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Palin Report Card; How the Candidates Are Faring

Aired September 19, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING LIVE, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, Sarah Palin. Is the honeymoon over? Has the political darling lost her punch? Millions of voters and the media couldn't get enough of her. But a shift in the latest polls has people asking, what's going on? Is Sarah Palin's star power fading after just three weeks? Or does she have staying power until November. The Palin report card, is she making the grade?

Plus, how are the other candidates doing? It's a critical weekend. Who's up, who's down? Find out now on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: Good evening, we begin with an outstanding panel. In St. Paul, Minnesota is Representative Michelle Bachman, Republican of Minnesota, a support of McCain. In Miami is Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat on Florida, Obama supporter. By the way, she was with Obama in Miami today and introduced him at his event. In New York, old friend Georgette Mosbacher, a Republican strategist and supporter of McCain. And another old friend, Naomi Wolf, author of "Give Me Liberty," a supporter of Obama.

Congresswomen Bachman and Schultz are both familiar with the program and have been here a lot. So let's welcome our newcomers with a question. Georgette, is the Palin drama slipping?

GEORGETTE MOSBACHER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't think so. Frankly for a vice presidential candidate to get as much attention as she's gotten has been phenomenal. And a vice presidential candidate only has to do four things. One, make a good impression when they're first introduced. Secondly, do a good job at the convention, do no harm on the campaign trail and be credible in the debate. She has so far, the first two were home runs. The third she's been doing a good job. No gaffes. And I expect she'll do well in the debate. But that remains to be seen.

KING: But Naomi, the polls say she is slipping and they back it up, various polls say she's down three to five points. What do you make of that?

NAOMI WOLF, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: What I make of it is that the American women are not stupid and they can't be fooled for long. And while any working class woman who has small children at home is going to be a big hit at first, just as a symbol, everyone's refreshed and excited by that. American women have taken a closer look, and not Democrats, but swing voters and even Republican women and they're understanding that Sarah Palin does not support their right to choice, even in the case of rape or incest. That she's going to be taxing the health insurance, even if they have health insurance. They understand that she's carrying water for the Bush administration, actually telling lies to the American people already like connecting 9/11 to Iraq. That's not John McCain's lie, that's Bush's lie. And I think that they're thinking seriously about what a Palin presidency could mean in a time of great turmoil, great fragility of the markets and a time of war.

KING: Congresswoman Bachman, the second interview she did as an interview was earlier this week with FOX and here's how she responded to a question about the bridge to nowhere.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The bridge to nowhere.


HANNITY: Did you originally support it and did you change your view on it? Because the Democrats are saying, no, no, no, she originally supported it and she said she opposed it.

PALIN: Well I killed the bridge to nowhere and I think I ruffled some feathers there also with our congressman who had been requesting that bridge for so many years. What we need to do up there in Alaska was find some good transportation between the two land bodies there and we did. We found that with an improved ferry system between Ketchikan and its airport. But the bridge to nowhere, as I've been saying in my speech, is if it's something that Alaskans really want and support, which at this time they're not willing to support to such an extent that we pay for it ourselves, we'd better kill the bridge because we know the rest of the nation is not going to pay for it.


KING: Congressman Bachman, the question was did you originally support it? And I never heard on answer.

REP. MICHELLE BACHMAN (R), MINNESOTA: You know Larry, today Sarah Palin and John McCain were here in Minnesota, too. I don't know if that information was given to you. I was up on the stage introducing Sarah Palin today and Senator McCain. The crowd was absolutely wild for them. There was over 13,000 people. And I'll tell you in the state of Minnesota, John McCain and Sarah Palin are loved in this state. We're usually a strong Democrat state, but Obama and McCain here are 46 percent-46 percent. Minnesota is in play. That's very unusual and it's because of Sarah Palin's popularity here in Minnesota.

KING: So you're saying it hasn't dipped at all?

BACHMAN: Not here, not in Minnesota. She's extremely popular. She's absolutely loved, the crowd went wild with her today. KING: Congresswoman Schultz, what do you think?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: I'm not sure what that answer has to do with the price of fish, Larry. My good friend Michelle Bachman just added insult to injury and didn't answer the question just like Sarah Palin didn't answer it. The bottom line is that Sarah Palin was at a candidate forum and it's on a camera for the world to see supporting the bridge to nowhere. And she repeatedly insists on saying over and over in speeches that she was an opponent to the bridge to nowhere and said no thanks. That's simply not true.

