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Is Palin a Drag on McCain?

Aired October 22, 2008 - 21:00   ET



(END VIDEO CLIP) LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, is Sarah Palin a drag on the Republican ticket?

$150,000 for clothes, makeup, hair, family travel on the taxpayers' tab.

Now, is she really an average hockey mom who just happens to be running for vice president?


PALIN: You're in charge of the United States Senate.


KING: John McCain tells voters that he's tried and true.




KING: Barack Obama's not buying it.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: We can't afford another president who ignores the fundamentals of our economy.


KING: Thirteen days to go.

Are Republicans split over Sarah?

Are Democrats doing a premature victory dance?

right now on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Our first panel of the evening, in New York is Georgette Mosbacher. She's the Republican activist and political fundraiser, best-selling author of "Feminine Force" and "It Takes Money, Honey," a supporter, naturally, of John McCain.

In Washington, is Ana Marie Cox, Washington editor of "Radar" magazine.

And here in Los Angeles, Stephanie Miller, the talk radio host, host of her own program and a supporter of Barack Obama.

OK, ladies, the RNC has spent more than $150,000 on clothing, cosmetics, hairstylings and other campaign accessories for Sarah Palin and her family.

What does that do to the hockey mom image, Georgette?

GEORGETTE MOSBACHER, REPUBLICAN ACTIVIST, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, I think we want her to look good. And, by the way, it isn't taxpayers money. It's RNC money. I mean I'm one of those who wrote a check out to the RNC. And I'm glad they're spending it on her looking fantastic.

There's nothing wrong. What's disingenuous is when you have someone like Michelle Obama go on "The View" in a $56 dress, which, by the way, I thought she looked fabulous in. Her -- actually, the person who designs most of her clothes is a designer in Chicago by the name of Maria Pinto. And she's a designer that's appointments only. That's how elitist she is.

But when it's all said and done, there's a lot of issues...

KING: Well, what does that have to do with issues, now?

MOSBACHER: Well, that's right.

KING: Ana Marie Cox...

MOSBACHER: What does it have to do with issues?

KING: Ana Marie Cox, what do you think?

ANA MARIE COX, WASHINGTON EDITOR, "RADAR": Well, to be totally fair, I have to say I think that, number one, people don't realize what an expensive hobby that hockey is.

So who knows how typical that is?

And another thing, I don't think enough people have pointed out, as my friend Marc Ambinder at "The Atlantic" did, but if Sarah Palin's wardrobe were a family of four, it would do quite well under the Obama tax plan.

So I think that needs a little bit more attention.

And another thing, just to Georgette's point, you know, is she saying that RNC donations aren't from taxpayers? I hope that -- Georgette, no offenses, you know, I hope you're paying your fair share of taxes.

MOSBACHER: I am paying. Not only am I paying...


MOSBACHER: I'm paying more than my. But, more importantly, that donation that I make to the RNC is not tax deductible.

KING: It's not.

OK. Let's get Stephanie in...


KING: ...and let's try to discuss more important issues.

But Stephanie...

STEPHANIE MILLER, TALK RADIO HOST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Larry, let me just say, I feel so under dressed. I only spent $140,000 on this outfit tonight and I couldn't be more embarrassed.


MILLER: I really couldn't.

Can I just speak for women everywhere in America, Larry...

KING: Sure.

MILLER: ...when I say she is completely unqualified to be vice president, but I so want that red leather jacket. That is hot.



KING: What do you make of this whole story?

What do you make of this story?

Is it a story?

MILLER: You know, I think it is. When she's out talking about Joe six-pack and Joe plumber and everyone else in the world named Joe, yes, I think -- and that and the story today, Larry, that, you know, at taxpayer expense in Alaska, she flew her kids to all these events and had the Alaska taxpayers pay for it, when they weren't even invited. And she's supposed to be a reformer. I think that's a story.

KING: Yes, Georgette, what do you make about that, more than $21,000 in state money flying the family around?

MOSBACHER: Well, you know what? I think it's wonderful that she has her family with her. And I think that most of those taxpayers in Alaska would say if they had a choice, they'd want their children with them, too. And they understand that a mom wants her kids with her and they're happy to pitch in so she can have her kids with her.


Ana Marie, an e-mail question from Caranore in Camp Springs, Maryland: "Do you think people who contributed to the RNC really meant their money to go toward dressing up Sarah Palin and her family?"

COX: I doubt if they did. And I think at this point, if I was an RNC contributor, I'd be looking at what a week's worth of ads in Colorado would cost, which I gather is a little around $150,000. And I think it might do a little more good.

And this is where I have to say, I think Sarah Palin looks pretty hot no matter what she's wearing.

Why did she need $150,000 worth of anything?

