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Joy Behar's View; Political Panel

Aired September 22, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, who's dishing what on the campaign trail?
And when it came to Obama's V.P. pick, who didn't want the job?


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She would have been the best politically, at least in the short run, because of her enormous support in the country.

BARBARA WALTERS, CO-HOST: She didn't want it?

B. CLINTON: Not particularly.


KING: Bill Clinton will be my guest on Wednesday night.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: He knows a little something about politics.


KING: But Joy Behar is here now with her outspoken view on all the hottest election topics.

What about her controversial Q&A with John McCain and claims she picked the senator's bones clean?


JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, THE VIEW," SUPPORTS OBAMA: I know that those two ads are untrue. They're lies. And yet you, at the end of it say, "I approved these messages."

Did you really approve them?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Actually, they're not lies.


KING: Plus, will prejudice against blacks cost Barack Obama the White House? Has putting Sarah Palin on the ticket made McCain the candidate that more women want?

And air wave ad attacks.


OBAMA: I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A prescription for disaster. Obama is not ready to lead.

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


KING: Have campaign commercials gotten so bad there's nothing left to do but laugh?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My friends, I must say that it reminds me of an attack George Bush made on me in 2000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He won that election, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm John McCain and I approved this message.


KING: It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We're late folks of the night.

Good evening from New York.

Joy Behar is our special guest to kick things off, co-host of "The View." She and Whoopi Goldberg, by the way, will appear at Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Connecticut on October 24th.

She is openly supporting the Obama/Biden ticket.

Bill Clinton, who will be here with us tomorrow night, made his first appearance on "The View" -- right here, he'll be with us on Wednesday night. Correction.

He made the first appearance on "The View" today.

What was it like?

BEHAR: You know it was Bill. He's charming. He's charismatic. You know, he touched me. I got a little tingle. KING: Yes?

Did he charm the whole crew?

BEHAR: He's very charming. He's very smart. You know, he's just got it. He's got it.

KING: Hillary's name came up during the interview, no surprise.

Let's take a look.


WALTERS: Did Senator Clinton really want to be vice president?

And did you want her to be vice president?

B. CLINTON: Not really, no. I mean first of all, I had no...

WALTERS: Not really?

Not really or you didn't?

B. CLINTON: Not really. She didn't. And I had no real opinion. I think that she would have been the best politically, at least in the short run, because of her enormous support in the country.

WALTERS: And she didn't want it?

B. CLINTON: Not particularly. She -- but she didn't -- she wanted -- she said that if he asked, I'll do it, because it's my duty.


KING: You buy it?

BEHAR: You notice his body language was getting a little -- he was starting to move around and no, she didn't want it. She didn't want it, you know?

I don't know. He's protecting his wife's, you know, her legacy, I guess. But his enthusiasm is not over the top, let's put it that way, for Obama. But he did -- he did say he would win. He did say that.

KING: In fact, what...


KING: We're going to show you that clip.

Bill Clinton predicts the outcome of the election. You're going to be in for a shock.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE VIEW," COURTESY ABC) BEHAR: Who's going to win the election, Obama or McCain?

B. CLINTON: I believe Obama will win.


B. CLINTON: Let me just say, I think Obama will win for the following reasons. Two-thirds of the American people are having trouble paying their bills. These are difficult times. That makes them more likely to change. The financial crisis and meltdown only makes that more likely, number one.

Number two, America is growing more diverse racially, religiously, culturally. Demographically, the country is moving toward Democratic voters in general.

Number three, registration is up for the Democrats and flat for the Republicans in 20 of the most important states.


KING: Sound real -- was he very enthusiastic or kind of...

BEHAR: You know, but his whole presentation is rather cool, calm and collected. So I can't really fault him -- you know, I don't want him jumping all around for Obama, but he could have been a little bit more enthusiastic. He could have said he's really ready to be president, I think he'll make a great president. He didn't say that.

KING: Do you think he's still feeling the wounds of the primary?

BEHAR: Well, his ego is, you know, quite substantial, as are all of these politicians' egos. And so I think that -- yes, I think that it does bug him that his wife didn't get the nomination. And, you know, I think that it's still a little residual resentment there.

KING: He was kind to McCain?

BEHAR: Well, he was -- no, he likes McCain. We all like McCain. Everybody likes McCain. That doesn't mean I want him to be president. I do like the guy. You know, when I -- we showed that clip of me confronting him about the ads. I mean, I just was asking him that question out of, you know, a sincere interest in the fact that what happened to you?

He used to be a guy who really was a straight shooter. You were a guy who was going to take the high road.

How come you didn't take the high road?

How come you went down like that?

That's all I was asking him, really.

KING: What did Bill say about him?

BEHAR: Clinton?

KING: Yes.

BEHAR: He said that he's a great guy. He has his, you know, his wonderful war record and everything. And we all admire that. But he just thinks that Obama will be -- is going to win, you know?

