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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Day 2 of the Republican National Convention
Aired September 2, 2008 - 23:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Tonight it's John McCain's party as the guests honor his service.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain's resolve to do what is best for this country, you can be sure the angry left never will.
KING: What everybody's talking about is vice presidential pick -- Sarah Palin. What's going on? Jesse Ventura sounds off on the running mate who's running away with all the attention.
Plus, the Democrats are going to way in on what it means for the GOP and the country.
It's right now on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: As we did all last week, we'll present the loyal opposition all this week in this late hour, 12:00 midnight, 9:00 Pacific, edition of LARRY KING LIVE.
We always begin with a "King Convention" clip and this one highlights President Bush's speech from the White House.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSH: I know the hard choices that fall solely to a president. John McCain's life has prepared you to make those choices. He is ready to lead this nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We welcome Robert Gibbs to LARRY KING LIVE. He's in Minneapolis. He's an Obama campaign senior adviser.
Robert, what did you make of President Bush's address tonight?
ROBERT GIBBS, SENIOR ADVISER, OBAMA CAMPAIGN: Well, Larry, I think it was a passionate endorsement for his candidate, John McCain. I'm not sure John McCain wants the endorsement, but he certainly has it. And I think it's illuminating for the American people to know that George Bush has picked the person he wants to lead this country in the same direction he's led it for the past eight years and he's tapped John McCain to do it.
KING: And yet, Bush has a popularity rating of 33 percent. In a recent poll, only 26 percent rate him the worse president ever.
So why is the poll so close?
GIBBS: Well, look, I think this is going to be a close election because the American people are pretty divided in this country.
But, look, I think what we saw tonight and what the American people got to see tonight was very illuminating. George Bush picked his man and it's John McCain for four more years of the same.
But what you also didn't hear a lot of tonight was how we're going to solve the problems that the Bush economy has created, how it shipped job -- jobs overseas, given tax breaks for companies to do that, how are we going to turn around our foreign policy.
You didn't hear a lot about that tonight because, my guess is, they don't have plans to fix this. George Bush has tapped his man but he doesn't don't know how to fix the economy or the foreign policy and the direction that this country is going.
KING: Take me inside the Obama camp and tell me what the thinking is about Governor Palin.
GIBBS: Well, look, you know, she's got a compelling personal story that, I think, America will hear tomorrow. You know, we -- we're not real focused on who the vice presidential nominee is. We're focused on John McCain and how he'll bring four more years of the same.
That's what we're focused on -- whether or not we're going too have change in this country, whether we're going to turn this country around, whether we're going to create jobs, whether we're going to make health care and energy more affordable. That's what we're focused on, not on the vice presidential nominee.
KING: All right, though, one other comment in that regard. From what you've learned do you think she was well vetted?
GIBBS: Well, you know, look. I'm going to let them decide their procedures and processes. I definitely think that how one picks a vice presidential nominee says a lot about the leader that that person is going to be.
By all accounts they met her -- they met one time before he tapped her to be the vice presidential nominee. We feel comfortable with Senator Biden who's Senator Obama's vice presidential nominee, that he brings real-world experience, that he hasn't forgotten where he comes from.
That -- type of character and value is exactly what we want in a vice president and we're thrilled to death.
KING: Kind of a weird turnabout, eight years ago, the Democrats nominated Joe Lieberman and he spoke tonight. Joe Lieberman speaks in support of the Republican nominee. Here's a little clip of what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Before I conclude, I want to ask the indulgence of all of you here in this hall tonight. Because I want to speak directly to my fellow Democrats and independents who are watching -- watching or listening tonight.
I want to speak directly to you out there. I know many of you are angry and frustrated by our government and our politics today and for good reason. You may be thinking of voting for John McCain but you're not sure yet. Some of you may never have voted for a Republican before. And frankly, in an ordinary election, you probably never would.
But I want you to believe with me this is no ordinary election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
LIEBERMAN: Because -- and it's no ordinary election because these are not ordinary times. And trust me, John McCain is no ordinary candidate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: What do you make of that, Robert?
GIBBS: Well, Larry, I think I know why most people are cynical about politics is because they hear people -- they come on their television -- people like Joe Lieberman -- and I hate to say this, it's a tough word, but they flat out lie about Barack Obama.
The Joe Lieberman you heard tonight wasn't the same Joe Lieberman that called Barack Obama in 2006 and asked him desperately to come to Connecticut and campaign for him.
And you know, tonight the big lie that Senator Lieberman said which, I got to tell you, is just really disappointing to hear from anybody -- you know, he -- he said that Barack Obama didn't have a record of real accomplishment reaching across -- reaching across the party lines to get things done.
