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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Can John McCain Turn It Around?

Aired October 13, 2008 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, 22 days to go and the numbers don't lie.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're six points down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Can John McCain turn it around?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He's changing his speeches.

Is he changing his strategy?

Is there time to beat Barack Obama?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: If Washington can move quickly to pass a rescue plan for our financial system, there's no reason we can't move just as quickly to pass a rescue plan for our middle class.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot afford another big spender in the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And what about Sarah Palin?

Has the campaign's attack dog been put on a leash?

Sheryl Crow, Dean Cain and political insiders are here to tell us what they think, right now, on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

It's just three weeks until election day and Americans are already voting via absentee ballots and early voting provisions. CNN's latest national poll of polls shows Obama leading by 8 points -- 49 percent to 41 percent.

Our distinguished panel, in Washington, Paul Begala, Democratic strategist, CNN political contributor.

Also in Washington, Bay Buchanan, CNN political contributor and president of American Cause.

In New York is Joan Walsh, editor-in-chief of Salon.com.

And back in Washington, Kevin Madden, Republican strategist, senior vice president of Glover Park Group.

Here's John McCain unveiling a new stump speech today, struggling to reframe the discussion.

Watch and we'll get your thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MCCAIN: We have 22 days to go. We're six points down. The national media has written us off.

(BOOS)

MCCAIN: Senator Obama is measuring the drapes.

(BOOS)

MCCAIN: And planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to raise taxes, increase spending...

(BOOS)

MCCAIN: ...to raise taxes, to increase spending and take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections...

(BOOS)

MCCAIN: ...and concede defeat in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, Paul Begala, is that a change?

What do you make of it?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Yes. I mean it's -- at least it's about issues, right?

It's not the sort of character attacks and personal attacks that they've been waging on Barack Obama. And so that's good.

But the McCain campaign, again, doesn't seem to know what it wants to do. They were leaking out the last several days that today John McCain would give a new speech about the economy. And that's exactly what he needs to do. Instead, he gave a very political speech. It's fine. But it's the sort of a speech a campaign manager could give rather than a candidate.

And you contrast that with Barack Obama, who stood up today and gave a very serious speech about the economy, with new ideas, even just 22 days before an election -- you know, he wants a new tax credit to create jobs. He's got this idea to have a 90-day moratorium on home foreclosures -- things that actually might affect people's lives.

So, you know, I think McCain, once more, is just -- as we would say in bird hunting, he's shooting behind the bird, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

KING: Bay, what do you make of it?

Is this new?

BAY BUCHANAN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: There's no question there's a new tone here. And it is much needed. He is coming from behind. He acknowledges that.

But I've got to tell you something, that is John McCain at his best, when he's coming from behind. I, for one, have underestimated him on occasion and thought he was -- written him off. People never want to write this guy off, I'm telling you. And I think he's out there showing he's a fighter. He's going to fight for this. It's going to be a very exciting last three weeks. And I think you're going to start seeing the polls close, as you did today in two of them.

KING: Joan Walsh, what do you make of it?

JOAN WALSH, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, SALON.COM, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Well, I think it's going to be an interesting three weeks, Larry.

But I thought there were two things that jumped out at me today from the new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll. And that was -- one of them was John McCain, despite this negative campaign, is now perceived as more risky a candidate than Barack Obama. It's 50 percent to 45. And at the same time, his negatives went up 9 percent and Obama's positives went up 6 percent.

So despite what he's doing, it's not working. He's actually succeeding in making the electorate more afraid of him than Barack Obama. So something's got to change. And I don't think that what we saw today was nearly enough.

KING: Kevin Madden, on the other side of the fence, Barack Obama unveiled a series of proposals, as Paul Begala mentioned.

Let's look at part of his address. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: For those Americans in danger of losing their homes, today I'm also proposing a three month moratorium on foreclosures. If you're a bank...

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: ...if you're a bank or a lender that is getting money from the rescue plan that passed Congress and your customers are making a good faith effort to make their mortgage pmts and renegotiate their mortgage, you will not be able to foreclosure on their home for three months. We need to give people breathing room to get back on their feet.

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And, Kevin, I might add, two distinguished conservatives Christopher Buckley, apologizing to his late father, and Christopher Hitchens, calling Palin a disaster, both came out for Obama today.

What do you make of all this?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, look, what's amazing to me is that Barack Obama, with only three weeks to go, has spent the last two-and-a-half years trying to convince the American public -- and almost quite successfully -- that's why we have three weeks left. But he's convinced everybody he's a centrist, when any -- even a small examination of his record and his policies shows that he is very far outside the mainstream of where the American public is.

And that's why I think you see John McCain, in these last three weeks, he's going to focus relentlessly on those contrasts -- the fact that he is actually the one who has the experience and a record of accomplishment of having fought for lower taxes, having fought for small business owners, having made sure that America has a very robust national security posture. Whereas Barack Obama would take the country in exactly the wrong direction on all...

