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McCain and Palin Officially Receive Republican Nomination

Aired September 3, 2008 - 00:30   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I'll be back at 4:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow in "The Situation Room." We'll be right here with all the latest. And then we'll go through the night till midnight, maybe beyond, and another "LARRY KING LIVE." Stay with CNN. Thanks for joining us. Let's go to Larry right now.

Good evening. This is a special live late-night edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." We're on late because the Republicans just did nominate Senator John McCain to be their 2008 presidential candidate.

Before they did that, there was political history made. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin became the first woman ever named to a GOP national ticket. Her acceptance in the Xcel Energy Center in Minneapolis is tonight's King's convention clip.


SARAH PALIN, (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mr. Chairman, delegates and fellow citizens, I will be honored to accept your nomination for vice president of the United States.


KING: Joining us again from last night, we'll have Democrats with us tonight and tomorrow night, responding, as we did last week with Republicans discussing the Democratic National Convention.

Joining us again is Robert Gibbs, Obama campaign senior adviser.

What did you think of her?

ROBERT GIBBS, OBAMA CAMPAIGN SENIRO ADVISOR: Well, look, she's a very poised individual, and I think she gives a very good speech. But, Larry, what really struck me about this speech, and quite frankly a lot of the other speeches tonight, was it was the same sort of nasty, divisive politics that unfortunately the American people have seen out of Washington for far too long. It's what stands in the way along with lobbyists and special interests from getting things done for the American people. I think people want a change from that. I think they want something different.

And as a number of people have pointed out, for the second night in a row, we've yet to hear what John McCain would do to get this economy back on track, to create jobs, to free ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil or to make health care more affordable. I think those are really lacking, and I think that's what Americans want to hear. They want to know how they're going to get this country moving again and moving this economy forward again. You know, two days into the Republican convention, we've yet to hear that.

KING: Palin, the self-described hockey mom, delivered some verbal body checks to Barack Obama tonight. Here's an example, Robert.


PALIN: I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don't quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they're listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren't listening. No, we tend to prefer candidates who don't talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.


KING: Robert Gibbs, was that fair game?

GIBBS: Well, look, if that's the argument that they want to make, that's certainly up to them. Again, we don't hear anything about what Governor Sarah Palin and John McCain want to do to get this economy moving again. I think it's more of the same divisive political attacks that we've come to expect. It's not going to put anybody back to work. It's not going to create any new jobs.

Look, let me tell you a little bit about what Barack Obama did when he moved to Chicago. He went into neighborhoods that have been decimated by steel plants that had been closed and helped those guys get job training and get jobs and get back up on their feet. That's what Barack Obama's done with his life, and I think that's an experience that we'll put up against the governor of Alaska or the senator from Arizona, or quite frankly, anybody else in this race.

KING: One more clip to show you of Sarah Palin's speech. Another slam at Obama. Watch.


PALIN: And now I've noticed a pattern with our opponent. And maybe you have, too. We've all heard his dramatic speeches before devoted followers. And there is much to like and admire about our opponent. But listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that this is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or even a reform not even in the state senate.


KING: Robert, is she going to argue experience?

GIBBS: Well, look, I hope if she continues that argument, that she'll get her facts straight. You know, she said she hadn't spent a lot of time in Washington, but, boy, the Washington attacks sure flowed tonight.

Let's talk about what Barack Obama has done, and I did a little of this last night, Larry, when Joe Lieberman tried to say the same false things. We've worked across party lines to reform our ethics, to keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of terrorists. Let me tell you about reform. Barack Obama changed -- strong ethics reform in Chicago, strong ethics reform in the state legislature, and strong ethics reform in the United States Senate. That's why a lobbyist can't walk up to a member of the senate right now and hand them a gift or a free meal because of the law that Barack Obama wrote when he was a United States Senator. We'll put our record of reform up against anybody in this race. And I think quite frankly we'll come out ahead because we've made tough choices in this race. Barack Obama's made tough choices. He's taken on members even of his own party and reformed the way Washington works. That's what leadership is all about.

KING: What are you expecting tomorrow night from Senator McCain?

GIBBS: Well, look, again, the last day of the convention, I think it would be a great time for Republicans and John McCain to finally whisper to the American people what their plans are for changing this country. We've got skyrocketing unemployment, skyrocketing gas costs, food's getting more expensive, health care's getting more expensive. Two speakers and not one idea on how we're going to fix any of that. I think the American people are eager to hear what John McCain's plan is, and they hope it's not the same as George Bush. But unfortunately it is. Tax breaks for big companies. Tax breaks for big oil. Barack Obama wants to reform our tax code, give tax cuts to the middle class and get our economy moving again.

