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Examining the VP Debate

Aired October 3, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the showdown in St. Louis -- Sarah Palin and Joe Biden come face-to-face for the first time and millions of Americans watch.




KING: The national newcomer versus the seasoned senator -- who stood out on style?


PALIN: The consummate maverick.

BIDEN: He has been no maverick on the things that matter to people's lives.

PALIN: And I'll betcha.

BIDEN: He's out of touch.

PALIN: Joe six-pack, hockey moms...

BIDEN: Republican response -- deregulate, deregulate.


KING: Who scored on substance?


BIDEN: Barack Obama...

PALIN: John McCain...

BIDEN: He's been dead wrong on the fundamental issues relating to conduct of the war.

PALIN: White flag of surrender.

BIDEN: Subprime mortgage crisis.

PALIN: That is the way to kill jobs.

BIDEN: They're the facts.


KING: Two running mates -- either one could end up president.


PALIN: If that were to happen

BIDEN: And God forbid that it would ever happen.


KING: Who needed to do what in the first and only vice presidential debate and did they do it?

Will it make any difference to the men on top of the 2008 ticket?

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We have an outstanding panel to look at all of this, this evening.

Here in Los Angeles, Stephanie Miller, the radio talk show host, a supporter of Barack Obama.

In New York, Georgette Mosbacher, the Republican strategist and fundraiser. She was at the vice presidential debate and supports John McCain.

In Fargo, North Dakota, Ed Schultz, who blogged last night for our Web site. He supports the financial bailout package and is a supporter of Barack Obama.

In San Antonio, Texas, Joe Pagliarulo, who, by the way, was kind enough to tape his show in order to be with us tonight. He has described, by the way, the mega billion dollar bailout plan as taxpayer-funded socialism. He was a supporter of Mitt Romney and began backing John McCain after he picked Sarah Palin for his vice president.

All right, the massive bailout bill, what's the effect on the presidency, Stephanie -- on the campaign, this bill passed today?


I'm going to just wink at you and bluff my way through this answer like Sarah Palin.

(LAUGHTER) MILLER: But, you know, I think that clearly, the polls are showing that this is hurting John McCain. He cannot spin the fact, Larry, that he has supported the deregulation that has led to this crisis. You know...

KING: But the plan itself was supported by both.

MILLER: Well, yes. I mean, I think as someone explained it, the bill is a crap sandwich. But it's one that, you know, we have to eat, I think, right now...

KING: Does it affect the...

MILLER: ...because of where we've gotten.

KING: Does it affect the campaign?

MILLER: Well, I think John McCain's response to the crisis and the bailout has been incomprehensible. It really has been -- you know, first, he says, the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Then he wants to fire the head of the SEC, which he doesn't even have the power to do. You know, I mean he really has just been incoherent. And then he takes credit for the bailout plan that failed. And so -- and I think it's not a surprise that Barack Obama has come out ahead on this.

KING: Georgette, what's your read on the effect?

GEORGETTE MOSBACHER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, you can make fun of how Sarah Palin talks, but where I grew up and where I was born and raised, in Indiana, that's the way we talk. And we don't find it silly. That's number one.

But, number two, when you talk about this bailout package, you have to go back and you just happen to be dead wrong. It was not caused by the deregulation of the Republicans. It was caused, quite simply, by the fact that Barney Frank and the Democrats did not believe there was a problem two years ago with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And that's really where this started.

So when you say that it was deregulation by the Republicans, you are just dead wrong.

KING: Ed Schultz, was deregulation the cause of this?

ED SCHULTZ, TALK RADIO HOST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Well, it was a major cause, Larry. And both parties have got dirty hands on this. You know, the big law that was passed dealing with the financial markets in 1999 had a lot to do with this, from the standpoint that the deregulation changed the rules for the investment bankers versus the commercial bankers. And the conservative side just ran too far with this. And I think the financial markets took advantage of some vulnerable people.

Now we find ourselves in a position where the government is now in business. It's not good, but it's the best thing we can do right now, because we've got a credit crisis, we've got to save small businesses. And this whole bill was passed in the Senate and the House and signed by the president to avoid a massive job loss in this country. We've already lost 750,000 jobs this year. This would avoid losing another three or four million.

KING: All right...

SCHULTZ: I think it was the right thing to do.

KING: And, Pags, what's your read on it?

JOE PAGLIARULO, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, I hate to agree with Ed Schultz on anything, but he's right. It started in 1999, Larry. And in 1999, the Clinton administration was actually pressuring Fannie Mae to go ahead and give loans to people who couldn't afford them.

What this is, this is socialism that is now government sponsored. I hear a lot of liberals -- a lot of my friends in the radio and television business say that, well, this was -- this was because capitalism doesn't really work. You can't have the rich be ultra rich and it's got to be fair and the poor have to get theirs.

No, the poor have to get theirs if they work like you did, Larry; if they work like I did and worked like Ed and Stephanie and everybody else.

People don't deserve to get something for nothing, and that's what happened here.