KING: All right...

MADDEN: ...those big issues.

WALSH: But...

KING: Paul...

MADDEN: That's the charge over the next three weeks.

KING: Paul, could it be, just thinking out loud, that the mainstream may be more liberal than we think?

BEGALA: Well, there's certainly lots of evidence that the country is moving in a more progressive direction. I mean look at 2006, right, where the Democrats picked up seats for the first time in several election cycles by running unabashedly against George W. Bush and the war.

Look at Senator Obama today. The truth is particularly -- I think it's a great idea, this $3,000 tax credit to create new jobs...

WALSH: Yes.

BEGALA: ...as opposed to the Republicans, who have always defended this -- this thing in the tax code, which is indefensible, that rewards big corporations that ship jobs overseas. They actually get a tax credit for shipping jobs overseas. Now, that favors big business, not small business. Small business has usually been a Republican constituency.

And Barack today going right at the heart of that.

You know, the suburban swing voters are going to determine this election, not the hard core Republican conservatives or the liberal Democrats.

BUCHANAN: You know, Larry...

BEGALA: And they all live in the same area code...

KING: (INAUDIBLE).

BEGALA: ...and the area code is 401(k).

BUCHANAN: Larry...

KING: All right, we're going to come back...

BEGALA: That's what they're looking at.

KING: We're going to come back and have Bay -- and Bay will respond.

But we're going to do something a little different. We're going to go down some key states and get the thoughts of Kevin and Paul as Bay and Joan respond.

Do you have something to say about this show?

Go to CNN.com/larryking and let us know. Click onto our blog and tell us what's on your mind. If you've got a question for our guests, you can ask that, too.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Bay Buchanan and Joan Walsh remain seated.

At our election map, Paul Begala and Kevin Madden. We're going to run through some states and get their thoughts.

Let's see what Ohio, 20 electoral votes. Obama campaigned there today. Bush won it in 2004. No Republican has ever been elected without winning Ohio.

How does it look, Kevin?

MADDEN: Well, Ohio, right now, is still a battleground state. This is where a lot of people are going to ending -- a lot of folks that are observing this on election day are going to be looking. They're going to be looking in the eastern part of the state, near that Mahoney Valley area.

If John McCain can compete in what is traditionally a Democrat area, then he'll do very well in the state. But if he is losing those states -- losing a lot of those counties along that eastern portion of the state near Youngstown on election night, then it's going to be a very tough night for John McCain.

KING: Paul?

BEGALA: Yes. There's two other places, kind of just both north and south of the part of the state I think that Kevin was talking about.

First off, north. There's a very hot Congressional race in Northeastern Ohio. Ralph Regula, the 16th District, is the longest serving -- second -- second longest serving Republican in the House of Representatives. He's retiring. Democrats have a shot in Republican county with a guy named John Boccieri there -- young, Iraq and Afghan war veteran...

KING: But can that -- can that race...

BEGALA: ...he can...

KING: Can that race kick off the McCain/Obama race?

BEGALA: I think it has a huge effect on Obama because -- because Boccieri is from that area. He's the kind of ethnic Democrat who Barack Obama needs. And I've been out there...

KING: All right...

BEGALA: I've seen him campaigning there and it's going to help a lot. I think Obama winds up winning because of that eastern side of the state.

KING: I want to get through a few of these.

Virginia, 13 electoral votes. McCain and Palin campaigned there today. The state has not gone Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in '64.

Let's see what Paul this time.

Can you win Virginia? BEGALA: Yes, Barack can. And that's astonishing. You know, when Barack Obama's parents were married, their marriage would have been illegal in Virginia. And yet today, you know, the cradle of Dixie, I think it's going to go Democrat. And it's part because of Tim Kaine, the governor, and Mark Warner, the former governor, who's going to win that Senate seat there by a zillion votes, but because of Obama. I think that state really, really is looking for change.

KING: Kevin?

MADDEN: Yes, I think, Larry, Paul is right. The fact that this is actually a battleground state in 2008 is -- it just shows how much of a challenge Republicans have in this election cycle. I remember when I was working on the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004, a lot of folks tried to make this a battleground state when it was at 4 points. But we actually won by nine in the end.

The key to this state right now is the Hampton Roads area. That's where you've seen a lot of travel by both campaigns. In 2006, Jim Webb actually won that area by about 6 points. So it's going to be an area that a lot of people are watching, that southeastern part of the state, on election night.

KING: Nevada, five electoral votes. Bush won it twice.

You want to start with it, Kevin?

MADDEN: Well, Nevada -- the big challenge in Nevada is Clark County. It's the largest county in the state. It's where all the population growth is. And that population growth is actually starting to trend toward Democrats. There's been a tremendous amount of voter registration in that area and, again, favoring Democrats.

It's one of those states that was red in 2004 that Barack Obama is trying to steal away from John McCain in order to build a Barack Obama coalition of Bush red states -- places like Nevada, places like New Mexico, places like Colorado.

