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Gustav: Death, Destruction, Danger; Will Palin's Daughter's Pregnancy Matter?

Aired September 1, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, breaking news. Deaths, destruction and lingering danger, as Hurricane Gustav smashes ashore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are cracks in the levees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Water is flowing like a river.


KING: At least one levee is on the verge of giving way.

Plus, Sarah Palin's secret exposed and acknowledged -- her 17- year-old daughter is pregnant, in high school, not married.

Legitimate political bombshell or a private matter that's nobody's business?

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

In our opening segment, we're going to get on top of Gustav and its aftermath.

We'll start with Drew Griffin, correspondent for CNN's Investigative Unit.

He's in New Orleans.

What about the levee situation -- Drew?

How bad?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Well, it was bad here for a brief time this afternoon, Larry. We're basically in a canal that splits St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish. I know you know those names from Katrina. Both sites flooded out, in fact, during Katrina. On the St. Bernard's Parish side, I would be under about, I'd say, about 10 feet of water right here.

But about 4:00 this afternoon, the canal that separates the two was being overtopped one side. And I think we have video to show you of just the water pushing through and then that sandbag effort that went into place in about 15 minutes, as the Plaquemines Parish president was screaming for help on local radio here. He got all kinds of help very quickly. And on this side, the actual railroad gate that closes off the levee was being seeped underneath. And it was pouring through the bottom. They had to dump a whole bunch of sand right here, with sandbags on top, to plug that up.

The fact of the matter is this was getting really bad, really quick. And because of the coordination of just an untold number of agencies working together, they were able to shore it up and prevent another disaster down here.

Since then, Larry, the water has gone down a little bit. The stress has been left off and the National Guard, which are behind me, just dumped off more sandbags and are now heading back.

KING: Thanks, Drew.

Also in New Orleans is, of course, Anderson Cooper.

He'll be on in about an hour with "A.C. 360."

All right, you're a veteran of the Katrina story.

What's the comparison between the two?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, so far, I mean no comparison whatsoever. You know, back in Katrina, there were some hundred thousand people estimated who didn't have access to vehicles, couldn't get out on their own. There were really no preparations made for them in terms of getting them out -- no buses, no trains.

This time around, a completely different story. Over the course of the weekend, they evacuated some -- as many as 18,000 people on buses and trains that the city and the state provided. That is a lesson learned from Katrina.

You know, they didn't have shelters of last resort this time around. Before, they had what they said were shelters -- which the Convention Center and the Superdome, as we all know, those weren't shelters at all. Those were just fiascos.

This time around, they just made the decision -- no shelters whatsoever. Everyone has got to get out. And I mean they had the largest evacuation in this state's history. Civilians -- people here really heeded the call, heeded the warnings. They learned the lessons from Katrina.

It's not just government officials who learned Katrina's lessons. It's the people of New Orleans and all across Southeastern Louisiana. As many as 90 to 95 percent of them, according to the state police, evacuated. As many as 10,000 remained in the City of New Orleans. Maybe as many as 90,000 to 100,000 remained in Southeastern Louisiana.

And we have, you know, at this point, very positive reports of how most people have weathered this thing. A lot will depend, in the next 12 hours, how those levees hold up. That's something we're going to watch closely overnight and well into tomorrow. But for right now, I can tell you, Larry, a lot of people here are breathing a big sigh of relief. Even though the rain is still just coming down and it's uncomfortable, people know the worst has passed and the worst was not nearly as bad as it could have been -- Larry.

KING: Chad Myers is at the CNN Weather Center in Atlanta -- Chad, had they not done all this -- had they not done that evacuation, could this have been another Katrina?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: No. People really didn't get in the way of this or -- you know, I mean I guess we needed to just flip the two. We really needed to do this last time.

The big story isn't today isn't today. It will be tomorrow, when we get first light in Houma, in Morgan City, in New Iberia.

Those are the areas that got hit hard today, because the storm went south of New Orleans, Larry. It didn't hit New Orleans proper.

The story there is that not only are they without power, some of the power plants are damaged. This may take weeks to get these people back online.

The U.S. 90 Corridor right through there, south of Baton Rouge, south of New Orleans, that's the area that we're going to find, first light tomorrow, that has all of the damage.

KING: Are you saying it's going to be quite a while before it gets anywhere near normal?

MYERS: Absolutely. You get south of there -- you can take 310 out of New Orleans and you get all the way down into Houma, we know that there's just debris everywhere. You can't even drive around from this area. We had no reporters down there on purpose. We knew it was going to be that bad. We didn't want to put anybody in danger that didn't have to be. And about 99 point something percent of the residents were out of there, as well.