Barack Obama's reached across party lines to work with Dick Lugar of Indiana to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. He's worked with Senator Tom Coburn to open up our budget process and to end no-bid contracts that dominated after Katrina hit New Orleans when the Bush administration was busy handing out contracts to their political contributors.
And he worked across party lines to make sure that lobbyists couldn't give senators gifts and hand out free meals like they've been doing for many, many years.
So, you know, Joe Lieberman ought to be ashamed for himself for some of the things that he said tonight, not as a Democrat but as an American. We expect you to go to up there -- you can say what you want. You can pick the person you want.
But you know what? I think he owes it to the American people to actually look into the camera and tell them the truth.
KING: Thanks, Robert. I'll see you again tomorrow night.
GIBBS: Thank you, Larry.
KING: Robert Gibbs is our point man for the Democrats in Minneapolis. He's an Obama campaign senior adviser.
Stay right where you are. Jesse Ventura is next.
ANNOUNCER: Coverage of the Republican National Convention is sponsored by...
KING: I guess you could define loyal opposition with a picture of Jesse Ventura, the former governor of Minnesota, independent as they come. A "New York Times" best selling author, his latest book is, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me."
He has endorsed anyone for president in this 2008 race. But his role tonight is to take a look at the Republican convention.
What did you make of day one?
JESSE VENTURA, FORMER GOVERNOR, MINNESOTA: Of what? The Republican convention?
VENTURA: Oh, Larry, you're asking me the wrong questions. I didn't watch the Democratic convention and you know what? They virtually canceled the Republican convention because of the hurricane down in New Orleans.
So -- and I spent all day today with the Ron Paul convention. I guess you'd call it the counter or the anti-convention or the convention for the constitution.
KING: So you didn't see any of the speeches of Mr. Lieberman or Senator Lieberman or Fred Thompson or anybody -- George Bush?
VENTURA: No. Didn't want to. Don't need to. Already know they'll promise everything and deliver nothing.
KING: I'm going to show you a clip of Fred Thompson, the actor, former U.S. senator, unsuccessful candidate. There was a strong defense of the vice-presidential nominee, Sarah Palin. Watch, and then I want your comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED THOMPSON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Some Washington pundits and media big shots are at a frenzy over the selection of a woman who has actually governed rather than just talked a good game on the Sunday talk shows and hit the Washington cocktail circuits.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
THOMPSON: I'll say -- I say, give me a tough Alaskan governor who has taken on the political establishment and the largest State of the Union and won over the beltway business as usual crowd any day of the week.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: All right. Jesse Ventura, what do you make of the selection of the governor of Alaska?
VENTURA: Well, naturally, she's new and fresh, but I guess the counter to that would be isn't John McCain part of the beltway crowd of Washington? I mean, how can they have it both ways?
They have a presidential candidate that is entrenched in the beltway and now they get a candidate that's a virtual unknown. And I found it very peculiar, Larry, in the fact that that was the main thing they've attacked Barack Obama is the fact that he has no experience and then they turn right around and make a selection that really disarms that now as any type of attack during the campaign.
Because how can they call Mr. Obama inexperienced when they, themselves, picked someone who is quite inexperienced?
KING: Why do you think they picked her?
VENTURA: I have no idea, Larry. You'd have to ask them. I -- you know, I certainly don't keep track of the Republicans and the choices they make. You'd have to ask John McCain and, you know, the inner circle of the Republicans, that decision.
I guess I could speculate and say maybe they think they'll steal Hillary votes by putting a woman on the ticket. But I find it peculiar when, you know, McCain can support Viagra for men's health but yet, not birth control for women's.
I guess that's to shore that up by putting a woman on the ticket maybe?
KING: Do you know Sarah Palin?
VENTURA: No, I do not. She's a new governor. I got out of office in '03. I know nothing about her whatsoever.
KING: Do you make anything of the fact that her daughter is pregnant?
VENTURA: Well, you know, first of all, I think it's a non-issue because in -- on a personal side of it, you know, I guess it makes the case for sex education and birth control.
Well -- because...
KING: Did John McCain...
VENTURA: Because I believe abstinence doesn't work and they can preach it all they want. I think you're far better off confronting it. We were that way with my children. We were very open with them and I can say that I'm quite certain that it worked out pretty well. They're both adults and, you know, we never had any problems during their youth at all.
But, you know, that's a personal matter. And it happens every day in families throughout America. It's something that you have to deal with and it happened to happen in her family. And I'm sure they'll do a good job handling the situation.
KING: One would think, Jesse, that you would be inclined towards Senator McCain in that you were a Navy SEAL.