Fannie Mae was pushed by the Clinton administration to give homes they couldn't afford. Fannie Mae then pushed the other mortgage companies to do the same thing. And this did not happen in the last six months because of conservatives or in the last five or eight years. This happened nine or 10 years ago, when the Clinton administration said hold on a second, the American dream equals everybody gets to own a house.

Let's just give them a house, whether they can afford it or not.

Well, it came back to bite us now. Socialism sponsored by the government doesn't work. And that's what we're paying for right now.

KING: All right. The economy was a key item on the agenda last night during the debate.

Let's take a quick look and get comments here.


BIDEN: It was two Mondays ago John McCain said at 9:00 in the morning that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. Two weeks before that, he said, George -- we've made great economic progress under George Bush's policies.

9:00 the economy was strong. 11:00 that same day, two Mondays ago, John McCain said that we have an economic crisis. PALIN: John McCain, in referring to the fundamental of our economy being strong, he was talking to and he was talking about the American workforce. And the American workforce is the greatest in this world, with the ingenuity and the work ethic that is just entrenched in our workforce. That's a positive. That's encouragement. And that's what John McCain meant.


KING: You don't think -- you're laughing, Stephanie.

You don't think he meant the American worker?

MILLER: I'm sorry. It's just -- I'm going to wink at you every answer because there's...


MILLER: Literally, Larry, that's what she did. She didn't answer any questions. It was a lot of...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it wasn't funny the first time, Stephanie. Come on.

MILLER: It was a lot of folksy stories. It was a lot of not answering the question. And, you know, she didn't answer that one, as well.

KING: But what about -- no, she said he was referring to the American worker when...

MILLER: That was ridiculous. That's ridiculous. He said, "The fundamentals of the economy are strong."

MOSBACHER: Stephanie, that is (INAUDIBLE).

MILLER: It's -- you can go back and say that so he can accuse Barack Obama of not supporting the American worker?

KING: Well, I guess the reason would be...

MILLER: That's ridiculous.

KING: ...Georgette, why didn't he say the American worker is strong?

Why did he say the economy is strong?

MOSBACHER: Well, I mean you're...

KING: Why didn't he say the American worker?

MOSBACHER: Now we're mincing words. Look, I think...

KING: No. That's all we've got to deal with is words.

MOSBACHER: You're right.


MOSBACHER: But the American worker is the strongest in the world. We are the low cost, high quality producers in the world. I make...

MILLER: Why didn't he say that then?

MOSBACHER: Well, let me explain. I may be the only one on the panel that makes a payroll on the first and 15th of every month.


MOSBACHER: I actually...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me on that.

KING: Hold on. Don't interrupt.


KING: Don't interrupt her.


KING: Don't interrupt.

Go ahead.

MOSBACHER: But I do. And I'm a small business, a hundred plus employees. So what Sarah Palin said was exactly right. And what John McCain was exactly right. Our workers are the best in the world. The fundamentals of this economy are the strongest because of our workers.

But when you start taxing and regulating -- by the way, there are good regulations, there are bad regulations. I can tell you firsthand that it -- the answer isn't more regulation. And the answer certainly isn't more taxes.

KING: All right, let me get a break and we'll come back with more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The answer is not...

KING: Hold it.

If you haven't checked out our interactive site, do it now. We want your comments, We'll read some of them on the show.

Stay there.


KING: We're back.

Who do you think won the debate?

Weigh in now at

Vote now and we'll show you the results later.

OK, for the panel, we have put together a montage of moments that showcase Sarah Palin's folksy style.

Let's take a look and get your thoughts.


PALIN: Hey, can I call you, Joe?

BIDEN: You can call me Joe.


PALIN: Joe six-pack. Hockey moms across the nation.

Say it ain't so, Joe.

There you go again pointing backwards again.

Doggone it. Let's look ahead.

Bless their hearts.

Darned right, we need tax relief for Americans.

Darned right it was the predator lenders.

And I'll betcha you're going to hear some fear.


KING: Ed Schultz, do you think that style works?

SCHULTZ: I think we saw the shallow side of the Republican ticket last night, Larry. I mean, look, she's very likeable to novice news consumers. There's a lot of people that are going to say, hey, she's very likeable. I like her smile.

But, you know, in 90 minutes, about 45 minutes into it, the answers started to dry up pretty fast. And I think that she really didn't help herself too much when it came to substance. And she is going to drive a lot of Independents and a lot of liberals to the polls because she is frightful.

Her answer on the vice presidency was just unbelievable. And I also think that she really hurt her credibility, because the McCain camp wants to do this thing on the war and this is their big pedestal. She couldn't even quote the accurate troop numbers in Iraq.

Now sooner or later, between the winks and the smiles, you've got to know something. PAGLIARULO: Yes, well, and Ed...

SCHULTZ: This is not for the PTA.

KING: All right, Pags...

SCHULTZ: This is for the vice presidency.

KING: Pags -- Palin...

