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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Day 4 of the Democratic National Convention

Aired August 28, 2008 - 23:59   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
LARRY KING, HOST (voice over): Tonight, Barack Obama makes history. The first African-American to lead a major party ticket for president.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

KING: 45 years ago today, Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream.

Can Barack Obama make it reality by winning the White House?

Next, Republicans react on a special up-to-the minute edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: We have an outstanding panel coming with Republican reaction. We'll do the reverse next week.

We'll open, of course, with the man who's been with us all week, Tucker Bounds, McCain campaign's spokesperson.

Barack Obama has accepted the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. That history-making moment is tonight's "King's Convention" clip.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: With profound gratitude and great humility, I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, Tucker, McCain campaign spokesman, what did you make of the speech tonight?

TUCKER BOUNDS, SPOKESMAN, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN: Well, it was a historic night. As John McCain actually demonstrated in his own words, we heard in an advertisement today that ran in cable television across the country, giving Senator Obama his due congratulations for historic evening and all Americans can take a fair share of pride in what happened this evening. And it certainly is ringing home here at the McCain campaign and with Senator McCain.

KING: You said it was an advertisement. Advertisements can be good or bad. Was it a good ad?

BOUNDS: It was a great ad. I thought it was a good ad. You know, it gave -- it was Senator McCain directly in the camera congratulating his opponent.

My understanding is that's -- that in its own right is something that isn't done very often. So we -- we're very proud of it.

KING: It seems like the Democrats are leaving this convention fired up, but maybe all conventions end fired up.

Are you worried about turnout and exuberance on the part of your opposition?

BOUNDS: Well, I think what we're most counting on is voters to understand the choice that they're going to have in November.

Exuberance aside, I'm sure that you're right. Out of a convention, they are going to experience an enormous amount of bump and the public opinion polls, Senator Obama is going to some momentum going in the next week.

But the important thing is that on -- the election day the serious issue will be considered and the most serious issue to consider in our minds is that -- behind John McCain stands a record of reforming Washington and changing the way things are done here.

And so, for us, running against Barack Obama, we're less worried about exuberance and we're more worried about talking about the issues which we plan on doing all next week at the convention.

KING: Obama took aim at John McCain on a number of issues, including the economy.

Here's an example, Tucker, and you can comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: While Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq, just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed this war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats that we face.

When John McCain said we could just muddle through in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights.

(CHEERS)

OBAMA: You know, John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell. But he won't even follow him to the cave where he lives.

(CHEERS)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I said that was about the economy. Obviously, it was not.

What do you make of that moment, Tucker?

BOUNDS: Well, Larry, I'm really glad that you played that clip, because I think it was a perfect demonstration of some of the frustrations that we're having.

You know, this speech was billed as a very historic speech and indeed it was a historic evening, but the speech didn't come through that way across the board. There were a lot of very negative parts to that speech and I think that that was one perfect demonstration.

For Barack Obama to suggest that John McCain doesn't have the commitment to track down Osama bin Laden, that we have had him in our sights, and decided that it wasn't important to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, is absurd.

KING: Well...

BOUNDS: It's ridiculous and it doesn't do any justice to the serious discourse that the American people deserve.

KING: But...

BOUNDS: It...

KING: Did we not center away from Afghanistan and go to Iraq?

BOUNDS: I think he suggested a little bit more than that, Larry. I think what he said, and in his own words, said that when I have him in our sights, I will take it to Osama bin Laden, suggesting that John McCain wouldn't do the same thing, which is to ignore all the things and all the policies that John McCain has pursued to bring terrorists to justice.

I think that that is boiling down. I think it's an insult to voters. I think that that's where we stand on higher ground going toward election day, because the truth is that this is going to come down to experience.

It's going to come down to a choice between -- do you believe everything Barack Obama is telling you? Do you believe this laundry list of promises about...

KING: OK.

BOUNDS: ... or are you going to go with a proven reformer, somebody that has a record of making change in working in a bipartisan way?

KING: Tucker...

BOUNDS: I think that's the choice.

KING: Thanks -- thanks for being with us all week, Tucker. We really appreciate it.

BOUNDS: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Tucker Bounds and I -- we might be in Dayton tomorrow. We'll talk about that in a while, too.

We got a bunch of Republicans ready to pounce on Obama's speech. They're next.

ANNOUNCER: Coverage of the Democratic National Convention is sponsored by...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Quick note. Since the Democrats have had plenty of opportunity to speak their minds this week during the convention, we've used these special editions of LARRY KING LIVE to hear the reaction of Republicans and John McCain backers.

And next week it's turn about. The GOP has its convention in St. Paul. We'll have response from Democrats and Barack Obama supporters.

We'll be back tomorrow night at our regular time, 9:00 Pacific, noon -- midnight Eastern. Among the guest will be the governor of Florida, Charlie Crist.