Right now, it's going to be the sheriffs and then and the presidents of these parishes against the people that are going to try to get there in tomorrow. And there's going to be some hot heads, I think, tomorrow, when these people are not allowed to get back into these devastated areas for their own safety. I mean that's just what we're going to see for tomorrow.

We didn't see the devastation of New Orleans. It was about 45 miles to the southwest of there.

KING: Now we have two other storms on the East Coast?

MYERS: We do. We have Hannah and we have Ike. We have the H storm and we have the I storm.

Hannah may be a big threat to the Carolinas. Ike looks like it's going to get into the Bahamas. This is going to be Friday and Sunday respectively. And the only other story that we have for you tonight, really, was that levee that was failing here. And there's New Orleans. Just to give you an idea of where our reporters were -- all the way down the river, all the way down to Plaquemines and right into St. Bernard and right there at Caernarvon. That's where the levee was failing. But they did get that water stopped. It is not continuing to leak right now and the water in that canal is going down, Larry.

That's it. It's all good.

KING: And one other thing -- Anderson Cooper, do you remain there or are you heading to St. Paul?

COOPER: We're going to play it by ear. We're going to see what happens overnight into tomorrow with the levees. You know, it's easy to say that a place has dodged a bullet and then find out 12 hours later that actually some parts of it, you know, are starting to fill up with water. We certainly saw that happen with Katrina.

So we just want to make sure that the situation here is well in hand before we decide whether or not, you know, I'll go back to St. Paul for the convention.

And I'm not sure. And I'm sure you'll have this throughout the hour. If the Republicans, what they have decided is going to happen at that convention tomorrow, I still think that's something up in the air. I think they're kind of waiting to see what happens, as well -- Larry.

KING: Thanks.

Anderson Cooper will be with us at the top of the hour with "A.C. 360."

Thanks, Anderson.

As always, right on top of it.

Another storm on the horizon -- a political storm -- should Sarah Palin's pregnant daughter be a political issue?

That's next.


KING: We devoted our show last week to having Republicans and John McCain supporters respond to the Democratic Convention. We planned to do a partisan turnabout this week -- Democrats and Barack Obama supporters reacting to the GOP Convention.

New events, of course -- Hurricane Gustav, a major reduction in Republican convention activities, have prompted us to change our editorial approach tonight.

So we're with you live in this hour and we're back live at midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. We welcome James Carville, Democratic strategist, CNN political contributor, a supporter of Barack Obama. He's in Washington.

And in St. Paul, Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota and a supporter of John McCain.

Before we get into it with each of them, Sarah Palin showcased her family and her credentials as a mom when John McCain stunned many political observers by hiring her -- bringing her on as his running mate last Friday.

Take a look.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Next to Todd is our daughter Bristol, another daughter, Willow, our youngest daughter, Piper, and over in their arms is our son Trig, a beautiful baby boy. He was born just in April.


PALIN: And my husband and I, we both grew up working with our hands. I was just your average hockey mom in Alaska.


KING: OK, James Carville, Bristol, we find out, is five months pregnant.

Is this an issue?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, CLINTON SUPPORTER: No. Obviously, it isn't. This can happen in any family. And Governor Palin had absolutely nothing to do with this. Obviously, the family is acting honorably. And I can't imagine that this could affect somebody's vote. It has absolutely nothing to do with her lack of experience or anything else. This is just something that happens in families. It's a very human thing.

KING: Does it say anything, Congresswoman Bachmann, about Senator McCain?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: I think what this says about Senator Palin is that she is a very consistent woman. She's very strong pro-life, because we all know that she carried her final child, Trig, to term. He is a Down Syndrome baby.

And now when her daughter is in a situation with an unplanned pregnancy, there is Sarah Palin with her husband, standing right behind her daughter. The daughter is going to be marrying the father of her unborn baby.

And this is a family coming together. It's the news that no parent wants to hear, but the Palins are acting in such a loving, compassionate way with their daughter that I know they're going to handle this in a beautiful way. It shows great judgment on the part of Sarah Palin.

KING: James, although they were--

CARVILLE: Larry, yes...

KING: I'm sorry. Go ahead.

CARVILLE: I just would make the point, is my family -- I had five sisters. They're all pro-life to the core. And they all would act in exactly the same way. That's not the question.

The question is, why would she be running for vice president?

I mean this woman is almost absent qualifications for the job.

I mean this is -- she is -- I'm willing to concede to the whole world that she's a very committed pro-life person, that she's an honorable person, that she's a good mother. But that's not the issue before the American people right now.

BACHMAN: Well, the issue before the American people, Larry, if I can jump in, is Sarah Palin and her qualifications. She easily has more qualifications than Senator Obama and Senator Biden put together, if you look at executive experience.

She's been in an executive position for two years. She's made very tough positions. She's looked her own party in the eye and she said enough with your corruption and she says throw the bums out.