PAGLIARULO: (INAUDIBLE) if you want to talk about the accuracy, my friend, you don't want to go there. I mean 10 absolute factual inaccuracies from Joe Biden's mouth. Six of them we can argue about, I'm sure, and I would win that argument with you. You being from North Dakota should not be making fun of middle America, my friend. She can -- look, I lived nine years in Michigan. And in Michigan, people act like Sarah Palin. They talk that way. They feel that way. They say things that way. They're a little sing-songy.

KING: But...

PAGLIARULO: What's interesting about...

MILLER: No, nobody is making...

SCHULTZ: Joe, you've got have your material down.

MILLER: Nobody is making fun...


PAGLIARULO: If I may -- if I may finish.

SCHULTZ: You have finished.


MILLER: Nobody is making...


PAGLIARULO: ...watched last night.


KING: One at a time.


KING: One at a time. Pags...

MILLER: Nobody is making fun of the way she talks.

PAGLIARULO: OK, I'm going to -- if I may...

(CROSSTALK) KING: One at a time.

PAGLIARULO: Hey, Stephen, first of all...

KING: Pags?

PAGLIARULO: ...maybe get out of L.A. every once in a while.

KING: Pags, this show is my show.

PAGLIARULO: Absolutely, Larry.

KING: I'll let you in in a minute.

OK, thanks.

And by the way, the Michigan you discussed, McCain pulled out of Michigan today.

PAGLIARULO: But he shouldn't have. It was a bad move.


PAGLIARULO: Because Michigan is in shambles the way it is because of Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat who I've interviewed a bunch of times.

KING: Hey...


KING: Palin played -- I'm going on with the show.

Palin played to the TV audience, including winking into the camera several times. We'll be showing that.

What do you make of it, Stephanie?

You've been making fun of it.

What's wrong with it?

What's wrong with it?

MILLER: Well, no, Joe, I think -- but I mean Joe makes a good point. Nobody is making fun of the way she talks, Joe. If you watch the "Saturday Night Live" debate, the joke is that she is wholly unqualified for this position and last night did nothing to change that. You know, she -- and people that were polled, whether it was CNN or CBS, Joe Biden won by 15 to 25 points. That was no surprise. That is no surprise.

KING: All right, Pags, you can respond.

MILLER: You can't wink and bluff your way through the vice presidency... PAGLIARULO: And, Larry, I appreciate it.

MILLER: ...with patent answers.

KING: Go ahead, Pags.

PAGLIARULO: Larry, I appreciate it.

You know, it's interesting, Stephanie, because you're a great talk show host and you know what, you're funny and you can put words together funny and you're cute and you can wink and all that. But stop making fun of the way somebody looks.

MILLER: I've got spunk.

PAGLIARULO: You know, I've been on the program...

MILLER: I've got spunk, Joe.

PAGLIARULO: ...since the beginning of the program, Stephanie. You've been making fun of the woman, how she looks and how she speaks from the beginning. And moments ago, you said I'm not making fun of her. Yes, you are.


MOSBACHER: Yes, you are.

MILLER: Well, my point is, in the words of the immortal Lou Grette (ph)...

KING: And you are...

MILLER: ...she's got spunk. I hate spunk. I would look competence in a vice president, is what I would like.

PAGLIARULO: Competence and spunk is OK.

KING: And what Biden's demeanor toward Palin?

Many warned him about being too aggressive or condescending. We saw him chuckling and smiling.

Do you think he pulled his punches, Georgette?

MOSBACHER: I thought Biden was being Biden. I thought he handled it, frankly, quite well. Clearly, he was coached to not attack her and to just speak to the audience and attack Bush. And that's what he did. And he did it well.

KING: And well put.

And we'll be right back with more. And we'll have more tosses and more comments.

Back in 60 seconds. Stay there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We are debating Biden and Palin's debate performance.

Let's see some more of the memorable moments.


BIDEN: This is a fundamental difference between us. We will end this war. For John McCain, there is no end in sight to end this war. A fundamental difference -- we will end this war.

PALIN: Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq. And that is not what our troops need to hear today, that's for sure.

BIDEN: The governor did not answer the question about deregulation, did not answer the question of defending John McCain about not going along with the deregulation and letting Wall Street run wild.

PALIN: I may not answer the questions the way that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I'm going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record, also.

BIDEN: John McCain has voted 20 times against funding alternative energy sources and thinks, I guess, the only answer is drill, drill, drill.

PALIN: The chant is drill, baby, drill. And that's what we hear all across this country in our rallies, because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.

He's proposing a $5,000 tax credit for families so that they can get out there and they can purchase their own health care coverage. And that's a smart thing to do.

BIDEN: So you're going to have to place -- replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the ultimate "Bridge To Nowhere".


KING: Keep blogging at

And our experts will return right away.


KING: Our CNN/Opinion Research poll shows that 87 percent think that Joe Biden is qualified to be president, 42 percent think Palin.

What are the implications?

Does that throw you, Georgette?