KING: All right, ladies.

MILLER: Exactly.

KING: She's taking heat about her words, as well as her wardrobe. In a recent TV interview, she was asked what does the vice president do?

The question came from a third grader.

Here's what the governor said.


PALIN: A vice president has a really great job, because not only are they there to support the president's agenda, they're like the team member -- the teammate to that president. But, also, they're in charge of the United States Senate. So if they want to, they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom. And it's a great job and I look forward to having that job.


KING: Stephanie, I don't think they have anything to do with the agenda of the Senate.

MILLER: No. No. Wrong buzzer for Caribou Barbie again, Larry. I'm sorry. She -- now we have to change it to are you smarter than a third grader?

No. She's not in charge of the Senate. She does not get in there and work on legislation. This is -- you know, these latest polls, really, really, are showing what we have been saying, she is a complete drag on the ticket. She is the main reason people are not voting for John McCain that are not voting. She is -- she is a complete embarrassment.

KING: Georgette, where did that idea -- her of the vice presidency, do you think, come from?

MOSBACHER: Oh, I think that's plain talk. I know it's not of some high elitist, intellectual level, but she does support the president. And, in fact...

KING: Yes, but she can't assume or form an agenda in the Senate.

MOSBACHER: But she can influence agendas in the Senate. She can call senators. As the vice president of the United States, they often call senators to -- and get senators to vote a certain way. That is absolutely a fact.

KING: OK, but it's not part of the job.

MOSBACHER: But of course it's part of the job, Larry. It's part of the job...

KING: It is part of the...

MOSBACHER: It's part of the job for the vice president to make sure that the president's agenda gets through Congress.


MOSBACHER: That is a very important part of the job.

KING: OK. I thought what -- the question was asked sort of constitutionally, don't you think -- what's the role of a vice president?

MOSBACHER: Well, I -- maybe if a third grader was asking it constitutionally, then I...

KING: No, she was asking...

MOSBACHER: ...that she should have quoted the constitution to her.

MILLER: She was talking to a reporter. She was talking to a reporter, Georgette. She wasn't talking to a third grader when she gave that answer.

MOSBACHER: Oh, I'm sorry. I misunderstood that.

KING: All right.

Blog with "LARRY KING LIVE."

Have you got a question for our guests?

Go to CNN/larryking right now and weigh in. More politics after the break.


KING: We're back with Georgette, Ana Marie and Stephanie.

Sarah Palin continues to draw huge crowds and to play the campaign attack dog with relish.

Watch her on the stump today in the battleground state of Ohio.



PALIN: It is not mean-spirited, it is not negative campaigning to call someone out on their record and their plans and their associations. It's in fairness to you.


PALIN: It's not negative. It is in fairness to the electorate. And you have to really listen to our opponent's words. You have to hear what he is saying, because he's hiding his real agenda of redistributing your hard-earned money.


KING: All right, Ana Marie Cox, is that fair game?

COX: Well, it's certainly fair game to call people's, you know, tax policy into question and to criticize it. However, to call it socialism is probably a little bit of a flashback for a lot of people, and not entirely fair.

John McCain also wants to provide tax cuts to some people and even tax credits, which he has now taken to calling welfare, which I think would be news for a lot of people on the Republican side who support tax credits.

KING: Isn't a graduated income tax, Stephanie, a redistribution of wealth?

MILLER: Well, yes, Larry. And as Barack Obama pointed out today, I guess John McCain was a socialist back in 2000. And I think, by the latest poll I saw, the American people prefer Barack Obama's tax policies about 20 or 30 points more than John McCain's. So I guess we're all socialists now.

KING: All right, Georgette, what's going to happen in 13 days?

How do you read the tea leaves?

MOSBACHER: Well, I wish I had a crystal ball. But I don't, Larry. However, I do think that this is going to be a very close race. And when you think about it, it should have been a cakewalk for the Democrats this year.

I do think we've got a real race on our hands. And I actually think there could be an upset. And maybe that's wishful thinking on my part, but it will be a very close race.

KING: Ana, how do you see it, Ana Marie?

COX: Oh, I think it's going to be quite close, too. And I just want to give Georgette maybe a little support here, because we have kind of been ganging up on Sarah Palin. But it's true that she's getting a lot more scrutiny and sort of been the butt of a lot more jokes than Joe Biden, who has been able to create almost a gaffe a day, if not more.

Just the other day, he was joking with a crowd in Ohio about having been arrested for entering the dorm room of two female coeds, which I kind of hesitate to think what would happen if John McCain or Barack Obama, for that matter...

MOSBACHER: Absolutely.

COX: ...would have made that same joke.