BEGALA: Yes, it is...

KING: You agree with that, Paul?

BEGALA: I do. It is trending blue, in part, because Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, is from there. He helped organize that Nevada caucus, where Hillary and Barack fought it out so close. And what happened was tens of thousands of people registered to be Democrats because of that caucus. So now the Democrats have a registration advantage in Nevada.

So, thanks to Harry Reid, the thing might -- it might actually tilt for Barack Obama.

KING: Colorado, nine electoral votes. Bush won it twice.

How do you see it, Paul? BEGALA: Yes. This was -- this was one of Barack Obama's big states from the very, very beginning. You know, he's always had a message somewhat reminiscent of Gary Hart from Colorado. And then when you look, again, at the new Colorado, Bill Ritter, the Democratic governor; Ken Salazar, the Democratic senator; this is a place where -- where I think Democrats look good.

And there is a Udall -- a famous name in that state and that part of the country -- running for the Senate seat there for the Democratic Party. So this -- from the beginning, this was part of Barack's strategy to win.

KING: I thought Udall was famous in Arizona.

BEGALA: In Arizona. There's another one in Arizona. They're cousins, Mark and Tom.

MADDEN: The Udalls -- there's Udalls all over the place out there.

BEGALA: Yes.

KING: Kevin, how do you see Colorado?

MADDEN: Well, look, Colorado is part of that Western state coalition that a lot of Democrats targeted as the battleground region of the country. And it's turned out that many of them have been right.

The big problem with Colorado for Republicans is very much the same way that the changing demographics of Northern Virginia -- Arlington County, Fairfax County -- are starting to favor Democrats. Arapaho County, Jefferson County, again, growing areas around the Denver metropolitan area where Democrats have really gained a foothold. And they've also, again, been registering many, many voters. And that's going to make it a big challenge on election day.

John McCain would be smart to deploy Sarah Palin in a lot of these outer counties around Denver and going to try and drum up some of the conservative support that's going to help his base turn out for that -- on election day in that state.

KING: And, quickly, North Carolina, 15 electoral votes.

How does it look, Paul?

BEGALA: I can't believe that it's even in play, Larry. You know, Bill Clinton is a Southerner, a pretty good politician. We tried twice and never could crack North Carolina.

But, again, the state is changing. And they also, again, have an interesting Senate race there, where Elizabeth Dole, a real powerhouse...

KING: Yes, could lose.

BEGALA: She's going to lose. Kay Hagan, a state senator, is running a great campaign.

KING: Kevin...

BEGALA: I think Elizabeth Dole goes down.

KING: Thirty seconds, Kevin.

How do you see North Carolina?

MADDEN: Again, the simple fact that a Republican, three weeks out, is in North Carolina trying to shore up support there, again, just goes to show how daunting our challenge is.

But John McCain has to got out there and reach those blue collar Democrats. He has to go out there and identify with a lot of the same voters that identified with Hillary Clinton during the primary. And he has to make them part of a McCain swing voter coalition in order to win the state.

KING: Back with the full panel in 60 seconds.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Vice presidential contenders Joe Biden and Sarah Palin continue to hit the campaign trail -- Biden in New Hampshire, Palin in Virginia.

Let's hear what they had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We have the tools to resolve this crisis. They're available to us. We know which tools to use. The only question is -- and, literally, I think it's almost this basic -- the only question is, into whose hands are we going to place these tools?

In the uncertain hands of John McCain and Sarah Palin, clinging to the past?

They're clinging to the past. They're lurching from one bad idea to another.

Or into the steady hands -- the steady hands of Barack Obama, backed up by the finest economic minds in the country?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Government already spend too much and he wants to now spend nearly a trillion dollars more in government growth.

(BOOS)

PALIN: No America, doggone it, unfortunately, we are deep in debt. Barack Obama would make us even deeper in debt. We've got to reverse this. Folks, it's in times like these that the last thing that we need to see is a tax increase. America can just -- we cannot afford another big spender in the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Sheryl Crow and Dean Cain are still ahead.

In fact, Sheryl even blogged for us cnn.com/larryking. You can read it and give us your thoughts.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with our full panel.

Bay, do you think that Mrs. -- Governor Palin's numbers may be dropping a little because people are starting to focus on whether, in fact, she could be president tomorrow?

BUCHANAN: No. You know, that was a big issue for a couple of weeks and they were very effective at hammering that, with the help of the press, I might add, Larry.

But right now, the issue is not Governor Palin. The issue is John McCain versus Obama. It's about the economy. And what John McCain has to do, he's got to -- he's using Palin exactly as he should. He's rallying up the troops. He is encouraging and inspiring the base. And he's using her to attack Obama and to get things going there, hopefully putting pressure on Obama and exposing the character angle, which is always a very, very credible argument with a voter -- if a person is hesitant about a person's character, they with vote for them.