BACHMAN: Larry, Sarah Palin has been pretty clear about what she feels about the issue.

SCHULTZ: Michelle, I let you finish.

BACHMAN: But you're telling something that's not true.

SCHULTZ: Well, we can have Larry replay the tape of Sarah Palin as a candidate for governor saying that she supported the bridge to nowhere. I have seen it, the entire country has seen it. Excuse me...


SCHULTZ: And the reason that Sarah Palin refused to answer the question and the reason that you refused to answer the question --

KING: Congresswoman Bachman, you're going to have to let her finish.

SCHULTZ: Thank you, Larry. The reason you refused to answer the question and the reason that Sarah Palin refused to answer the question is that it's not true. She did support the bridge to nowhere.

KING: I'm told Congresswoman Bachman, she said it in Ketchikan while campaigning for governor.

BACHMAN: What I wanted to do Larry, first of all - Larry, when you set the piece up, you said that today Congresswoman Schultz had introduced Obama. I thought it was also important for your viewers to know that today I introduced John McCain and Sarah Palin.

SCHULTZ: You introduced John McCain and I introduced Barack Obama which I am extremely proud of.

KING: One at a time or I'm going to drop you both.

BACHMAN: I thought it was time for me to speak. What I wanted to let people know is that in a very Democrat state like Minnesota, they are extremely popular. That's why I said that.

But to answer the question, initially yes as governor, Sarah Palin was in favor of the bridge. Why? Because the entire congressional delegation was behind the bridge. But once more details came out, she said this is not a good deal for the taxpayers of Alaska and she rejected the bridge.

SCHULTZ: Once Congress decided not to provide the funding, she decided that she was not going to be --

KING: Let's take a break and we'll come back. We have two other guests as well. What do the candidates do next? Refine strategies? Do the same thing? What? That's next.



PALIN: John McCain and I, we are ready. It's about you. We are going to win. We're going to Washington to shake things up.


KING: Georgette, a common theme on the stump speeches has been to attack Barack Obama on Iraq. Here's what she said, watch.


PALIN: Now for his part, our opponent, he still can't bring himself to acknowledge the coming victory in Iraq. He couldn't just the other day in an interview. He says he's for change, but look there in Iraq, change happened and that's a great thing for America, senator.


KING: Georgette, the fair question though is wasn't the surge, all of that change in response to failure?

MOSBACHER: Well, you know, better to be successful. Sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes and so many of us can appreciate that.

But the important thing is that Americans want to believe and believe they are winners. As a proud American, I refuse to accept the fact that we're losers. We're not losers. And she just spoke what most Americans believe. They want to believe we are the best. We have the best military and while we made some mistakes, we corrected them. And we're winning now and it's much better to go out as a winner than it is to go out as a loser.

WOLF: Georgette, I have to jump in. As a patriotic American myself, I have to point out that over 4,000 brave young men and women have been murdered in a war of choice that was unnecessary.

MOSBACHER: They were volunteers. We had a volunteer army.

WOLF: Yes, that's right. They volunteered and what Bob Woodward's new book for instance argues conclusively is that it was a quagmire that people high up in the military were saying it was a quagmire, failure after failure, that the president wouldn't change course when everyone was saying it's bloodshed.

MOSBACHER: But John McCain did change course and John McCain had it right.

WOLF: How so?

MOSBACHER: He supported the surge from the very beginning.

WOLF: I want to make an important point.

SCHULTZ: Go ahead, I'm sorry.

WOLF: The American people are not stupid and what really worries me in a time of crisis like this when our markets are collapsing and our young men and women are being threatened and dying abroad. You guys are saying, Sarah Palin is going to be a great vice president because she's popular and she hasn't messed up yet in her -- hold on a minute.

MOSBACHER: She has executive experience.

KING: One at a time, ladies.

WOLF: And what I'm saying that you're also telling American people untruths and we established that Sarah Palin is telling the American people untruths. The American people are too smart to be sold on this fake patriotism that all you need is to throw more young men and women at a bad policy, which is a policy that John McCain and Sarah Palin are going to advocate.

KING: Let Michelle respond. Michelle, Congresswoman Bachman, you go.