So, I mean, I think that we in the media do need to just be a little more careful about making sure we turn, even if it's just a comedic spotlight, on the rest of the ticket on the other side. I mean, and just as someone who enjoys a good laugh every once in a while, like I think Joe Biden needs his fair share.

MILLER: Well, all I can say, Larry, is when I was leaving the Republican Convention in Minneapolis, the Victor the victory elephant that they were trying to sell, it was in the half price bin at the Minneapolis airport. And I know that I've been selling, Larry, the landslide lizard t-shirts like crazy on So...

KING: Larry the landslide lizard?

MILLER: Larry the landslide lizard is selling much better. It's just my take.

KING: Do you think...

COX: Is that -- are you saying anything about our host, Stephanie?


KING: Right. Yes.

MOSBACHER: Stephanie, you're getting in a plug for your...

MILLER: Not that Larry.


MOSBACHER: You should be a Republican, Stephanie. I mean, that's -- that's free market to get a plug for what you're selling on your dot-com.



MILLER: Thank you, Georgette.

KING: Do you think all of this has kind of gotten away -- gotten away from issues?

Have we gotten away, really, from -- when was the last time education was mentioned by a candidate?

MILLER: Well, exactly, Larry. I mean that's the thing is what I liked about this new, you know, the latest poll is, you know, Barack Obama is ahead on every issue. So Americans are paying attention. They like his health care plan better by about 40 points. They like his tax plan better by 20 to 30 points. They like his economic policy better. So people are paying attention. And they're not paying attention to these scurrilous attacks.

KING: Thanks, Georgette Mosbacher, Ana Marie Cox, Stephanie Miller.

When we come back, Matthew Dowd will be with us. He was chief strategist for Bush-Cheney in 2004.

Don't go away.


KING: Joining us now, Matthew Dowd. He was chief strategist for Bush-Cheney 2004, his reelection campaign. He's not endorsed a candidate. He's been harshly critical of McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as vice president, saying it put the country at risk.

And in Austin, Karen Hughes, former counselor to President George W. Bush, a supporter of John McCain.

A questioner from our blog at John writes: "It's been revealed that the RNC has spent more than $150,000 on Governor Palin's so-called campaign accessories. But is it possible the money from the Democratic Party was also spent on Michelle Obama?"


MATTHEW DOWD, CHIEF STRATEGIST, BUSH-CHENEY 2004: Well, you have no idea unless somebody goes through the expenditure reports what they spend it on. But this is one of those things in politics you've got to deal with. It's a shortcut way to say who somebody is. And it's not a good thing for Sarah Palin or John McCain to be talking about how much money got spent in the RNC for expensive clothes. It's just not a good thing to be talking about in the last 13 days.

KING: What do you think, Karen? KAREN HUGHES, FORMER COUNSELOR, PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, Larry, I was kind of hoping I might get a similar clothing allowance to appear on your show. But I think that, you know, the political parties have wide latitude on how they spend their funds. And so whether they spend them on confetti or balloon drops or entertainment or those annoying phone calls that we all get, maybe we should all be grateful that they're spending it on clothes instead of more of those annoying phone calls.

I think this is the kind of issue that's entertaining for a day and we quickly move on.

KING: But if that day is with 13 days to go, Matthew, isn't that telling us about we're kind of drifting away from what's reality?

DOWD: Well, I think the problem for John McCain is, is since he's behind -- and fairly significantly behind in this race at this point, and a fairly solid lead that Barack Obama has, every day that's burned up not talking about something that he has an advantage on and talking about something he'd rather not be dealing with. And most of the days he's spent now for the last week have been trying to defend the Sarah Palin choice. And usually with a vice president, they're usually a positive that goes -- that can go out there and campaign. That's a problem for McCain.

KING: All right, you were a strategist -- and are a strategist.

Where would you take him now?

If they called you in, what would you say to do?

DOWD: I would tell John McCain to go back to what he did in 2000 and campaign in a way -- in a much more positive way and basically say I want to bring the country together. I want to bring some common bonds in the country, call for shared sacrifice, get off all this Bill Ayers stuff, get off the socialism stuff. And basically take John McCain and make him like he was and let him be what he was in 2000. That's how I'd finish this race up.

It may not let him win, but at least he'd finish the race in a way that he could be proud of.

KING: We'll be back with Dowd and Hughes, right after the break.


KING: We're back with Matthew Dowd and Karen Hughes.

All right, Matthew, you're -- well, let me ask Karen. Matthew is obviously disappointed in the way the ticket has run.

Are you?

HUGHES: Well, Larry, I think that I'm seeing Senator McCain begin to hit home with some of the discussions. Some of us have been frustrated that he hasn't talked about things like the fact that Senator Obama's plan to -- what he calls a tax cut is really a tax increase for a lot of people who pay taxes to send the money to people who don't pay taxes. And that's fundamentally unfair.

