day.

KING: We've got to take a look at another portion of Joe Biden's acceptance speech. He draws sharp distinctions between Obama and McCain. We'll have Levin Madden comment. Watch.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) IL: If I'm not mistaken, Hillary Clinton rocked the house last night! And just in case you were wondering, I think President Bill Clinton reminded us of what it's like when you've got a president who actually puts people first. Thank you, President Clinton.


KING: We, obviously, ran the wrong clip there. But Kevin Madden, that kind of appearance, do you think that energized even more this convention?

KEVIN MADDEN, GOP STRATEGIST: Well, I think it did. But I also think it played exactly into the critique that the McCain campaign has set up over the last few weeks. Which is that Barack Obama is this celebrity. You know, he makes this celebrity entrance at the end of the night, offers no substance whatsoever. And instead just, you know, tries to galvanized crowd on style. And I think that that's probably just a preview of what we're going to see tomorrow night. A lot of talk. A lot of rhetoric. It's like cotton candy, Larry. It melts on contact, and you can't live on it. So I think you're going to see a lot more of that tomorrow night.

KING: Terry Holt, in a life -- in a world of show business and media and contacts and send it up the flag pole, isn't that effective?

TERRY HOLT, FORMER BUSH SPOKESMAN: I thought tonight was pretty effective. It reminded me how good President Clinton can be when he's at the top of his game. I mean, it was a classic performance by President Clinton. But, you know, over the last few days, if you've seen the CNN coverage, you know all of the wrangling and all of the back-and-forth that's gone on between Obama and the Clinton folks. You'd have thought that they were negotiating Middle East peace. I mean, I think there were people in that audience that were either grinding their teeth or biting their fingernails waiting to see how this whole transition was going to work. And believe me, there's still a lot of hurt feelings. There's still a lot of hard feelings in the Democratic Party. There are tangible problems that Barack Obama has on the ground in a lot of these states. Congresswoman Ros- Lehtinen mentioned Florida. It was Bill Clinton in New Hampshire back in January who shook his finger at the world and called Barack Obama's candidacy a fantasy. And that is not going to go away. And I don't care how good that speech was tonight.

KING: You don't think, Congresswoman Lehtinen, that those kind of things that occur in primaries get forgotten?

ROS-LEHTINEN: No, because Bill Clinton proved it tonight. Again he mentioned, just as Hillary had mentioned in her speech last night, the 18 million votes that Hillary got. They want to make sure that people understand that Hillary got this amount of votes. I mean, why do they keep bringing it up? And we had two nights of Clinton, and now tomorrow when the anointed one makes his grand entrance, it will be with this Greek temple motif. I think they really went over the top. And I think if they had a chance to rethink this, this forum tomorrow, toga, toga, I think it's just a little bit over the top. It needs to be a bit more understated.

KING: Ileana, when you say anointed, are you saying that Senator McCain is not anointed?

ROS-LEHTINEN: No, what I mean is we have seen this cult of personality built up around a candidate that we know something about, but we don't know a whole lot about him yet. I hope that we know more about his formative years. What we do know about John McCain is that he is ready to lead from day one and that Hillary and Bill and Joe Biden all said that Obama was not ready for prime time and that the White House was not a place for on-the-job training. I wish Senator Obama much success. I prefer a leader like John McCain with integrity and real leadership style.

KING: You're not saying Obama has no integrity?

ROS-LEHTINEN: No, no, no, no, no.

KING: Are you saying that? Then why point out integrity?

ROS-LEHTINEN: No, no, no ...

KING: I just want to understand it, they both have integrity.

ROS-LEHTINEN: No, no, not at all. I do not say anything negative about Senator Obama. What I mean is that John McCain has proved his mettle.

KING: Well, he's old.

ROS-LEHTINEN: He makes jokes about how old he is. He says my Social Security number is 8, but it's been experience that counts. People know he's an independent thinker.

KING: I've got to get a break.

