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Lipstick Controversy

Aired September 10, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, lipstick politics. Sarah Palin's supporters are seeing red over this.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig.


KING: Is it a smear or a lot of hogwash?


OBAMA: And I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift boat politics.


KING: Distraction or a defining issue?

Will it change the face of the campaign?

Chuck Norris will kick the question around. He's here with his own political, friend Black Belt patriotism. The tough guy talks Palin and power, and takes no prisoners, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

We have outstanding We have outstanding with us in both sections of LARRY KING LIVE tonight.

We begin with Chuck Norris, the actor and the author of "Black Belt Patriotism: How To Reawaken America." He supported Mike Huckabee in the primaries and has not endorsed anyone in the general election. He's in New York.

In Galena, Illinois is Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary for George W. Bush, a supporter of McCain.

And here in Los Angeles, Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor of

Chuck, before we get to this lipstick saga, if you will, will you briefly tell us what Black Belt patriotism is?

CHUCK NORRIS, AUTHOR, "BLACK BELT PATRIOTISM": Well, you know, Larry, we're in serious trouble in our country. You know, with our national debt and the economy and border security and illegal immigration -- you know, these are things we need to deal with. And this is what this book is all about.

I did a lot of research trying to find out what the answers to these problems are. And I think my book, "Black Belt Patriotism: How To Reawaken America" kind of gives some common sense solutions to a lot of the problems that we're facing in our country.

KING: The big talk all day today has been this lipstick remark that Obama made last night. We just showed it.

What do you make of that?

Do you think lipstick politics has a place?

We'll start with you, Chuck.

NORRIS: Well, Larry, you know, I am -- I've been watching all day the political pundits talking about this pig with lipstick, you know?

And we've got some serious problems. And the pig with lipstick is not one of our serious problems in our country today.

And, you know, I think it's time to get off of it and start having our politicians or our candidates talking about the issues of what they're going to do if they should become president of this country. And none of them are addressing the issues that are really important. And this really frustrates me.

KING: OK. Before we get Ari and Arianna to comment, let's go back and see Obama's comment again from last night and we'll get some context.



OBAMA: John McCain says he's about change, too. And so -- and so I guess his whole angle is watch out, George Bush. Except for economic policy, health care policy, tax policy, education policy, foreign policy and Karl Rove-style politics, we're really going to shake things up in Washington.

That's not change. That's just calling the same thing something different. Well, you know, you can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig.


KING: Ari, do you think he was referring to Sarah Palin?

ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, PRESIDENT G.W. BUSH: No, Larry, I don't think he was referring to her. But the problem is the audience absolutely took it that way, as if it was aimed at her. Listen to how they reacted. And Barack Obama should have immediately chastised the audience and said no, no, no, we don't need those kinds of politics in this country. And then he wouldn't be in this controversy. He should have known better, after he said it, to fix what his audience started and credit the McCain campaign. In a political sense, they are one sharp operation, I've got to say.

KING: Arianna, the McCain camp insists that Obama was being sexist. Obama accuses McCain's campaign of lies, swift boat politics.

Where are we going with this?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, MANAGING EDITOR, HUFFINGTONPOST.COM: Oh, it is absurd. It is totally phony outrage. And the McCain campaign would love nothing better than to spend the rest of the 50 something days that we have left discussing Sarah Palin, pig on a lipstick, whether she did or did not sell her airplane on eBay. All that stuff is perfect for the McCain campaign, because it means we're not discussing the record of the last seven-and-a-half. We're not discussing the fact John McCain has voted with George Bush 90 percent of the time and intends to continue the same disastrous policies.

We are not discussing the fact every day we have more disastrous news, including now the possibility that Lehman Brothers may need to be bailed out. That's the latest disastrous news of today. And it's really like fiddling while Rome burns.

KING: Chuck, I want to play something for you and get you to comment.

NORRIS: Oh, sure.

KING: We'll get the whole panel to comment.


KING: The McCain camp put out a Web ad accusing Obama of smearing Sarah Palin.

We're going to show you part of it.



GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull -- lipstick.

OBAMA: Well, you know you can -- you know, you can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig.


KING: Now, Obama is fighting back.

And here's how he addressed the issue today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Enough. I don't care what they say about me, But I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift boat politics. Enough is enough.


OBAMA: So spare me the phony outrage. Spare me the phony talk about change. We have real problems in this country right now. The American people are looking to us for answers, not distractions, not diversions.


KING: Chuck, is it phony outrage?

NORRIS: Well, I would tell Barack Obama not to ad-lib. I would stick to my script that my speechwriters write for me, because once he starts ad-libbing, he always sticks his foot in his mouth.

KING: So do you think it's phony outrage, that it was a mistake for him to say it and the outrage is wrong?

What do you think?