KING: He was a war hero. You endured some tough times. He endured some -- that you would have more of an attraction for him than his opponent.
VENTURA: Well, I don't have an attraction, Larry, to either of them because I opposed the war from the start. And just because I served in the military and served during the Vietnam War, it doesn't mean that if you're in the military you automatically endorse war.
In fact, to me, the opposite should take place. Also...
KING: Well, Senator Obama opposed the war.
VENTURA: Yes, absolutely. But I can't support Senator Obama because he's going raise my taxes and I already pay 50 percent and I think it's ridiculous when you have to pay half of the fruits of your labor to the government.
I would rather talk about Ron Paul and the position he takes of less government. That's why I chose to participate in that convention today. And I gave the keynote speech in the afternoon because I believe in less government.
We have a $9 trillion deficit, Larry, that nobody seems to want to talk about out there.
KING: So you're voting for Ron Paul? VENTURA: I don't know if Ron Paul will be on the ballot. You know? Under what? He's still a Republican. I think he's more of a protest as far as I can tell.
I won't really know who I'm going to vote for until I actually see the ballot. But I can assure you that I'm not voting for a Democrat or Republican. I want the revolution in this country like my book said, and you know, Dr. Paul wrote a book and used the same term, revolution.
VENTURA: Revolution was a powerful word used today in front of 15,000 people at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
KING: Who are you voting for in the Senate race in Minnesota?
VENTURA: I'm voting for Dean Barkley, the man I appointed to the Senate to fill Senator Wellstone's term.
Dean is running. He's the best qualified to do the job. Will he get elected? I don't know. But I certainly will vote for Dean Barkley over Norm Coleman and Al Franken any day of the week.
KING: We'll take a day. Jesse Ventura will remain with us. And Dee Dee Myers will join us and so will D.L. Hughley will join us as well with maybe a little humor to the proceedings. Don't go away.
KING: Remaining with us from Minneapolis is the former governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura.
Joining us from Washington, Dee Dee Myers, political analyst, contributing editor for "Vanity Fair." She was White House press secretary during the Clinton administration, "New York Times" best- selling author of "Why Women Should Rule the World," and she supports Senator Barack Obama.
And in New York is the very funny D.L. Hughley, the actor and standup comic, one of the original kings of comedy. He is a Democrat but has not endorsed a presidential candidate.
Why not, D.L.?
D.L. HUGHLEY, ACTOR, NOT ENDORSING CANDIDATE: Well, no, that isn't true. I'm going to vote for Barack. I think that...
KING: Oh OK.
HUGHLEY: I'm going to vote for Barack. But to me, I'm just a -- I'm a very cynical guy. I think all politicians lie. And it's a choice between the dude who's half black and a dude who's half alive.
So -- to me, I have always been very cynical of politician. I think that I've heard pretty much the same things coming out of everybody's camp. And I think that Obama, at least, appears to be, at least, interested in doing things differently.
KING: Dee Dee, what do you make of the second night -- well, it's the second half night of the Republican convention? Their first night didn't amount to much because of the hurricane.
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, PRESIDENT CLINTON, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Right. Well, I found it a little confusing, actually. You know, certainly, Senator Fred Thompson gave those delegates a lot of red meat which they really seemed to respond to. But - and the whole theme of the evening - "Country First" -- was a very exclusive message.
It was basically either you're a Republican or you don't love your country. As a Democrat, I found that pretty (INAUDIBLE). But then we switched right from that into Senator Joe Lieberman saying, no, we need a bipartisan approach. We all need to come together, and hey, Democrats, if you love your country you'll vote for John McCain, too.
So I thought it was a very an exclusive kind of message and a little bit confused on what it was trying to say.
Is John McCain an outsider and Barack Obama an insider? No, John McCain has been in the Congress for more than 20 years and Barack Obama has been there four years, which is one of the arguments against him? Or is that argument for him?
So at the end of the evening I found myself both confused and a bit alienated. I don't understand why any independent or Democrat would consider voting for the McCain/Palin ticket after being called all night that only Republicans put their country first.
KING: Yes, wasn't that surprising, Jesse, even though you didn't see it, that the theme was "we're the patriots"?
VENTURA: Well, you know, the Republicans have been pushing really Hermann Goering on us, the Nazi, since 2001. I mean, you know...
KING: Hermann Goering?
VENTURA: Yes. He said that it's easy to take a country to war. You have to convince them they're under attack. Denounce the pacifist for being unpatriotic and also for putting the country into danger. And yet, Thomas Jefferson said dissension is the greatest form of patriotism.
I like to follow the teachings of Thomas Jefferson a little bit more than Herman Goering.