This is a woman who's delivered and she knows how to get things done.

I met with her up in Alaska last month, when I was up visiting ANWAR. I had dinner with her. I spent the evening with her. She is one sharp lady.

KING: Are you saying...

BACHMAN: People are going to be so excited when they get to know Sarah Palin.

KING: Are you saying -- Congresswoman, are you saying she has more experience than Joe Biden on the international scene?

BACHMAN: No, I'm not saying she has more experience on the international scene.


BACHMAN: Certainly, she doesn't. She has more executive experience than both of them. She's made tough decisions as an executive. And I think women all across America are going to And love what they see in Sarah Palin. I was taken with her and I know that a lot of American women will be. She's very strong, very tough, a committed, loving mother. But she knows how to be a good executive and how to take on her own party and how to make things happen. There's no reason why people won't understand this once they understand that the people in Alaska, 85 percent of people in Alaska have a positive approval rating for Sarah Palin. The rest of America now will see why.

KING: By the way, Barack Obama was asked about Palin -- Miss. Bristol Palin's pregnancy earlier today.

Let's watch a little of what he had to say.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: I've heard some of the news on this. And so let me be as clear as possible. I have said before and I will repeat again, I think people's families are off limits and people's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Governor Palin's performance as a governor or her potential performance as a vice president.

And so I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories.

You know, my mother had me when she was 18. And, you know, how a family deals with issues and, you know, teenage children, that shouldn't be the topic of our politics. And I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that's off limits, all right?

QUESTION: Senator Obama?

OBAMA: Sure.

QUESTION: An unnamed McCain adviser is quoted on Reuters as saying: "The despicable rumors have been spread by liberal blogs, some even with Barack Obama's name in them."

Have you issued...

OBAMA: You know what...

QUESTION: Have you issued any directive to your...

OBAMA: I am offended by that statement. There is no evidence at all that any of this involved us. I hope I'm as clear as I can be. So in case I'm not, let me repeat. We don't go after people's families. We don't get them involved in the politics. It's not appropriate and it's not relevant.

Our people were not involved in any way in this and they will not be. And if I ever thought that there was somebody in my campaign that was involved in something like that, they would be fired.


KING: And James Carville, how about the issue of her preaching family values, abstinence -- all of which seems broken by this incident?

CARVILLE: Well, you know, she didn't do any -- I mean and anybody that -- it's a humbling experience for any parent. And this is not her. I'm sure that this happens in families all the time. I just don't think it's real issue. I don't -- I just don't think it's a real issue.

Now one of the things that I understand is she never had a passport until she was governor. She's has only been out of the country to -- she went, honorably, to visit the troops in Kuwait and went to Germany. And so I don't know how many times she's even been out of the country.

But it's supposedly that she had to get a passport to do that.

And we're going to have her be vice president of the United States based on a 15 minute conversation she had with Senator McCain?

I mean I'm -- this is -- she was touted experience as mayor of this town in Alaska. This is a picture of the city hall. It looks like a bait shop in South Louisiana, all right?

This is executive experience to be vice president of the United States, to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, to have to take over the country when we're fighting three wars, where we have the biggest credit crisis we've had in this country?

I mean in the entire Republican Party, this is the best that they could come up with?

BACHMAN: You know, Larry...

I mean it's almost incredulous.

BACHMAN: You know, Larry, I find those comments from James Carville actually offensive -- and especially offensive to American women. There are a lot of very competent American women. Sarah Palin easily is a competent woman. She's proved herself in business. She's proved herself in politics. She has come up from nowhere to be somebody. And she's someone we can all be very proud of. She is one competent tough cookie and I think the American people are going to love her.

KING: Are you saying, though...

CARVILLE: Congresswoman, I don't know how to tell you this, but I supported a woman for president of the United States and spent many hours on this very set supporting a woman of the United States.

However, it's not a question...

BACHMAN: And that's why I think a lot of American women are going to be delighted with Sarah Palin, because she...

CARVILLE: It's not a question... BACHMAN: WOMAN: ...she exudes competence in everything she's ever done. She has a very good record and she'll be proud to run on that record.

KING: All right, I've got to take a break.

We'll be right back.

BACHMAN: Senator McCain hit it out of the park with this pick.

KING: We'll come right back.

More on the Palin bombshell -- pregnancy bombshell, including a report from Alaska, right after the break.


KING: (AUDIO GAP) playing in Alaska.

Do you hear me?

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: I hear you now, Larry.

KING: How is this story playing in Alaska?

PHILLIPS: Oh, I'm telling you, it's the talk of the town, Larry. It's -- everybody is asking more and more questions now, because within sort of the private community, they knew about the governor's daughter and the fact that she was pregnant.