NORRIS: I think it was a mistake for him to say that and he should have corrected himself and said look, now, I'm not talking about Sarah Palin here when I say lipstick on a pig. I'm not talking about her. But he didn't say that. He didn't correct himself. And that's that ad-libbing thing that he does, that he's always getting himself in trouble with.

KING: We'll be right back...

HUFFINGTON: Oh, but Chuck, you know...

KING: We'll be right back with Chuck and Ari and Arianna.

Was Sarah Palin the best possible choice for McCain?

That and other things.

Don't go away.



DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST: Have you ever actually put lipstick on a pig?


OBAMA: Well... LETTERMAN: Whoops.

OBAMA: The answer would be no. But I think it might be fun to try. This is sort of silly season in politics -- not that there's a non-silly season in politics...

LETTERMAN: That's right.

OBAMA: But it gets sillier and, you know, it's a common expression in at least Illinois. I don't know about New York City. I don't know where you put lipstick on here.



KING: That was Barack Obama on David Letterman tonight.

And, Ari, John McCain also used the lipstick on a pig reference a few months back when talking about Hillary Clinton.



MCCAIN: In 1993, we rejected the then Clinton universal health care proposal. It was rejected by the American people. I don't like to use this term, but the latest proposal I see is putting lipstick on a pig.


KING: Ari, in that regard...


KING: e-mail from Nova (ph) in Atlanta, Georgia: "How can the McCain camp accuse Obama of being sexist for a remark he uses? That's low and dirty politics --"

FLEISCHER: Well, listen, Larry...

KING: " -- the kind the American people are tired of."

FLEISCHER: I agree that it was not a deliberate statement by Barack Obama. But the problem was the audience -- the political audience instantly took it as a shot at Sarah Palin. Otherwise, it would have been a flat reaction if it was just a normal, non-sharp statement.

They loved it. He missed that chance and he should have chastised -- corrected the audience.

I think the McCain campaign is running with this and here's what's going to happen next. They'll run with it for today and that's it. Tomorrow is September 11th. You're going to see Barack Obama and John McCain together in New York. And Sarah Palin is going to do an interview tomorrow night on ABC News. Everybody is going to dissect that interview for how's she doing. And the campaign will be onto totally different issues on September 14th...

KING: Oh...

FLEISCHER: ...two days from tomorrow.

KING: Thankfully, Arianna...

FLEISCHER: But what's really happening is...

KING: (INAUDIBLE) yes, I'm sorry, Arianna.

FLEISCHER: What's really happened is...

KING: I'm sorry, Ari.

Go ahead. Go ahead.

FLEISCHER: I just think what's really happened, it's been two weeks where John McCain has really been setting the agenda and is enjoying his bounce. And in a campaign with only 50 days to go, McCain's people and John McCain are running a pretty smart operation.

KING: Wouldn't you agree, Arianna?

HUFFINGTON: I think it is smart and shameful. There is no question that Sarah Palin has been good for John McCain. She's been like a Trojan moose, concealing four more years of disaster, if this ploy works.

And it's really up to Barack Obama to make sure it doesn't work. And the way to do that is to release his righteous rage. There is an enormous amount of anger in America at the moment about what has happened to this country over the last at least almost eight years...

KING: But he doesn't get angry. He doesn't get angry.

HUFFINGTON: ...and he needs to get angry. He did get angry when he said enough during his speech -- his acceptance speech. And he repeated this enough today. Enough should be theme of the rest of the campaign -- enough.

And that's really how the American people feel. And they are looking for a leader -- a transformational leader to really tap into that outrage, the indignation about what the Republican Party has done to this country.

And he can do that. And, you know, there are many people -- there are many incredible -- you know, Martin Luther King showed rage. Nelson Mandela showed rage. And great African-American actors, whether it's Sidney Poitier or Denzel Washington, showed rage without playing into the caricature of the angry black man that the Obama campaign is worried about.

KING: Chuck, since you like Sarah Palin so much, why don't you endorse this ticket?

NORRIS: Well, right now, I'm just -- I'm staying Independent right now. I haven't made my final decision yet. I'm going to wait and see what happens in the next to -- you know, 50 some days. And, you know -- because the thing is, I don't see any leadership at all on either side at this point in time. And Arianna is wrong. You know, Barack Obama has no experience to lead our country in the future. And I don't even know if John McCain has it or not. And I'm leaning toward a third party.

KING: Really?

NORRIS: Um-hmm.

KING: In an interview, Ari, with Telemundo late today, McCain was asked what he hates most about the campaign.

Watch and I'll have you comment.


MCCAIN: Probably the negativism with all these negative ads and personal attacks. Senator Obama's recent comments about lipstick on a pig.


KING: All right, is that hypocritical, Ari, since he used the same comment?