John McCain's apparently made his vice presidential pick. Who's it going to be? We'll talk about it next. In fact, Kevin Madden should know. Don't go away. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Kevin Madden, you were a spokesperson for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign. So I would assume, if senator McCain has made a selection and it is Governor Romney, you know.

MADDEN: Larry, you couldn't get it out of Tucker Bounds, you're sure not going to get it out of me. So I haven't heard anything about a vice presidential pick. I expect that, as is the case, as has always been the case, Senator McCain keeps very close counsel on this. He's probably made his decision, and he's probably the only person that really knows right now. And I think over the next 48 hours, we'll all find out.

KING: Logically, Terry, would it have to be offered on Friday?

HOLT: Oh, I think they could offer ...

KING: Logically.

HOLT: I think they can offer it to him tomorrow. And I think very quickly pivot, you know, this whole story shifts from Barack Obama ...

KING: But he wouldn't announce it on the day that Obama is speaking?

HOLT: No, I think they'd wait until maybe after the first 10 seconds Barack Obama finishes speaking because then the story obviously pivots to the Republicans. I tell you, I like who John McCain likes. I'm voting for John McCain because he's the candidate of choice with experience and leadership. Who he picks as his second in command, I trust him to make a good decision. There's a lot of great people out there. Mitt Romney, Kevin's old boss, would be great. I like Tom Ridge from Pennsylvania, puts a big state in play automatically. And Tim Pawlenty and down the list. You know, they're going to be in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. We could have Rob Portman or Kasich or maybe Ohioan, a Buckeye might be on the ticket.

KING: Yeah. Would it please you, Congresswoman Lehtinen if it were Charlie Crist?

ROS-LEHTINEN: That would be great. We would hate to lose our governor. He just got recently elected, so we don't want to lose him. I think he might go with Mitt Romney. He's got executive experience, and he's a solid guy. So we'll soon see. I think that it will be official on Friday. And announced right after Senator Obama's acceptance speech as well.

KING: Kevin, would you be surprised if he chose Joe Lieberman?

MADDEN: I would be. I think that a lot of republicans are looking to unite the party around the social issues, the economic issues and the national security issues that are very important to core conservatives. I think while Joe Lieberman had an ability to identify with many of us Republicans on the national security issues, he's fallen very short on economic and social conservative issues.

And that it would probably create a schism within the party right now if you were to have somebody who supported very liberal economic policies, very liberal social policies, be as part of our ticket. And our job right now - and John McCain said he's going to pick somebody who supports his policies and who he thinks will help him govern. And I think that will very likely be a Republican.

KING: Terry, do you share the view that this is going to be very close?

HOLT: I do. I think that we still have a fundamentally conservative country. But the Democrats have been energized. They had record turnout in all of their primaries. But we have a classic setup here. It's experience versus youth. It's a whole different dynamic in this election where we used to have red states and blue states. Now we've got a bunch of purple states. Where there are more states in play, and I think as a result of that, a lot of people's votes are going to count, and we're going to have record turnout in November on both sides, on both sides of the aisle, Larry.

KING: And that will signify maybe a late night, huh?

HOLT: Hopefully it will be -- it won't be so close that we all wind up in Florida like we did in 2000, those 37 days where -- no offense to Florida, congresswoman, I love it. I visit it frequently. I've run a campaign down there.

ROS-LEHTINEN: We've got new machines.

HOLT: But not again.

ROS-LEHTINEN: This is our fifth time in getting new machines. I think we'll finally get it right this time.

KING: I lived there for 20 years. I know about the machines. Thank you all very much, Congresswoman Lehtinen, Kevin Madden and Terry Holt. The loyal opposition which is what we try to do here every night.

We'll do it again tomorrow. What do you think of the Democratic convention? That's tonight's quick vote. Go to, give us your answer. And tomorrow, our GOP insiders will be talking about the event of the night, Barack Obama's acceptance speech as his party's presidential nominee, a historic moment.

We'll have a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE Thursday, midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. And next week the Democrats will be responding to the RNC.

Stay tuned now to CNN for more news and convention coverage. Good night.