BACHMAN: Larry, thanks, I think it's just tearing the left up right now, the popularity that Sarah Palin is being embraced by people no matter if they're political, nonpolitical or which party they're from or which gender. People are in love with this woman and it's tearing the left apart. They're doing everything they can over time to bury her with negative press and she's still coming up smelling like a rose. People love this woman and they're embracing her.

KING: All right, Congresswoman Schultz, you go.

SCHULTZ: Sarah Palin's popularity is dropping like a rock because the more people learn about her, the more disturbed they become. They are really becoming concerned about the fact that she knows very little about domestic policy, nothing foreign policy. Excuse me Michelle, I really would appreciate it if you would let me finish my sentence.

BACHMAN: I didn't say anything.

MOSBACHER: This was Georgette.

SCHULTZ: Or Georgette, forgive me, because we can't see each other. So the bottom line here is that it's about John McCain. It's about John McCain who all week has not been able to decide whether he is for bailing out AIG or not.

MOSBACHER: No, that was Barack Obama.

SCHULTZ: Whether he thinks the fundamentals of the economy are strong or not. He really has proven time and again that he's not up to the task to be president of the United States and this election is about John McCain and the voters realize that.

MOSBACHER: No, this election is about the American people. You're on the appropriations committee. And I'll tell you.

SCHULTZ: Yes, I am.

MOSBACHER: I have over 200 employees, I make a payroll, twice a month, the 1st and the 15th. What this election is about is not wanting -- American people not wanting more money, tax dollars sent to your appropriations committee because they don't trust what you're going to pay.

SCHULTZ: What this election is about is that the American people are tired of having this administration...

MOSBACHER: That's what they don't want. They're tired of sending money to Washington where --


KING: Ladies, when you both talk at the same time, the audience can't hear either one of you.

SCHULTZ: This president has given repeated tax breaks to the wealthiest people even in a time of war. That is what the American people are talking. They want a new direction so we can have a policy that will help working class Americans. That's what Barack Obama and Joe Biden will bring.

MOSBACHER: That's just not true. That is an outright lie.

KING: I'm going to play one more clip for you ladies, want you to comment. Sarah Palin has a speech style that's unique to her. Let's watch and I'll have you comment.


PALIN: Let me introduce to you Alaska's first dude, my husband, Todd Palin. The luxury jet that came with the office, I put it on eBay.


KING: Naomi, it does appeal, does it not?

WOLF: It appeals for a talk show host or for prom queen, but I think we learned in a very sad and bloody way that the guy you wanted to have beers with in 2000 turned out to be the guy whose cronies plundered the American treasury, sucked trillions of dollars out of our economy, gave it to contractors and his friends at Halliburton and sent 4,000 brave young men and women to their deaths with no end in sight.

John McCain has said that we're going to stay there indefinitely. And what I think the American people are smart enough to know is that it isn't just about John McCain. It's also about the serious prospect of a Palin presidency because realistically, John McCain, we've got to talk about this, is older than Ronald Reagan was when he began his term. And the actuarial table shows that there could well be a president Sarah Palin even before eight years. And we really have to be aware.

MOSBACHER: Naomi, two of Obama's main advisors both were the head of Fannie Mae.

SCHULTZ: John McCain's campaign manager is a lobbyist.

MOSBACHER: Wait, wait, I'm sorry, I'm talking now. Excuse me, you interrupted -- you didn't want to be interrupted, I don't want to be interrupted.

BACHMAN: Larry, there is a clear distinction here between the two candidates, a very clear distinction on they're going to handle money, on how they're going to handle domestic policy. But right now, the American people are worried about their financial security. Three years ago on the well of the Senate, John McCain called for a dramatic reform at Freddie and Fannie and he was blocked at every turn by Democrats in the Senate and Democrats in the House. John McCain was on this issue three years before anything happened.

KING: Ladies, we're going to have you all back. And we're out of time.

Hockey moms for Palin. You knew they were out there. Meet one of them right after the break.



PALIN: I was just your average hockey mom and signed up for the PTA. The difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.


KING: What do you think of Sarah Palin now? That's tonight's quick vote. Go to and tell us.

Joining us in Washington is Kellie Boyle, co-founder of the And in Austin, Texas is Jehmu Greene, Democratic strategist and former Hillary Clinton advisor, former president of Rock the Vote and now putting together a group of young Democratic women. Kellie Boyle, how does that work? Hockey moms for McCain/Palin.