The question I wanted to ask Bill today that I didn't get to ask -- and I regret it -- is why is it that he was a Yale law graduate student -- a law student graduate from Yale Law School. I'm sorry. And Obama is a Harvard Law graduate, a professor. And yet Clinton never got this elitist label and Obama gets it.

Why is that, I wonder?

Is it because Obama is black?

Is that the reason?

There's something...

KING: Do you associate word elite with black?

BEHAR: Well, I think that people are looking at him and they say that he's very professorial and just all sorts of words to throw the -- I mean the guy has one wife. He has one car. You know, he did everything he was supposed to do. He's not divorced. He doesn't have any kind of sleaze in his background. He went to college. He got into Harvard Law School without affirmative action. He didn't even write on the application his color.

And it's not enough for some people. It's not enough. It's not good enough.

And why, you know?

And today we're finding out that, you know, a lot of people in this country are saying they won't vote for an African-American.

It's just outright racism, isn't it?

KING: Well, that would be terrible, yes, if that would be a reason they wouldn't.

BEHAR: I mean that's what we're hearing now and it's very disturbing to me, although, you know, I can remember back when Kennedy was running and people would say I wouldn't vote for a Catholic and they voted for a Catholic. So maybe, hopefully, you know, people will come to their senses and think about their -- you know, their needs.

KING: Joy Behar and John McCain -- she has suddenly become kind of a status symbol -- a different kind of -- we'll get to it right after this.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When Hillary conceded, I think it hit every woman in the gut, when she conceded.

Was that a tough choice for her to make?

What was the discussion that you and her had...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ...before she did that?

B. CLINTON: No. You know, some of the people who were for Senator Obama were saying, well, why didn't she just fold up her tent after we won all these little caucuses?

She stayed until the very end. And then, when it was obvious that the only purpose of going to the convention would have been to perpetuate the differences between them, she then withdrew.


KING: We're back with Joy Behar.

OK, the Behar/McCain clash.


KING: It will go down in television history. McCain recently on "The View."

Here's a sample of the grilling he got.


BEHAR: Because there are ads running from your campaign. One of them is saying that Obama, when he said, 'You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig,' was talking about Sarah.

There's another ad that says that Obama was interested in teaching sex education to kindergartners.

Now, we know that these two ads are untrue. They're lies. And yet you, at the end of it, say, "I approved these messages."

MCCAIN: Actually, they're...

BEHAR: Do you really approve them?

MCCAIN: Actually, they are not lies. And if you've seen some of the ads that are running against me...

WALTERS: By the way, you yourself said...

MCCAIN: ...but the point is...

WALTERS: ...the same thing about putting lipstick on a pig. You yourself used the same expression.

MCCAIN: When I was talking about a health care plan.

WALTERS: Yes, but he talked about change.


MCCAIN: No, he...

WALTERS: He wasn't talking about Sarah Palin.




MCCAIN: Senator Obama chooses his words very carefully, OK?

He shouldn't have said it. He shouldn't have said it. He chooses his words very carefully. And this is a tough campaign.


BEHAR: It sure is a tough campaign.


Did you get -- do you feel you got up on him?

BEHAR: No. Not at all. I mean, I think that he walked into "The View" thinking it was a chat fest, you know. And last time he was there, we were all cozy and warm -- cozy doo with him. But that was before he actually was the nominee. Now that he, you know -- had...

KING: So you think it's fair game?

BEHAR: Well, I mean, if he can't...

KING: Do you think he was surprised?

BEHAR: I think he was a little bit surprised by my question. But I always, you know, this is what I have to say about that. If you can't deal with Joy Behar, how are you going to deal with Vladimir Putin?


KING: You've got a point.

All right, see...

BEHAR: I mean, you know, I like the guy. Like they're talking about all these cars that he has, you know -- how many -- he's got 13 cars.

KING: That's right.

BEHAR: Fine. Let him have 13 cars.

To me, can he drive at night?


BEHAR: That is what you really need to ask.

Can he drive any of them at night?

KING: That's funny.


KING: Yes. Cindy McCain said that you and the other co-hosts picked their bones clean.

BEHAR: Yes, that's what Cindy said. She was not happy.

KING: How do you react to that?

BEHAR: She's protecting her husband, the way -- the way Clinton was protecting his wife today -- she didn't really want to be vice president, they picked our bones clean. Everybody has a right to protect their spouse.

KING: Our friend, Frank Rich, in the "New York Times" Sunday wrote of your challenging McCain on truthfulness in our news culture. He said: "It's a stand-up comic by profession, looms as the new Edward R. Murrow."

BEHAR: Good night and good luck, is all I have to say to that.

KING: What do you make of that?

BEHAR: Well, that was quite a compliment from Frank Rich, I must say.

KING: I would say.

BEHAR: I mean I was actually -- if I had false teeth, they would have fallen out of my mouth when I read that.

But I think that he's basically taken a shot at the legitimate, you know, media of not being able to ask that question directly to him, you know?

And somebody -- a comedian, you know, will go places that other humans won't go, I guess.

KING: Well, you also have extra tope, don't you?