But the key here is John McCain's campaign needs to get focused.

KING: OK...

BUCHANAN: Hammer on this economy. The economy now came back today. And hopefully, that will help John McCain come back.

KING: The former Bush strategist, Joan, Matthew Dowd, says that the campaign is out of McCain's hands and that a turnaround may depend on Obama making a major misstep on national security or the like, or else he's going to win.

What do you make of that, Joan?

WALSH: I think that's true. You know, and I just have to respond to Bay. I think the mistake the McCain campaign has made is in going too much to the base. This election will be won in the middle by the swing voters. And they've written them off. They're scaring them. You know, and to go back to something Kevin said earlier about Obama being too liberal, when you've got a Republican Treasury secretary who's spending $250 billion buying a government stake in our banks, what is liberal and what is conservative?

The point is we are going to have to spend our way out of that -- this mess. That's clear.

And who do voters trust?

And it's clear that they trust Obama and Biden.

BUCHANAN: You know, that's completely wrong.

WALSH: Is it?

BUCHANAN: Yes, it is, for this reason. Obama -- this movement toward Obama has nothing to do with Obama or his message. It had everything to do with the collapse of the banks. And the American people said we've had it with the Republicans...

KING: But...

BUCHANAN: ...and they moved over -- moved (INAUDIBLE)...

WALSH: I disagree, Bay, because...

BUCHANAN: ...Democrats. Obama had better hope this thing doesn't come back fast.

WALSH: I think it's an opportunity. It's an opportunity for Obama. And I want to say, I've been critical of Barack Obama over the months. I think he used to have a very abstract, kind of ethereal message. And he has into his own unbelievably, in the last two or three weeks.

KING: All right...

WALSH: He is hitting on all cylinders and he's offering...

KING: Kevin...

WALSH: ...a positive message to the middle class...

KING: Isn't...

WALSH: ...not the bankers.

KING: Isn't what the government is doing now in the trend, admittedly, Kevin, socialistic?

MADDEN: Look, I don't think that...

KING: Government helping out people.

MADDEN: Yes. I don't think that the government action is foundered in a -- either a conservative or a liberal ideology. I think it's founded right now in a panic and that the Treasury is doing everything it can to inject liquidity into the markets and restore confidence back in the credit markets.

But my point about Barack Obama has less to do with -- again, with party ideology like liberal, but it's a fact that he's always supported more taxes. It's a fact he's always supported bigger government. It's a fact that he's always supported national security policies that I think the majority of Americans would believe would make the country weaker.

WALSH: (INAUDIBLE).

MADDEN: And the biggest problem has been for -- that we haven't had a very coherent, a very responsive message in making sure that the American public knew that.

And that's why I think that, in these last three weeks, that the charge of the McCain campaign is to hammer home relentlessly, with a very methodical effectiveness, the fact that Barack Obama does not share the same policy viewpoints that the majority of the American public does.

WALSH: So again negative and not pro...

MADDEN: No, it's not negative.

WALSH: ...not a pro, positive McCain message.

MADDEN: And, Joan, let me just disagree with you...

BUCHANAN: (INAUDIBLE).

MADDEN: ...very substantively on that. When you talk...

KING: Paul, you can jump in.

MADDEN: ...when somebody says that a candidate has the wrong policies versus that that guy is a bad guy, that's not negative. That's a discussion about the direction we want to take the country in.

I think Barack Obama would take the country in a decidedly wrong direction. That's not me being negative. That's me making a case for the arguments and the policies that I believe in.

KING: OK.

And, now, Paul, why is Kevin wrong?

MADDEN: I'm not wrong.

(CROSSTALK)

BEGALA: First of all, I like negative campaigning. Kevin is right about that -- as long as it is fair, factual, about the public record and issues.

MADDEN: Right.

BEGALA: And taxes are a perfectly issue.

MADDEN: Substantive arguments.

BEGALA: Nothing wrong with that.

Here's the problem, though. The most effective negatives launched against John McCain have been launched by John McCain.

WALSH: Right.

BEGALA: You know, in our first segment, Joan Walsh made the point that Americans now trust Barack Obama more in a crisis than they trust the war hero, 35-year veteran of Washington, John McCain.

Why?

WALSH: Unbelievable.

BEGALA: Because we've had a real crisis. You know, campaigns do test these candidates. I love that the campaign is long and hard and challenging, because -- and like Joan, I was also a skeptic. I supported Hillary Clinton in the primaries. I was worried about Barack's lack of experience.

But look at the steadiness, the thoughtfulness, the strength, the resolve he has shown. And then look at, yes, how erratic and really odd John McCain -- you know, last week, John McCain gave a speech. He addressed his audience as -- and I quote -- "my fellow prisoners."

Well, McCain is a prisoner of his own failed strategy in this campaign.

KING: All right.

Thanks, guys.

We'll have you all back.

Thanks very much.

MADDEN: Thanks, Larry.