KELLIE BOYLE, CO-FOUNDER, HOCKEYMOMSFORMCCAIN-PALIN.COM: Well thank you for having me on the show, Larry. I am a hockey mom. I'm also a basketball mom and a soccer mom and like a lot of moms in America, my title depends on the season.

But I saw all the enthusiasm and the energy over Senator McCain and Sarah Palin at the Republican Convention and thought, we have got to harness this. So some friends and I put together a Web site. It's hockeymomsformccain-palin.ccom and we're trying to help women become involves in the campaign.

KING: You have I understand a sweatshirt there of some kind?

BOYLE: It's a Capitals jersey.

KING: Washington Capitals, you stole that. McCain/Palin '08, good idea. Before we get Jehmu in this, Kellie, does hockey moms have a problem in the south where they don't play much?

BOYLE: Well, surprisingly, Florida's hockey population is growing. But we really represent or are trying to represent all moms across America because we have a lot of the same concerns. We're not a homogenous group by any means or stretch, but we care about our families and our communities and our country and we think that McCain/Palin is our best option in this next election.

KING: Is this a tough challenge for you, Jehmu?

JEHMU GREENE, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON ADVISRE: Well, I enjoy hockey. I used to be a Capitals fan and now that I'm back in Texas, I love the Dallas Stars.

But this election is not about labels. It's not about novelty names and I think that's what we're seeing in the polls with Governor -Palin where she made a fantastic impression when she first came out of the gate. No one can deny her that, she did give a lot of necessary energy to the McCain campaign. But now as the voters have gotten to take a close look at her, where she stands on the issues, how she has led her state of Alaska, where she has, you know, made certain statements that have really confounded the voters in the past week. We have seen her favorability ratings go from being the most liked amongst the four candidates to be the least liked and I think that's what is going to continue as we spend the next 60 days learning more about this woman.

KING: Kellie, more American woman are pro-choice than pro-life. And Mrs. Palin is pro-life. Do you have pro-choice people in your organization?

BOYLE: Oh, sure. We represent a wide spectrum of mothers. And, you know, our core concerns, again, are our families, our communities and our country. And that's why we think that Senator McCcain offers the opportunity to reach across the political aisles and have some real solutions to these problems. He's got the experience at that. He's got a career of accomplishments, as does Governor Palin.

So I think these other things are what we call in my household, squabbling. It's over unimportant issues. When you've got the financial institutions in America in crisis and people worrying about their homes and their retirement and we have got the price of oil, the dependence on foreign oil and the war in Iraq, these things are minor and it's actually really discouraging that so much time and attention is being paid on them. GREENE: I agree with Kelly that there have been a bunch of minor squabbles and I think that has now the American people are looking at the real issues at stake in this election and working women, single mothers are looking at the fact that there's a serious crisis when it comes to health care, obviously our economy is in dire straits right now.

Obviously we have got to, you know, reinvigorate the economy, to bring more jobs back into this country and all of these issues, serious issues that working women and families face on a daily basis, that is why Senator Obama and Senator Biden have in recent polls regained their lead with women. That's why they're regaining their lead across the board in so many of the different constituencies.

Yes, Governor Palin, she came on with a big splash. It was fun for a minute, but we have serious issues facing our country and Obama and Biden are really providing these solutions that working women and single moms are looking for.

KING: Kellie, do you think it's fair or unfair to question whether Governor Palin can be both vice president, possibly president, support a family of five with one child of special needs?

BOYLE: I think it's incredibly unfair, actually. Governor Palin has achieved what women have fought for decades and we should be, all women should be rejoicing and the kind of opportunity that she now is able to enjoy and the success that she has had, and I look at her as an inspiration and a lot of other women do as well.

We can't all do what she is, but she can inspire us and she's got a lot of help from her husband too. That's one thing that keeps getting overlooked.

KING: Jehmu, do you think vice presidential candidates have real to do with the election really?

GREENE: Well I think that the candidate for president, one of the most important decisions that he's going to make, one of the first decisions, a test in a sense, is who he picks for that vice presidential position.

And I think when Senator McCain picked Governor Palin, it showed that, you know, in many ways they were looking for excitement, they were looking to rally up the base, they were looking for an outsider and they did find that person, but they also brought someone onto the ticket who has no foreign policy experience, as we are facing two wars in this country. And that's a little bit irresponsible.