FLEISCHER: Well, you know, both candidates are doing this and I think it's an eternal part of American politics, Larry. You go back to Thomas Jefferson. He put on his payroll somebody to go after John Adams. And everybody decries it. Every four years, we all watch people do it.

You know, what's really at stake here is whether this is a change election or not. This country is craving change. And I'm sad to say that, because you know where my loyalties are.

But the real issue here is can John McCain take a big enough chunk of the change vote away from Barack Obama?

And with the Sarah Palin pick, he looks like he's on his way to reinforcing his own maverick credentials.

If I we were Barack Obama, I would never talk about Sarah Palin again. They need to run against John McCain. And John McCain has really -- and Sarah Palin -- successfully, at least so far, stolen a big chunk of that change vote away. And that's what's propelled him into the lead in the recent days.

KING: And you would have to agree, Arianna. They have -- they are not running well.

HUFFINGTON: Well, there is no question that Ari Fleischer is right on this. You know, they should stop talking about Sarah Palin. This campaign is about John McCain and his real running mate is George Bush and the disaster that he has brought to this country -- I'm sorry, Ari, about that.

And that's really the campaign. And that's why 82 percent of the American people think we're on the wrong track. And that's why John McCain has no chance of winning, unless he misleads the American people into really believing that he's still a maverick. The maverick that John McCain was -- and he was a maverick in 2000 -- is no more. He's not on the ballot.

KING: Chuck, I'm back to the same thing. I saw you shaking your head no.

Why aren't you endorsing this ticket?

NORRIS: Well, you know, the whole thing is, I was impressed with John McCain's speech, because our biggest problem today is big government, where the power isn't in the people's hands, it's in the government's hands.

You know, Congress when -- and I'm blaming both Republicans and Democrats here, because when the Democratic majority was in Congress -- or the Republican majority -- they ran our country into the ground. And then, when the Democrats took over two years ago, they ran it deeper into the ground.

So, you know, really, if you think about it, the president is the head, but the Congress is the body. And, you know, and they -- they're the ones that dictate policy in our country. And they're the ones we've got to learn to control and figure out a way of controlling this bloated bureaucracy that we have in our country.

HUFFINGTON: You know, these platitudes against government are really amusing at a time when government is taking over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, when that bailed out Bear Stearns, when it's constantly being called up on to bail out institution after institution, supposedly of the free market.

And it's laughable to keep talking about getting government out of our way.

What are we talking about -- Medicare, Social Security, the roads, infrastructure?

KING: All right, let me get a break...

NORRIS: Arianna, you're going to bill us right into bankruptcy.

KING: We'll be right back. Hold it.

NORRIS: You're going to bill us right into bankruptcy. You're going to bill us right into bankruptcy with all these bailouts.

KING: So you would not have bailed -- Chuck...


KING: would not have helped Freddie Mac...

NORRIS: No. What's going to happen...

KING: But there were...

NORRIS: We're going to go bankrupt, Larry...

KING: But it's the Republican administration that did it.

NORRIS: I know. But we're going to go bankrupt doing all this.

KING: Tomorrow is the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Could Palin handle a similar situation if she we were vice president?

That's next.



OBAMA: How is everybody doing?

It sounds like they're saying I'm for change, too.



PALIN: We're going to Washington to shake things up.


KING: Ari, on 9/11, we know while the president was in the air, Dick Cheney took charge.

Could Sarah Palin do that?

FLEISCHER: No, that's not right.

KING: He didn't take charge?

FLEISCHER: Well, he didn't take charge. I was with the president all day that day. The president was giving him instructions to go to DEFCON 3 and to authorize a shoot-down of planes. The president did that. Dick Cheney was very involved, but the president did that.

But as for Sarah Palin, what I observed in the White House when it comes to crisis, Larry, is either you're made of some type of tough metal or you're not. And you never know when a crisis is going to hit.

So far, from what I've seen about Sarah Palin, she seems to be a pretty tough character who knows how to handle difficulty with poise and a level -- a very sharp level. But she's the vice president, not the president. And she still has to prove herself on a lot of these issues. And that's a key issue that's going to unfold before all of our eyes between now and November.

Right now, I'd say she's pretty good at it. But it's the ultimate test she still has to take.

KING: How important are the debates going to be, Arianna?

HUFFINGTON: Well, they're going to be incredibly important, especially...

KING: Are they going to decide this election?

HUFFINGTON: In many ways, yes. I think especially the presidential debates. Because that's where Barack Obama needs to really show his fierce indignation. Larry, he's been talking again and again about the Martin Luther King line, "the fierce urgency of now." And that's really what the American people are feeling. And they want him to tap into that and to express it. And that's going to be the key of the debate. On the issues, there is no question, he is so much better in form than John McCain. He has the facts and the issues on his side. So it's more the tone and the way he's going to express his outrage.