KING: Thanks, Robert, see you again tomorrow night. Robert Gibbs.

GIBBS: Thanks, Larry.

KING: Obama campaign senior adviser. The official roll call continues on the floor. Back with more Democrats after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... South Carolina; Major General Edward Beckonbeer, United states Air Force retired of Ohio, U.S. Air Force retired of Ohio; Colonel Thomas Moe (Ph), U.S. Air Force retired of Ohio...




PALIN: In politics, there are some candidates who use change to promote their careers. And then there are those like John McCain who use their careers to promote change.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: We're back with the Democrats criticizing the Republicans. And since a woman took center stage tonight, we thought it appropriate to be three women on in the next couple of panels. In San Francisco is Congresswoman Debbie Wassermann Schultz, now a supporter of Barack Obama. In Minneapolis, our frequent friend Stephanie Miller, talk radio host doing her program from Minneapolis. And in Washington, Kiki McLean, senior adviser to the Hillary campaign, now supporting Barack Obama.

Congresswoman Schultz, what did you make of the address by the Alaska governor?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMANN SCHULTZ, (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I mean, I saw it. It was a tirade of attacks. And it was really surprising that the case that Governor Palin made for her candidacy for vice president is her experience in negotiating the sale of her state's plane on eBay. If that is an indication of her preparedness to run this country and have her hand on the pillar of America's foreign policy, if God forbid anything happens to John McCain, then we are in for a scary proposition. I think we need to make sure...

KING: Stephanie?

SCHULTZ: I'm sorry, go ahead.

KING: No, go ahead and finish, Deb.

SCHULTZ: No, I was just going to say, we need to make sure that we have someone in the White House as president and vice president with the experience, with the temperament, with the ability and the vision to move this country in a new direction and restore voters' confidence in their government. Right now the wealthiest Americans have had their president. It's time for the working families' turn.

KING: Stephanie, we're going to run a clip now from the speech by Governor Palin tonight, how she worked into a position as a reformer, and then we'll ask you to comment. Watch.


PALIN: I came to office promising major ethics reform to end the culture of self-dealing. And today that ethics reform is the law. While I was at it, I got rid of a few things in the governor's office that I didn't believe our citizens should have to pay for. That luxury jet was over the top. I put it on eBay.


KING: OK, Stephanie, how effective was that?

STEPHANIE MILLER, TALK RADIO HOST: I got to agree with Congresswoman Schultz here. If that's your only qualification to be vice president or president, it's not much. I agree. I thought it was really kind of a nasty string of attacks against Barack Obama and kind of a lot of low blows about community organizing, and kind of ludicrous, Larry, in my opinion, coming from somebody of her limited experience. She's criticizing Barack Obama's experience? This is someone who was mayor of a town of 9,000 that she left in debt? And she's touting herself as somebody that's qualified to judge Barack Obama's experience.

I just -- I found it surprising. I thought it had the same tone as Rudy Giuliani's speech, which was just nasty, I thought. Just a whole different feeling if you watched the Obama speech.

KING: And, Kiki McLean, Palin stirred up the crowd with references to the so-called elite and media. Take a look.

PALIN: I've learned quickly these last few days that if you're not a member in good standing of the Washington elite, then some in the media consider a candidate unqualified for that reason alone. But -- but -- now, here's a little news flash. Here's a little news flash for those reporters and commentators. I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this great country.

KING: OK, Kiki McLean, you may disagree, but was it effective?

KIKI MCLEAN, SENIOR ADVISOR, HILLARY CLINTON CAMPAIGN: Well, listen. She gave some great political theater tonight. You know, Larry, I'm from Texas, the home of famous women officials who can give great speeches, like Ann Richards. And that's great. As a woman leader, I'm thrilled to see her on a ticket. As a mother who talked proudly about her family, that was great. But it doesn't change the dynamic that Barack Obama and John McCain are running for president against one another. And it's really the difference of the agendas of these two tickets.

Robert Gibbs said something earlier that I thought was fascinating which was about where is the economy in all of this? You know, I'm a Hillary supporter originally, and I can tell you that those men and women who supported her were focused on what was happening to the economy. So if the plan here is to try to attract some of those supporters, they're missing the point about not talking about the economy and what they're going to do. You've got half a million more women today unemployed since George Bush was president. We look up and we say what do I see? I see McCain, Palin. They're willing to take us into four more years of the last eight years. Or I can look at Barack Obama and Joe Biden and say these are guys that have a plan to move our country forward when it comes to the economy. This is a no-brainer.