I mean that's a... BEHAR: There's a little rope in that way. Yes, absolutely. I mean I did it because it was -- I came to this place for a reason, I guess, you know?

KING: By the way, Barack Obama did "The View" back in March.

Let's take a look.


BEHAR: I have to just say one other thing bad before we go to serious stuff.


BEHAR: I understand that you're related to Brad Pitt in some way.



BEHAR: I mean I...

OBAMA: Actually, yes.

BEHAR: How are you related to Brad Pitt?

OBAMA: I guess ninth cousins something removed or something.

BEHAR: Isn't that fascinating?


OBAMA: Yes. I mean I think -- I think he got the...


OBAMA: He got the better looking side of the gene pool, you know?


WALTERS: Just before you came out -- maybe we shouldn't say this, but we -- can we say it?



WALTERS: We thought you we were very sexy looking.




BEHAR: Now that looks unbalanced. It looks as though we really...

KING: Looks unbalanced?

BEHAR: But that was...

KING: That looks like a swoon job.

BEHAR: Of course. But that was before he was nominated. That's -- if he comes on now...

KING: Oh, now nominated and rack up Barack.

BEHAR: If he comes on now, we'll give him a grilling, just like we gave McCain. I have questions and things, you know. So it's not the same -- it's not an equal time period.

KING: The last time you were with us, you said you wanted to hear what Sarah Palin would have to say for herself. She's done two TV interviews, a bunch of stump speeches.

What's your thoughts now?

BEHAR: Well, she says that -- the thing that bugs me about her is that she keeps saying I'm ready. I'm ready to serve. When John McCain asked me to run, I didn't blink. I didn't hesitate. I said I'm ready.

Well, you know, well, I'm ready to be an opera singer, OK?

I'd just like to share that. I have the bosoms. I've got the horns at home. The only thing I'm missing is the voice.


BEHAR: But I'm ready to be an opera singer. That doesn't make any sense to me when someone says something like that.

KING: I'm ready to be a brain surgeon.

BEHAR: Yes, I'm ready to be -- I want to be a model. I'll grow like four more feet, I'll lose 50 pounds, I'll be a model.

Just because you say you're ready, doesn't make you ready.

KING: But the polls indicate she's helped McCain.

BEHAR: She's helped him because she's -- she's a very interesting candidate. I was saying this to one of your producers, how she is. I mean she has wolf pelts hanging from her wall, she -- next to the baby's cradle. You know, she's got all these children. She's got a daughter who just got pregnant out of wedlock. There's a kid -- the shotgun marriage is going to -- it's fascinating stuff. You can't beat it. You know, it's...

KING: It's drama, high drama.

BEHAR: It's drama. It's great theater. KING: And here she is in New York for the U.N.

BEHAR: Boning up on foreign affairs, you know, overnight. It's like when I used to cram for -- at Queens College. Overnight, you know, you take like a diet pill and stay up all night and cram. That's how it feels to me, you know?

And just because she goes to the U.N. and she mingles with Kissinger and all these foreign heads of state, does that make her a foreign policy expert?

You know how many times I've met James Praagh -- van Praagh, the guy who talked to the dead?

I still can't talk to the dead.


BEHAR: And I've met that guy many times.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Carol in Birmingham, Alabama: "What do you think of the rules of the vice presidential debate, that Palin and Biden will be given less time to reply to questions and discuss each other's answers than McCain and Obama, which is going to be kind of wide open?"

BEHAR: Well, that's another thing -- why did the Democrats agree to this?

So, in other words, the way I understand it, Jim Lehrer -- is that who's going to be doing it?

KING: Yes.

BEHAR: He can ask Sarah...

KING: No. He won't do the vice presidents.

BEHAR: Oh, he's not doing it.

Who's doing that?

KING: Gwen...

BEHAR: Oh, Gwen Ifill.

BEHAR: OK, I like her.

KING: Yes.

BEHAR: But, OK, so you ask Sarah a question, she answers it. You ask Joe Biden a question, he answers it. But they can't interact at all.

KING: Correct.

BEHAR: So she can stay on her talking points that way.

KING: Correct.

BEHAR: There's no spontaneity there.

KING: So why did the Democrats agree?

BEHAR: I don't know. I happen to -- because they're self- destructive. I don't know.

Why did they agree to such a thing?

Remember when Reagan turned and said there you go again?

You need stuff like that, back and forth, to see what the person's got.

KING: Yes, you do.

Bill Clinton is with us tomorrow -- Wednesday night...

BEHAR: Wednesday.


Oh, you keep correcting me...

BEHAR: I remember Wednesday.

KING: ...and it's my show.

BEHAR: I'm sorry.

KING: Running for president is serious business. It also gives us a few good laughs. We'll talk about that we Joy next.


KING: Joy Behar is our special guest.

To get it right, Bill Clinton is Wednesday night.

By the way, I'll tell you how big they're getting. "Saturday Night Live" taking political cues from "The View". This weekend, it took comic aim at McCain's TV ad.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that's so great to hear. Let's do it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barack Obama says he wants universal health care.