KING: D.L., are you...
HUGHLEY: To follow...
KING: I'm sorry. HUGHLEY: To follow up on what Jesse was saying, it did remind me -- I promise you, the first thing I thought when I saw those "Country First" signs, it reminded me of Nazis. It really -- I mean they just seemed so, you know -- that seemed to be a country that I don't recognize.
It seemed to be -- it didn't look that way. It looks very exclusionary. It looked very specific. I didn't see anything that looked -- you know everybody looked like they were -- had the same experience, had the same kind of process.
It seemed like that -- I felt more like I was looking -- I mean, peering into something that wasn't necessarily invited to. So I didn't -- I can't see anybody would watch them and think that those people would be, you know, open to anybody with a different experience.
KING: Dee Dee Myers described Fred Thompson's address as kind of red meat. He slammed the Democratic nominee without uttering his name.
Watch a little of Senator Thompson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMPSON: To deal with these challenge, the Democrats present a history making nominee for president. History making in that he's the most liberal, most inexperienced nominee to ever run for president.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
THOMPSON: Apparently -- apparently they believe that he would match up well with the history-making Democrat-controlled Congress. History making because it's the least accomplished and most unpopular Congress in our nation's history.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Of course, Dee Dee, he didn't add about the president. Were you offended by that speech?
MYERS: Yes. I mean, I'm a Democrat. So I guess it's not going to shock anybody at the convention hall. But I thought the mood of the evening was unnecessarily exclusive.
Look, I love my country. And I'm going to vote for the candidate who I think is best to help end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home with honor, who's going to help restore this economy, who's going to help restore our reputation, our standing, and our moral standing around the world.
And I believe with all my heart that candidate is Barack Obama. Are you going to tell me that I'm not a patriot because I disagree with you on tax policy and national security policy? I think that's, you know, that's not the kind of -- sort of bipartisanship that, you know, people were bragging on Senator McCain for tonight. I mean one of the things that Joe Lieberman said was this is a man who has reached across the aisle, who works with Democrats.
So I thought the message was not only a little offensive to me, which isn't going to upset anybody in the Republican headquarters probably, but it was at odds with the message that they were trying to send tonight.
Was it, you know, an exclusive "Country First" get with us or, you know, get out of the way? Or was it, no, we really want a candidate who can reach across the aisle and bring people together? Because that wasn't a convention message. in the first part of the night, that was going to bring anybody together, I'll tell you that much.
KING: D.L., what did you think of the vice-presidential choice?
HUGHLEY: I think it was very trite. I think it was more or less a textbook. I mean I think that came clearly in response to whatever the Democrats did when they didn't nominate Hillary Clinton.
But even more importantly, I just think that you have to be consistent. If the argument from the Republicans was that Barack Obama doesn't have experience, this woman doesn't either.
And I think that we should stop throwing around words like experience, because that hasn't mattered in several elections. I think this is a popularity contest. And everybody is trying to win which I certainly understand.
But to -- you know I think this country has selective amnesia, like one side forgets what the other side did, then turns around and does it.
To me, there's clearly what -- this -- I was trying to be basically as objective as I could. Watching the Democrats and Obama speech, you know, from Clinton to Obama to, you know, Bill, you know -- to watching all the Democrats, it seemed more life and more hopeful and a little more transcendent.
This seemed more -- it seemed like I was watching a trailer for a scary movie. It seemed like I was supposed be frightened and to believing that these were my saviors. And they just -- it just -- I just didn't respond to it. And I honestly tried to. I honestly tried to have an open mind.
It just -- it just didn't -- it didn't appeal to me.
KING: Jesse, one would think that taxes aside you'd be more inclined to lean toward Obama.
VENTURA: Not really, because, again, Obama's for bigger government. And I'm for smaller government. You know, the Democrats traditionally have always said government is there to respond to everyone's need and they shy away many times to personal responsibility, which is very important to me.
The problem is Obama's making thousands of promises he's going to raise taxes, and in which -- you know, at this point in time, to get the deficit down you've got to cut down government, not make it larger.
At a time when the economy is on the brink of disaster, Obama wants to take more money from the private sector and give it to the government.
VENTURA: Well, that's the worse thing you can do, in my opinion, is for the government to take more money from people at a time when the economy is in the situation that it's in today.
HUGHLEY: In all fairness...
KING: We'll take a break -- hold it, we'll take a break and pick right up and we'll get Dee Dee's thoughts about Governor Palin as well.
Is the Sarah Palin drama all played out? Or is another shoe about to drop?
We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: I am delighted to welcome you to the land of Minnesota Nice.
LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm proud that America's first female vice president will be a Republican woman.