We're all for -- we have a progressive tax rate and we -- I agree that people who make more money, as they do under the current tax code, should pay a little more. But the income taxes are really to pay for the functions of our government -- for our common defense, for our homeland security, not to raise one person's taxes and send it to somebody else who doesn't pay taxes. There's no...

KING: So has he gotten to that strategy late?

HUGHES: I think he's beginning to talk about those kind of issues now. And I'd like to see him do more of that. I'd also like to see him do more, Larry, talking about what it would be like to have the least popular institution -- political institution in America right now, the Democratic Congress, totally enthusiastic and unchecked to pursue their agenda under a Democratic president.

KING: Would that...

HUGHES: And I think he ought to talk about that in the final weeks of this campaign.

KING: Would that work, Matthew?

DOWD: I don't think so, because the problem is, is that though the Congress is unpopular, right now, in every single poll, people want more Democrats in there than Republicans in there. And the Republican brand right now is just about shattered.

If you look at all the favorability ratings, what people think about it, there's no -- they don't see there's any real leader. They don't really know what the Republican Party stands for anymore because of the growth of government over the last eight years and an interventionist foreign policy.

Nobody really has a sense of what the Republican Party is. They don't have a great sense of the Democrats, so they think Obama represents them. I don't think he can do it. I don't think this tax discussion works anymore. It's like a throwback to 10, 15, 20 years ago.

I think McCain is in a difficult place because what he says and what he does doesn't feel authentic. And I go back -- I think the Palin pick fundamentally changed John McCain's entire strategy. He was going to make a ready versus not ready argument against Barack Obama. When he picked Palin, he lacked any credibility to make that argument.

HUGHES: Well, but Matthew, I think that Joe Biden's comments the other day raised the -- they opened the door to -- for that discussion again. He basically says -- he predicted that there's going to be another attack on our country because his presidential candidate, Barack Obama, is so untested and so inexperienced, because he doesn't have that kind of national security experience or decision-making experience that you have, you know, in... (CROSSTALK)

HUGHES: ...that comes with executive decision-making experience.

KING: Karen, was that...

HUGHES: So I think Joe Biden actually opened the door.

KING: Is that his reason?

Did he say that we're going to have an attack because we're untested?

Did he say that?

HUGHES: He basically said that he thought that a foreign country would attack to because of...

KING: He didn't say attack, did he?

HUGHES: I'm not sure of the exact quote, but the implication was -- and I was in Washington, Larry...

KING: He didn't (INAUDIBLE).

HUGHES: ...and journalists were laughing, basically, about, you know, he's made some significant gaffes. And this was a significant gaffe. And it did open the door to a national security discussion.

DOWD: But the problem...

KING: All right, why...

DOWD: The problem with that argument now is that that is premised on the fact that the American public thinks and trusts John McCain more in a time of a crisis than Barack Obama. The problem is they trust Barack Obama more now in a time of a crisis then John McCain. On every -- almost every single value standard -- strong leader, time of a crisis, ready to be -- President Barack Obama has at least a small, if not a significant, advantage on those.

And John McCain is in a very difficult spot about where he goes in the race. That's why I fundamentally believe the way for him to finish is preserve his brand that he started back when he was in senator and in 2000, preserve his brand. And if he loses with that, at least he's retained that brand that he had.

KING: Why haven't you endorsed?

DOWD: Well, I had, obviously -- are you're probably aware -- I had a fairly significant break with the president in 2007 over a number of issues -- the war and not, you know, sort of bringing the country together. I do sort of commentary. I feel it's inappropriate for me to sort of do that. I'm not a member of either political party, Democrats or Republicans. I work for Democrats. I've done work for Republicans. And so for me, it's I feel like I can just sort of say what I feel and sort of say what I think is going on without any sort of being attributed to, you know, a candidate.

KING: Karen, can you agree that some aspects of the McCain campaign have been run poorly?

HUGHES: Well, you know, Larry, I made a pledge. I used to -- when I worked on President Bush's campaign and I woke up and I read in the newspaper in the morning, you know, Republicans grumbling about the Bush campaign, it was really demoralizing. And I made a pledge to myself that I wasn't going to do that to somebody else.

Obviously, there can be lots of Monday morning quarterbacking about how the campaign was run. And we'll look at all that after the election is over. But I'm not going to do that to somebody who -- I think his people are well-intentioned. They're trying to do a good job. They're operating in a very, very difficult environment for Republicans. And, frankly, I think any other Republican, the race might not be close.