WALSH: Thanks, Larry.

KING: You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.

Hillary Clinton was on the campaign trail today.

We'll see what she had to say next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's Sheryl Crow singing at the Democratic National Convention. Again, the Grammy-winning singer and songwriter, her new album is D tours and she's a supporter of Barack Obama, contributed to his fundraising album, "Yes, we can!"

There's the cover of her "D tour" album.

And she's going to take part in a big Get Out the Vote tour later this month. And she's blogged for us at cnn.com/larryking.

In Weedowie (ph), Alabama, is Dean Cain, actor, TV personality, good guy, a supporter of John McCain.

Quickly, though, what are you doing in Weedowie (ph)?

DEAN CAIN, ACTOR: I'm shooting a movie called. I'm shooting a movie called "Our Child is Missing." It's a -- and there I am. And it's a -- it's a very tough story. It's the story of a family whose two-and-a-half goes missing. They turn their head for a second and the child is gone.

We're shooting it at the house that happened with the people around us who did it.

KING: Wow!

CAIN: It's really -- it's quite a story. But it has a happy ending, so.

KING: That's Dean Cain on site.

In New York is Kellyanne Conway, the Republican pollster and strategist.

And in Washington, Paul Begala remains with us, the Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor.

The whole tone of this campaign, Sheryl, are you glad it's ending?

SHERYL CROW, SINGER, SONGWRITER: I am...

KING: Or almost ending?

CROW: (INAUDIBLE) -- what are we all going to do when it's over?

But, yes, I'm very glad that it's ending, because I think we're at a point now where there is just so much noise that people are frantic and very nervous about this election. And I'm not sure it's serving any great purpose.

KING: Do you think your man can lose?

CROW: I think anything can happen. We don't know exactly what will happen when people go into the privacy of a voting booth. But I do know one thing. Now that I'm a mom, the things that I really care about and that really matter to me are the issues. It's not this negative campaigning, it's not this kind of fear that we're all being dragged through right now. It's what they stand for and what they say they're going to do.

KING: Dean, why, as you see it, is the McCain campaign behind?

CAIN: You know, I don't know about polls. Polls are interesting, and they change every day. I don't understand them, I don't get them. Here's what I know. Myself, as a voter, I'm an Independent, I'm a nonpartisan voter in California. I support John McCain because I trust John McCain. I trust him on issues of national security. I trust him to reform government in Washington, and I trust him to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan responsibly, having the job completed. Those are the reasons that I support him.

KING: Paul Begala, why isn't Obama automatically way ahead, considering the conditions in the country?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he's pretty far ahead, about eight points if you take the average CNN does this poll and polls and I think we've got it at eight. Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole by eight and a half points and it was a landslide. He got 380 electoral votes in I think 32 or 33 votes. So eight points is a landslide in America. I don't know that Barack wins up winning by eight. I think toward the end the Republicans will probably close. The gap may narrow a bit.

I do think he's going to win, I think he's got a very good chance of winning, Sheryl is right, anything can happen. But he's doing pretty good so far. You've got to say for a guy who was an obscure state senator 15 minutes ago, he has shown incredible leadership. What if you had a business person, a friend that started a business and you know of checked in with him 21, 22 months later and he had a quarter of billion in revenue, he had offices in all the 50 states and had taken on the biggest powerhouse in his industry and beaten them, that is the Clintons in the Democratic campaign. So what Barack has done in this campaign is pretty extraordinary.

KING: Kellyanne, when you look at it that way, from a Republican standpoint, would you at least ruefully admit this guy has come out of nowhere?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGISY: Certainly he has. And I think that's part of why John McCain should go no further than quoting Hillary Clinton, maybe Paul Begala, certainly Joe Biden, and when they question Barack Obama's inexperience not so long ago. I don't understand why that's not part of the core message.

The other thing I think McCain needs to do if he wants to remain competitive is to do a real sister soldier moment against Bush on the economy. That of course was famously was what then Governor Clinton did, in 1992, and won the presidency.

I think that McCain really couldn't do it on the war, but he could do it on the economy, make a dramatic departure with Bush. And that would put McCain with 70 percent of the country that disapproves of Bush, and it would remove from Barack Obama a really key sound bite, that if you want four more years of Bush, vote for McCain. I think he has to do that.

KING: Do you think so, Sheryl, that he should separate himself more vocally from the president?

CROW: I do, but the thing that happened over the weekend where his campaign came out and said they would release new talking points on the economy, and then they didn't, announced that that wasn't going to happen. Then we see today that Obama comes out and he releases a four-pronged plan which actually I think was succinct enough that we could all understand it and it spoke to the middle class and the lower class.

But instead from McCain we heard sort of the same stump speech we've been hearing for a while. Even further than that, him saying that we have Obama exactly where we want him. That to me incites uneasiness, it does seems like erratic behavior, a continuation of that. And also on Saturday tried to correlate Iraq again to 9/11.