We welcome Ben Stein, the "New York Times" columnist, bestselling author, television personality. His new book is "How to Ruin the United States of America."

And all of our guests are supporters of Senator McCain.

Larry Elder, the talk radio show, KBC's "The Elder Show." Bestselling author himself, been described by "Daily Variety" as a firebrand libertarian.

In Richmond, Virginia is Congressman Eric Cantor, long rumored as a possible vice presidential candidate. He's a Republican of Virginia.

And in Washington is Todd Harris, who served as press secretary for John McCain in 2000, was communications director for Fred Thompson's failed bid in 2008.

Ben, what did you think of the speech?

BEN STEIN, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. At first it was so good I thought wow, I think I'm going to vote for him. I'm going to change. I'm going to announce on LARRY KING that I'm going to vote for him.

But when he started getting into the specifics it fell apart.

KING: But the criticism has been he wasn't specific.

STEIN: I know, but the specifics were false, like, for example, the specific that he's going to go every line of the federal budget and take out waste and corruption.

First of all, every candidate says that. They never do. The federal budget is 50,000 pages. Each age has about 50 lines.

KING: And he said that you lost it?

STEIN: That's 2.5 million lines. He gave a totally phony number of how many jobs Mr. Clinton's term had added.

But the worst thing he did, which really upset me, was that he really accused Mr. -- Senator McCain of either cowardice or treason or just idiocy in not capturing Osama bin Laden when he could. And then a few minutes later said, but I'm not going to attack his character or question his patriotism.

KING: Congressman Cantor, what did you think?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Larry, I think -- first of all, I think every American has to recognize the historic nature of tonight. And I do think that John McCain, as he always does, has done the right thing. He placed an ad really congratulating Senator Obama on the achievement.

But once that, you know, sort of all the theatrics and all the pretty speeches and pretty rhetoric has been said (INAUDIBLE), I think it comes down to the fact that the record has not changed.

This was a tremendously post partisan turn around, if you will. I mean Barack Obama has been about post partisanship the entire way up until tonight. This was the antithesis of that because what you saw here was an out and out attack on John McCain repeatedly, certainly on George Bush.

And then when we got into some of the substance of the speech, to me, it was nothing but sort of the south side of Chicago political machine cranking up again with standard Democrat rhetoric, expanding government, and we had a laundry list of programs that would appeal to every interest group that was out in Invesco Field.

KING: Larry Elder, isn't the candidate supposed to attack? And if the president -- as George W. Bush is so unpopular, aren't you supposed to hit him?

LARRY ELDER, TALK RADIO HOST, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Absolutely. It's a...

KING: So what's the complain?

ELDER: First of all, Larry, it was a historic night, I don't think anybody can deny that. And this is a tremendous reflection of how far this country has come.

You know, you've had me on the show over the years, Larry, graciously, and I've always made the argument that racism is no longer a potent force in America. The civil rights struggle for the most part is over and the good guys won. And this night is a confirmation of that.

That said, he is a standard tax, spend and regulate liberal. The numbers don't add up. All these promises that he made, as been said, he's going to get them from -- going over government and getting rid of waste and inefficiency. They always say that.

Then he says he's going to close corporate loopholes and raise taxes on the so-called rich. There isn't enough money there to do all the things he wants to do.

KING: What do you mean so-called rich? There are rich.

ELDER: Well, $250,000, who many children do you have? Where do you live? It depends on your definition of rich. The bottom line is, taxes are going to be raised. He's going to increase the burden...

KING: So when he said he's going to cut it from 95 percent, he was lying?

ELDER: Well, first of all, about half of all workers don't pay any federal income taxes -- making $40,000, you got a family, you're not paying any income taxes at all.

So those that are remaining he's going to -- he said lower their taxes.

KING: Right.

ELDER: I don't see where the money is going to come from, Larry. You can't nationalize health care, promise a world-class education for man, woman and child, promise jobs training programs, $150 billion fund for alternative forms of energy, and get them from the so-called rich.

The money isn't there.

STEIN: They build the military...

KING: Todd Harris, we're going to play a clip and I'd like you to comment.

Another criticism of Obama is that he's more sizzle than steak when it comes to meaty policy proposals. He laid out some specifics tonight.

Watch and then, Todd, I want you to comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Change means a tax code that doesn't reward the lobbyists who wrote it, but the American workers and small businesses who deserve it.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: You know, unlike John McCain, I will stop giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas. And I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.

I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and start-ups that will create the high wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow. I will -- listen, now, I will cut taxes, cut taxes for 95 percent of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And for the sake of our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, I will set a clear goal as president. In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Todd Harris, was that not effective?

TODD HARRIS, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, JOHN MCCAIN: Well, look, I think it was a very effective speech and I think it's totally appropriate to say that Barack Obama's achievement today makes us all proud to be Americans.