DOWD: And, Larry, I agree with Karen about that. I think so much -- both when somebody wins, they attribute way too much success to the people around, that if they somehow did it, that these people were in charge, they were the consultants, they did it and they won the campaign. And the people that lost, they say well, they lost the campaign.

Fundamentally, campaigns are about the candidates. And if John McCain loses, it's because Barack Obama was a better candidate in a better environment for him than him. It's not because of who was the campaign manager or who was the right consultant. Campaigns are reflections of the candidates.

KING: Does the vice presidential candidate matter?

DOWD: Normally, vice presidential candidates they don't matter. I worked for Senator Benson. He got picked by Dukakis. I worked for that. He, you know, obviously he was a great pick. They ended up losing.

I think in this case, it has become a negative drag on the ticket because the majority of this country now believes -- which is unusual for a vice presidential candidate -- that she is unqualified to be president. That's the majority of the country.

And I think when John McCain was trying to present an argument that Barack Obama was inexperienced or not ready, he picked Sarah Palin and then Sarah Palin shows that she is unqualified or the American public believes she is unqualified.

I think for swing voters, it's hurt him.

KING: All right. Karen will be with us the rest of the show in a panel.

So before you leave us, Matthew, do you have a prediction on the race?

DOWD: Yes, absent a huge gaffe by Barack Obama, he will win this race. And I think it will be a fairly early election night. I think it will be before the sort of the night goes far too dark.

KING: It won't be 3:00 in the morning?

DOWD: No. It will be midnight by the West Coast.

KING: Because of the East Coast states or...

DOWD: Yes. When Virginia comes in, which Barack Obama is ahead in now, and he wins that, and if North Carolina is too close to call, which is what it is, basically what you're going to see is a map colored very blue.

KING: Thanks, as always.

DOWD: Great to be here.

KING: Matthew Dowd.

Karen Hughes remains with us and we're just getting started.

More after the break.



OBAMA: John McCain likes to talk about "Joe the Plumber."



MCCAIN: Joe and guys like him will earn the wealth. Barack and politicians like him will spread it.



OBAMA: But he's in cahoots with Joe the CEO.



SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it's a duck. John McCain's walking and talking and quacking like George Bush.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PALIN: The looming crisis that most worries the Obama campaign right now has got to be Joe Biden's next speaking engagement.



KING: Now, let's meet our panel. Karen Hughes remains, the former counselor to President Bush. She served as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs.

In Washington is Congressman Robert Wexler, Democrat of Florida, a supporter of Barack Obama.

In Pittsburgh, old friend Lynn Swann, the former NFL superstar, ABC sports broadcaster. He was the 2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania. He lost to incumbent Ed Rendell. He's a supporter of John McCain. And here in Los Angeles, Joan Walsh, editor in chief of, a supporter of Barack Obama.

Just to get it straight on what Biden's quote was, what he exactly said was, "we're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States. Remember, I said it standing here, if you don't remember anything else, watch, we're going to have an international crisis, a generated crisis to test the meddle of this guy." Didn't all elected presidents, Karen, have generated crises?

HUGHES: I think certainly the current president had one on 9/11. I don't quite understand what Biden was thinking bringing up inexperience --

KING: He didn't say inexperience.

HUGHES: But that's what he's evoking. He's saying because he's inexperience, he's going to be tested. He didn't say John McCain was going to be tested.

KING: All he said was we're going to have an international crisis to test the mettle of this guy. That would apply to a 70 year old, wouldn't it?

HUGHES: That's the test. What you have in John McCain is someone who doesn't need to be tested. He's been tested. He's experienced. He's had to make tough decisions. He's had to make decisions involving his own life and the lives of other people. That's fundamentally I think still a question that the people of the United States have about Senator Obama.

KING: Joan?

JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: I don't agree. I don't think that's what Joe Biden was saying at all. I think whoever gets in there will be tested. It's a test to be president. It's a different experience to be president. I think Karen is really going out on a limb to insinuate that somehow Biden was saying his own candidate wasn't qualified, and that's why he would be tested. It's just not there, Karen.

KING: Lynn Swan -- I want to move through a lot of bases. Go ahead, Karen. Close it out.

HUGHES: Senator Obama himself -- I don't know the exact words he used, and I don't want to misquote him, but he sort of chastised, gently, Joe Biden today for saying that.

KING: OK, Lynn Swann, one of the most important questions of the minute is what is going to happen in Pennsylvania?

LYNN SWANN, FMR. REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think it's going to be a much closer race than the polls seem to indicate. Pennsylvania is a very solid state. I think they're going to listen to the message. And I don't think they'll forget some of the messages they heard early on. Certainly, in Pennsylvania, people still remember the fact that Senator Obama talked about the fact that people in Pennsylvania, in times, are depressed and cling to their guns and to their religion and their faith in a manner they did not appreciate. Those are things they will not forget because it strikes at the core of a lot of the voters here in the commonwealth.