BUSH: If the Hanoi Hilton could not break John McCain's resolve to do what is best for his country, you can be sure the angry left never will.
THOMPSON: And we need a president who doesn't think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade.
LIEBERMAN: What, after all, is a Democrat like me doing at a Republican convention like this? I'm here to support John McCain because country matters more than party. * : doesn't think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (I), CONNECTICUT: What, after all, is a Democrat like me doing at a Republican convention like this? I'm here to support John McCain because country matters more than party.
KING: By the way, does is matter to you that Sarah Palin's 17- year-old daughter is pregnant? That's our question of the night. Go to CNN.com/larryking and tell us what you think.
Quick note about our show. Last week we invited Republicans and supporters of John McCain to respond to the Democratic convention. Tonight, and for the next two nights, we'll find out what Democrats, critics and Barack Obama supporters think of the GOP convention.
Dee Dee, what do you think of the Sarah Palin selection?
DEE DEE MYERS, FORMER CLINTON PRESS SECRETARY: It was certainly surprising. She has a compelling personal story to tell. She has a winning personality. She's won over John McCain in a single face-to- face meeting. She persuaded Senator Lieberman in a meeting or two she was a great choice.
But I think, you know, her personal political views are a little troubling to me as a Democrat. She's against -- she's anti-choice in all circumstances including incest and rape. There's some interesting questions about whether she was part of a separatist movement in Alaska, an independent movement that was interested in separating Alaska from the rest of the country.
There's a lot we don't know about here. The McCain campaign said they vetted her thoroughly. I don't think we know everything there is to know about Sarah Palin the way we know, say, about Joe Biden.
I also find it a little curious that Senator McCain spent the first year-plus of his campaign saying he was going to choose a running mate who was ready to be president. Putting country first required him to do that. The Constitution only requires two things of the vice president. Step in shall the president not be able to fulfill his or her duties and vote in the Senate if there's a tie. I find it curious that he has a different explanation for why he chose Governor Palin. So, again, I'm confused. I hear the McCain campaign is talking out of two sides of its convention. I'm not sure what to make of it.
KING: D.L., I want you to watch this next clip and give me a comment. The McCain campaign seems to be retooling its image a bit and playing up the candidates' image as a maverick and reformer.
Here's how Senator Lieberman put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, (I), CONNECTICUT: Let me share something with you that I'm in a unique position to do as a Democrat. My Democratic friends know all about John's record of independence and accomplishment. And you see that's why I think some of them are spending so much time and so much money trying to convince the American people that John McCain is someone else. I am here to tell you what I think you know, but I want to speak to the people out there. Don't be fooled by some of these political statements and advertisements. Trust me. God only made one John McCain and he is his own man.
D.L. HUGHLEY, ACTOR: I think that it's obvious that John McCain has a compelling personal story. And it is obvious that he's a different man, you know, in several aspects than George Bush is. He has voted for him 97 percent of the time. But that's different.
But to respond to what Jesse was saying, how he was in favor of smaller government and lower taxes -- look, listen, the government for the last eight years has never been more cumbersome, more in effect less as evidence by the fact that Gustav, the specter of Katrina, was raised up and everybody had to tone everybody down because they knew it would remind people how ineffective they were.
I think John McCain is a -- obviously, is a good man. I'll take him at his word that he is. But I think the policies he's endorsed and the policies that Republicans have endorsed -- you don't have to say, listen -- George Bush is such a bad president that the country is going -- we're going to vote for the black guy. That should tell you how bad of the last eight years have been. It has not worked. It's been ineffective. Anybody -- the fact they chose George Bush and wiped the specter of George Bush away with a picture of Ronald Reagan tells you everything that you need to know about how this presidency and how this country's been run for the last eight years.
KING: Jesse, sadly, do you think race is going to play a big issue in this race.
JESSE VENTURA, FORMER MINNESOTA MAYOR: I certainly hope not. Getting back a minute, Larry, I'd like to say this. Isn't it interesting that the last election, the Republicans trashed Vietnam War veterans. And now this election, they've changed completely and it's about being a Vietnam War veteran. I find the hypocrisy unbelievable. That's, again, why I refuse to be a Democrat or Republican.
HUGHLEY: I have to agree with you.
KING: Dee Dee, do you think race is going to play a big part?
MYERS: Well, race has long been, you know, an undercurrent in our politics. I don't think it's been completely eliminated. Certainly among young people you see it less and less of a factor. There's an encouraging sign. But, of course it's going to be a factor. The question is how big a factor? The question is how subtly will -- certainly not John McCain, but some of the people around him try to make that a deciding factor. I think D.L. makes a point. Maybe we'll have something to thank George Bush for. We may elect the first African-American president of the United States. What a fantastic outcome after eight long years of suffering.