KING: Chuck, Bush and Cheney not at the Republican Convention.

What did you make of that?


KING: Cheney -- and, by the way, Cheney not even mentioned.

NORRIS: I don't know. But Ari mentioned Thomas Jefferson. And a quote he said in 1816: "To preserve our independence, we must not let our rulers load us up with perpetual debt."

And boy, we sure haven't followed that advice. But and that's what -- that's our crisis in America, Larry, is our debt.

And if we don't do somebody about this here, what's the future we have for our...

KING: So you don't see...

NORRIS: ...for the next generation?

KING: You don't see either candidate dealing with it?

NORRIS: I -- right now I don't.

I'm hoping -- you know, I don't -- I really don't -- I think John McCain has the best capabilities of doing it. And I'm a conservative. So, Arianna, I know you're a liberal, but I'm a conservative and I believe John McCain is the better man for the job.

KING: So then you're endorsing him tonight?

FLEISCHER: Larry, I can't -- Larry, I can't resist this. Chuck made the accurate quote about Jefferson, but, of course, Thomas Jefferson also borrowed money for the Louisiana Purchase. So we have a lot of (INAUDIBLE) in American politics.

NORRIS: Yes. But he paid it back, Ari. He borrowed it back -- he paid it back.

HUFFINGTON: Well, Chuck...

FLEISCHER: Not in 1816.

HUFFINGTON: ...if you are so concerned about the amount of money we're spending, you should certainly be concerned about the war in Iraq, because that's $350 million a day.

So would you at least say that it's time to bring our troops home, since, according to John McCain, victory is in sight?

NORRIS: Well, let me ask you one question, Arianna, since you're very rich.

How many pages are there in the IRS tax code?

HUFFINGTON: This has nothing to do with the question (INAUDIBLE)...

NORRIS: Well, yes it does. I just asked...


NORRIS: I'm just asking you...

HUFFINGTON: (INAUDIBLE) -- to ask because every time you...

NORRIS: It's 66,498...

HUFFINGTON: Every time you talk about the...

NORRIS: ...pages, Arianna.

HUFFINGTON: Every time you talk about...

NORRIS: And who is the...


NORRIS: And who knows what's in that tax code?

You're the high priced tax accounts like what you have.

KING: No, but her question was about the money spent on Iraq. It was a fair question, Chuck.

Isn't that a lot of money? NORRIS: It's a lot of money, but we're spending a lot of money everywhere. We're spending a lot of money on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And we're spending a lot of money that will probably wind up paying off the car dealers -- the cars and the airlines. I mean we're bailing everybody out.

And we can debate the question about whether we should be in Iraq or not Iraq, but we are there and we've got to take care of the situation there. I've been there twice, Arianna. I've done two tours over there. I know what's going over there. You haven't been there.

HUFFINGTON: This is really the most absurd response, because (INAUDIBLE) been to Iraq, I'm sorry to say, makes no difference compared to the fact that...

NORRIS: Yes, it does.

HUFFINGTON: ...if the president...

NORRIS: I've talked to the troops over there.

HUFFINGTON: If the president and John McCain and...

NORRIS: I've talked to troops.

HUFFINGTON: ...Sarah Palin...

NORRIS: And they believe that we should stay there until we finish the job, you know?

HUFFINGTON: Well, there are many, many...

NORRIS: You would pull tail and run.

HUFFINGTON: You know, there are many, many...

NORRIS: You know...

HUFFINGTON: ...people in the military (INAUDIBLE)...

NORRIS: But that's your liberal view, Arianna. You're so liberal.

HUFFINGTON: Chuck, you know what, let me just finish the sentence.

There are many people in the military who are deeply concerned about what's happening to our military. We are destroying our military. Suicide rates...

NORRIS: Not the military people I've talked to.

HUFFINGTON: Suicide rates...

NORRIS: I've talked to all the military...

HUFFINGTON: You know... NORRIS: ...commanders over there.

HUFFINGTON: You know what...

NORRIS: ...and they don't feel that way, Arianna.

KING: Well, you're...

HUFFINGTON: If I were a member of the John McCain campaign, I would accuse you of sexism right now because you keep interrupting me.

NORRIS: Well, why?

HUFFINGTON: So let me just finish.

NORRIS: Because I'm backing Sarah Palin so I'm sexist?

HUFFINGTON: Let me just finish...

KING: I think, Chuck...

HUFFINGTON: Let me just finish one sentence.

KING: Chuck, I'm...

HUFFINGTON: ...and this is that what's happening to the American military is something that all of us need to be concerned about, as is the fact that...

KING: OK. Chuck...

HUFFINGTON: ...we are absolutely spending trillions of dollars.