But now, all these things are swirling on the Internet, that -- questions about Governor Palin's brand new baby, is that of her daughter?

There was even a picture that was circling around on the Web sites, showing the governor when she was six months pregnant saying see, take a look. She's not even pregnant.

And so the McCain camp basically came forward and said OK, stop these rumors. Her daughter is pregnant and they're dealing with it. And that has now just opened up the floodgates for all these conversations about here's a governor that is all about abstinence, teaching abstinence in schools. And you have a number of groups coming forward, like the Alliance for Reproductive Justice, saying, hey, you know, we need to start talking about sex education. If the governor can't even keep her home together, how is she going to lead the free world?

But you've got Republicans coming forward saying, come on, she's got values, she's got character, this happens to the best of families.

And this was senator Fred Dyson, that we had a chance to talk to, a Republican here, Larry. And he said we're going to find out right now what she's made of.

Is she true to her values? This just make hers more human and she's handling it with class.

KING: Well, Kyra, what about the story that she's hired an attorney to defend her interests -- that Troopergate story. She wanted her brother-in-law fired, the sheriff wouldn't fire him so she fired the sheriff.


KING: Where is that going?

PHILLIPS: Well, that's the other story that's out there, too, Larry, that we've been investigating. I mean as soon as we start hearing stories about the baby and about Troopergate is when we came out here and hit the ground running.

And now we're seeing all the response coming from the McCain camp and even Sarah and Todd Palin themselves.

With regard to Troopergate, it's now under investigation, according to McCain's camp. She had already hired attorneys to deal with this. But that's also been the talk of the town. It's been leading the headlines.

Was she involved?

Did she use her political rank to influence the future of her ex- brother-in-law, this trooper, Trooper Wooten, to protect her sister from an ugly child custody battle?

Apparently, there's a phone call that happened. Apparently there were some comments that were made. That is that's all being investigated.

KING: Yes.

PHILLIPS: And she even put an aide on leave while this investigation is going on.

So there's still a lot to know about this governor. And now we're hearing possibly, Larry, that there are members of the McCain camp coming here to Alaska to further vet the governor. We have not been able to confirm that.

KING: Huh. That would be...

PHILLIPS: But that is what is being talked about at this time...

KING: Thanks, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: that true or not.

KING: Kyra Phillips on the scene in Anchorage.

Our panel, James Carville and Congresswoman Michele Bachmann remain. We're joined now by Stephanie Miller, talk radio host of her own program.

And in St. Paul, Minnesota, Amanda Carpenter, the national political reporter for the conservative website,

Amanda, about this story, should -- should the candidate have considered that in accepting the nomination, and the story is going to break about her daughter, she's going to put her daughter through a hell of a lot.

AMANDA CARPENTER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, TOWNHALL.COM: Yes. But I think it shows -- it's a testament to the strength of Sarah Palin's family. I mean she knew this going into it, that everything was going to be intensely vetted through the media and, you know, she's ready to stand by her family. She's a strong mom. And, you know, they're going to go to this convention and she's going to accept the nomination and...

KING: I mean, what about the daughter?

CARPENTER: know, I think her family will be stronger for it.

KING: What about the...

CARPENTER: Well, the...

KING: What's the effect on the daughter?

CARPENTER: Well, I think the daughter -- it's going to be tough. But I think the hardest attacks that have come of her have been on the internet, speculating that there was some kind of cover-up going on, where they were, you know, sort of taking pictures of her before her pregnancy and really inspecting her abdomen. And the paparazzish level that was just really offensive.

So if I have any concerns, it would come from that.

But, you know, I think the family is strong.

KING: Yes, well...

CARPENTER: You can see from their statement today that they're loving. And I think they're going to be fine for it. And I think it's going to be a testament to family values that they're going to be able to talk about on the campaign trail.

KING: Stephanie, do you think she was poorly vetted?

STEPHANIE MILLER, TALK RADIO HOST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Vetting might have been a good idea.

And how about that abstinence training?

That's going well in Alaska. Larry, I don't mean to be rude, but, you know, I'm a comedian. And I sort of had the feeling this is like a "Saturday Night Live" sketch from the beginning.

A, Governor Palin looks exactly like Tina Fey. She was an ex-, I don't know, Miss Alaska. She was the mayor of Wasilla. She's under investigation and the party that lectures everybody else about family values, about moral values, now has a -- she has a teenage pregnant daughter.

I mean, honestly, I couldn't believe it when I first heard this story.

This goes to john McCain's judgment?

This is the most qualified person he could have picked?

KING: Congressman Bachmann, are you saying that this is most qualified Republican he could have picked?

BACHMANN: This is the pick that John McCain made. And I think John McCain has exercised excellent...

KING: No, the que -- that's not the question.