I do agree with Kellie that her ability to be a mother to a special needs child has nothing to do with this. This is not about sexism and she should be treated fairly and I think the gloves should come off. In the same way we would go after a man, we need to go after Governor Palin.

KING: Thank you both very much, Kellie Boyle and Jehmu Greene. The polls are shifting, who's up, who's down and why, when LARRY KING LIVE returns.


KING: Welcome back. There are 46 days left. These are critical weekends. The Dow is down 17 percent this year. Has the shaky market got people reconsidering their votes? Is Obama's stock up or can McCain rally and rebound before election day? Good panel ahead. Stephanie Miller is here in Los Angeles, the talk show radio host and supporter of Obama. In Portland, Oregon, Lars Larsen, also hosts his own talk show, supporter of McCain. In Pensacola, Florida, Mike Papantonio, co-host of Ring of Fire with Robert F. Kennedy on Air America, an Obama supporter. And in Memphis, Ben Ferguson, himself a radio talk show host, and a supporter of Senator McCain.

All of our folks appear on the radio. We'll start with Stephanie. Barack Obama in some polls has widened his lead. Is this due to the financial crisis?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think it's due to a lot of things, Larry, but yes, John McCain has had a bad week. The fundamentals of the economy or strong; he tried to talk himself out of that 16 different ways. He wasn't sure who the prime minister of Spain is or where Spain is. Sarah Palin now is just becoming more and more incomprehensible with every time she is unleashed. Her answer on what her foreign policy experience is, there was something about what a fungible product today that was -- I don't know, you needed a UN head set for. It's been a bad week for McCain/Palin.

KING: Lars, what's your read on what's happening?

LARS LARSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Listen, the affect of the two conventions is starting to flatten out and yes, the voters are getting to know Governor Palin better. And I think she's fantastic. As far as the fundamentals go, Stephanie, I disagree. I think the fundamentals of America are solid. And yes, we're seeing things that we don't like, like the government bailing out failed institutions, but I think that John McCain is going to do just fine.

MILLER: By the way, that's going to cost the tax payers one trillion dollars, Lars, in addition to George Bush's three trillion dollar unnecessary war. If you think the economy is going well, you're the only one.

KING: Let's bring our other people in first. Then we'll get at it, Lars. Mike Papantonio, do you think that Palin is slipping?

MIKE PAPANTONIO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: She's slipping, absolutely slips, because right now Obama is doing what he's supposed to do. He's talking about the fundamentals of the economy. There's no way that John McCain can stand there and say that the fundamentals are in good shape. Look, 60,000 people a week are losing their home to foreclosure, the highest joblessness in six years, since the last time the Republicans put us in a Depression.

Henry Kravitz, he is making 60,000 dollars an hour, while the median income for the American family has fallen 1,000 dollars per year under this GOP, nine trillion dollar debt. Here's what I heard, Larry. I heard before I came on that the fundamentals of this economy are good. You got a tough time selling that one.

KING: Let's bring in Ben Ferguson so we round out the panel and then we'll go at it.

BEN FERGUSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It is truly amazing to me that a man named Barack Obama can have a good week by not giving his opinion on what he would do this week with the economy. Does anybody realize that he gave no opinion on AIG and the bailout? He gave no opinion. He said I'm going to withhold my opinion on what I would do as a candidate until like Thursday morning quarter backing, because I don't know what I would do right now. So I'm just going to wait.

Everybody else had an opinion this week but Barack Obama. He sits there -- Hold on, I have to say this. I have to, Stephanie.


FERGUSON: The last guy that talked said that thousands of people were losing their homes. They're absolutely right. They're losing them because of two companies that are kind of involved called Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And guess who Barack Obama's biggest advisers are in Freddie Mae's CEO and Fannie Mae's CEO.

MILLER: OK, do you mean unlike the two positions that John McCain had on the GOP bailout in the same day.

FERGUSON: Make an opinion on it. Here's an idea. When you're president, Stephanie, you don't get to be a quarterback a week later. He came out and said initially what he thought. When more information came out, that day he did exactly what a leader does.

MILLER: That's not flip-flopping?


KING: Chuck Hagel, a conservative Republican, against the Iraq war, obviously. He says it's a stretch for McCain to think Palin has any experience to be president. Are more Republicans starting to turn on her, Lars?