KING: Congressman Wexler, what is Florida saying?

REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: I was privileged to travel with Senator Obama throughout south Florida yesterday, and the response was really quite extraordinary, in terms of Senator Obama's plan to help middle-class families, jobs programs for the 21st century. Florida has a much higher home owner crisis, in terms of foreclosure, than the rest of the country. He addressed that dead on.

But also the issue of Social Security is very important in Florida. And the contrast is significant. Senator McCain supports a privatization plan, which would play the stock market into Social Security, which is very frowned upon in Florida. And Senator Obama has a much more realistic, sober plan to improve Social Security's financial standing.

Then you add in the insurance catastrophic fund for hurricanes that Senator Obama supports, but Senator McCain opposes. Senator Obama has a very strong case to make in Florida.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll come back with this outstanding panel on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. By the way, tomorrow night, Scott McClellan, the former press secretary to George Bush, exclusively on this program will announce his endorsement for the presidency. Also here tomorrow, Michael Moore. We'll be right back.


KING: We're back. In endorsing Barack Obama, Colin Powell was sharply critical of John McCain. McCain addressed the general's remarks on CNN earlier. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: I respect General Powell, but I respectfully disagree. I especially disagree when he said the comments he made about Governor Palin, the most popular governor in America, governor, knows energy issues, 40 billion dollar pipeline, reformer, took on the governor of her own party. And I hope that sometime General Powell will take time out of his busy schedule to meet with her. I know she would be pleased to meet with him.


KING: Karen Hughes, I don't want to be picky, but she's the most popular governor in America?

HUGHES: I think the most recent survey showed she had an 80 percent approval rating, Larry, which is very hard to achieve. You know, there's been a lot made out of Colin Powell's endorsement. And I think it may be a factor, and some people may consider it as one of many factors. But I really think that, by and large, people's choice for president is a personal decision. It involves things like who they trust, who they like, who they believe will be honest with them, who they think is best for the security of their family, or who has a plan to help them stay in their homes, as Senator McCain does for all those people in Florida facing home foreclosures.

So I really think that fundamentally, endorsements may make a lot of news attention, and they may be a factor for some people. But particularly since it happened so late in this campaign, and as the polls were already going for Senator Obama, I don't think it's going to be a big factor in many people's decisions.

KING: Karen, do you think if Powell had endorsed McCain, that answer would have been different?

WALSH: I think Karen's answer would have been different had he endorsed McCain. I think it would have meant a whole lot more in Karen's mind.

KING: But on her point, though, do endorsements really matter?

WALSH: I think this one does, Larry. I think this one really inoculates Barack Obama against charges that he's not ready, that militarily there's anything questionable about him. I think it really was a thorough going endorsement of his foreign policy, his domestic policy, and also -- we use this word a lot, it's becoming a cliche -- but his temperament, that he's intellectually curious. He's the kind of person that people turn to in a crisis.

I do agree with Karen that people are making this judgment in a very personal way. They're scared. They're worried. But I think that it's Barack Obama who is coming across, paradoxically, as the more known, reliable quantity.

KING: Lynn Swann, did that endorsement impress you?

SWANN: No, it didn't. I think, Larry, one of the key things people failed to grasp or catch in this process was that just before the Democratic National Committee, it was leaked or reported that Colin Powell was going to endorse Barack Obama. Colin Powell is a very bright man. I consider him a friend. I don't think in the last two years, when people have been campaigning for the office of president of the United States, he necessarily needed four, five more months or weeks to figure out who he might vote for, who he might support.

But I think in a calculated campaign, he chose a very good moment to come out and make his endorsement, a nice quiet half hour or so on "Meet the Press" with Tom Brokaw, and a chance to speak eloquently and Tom wasn't the matter, and there weren't three or four people you had to share the time with. And he could make long, very good, calculating --

KING: So what was wrong with it?

SWANN: There's nothing wrong with it. But I think it was just part of the campaign, trying to win the race. I think he makes that same comment, endorses Barack Obama during the Democratic committee, it gets lost in --

KING: Convention.

SWANN: Convention, excuse me. It gets lost in all the hoopla around the convention and then spikes up and goes away. I think it was placed here at this particular time to hopefully have an impact. At the end of the day, it comes down to very basic things. And John McCain just has a great deal more experience to bring into this job than anyone else.

KING: We'll pick up after the break with Congressman Wexler and more of our panel after this. We're back in 60 seconds with a little dancing.


KING: Barack Obama was a guest on "Ellen" today. Let's watch as they discuss a very serious political issue we have all thought about, dancing.