MOSBACHER: No, it doesn't throw me. Palin had to do two things last night. One, she had to hold her own with Joe Biden who, after all, has been in Senate for 30 years. If he doesn't know the answers to those questions in his sleep, then he obviously slept through the 30 years.

She held her own and she had to keep the base excited. And she did that. And that's what her job was. She did it. She was outstanding in it. And the problem is today people make fun of the way she talks because they don't believe a woman who talks like that can be smart and capable, too.

MILLER: Georgette, it's not about the way she talks. If you look at these polling numbers, people are scared to death. They don't think she has the qualifications. And nothing that happened last night is going to change the trajectory of this race.

KING: Pags, isn't that one of the big question marks that you would face yourself -- is governor of Alaska ready to be president of the United States?

PAGLIARULO: Well, I think the question that I ask myself is, is anybody who's running for vice president ready to be the president of the United States?

KING: They should be.

PAGLIARULO: I wasn't sure that Al Gore was ready to be the president of the United States. I wasn't sure Dick Cheney was ready to be president of the United States. That's why I was voting for the person who was president.


PAGLIARULO: Stephanie, you keep laughing. And you know what's interesting to me...


PAGLIARULO: you need to get out of L.A. . You need to understand that there's more out here...

MILLER: Where are the...

PAGLIARULO: Come to Texas.

MILLER: Where are all these polls being done?

PAGLIARULO: Come and hang out in Texas for a while.

MILLER: All these polls aren't being done in...


MILLER: I give you...

PAGLIARULO: It's not about polling (INAUDIBLE)...

MILLER: Joe, you know what?

I give you being in a comedy doesn't (INAUDIBLE)...

PAGLIARULO: I'll actually show you some respect and I'll stop talking.

Go ahead.

MILLER: This was not the category five comedy disaster that many people had hoped it would be, that the Katie Couric interview was. However...

PAGLIARULO: Well, I've got to tell you something. You know, it's...

MILLER: ...these polls are not done in L.A. , Joe. These polls are done all around the country...

PAGLIARULO: Right. And how many people...

MILLER: ...and they show the same thing.

PAGLIARULO: ...were polled, Stephanie?

You've got to ask yourself that. If we're polling 600 or 900 people and saying the whole country feels one way, I could do a poll tomorrow that says something very different. I saw a poll last night that said 87 percent thought that Sarah Palin won the debate last night. You've got to...

MILLER: Where was that?

PAGLIARULO: You've got to stop the talking points and really look at this.

MILLER: Where was that?

PAGLIARULO: You've got...

MILLER: And...

PAGLIARULO: You've got an executive...

MILLER: Joe, was that at

PAGLIARULO: You've got an executive of a state.

MILLER: What poll was that?

MOSBACHER: Excuse me, you can say and you can say it's a comedy disaster.

MILLER: He's citing...

MOSBACHER: But we are talking...

MILLER: He cited...

MOSBACHER: Excuse me.

MILLER: ...right-wing online polls.

MOSBACHER: Excuse me.


MOSBACHER: We are talking about people's lives here.

PAGLIARULO: I'm citing the fact that you can make a poll, Stephanie, and have a result any way you want. And you know that.


PAGLIARULO: We've gone through election cycles where we've found that out over and over and over.

KING: All right. Maybe we ought to just stop polling. The "M" word, maverick...

PAGLIARULO: Hey, you know.

KING: The "M" word maverick was invoked numerous times last night.

Here are a few examples.

And then we'll ask Ed to comment.


PALIN: And this team that a team -- that is a team of mavericks with John McCain. I think that's why we need to send a maverick from the Senate and put him in the White House. He has been the maverick.

BIDEN: He's not been a maverick on virtually anything that genuinely affects the things that people really talk about around the kitchen table.


KING: Ed Schultz, why is maverick now a key word?

SCHULTZ: Well, because John McCain this week, Larry, had a golden opportunity at a game changer. He has been out on the campaign trail telling people that he is going to cut spending, that he's going to make people famous, he's going to tell you who they are.

And what does he do?

And let me just read this from September 23rd about this bailout bill. John McCain said that a bill with any kind of earmarks would be unacceptable and simply cannot happen.

Then he goes back to Washington and he votes for this $700 billion pig.

Now, what you say on the stump about being a maverick and you're going to do this and go after the earmarks, and then you go back to Washington -- you know, Joe, I'd like to have you defend that vote on the part of John McCain. It's a fact what he said and it's a fact how he voted and they do not match up.

PAGLIARULO: Well, and I'll tell you what, I'll defend it the way that you've been reacting to everything I've said. Ha-ha-ha-ha. I'll be very bombastic like you, I'll laugh at everything you say and I'll tell you, John McCain was not my guy from the beginning. I think that he's made a mistake when it comes to the economy.


PAGLIARULO: But by saying I don't know much...

SCHULTZ: Then you've answered the question.

PAGLIARULO: ...don't, Ed, if I could, realizing...