KING: Congresswoman Schultz, do you expect tomorrow night we will hear an economic plan from Senator McCain?

SCHULTZ: Well, it would be shocking if we didn't. But so far, it's just like Barack Obama said in his acceptance speech, it's been clear that John McCain and now Sarah Palin just don't get it. I mean, they are really out of touch with the needs of the American people. I mean, for Sarah Palin not even to mention -- Kiki's absolutely right. And I was a Hillary supporter, along with Barack Obama now -- and for her to not mention the economy in her speech at all, is astounding. I mean, it was just a tirade of attacks. She can't run away from the fact that this administration that John McCain supports has botched the aftermath of Katrina, appointed an unqualified director of FEMA, supports leaving us mired in this misguided war in Iraq, leaving our troops twisting in the wind, thinks we can drill our way out of this energy crisis and doesn't understand that the economy needs to be turned around. That's the record that they're running on and the record they support. I'm a proud woman elected official myself and a mom of young kids. But that is not a singular qualification to be vice president.

KING: Stephanie, though, aren't they up against it a little -- first of all, they've got the most unpopular president in history. You've got an economy in trouble, a war that's unpopular. So this is the tact you take, isn't it?

MILLER: Well, that's it, Larry. When things aren't going well, that's what you do, you blame the media. Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, said this isn't about issues, this campaign. I guess they'd better hope it's not about issues because they're losing on all the issues. You're exactly right. And that's why I agree with our guests tonight, that this speech wasn't about anything except attacks about Barack Obama. It didn't say what they're going to do. That's why I thought it was just -- it was really surprising to me in that way.

And I tell you one other thing I resent as a woman is we've been told all week that we should lay off the Palin family, that that's off bounds. But it's OK for them to use them as props tonight and for them to keep putting them into photo ops and keep using them politically. I found it really distasteful.

KING: We'll be back with more of this outstanding panel as we resume "LARRY KING LIVE, Late Edition" right after this.



PALIN: When the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot -- when that happens, what exactly is our opponent's plan?


KING: We're back.

Kiki McLean, I want you to watch this clip. Republicans crying sexism and pushing back against questions and criticisms of Sarah Palin. Rudy Giuliani sounded that theme this way. Watch.


RUDY GIULIANI, (R), FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: How dare they question whether Sarah Palin has enough time to spend with her children and be vice president. How dare they do that! When did they ever ask a man that question? When?


KING: Kiki, was that a fair charge, the charge of her running -- raising a family and being vice president is sexist?

MCLEAN: Well, if somebody was asking that question, it certainly would be. All I've heard tonight is they, they, they. And I don't know who it is that's made that charge against her. If somebody could show me who has actually made that charge against her, I'd agree with it.

What I think's really in question here, and I think the question that's gone on for the last few days, is how John McCain made the decision to pick the running mate that he picked. What I question is the fact that she's the big reformer against earmarks, and yet she hired a lobbyist to get earmarks for the city that she represented as mayor. What I've heard is her story about canceling that bridge to nowhere, but yet potentially still taking the federal money into the state of Alaska. So these are all substantive debates.

If there are people making that charge to her, I'm a working mom, my decision for my family, her decision for her family. I just don't know who it is that's actually made that charge.

KING: Congresswoman Schultz, is it going to be rough for your vice presidential nominee to debate her in the sense that he's got to tread a thin line? In other words, he can't be too rough, can he? Or they're going to say he's attacking a woman? Isn't it going to be hard?

SCHULTZ: Very quickly, I'm a mom of three young kids, and I'm balancing a working family myself. I've had that charge that you just referred to levied against me. I've not heard it levied against Sarah Palin. What she's being criticized about is her lack of qualifications. And that's fair game in any political campaign. She's simply not qualified to be president of the United States because she doesn't have the experience. It has nothing to do with her ability to manage her family. I'm managing my three kids and my husband and I are working together to do that. But no one's levied that charge at Sarah Palin. And I agree with Kiki on that.


MILLER: I know somebody who has, Congresswoman. It's not Barack Obama or his campaign or anybody in the Democratic Party. Dr. Laura has leveled that charge. Dr. Laura and the women they appeal to on the right.

KING: What does Dr. Laura have to do with this campaign?