And I think the American people want straight answers, and they want to know they're safe and that the economy is going to come back, and that we're going to start moving into issues that matter like the environment and education.

KING: Dean Cain, is Kellyanne right, should he start to sort of attack President Bush more?

CAIN: I don't know that he should attack President Bush. I think John McCain's record stands for himself. This is the guy who of course everybody says he's a deregulator, deregulator. This is the guy who two, three years ago, tried to regulate Fannie Mae. He tried to push through. He saw Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac coming, he tried to push through legislation and it got killed.

So should he separate himself from President Bush? Sure, he is not President Bush, not the same person, he doesn't have the same ideals, he doesn't do the same stuff. I've said this before, four more years of the same, I've heard it 100 times from that side of the aisle. I don't like hearing it. Again I'm an independent voter, and yes I'm with McCain, but it's the same thing over and over again.

And here's one more thing. I love Sheryl's music, I love Sheryl Crow, I think she's fantastic, and I disagree with her on this. And I think that's what great about America is that we can disagree politically and still be civil to one another. And I think that doesn't happen in a lot of other countries so people need to see that.

KING: Let me get a break. More politics, more insights. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: we're back. Do celebrities influence your vote? Go to CNN.com/LarryKing and tell us. And while you're there, check out our blog and let us know what you have to say.

Hillary Clinton campaigned for Barack Obama today in Philadelphia. She offered this Democratic twist on the Republican chant of drill, baby, drill. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: In fact, I've got a new slogan for the economy. What we'll create in Pennsylvania, if you give the Democrats a chance to lead and serve you, and what we'll create across America, with a Democratic president and bigger Democratic majority in the House and the Senate, comes down to this -- jobs, baby, jobs. All kinds of good, new jobs across America.

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KING: Kellyanne, is that effective?

CONWAY: I thought it was great. I know other people panned it, but I just feel like her heart's not in it. I think she's gotten farther than any loser ever has done for the nomination and Barack Obama owes Bill and Hillary Clinton a great debt, because they're campaigning for him. But she just - she's a smart woman who doesn't need to read anything, yet she was reading literally every word and in that sound bite, I didn't hear her mention Barack Obama, she kept mentioning Democrats, Democrats, Democratic majority. And I can't help but feel, A, her heart's not always in it, but B that if she were the nominee, I can tell you she'd be up in the mid 50s, easily.

KING: Wow. Question for -- a blog question for Paul Begala, on having a Dem president and a predominantly Democratic Congress, from Delsa (ph). "What scares me the most is knowing that an eventual presidential win by Barack Obama and a majority Democrat in Congress, isn't that too risky?"

BEGALA: Unless you think things like jump-starting the economy is risky, no. Look, this is what Barack Obama is campaigning and the Democrats are on a very specific set of issues. And it begins with trying to fix this economy, which once was the greatest economy in the history of the world, when the Democrats were running the White House under my old boss, Bill Clinton.

It continues to try to responsibly end the war, something Dean Cain mentioned a moment ago, creating green jobs, and alternative energy instead of remaining addictive to the Saudis. These are things that mainstream America wants and this is why Democrats are winning at the congressional level as well as at the presidential level.

The problem with the Republicans now It happens to my party 10 or 20 years ago, they run out of gas and ideas. What they need to do right now is go off in the wilderness, have a bunch of finger pointing, a bunch of internal circular firing squads, like my party did, which is how we got Bill Clinton and Barack Obama and this new generation of leaders.

CONWAY: We don't do that. We have what I call "staff infection." The Republican party always has the same people running the same campaign. That would be good, Paul. I think I'm going to invite you to lead the charge.

BEGALA: I'm pro-finger-pointing. I am. I want the Republicans to sort all this out amongst themselves.

KING: We have a subdued Kellyanne tonight.

Dean Cain, we have another blog, it's from Jeremy. "Explain how a McCain presidency would differ from a Bush presidency with respect to foreign relations or national security or the economy. Where would they be different?"

CAIN: Well, again they're not the same person, and he has voted.

KING: But where would the policies differ?

CAIN: Well, I can't run down every John McCain policy, but, you know -- I don't know specific policy issues to run that down. That's really not my job. My job as an informed American is to see who I like in this race. They're not the same people. They never have been. You don't follow -- one presidency doesn't follow the next with the same issues coming in or out. They never do. He's got a whole new set of problems to deal with.

KING: Sheryl, would the policies be the same?

CROW: From what I understand, I don't believe that there is going to be too much of a difference. For instance, I think that the Bush doctrine of preemptive strike is still going to stand with McCain. Looking at his taxes, he's still giving a large tax cut to those who are above $600,000. If you compare the two tax plans of the two different candidates, you'll see a much wider tax cut for middle and lower income families, and a much higher tax cut for those who are above $600,000, and also for businesses.