SCHULTZ: You've answered the question.

KING:'re not the host here. Larry is the host.

SCHULTZ: Good job, Joe.

KING: Ed, let him finish.

SCHULTZ: But the fact is this is...


KING: Ed, let him finish.

SCHULTZ: ...a trust issue with the American people.

PAGLIARULO: And, Ed, if you're going to call me out...


PAGLIARULO: If you're going to call me out, let me finish what -- let me finish my sentence.

KING: All right.

PAGLIARULO: I feel it's important that John McCain stick to what his strengths are, which are foreign relations, which are the war, which are the fact that he is a maverick -- and we're going to use that word by reaching across the line in Congress and able to work with Democrats for years and years -- 20 plus years. You can't deny that.

Calling out one statement John McCain made...

SCHULTZ: No, I can deny it. PAGLIARULO: ought to call out the 10 statements Biden made last night.

SCHULTZ: He had a perfect opportunity this week to bring the House members and he couldn't do it.

PAGLIARULO: Ed, your radio show must be really rough to listen to if you don't anybody talk, my friend.


PAGLIARULO: If you want to call me out, give me a chance to finish.

KING: All right. Joe Biden had an emotional moment late in the debate alluding to that traffic accident that killed his first wife and young daughter and left two sons critically injured.

Take a look.


BIDEN: I'm much better off than almost all Americans now. I get a good salary at the United States Senate. I live in a beautiful house. It's my total investment that I have. So I am much better off now.

But the notion that somehow because I'm a man, I don't know what it's like to raise two kids alone, I don't know what it's like to have a child you're not sure is going to -- is going to make it -- I understand. I understand, as well as, with all due respect, the governor or anybody else, what it's like for those people sitting around that kitchen table.


KING: Is that effective or do you think a little hokey?

MILLER: Well, no. I mean, you know, clearly, that was genuine. I think it's a little hard to...

KING: No, I know it was genuine.

But did it play to...

MILLER: Well, you know, Larry, I think it goes to, you know, that's hard to fake that kind of moment. I think somebody that has, you know, nine houses and 13 cars and thinks the fundamentals of the economy are strong, you know, have not lived the life that Joe Biden has clearly lived.

KING: Wow!

MILLER: So I thought he spoke from the heart. And I thought it was compelling.

PAGLIARULO: So everything Palin said was hokey, but Joe Biden not hokey. OK. That's cool.

SCHULTZ: George Bush cries all the time.

MILLER: Excuse me. She wasn't talking about the death of her spouse and child.

PAGLIARULO: And Larry's question was is it hokey.

MILLER: You know, if you want to call that story...

MOSBACHER: But, Joe...

PAGLIARULO: I think it's an appropriate question.

MILLER: If you want to call that story hokey...

PAGLIARULO: It's an important question.

MILLER: ...go ahead.

PAGLIARULO: Is it hokey?

MILLER: I guess that's the compassionate conservatism we've heard so much about.



MOSBACHER: Joe Biden also said that he didn't think Obama was qualified to be president. Joe Biden said he would be willing to be on a ticket with John McCain.

PAGLIARULO: We don't have to pay attention to that, Georgette. You have to understand, you only have to pay attention to things that they disagree with.


KING: OK, let me get a break.

We've got two Republicans with opposing views of Sarah Palin coming up. And we'll take it right that when LARRY KING LIVE, I think, returns.


KING: Now joining us, two very interesting, outspoken ladies, Michelle Laxalt -- they're both in Washington. Michelle is the Republican consultant who says she has serious doubts about supporting John McCain as long as Sarah Palin is on the ticket.

And Bay Buchanan, Republican strategist, CNN political contributor, supporting John McCain and Sarah Palin.

What are the concerns, Michelle? MICHELLE LAXALT, REPUBLICAN NOT SUPPORTING PALIN: The concerns center around, number one, the fact that Senator McCain made this decision predicated upon, Larry, a one hour meeting with Governor Palin. And beyond that, we're looking at the oldest potential president in our country's history. He has had melanoma three times. So we cannot look at a vice president in the abstract.

In this instance, we have to look at a vice president and ask ourselves can that vice president assume the presidency from day one?

And I'm telling you that I have a huge difficulty with answering yes to that question when it's posed to me, for instance, by my daughters.

KING: May I ask if your father, the distinguished former Senator Paul Laxalt, agrees with you?

LAXALT: My father and I, as you well understand, do not discuss issues upon which we disagree. I did not broach this with him for fear that we would disagree. Although remember this, and this is where Bay and I share a common history, it was senator Paul Laxalt, a young United States senator, who along with Ronald Reagan, chose in 1976 to challenge a very popular sitting Republican president, Gerald Ford. So independence is something that is ingrained I think in my DNA and Bay's as well.

KING: Well put. Bay, I want you to watch this and make a comment. Sarah Palin came under fierce scrutiny for TV interviews she did before the debate. She alluded to that in her closing statement. Watch.