The question is, is it in your opinion this is the most qualified Republican he could have selected?

BACHMAN: I think the answer, again, is this is the one that John McCain selected and she is qualified. Let's face it, she is a qualified candidate for vice president.

She has come up. She's become governor. And let's take a look what she did. The former governor of Alaska, she took his plane, sold it on eBay. She said no to the bridge to nowhere. This is a woman with a lot of guts who knows to root...


BACHMAN: ...who knows to root out a lot of corruption and evil. This is a woman we want for vice president of the united states.

KING: James, do you want to comment?

CARVILLE: Yes. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be rude, but the idea that because somebody sold a state plane on eBay makes them qualified to be president is a little bit -- I think I can't sit here and just listen to it.

BACHMAN: She's tough.

CARVILLE: I'm sorry...

BACHMAN: She's tough.

CARVILLE: Again, it strikes me... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And she's governor.


CARVILLE: Let's go through the facts here.

BACHMAN: She's -- this is a woman that's actually done something other than just run for president all of her life.

CARVILLE: Congresswoman...

BACHMAN: She's actually done something and accomplished something.

CARVILLE: Look, there are a lot of people that have done something. I don't deny it. Here's a woman that -- a Pat Buchanan supporter for president, who wanted to teach creationism in the Alaska public schools, denies all of the science of global warming, has left the country once in her entire life, had one 15 minute conversation with Senator McCain.

And then we're going to put her up in the entire Republican Party?

If they wanted to nominate a woman, they could have had Senator Olympia Snow -- highly respected, reform-oriented, unbelievable integrity, expert in foreign policy. She would have been supremely qualified.

And yet we are to be led to believe that in the entire Republican Party, we have someone who's not even served two terms -- two years as governor of Alaska -- which is a state, by the way, that's swimming in money -- and she's qualified to be president because she sold the state airplane.

I mean this is a very, very complicated world that we're living in.


KING: I've got to get a break.


BACHMAN: Larry, let's remember...

KING: Hold it.

BACHMAN: Let's remember.

KING: We'll all be together.

We'll come right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Before we get back with our panelists, let's check up on our hurricane situation. Mayor Ray Nagin just made a statement in New Orleans. Here's what he said.


RAY NAGIN, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS: The first comment is that the city of New Orleans, looks like we're not totally out of the woods, but we're getting close. We're waiting for the last potential storm surge to potentially hit the west bank later on tonight. We're looking much better than we have ever done since -- over the past couple of days. We're still under mandatory evacuation and our curfew is still in effect. Anyone in the city --


KING: Let's go to Grand Isle, Louisiana, Ali Velshi standing by, CNN senior business correspondent, the co-host of "YOUR MONEY." What about the implications of Gustav on oil and gas production and prices and the like, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, interestingly enough, the price of oil went down today after this hurricane passed through. We were right here in Grand Isle, where it really hit hard. You wouldn't have thought would be the effect, but it seems people aren't as worried about it as they were about Katrina. Katrina hung around the Gulf. It was a category five hurricane. You know what it did? It took out some of these platforms and rigs, and it made spaghetti out of some pipelines underneath the ocean. It also took out some refineries, did some real damage.

They're thinking this one maybe didn't do that damage. Although, look at this, 24 hours after we started getting these winds, we're getting hail right now. The bottom line is the oil refineries, the oil installations can handle this, Larry. They evacuated everyone from all 4,000 of those rigs and platforms, and they think the damage won't be that bad. We don't that that's the case. We won't know for a couple of days. Some of the biggest installations are right where I am, but the roads are blocked. WE can't see them. We don't know what the damage is.

The money people are betting it's not going to be that bad. That's why we saw oil drop four dollars today, on the day where we had such a big hurricane. Larry.

KING: Thanks a lot. Ali Velshi reporting for Grand Isle, Louisiana. Back to our panel. Do you think they are going to take another look at the candidate?

MILLER: Larry, I have to say, this could be the first time in history somebody has to drop out. I mean,

KING: No, Eagleton dropped out.

MILLER: That's right. This investigation, it does raise the specter -- it could be the first vice-presidential candidate not to be able to make a debate because she's in prison, which actually may be preferable to her than having to debate Joe Biden on foreign policy, just saying.

KING: Amanda, do you view this as a problem situation, this what some might call hypocrisy, to stand for abstinence and family values and then have a pregnancy in the family out of wedlock?

CARPENTER: Absolutely not. I think a lot of women are going to relate to this problem. It's not a problem, the situation the Palin family is having. We all know some teenage girl that has had an early baby. I think a lot of people are familiar with this situation. I think there's a lot of compassion for her, and I think there's a lot of respect for her standing by her daughter through this intense media spotlight.