In the plan that Obama just laid out, he's talking about giving, what, $3,000 to companies who are creating jobs. He's giving the opportunity to families to take out up to $10,000 with no penalty from their IRAs, and so it's difficult to tell, but from what I can tell at this moment, Bush is completely aligned -- or McCain is completely aligned with Bush.

KING: We'll be right back, we'll pick you up, Kellyanne. Back in 60 seconds.

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KING: With three weeks to go, Obama and McCain are hammering home their messages, and we'll get a sample of what they said today. Watch.

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SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The next president won't have time to get used to the office. He won't have the luxury of studying up on the issues before he acts. He will have -- he will have to act immediately, and to do that, he will need experience, courage, judgment, and a bold plan of action to take this country in a new direction.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: His campaign actually said, and I quote, if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose. That's what he said, right? Well, Senator McCain may be worried about losing an election, but I'm worried about you losing your jobs. I'm worried about you losing your homes. I'm worried about you losing your life savings. You can't afford four more years of the failed economic theories that say we should give more and more to millionaires and billionaires and hope that prosperity trickles down on everybody else.

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KING: Why is Sarah Palin such a lightning rod? We'll get to it right after a quick break.

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KING: We'll be back with a panel in the moment. But let's check in with Anderson Cooper, who will host "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour, where the news, it never gets dim. What's going on tonight?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Another record day on Wall Street, Larry, as you know, and now more breaking news tonight about the financial bailout, the White House ready to announce more steps to stabilize the nation's banks. We'll have those steps. Ali Velshi and "Fortune" magazine's Andy Serwer are here to tell us what it means for your investments.

On the trail today, Barack Obama unveiling his own plan, tax breaks for small businesses and tax-free withdrawals from 401(k)s. John McCain going back to basics on the trail today, telling voters they should elect hem, because, quote, "what Americans needs in this hour is a fighter." The tone less confrontational than what we've seen from the McCain campaign lately, but can that change voters' minds? Those stories and another name added to our ten most wanted list, the culprits of the collapse. Who's really to blame for the financial fiasco? We're naming names tonight, Larry.

KING: That's Anderson Cooper, "A.C. 360," 10 Eastern, 7 Pacific.

Sarah Palin had some trouble today distinguishing friends from foes at a huge campaign event in Richmond, Virginia. Watch.

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GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would hope at least that those protesters have the courage and the honor of thanking our veterans for giving them the right to protest.

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KING: Apparently they weren't protesting, Kellyanne. But what is the effect -- what's the Palin effect on all of this. We have a blog that may relate, you can comment on that. "I read the report about abuse of power. I want to know more about Todd Palin. He apparently has a huge influence over Sarah Palin's office in Korea. Will he have a major influence if McCain gets elected?"

CONWAY: I never met Todd Palin. I would imagine in any good strong, intact marriage as theirs, each spouse has an influence on the other. It's clear he's a very hands-on dad. It's just funny question. It's actually a funny clip because I watched Obama's speech today, I watched McCain and Palin in two of the three states they were in, I think, or their stops, and I have to say that I didn't even focus on that part.

But I have to say, I think why she's a lightning rod is very simple. She came out of nowhere which means to some Republicans and really some Independent women, she's like this lightning bolt that everybody believed if you were going to be the first woman anything in this country, you had to sort of hiccup, every other word had to be pro- choice and hug trees and raise taxes because it's compassionate, and she sort of breaks of mold of what people believe needs to be exhibit A in a woman running for national office.

And I think frankly, she makes some people feel badly. She's got these five kids, she's got an 80 percent in Alaska. And I have to say this, the biggest thing I get her from her is her moxie. She seems impervious to her critic and not because she's naive, but because she knows who she is. And she thought they were protesters and what did she say? She basically was reminding them that McCain and the veterans fight for them to have the right to protest. I think she's cool and just quickly Larry, I'm sorry, she actually - I think she had a soldier moment against Bush today. She say, quote "we don't need another big spender in the White House." I think she's talking about Bush.

KING: Who else?

Sheryl Crow, I lost my train of thought. Do you think that she is qualified? I think that's what a lot of people question. She doesn't do interviews except areas that are friendly.

CROW: I think the most dangerous thing about her is that she doesn't -- she doesn't seem to know what she doesn't know. I'm personally really nervous about it because I feel like, god forbid anything happens to McCain, we are in the most precarious situation we have ever been in. Our economy is down, our standing in the world forum is way down. And I don't think that handing off the country and the leadership that doesn't have the experience is putting country first. I think it's a strategic tactic.

KING: Dean, what did you make of that pick?

CAIN: I was surprised by the pick. I hadn't heard of her either. I thought maybe he was going to go with Joe Lieberman or Tim Pawlenty and I was surprised by that. But I think what Sheryl just said was the argument about Barack Obama not having the experience, et cetera, et cetera, it's the same thing. We can go back and forth on that. What I think of the vice-presidential pick. Obama said that one of the reasons he picked Joe Biden is he'd be ready to be president right away.