But if you start digging just an inch below the surface, the problem with tonight's speech, just like virtually every speech he's given in the past, is that when Barack Obama's record meets his rhetoric, it explodes in a fiery ball of hypocrisy.

Because, Larry, all of that sounded great but someone who is as new on the national scene as Obama, the only way you can look to see what he's going to do going forward is to look at what he's done going backward.

And the fact is, he has absolutely no record at all of reaching across party lines in a bipartisan way. He has no record at all of fighting to cut taxes. He has no record at all to do anything to lift a finger to lower gas prices.

In fact, despite his assaults on Senator McCain tonight on the issue of energy, it was Barack Obama, in 2005, who voted for President Bush's energy plan, which Senator McCain said was a huge giveaway to the oil and gas industry.

So, yes, beautiful speech. But if you dig a little bit deeper and look at his record, it's just not backed up by the facts.

KING: We'll be right back with more. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back.

Will you vote for Barack Obama? That's our quick vote question. Go to CNN.com/Larryking right now and have your say. We want to hear from you.

Tomorrow night, we're back live at 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

Ben, we're going to play another clip and ask you to comment.

Obama mentioned his Republican rival by name more than a dozen times tonight, frequently in tandem with George Bush.

Here's an example. You comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Let there be no doubt. The Republican nominee, John McCain, has worn the uniform of our country with bravery and distinction. And for that we owe him our gratitude and our respect.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: And next week we'll also hear about those occasions when he's broken with his party as evidence that he can deliver the change that we need.

But the record's clear. John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time. Senator McCain likes to talk about judgment, but really, what does it say about your judgment when you think George Bush has been right more than 90 percent of the times?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I would in an unpopular president. Wasn't that effective?

STEIN: It was effective. It's kind of a phony because, of the votes in Congress, the great majority of them are fairly basic and superficial procedural votes, and all of the members vote with the president or with the administration.

So the only really relevant question will be, how many times did either candidate cross the White House on very vital issues? On the tiny procedural issues, it doesn't matter at all. And most Democrats, in fact, vote with the White House the majority of the time in any event.

But I thought the real problem...

KING: What's the problem?

STEIN: ... that he's supposed to be a buy above partisanship, not slamming his opponent. Bigger than that.

He wasn't bigger than that. He was a machine Chicago politician, slashing and burning. I didn't like that. I did not like him questioning the character of a man who had been in prison for 5 1/2 years...

KING: That's not...

STEIN: ... for depending his country.

KING: In all fair, this has not Senator McCain been doing that to him?

STEIN: I don't think he's questioned his character at all. He said...

KING: But he hasn't been slashing and burning?

STEIN: No, he said -- he said he's the biggest celebrity in the world. I don't think that's questioning his character. He is the biggest celebrity in the world. He's a celebrity.

Look, they created this just like a rock concert. They treat it like a big rock concert that rock stars up on the stage with him. They didn't have secretaries of state up there on the stage with them, they had rock stars up on the stage.

They treated it like a rock concert, they've got to pay the price for that. If he's a rock star, he's a rock star. If he's a statesman, he's a statesman. He's not both.

ELDER: You know the question is whether or not this stuff sticks. And Larry...

KING: Right.

ELDER: John McCain is a maverick, rightly or wrongly, for us fiscal conservatives. He voted against the Bush tax cuts in '01. That was huge.

KING: You were against him, right?

ELDER: No, he wasn't my favorite choice.

KING: Answer me.

ELDER: He voted against the tax cuts in '03. Only three Republicans voted on that side. He was for immigration reform when many Republicans were against that.

KING: Still is.

ELDER: McCain/Feingold when many of us were against that. He opposed waterboarding as torture when many of us did not feel that way. So this is a guy who has reached across the aisle. This is a guy who's -- who's been the non-partisan, the statesman, if you will. Not Barack Obama.

As your other guest said, I can't think of any instance -- major instance where Barack Obama has deserted the left wing of his party on anything -- on taxes, on spending. He was opposed to the 1996 welfare reform when he's in the state legislature in Illinois.

So where he gets off by calling himself some sort of post partisan guy is beyond me. His track record does not show that at all, Larry.

KING: Congressman...

STEIN: Most pro-abortion presidential candidate that's ever been.

KING: Well, how do you measure that?

STEIN: Because he has never voted even against partial birth abortion. No other candidate has that record.

KING: Congressman Holder, what -- would you comment on what Larry -- do you agree with Larry Elder just said? Congressman Cantor, I'm sorry.

CANTOR: Yes, absolutely. Once again, we have got a situation here where Senator Obama is all about do as I say, not as I do. The record just does not reflect what it is that he continues to say he stands for.

And so, again, I think the goal for him tonight was to convince the American people that he had the judgment, that he has had the experience to lead this country on all things domestic and from a national security standpoint.