KING: What do you think, James? I know you don't think it's a big story, but what do you think is it political effect?

CARVILLE: Its political effect is opaque. It's stopping any other stories. This woman has become an object of curiosity. I know the Republicans are quite concerned. They wanted an introduction, like a rollout, where you don't have these kinds of stories. I had good parents, I mean really good parents that loved me and tried to teach me right. What I did to them in my youth was a shame. They certainly had nothing to do with that. They're not responsible. They tried hard. They just had one wild hey seed there for a son in his youth.

I can relate. I kind of agree with the Congresswoman and the lady from Townhall here. This doesn't go -- my problem with this woman is not what kind of mother she is and not what her values are, is that she's uniquely and supremely unqualified for the office of which she's selected to run for and it's unfair to her.


BACHMAN: It's demeaning to women, those comments.

CARVILLE: How is it demeaning to women? Please?

BACHMAN: It's demeaning to women because Sarah Palin didn't climb to where she is on anyone else's coat tails. She put on her own coat. This woman has made her way and she knows how to be a smart executive who can get things done. She's done it as governor. She can do it as vice president. After all, let's not forget, the Democrat nominee was a United States senator for all of 143 days when he decided America couldn't live without him being president of the United States. She has more experience than Barack Obama. She's a heart beat away, but he is the heart beat. There's no comparison.

CARVILLE: Let me try to explain the difference to you and the Democrat, as you refer to it.

BACHMAN: Thank you, James. Thank you, James, for trying to explain to me. Do you think that I'm less than --

KING: Let him speak, Congresswoman.

CARVILLE: It this is Democratic party. Senator Obama got over 18 million votes. He showed up for 25 different debates. He spent three years on the Foreign Relations Committee. He was selected. The governor of Alaska, who has not even served two years, was selected by Senator McCain after a 15 minute interview. There is all the difference in the world.

To say that somebody is not qualified for the position they're running for is a legitimate observation to make in American politics. It has though to do with gender. I supported a woman for president of the United States.


MILLER: Congresswoman. let me jump in here as a woman. I'll tell you what's demeaning to women is to try to pretend that Sarah Palin is the same as Hillary Clinton, to try to pretend that's all this takes.


MILLER: -- to try to pretend that this woman is anything like Hillary Clinton. She has zero experience. That's what's insulting and demeaning to women.

BACHMAN: I don't think that Sarah Palin would want to be equated with Hillary Clinton. She's completely her own woman and a very qualified woman. I think let's watch what happens in the next few days. People will be very impressed with Sarah Palin.

KING: We'll see. We'll be standing right there with you. Thank you very much. Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff will join us when LARRY KING LIVE continues.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Winds are 115 miles an hour, as Gustav is just lurking offshore.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I look for is to determine whether or not assets are in place to help, whether or not there's coordination and whether or not there's preparation for recovery.


KING: Joining us now from Baton Rouge is Secretary Michael Chertoff, the Department of Homeland Security. Good to have you with us again. Is it safe to say that while the results would be premature to talk about them, this is a better day than three years ago?

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY DIRECTOR: I think it's a better day because, first of all, we managed to get the vast majority of people in this danger zone evacuated. That's the key, first step in making sure that we minimize the loss of life. We're still evaluating the extent of the damage. This is a very powerful storm. It is still a storm that is having impacting on the western part of Louisiana.

So it's way too premature to render a final judgment. I do think that getting a lot of people out of the area into safety has been a very, very big first step.

KING: What now is your big concern?

CHERTOFF: We're in the process now of beginning our search and rescue effort. Obviously, not everybody chose to leave. We have to be on the look-out for people who might find themselves to be in danger, either because they're trapped or stranded or because they're without food and water. The priorities will be the search and rescue operations, which will be going on even overnight, by using Coast Guard helicopters, military aircraft and state aircraft and state boats.

We also have to move in commodities, water and food, so that people without power can feed themselves and get something to drink. And then we have to work on getting the power back up and making sure these communities are safe so people can return in a few days.

KING: Were there a lot of lessons learned from Katrina?

CHERTOFF: I think the key lesson, which is the one that I think emerged right away, is that if you're going to face a disaster, you have to have an integrated plan, which involves federal, state and local officials, all agreeing on what they are going to do and then training how to do it. We put that plan together with Louisiana, with the parishes and the city of New Orleans that first year after Katrina. We've refined it in a couple years since then. We've trained to it.

That gave us the ability when this storm approached to be able to be quicker in mounting an evacuation. It enabled us to improvise when we had an unexpected problem. We were able to build, for example, an air bridge, using military aircraft, to fly out people who had medical problems. All of this flowed from the fact we had put together a good basic plan.

KING: Now, are you prepared to head to the east where we have two other storms?