KING: Chuck, if you haven't endorsed McCain and Palin tonight, you got me lost.

NORRIS: Well, the thing is, I'm leaning in that direction.

KING: I mean I have no hint that you're going to endorse Obama.


KING: No, I gather that.

NORRIS: He's not our leader. No. You know what. And I think the majority of the people will realize that. When the time comes to vote, I think the people will decide and know that that's not the man to lead our country.

KING: Ari, how close is this going to be?

FLEISCHER: I think very close. I think the key for Obama is to do just what Arianna is trying to do, which is link John McCain to George Bush.

But having worked for George Bush, Larry, all I can tell us is John was a regular thorn in our side on a lot of issues. On global warming, he opposed George Bush. The treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, he opposed George Bush. He's for stem cell research.

If John McCain is George Bush, then I'm Arianna Huffington. There is no connection. I think it's far-fetched. People say he voted with Bush 90 percent of the time. Half of those were JOHN journal votes and other meaningless votes that the Senate takes all the time.

John has brought this so such a close election because he is so independent. He is a maverick. And he's really got the Obama people off stride because he's re-enforcing that message with Sarah Palin.

KING: OK, guys. FLEISCHER: (INAUDIBLE). KING: We will have you all back.

Chuck Norris' book, "Black Belt Patriotism: How To Reawaken America." Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary. And Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor of

Is it possible that Sarah Palin, in a week's time, has become more popular than the men at the top of either ticket?

That's next.



OBAMA: I want to say a few words about the latest made up controversy.



MCCAIN: We'll work for you and we'll put our country first.



OBAMA: These are serious times.



MCCAIN: That's what this campaign is all about -- change and reform.


OBAMA: They call for a serious debate.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Let's meet our next outstanding panel.

In Washington, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, a supporter of Senator McCain.

In Los Angeles with us, Stephanie Miller, host of "The Stephanie Miller Show" on the radio.

In New York, Kellyanne Conway, Republican, president and CEO of the polling company, a supporter of John McCain.

And in Washington, Kiki McLean, Democratic strategist, the former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton, a supporter of Barack Obama.

All right, where are we going to go, Congresswoman, with this -- with this lipstick and pig thing?

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: I think what has happened with this is that women are looking at a pattern of behavior. When you take the remark in context of the campaign, and everything is taken in context and relationship to something else -- you go back and he called a reporter sweetie during the primary, had to call the reporter and apologize for that. He passed over two good women for the VP spot, one, Senator Clinton, the other, Governor Sebelius.

Then you get to this today. I think it's a pattern of conduct that the American women are responding to. And we're seeing the negative responses that they have brought forward today.

KING: Stephanie, is that fair?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Larry, please, anybody in their right mind can see that Barack Obama was not referring to Sarah Palin. He was referring to John McCain and his policies being the same as George Bush's. I think the best joke I have heard is what's the difference between George Bush and Sarah Palin? Lipstick. That's the point he was trying to make. This is a ridiculous fake outrage.

KING: All right, Kellyanne, Obama has tried to push back on it. Here are some of his comments today. Then I want you to comment.


OBAMA: I'm talking about John McCain's economic policy. I say this is more of the same. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig. Suddenly, they say, oh, you must be talking about the governor of Alaska. See, it would be funny -- it would be funny except, of course, the news media all decided that was the lead story yesterday. They would much rather have a story -- the McCain campaign would much rather have the story about phony and foolish diversions than about the future.


KING: Does he have a point? KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, somewhat, but he really could have taken more of his time today at the podium, Larry, to talk about these issues that everybody seems to want to talk about in this campaign. And look, the comment about putting lipstick on a pig I think was unfortunate. I don't know if it was intentional or not in the man's mind or heart. But certainly the comment about the difference between a hockey mom and pit bull is lip stick is the most downloaded, most quote from a 42 minute speech given by a woman, a speech that was seen by 37 million people last week in prime time.

So I'll leave it to the viewers to decide causation versus coincidence, but he still wasn't talking about the issues today. And I found it very curious that Senator Obama, who has been propped up by many people in the media, is now pushing back on them and criticizing them for making this a big story. You live by the media, you live by the polls, you've got to suffer by the polls too. They're not going your way.

KING: I'm going to play -- are Republican portraying Palin as a victim. Here's Fred Thompson today and then I want Kiki to respond.


FRED THOMPSON, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This woman is undergoing the most vicious assault anybody has ever seen in public life. They're absolutely in a state of panic. They're pulling out all the stops, saying things about people I never thought I would hear in a presidential race, all because she's a threat to the power they expected to inherit and they think they're entitled to. They have another thing coming.


KING: Does he have a point?