I just don't think he reached it, because at the end of the day, you can look at his record. Now his record is a straight party line orthodox vote. He has not demonstrated the ability to reach out.

He has no plan to bring down gas prices, the number one economic issue facing the families of this country. He has voted to raise taxes again and again and, in fact, he's voted to raise taxes on people making $42,000 a year.

KING: Congressman, hasn't...

CANTOR: So for him to say he's going to cut taxes on middle class, I just think it rings hollow.

KING: Congressman, in essence, hasn't this -- well, this party in its last eight years has been considered generally by the public a failure with 80 percent unhappy.

So if you're running against it, aren't you supposed to run against it? I mean, you'd be insane not to run against this party.

CANTOR: Well, listen, I mean, you know, obviously, you know, he is going to run against anything that's unpopular with the public. I mean you're absolutely right about that.

KING: Why not?

CANTOR: But...

KING: Why not?

CANTOR: But at the end of the day, you know, it is about whether he is a proven leader, whether he has the experience to do what's best for this country. And if you look at the record, he -- he has...

ELDER: Larry, at the end of the day, John McCain is not George Bush. And I understand the idea of making John McCain the third term of George W. Bush.

KING: Wouldn't you?

ELDER: I'm not saying I wouldn't, I'm just but is it going to work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.

ELDER: John McCain also voted against the foreign bill. He voted against the prescription benefit bill procedures. This guy has put his thumb in Bush's eye many times. He was the one who said...

KING: Keep it up. You're really helping him.

ELDER: He was the one who said that troops needed to be increased in Iraq well before the administration did. Supported the surge.

KING: Yes. He called -- Rumsfeld fired.

ELDER: I said there ought to be changes in our counterinsurgency strategy.

KING: Absolutely.

ELDER: All those things that John McCain did. People are unhappy with the war, Larry. They're unhappy with the way the war was prosecuted. Had those things happened right away, I bet you anything the numbers would be different on the war.

KING: But Todd...

ELDER: And they are changing now.

KING: Wouldn't a sensible candidate run against this administration? I mean come on.

HARRIS: Yes. Absolutely. Look, I actually have no problem with the fact that he, you know, made some direct criticisms of the Republican Party and Senator McCain. That you know, politics ain't bean bags. We're all big boys here.

But what he did was he teed up a battle of ideas. Now the good news for John McCain is that Barack Obama's ideas are really liberal. And so it's going to be incumbent for Senator McCain next week and over the next two months to contrast Senator Obama's idea, in his definition of change, which is a bigger, more intrusive government and higher taxes with Senator McCain's definition of change, which -- and I think you'll see him do that next week.

CANTOR: Larry, I also think that the interesting point that Obama raised tonight was that he was willing to debate John McCain. Now where has he been for the last several months?

Because as we know, John McCain continues to offer Senator Obama the opportunity to meet together and to join with him in town hall meetings across this country. That's where we ought to see the two of them go at it and the country ought to be able to see the two of them discuss the ideas, discuss in the specifics of their vision for the future.

STEIN: So I think the essence of the thing probably is he's a magnificent speaker, there's no doubt about that. He's a spectacularly good speaker. He's a good-looking guy. He's a smart guy, Harvard Law grad. But -- and he's the first black man to be nominated by a major party and that is cause for celebration.

But he's basically just a Democratic Chicago machine politician who happen to get this job.

KING: And that maybe can win. (INAUDIBLE)

STEIN: And maybe it can, but he's not the messiah, he's just another politician.

KING: We'll be right back. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: We're ready for leadership that answers to us.

JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: We still have a dream. We still have a dream.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: Will we seize this opportunity for change?

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When we talked about an open convention, this is what Democrats meant.

OBAMA: I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States. This election has never been about me. It's about you. I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back. Let's reintroduce our panel.

Ben Stein is with us, so is Larry Elder, Congressman Eric Cantor, and Todd Harris.

Later in the program, Dean Cain -- not the Dean Cain, wonderful actor who played "Superman." He is a Republican and he's going to tell us...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's Superman, what else can he be?

KING: He's Superman. What else can you play?

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Here's another Obama clip, and we'll ask our panel to comment. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The times are too serious. The stakes are too high for the same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a red America or a blue America; they have served the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, was that an effective moment, Larry?

ELDER: Yes, it was very effective. And it was kind of a play on what happened in Boston in '04 when he said there's not a red America. There's not a blue America and not a conservative America and so forth. That was probably his biggest applause line.

But it still gets us back to national security. He says people died together and fought together and all that stuff.

And Larry, one of the things I noticed -- maybe I missed it because I got in my car and came over here when the speech was winding down -- is if he said 9/11 or referred to it, I sure didn't hear it. We've not been whacked again in seven years. I've not heard anything about that.

And he, again, opposed the surge and then brags about how the Iraqi government and Bush are talking about a withdrawal timetable. But for the surge, we wouldn't be having this conversation. So there was no credit given to Bush for that whatsoever.