Is that so? Health care for the entire universe, including Osama bin Laden?

I think we'll pass. No way, no how, no Bama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm John McCain. I approved this message.


BEHAR: Funny. Funny.

KING: Are these ads out of control, do you think?

BEHAR: Well, they were...

KING: ...on both sides.

BEHAR: They were. I don't know if those ads that I was taking him on about are still running. I think they stopped running them. Edward R. Murrow told them no, it's not good.

KING: And I heard today that she's not doing the "Bridge To Nowhere" speech again.

BEHAR: Oh, the bridge to...

KING: Now it's the road to the bridge...


KING: No. I built the road to the bridge.

BEHAR: Oh. Oh that she kept repeating, even after we know that she said yes to the bridge and then she said no. And I said no thank you. Thank you, but no thank you, over and over again. Honey, we know that you said yes and then you took the money. We know what happened.

KING: What do you make of the low -- it's not low key, it's just no attention being paid to Joe Biden?

BEHAR: I know. They don't even do any sketches on him. I was watching Lou Dobbs and they were saying that they didn't do any sketches on Joe Biden.

Isn't there anything, hair plugs, something?

This is -- come on.

KING: Yes. He's been a figure on the American scene...


KING: years, more than any other candidate was.

BEHAR: I know. I know. He's a sweet guy. I met him one time in Florida. He said that he's more afraid of being on Jon Stewart's show than on "Meet The Press." (LAUGHTER)

KING: How do you think that debate will go?

BEHAR: With Biden and Sarah?

KING: Yes.

BEHAR: Well, you know, in a certain way -- I was thinking about it during the break. I mean she can just answer straight and he can just answer straight. In a way, it will cut down on his appearing to be condescending or sexist in any way, because all he has to do is answer the questions. It might work to his benefit. Maybe that's why the Democrats said yes.

KING: Maybe that's right.

BEHAR: That might be it.

KING: What do you think is going to happen Friday night?

BEHAR: At my house?



BEHAR: Oh, you mean on television. Well, I think that -- I think that Obama is going to -- is going to nail it. He's just a really smart guy. He's very -- the thing I like about him -- and, you know, again, I like John McCain. He's a great guy.

I think that John McCain looks like he could snap. Even Pat Buchanan, who is a Republican from the -- from the year gimmell (ph), as they say...


BEHAR: Even Pat Buchanan said that he worries about John McCain's temper.

Do we really want someone in the White House with a temper while Ahmadinejacket (ph) or whatever they call him...

KING: Ahmadinejad.

BEHAR: Ahmad -- that's what Whoopi calls him -- Ahmadinejacket is out there with his finger on the button?

And now you have the North Koreans. You need someone who's very, very calm. We don't need any Dr. Strangelove business going on. And we need someone who knows a lot, who's smart, who can use judgment and think. That's why I think that Obama will better, temperament wise.

KING: But we approach the debate, we don't approach it objectively, most Americans, unless you're undecided. BEHAR: Yes.

Who's undecided?

KING: That's what I can't figure out.

BEHAR: Who are these undecided people?

KING: Who is undecided?

BEHAR: I don't think they're undecided. I think they like the attention. You know, oh, they're undecided. Oh, yes, I don't know yet. You know, and it gives you a lot of attention. Maybe they like that.

KING: You know a famous person that's undecided, Colin Powell said the other day...

BEHAR: Colin -- do you believe that?

KING: ...I'm looking at him, I'm looking at...

BEHAR: You know what, if you believe Colin Powell is undecided, I've got a "Bridge To Nowhere" to sell you.


BEHAR: He knows what he's doing. He's just staying neutral. Look at the poor guy. First of all, he's a Republican, he's an African- American. It's a tricky spot.

KING: Are you getting tired of this?

BEHAR: Of what?

KING: The campaign.

Of what?

BEHAR: Oh, no, not really. Not yet. But we said before I don't know, it was just...

KING: We've got 48...

BEHAR: Forty-eight days.

KING: Whatever.

BEHAR: It juices me up, I have to say.

Don't you -- don't you enjoy it in a way?

KING: Yes, of course.

BEHAR: Yes. It's a lot of fun. This particular one, this particular campaign is more interesting than anything. I remember when the Watergate -- do you remember Watergate? Glued to the TV.

KING: Do I remember Watergate?

BEHAR: Of course you remember it.


BEHAR: Glued to the TV. And this is kind of exciting like that.

KING: In Watergate, we didn't have cable TV.

BEHAR: Now but...

KING: Imagine if we had Watergate and cable TV.

BEHAR: In my day, we didn't even have a telephone.


KING: Hey, in my day.


KING: How is your career going?

Now, do you -- by the way, do you sense a new blossoming of you?

Have you now become not only just a comedian, but a -- a kind of female Mark Twain?

BEHAR: Well, I call -- yes, Barbara said that to me. She said you're kind of like Mark Twain now, Joy.