CHERTOFF: We are already doing the planning and preparation for Hurricane Hanna, which is headed to the east coast. We're also keeping a watchful eye on the next one, which is Ike, that's headed towards the United States. And we're watching further out as we see developments at the coast of Africa. It's a little early to tell where Ike is going to go, but we clearly have to be getting ready for Hanna, and we're working with the states in the potential target area to make sure they're getting ready to do what they have to do.

KING: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, always good seeing you. CHERTOFF: Good to be on the show, Larry.

KING: Secretary Michael Chertoff, Department of Homeland Security. Let's go to New Orleans and our own Gary Tuchman, who has covered so many of these. How are we doing with this one?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, I will tell you, before this one came, as late as yesterday, I've never seen, in all my years of covering hurricane, more anxiety and more paranoia. It was all justified. I completely understood it. I was here the day before Katrina myself. Nevertheless, we're seeing a collective sigh of relief, because there's been damage in New Orleans -- we're in the French Quarter right now, signs, power lines, window, doors, but this is nothing like it was three years ago.

KING: We lost Gary. Obviously, you lose people when you have storms like this. We have two more coming, as we just discussed with Secretary Chertoff and they're threatening. When and where will they hit? That's next.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the oil center. It's really the onshore operations. It's for all the off shore drilling. It's shut down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These flood walls are not designed to be 100 percent water tight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A really bad gust of the wind to my right. And if I wasn't holding onto this pole, I'd probably be in the Mississippi River by now.


KING: We're back. With us on the phone is Richard Bezet. He's a resident of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and he now has a five foot hole in his dining room ceiling. What happened, Richard?

RICHARD BEZET, BATON ROUGE RESIDENT: It was before everything got bad. A tree just covered one end of my house to the other, just fell and landed right where my wife was standing. She wasn't hurt. She got a couple of scrapes. It's a very old house, built in 1921. So it's pretty Brittle. Anyway, I had -- a tree limb had fallen just prior to that. I was out there checking that out. I looked back and there is this tree falling on top of my house with my wife in it. It was pretty devastating.

This has really been something here. We had winds up to 91 miles an hour. And the only hurricane we've had that had winds any higher than that was Betsy and that was 92 miles an hour.

KING: Did you realize the wind was going to knock that tree down?

BEZET: Not really. It had knocked some branches down prior. But we didn't think the whole tree was going to come down. But it did. We're very blessed to be alive, I guess.

KING: You're not kidding.

BEZET: We do have a five by six foot hole in our dining room.

KING: You have insurance?

BEZET: Yes. Absolutely.

KING: Where are you staying?

BEZET: Right now, we're staying in the house, because we don't want to just walk away from the house and leave it unprotected. So we're going to ride it out tonight, no electricity in this part of Baton Rouge. I think they've gotten electricity restored in other areas, but not here. We actually live pretty close to downtown. We really have no electricity. So we're just kind of sitting here getting to know our puppies.

KING: And you get to know your tree better.

BEZET: Yes, there you go.

KING: Thanks, Richard. Richard Bezet, a tree into the house. Life through a hurricane. Let's go to our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Where are you, Sanjay?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm in the French Quarter, here in New Orleans. I spent the day at a lot of hospitals over the day and last night, as well, Larry.

KING: Looking for?

GUPTA: I was here three years ago, and saw the way many of these hospitals did not evacuate so many of these patients on-time. Late evacuations, they were called, and too late. They couldn't get the patients out. The question was this time, had they learned from some of these mistake? Were they able to get the patients who needed to get out of these hospitals on-time and did they protect the hospitals in such a way so that, for example, the generators did not become flooded, losing power for these precious commodities.

I have to tell you, Larry, they've done a pretty good job. I visited four different hospitals, spent most of the day at East Jefferson today. They stayed open. They even had EMS runs going out through the town to try to find anybody who needed help, even just as the storm was starting to pick up speed. They went to the levees. They went around town. And they also went back to the hospitals and these places where they kept the power on, the emergency generators kicked in. Everything seemed to work much better this time around, Larry.

KING: How many hospitals in New Orleans?

GUPTA: I think there's probably around a half-dozen or so. Charity Hospital was the biggest trauma hospital in this city, one of the biggest trauma hospitals in the country. You remember that, Larry, three years ago, this was a hospital that had one of these late medical evacuations. As a result, they had to canoe patients across the street in boats, carry them up eight flights of stairs into a parking deck, and wait in August New Orleans heat for days on end, while literally pushing air into their lungs with these bags, waiting for helicopters to come pick them up.

That was the worst case scenario and it certainly happened at that time with Charity Hospital. It did not happen this time. Charity Hospital has never recovered from what happened three years ago. That big hospital, that structure that so many people in this country know, has never reopened again. And this city is still sort of reeling from not having a big trauma hospital like that.