VENTURA: Hey, Larry, Larry.
KING: Jesse? VENTURA: I'm trying to figure out, though, what about the sexism of the moms here. Barack's mom is white and you never hear about that. The other great black athlete, Tiger Woods, his mother's Asian. And yet all we hear about is their fathers. How come the mother don't count in the hereditary factor?
KING: They count, Jesse. You know about them.
HUGHLEY: That's kind of historically a misnomer. In this country, if you had any percentage of black blood in your, historically you were considered black. That's not me saying it. That's, you know, historically.
VENTURA: I'm just confused over that, D.L., because it seems everybody goes with whatever your father was as opposed to what your mother was.
HUGHLEY: I think they go with the next compelling story. It is obviously more compelling to have a black president break history. Anybody who believes race won't play a part in this country, a part in this election is being disingenuous. I think you can go to several aspects, areas in this country -- I was talking to John Zogby after the Pennsylvania primary and the exhibit polls that came back were astounding. 37 percent of the white Catholic vote, 20 percent at that time said they would vote for another candidate and vote for John McCain. 17 percent said they would stay home. They didn't have a problem saying it was because of race. The exit polls in West Virginia said race is a component in it.
I think the country -- you know, for us to pretend like it won't play a factor -- to what degree I certainly can't say. I think it plays, it permeates every aspect of our society.
KING: Let me get a break. We'll be right back.
BUSH: John will have an outstanding leader at his side. America will have a strong and principled vice president in the governor of the great state of Alaska, Sarah Palin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That was George W. Bush. He's not running for re- election. And John McCain would like to distance himself from him.
And a new ad from the Obama campaign has different ideas. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: Well, he's made his choice. But for the rest of us, there's still no change. McCain doesn't get it, calling this broken economy strong. He wants to keep spending $10 billion a month in Iraq and votes with George Bush 90 percent of the time. While this may be his running mate, America knows this is John McCain's agenda. And we can't afford two more years of the same.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's take a call for our panel.
Mesa, California, hello.
CALLER: I wanted to comment on something that D.L. said and see his opinion on the lack of color represented at the GOP convention. Does he think there are any way, perhaps, that the Republican Party can transcend that? Because, again, there was not a lot of colorful faces at the GOP convention.
HUGHLEY: I don't see how. Like, even -- I'm, to me, like I said earlier, I think I try to think as independently as possible. I can see we're damaging -- one thing I will say about the Republicans is torpedoes be damned. They believe what they believe and will say it out loud.
One thing I have always hated about what I saw recently with Barack Obama when he went to the Saddleback Church and they asked him his opinion on abortion. There's a problem. He couldn't clearly say he was against the government's involvement in it. I think that's a problem. I think since FDR, there has been readiness on this country's part to nominate a Democratic president. When they have nominated them, there had to be extenuating circumstances, whether it was Kennedy and the shenanigans that happened there.
KING: The question is, blacks at the Republicans party?
HUGHLEY: I think blacks at the Republican party -- the Republicans, up until the '60s, they've all of a sudden -- I've never heard a Republican say anything -- to be specific, the party in general, say anything that seemed to be welcoming to me or seemed to include me at all.
KING: Our panelists, panel will be leaving us, except Jesse will remain for our remaining moments with Nancy Giles and Representative Artur Davis.
But we want to thank you and we look forward to having you back a lot, that's Dee Dee Myers and D.L. Hughley.
Jesse Ventura remains and we'll be back with more after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIBERMAN: What after all is a Democrat like me doing at a Republican Convention like this? Well, I'll tell you what, I'm here to support John McCain because country matters more than party.
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KING: We're back. Jesse Ventura remains. Joining us from New York, Nancy Giles, social commentator. She's also an actress and contributor to CBS's "News Sunday Morning," supports Barack Obama. And in Birmingham, Alabama, Congressman Artur Davis, democrat of Alabama, supports Obama, in fact, has known them since their days together at Harvard Law School. He's one of those who seconded Obama's nomination at the convention.
Congressman Davis, first with you, does anything about Obama's growth surprise you?
REP. ARTUR DAVIS, (D), ALABAMA: Well, Larry, good night, first of all. You know, you asked me if anything surprises me about his growth and in some ways the answer is I'm not at all surprised by his growth. I have known Barack Obama off and on for about 17 years. He's always been a phenomenally impressive individual. He's one of those people when you first meet him you come away with a sense he's destined for great things. I think the American people have seen that growth in the last four years. and even in the course of this president campaign, the Barack Obama who's campaigning around this country and the Barack Obama who has opened up a seven or eight point lead in this race is frankly now the same Barack Obama who entered this race. He's stronger. He's had to get tougher. I look forward to continuing to see his growth.