And I think, again, it casts judgment on whether or not he's prepared to lead this country as commander in chief.

KING: Other things he could have put in: there were no weapons of mass destruction, which he sold the whole war. Didn't mention that.

ELDER: It's interesting why they didn't mention that.

KING: Maybe just the same mistake...

ELDER: Because Bush didn't lie about it, because they know that he didn't lie about it. Almost his whole position...

KING: There are those who say he did.

ELDER: During this whole convention, they had all these speakers there. There was ample opportunity to say that Bush lied about it. I didn't hear a single one say that.

KING: Or that he was grossly mistaken then.

ELDER: He had the same CIA director, George Tenet, as who served under Bill Clinton.

KING: So it's Bill Clinton's war now?

ELDER: George Tenet is the one who said it was a slam dunk. Well, under Bill Clinton's administration, al Qaeda was planning to do 9/11.

KING: It's Bill's fault?

ELDER: And Bill Clinton had five or six chances to get Osama bin Laden and didn't do it.

KING: George Bush had nothing to do with this, then?

ELDER: I didn't say he didn't.

STEIN: I don't think anyone blames George Bush for 9/11. I mean, no one in their right mind blames...

KING: He said they didn't bring up 9/11.

STEIN: I know, but nobody blames...

KING: It happened on the Republicans' watch.

STEIN: I know, but the fact that it hasn't happened since. There's always been...

KING: It didn't happen on Clinton's watch.

ELDER: They had planned it on Clinton's watch. On the first attack...

KING: They planned it, then?

ELDER: In the first attack on the World Trade Center, he treated it like a law enforcement matter rather than a war. The 9/11 Commission said he had five chances...

KING: I'm lost -- your history's better than mine. I'm lost. I thought it was during the Bush administration.

STEIN: It was. Everyone knows that al Qaeda planned it and led up to it and got away with it.

ELDER: You didn't know it was planned under Clinton?

KING: You know something? You're better than me. You know when it was planned. All the guys who planned it are dead. They're dead on a plane, you know when. You interviewed them during the flight.

Anyway, you got it better than me. You know more than me.

ELDER: Read the 9/11 Commission report.

KING: Al Gore was one of those who spoke in the lead-up to Obama's acceptance address. He talked about the outcome of his own presidential bid and its implications in the current campaign. Watch and we'll get our guests to comment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, we face essentially the same choice we faced in 2000, though it may be even more obvious now, because John McCain, a man who has earned our respect on many levels, is now openly endorsing the policies of the Bush-Cheney White House and promising to actually continue them. The same policies, those policies? All over again? Hey, I believe in recycling, but that's ridiculous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: By the way, gentlemen, before we can comment, I just want to clear things up. You mentioned 9/11 was not mentioned. Here's what he said: "While Senator McCain was turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, I stood up and opposed the war, knowing that it would distract us from the real threats we face. When John McCain said we would muddle through in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants when we had them in our sights."

STEIN: I think if I may correctly say so, what is meant by lack of mention, as mentioned, of the incredible sorrow and horror we feel and that the losses to the American families...

KING: Should he have mentioned that? STEIN: Oh, absolutely. It's the worst thing that ever happened on American soil in the 20th century.

KING: I'm just asking. I'm an independent. I'm just asking.

ELDER: Larry, you're an independent?

KING: Wait until you see me next week.

ELDER: And that's what brought about 9/11, a complete different change in our national security.

KING: Congressman Cantor, what did you make of what Al Gore had to say?

CANTOR: Well, you know, a very -- a very catchy line on the recycling end of it.

But look, I mean, I think that, you know, in terms of where Senator Obama went with the war and his position on the military, it's all about the platitudes again. There is no detail. There is no, you know, attention to the fact that his record just does not reflect his rhetoric.

And when you look at what he's saying about the repetition of what goes on in the Bush White House and what has gone on the last eight years, look at where Barack Obama is on the most important economic issue and most important national security issue, which is energy.

Basically, Barack Obama has joined with Nancy Pelosi and others in Washington to say, you know, the price that we have to pay to stop global warming is high gas prices, whereas most of the American people want to see gas prices come down.

And that's why the members in the House on our side of the aisle have been taking to the floor, now going on three weeks, since Congress let out, because Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama refuse to bring -- to support a bill and bring it forward that would call for offshore drilling.

And we all know why, because the interest groups that have supported all of them along the way say, "No way. We're not drilling any time, anywhere." Now she has been...

KING: I'm sorry, Senator -- Congressman. Will offshore drilling produce immediate results?

CANTOR: Well, Larry, I mean, I think everybody knows that, if you had drilling start -- the whole process start today, the product won't come online immediately. But one thing that will happen and will result is that we will begin to buy ourselves some time until we can find that alternative technology that will replace fossil fuels.