ELLEN DEGENERES, "ELLEN": Listen, senator, let's talk about dancing. Michelle was on the show and she was talking some smack about your moves.

OBAMA: I noticed that.

DEGENERES: You have 20 section to respond to this clip.


OBAMA: I don't think -- now, let me tell you that Michelle may be a better dancer than me, but I'm convinced I'm a better dancer than John McCain.


KING: All right, Congressman Wexler, is this relevant? Maybe it is, is it?

WEXLER: Well, no, I don't think the capability of either gentleman's dancing is relevant. But if I could get back to General Powell's comments, think of what the next president will face, a war in Iraq, a war in Afghanistan, Pakistan in a very tenuous situation, Iran on the brink of a nuclear program that threatens us, as well as our ally, Israel, six-party talks in North Korea. And General Powell, a respected, admired figure in the Republican foreign policy and military establishment, said with these threats at hand, Senator Obama is the proper choice for president of the United States. That is a compelling statement by a compelling figure, as to what independent voters or those that might be unsure will look to. That's why it's such an important statement at this time.

KING: Well said. Thank you, congressman. More politics after this short break. Don't forget to go to our blog,, for your comments and even some of mine. We'll come back with questions for Karen Hughes and the others after this.


KING: Karen Hughes wanted to bring up a topic we humbly have not discussed on this program and I don't see it discussed anywhere. That's the fund-raising.

HUGHES: I thought it was one of the biggest stories of the day, frankly. I think we've been misled a little bit by Barack Obama's campaign. We keep hearing that he's raising all this money, small donations over the Internet. Yes, he has done that. But the "Washington Post" did an analysis today and showed that three fourths, 75 percent of the about 600 million dollars -- that's a whopping amount that he has raised -- three-fourths of it has come from large donations, not the small, little guy sending in ten or 25 dollars on the Internet.

And I frankly have been surprised all along that Senator Obama has not paid a bigger political price for reneging on his pledge to take public funding in the campaign. I think this underscores the fact that big dollars are funding his campaign.

KING: How has he hidden that, Karen?

HUGHES: I didn't say hidden. What I said is that they have sort of been misleading us a little bit, because all they talk about is these small dollar donations coming in over the Internet, when actually, three fourths, 75 percent, of his campaign funding has been larger donations, including -- and they have had a separate committee for the Democratic National Committee, where people have given up to 66,000 dollars a person to fund his extensive grass roots get out the vote activity in states across the country.

This is not a campaign that is being bank rolled by the little guy. It's being bank rolled by big money, Hollywood, trial lawyers, lots of big interests.

KING: Joan Walsh, are you surprised?

WALSH: No, Larry, I'm not really surprised. I would disagree a little bit with Karen. I think it's a phenomenal story. But I don't think it's been ignored. I know at several during the primaries, people pointed to his success in raising money from Goldman Sachs and from large investment banks and things like that. Hillary Clinton supporters --

KING: But the general story has been small donations.

WALSH: The general story has been small donations, but most stories have had a footnote pointing to lawyers, corporate donations. So I don't feel like this has been hidden.

KING: You are not surprised.

WALSH: I'm not surprise. I did not think this was all mom and pop writing their five dollar checks.

KING: Lynn Swann, are you surprised?

SWANN: I'm not surprised. But just recently Senator Obama was talking out about Joe the plumber, that Senator John McCain doesn't McCain Joe the plumber. He's more interested in representing Joe the hedge fund guy. The reality is that Senator Obama has got more money from hedge fund managers and Wall Street than Senator McCain. It seems like he's made of teflon. When you ask him questions regarding these things, nothing seems to stick.

KING: Robert Wexler, what do you make of that?

WEXLER: Senator Obama's campaign, by a large factor, has received more contributions, yes, from small financial people all across the country. That is the enthusiasm regarding the Obama campaign. People sending in 10 dollars, 25 dollars on the Internet, a lot of people who have never given to political campaigns before.

What Senator Obama is talking about in the context of Joe the plumber is look at the economic plans of Barack Obama and John McCain. Barack Obama's entire tax strategy is to go from the bottom up. If you make less than 250,000 dollars, you benefit from Barack Obama's plan. If you make a great deal of money, if you are a fortune CEO executive, you will average a 700,000 dollar tax reduction under John McCain's plan.

These are the things that matter to Americans. It is clear, just like it was during the first debate when Barack kept talking about middle class families and John McCain failed to mention them even once.

KING: We'll take a break and come back and we'll play a little clip about Joe the plumber and get the thoughts of the panel after this.


MCCAIN: Joe's dream is to own a small business that will create jobs. The attacks on him are an attack on small businesses all over this nation.