PALIN: I like being able to answer these tough questions without the filter even of the mainstream media, kind of, telling viewers what they've just heard. I'd rather just be able to speak to the American people like we just did.


KING: Bay, how do you respond to Michelle?

BUCHANAN: Oh, it's clear John McCain has made a remarkable decision. It was quite -- looking back, it's brilliant. Here it is, he picked somebody who's unusual, exciting, authentic, fresh, exactly what the American people are looking for. They're sick and tired of Washington and the Washington elite. So she comes on the scene. She really resurrects his campaign at the convention. She's the star there. And now, after the press went after her and went after her, she comes in again and last night she was terrific.

KING: Bay, but Michelle's concern is the age of the president and the qualifications of her to be the president stepping in soon. That was her concern.

BUCHANAN: She has proved herself first as governor of a state to a terrific job. In two years, she did far more than Barack Obama did in his four years in the Senate. She has one accomplishment after another, all of which are very much on a presidential level.

KING: So you have no concerns about her being president.

BUCHANAN: Not only am I not concerned. She is extraordinarily qualified. She showed herself to be the great communicator of Ronald Reagan as well.

LAXALT: She's not in Ronald Reagan's class. Excuse me, Bay, stop.

BUCHANAN: When it comes to communication, she's right up there.

LAXALT: Absolutely, in terms of her capacity to master a stage and master a script, she is unequalled. We haven't seen anyone like her for years. She is extraordinary on a scripted basis. The question that has caused people like me great pause, as well as a lot of other Republicans throughout this country, is on an unstructured basis, namely, when she's being asked very simple, softball questions by arguably the most softball interviewer in the world, Katie Couric, and being stumped for too many common sense answers. That gave me a great deal of pause. She can --

KING: Bay, before you respond, Palin was even more pointed in her criticism, including Katie Couric, on an appearance on Fox News. Watch.


PALIN: The Sarah Palin in those interviews was a little bit annoyed, because it's like, no matter what you say, you're going to get clobbered. If you choose to answer a question, you're going to get clobbered on the answer. If you choose to pivot and go on to another subject that you believe that Americans want to hear about, you get clobbered for that, too.


KING: I apologize for that. But Bay, doesn't Michelle have a fair critique here? Are you giving her no allowance at all?

BUCHANAN: There's no question that the Couric interview, the clips that we over saw over and over and over, of which there's probably two or three minutes at most, she wasn't at her best. And I will give you six different reasons. But the reason I say Michelle is wrong is because she went up on that stage yesterday, with all the pressure of people saying she wasn't competent, and there she was. There was nothing scripted about that.

They went from one issue to another. She held her own against a man who's been in the U.S. Senate for 30 years, proving that you can come from Wasilla and have experience of the governorship of Alaska and take on the fellows in Washington. She went toe-to-toe and whipped Senator Biden.

LAXALT: She'll have an opportunity to prove that, if they cut her loose and let her answer unstructured questions.

BUCHANAN: I agree, they should.

KING: I guarantee you we'll have Michelle Laxalt and Bay Buchanan back. We've just touched the surface here. Stephanie, Georgette, Ed and Pags will all come back after the break.


KING: We're back with the panel. Throughout last night's debate, Joe Biden repeatedly sought to link John McCain with George W. Bush. Here's an example of how that played out.


PALIN: When we talk about the Bush administration, there's a time, too, when Americans are going to say enough is enough with your ticket on constantly looking backwards and pointing fingers and doing the blame game.

BIDEN: The issue is, how different is John McCain's policy going to be than George Bush's? I haven't heard anything yet. I haven't heard how his policy is going to be different on Iran than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy is going to be different with Israel than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy in Afghanistan is going to be different than George Bush's. I haven't heard how his policy in Pakistan is going to be different than George Bush's.


KING: Pags, fair game?

PAGLIARULO: Yes, I think it's fair game. But I've got to tell you something, right off the top, if George W. Bush were running against Barack Obama, I'd vote for George Bush all day. John McCain is different however in Afghanistan. He says we've got to bring the surge mentality that he brought into Iraq. It was very, very unpopular thing to do in Washington. He says bring that to Afghanistan. I don't see George W. Bush out there pushing for that.

John McCain is different in that. He's going to work more with Democrats, which doesn't make me excited. Might excite Stephanie and Ed. But he's going to work with the other side of the aisle. Look, John McCain is not George W. Bush. You guys have to get over that. He's not running for reelection. He's won two terms. He beat your guys twice now. Get over it. Stop it.

KING: Are you saying he's a good president, Pags?

PAGLIARULO: I think, at the end of the day, George W. Bush is a better president than we would have had in either Al Gore or John Kerry. Absolutely.

KING: Stephanie, you may go.

MILLER: Wow, yikes, Joe. So you're part of his 20 percent approval rating.


MILLER: Good for you. I think it's a fair point that someone that has voted over 90 percent of the time with this president is going to be essentially a third term of this president. John McCain, as Joe Biden pointed out last night, is not a maverick on anything. He has flip-flopped on every issue he ever stood up to his party against.