KING: Why hasn't it reopened? Can you hear me, Sanjay? We'll try to check back and find out why that hospital has not reopened. Chad Myers, Secretary Chertoff said that they're already paying attention to our two hurricanes on the East Coast. How much attention should be paid?


KING: Thanks, Chad. Chad Myers. Gustav has had an immediate effect on the economy. What the storm could cost you after the break.


KING: We're back on LARRY KING LIVE, this early edition. There will be a live later edition at Midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. Joining us now is Ali Velshi, again, rejoins us, our CNN senior business correspondent. Does this hurricane in Louisiana have an effect on somebody who lives in Chicago or Los Angeles?

VELSHI: -- very specific affect, for instance, on people who live in Chicago. About 20 miles west of me is a Port Puchan (ph), which is where all of the oil that is imported into the United States -- not all of it, 56 percent of it comes in. That has been shut down. Now happens is the oil gets imported from here, whether it's from the imported super tankers or it's from the Gulf of Mexico. And a million barrels a day goes up a pipeline from Port Puchan, Louisiana to Chicago, where it goes to refineries in the Midwest. That pipeline is shut down right now, which mean it is you're a refinery in the Midwest of this country, you've got to get oil from somewhere. Those refineries have to keep running in order to make gasoline.

Gas prices have gone up three days in a row. They didn't today. But if you take a cynical view, you say any shortage of oil into the system is going to result in higher prices for consumers. If you take a more practical view, you might say that there is a very cynical view of oil and gas companies right now. Consumers are coming back on demand, as we know, for the last year, as gas prices topped four dollars a gallon.

So maybe you won't see that price increase if there hasn't been much damage to infrastructure here in the Gulf of Mexico. We won't know that for at least two days, how much damage was actually done to off shore facilities, rigs and platforms that have been abandoned, because they had to be evacuated, and to on shore facilities. Hard to know exactly what the response will be. What you may see is shortages of oil going to refineries. The government has said they would supply that oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve if there's a shortage.

But we've seen 25 percent of America's domestic crude oil production shut down because of the closures in the Gulf of Mexico and we've seen 56 percent of American imports shut down because of the closures at Port Puchan, just 20 miles west of me, Larry.

KING: Ali, any estimate yet in terms of total dollars this is going to cost or is it too early?

VELSHI: It's way too early right now. The best way to get an estimate right now is to understand that the price of oil today did not jump when this storm hit the Gulf of Mexico and hit land fall. It actually dropped dour dollars. So people who invested and think, you know, there's not going to be a lot of damage and not a spike in demand for oil, and as a result, oil prices dropped.

We'll get estimates over the course of the next couple of days. It may be billions of dollars of damage because these things are all expensive. Even if a few rigs or platforms or a refinery is damaged, we won't know. But no estimates just yet.

KING: Thanks Ali, Ali Velshi. Let's check in by phone in Morgan City, Louisiana with Thane Aucoin. Thane did not evacuate. What is your situation, Thane? By the way, why did you choose not to leave?

THANE AUCOIN, MORGAN CITY RESIDENT: Well, Larry, I wanted to stay and experience the storm and I also wanted to stay and service my community after. I knew if I had an investment here, not only as far as personal things but the people itself. And I wanted to -- first I wanted to experience the storm. I know that may sound a little strange, but I've never been through a hurricane of this magnitude. So that was one reason. And the other reason was I just wanted to be here.

KING: What was it like?

AUCOIN: It was very -- it was stressful. And by that I mean the last five days we've been waiting for this storm and we did not really know until the very last second exactly what we were going to have. Larry, to experience right at Cat three is an experience that I only can say you have to be here to experience it. It's scary, very scary.

KING: Family OK?

AUCOIN: Family's fine. We sent them further north to Alexandria and they're fine. And like all my friends, very curious to know the exact status of Morgan City. Right now, we're a little down. The infrastructure is down, and it's going to take a couple days to bounce back up.

KING: Where is Morgan City in relation to New Orleans? AUCOIN: It's 90 miles to the southeast -- to the southwest, I'm sorry. About 90 miles to the southwest. We're located in between Lake Charles and New Orleans on the very Gulf Coast.

KING: You are right on the water?

AUCOIN: Well, we're actually about 17 miles of marshland that absorbed some of the tidal surge.

KING: We're out of time. Thane, thanks. Thane Aucoin, brave guy. We'll be back in two hours, Midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific, for the very latest on Hurricane Gustav and the possible political fallout from today's campaign bombshell, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin's teenage daughter is pregnant. Also, should the Republicans have altered the convention because of the hurricane? That's our quick vote at Now here's Anderson Cooper live from, where else, New Orleans. Anderson?