But Mark -- I don't know. The...

KING: Mark Twain was a social commentator.


KING: I don't see any reason...

BEHAR: But I mean, I don't know. Maybe. I don't take myself that seriously. But it is -- it is a blossoming in a certain way, because I've become a fundit.

KING: A fundit?

BEHAR: I'm not a pundit, because I'm still a comedian first and foremost. I call myself a fundit. I think Bill Maher is a fundit. Jon Stewart's a fundit. We're fundits. It's different...

KING: That's a good word. BEHAR: It's different from the, you know, well, you know, bah, bah, bah. And they can cite statistics and everything else. We don't do that. We just give our opinion with a joke.

KING: Do you do a lot of politics in your act?

BEHAR: Yes, sure. I like to do it. And just -- right now, there's so much stuff. You know something I was thinking, Obama wants to raise taxes on people who make over $250,000.

KING: Right.

BEHAR: Although people keep saying he's going to raise your taxes. He's not going to raise all your taxes. He's only raising people who are over 250. And those people over 250 are going to go back to the rate that we were all paying when Clinton was in office.

KING: Correct.

BEHAR: When there was a budget surplus, OK?

And so I'm going to pay back to that. I'm going to lose money, because I make a little more than that, thanks to Barbara Walters, you know. And I'm not going to have as much material, because Obama and Biden are not as funny as Palin and McCain. Those two -- between the old jokes and the whack out -- the whacked out, the hunting and all the crazy things she's into, there's a lot more material over there.

KING: You've got a point.

BEHAR: Yes. And yet I'm such a patriotic American that I'm still going to vote for the person who's going to cost me more and give me less material.

How do you like that?

KING: So, you're willing to give up money for your country?

BEHAR: I am.

KING: Horrors.


BEHAR: A little bit.

KING: Unheard of.

Thank you, darling.

BEHAR: Thank you for having me yet again.

KING: You're always great.

BEHAR: I have a lot of fun with you.

KING: We love having you here on Joy Behar Live.


KING: By the way, for the record, we have standing invitations out to both presidential candidates. We'd love to have them on any time. They've both been on a few times -- quite a few times before.

Next up, more Obama, more McCain, more Bill Clinton.

Don't move or you'll miss it.

We'll be right...

BEHAR: When is he coming on?

KING: Wednesday night.

BEHAR: Wednesday night.

KING: We'll be right back.

BEHAR: Very good.



KING: A major panel to lead us the rest of the way in a discussion of this incredible political race.

In Stanford, Connecticut, Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary for George W. Bush, a supporter of John McCain.

Here in New York, Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor of Huffington Post. She supports Obama.

In Washington, Susan Molinari, former member of Congress, a Republican from New York, a member of the Women for McCain steering committee, a supporter, of course, of John McCain.

And in Washington, as well, is Congressman Robert Wexler, Democrat of Florida, who supports Obama.

We're going to discuss a lot of how the media's dealing with this. We're going to show you a clip of John and Cindy McCain. They were on Rachel Ray today. I want you to watch this. Then we'll get a reaction. Watch.


RACHEL RAY, "RACHEL RAY": This is something we'll just allow you to do.


RAY: So let me ask you something. If you're in the White House, are you going to, you know --


RAY: -- re-landscape the backyard and line up five --

MCCAIN: We'll have a grill. And at Camp David, we'll have a grill. And I guarantee you, nobody but me is going to do the grilling.


KING: OK. Ari, a lot different from "The View." Is Rachel Ray necessary?

ARI FLEISCHER, FMR BUSH ADVISER: You know, Larry, Gallup came out with a new poll today showing that when 43 percent of this country places a great deal or fair amount of trust in the mainstream media, a record low in the history of Gallup polls. So what's happening is candidates increasingly look to lots of different outlets to get the word out. We still have to depend on the mainstream for the most part, because they still reach the most people, but candidates are wise, and Barack Obama does it too, to find as many different outlets as they can to get across directly to voters.

KING: Arianna, you agree?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Absolutely. It's absolutely fine to go on all sorts of different shows. But I think a more disturbing poll for John McCain is CNN poll that shows two to one the American public blame basically the Republicans for the current economic crisis. That's really the most damaging thing happening to the McCain campaign because there's no way, no matter how he presents himself as a born again regulator, somebody who suddenly discovered the joys of big government, that he can convince the American public that that's who he is.

KING: What do you think, Susan? Do you think -- by the way --

SUSAN MOLINARI, FMR. REPUBLICAN CONGRESSWOMAN: Should I answer Arianna or your question?

KING: Arianna switched from Ari, so we'll deal with both, as obviously I was going to deal with the financial as well.

MOLINARI: I'll get in my talking points, too.


MOLINARI: First of all, I think this is smart. Look, both political parties finally have gotten it that the women's vote is something that they have got to pay very careful attention to like a laser beam. Fifty four percent of the vote they think is going to be projected to be. And, you know, for the first time, John McCain -- there was a poll out that showed tied -- who has a better understanding of women and what is important to them? And Barack Obama and John McCain are tied in the answer to that vote. And they're competitive for the women's vote. That is incredible for the Republican party. Even as a female candidate, as a Republican, I had a gender gap.