We need to go ahead and develop all the American energy resources that we've got. And that is a mix of offshore drilling -- I mean, the drilling offshore. That is clean coal technology. We have an abundance of resources in this country, but somehow whenever we begin to talk about energy, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and their leadership just continue to say we can't afford to do that because we've got to stop global warming.

Well, listen, we've just got to -- you're going to put the pocketbooks of the middle class at bay and then have them suffer? We just can't do that right now.

KING: We'll pick up with a comment from Todd Harris on another clip right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. That the reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than they are for those plagued by gang violence in Cleveland, but don't told me we can't uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK- 47s out of the hands of criminals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back. What do you make of that, Todd Harris?

HARRIS: You know, Larry, I was really struck by that clip, in particular, and several others throughout the speech. I was really struck by how much of this speech was defined by, and in reaction to charges and attacks, messaging attacks from the McCain campaign.

And it just goes to show that, over the last, I would say, month or so the McCain campaign really has started to put Senator Obama on the defensive to the point where he felt like he needed to come out tonight and say, "I'm not going to take your guns away," although we could certainly quibble with whether that's true or not. He needed to come out and say, "Yes, I am a patriot. Yes, I'm ready to lead. No, I'm not going to raise your taxes."

So much of this speech was defined in reaction to a corner that the McCain campaign has backed him into.

KING: Wasn't that the smart thing to do then, Todd?

HARRIS: Well, I think he certainly had to address it and, you know, as we said tonight, it was a very good speech. But I don't think it's any news flash that Barack Obama gave a good speech. I mean, this is a guy who could roll out of bed, you know, blind-folded, standing on one leg, and give a great speech.

But the question is, did this speech answer the threshold question that is holding back so many voters from Barack Obama? And that is this whole question of whether he's ready to lead. Is he qualified to be president? And I'm not sure -- in fact, I know -- that that is not a question that you can answer simply in a speech, because that is a built-in problem that he has.

KING: Ben?

STEIN: I think Todd's point is a very good point. But I do question whether or not Senator Obama did the right thing tonight, because the Republicans have made so many mistakes, especially on economics, that their economic policies has been so desperately wrong- headed that it seems to me he should have hit that a lot harder.

There's been too much suffering for the ordinary family because of supply-side mistakes that could have been corrected from day one or at any time along the way. And yet he didn't hit them. He was on the defensive throughout.

KING: We have a caller from Philadelphia. Hello.

CALLER: Hi. I'm genuinely curious, given the fact that the only Republican victories have been rhetorical over the last eight years. They've been about language and maxims.

How are you going to deal with someone like Barack Obama, who has -- is a rhetorical powerhouse, and his rhetoric actually speaks to the truth during a time of military and economic tribulation? Maxims and Rovian, you know, backing-and-forthing and selling the war and selling this doesn't work.

KING: Larry?

ELDER: Economic tribulations, look, George W. Bush inherited an economy that was going into a recession. The country has been hit by 9/11. We've got two wars, Hurricane Katrina.

And this last quarter GDP increased 3.3 percent. They just revised it upwards. The percentage of Americans who don't have health-care insurance is actually down. Homelessness is actually down.

So the idea that the country has gone to hell in a hand basket in the last eight years is just silly.

HARRIS: Let me respond to that, too.

KING: Quickly, go ahead.

CANTOR: You know, look, the truth is the record in Congress -- the truth is Barack Obama's record, nothing matches his rhetoric tonight, if you look at the reality. That's what continues to strike me every time I hear this speech over and again.

The truth is that many people in this country are hurting because they can't afford $60, $70 every time they go into the gas station. The truth is that Barack Obama doesn't have a plan on how to address that.

The truth is we have continued to say we know how to bring -- begin to bring America a comprehensive energy policy. But Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi won't support that. That's the truth.

So, again, it comes back to whether the American people, after seeing this speech, in this faux -- in front of this faux Greek temple, just like he was a Britney Spears or a Madonna, before a 75,00-person crowd, whether that makes him credible as a leader of our country. And I just don't think that that will bear out, and that's why I don't think he'll win the presidency.

KING: John -- John McCain has made a decision on a running mate. He's going to let us know tomorrow who's it going to be. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with our panel: Ben Stein, Larry Elder, and Congressman Eric Cantor and Todd Harris, Dean Cain in a little while.

OK, they're going to -- the announcement is going to be made tomorrow at noon in Ohio. Senator McCain will introduce his vice president at that time.

Who will it be, Ben?

STEIN: Well, I think it's going to -- got to be Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota, although I could be wrong and I often am. But that's who Karl Rove said it would be, and he's got very good judgment.

KING: Judgment, or he appoints (ph) them?

STEIN: I don't know, but I'll tell you what, he's the smartest guy out there. He's really shaping this whole campaign.

KING: Congressman Cantor, were you on the short list?