KING: Stop, everybody. Any more interrupting and I shut off the mike. No more interrupting. Georgette, you want to take it from there? Don't you think George W. Bush is fair game?

MOSBACHER: Sure. Of course he's fair game. But to suggest that John McCain and George Bush are one in the same is -- that is laughable. I mean, there's no love lost between the two of them. After all, John McCain took on many of Bush's policies in the Senate and made a lot of enemies of Republicans. And that -- the record speaks to that. That's just a fact.

KING: Ed Schultz, what do you make of Biden bringing in Bush?

SCHULTZ: I think Bush is fair game, because McCain is a lot like Bush, his policies. I think that Joe Biden hit a home run last night, and he's very popular with Democrats. He solidified the base. People like Joe. They like his experience. He was kind of in a tough situation, because he had to kind of tippy toe around the personality of Sarah Palin, because she's been so protected by the right-wing media. You can't ask her a question and expect an answer.

So Biden did a fabulous job. Now, as far as Bush and McCain are concerned, they do look alike. There isn't much difference between the both of them, when it comes to foreign policy, and when it comes to taxes. We have an 11 trillion dollar deficit, and last night the vice presidential candidate for the Republicans was still advocating tax cuts and tax breaks for the oil companies. This is outrageous! The American people don't want this. This is why Barack Obama is leading in so many states inside 35 days. This is real trouble for the Republicans, Larry.

KING: Let me get a break, come back. We'll do some fact checking and then bring our panel back and have everybody get into it. Back in 60 seconds.


KING: Joining us now in Washington, Viveca Novak, deputy director of and Chris Cillizza, who writes for the Fix, the political blog of the We're going to analyze in quick fashion the debate last night. On a scale of 10, how did Sarah do?

VIVECA NOVAK, FACTCHECK.ORG: Oh, I think Palin was -- obviously she beat expectations as everybody has been saying. She definitely made a few flubs and some of those were very on message, so I don't know if you can really call them misstatements, because they were part of the message that the Republicans have been trying to get out.

KING: How do you rate Biden, Chris?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Seven and a half. I think he did a lot of really good things, Larry. I think he avoided appearing condescending at all to Governor Palin, which is a big issue. He didn't sort of talk on and on and on, as sometimes can be his nature. But he started slow. I think it was very clear that he had been told to be somber, to be serious, to not sort of just go and rift. So he started slow, but I think in the second half of the debate he really picked up.

KING: Now we'll go to toss-ups. Both candidates mangled some facts during the campaign. Let's take a look at a charge leveled by Sarah Palin against Barack Obama. Watch.


PALIN: Barack Obama even supported increasing taxes as late as last year for those families making only 42,000 dollars a year.


KING: Viveca, true or false?

NOVAK: That's false. She's talking about a budget resolution -- it was actually this year -- that Barack Obama supported. It would have let some of the Bush tax cuts expire. It didn't have the force of law. It was just a blueprint. And it would have possibly allowed taxes to rise on individuals making 42,000 dollars a year, but couples making 83,000, families not until at least 90,000 dollars a year.

KING: We'll take a look now at an assertion of Joe Biden made about John McCain's voting record regarding funding American troops. Watch.


BIDEN: With regard to Barack Obama not, quote, funding the troops, John McCain voted the exact same way.


KING: Chris?

CILLIZZA: The specific vote he's talking about is not right. McCain was on the other side of it. Larry, it gets into a broader point when you do fact checking. These candidates are doing everything they can to muddy the waters for the average viewer. The average viewer does not know about these various proposals and resolutions that go through. That's one of the problems when you run as a senator. You have to vote a lot, like John Kerry ran in 2004.

KING: Does muddy mean lie?

CILLIZZA: No, it does not mean lie. Remember, lots and lots of votes in the Senate. It's the whole I voted for it before I voted against it. Both of those things were true. It's not lying. It's picking selective votes that highlight your point and try and make your opponent look wishy washy.

KING: Viveca, there was some back and forth on surge in Iraq during the debate from Sarah Palin. This claim about current troop levels, watch.


PALIN: With the surge that has worked, we're now down to pre- surge numbers in Iraq. That's where we can be.


KING: Viveca, is that right?

NOVAK: No, it's not right. In January 2007, when the surge began, our troops in Iraq numbered 132,000. As of September this year, we were still at 146,000. That's a surprising one for the McCain ticket to get wrong actually, because they have talked so much about the surge being a success.

KING: Chris, from Biden, this assertion about what John McCain won't do diplomatically.


BIDEN: John McCain said as recently as a couple weeks ago, he wouldn't even sit down with the government of Spain.


KING: Is that right, Chris?

CILLIZZA: Not technically, Larry. There was a very controversial interview that John McCain did give, in which he offered tepid support for Spain, perhaps due to their attitudes towards the war in Iraq and pulling out troops. No, he did not say specifically, I will not sit down with the president of Spain. Again, this is what we're talking about, blurring the lines, focusing on the best argument you can make. It's not necessarily always the wholly truthful argument. But in 90 minutes, it's very hard in realtime to check fact these things.