MILLER: No, but, Larry, she came out and said she's stunned at this pick, that the Republican party couldn't find someone with older children, a woman with a child with Down syndrome and a pregnant 17- year-old and running for vice president. That's a woman that's on the right that said that, not Barack Obama or his campaign. SCHULTZ: Stephanie, sexism is a serious charge. I'll tell you, did the see the buttons at the convention tonight that said "Hottest VP from the coolest state"? I mean, if we're talking about sexism, that's a pretty sexist description of their vice presidential candidate. Throwing sexism around in a cheap way is wrong.

MILLER: What I find most insulting as a woman is that the women that supported Hillary will automatically support Governor Palin because she's a woman. To me that is so insulting to imply that she has anywhere near the experience or judgment of Hillary Clinton.

KING: Kiki, will Joe Biden face a tough task in debating her?

MCLEAN: Look, clearly Governor Palin's tough. She can take it. She'll be fine. Joe Biden will get in there, and he'll make his case for the ticket. Where Governor Palin will run into trouble is that there's not an agenda for the national security issues nor the economic issues this country faces that can really hold up in a debate. That's where she'll be in trouble. This won't be about her gender. Joe Biden is a respectful, smart, thoughtful guy who will engage in a respectful and smart and thoughtful debate. I don't think we have to worry about that on our end.

KING: Do you think Hillary Clinton, Congresswoman Schultz -- more people are mentioning her at the Republican convention than the Democratic convention. Do you think she should weigh in on this nomination?

SCHULTZ: I think she will weigh in. She's weighed in to a certain degree so far. I think she'll weigh in and talk about the fact that Sarah Palin is wrong on all the issues that matter to her supporters. Last Tuesday night in Hillary's speech, she appealed to her supporters and reached into their hearts and told them to think about whether they supported her or all the reasons that she ran.

Sarah Palin is wrong on a woman's right to make reproductive choices, equal pay for equal work, health care. As governor, she line-item vetoed funding for seniors, funding for health care, funding for children. She actually opposed and line-item vetoed funding for teen -- for pregnant teens. So her record is clear. Joe Biden, when he debates her, is going to talk about the issues that are important to America, and I think that they'll engage in a full and fair debate, gender notwithstanding.

KING: Stephanie, is there any chance that she could override the nominee, that she could get more attention than Senator McCain? She might be a more effective speaker.

MILLER: Well, you know, I think she's certainly, you know, a novelty because this is the first time, obviously, the Republican party has nominated a woman, but I think my -- your guests here make the point that it's not just, you know -- that's what's insulting, to think that you're going to vote for a woman just because she's a woman. Hillary Clinton supporters supported Hillary because she had experience. She had judgment that Sarah Palin just does not have -- she's been governor for 20 months, and she's under investigation. She was mayor of a town of 9,000 that she put into debt. I think it's laughable.

KING: What do you make, Kiki, of the attacks on the media?

MCLEAN: Well, you know, I think she's sort of preaching to the choir there in her own convention hall. They want to find an enemy. And look, I'm somebody who -- after the campaign we went through in the primary, didn't have a great day with the media every day. She didn't win any new voters for the McCain-Palin campaign today with that. She merely fired up her own troops in-house who like to have a strong man to punch at.

KING: What do you expect tomorrow night, Kiki?

MCLEAN: I think John McCain has got to step up to the plate with what his agenda is or it's going to be a failed convention. It's that simple.

KING: Simple as that.

What do you expect, Stephanie?

MILLER: John McCain tomorrow night? Boy, it's going to be tough to top that Barack Obama speech, isn't it? I can only hope that he brings that horrible green background with him and does that same speech he did a few weeks ago.

You know, I don't know. Like they say, maybe if it's just, you know, for his base, that's clearly what this Sarah Palin thing was all about. It was clearly a cynical ploy to try to fire up their base, the evangelical base. So we'll see. I don't know how it's going to play tomorrow.

KING: More with the Democrats right after this.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready to party in this house tonight!

MIKE HUCKABEE, (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: John McCain is a man with the character and the stubborn kind of integrity that we need in a president.

MITT ROMNEY, (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People in our party prefer straight talk to politically correct talk.

GIULIANI: John McCain got it right, and Barack Obama got it wrong!

PALIN: I will be honored to accept your nomination for vice president of the United States.

News flash for those reporters and commentators, I'm not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I'm going to Washington to serve the people of this great country. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Don't you think we made the right choice for the next vice president of the United States?