KIKI MCLEAN, FMR. CLINTON ADVISER: No. Sarah Palin's no victim. She's tougher than that. I have more respect for her than that. I don't necessarily respect the John McCain/Sarah Palin agenda. And I have to say, Larry, with all due respect to the Congresswoman, because I'm proud to share a TV screen with her here tonight, I don't know that makes George Bush a sexist because he picked Dick Cheney. I happen to think it shows he didn't have good judgment. But the pattern of behavior is ridiculous. It's a common phrase.

To Kellyanne's point, it's sad we're not talking about other things because let me tell you about what Barack Obama did talk about on the road this week. That picture you say, he was in a library. He was talking about his education plan. He's talking about the important things to America. We're in a situation right now where the McCain campaign wanted to make that the headline. They did a good job of it. Our folks are out campaigning with Senator Obama on the issues that he cares about. Those are the issues that most Americans care about.

Here's the deal, if you talk about a pattern of behavior, let's talk about a Republican-led White House that has left half a billion women unemployed since they took over -- excuse me, it was half a million, Kellyanne. Let me correct that. It was half a million women unemployed. Let me tell you, to your point, you live and die when you're the leader. It's under the Bush administration that those numbers happened.


KING: Congresswoman Blackburn, from an issue standpoint, isn't George Bush fair game if McCain embraces him? Isn't it fair game to go after him?

BLACKBURN: To the point that Kiki is making, it's since the Democrats took control of the House and the Senate that we have seen jobs growth decline, that we have seen the GDP --

KING: That wasn't the question. Do you think George Bush is fair game?

BLACKBURN: I think that what John McCain is going to do is run on John McCain's record. And what the president has done in his term in office is not where John McCain is going to have his focus in this campaign. He has so many times, as Ari was saying in the previous segment -- he has challenged the White House. He's been on the opposite side of issues from them. He has been a very independent person and a maverick when it comes to federal spending. He has challenged the White House. He has worked on the earmark issues with some of us in the House. And he is moving forward with his agenda. And it's laying forth what a McCain/Palin --

MILLER: Congresswoman, not any more. Not anymore. He's flip- flopped on each and every issue he ever opposed the Bush administration or the White House on, including bills with his name on them.

BLACKBURN: That isn't true.

MILLER: It's absolutely true.


CONWAY: Wait a second, Barack Obama has asked for over 900 million dollars worth of earmarks, John McCain zero. That's just a fact. You guys want to --

MILLER: Excuse me, Sarah Palin got more earmarks than just about anybody. She was for the bridge to nowhere before she was against it. She campaigned on it when she ran for governor.

BLACKBURN: Let's talk about the bridge to nowhere issue. She did not -- she did not -- Let's set the record straight on this. She did not --

KING: She did campaign on it. She did.

BLACKBURN: -- campaign on the bridge to nowhere.

MCLEAN: There's video, congresswoman.

BLACKBURN: When they did their assessment, their transition team assessment, they were critical of that. When she did her budget, there was no money for the bridge to nowhere.

MILLER: It got criticized --


KING: Let me get a break, ladies. Hold it, hold it. Let me get a break and we'll come back. Palin's impacts on the women's vote, is the jury still out. We'll talk about it after the break.


KING: Let's take a look at the Sarah Palin craze, extraordinary. A vice presidential candidate is dominating the media coverage. Let's look at print coverage alone. The cover of "Newsweek," front page of the "Wall Street Journal," the cover of "Time Magazine," the front page of the "New York Post," even the cover of the "National Enquirer." Last heard from them with John Edwards. What do you make of this, Stephanie?

MILLER: Larry, I have to say, I have taken heat on my radio show for calling her Caribou Barbie. However, for the Republicans to play the sexism card, give me a break. They had buttons at their own convention saying hottest VP from the coldest state and Hoosiers for the hot chick. It's like -- what is it only sexist when you're saying something bad?

She's completely unqualified to be vice president of the United States. Karl Rove just said how unqualified Tim Kaine was because he has only been governor less than three years of Virginia, and he was only mayor of Richmond, which is too small, although a billion times bigger than Wasilla. Can I just say, real quick, on the "Huffington Post," they mentioned my father, who ran with Barry Goldwater in 1964, as another sort off the wall, obscure pick, but had the decency to say, my father was a Congressman for 14 years, chairman of the Republican National Committee, and a prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials. So about 1,000 times more qualified than Sarah Palin.

KING: Kellyanne --

MILLER: This is the worst kind of affirmative action that the Republican party says they're against.

KING: Kellyanne, is it tough to make the case on qualifications, Kellyanne?

CONWAY: No, it's not since the top of the Democratic ticket has somebody who was in the US Senate for 143 days before he launched his presidential bid. You guys want to have a conversation about leadership and experience, let's have it. You can't just have it about the second -- the part two of our ticket without having it about your ticket. If you want it to be about Biden versus Palin, remember it's also about Obama and McCain. Voters go into the ballot box with big ideas in their mind, leadership, change, experience, hope. If just they're thinking leadership and experience and they see Obama and McCain, I'm pretty comfortable with that.