LARSON: Nobody has experience to be president. Obama hasn't been, McCain hasn't been, Biden hasn't been and neither has Palin. But she has good judgment. That's what people forget is it's about judgment.

PAPANTONIO: The biggest problem Palin has right now is time. Time is not on her side, because the more exposure the people have to Palin, the less they like her.


PAPANTONIO: If you synthesize the poll numbers, synthesize the attacks that are being made on her right now, the biggest problem she has is it's not only one thing. It's trooper gate. People don't even understand what trooper gate is, but they feel like she's been dishonest. They feel like they have been lied to.

FERGUSON: Let me tell you something about Sarah Palin. What is amazing to me about Sarah Palin, you all both forget that actually Democrats live in Alaska and she's had an 80 percent approval rating in Alaska, which means there are some Democrats there and a lot of them actually like her.

PAPANTONIO: Larry, here's the problem, you can't put your finger on any one reason that the American public is unraveling with Sarah Palin. You add the issue about her wanting to ban library books, you put in their peculiar family qualities.


PAPANTONIO: She is looking like a freak. And the American public is responding to it.


FERGUSON: Tonight are we actually talking about library books? Are we talking about the next person who's going to lead the United States of America? And here's my only requirement right now for somebody to be president: actually give an opinion on one of the biggest financial weeks ever, which Barack Obama did not do. That's where my bar is right now. Just tell me something.


MILLER: John McCain wanted to fire the SEC chairman. It's a ridiculous idea.

LARSON: It's a good idea. You may not agree, but at least he had the guts to walk up there and swing.

KING: We'll be right back. Where is Joe Biden in all of this? He's running for office too, getting little attention. We'll talk about that and other things. Stay there.



PALIN: I'm a hockey mom from Alaska.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When John McCain campaigns by himself, there are empty seats in critical states like Florida. But with Sarah Palin at his side, the crowds are electric. When Palin was finished speaking here in Ohio, voters, especially women, started leaving while McCain was still at the podium. It's dangerous for the second in command to outshine the top of the ticket.


KING: There we have the second in command outshining the top of the ticket. On the other side, Stephanie, where is Joe Biden? MILLER: Well, I think what you have been saying, this is a novelty, Larry. This is the first woman that a Republican party has ever nominated. So I think it's a novelty and it certainly is wearing off. Her ratings are dropping like a rock. I think Joe Biden, there's been no sunlight for Joe Biden. But once he gets in the debates, he's just going to destroy her. If you're looking at what the town halls look like so far, she even couldn't even answer the do over on what the Bush doctrine is.

KING: Lars, there will be no comparison on experience, right?

LARSON: Listen, experience means you have been around for 30 years, but I want to know what kind of decisions she makes. She's not running for president, she's running for vice president. The fact is people are energized by this. The base is energized. A lot of the base was very angry at John McCain, including me. I didn't like a lot of his positions, but we have come back to him because he has brought in an element that's brand new.

I don't think it's just a novelty. A lot of Americans look at this woman and they say Sarah Palin is like me. And the rest of these folks, including Joe Biden and Barack Obama, they're not like me at all.

KING: When you say that, you have to conclude, John McCain is not like me.

LARSON: No, that's right. He's not and what he wanted to show is that he can continue to be a maverick, even though he's been around for a long time. He made the maverick decision. As far as I'm concerned, put lipstick on a community organizer and he's still a friend of Sol Olinsky (ph).

MILLER: Here's something we learned from George Bush. We don't want someone like us. We want someone smarter than us and a little more competent.

KING: What happens to Joe Biden in all of this?

PAPANTONIO: You know I like what Biden is doing? Biden is saying what needs to be said. Today, Biden was talking about the fact that this is not McCain's first rodeo on deregulation. He reminded everyone about the Keating Five incident. He reminded of the S and L crisis that John McCain helped start, cost taxpayers two trillion dollars back in 1980. John McCain still hasn't learned his lesson. Deregulation is the only thing McCain knows how to talk about.

I love that Biden is out there on the attack. And I understand that Biden understands the issues so he can do that. Sarah Palin doesn't understand the issues.


KING: One at a time. Ben?

FERGUSON: There's two things that people are missing about Joe Biden. Joe Biden this week said something I think is for important. He talked about patriotism. And he said it was quote, unquote, patriotic for people who make a fair amount of money to pay more money. Now, I thought the American dream was that you don't get penalized for living the American dream. I think Joe Biden -- I'm glad he's not a threat.