CANTOR: Larry, you know what? I just am excited to be fighting for John McCain. You know, I don't know who it's going to be. I agree it's either -- you know, looks like it's going to be Tim Pawlenty or Mitt Romney. I was with Mitt Romney out in Denver a couple days ago. Both -- both would be a terrific running mate for John McCain. But we'll see.

KING: OK.

CANTOR: Again, I think this pick will come down to whether...

KING: Larry?

ELDER: I think...

KING: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

CANTOR: This pick is going to reflect, you know, the team that will be ready to lead, and I think it will be in stark contrast to the Obama-Biden.

KING: Larry? ELDER: I think it would probably be really good reach across the aisle if he asked Hillary Clinton to join the ticket.

KING: Who do you think it will be?

ELDER: It will be either McCain or Pawlenty...

KING: John McCain is the president.

ELDER: Pardon me, Romney or Pawlenty. My choice would not be Romney because of Romney-care, which is what Obama wants to do for the rest of the country, a four-year mandate for health care. It's helping to bankrupt Massachusetts. It's not working. I think it's a bad idea.

KING: And your selection, Todd, or prediction?

HARRIS: I'm going to go with Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota. I have great respect, and I'm a great admirer of Mitt Romney. But one of the big problems, I think, with picking him, you've seen how much mileage the McCain campaign has been able to get out of bringing back all of those old quotes from Hillary Clinton, talking about Barack Obama.

KING: They're going to do the same.

HARRIS: Yes, exactly. And so you put Romney on the ticket, you're inviting -- you're inviting that same thing.

KING: Want to get in one more clip. Obama accepted the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of the King speech. He played off that statement, "We must make the pledge we'll always march ahead." Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: America, we cannot turn back. Not with so much work to be done. Not with so many children to educate and so many veterans to care for. Not with an economy to fix and cities to rebuild and farms to save. Not with so many families to protect and so many lives to mend. America, we cannot turn back. We cannot walk alone.

At this moment, in this election, we must pledge once more to march into the future. Let us keep that promise, that American promise. And in the words of scripture, hold firmly without wavering to the hope that we confess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is that one of his better moments, Ben?

STEIN: How can you march any other way but into the future? I mean, the future is every second, is the future. But he stole it off of Martin Luther King. I would say he stole a good 30 percent -- he gave credit. He stole a good 30 percent of the speech from Martin Luther King.

ELDER: Unlike Biden, who has a problem with crediting people.

STEIN: But Martin Luther King -- but Martin Luther King was the best speaker in American history. So why not?

KING: Yes, you bet he was.

STEIN: The best. The best.

KING: All right. We're going to be seeing a lot of all of you folks, because you make dramatic guests. Sorry I got a little carried away there, Larry, but I'm going to do the same to the Democrats.

ELDER: You always do that to me when I'm here.

KING: I've got to do -- and very nice having you with us, Congressman Cantor. Hope to see you a lot during the campaign. And Todd Harris, as always, you're terrific.

HARRIS: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Thank you all very much.

Ben Stein, Larry Elder, Congressman Eric Cantor and Todd Harris. Hey, Superman's in the wings. Actor/McCain supporter Dean Cain joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Welcome back. Dean Cain joins us, one of my favorite people. He's been registered as a Republican in the past, now registered as a nonpartisan voter. He's voted for Republicans and Democrats. He's now supporting John McCain.

What led to this decision?

DEAN CAIN, ACTOR: Well, I'm an independent like you. I thought that makes -- here in California, that would be the American Independent Party, which I made a mistake and registered for that for one voting cycle and now moved it out.

The reason I like John McCain more than just the interesting name meshing between Dean Cain and John McCain, is because I like his policies. I -- I voted the Democratic primary in California, as you can do as a nonpartisan voter, and I voted for Barack Obama. I loved his enthusiasm. I loved his ability to speak, his character. He seemed so -- it was -- his charisma was phenomenal. And then I started getting into issues. And that's what made me switch to John McCain. I just think on the issues -- national security, energy -- he is the guy whose policies I match up with.

KING: What did you think of the speech tonight?

CAIN: I think it was a phenomenal speech. I think he's a great speaker. He's a phenomenal orator. He really is. He has a tremendous talent for that. And -- and John McCain is not as good a speaker. He really isn't.

But I was at a John McCain event three days ago here in Los Angeles. And after the speech, we were in a small room. We were having dinner. And it was basically at the town-hall meetings that John McCain won. I understand why he wants those, because he was so relaxed, has such a tremendous grip -- grasp of all the issues, would field any question, was ready to answer. It wasn't staged; it wasn't rehearsed. He knows what he's talking about.

KING: In other words, his least strength point would be like tonight...

CAIN: Yes.

KING: ... 70,000 people and reading the prompter?