KING: Kiki, is that a good point?

MCLEAN: Kellyanne and I agree on a lot of things tonight. We're agreeing about what people ought to be talking about, which are the issues that she raised, and this is really a race between Barack Obama and John McCain. I have to say, at the end of this year, what I'm really disappointed about is while we're breaking strides in both race and gender, we're getting into these games that really hurt the progress our country is making.

Really, what we're seeing, I got to tell you, the GOP and John McCain's campaign are living up to what I expected. They're engaging in dishonorable conduct when it comes to the issues and the discussion of things like tax plans and economic plans. They've got ads out there that are just downright dishonest about Barack Obama. They're doing things because they're at all cost, at any opportunity to win, as opposed to having this conversation.

KING: Let Congresswoman Blackburn get in.

BLACKBURN: I think the American people are -- they appreciate the fact that Sarah Palin brings a diverse platform of experience with her. She has been a mayor. She has been a governor. She has been the commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. You can talk to individuals, they talk about how differently Alaska has to prepare in case there is natural disaster, in case there is some other threat to them.

They also have talked a good bit -- and I think this is one of the things the American people relate to, is the diverse experience that she does bring. She openly talks about her life as a wife, a mother. She talks about her public service. She is someone that people can relate to, just like they could relate to Ronald Reagan. And he talked directly to the people. Look how the press said he was not qualified. Oh, he doesn't have enough foreign policy experience.

MCLEAN: You make some good point -- you make good points about --

KING: One at a time.

MCLEAN: The Congresswoman makes good points about how she's new on the scene and people are interested in her. She's got a terrific going family there. But what they're not impressed with is this record. So we talked about the bridge to nowhere. The reality is she's on videotape, right, saying that she supported the bridge before she was against it.

BLACKBURN: Larry, she has a great record. She cut earmarks

(CROSS TALK) KING: We'll be back with more if I survive. Don't go away.


KING: Joe bidden campaigning today in New Hampshire had a little take on Hillary Clinton. Watch.


SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's qualified to be president of the United States of America. She's easily qualified to be vice president of the United States of America. And quite frankly, it might have been a better pick than me. But she's first-rate.


KING: Stephanie, what do you make of that?

MILLER: Well, I think the fact -- that's my point. To me, that's the most insulting thing about this whole pick, is that Hillary fans will automatically vote for Sarah Palin just because she's a woman, even though she's against everything Hillary has spent her life --

KING: Was he wise to comment like that today or not?

MILLER: I think so, because I think that's the insult of this whole pick. She's completely unqualified in every way to be vice president or president. And she's no Hillary Clinton. To think that women will vote for her just because she's a woman is cynical.

CONWAY: In everybody's polls, at least 21 percent, including Emily's List polls -- says 21 percent of Hillary supporters are voting for McCain/Palin right now. In another polls it's 22 percent, our polls said 18 percent. I'm sorry it was so low.

KING: Why would they since they don't agree with anything the campaign stands for?

CONWAY: Larry, not everybody who voted for Hillary Clinton, not all 18 million of them, to Joe Biden's 63,000 or so, not all people who voted for Hillary Clinton voted for her because she is a woman. Many of them prize leadership and experience, and believe that she had it and Obama did not.

KING: But they would have agreed with her on the issues.

MILLER: Sarah Palin has leadership and experience?

CONWAY: Stephanie, they still -- you want this to be about Sarah Palin. I think there is a lot of jealousy about this woman, who literally came out of nowhere, to those who didn't know her -- know about her. Now there's jealousy about what do we do. Oh, my god, what if the Republicans are really the first party to have a vice president or a president who is a woman? You tried everything. You tried to destroy her family. They tried to smear her.

MILLER: Wait a minute. That is not fair. That is not fair.


MILLER: Let me say, every time I'm on Larry's show I acknowledge that I'm a childless loser. I'm not criticizing her or her family. This is the party that has criticized other people for family values years and years. Bill O'Reilly, back when Lynn Spears got pregnant, said -- Jamie Lynn Spears, said, it's clearly the parents fault. Now, he is saying you can't blame the parents, Sarah Palin. Are you kidding me? The hypocrisy is so thick on the right. If Barack Obama had a teenage pregnant daughter, the right wing wouldn't be saying anything about that?

KING: We have an email from Sandra in Wichita: "I've heard many comment that Governor Palin's popularity is so high because she is fun and likable. Since when do personality traits qualify a person for a political position, especially the vice presidency."