I think John McCain, with Governor Palin, is doing a tremendous job in shrinking that vote. And if he can maintain that, I think that's going to be the difference come November.

KING: Congressman Wexler, take any part you want.

REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: I think Ari Fleischer is exactly correct. I think fewer and fewer Americans rely on the traditional, mainstream media, except for the Larry King show, of course. That's still the most credible of all. But I think what people like to see in shows like you illustrate are the human interactions, the totality of the man or the woman, how do they relate in the less traditional formats? I think it's not only a credible source of news, it's also a very important aspect of a person's personality.

I do think, though, as the news takes over and it is urgent and it is grim, like we have now in terms of markets collapsing and the failure of the banking system, shows like that you need to be very careful as a candidate to be too light.

KING: Ari, now let's move to that . Arianna's discussion of the poll; is this crisis hurting the Republicans more than the Democrats?

FLEISCHER: Well, frankly, in my assessment, Larry, neither candidate has done a very good job with it. I think Senator McCain made a big mistake when he said the fundamental are sound. It sounded like he reverted back to his standard talking points. He just didn't catch up with the facts. And I think Senator Obama is trying to get away with saying nothing at all and showing no leadership or record or experience on something major like this.

I think the fact of the matter is both parties deserve blame for it. Borrowers deserve blame. Bankers deserve blame. The other thing is one gigantic calamity, brought on by a variety of factors that very few people understand. And we still don't even know where it's going.

KING: The only guy who doesn't deserve blame or female who doesn't deserve is the bus driver in Hialeah. He didn't do nothing. Right?

HUFFINGTON: That's right. But you know what, Larry, Ari can't really say that both parties deserve blame. This is the fundamental difference between the two parties. The Republican party is party of free unregulated markets. Just look at the Republican convention in Minneapolis. Even Cindy McCain said, let's get the federal government out of the way.

So how can they reconcile this notion about government, what Grover Norquist, one of the high priests of the Republican party calls the leave us alone coalition, with what is happening right now, when we have a request from the secretary of the Treasury for a 700 billion dollar bailout of the financial sector? KING: Isn't that government involvement, Susan?

MOLINARI: Well, sure, it is. It's government involvement right now so that people can save their accounts --

KING: Therefore, are we saying that in times of crisis, the government has to get involved?

MOLINARI: I don't think anybody disagrees with that. Certainly President Bush and certainly Senator McCain, although in many different aspects differ, believe that when their is time of crisis the federal government certainly needs to step in and learn from mistakes of the past, which is why Senator McCain has been advocating this commission to oversee and make sure that we don't duplicate those mistakes.

And from a political standpoint, I think this does give Senator McCain an opportunity to continue to distance himself, as he has done quite frankly throughout his political career, from some of the decisions made by the Bush administration. Even with Secretary Paulson today, Senator McCain has been one of the first to stand up and say, we are not going to give the treasury secretary a blank check. We are going to have to exhibit greater oversight and we're going to deal with executive compensation to those companies that receive federal money.

KING: Congressman Wexler, does it show a split in the Republicans?

WEXLER: Oh, the Republicans are split. There's no doubt about that. You have Republicans yelling this is American socialism. You have others saying we shouldn't be intervening. And you have others saying that if we don't intervene, the entire financial situation will collapse. But where I would strongly disagree with Mr. Fleischer, one year ago, Barack Obama went to Nasdaq and in a very specific call to action, said that the culture of Wall Street needed to change, and that there was a root problem which was that too many Americans, unfortunately, were unable to meet their obligations in the mortgage arena, and that we ultimately would have to deal with that problem.

Six months ago, again in New York City, he pointed out the need, Barack Obama did, for an accountability and transparency. No one on Wall Street wanted to hear it because they know what that meant was we needed to get back into the business of not -- not giving Wall Street just laissez-faire anymore.

KING: I have to get a break and we'll come back with more. Don't go away.


KING: Bill Clinton on Wednesday night. We are back with our panel. Both Obama and McCain were on "60 Minutes" last night, both reacting to the financial crisis. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Oh, I think there's no doubt that we're going to see when the numbers come out that we are officially in recession. I think for a lot of people, they've been feeling like we have been in a recession for years now. When their wages and incomes don't go up and the cost of gas and groceries and home heating oil and prescription drugs are all going up, that feels awfully like a recession to them.

MCCAIN: Sure. Technically, I don't know. You know? But unemployment is up. Wages are down. Home foreclosures are incredibly high. Those people, they don't care whether technically we are in recession or not. Fact is they're hurting and they're hurting very, very badly.


KING: And Ari, it is your contention that -- I think I'm on. Ari, it is your contention that neither one has had the right answer here?