You know, maybe that's the case. I think that she is obviously a strong leader. Listen, I'm not -- I'm not totally Republican, I'm not 100 percent. First of all, I'm pro-choice. I don't line up socially on the right. I told you the reasons that I support McCain and those are the same.

CROW: But Obama has --

CAIN: Go ahead, Sheryl, I'm sorry.

CROW: No, no, I think Obama has almost identical experience to Abraham Lincoln. Two years in the Senate, seven or eight years in his state government, and I feel it's better preparation than what Governor Palin has.

Also, watching the interviews with her, you get a strong sense that she really has no idea about foreign policy. But even aside from that, you know, I think at this moment in our history what we are all looking for is a government leader who inspires the best in us, who takes us -- gives us a sense they're not being erratic, that they actually have the answers.

And I look at John McCain and I feel actually sorry for him because we know in 2000, he would have never gone down this road of being negative. That was his intent.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll be back with our remaining moments with our panel right after this.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HANK WILLIAMS JR, PERFORMER: (SINGING)

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KING: That's Hank Williams Jr. entertaining for Governor Palin. Do you have any more entertainment planned for any of the candidate?

CROW: Actually, I'm doing a tour with Beastie Boys and Tenacious D and some other artists are coming in and out October 27th, 28th, 29th.

KING: For Obama?

CROW: For Obama.

KING: South Bend, Indiana, hello.

CALLER: Yes. I'm an African-American voting for McCain. My question was how much do you think race will play in this election and even how much has the race card been used in this election? KING: Paul, what do you think?

BEGALA: There's been pretty nasty moments on the campaign trail, there was a moment at the Palin rally for example when the crowd started - a few people, a few crazies in the crowd started using racial epithets about an African-American cameraman who was there. Now maybe that was just anti-media hatred and it's not Palin's responsibility to police or try to censor every whack job who shows up at one of her rallies. I'm not blaming her for that. But I do think McCain tried to pull back from the abyss in the last 48 hours. The old fighter pilot was doing a nose-dive here right into the kind of really nasty terrain and let's hope that he continues to pull back a little bit and to try to get a little lift back into this campaign.

KING: All right, we have a question from our blog to Sheryl. "Do you believe - do you feel Obama is aligned with too many shady people like Reverend Wright and Bill Ayers? Do you feel that Obama has been honest about this? Should a person that hangs out with people like this be president?"

CROW: I think he has been honest about it. I think he has addressed the Bill Ayers, his involvement with him, as far as being on the board with other very prestigious people 30 years later than any sort of terrorist involvement when he was 8-years-old. I think he answered that. And that seems to keep coming up in the Republican campaign mainly because it's a diversion tactic.

We all went through the Reverend Wright controversy and watched how he handled it. Now, if he were to go through that again, he would nip it immediately in the bud, but instead, he tried to protect the man. But I think he has been honest about it.

KING: E-mail question, we'll start with Dean. "What question would you like Obama and McCain to answer on Wednesday's debate?" That's from Jessica in Miami. What would you ask, Dean?

CAIN: Wow. The one I want the most to answer. Again, I'll go to national security. I want to go to national security. And size of government. See, my biggest concern with Obama is size of government. Every time there's a problem, he comes up with a solution that's a new program and throws money and I'm worried about the size of government. I'm not big on larger government. I'm big on smaller government. And that concerns me, a worry that I have.

KING: What would you ask, Kellyanne?

CONWAY: I would ask them if they were to lose the election this year, would they be willing to serve in the winner's cabinet? McCain is known as Mr. Bipartisan. Obama is known as Mr. Post Partisan. I want to really see if they are willing to put that into action. And it would be a very fascinating question because I think the minute 2008 is done, 2012 begin. So I'd like to see, would they serve in each another's cabinet or be running for the next time?

KING: I agree. Paul, we're running out of time, they'd probably say yes, wound they? CONWAY: I don't know, I know Bob Schieffer is listening, maybe he can ask the question Wednesday night.

KING: Paul?

BEGALA: I don't know. They are going to have to do something to stitch this country back together again. And I will say again Barack has shown a remarkable ability to try to be the repairer of the breach.

KING: Thank you all very much. Sheryl, good luck, Dean as well. Kellyanne and Paul. Do celebrities influence your vote? Go to CNN.com/LarryKing and tell us and I'm going to keep reminding you about our blog. It's amazing how many are clicking into it and weighing in. Keep it coming on the LARRY KING LIVE Web site.

A lot of celebrities are talking about the importance of voting. We'll be hearing from many of them in the next 22 days. Here's Chris Rock rocking the vote.

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CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: You should vote so you have the right to complain. If you didn't vote, you can't say nothing.

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KING: Well put. Tomorrow, Charles Barkley is here to analyze politics. He'll shoot from the lip, as he always does. That's LARRY KING LIVE Tuesday night. Right now it's Anderson Cooper live and "A.C. 360." Anderson?