KING: Nancy Giles, what do you make of what you're seeing from the Republicans so far?
NANCY GILES, COMMENTATOR: I have to echo what your caller just said. It's been weird for me to look into the audience and see, for lack of a better way of putting it, a sea of white people with a few little flecks of color. It's almost like going back in time and it makes me like a little uneasy. I find it off-putting when people keep repeating over and over that Barack Obama has to appeal to the white working class vote. I never hear anybody really, really challenge John McCain on appealing to the African-American working class voter, anything other than his comfort zone. We're part of this country as well and it makes me uneasy to see a group that's so non-diverse.
KING: Does it bother you, Jesse?
VENTURA: I'm not the guy to ask on that. I wouldn't show up to the Republican convention and I'm white. You know, I'm not the person to ask about that. I mean, sure it's troubling. You know, I can't believe that -- why -- if there aren't enough blacks surely there's got to be black people who are conservative. Surely, there has to be -- I would like to think someone who could fit under their supposed tent. In a way, it doesn't surprise me. They always seem to have the attitude of my way or the highway.
GILES: I agree.
VENTURA: There's no flexibility to them. You know, I would never be a Republican because of social issues. But then again, I would never be a Democrat because of economic issues.
KING: George W. Bush, I guess, relegated to a minor role, a shortened speech tonight.
Here's a little clip of it. then we'll ask the guests' opinion. Watch.
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BUSH: Last year John McCain's independence and character helped change history. The Democrats had taken control of Congress and were threatening to cut off funds for our troops. In the face of call for retreat I ordered a summer of forces into Iraq. Many in Congress said it had no chance of working. One Senator above all had faith in our troops and the importance of their mission and that was John McCain.
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KING: Congressman Davis, is that going to play?
DAVIS: Well, Larry, I think it will not play for a very simple reason. President Bush is not popular anywhere in any sector of the United States except in the hard right of the Republican Party. I kept asking myself over and over tonight, Fred Thompson made a good, partisan speech. Joe Lieberman is always a thoughtful guy. I think his thoughts have been more wrong than right the last few years. I kept asking myself over and over, how is John McCain going to be different from George Bush? I keep hearing that John McCain is a maverick. Well, mavericks disagree with the establishment. I want to hear where is John McCain going to take us that is different from where a third Bush term would takes us. And I think it's what most of the American people want to hear. I didn't hear that tonight.
KING: Nancy, are you very disappointed in Joe Lieberman?
GILES: I never knew what to make of Joe Lieberman. I watch him talk and sometimes, if I squint my eyes, his mouth looks like Jack Nicholson as the Joker. I don't know what's going to come out. You know?
Again, just to echo what Representative Davis was saying, what amazes me about John McCain and the maverick label that he's been given and the blanket, oh, he supports our vets thing, it's like Harold Hill and the music man, just because he says he's a music man doesn't really mean he knows how to lead the band.
Paul Rieckhoff, who heads a group called Iraq and Afghani Vets, he was talking about how John McCain, of all people, is in a position to talk about veterans issues like what it's like to be tortured. He even admitted while he was tortured that he gave false information. Why hasn't he come out against torture? Why hasn't he really supported veterans' issues like mental health care and post traumatic stress funding and housing for veterans? He says he supports vets. But if people take the time and look at his record, they're going to see he's not really been supportive of veterans. That hurts my heart. You would think his experiences in Vietnam could mean something if he brings that experience back and follows it up with the kind of votes he takes as a Senator.
KING: We'll be back with more moments with Jesse Ventura, Nancy Giles and Congressman Artur Davis. Don't go away.
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LIEBERMAN: Senator Barack Obama is a gifted and elegant young man who I think can do great things for our country in the years ahead. But, my friends, eloquence is no substitute for a record, not in these tough times for America.
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KING: Let's take a call.
Richmond, Virginia, hello.
CALLER: Hi, good evening. I want to know, as we all know, John McCain is running as the maverick reformer. As we all know, he was largely rejected by the conservative base of the Republican Party. Do any of you think Sarah Palin is a token pick to appeal to the base of the party? And if so, what is going to happen, what is he going to do, John McCain going to do, to appeal to the base once he makes if into office?