KING: Isn't it patriotic though to contribute to your country? I don't understand.

FERGUSON: Sure it is. Let me ask you this, Larry, if you make 250,000 dollars a year, there's a pretty good chance that you have a small business or you employ people. I think that's pretty patriotic to give people a chance to come to work and have a good job. How is that not patriotic, Larry? You're basically saying that people that are successful and go to college --


MILLER: Four out of five households in America get a tax break under Barack Obama. And by the way, every fifth house in America belongs to John McCain. We're only talking about the top one percent. We're talking about rich guys like Larry and he wants to be a good American and pay his taxes.

LARSON: If you make 250,000 dollars a year, you already pay more taxes. He wants it to go even higher and say you need to be patriotic. That's not patriotism.

FERGUSON: Barack Obama said two weeks ago he said he's not sure he is going to raise taxes on the rich. He backed off on that two weeks ago. How is he going to pay for the big tax cut for everybody else and balance the budget and spend all the additional money he's going to spend?

PAPANTONIO: One thing we know for sure, Larry, we know this: we know John McCain is saying that he wants to get corporations like Exxon a 200 billion dollar break in taxes. He said it four weeks ago. He said that TV.


KING: Take a breath, we'll be right back.


KING: We were discussing Joe Biden. One other thing. Could he be in trouble with Ohio voters because he told them that he told the Delaware football team, where he lives, "I told the folks in Ohio that we would kick Ohio State's ass." Could that hurt him?

PAPANTONIO: I don't think he did polling on that.

MILLER: It's un-American not to want to kick another football team's ass.


KING: I change my vote. They say don't kick me. I'm not voting for it. That's silly season.

LARSON: Hey, Larry, you know what he ought to be in trouble for? The fact that he's up for re-election at the same time he's running for vice president, which means, if he becomes vice president, then he gets to help choose the replacement for himself, cutting the voters of that state out of the choice.

KING: The governor chooses somebody and then there's an election. Joe Lieberman did that.

PAPANTONIO: Let me tell you one thing that Biden will be able to do, in his first big interview, he's not going to make George Bush look like a genius, like Palin did. He's not going to make Dick Cheney look like a dove instead of a war hog. He's not going to be make himself look dishonest like she did so many times during that interview. This is a woman who does not believe in evolution. She thinks the Earth is 6,000 years old, not four billion years old. She believes global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the media.


KING: It is?

PAPANTONIO: You know what else she wants to do? She wants to make abortion illegal for people --

LARSON: Let me ask you a question, why is it all of a sudden such a bad thing -- and I know this may be shocking to Democrats -- to actually take a position on something that may be controversial. The thing about Joe Biden is -- let me finish.

KING: Hold it.


KING: Ben, you can take a controversial position and say the world is flat.

FERGUSON: The thing you're criticizing Sarah Palin about is that she actually has morals and convictions. Why is this wrong. I'm just saying in general, does Barack Obama have morals? Yes. Does he have conviction? Yes. The problem is he votes present all the time --


MILLER: -- that is against what 99.9 percent of the scientists in the world, except the ones that work for Exxon/Mobil, think. That's not controversial, it's stupid.

LARSON: I think it's terrifying that Barack Obama couldn't make his mind up on if you should actually pass a law that says if you discharge a firearm by a school in Illinois, you should go to jail for a long time. That's terrifying to me.


KING: One at a time.

LARSON: It's terrifying to me that Barack Obama cannot come out there on big issues and tell us nothing about --

KING: We're getting repetitive. You want to say something, Mike? We'll go on to other subjects.

PAPANTONIO: I want to say this. This is all about the economy. It's about people out of jobs. It's about 60,000 people a week losing their homes. It's about a nine trillion dollars deficit the Republicans brought us. That's what this election is about. It's like Carville said, it's about the economy, stupid. The right wing radio talkers, they don't get it.

FERGUSON: Tell me what is position is and we'll talk about his position.

LARSON: He doesn't take positions. Ben is absolutely right. Barack Obama votes present and you don't get to do that in the Oval Office. The man will have to make decisions. You can't simply say, I'm not going to take a position. I'll give you one in a week or two.