FLEISCHER: I think that's right, Larry. What bothers me about how Washington works, and I certainly used to be a part of Washington, is when something goes wrong the first tendency is not fix it but to blame somebody else. The roots of this problem began in the late '90s under a major piece of banking reform that loosened all the rules, that Bill Clinton signed, passed by a Republican Congress. And then two mortgage giants, Fanny and Freddie, are encouraged to make, quote unquote, affordable loans to people who don't have enough income to pay the loans back. And people wonder how we got into this mess. Both parties did it.

And that's why maybe it's maybe it's my distance from Washington these days and it's easier for me to say it. But this is too big an issue for people to start saying it's one or the other. Everybody's got their hands in this one, and everybody needs to figure out how to fix it because that's how serious it is. The entire system almost froze up last week. Loans almost stopped being made, which could have led to a run. This isn't the time to blame people. It's the time to fix it. I have a distant view now.

HUFFINGTON: Well, Ari's right that -- Ari has a point that President Clinton did sign the deregulation bill that was really the central banking reform of FDR's was repealed. But what are we doing now when Secretary Paulson is proposing that Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs become banks as well, which means that we are back again in this era of creating huge institutions. And then if something goes wrong, we are going to say, we have to bail them out because if we don't bail them out, they're too big to fail.

Now Senator Sanders said if they're too big to fail, they're too big to exist. And that what is so troubling about the current bailout plan by the administration, that it basically asks for no oversight. It is a stunning Section Eight in the bailout that says that there can be no oversight of the secretary. This is like an authoritarian regime. And also not wanting to share the profit if the bad debt turns out to actually do better than expected. And it's now Chris Dodd and Barney Frank in the House who are demanding fundamental changes, including helping home owners, not just helping Wall Street.

KING: Let me get a break, come back. We'll have Susan Molinari respond and we'll hear some new attack ads from the candidates. Don't go away.


KING: Susan Molinari, I want you to look at this new clip and we'll get your comment. New attack ads came out from both Obama and McCain today. Let's take a quick look at part of each.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have seen what Bush/McCain policies have done to our economy. Now John McCain wants to do the same to our health care. McCain just published an article praising Wall Street deregulation. Said he'd reduce oversight of the health insurance industry, too, just as we have done over the last decade in banking. Increasing costs and threatening coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His economic adviser, William Daley, lobbyists. His money man, Tony Rezko, client, patron, convicted felon. His political godfather, Emil Jones (ph), under ethical cloud. His governor, Rod Blagojevich, a legacy of federal and state investigations. With friends like that, Obama is not ready to lead.


KING: Susan, how do both of those hit you?

MOLINARI: Well, it's moments like that that I'm really glad I announced on your show I was getting out of politics many years ago. It is not a surprise. We are at the end of a very long campaign. And this race is still in a statistical dead heat, with the electoral college coming one after the other. Both campaigns, quite frankly, have a lot of money to spend. And I think when you get races that are this tight in this type of political environment, you know, it's going to be a jump shot until we see what's going to happen with this upcoming debate. I think this is going to be and could be a turning point for one campaign or the other coming up this Friday.

And I think you're just going to see these kind of campaign ads from now until this election. It is what happens in elections that are this close.

KING: Congressman Wexler, you agree?

WEXLER: Not entirely, no. I think those two ads, in essence, show the character of the two campaign that are being run. Barack Obama rightfully brings up an article that John McCain published, where he said we a ought to do health care deregulation just like we did banking deregulation, which is, of course, consistent with what John McCain and his chief economic adviser, Phil Gramm, have done for three decades. They're the chief deregulators in Washington.

Now you look at the McCain ad and, in effect, it is character assassination, attribution that is in most instances, I think an objective party would say, absurd. But the key point here is people say, well, what do the guys really stand for? And the irony is the Republicans are running away from their brand. They have been deregulators for three decades. Now all of a sudden they're singing a different tune. Barack Obama, a year ago, before we had the meltdown, went to Wall Street and didn't sing Wall Street's tune. He said, you guys need to change your culture. You guys have changed the rules so that home owners are now losing their homes at too great a rate. We need to have accountability.

You know what sums it up, Larry? We Democrats say executive compensation reform. Too many Republicans say no, don't do that.

MOLINARI: Wait, wait. McCain is not saying that. Let me say one thing, one of the thing, it's a little difficult to run an attack ad on Barack Obama because we don't know exactly what he stands for. There's been this whole deficit of ideas and political achievements and legislative achievements in his life. One other thing that Barack Obama has said, and that is in 2006, he said, quote, there is a person who has been consistent on reform issues. That's John McCain.

We want to quote Barack Obama, let's quote Barack Obama before he was running against John McCain.

KING: I'll let Ari and then Arianna. Ari, Go ahead.

FLEISCHER: Let's make a substantive point because we're talking about regulation. The one group that has defied all odds and done very well throughout this whole crisis has been hedge funds, the most unregulated of all groups. The groups that are going under are banks, the most regulated of all groups. So it's not whether it's regulated or not regulated.