KING: We're back with our panel, Congresswoman Schultz, do you think that the governor is using her children in a way? I mean, she has these five children, one has Down syndrome, one is pregnant and parading them all on stage? Is there any way that that stems like usage to you?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ, (D) FL: That's a completely unfair suggestion. I mean, I'll tell you, when you're a mom, like I am, like she is, your children are a part of you. I mean, in order for me to be able to spend the kind of quality time that I want to spend with my kid, they come with me to events, they are part of my life, and quite honestly, they make it so that you are a better policymaker. So I think that suggestion is totally unfair and I really think her family should be off limits.

KING: Do you agree with that, Stephanie?

STEPHANIE MILLER, TALK RADIO HOST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Well, you know, congresswoman, I think the problem is that they have been telling us, you know, her family is completely off limits. And unfortunately, this is from the party that's been the one that's judged everybody else on family values for years. And so, you know, you can only just imagine if this were the Democratic candidate that had a teenage pregnant daughter.

So I think that's why people have had a little trouble with this, that you know, that she's using them in interviews and onstage. So it's a little -- I think it's an interesting dilemma. I understand what you're saying, but how can you have it both ways? How can you say the family's off limits and then use the family?

KIKI MCLEAN, SUPPORTS OBAMA: I have to say simply in this case, I think tonight she was a proud mother. And I don't think -- you know, I think every parent has to make their own choice. I have a six-year- old, I have a four-year-old. I don't live in the public eye the way the congresswoman does or Governor Palin does, so I don't have to make those kind of decisions, but I do think tonight in those moments at the beginning of the speech when she spoke about her family, she spoke about them with pride and was proud, the same way she was proud to salute their parents in the box.

KING: Do you think now they should go in the background?

MCLEAN: I think she will have to make that choice, the same way that Senator and Mrs. Obama have to make a choice about the way their children participate. When I worked with president and Senator Clinton during the '92 presidential campaign and the Gores, their children were much younger. Each of the kids were interested and involved at different levels. They were at different stages of their life. And each family has to make decisions about what works for them. These people are in unique circumstances who are running for the highest office in the country, and it brings great scrutiny, much of it appropriate, some of it unfair.

And I think Senator Obama drew an appropriate line, but that doesn't mean it's realistic that we will go without knowing about the families all the way through.

KING: Congresswoman Schultz ...


KING: Generally, Congresswoman Schultz, vice presidential candidates have been the attack dogs. And the presidential candidate's sort of above the fray. Is that what you expect from the governor?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Well, I think you're going to see that from John McCain and from Sarah Palin because that's all they have. I mean, they have -- they're wrong on the issues. And tomorrow night, you'll hear John McCain use the same tired old scare tactics that the Republican Party has had to use for the last several presidential cycles because unless they strike fear in the hearts of Americans, they really can't earn the voters' support. So I think you'll see repeated attacks, some more subtle from John McCain than the direct overt ones we saw tonight from Sarah Palin. But because they're wrong on the economy, wrong on the war in Iraq, wrong on health care, wrong on energy, they can only attack the vision and agenda of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

KING: What do you expect, Stephanie, in the race ahead?

MILLER: Well, Larry, you know, I think that the congresswoman is correct. Again, this is the same play they run every time. President Bush said you've got to elect John McCain because of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, 9/11, it's this fear mongering they do every single time, Larry.

Because as we've been saying, they're wrong on the issues. And as the McCain campaign manager said this isn't going to be about the issues, so they have to make it about, ooh, look, Barack Obama is different and do this fearmongering thing that they do every time. I just don't think it's going to work this time.

KING: Kiki, what's their role going to be?

MCLEAN: Well, I think having traveled with a few vice presidential candidates, I suspect they'll put Governor Palin on the road out in small rural markets to have those conversations. I don't think that that will overcome the real profile of the entire ticket really led by John McCain. I mean, here's one of the challenges. They're not just reverting to sort of the old agenda that they have, that they've been running in campaign after campaign after campaign. But part of it is that John McCain's not really seen as the new ideas guy because he's not got a record of moving new ideas forward. So it's not going to give Governor Palin a lot to work with out there either. Traditionally vice presidential nominee and ticket partner goes out to promote the agenda of the senior member of the ticket. And right now she doesn't have a lot to work with.

KING: All right. Do you agree, Congresswoman Schultz?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: I do. I think that because John McCain really only has fear to fall back on, because he has a tax policy that would continue to support the wealthiest one percent and Barack Obama's tax plan would give a tax cut to 95 percent of American families, that they only have the opportunity and the ability to strike fear into the hearts of Americans and try to scare them into electing John McCain which essentially would be a third Bush presidency.