MILLER: Lars, you know that that is -- he has a position on every major issue. What you're talking about is a legislative thing that many, many state senators did in Illinois at the behest of their party. It's such a ridiculous issue. He has taken an issue that is in line with what the American people want on just about every single issue. That's why he's winning.

LARSON: Stephanie, tell me one thing, and I will not interrupt you. Tell me what Barack Obama's position is this week on AIG and the economy and what's going on with the market. That's all I want to know.

PAPANTONIO: Can I take a shot at that?


PAPANTONIO: You know what his position is? He knows that the new Republican idea for new market capitalism is that you privatize profit.


KING: Hold on. He just said --

PAPANTONIO: -- and socialize losses when it goes bad.

KING: We'll be back with the remaining moments of the happy hour on LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: This may be impossible with our upbeat Group. Let's start with Stephanie. Give me an objective preview of the debate.

MILLER: The presidential debate?

KING: Yes.

MILLER: I think we're going to see more of what really has happened this week. Let me just say, what they said before, does Barack Obama have a policy, yes. He had a calm, reasoned statement on the economy. John McCain panicked and said, let's fire the SEC chairman, which is ridiculous. This hole deregulation trickle down policy that the Bush administration and McCain would continue is what got us into this crisis. McCain is trying to separate himself from Bush. It's like firing Michael Brown.

KING: Lars, does this debate have a topic or is it anywhere they want go?

LARSON: I think it's anywhere they want to go. It is going to be interesting to see Barack Obama off teleprompter for a while. He doesn't seem to do all that well. If thing go as bad as they went week, somebody does deserve to be fired. The American people expect it. I don't think that was a bad idea on McCain's part.

KING: Mike, the problem with the debate is he may be off prompter, but McCain is not an accomplished debater, either. Could we have a week debate?

PAPANTONIO: I don't think it's going to be week, because I think you're going to see Obama talk about issues that people want to hear about. Look, the problem is not can Obama read off a teleprompter. He's a very good extemporaneous speaker. The problem with McCain is the opposite. His handlers are terrified by this upcoming debate, I can promise you. They're terrified of this man with Obama. You are going to see Obama control the issues. He is going to talk about the economy. And McCain is going to try to take you back to Iraq. Right now Americans aren't looking at Iraq. They're looking at the economy.

FERGUSON: Hope and change is going to probably end, I think next Friday night, if I'm not mistaken --

KING: The focus is foreign policy. That's the subject of debate one.

FERGUSON: The focus is foreign policy. The reality is the only thing Barack Obama is going to be able to say about it without a teleprompter is I did go around the world once and shook a lot of famous people's hands. I don't think that is going to work with the American people.

PAPANTONIO: He'll know the difference


FERGUSON: It's easy for Barack Obama to come out after the fact. This is a classic example from your history book of a guy coming out after the fact.

KING: He was opposed to the war when it was announced.

MILLER: Let's go with now. Who wants to be in Iraq 100 years and who wants to get out?


PAPANTONIO: The problem is the surge is a response to a failed idea to begin with. Any talk about the surge -- Everybody understands we shouldn't have been there to begin with except the right wing radio talkers, who talk about it everyday. It is simply a response to a failed idea. The American public knows that.

LARSON: How do you insult the American people by saying that no one in America is in favor of the war in Iraq? A lot of Americans that are in favor of the Americans --

PAPANTONIO: -- lost 4,000 lives, spent 12 billion dollars a month so we could put democracy to Iraq? Is that --


MILLER: Maybe he'll be able to invent a way back machine to explain why Iraq was a good idea just like he invented the Blackberry.

FERGUSON: It's probably right next to the present button that Barack Obama pushes.

LARSON: Exactly. Somebody needs to remind Papantonio that region change in Iraq was the official policy of America, signed into law by Bill Clinton.


KING: We're out of time. We'll have you all back guaranteed. Thanks, guys.

I want to tell you about my friend Jimmy Kimmel's star-studded pre- Emmy special. We could all use a few good laughs after a tough week. Spend an hour with Jimmy and his guests Sunday night. It's a sound investment.

Make a note about our shows next week. President Bill Clinton is my guest on Wednesday. I will ask him about the election, the campaign, Sarah Palin and of course, Hillary.

Chris Rock will be here Thursday. I can't wait to hear what he says about what's going on in our world. For a complete guest list, go to And while you're there, download our latest podcast, Suze Orman. What do you think of Sarah Palin now? Now it's time for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."