Now what's the answer from Congress? To loan the banks money, not to give them more regulation. I think Congressman Wexler's attack is a little too facile saying one party is --

KING: Arianna?

HUFFINGTON: This truly is schizophrenic. The Republican party is in such philosophical turmoil at the moment, they don't know what they stand for. Ari Fleischer is telling us he doesn't want to regulate and John McCain wants more oversight because that's what the people want. Secretary Paulson, just as recently as the last few months, told us that the crisis is contained. And this is the man who got it consistently wrong. And that's the man we want to be in charge of the bailout. This is a real tragedy. And Susan Molinari is telling that we don't really know Barack Obama, so it's very hard to do a negative ad on him, so we make something up.

MOLINARI: I didn't say that, Arianna. I said he has no record to attack because he has no record.

KING: We'll be right back. Sarah Palin is in the Big Apple this week. We'll talk about why after this.



SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our opponent, he likes to point the finger of blame. But, tell me, has he ever lifted a finger to help? Has he ever reached out a reformer's hand to the other side of the aisle? In order to get others to say yes to change, has he ever told his own party no? When it comes to reform, he likes to say, I will. But has he ever been able to say we did?


KING: Sarah Palin is in New York all this week meeting world leaders. Let's run around, quickly. What's your read on her, Arianna?

HUFFINGTON: She's likable. She's a good speaker, but she's a complete blank slate. And the neo-cons are writing whatever they want. You see her giving a speech in which she equates 9/11 to Iraq. Not even Dick Cheney is doing that anymore. It's incredibly troubling, because we had one blank slate, George Bush. The worst thing that can happen to this country is to have another blank slight who doesn't know what she stands for, except if a few of her (INAUDIBLE) views, like believing in creationism and not wanting abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

KING: Susan, what's your read?

MOLINARI: You know how I feel about Governor Palin. I think she's been a terrific burst of excitement for the Republican party. She's made this race competitive. I think going to the United Nations to meet with world leaders is a great idea. Barack Obama had to take the world tour to do the same thing, with all the TV cameras in tow. And she's trying to get a read of what some of those international issues are from the people who are making those decisions right in our own backyard.

I say, good for her. I think it will serve her and the Republican party well.

KING: Congressman Wexler?

WEXLER: I find it interesting because Governor Palin originally went to New York to address an anti-nuclear Iranian crowd. The irony was, last week in the United States Senate, the Senate had an opportunity to vote on Senator Barack Obama's divestment legislation that would have allowed companies to remove their investments and pension funds and so forth with companies that are doing business with Iranian energy industry related matters.

The McCain campaign effectively pulled the legislation, in terms of refusing Republican bipartisan support, because they didn't want to give Senator Obama a legislative victory. The irony is on the issues of the day that are affecting the UN, what world leaders are now talking about, Senator Obama has the right plan when it comes to direct American engagement with carrots and sticks to stop Iran's nuclear program, to stop their financing of terror. He has the right plan it terms of Iraq, which the Iraqi prime minister and others have essentially endorsed.

And he was way ahead of the game in context of what NATO and America need to do in Afghanistan. The irony is my Republican friends say Senator Obama doesn't have a record. The fact is, he's actually setting the agenda at the United Nations as both the United States and other nations are pursuing what he, in effect, has called for over several months.

KING: Ari?

FLEISCHER: It's almost postseason in baseball. Use a baseball analogy; the critics say she's not ready to win the wild card. If she's not ready to win the wild card, how in the world is Senator Obama ready to come in first place? He's running for president with a short resume. He was a United States senator for one year and then his job has been a full time candidate. So I really don't buy that. I'm very comfortable with John McCain being president and her being the vice president. And I think she's doing the responsible thing going to New York and meeting with people.

There is going to be a time when energy is the number one issue in this country again. And John McCain is going to handle foreign policy, first and foremost. I'll be glad to have her expertise in a lot of the domestic issues that we do need to focus on.

KING: About 30 seconds.

HUFFINGTON: Very quickly. Sarah Palin doesn't matter as much this week. She mattered at the beginning. Right now, everybody is getting serious. There is a real crisis in this country and people have realized that she's nothing but a distraction.

KING: Susan, I will give you 20 seconds to respond.

MOLINARI: She's not a distraction. She's a legitimate wonderful governor of Alaska who is going to help us win this presidential election by virtue of the story that she tells, the experience she has. To Ari's point, somebody who can really key on what up until this week was the number one issue facing the United States and United States voters, and that's our national and international energy policy. She has a real firm grasp on that and will take that as a leadership position.

KING: Thank you all very much. Stimulating discussion, Ari Fleischer, Arianna Huffington, Congressman Robert Wexler, and Susan Molinari. Before we go, a quick reminder to check out all the latest on our webpage at Again, please join us Wednesday night when our guest is former President Bill Clinton, an interview you will not want to miss.

Anderson Cooper -- good to be with him in New York. I think he's right down the hall or one floor below. This place still confuses me. "Anderson Cooper 360" right now. Anderson?