The American people are not going to fall for it this time. They want change. They want to move in a new direction.

KING: Thank you all very much. Representative Debbie Wassermann- Schultz will remain. She'll be with our next panel. We thank Stephanie Miller and Kiki McLean for joining us. Some other GOP stars tore into the Democrats tonight, are they making their case against the Republicans? Don't go away.



PALIN: What exactly is our opponent's plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish after he's done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer -- the answer is to make government bigger and take more of your money and give you more orders from Washington and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world.


KING: Our new panel is assembled, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman- Schultz, Democrat of Florida remains with us. She is in San Francisco.

Joining us in St. Paul, Minnesota is Jamal Simmons, adviser to the Democratic National Committee, heads his own media company and is a strategist for Progressive Media USA, supporter of Barack Obama.

And in Fargo, North Dakota, our friend, Ed Schultz, talk radio host, host of his own program, as well supporter of Barack Obama. One more night of this following the McCain speech, we'll have democrats as well tomorrow night and then return to our regular hours starting Friday, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

All right, Jamal Simmons, we're going to show you a clip and want you to comment, another excerpt from the big speech of the night. Here's Sarah Palin hailing John McCain and attacking the Democrats. Watch.


PALIN: Harry Reid, the majority of the current do-nothing Senate. He not long ago summed up his feelings about our nominee. He said, quote, "I can't stand John McCain." Ladies and gentlemen, perhaps no accolade we hear this week is better proof that we've chosen the right man. Clearly what the majority leader was driving at is that he can't stand up to John McCain. And that is only -- that's only one more reason to take the maverick out of the Senate, put him in the White House.


KING: And Harry Reid later called that shrill, called that speech shrill. Jamal Simmons, what do you make of all this?

JAMAL SIMMONS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, she's a little tough. I think one of her nicknames from high school was Sarah Barracuda, I think we saw some pretty sharp elbows out of the potential vice president, I guess the Republican nominee for vice president tonight. Like many of your guests already said tonight, we did not hear any positive plans that Governor Palin has for America and Senator McCain has for America. I think a lot of America's looking to figure out what are they going to do about health care which John McCain wants to tax our health care benefits from our employers, what will they do to create jobs? John McCain wants to give $400 million more in tax cuts to the wealthy in tax cuts. So they have to figure out how they sell this bad plan to America and I think John McCain has to be the person to carry that water tomorrow because nobody else has so far this week.

KING: Ed Schultz, what's your read on the occurrences tonight?

ED SCHULTZ, "THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW": Well, you know, Larry on radio row the last few days we've heard the republicans say we were going to hear from the next generation conservative. Well, OK, she is a next generation conservative, but this speech tonight flat out was not visionary. It was lacking in detail, and I was interested to see the focus on rural America tonight. Now, I live in rural America, and I broadcast in rural America, and I can tell that you the G.I. Bill means a lot to the folks in rural America, the Farm Bill, also the energy situation in this country. Interesting to know that John McCain voted against the tax credits for both wind and solar. We found out what their energy policy was tonight when the crowd was yelling "drill, baby, drill."

They don't have a plan. That's their plan right there. They don't want to help out entrepreneurs in the energy sector whatsoever. And I thought she was very short on detail tonight. There's a lot of people on this network falling all over themselves about how wonderful the speech was. I thought it fell short. OK, she could read a teleprompter. Big deal.

KING: Congresswoman Schultz, you thought it was effective, though, did you not?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: You know, I thought she delivered it well. And that's about all the credit I can give her. You know, I've seen candidates for the student council in public schools in my district deliver speeches well also. That doesn't mean it's their turn to run the country. The American people want substance. They wanted to hear plans. They wanted to hear what direction does Sarah Palin think this country should go? Does she support universal health care? No, she doesn't. Does she support bringing our troops home from this misguided war in Iraq? She certainly doesn't. So she couldn't talk about any of those things. All she could do was shoot barbs at Barack Obama and Joe Biden. That's not going to carry her all the way through to November 4th, nor is it going to help John McCain.

KING: Jamal Simmons, do you think she will be an effective campaigner, purely from a standpoint of effectiveness?

SIMMONS: You know, Larry, I've been through a few of these presidential campaigns and seen some of these vice presidential candidates up close. Again, like we heard tonight, she gave a pretty good speech. I mean, she read the teleprompter. I think they wrote a good speech for her. I think she came off in some ways sounding very genuine.