KING: Viveca, were there as many fact checking problems in this debate as with the first presidential debate?

NOVAK: There were a number in both of them, I have to say. We never seem to have a shortage of material to work with. I don't think I'd quantify it, one being worse than the other. We'll see how it goes next Tuesday.

KING: Does one tend to correct themselves in the next debate, Chris?

CILLIZZA: I think that, as Viveca points out, they try to avoid major errors, like Sarah Palin talking about pre-surge levels. That's the kind of thing that I think can be corrosive to the central argument of McCain and Palin, which is they know the world better, John McCain knows how to win this war. Things around the edges about Senate votes, who was there, who wasn't, who voted for it, who didn't, I think they're less worried about, Larry.

But they know that they don't want to get too far forward. It's like you said, muddying is different than lying. Lying can get you in a lot of trouble, and redound to your deficit, because media organizations will pick it up. They will talk about it. That can badly reflect on your debate performance. They try to avoid outright lying, but they are going to try and take advantage of every fact at their disposal. I put fact in quotes at times during debates.

KING: Thanks. Viveca Novak, we'll be calling on you a lot, probably next -- right after the next debate. We'll be back with more after this.


KING: We're back with our panel in our remaining moments. First, a couple of blogs I want to read you to. Rich says, "Stephanie Miller completely nailed it. She bluffed her folksy way out of every question. Please tell me, someone, how Sarah Palin can come close to giving people trust in her being second in command."

On the pro-Palin side, from Will, "Georgette is absolutely correct. I'm from Indiana. We do speak that way. Sarah Palin is perfect and that's the end of the story. Beside, a little winking never hurt."

Let's get to an email from Katherine, an American voter living abroad in London: "given the intensive coaching from these debates, are we really learning anything useful from them about how the candidate would respond to an unscripted crisis?" Stephanie?

MILLER: That's exactly the point. I give you that she did fine reciting the talking points and in some cases the lies that McCain camp has been putting out about Barack Obama cutting taxes on people making 42,000. I don't think -- I think the Katie Couric interview was more telling, unfortunately, for her.

KING: Georgette, is that true, that the intensive coaching takes away from what's going to happen in real life, for anybody?

MOSBACHER: You get coached when you're going to be in a debate. That's the way it works. I think the real question here is, this is a woman who was mayor, and was so successful at being mayor that she was elected governor of a state, with an 80 percent approval rating. You know what, you can make fun of her all you want, but those are real accomplishments. She took on her own party.

KING: That's not the question being asked. MILLER: She was mayor of a town of 6,000 that she left 20 million dollars in debt. Are you really saying that qualifies her?

KING: No, Georgette, hold it. The question was how does intensive coaching tell us what someone would do with an unscripted crisis?

MOSBACHER: I don't think intensive coaching does tell you what you would do in an unscripted crisis.

KING: Therefore we don't know.

MOSBACHER: No, you have to look at a person's entire record. It's about judgment. You could be an intellectual genius and not be able to get dressed in the morning. It really comes down to judgment.

KING: We have an email from Keith in Richmond, Virginia: "debates between candidates for national office are supposed to be about substance. Yet, so much post debate coverage sounds like commentary on a high school popularity contest. Why not more focus on issues, instead of this 'American Idol' mode?" Pags, true?

PAGLIARULO: I think the reason is, with the way the media is today, 2008 in America -- by the way, it's beautiful. It's not just everybody sitting around a radio anymore. You have so many choices. It's the "American Idol" sort of aspect here. More people voted in "American Idol" than we've seen in presidential elections. Maybe with these two running, we'll catch the electorate up to what they're doing on "American Idol."

It is a popularity contest. When it goes to coaching or who you're going to vote for, you have to go back and see what the record is. Sarah Palin and John McCain have the record. That's the bottom line.

KING: Ed Schultz, you close it out. What do you think, the effect of coaching, the effect of debates?

SCHULTZ: I think we saw that Sarah Palin is a quick study. For her to stand at the podium the way she did last night, that played to her strength. Where she's tripped up, Larry, is in an open format and the follow-up question. The American people are going to remember that she could not recite one Supreme Court case when most recently the Supreme Court ruled on the Exxon Valdez in her state in Alaska. How could she not regurgitate that.

Also, not being able to say what she reads. This is in front of 70 million people. The judgment is going to be rendered here in the next few weeks.

MILLER: Hey, Ed, she read that McCain is pulling out of Michigan in the paper today. We know what she reads.

KING: We have a new feature called Larry King Interactive. It's your chance to be part of the show. Interact right now, Who won the debate? Right now, Joe Biden is winning with 83 percent of the vote. Still time to vote at While there, download our podcast, President Bill Clinton. Next week, Michelle Obama. She'll be here the night right after the presidential debate. We thank our whole panel for being with us. Here's Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."