OBAMA: Let's be clear who senator McCain's fighting for. He's not fighting for Joe the plumber. He's fighting for Joe the hedge fund manager.



JIMMY KIMMEL, TV HOST: Hi. I'm Jimmy Kimmel. You know it's very, very important to vote for "Dancing With The Stars" mostly, but also the president of the United States. So go ahead and do that.


KING: Thank you, Jimmy. Go vote. That is our campaign here on LARRY KING LIVE. We have a blog from Marvin, "I'm wondering why there is so little media coverage over the fact that Todd Palin was part of the Alaska Independence Party until 2002, when Governor Palin ran for lieutenant governor." That is that party that wanted to secede. Is that still an issue, Karen?

HUGHES: Larry, I frankly don't know. It is something I have read in a couple of clips. But I don't know much about it. We haven't heard much coverage of either of the spouses of the vice presidential candidates. Jill Biden hasn't been extensively covered either.

WALSH: We covered it. You can read about it on Salon.

KING: Espagnola, New Mexico, we grab a call.

CALLER: Hi, yes, Larry. I was wondering, with all the new voters that have entered the rolls, how you can still forecast the southern states to remain red and not turn blue.

KING: Lynn, is there any way to tell when so many thousands of voters are brand new?

SWANN: I don't know at this point. Certainly, you see folks out there trying to register more voters, and I don't know that there is a formula to be able to calculate that number. Certainly, part of it is just to get those registered and have been registered out to the polls to vote.

KING: A lot of new voters in Florida, Mr. Wexler?

WEXLER: There are. There is a very significant --

KING: How do we know how they are going to vote?

WEXLER: You don't know how anyone is going to vote. But there is a significant trend in the registration, which is that the new registrants have overwhelmingly registered, identified themselves as Democrats. And that, of course, is a very significant advantage for the Democratic party. That shows the emotion, the passion, the thrill about the Obama/Biden ticket. In a close race, that could be determinative.

KING: Does that worry you, Karen, if the turnout is huge?

HUGHES: Larry, I want everyone to vote. As someone who spent a lot of my life in this process, I celebrate our democracy, and I want everyone to vote, regardless of who that means wins. In some states, you do register by party, and therefore you can tell. I think the Democrats did do a good job of registering voters. It appears they are doing a good job of turning out their voters in many states to vote early.

Again, the question is does that mean they are coming to vote early and then Republicans will end up voting -- traditionally Republicans have had an advantage in early voting. That may not be the case this year. But what I would hope is that all of these signs -- the Democrats are very well organized. They are enthusiastic. They're going to be getting their vote out. I think what that says to Republicans is if you are worried about your taxes, if you're worried about making your own health care choices, if you're worried and the security of your family in our country, then you better get excited and talk to your friends and neighbors and make sure you vote.

KING: Joan, is that right? The big turnout is a Democratic plus?

WALSH: I think it is a Democratic plus. In 2004, Karen's team had the X-factor, and it was an excellent get out the vote strategy, like we had never seen before. In 2008, I think that strategy is on the Democratic side and it is going to be a huge advantage.

KING: How big a turnout in Pennsylvania, Lynn?

SWANN: I think it will be significant turnout, weather providing, as we get into our fall and a little bit cooler weather. I think the turnout will be very strong. I think people in Pennsylvania are looking for change and I think they will hopefully feel that John McCain represents the right kind of change for America moving forward.

KING: How about Florida, Bob?

WEXLER: There's going to be an enormous turnout. I would agree with Karen Hughes. I hope everybody votes. I was in the Palm Beach County supervisor of elections office last week, and they estimate that 40 percent of the voters will actually either vote early or absentee ballot. That seems to be a pattern that is replicating itself throughout Florida.

As we speak, people are voting and probably determining the next president of the United States in Florida.

KING: That is really catching on, isn't it, that early vote? WEXLER: It is. People recognize the fact that by going early, hopefully they will avoid the long lines on election day, although the lines have been a bit too long thus far. I think people are so excited. That's, in essence, what is happening. People camped out the night before early voting started all night so they could be one of the first voters. That shows you the enthusiasm.

KING: One of the problem is not all the precincts are open, so that creates a lot of long lines. Thank you, Karen Hughes, Robert Wexler, Lynn Swann and Joan Walsh. Take part in our show as it airs by clicking on our blog at While your there, cast your ballot or take our nightly quick vote. Check out our commentaries, guest list and picture gallery. My World Series prediction is on our webpage too, although it's a little shaky tonight. Michael Moore is here tomorrow, plus former Press Secretary for President George Bush Scott McClellan will join us. And he will announce his presidential endorsement exclusively on LARRY KING LIVE.

Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?