The problem is it's tough to get used to the big, bright lights of a presidential and vice presidential campaign when you've never been on the stage before, which also, you know, gets us back to she hasn't really been a surrogate for John McCain traveling the country. People have never really seen her before. There are a lot of questions about how she was vetted, when she was vetted, how much she was vetted. But when she gets out on the campaign trail and people are paying attention to every single word that she says, we'll see how she holds up under the bright lights.

And it's typically tough for even the best politician. So we'll see what happens.

KING: Three of McCain's former rivals spoke tonight, and we'll hear a clip from one of them, and we'll have Ed Schultz's comment right after this.



MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER AR GOVERNOR: And speaking of governor Palin, I am so tired of hearing about her lack of experience, I want to tell you folks something. She got more votes running for mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, than Joe Biden got running for president of the United States.


KING: That was Mike Huckabee, one of three opponents of John McCain all of whom spoke tonight. Another was Rudy Giuliani. We're going to show a clip of Rudy, former mayor of New York, and ask Ed Schultz to comment. Watch.


GIULIANI: But he's never run a city. He's never run a state. He's never run a business. He's never run a military unit. He's never had to lead people in crisis.

He is the least experienced candidate for president of the United States in at least the last 100 years. Not a personal attack, a statement of fact. Barack Obama has never led anything, nothing, nada!


KING: Whoa! What do you make of that, Mr. Schultz?

SCHULTZ: Well, you're asking -- yeah, you're right, Larry, but you're asking the right guy because I'm no Rudy Giuliani fan, that's for sure. If you want to compare Barack Obama's campaign to Rudy Giuliani's campaign, I don't think Rudy would ever get 40 million people watching him on TV. The fact is is that Barack Obama has been able to accomplish a lot when it comes to reform, when he was a state senator in Illinois, in his short period of time in the Senate, let's be honest, this is undoubtedly not a long period of time for Barack Obama in the Senate. But he has been able to get through sweeping legislation in dealing with ethics reform, and that's all the vice presidential candidate talked about tonight was ethics reform. That's the one thing that she hit on pretty hard.

I also think you should go to Senator Dick Lugar in Illinois -- or Indiana and ask him what he thinks of Barack Obama when he was dealing with the Russians on loose nukes. The fact is Barack Obama has the ultimate respect of everybody in that Senate. And that's something that Rudy Giuliani can't say. Now, if the measure is running a crisis, what has John McCain done when it comes to crisis? You'll notice again tonight, a lot of the focus on McCain was what happened to him 40 years ago when he was in captivity. And honoring his service. And I think the Democrats have done a lot of that. But the fact is, that doesn't mean that John McCain is ready to run this country, and that doesn't mean that his plan -- and I'm still trying to figure out what it is when he's talking about the economy -- is better than Barack Obama's.

KING: Congresswoman Schultz, was Giuliani over the top?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: You know, the bottom line here, Larry, is that Sarah Palin fails John McCain's threshold test for experience. You know, over the last several months, John McCain has been talking about the need for foreign policy experience in a candidate for president.

Sarah Palin would be one heartbeat away from the presidency. Suddenly foreign policy experience is no longer important. The executive experience that they attributed to her tonight, I mean, if that is so incredibly important, then maybe the wrong person is at the top of their ticket.

Because John McCain has absolutely no executive experience whatsoever.

So, look. Let's focus on what's important to the American people. We need to make sure that the government focuses on the needs of working families. Barack Obama would adopt, in the Congress, a tax cut that would benefit 95 percent of working families. And under a McCain administration, the wealthy would continue to get tax cut after tax cut. It is working families' turn, Larry, and Americans are going to respond to that.

KING: OK. We have one more -- you wanted to add something? SIMMONS: Yeah, I wanted to say, the other thing that John McCain was telling with Sarah Palin is that she's a reformer. What we've come to find out about Sarah Palin, one, she said she was against the bridge to nowhere, then when found out she was for the bridge to nowhere. She was against earmarks, we found out she was getting earmarks for her city and state, and she's got an ethics violation going on in Alaska having to do with a trooper and trying to get somebody fired, the police commissioner fired. He says she's a reformer like he is, I doubt he really is either, but it turns out she's really not. There's a lot more to learn about Sarah Palin, and that's what we'll learn about over the course of the next few weeks.

KING: And we'll be back with more moments and another clip from a speech by Mike Huckabee from our panel right after this.



MITT ROMNEY, FORMER MA GOVERNOR: If America really wants a change, it's time to look for the sun in the West, because it's about to rise and shine from Arizona and Alaska!