GILES: Well, I think clearly she's a pick to appeal to that part of the party. I am stumped as to why else he would choose her. There's a big, important decision for him to make, a very presidential type of decision. And to basically choose someone for her appeal to a special interest group with a very thin resume and all kinds of other problems, I think nothing short of bizarre. There's another part of the party that was more moderate that McCain used to be a part of that cemented his maverick status, and he's run completely away from them and completely towards this one little part of the party that demands a constitutional ban on abortion and, you know, across the lines these very extremist views. So I, you know, I'm really very worried about all of that.
KING: Jesse, "The New York Times" reported he really wanted to pick Senator Lieberman but the pressure from the far right forced him into the corner into taking someone more to their liking. His own opinion was for Lieberman.
VENTURA: I don't know that because I'm not an insider naturally. I can see that happening within these two parties. That's why I'm not a part of them and that's why I distinctly don't like them. And another quick subject, I'm glad it's an election year because the administration paid attention to Hurricane Gustav.
GILES: Isn't that the truth?
VENTURA: And hopefully they've done a good job this time. You can rest assured, had it not been an election year, they would have yawned it off probably again.
GILES: And, Larry, if McCain wanted Lieberman, why didn't he get Lieberman? Who is running his campaign? His he running it or someone else?
KING: Because, I guess, they told him they would all sit at home.
GILES: So he's not allowed?
KING: I'm just reporting what "The New York Times" said.
GILES: He should stick to his guns and be in charge. Who's running him? Is it him or is it -- you know?
DAVIS: Larry, let me jump in on this note. What I guess is mystifying to me is that I've listened to John McCain these last several months. I've heard him say over and over again he thinks the dominate issue facing the country is the war in Iraq, dealing with radical Islamic fundamentalism. He wants a vice president who can be a partner to him.
I just have to ask the question, it's hard to make the case of whatever Governor Palin's merits will be, and she has, as many people in politics do, an estimatable life story. But basic question, can we make the argument that Sarah Palin after a year and a half as governor of Alaska, is the best qualified person to give John McCain advice on the war against radical Islamic fundamentalism or the narrow war in Iraq?
I think it's hard for the most devout Republican or the most devout conservative to argue Governor Palin is the best answer to that question. It raises another question, does Senator McCain mean it -- did Senator McCain mean it when he said it was the dominant issue? Does he mean it when he says Senator Obama doesn't have the experience, Senator Obama's not qualified? Well, Senator Obama's been dealing with the national issues the last four years a lot more than Governor Palin's been dealing with them.
KING: Jesse, I guess this is the reason you don't like either party, right?
VENTURA: Me, the reason? Well, I don't like them because, again, you don't hear one word said about the debt, the over $9 trillion that they've put us in debt. Larry, if they behaved this way in the private sector, these people would be put in jail. Have you heard of Enron and WorldCom? They've run our country so far into debt now and you don't hear one word about solving $9 trillion of debt. KING: Congressman?
GILES: And why would you? Bush was friends be the heads of Enron and WorldCom. So there you are.
KING: Congressman, you're a part of that.
VENTURA: ... Congress, don't you, man?
DAVIS: Let me jump in on that. I listened to Fred Thompson and I listened to Fred Thompson paint a picture tonight where the conservatives have all the right answers and liberals and Democrats have all the wrong answers. I would love to ask Fred Thompson, this large debt that we have -- this deficit we have is a function of the last eight years. Bill Clinton handed us a surplus.
VENTURA: No, he did not. No, he did not.
DAVIS: And reduced that. Jesse, I think you may have missed the record in 2001.
VENTURA: We had a deficit -- we had a deficit.
DAVIS: $122 billion surplus.
VENTURA: He might have put a balance budget forward but we were in still hugely in debt.
DAVIS: $122 billion surplus.
GILES: Jesse, I don't think so.
DAVIS: $122 billion surplus.
KING: OK, guys, we'll have to pick this up another time.
VENTURA: You're saying $9 trillion happened in the last eight years?
KING: Jesse Ventura, Nancy Giles, Congressman Artur Davis, we'll take up the debt another time.
KING: Thanks, guys.
I would like to take a minute to honor the memory of one of journalism's giants. Ed Guttmann died Sunday. He was a Pulitzer Prize winner, press secretary for Robert F. Kennedy, a decorated veteran. After a distinguished newspaper career he taught at the University of California for two decades, passing on what he knew about how to be a reporter. He influenced a number of people who work on this show and at TV networks and newspapers across the country. Ed Guttmann, the gold standard of journalism. Long life, he was 89.
Tomorrow night on "LARRY KING LIVE," high drama in St. Paul. Is Sarah Palin ready for prime time? She's going to address the GOP convention Wednesday night. We'll have reaction from the Democrats. That's "LARRY KING LIVE" Wednesday night at midnight, eastern, 9:00 pacific.
Time now for continuing convention coverage on CNN.