CAIN: Exactly. He would not want that. He'd be better -- I mean, Barack Obama is going to win that. If voting for president was a thing dealing basically, it was a popularity contest, Barack Obama wins.

KING: How about those who think, though, sadly, it is?

CAIN: Unfortunately, people do. And, you know, I'm not a political talking head. I sat here and watched Larry Elder and Ben Stein and the congressman and yourself speak about the issues. And it really is informative. I really learned a lot right there.

But -- but you know, everybody else sitting out there, we watch these things. We watch a tremendous speech, and we're moved by it. You really are. And then you have to get into the specifics: how do you pay for all those programs? How do you really do it? And when you have people who have knowledge discuss it, nobody knows thinks those things can be paid for.

KING: How, then, do you think McCain will do when he has to make his acceptance speech in St. Paul?

CAIN: I think it will be -- I think he'll do fantastically. I think he will certainly rise to it. I watched him rise to it on Monday. And he has a great sense of humor and he has tremendous, tremendous grasp of the issues. And that's where he's going to win. That's where serious people -- it's great to be a great speaker, but serious people are going to look at the issues and say, "How is this going to affect me?

KING: How will he do in debates?

CAIN: I think he'll do great in debates. The thing about debates -- and I understand why Barack Obama wants debates versus town-hall meetings. You know your questions in advance. You have a list of questions. It's moderated. It's very specific. It's set up.

KING: You have a list of the questions?

CAIN: A list of questions. You know what questions are asked. You know more or less where the questions are going to come. They know. It's not the same as sitting in a town-hall meeting and have people ask you questions, just fire them off at you, just fire things off that you're not prepared to answer, specifically what -- you know, what legislation have you put forth that is bipartisan? What have you done?

Having those sort of questions, I think, would be tougher for Barack Obama than it would be for Senator McCain.

And one thing that really is bothering me about this whole campaign in Washington, is the way they keep trying to put McCain and Bush as the same people, because they're not. It's not the same policies. He's not the same person. He really isn't.

And I watched that over and over again, and it feels like misinformation. And it drives me nuts.

KING: It's going to be hard to divorce -- I mean, Bush is going to speak. It's going to be hard to divorce them. Isn't it? I mean, if you were running against them, you'd hook them.

CAIN: If I was running against them, of course, I'd say those things. I would say the same things. But it's so -- I guess watching, really watching these conventions, it's such a -- it's a pep rally. And for me, I'm sort of a novice in Washington. I thought, wow, I remember being at a pep rally in high school. People are crying and they're cheering and they're holding up the signs.

KING: The night before the big game.

CAIN: That's right. That's what it felt like. And I thought, OK, that's great. But then you hear the cutesy little slogans and sayings, you know, John McCain, more of the same. Or whatever that happens. That's not -- that really grates on my nerves. It feels like an insult to my intelligence, because I know they're not the same.

Of course they're going to say things like that, but don't stick on it so much.

KING: Who do you think he's going to pick to run with?

CAIN: Well, I was going to say I thought he was going to pick Mitt Romney, but then I watched and heard everybody else say he was going to pick Tim Pawlenty. So I -- you know, I was -- again, I said I was with Senator McCain on Monday. He actually told me -- no, he didn't tell me.

KING: Really?

CAIN: I wish I knew the answer. I'm sure he's going to pick the right person. I think he's vetted his people completely. He'll pick the right person. And I think it was great that he didn't announce today. He has the class not to do that.

And also, when we were in that little meeting, people firing off questions, people said disparaging things about Barack Obama. They wanted to get negative. And he defended Barack Obama. He would not get into negative politics. And that was -- I mean, he could have said anything he wanted to in that that room. There were no cameras, and nobody was listening. It was -- he could have said anything. He didn't.

KING: Are you going to campaign for him?

CAIN: I've never done that before, as an actor...

KING: You could.

CAIN: ... people will thank you. But people don't -- I don't know how much they like to see actors talking about politics. I'm not sure.

I -- I -- listen, I'm an American. I love my country. I'm a patriot. I really think America is the greatest country in the world. And I traveled the globe. I just got back from Africa. I've been to the Philippines recently, Thailand, nice countries. I live in Europe in the summertime. Fantastic. America is the greatest country in the world, and I'm a big patriot.

KING: We'll be seeing you a lot.

CAIN: Thank you so much.

KING: Dean Cain. He's got four movies coming out.

Don't forget about our QuickVote: will you vote for Barack Obama? Go to CNN.com/LarryKing right now. Cast your ballot. And while you're at it, check out our photo galleries, our guest lists, transcripts.

Tomorrow, John McCain's running mate. We'll finally know who it is, and we'll talk about the GOP ticket when LARRY KING LIVE returns to its regular spot Friday night. That's 9 Eastern, 6 Pacific.

Stay tuned now to CNN for continuing coverage of election 2008. For all of my guests and yours truly, good night.

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