KING: We're going to have a couple calls in a moment, but first, one more clip. This from the convention speech by Governor Mike Huckabee. He goes off his prepared speech here and looks at the media. Watch.


HUCKABEE: I'd like to thank the elite media for doing something that, quite frankly, I wasn't sure could be done. And that's unifying the Republican Party and all of America in support of Senator McCain and Governor Palin. The reporting of the past few days have proven tackier than a costume change at a Madonna concert.


KING: Let's take a call. Iowa City, Iowa, hello.

CALLER: Hello. My question is is what further experience does the Democratic Party exactly want from Senator Palin? I mean ...

KING: Governor Palin.

CALLER: Actions speak louder than words, and she has done an outstanding job in Alaska. And I just want to comment furthermore on the bridge to nowhere, sure, she was supportive of it at first, but secondly, the federal government only wanted to go so far with it. And so she devised a way ...

KING: Do you have a question, sir?

CALLER: Yes, I do.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: Bottom line is what further experience do the Democrats want from Senator Palin? Her actions speak louder than words.

KING: It's Governor Palin and what do you want from her, Congresswoman Schultz?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Well, she should have more than 20 months running a state smaller than my congressional district. We want to make sure we have someone with the ability and judgment to run this country in the event, God forbid, something happens to John McCain. When she ran for mayor of Wasilla, she had a total of 1,100 votes. Her budget was $12 million. It does take some seasoning and some judgment and quite a bit more government experience than she has to be able to run a country that's the size of the United States of America and be able to deal with the significant issues that you have to deal with when it comes to foreign policy arena. She just doesn't measure up.

KING: Shanahan, Illinois, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry, how you doing?


CALLER: I would just like to -- about the family issue, that Governor Palin's having her family there and everything, but why is it OK for Barack Obama to have his family and parade them around on the stage and have his little girl talk and try to make him look like a good dad.

KING: From the way you say that, you're against both, you're against her having her family and Barack having his family.

CALLER: No, no.

KING: You made a mockery of Barack. I assume then you're against her, too.

CALLER: No, it's just, my point is ...

KING: So is it OK for Barack to have his family? Then why ...

CALLER: People on your show condemning her for her family being around ...

KING: But you're not condemning Barack?


KING: Let me get that straight, you are condemning ...

CALLER: I'm condemning the people on your show that talk about the families.

KING: I don't think anyone here condemned -- maybe earlier one of our guests condemned ... CALLER: Why is it OK for Barack Obama to have his little girls on stage and talk.

SCHULTZ: I can answer that, Larry. Larry, let me answer that. This has been a hot topic on talk radio the last few days. The governor from Alaska has taken a position on abstinence. She has taken a position of no sex education in the classroom in this country and public education. Those are political positions.

And now her family situation is outside of that political position. No one's trying to get after a 17-year-old kid or a young couple. But the fact is, what is happening with her personally is not where she is politically. That's the discussion.

Now, both these politicians, every politician, walks their families out on the stage. It's an American political tradition. There's nothing wrong with that. I thought tonight that she looked like a normal mom, a normal wife, and someone who wanted to do something for the country. I thought her play as a hockey mom was good. I know -- my boys played hockey, and so that's kind of a fraternity. I think that she was striking an accord with some moms out there. But that's why this issue is where it is because of her political positions.

KING: Jamal, you want to comment?

SIMMONS: Yeah, my issue -- I definitely have an issue, I think, about her experience, and I think the congresswoman talked to that very clearly. But the second part is about John McCain and his judgment and how he got to the point where he thought of all the people in the Republican Party, of all the senators, male, female, younger, older, that this is the person that he thought that he wanted when we come to find out from Dan Balz in "The Washington Post" today that the vetter didn't meet Sarah Palin until last Wednesday. The staff didn't meet her till Wednesday night. Senator McCain is going to meet her Thursday morning and offer her the job Thursday night. Two weeks ago, I don't know if anybody in the McCain campaign had her phone number. That seems like an extraordinarily fast time line to choose the person who's going to be sitting next to the president of the United States.

KING: We're out of time, guys. Thank you so much, Congresswoman Schultz ...

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Thank you, Larry.

KING: And Jamal Simmons and Ed Schultz. Is Sarah Palin helping or hurting john McCain? That's our "Quick Vote" question of the evening. Weigh in now at

Tomorrow is John McCain's night. He will accept the GOP nomination for president. And we'll be right back here at midnight Eastern/9:00 Pacific with a post-game report. That's LARRY KING LIVE special edition Thursday. Stay tuned now for continuing coverage of election 2008 on CNN.