MCLEAN: Larry, I have to say this. She is new on the scene. People are curious. They're interested. That is great. She gave a great speech at the convention. I am giving her all that. But what I am suggesting is we have two months of a campaign to go. Kellyanne is right. This is a race between Barack Obama and John McCain. This is a race between real change and somebody's who has really laid out his agenda, and guy who is pretty much going to give us more of the same, four more years of the last eight years.

That is really what the debate is about. When you look at education, when you look at the economy, when you look at the war and the cost of the war, not to mention where we are on foreign policy, voters are going to make those decision.

KING: Let the Congresswoman respond. Marcia.

BLACKBURN: Yes, I do want to say something on this. I think the American women like to listen to Sarah Palin. They like what she has to say. They have really focused on the message that she is delivering. Energy is the number one issue in this country. She is an energy expert.

I was in Alaska three weeks ago working on the energy issue. People have a tremendous amount of respect for her, all across the political spectrum. From every different side of the business community there, because she is articulate. She is focused. She understands this. She wants to do her part to help America.


MILLER: She just agrees with John McCain on drilling. How is she an energy expert?


BLACKBURN: She's an energy expert and she knows the issue backward and forward.

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


KING: The McCain campaign has a new ad out blasting Obama on sex education. Here is part of that ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obama's one accomplishment, legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners. Learning about sex before learning to read? Barack Obama, wrong on education, wrong for your family.

MCCAIN: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.


KING: Stephanie, how do you respond to that?

MILLER: Is it bad to throw up on live television? They know that that is a complete distortion, Larry.

KING: He doesn't teach that to kindergartners?

MILLER: It is to be determined by teachers and by parents. It is Kindergarten through 12th grade. He is the father of two young girls. They know that is not what this legislation was about. This campaign has gotten disgusting.

KING: Kellyanne, is that misleading?

CONWAY: I didn't say anybody say it's factually incorrect.

MILLER: By the way, they should bring up sex education in Alaska if they really wanted to play the same kind of dirty politics.

CONWAY: That's cute. Now, I'll respond before the clock runs out. I think the response the Obama campaign has given is that it was supposed to protect young kids against sexual predators. The one thing that really does rankle people is the infant born alive act in Illinois, in the state Senate. He first voted present and then voted against. Lots of pieces of legislation have confusing titles, but Infant born alive act. It's pretty straight forward. The baby is born alive and then they just leave it somewhere to expire. That has been very controversial, I think, even more so than sexual education.

MCLEAN: You know what, I'm a mother of a six-year-old and a four-year-old. I find this ad so offensive, because this is actually about sexual abuse prevention. My husband and I pay attention to this. My son, who is in first grade this year, last year had the benefit of going through a program. It is about a don't touch lesson so children know what's appropriate and they can go to an adult for help. That is such a distortion. It is such a dishonorable moment for the McCain campaign. They know better. They ought to take that ad down, Larry.

KING: Congresswoman, do you want to respond?

BLACKBURN: The ad, as Kellyanne said, it is not factually incorrect.

MCLEAN: It is, Congresswoman.

BLACKBURN: There was other legislation that we had that dealt with online sexual predators and other things, but it was not the bill that the ad is focusing on. And one of the things we have to realize is in Barack Obama's career, his very short Senate career, when he has shown up to vote, there are plenty of votes there that we can talk about. There are lots of issues that we are going to be able to focus on.

Again, Larry, this goes back to a pattern of conduct and when he has chosen to show up for work, when he has chosen to be there, but just vote present and when he has --

MCLEAN: Let's get John McCain's voting record, Congresswoman. If you want to take an attendance tally, we can take care of that.

BLACKBURN: We are going to be able to have plenty of great issues to discuss over the next 50 days. And I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a great race.

KING: Stephanie, is this going to get more heated, if that's possible?

MILLER: I hope so. I want to get invited back.

KING: You have no danger of that.

MILLER: Honestly, I think this has gotten -- you know, Barack Obama really has tried, whatever you think of him, to talk about issues. The McCain campaign, this is beyond the pale, this whole, oh, he's calling Sarah Palin a pig. Does anyone that doesn't even like Barack Obama think he's stupid enough to do that? This is just, like Barack Obama says, gotten into silly season. This is a serious time for serious people.

KING: We are going to have all these ladies back. We're out of time. Representative Marcia Blackburn of Tennessee, Stephanie Miller, host of her own show, Kellyanne Conway, president and CEO of the Polling Company, and Kiki McLean, the Democratic strategist.

There is still to answer tonight's quick vote. Here it is: are you liberal, moderate or conservative. Go to and tell us. While you're there, download our new podcast, Michael Moore. Friday, our guests are going to have a lot to say about Sarah Palin's first one-on-one interview. How did she do? That's LARRY KING LIVE Friday night.

Right now, it is Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?