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Is Sarah Palin Off Script?; Can McCain-Palin Ticket Win?

Aired October 27, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Sarah Palin a diva pulling a maverick on John McCain, off script for the sake of her own agenda.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm back to wearing my own clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska.


KING: Plus...


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: We are one week away from changing America.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: With eight days to go, we're a few points down.


KING: The final act has everybody pulling out all the stops.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he intends to spread the wealth around?





KING: Tensions and stakes are high with eight days to go.

It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. "Team Sarah" held what was billed as The Million Woman Townhall this weekend. The three hour teleconference featured a panel of women talking about Sarah Palin's political attributes, answering callers questions. Indeed, First Lady Laura Bush phoned in.

Our guests were part of this event.

And they are Kellyanne Conway. She's in New York -- the Republican strategist and pollster, president and CEO of the polling company.

In Dallas, Texas, Janine Turner, actress appearing in NBC's "Friday Night Lights," and author of "Holding Her Head High: Inspiration from 12 Single Mothers."

And in Washington, Barbara Comstock, the Republican strategist, top adviser to the Mitt Romney presidential campaign.

Kellyanne, why "Team Sarah?"

Why not "Team McCain?"


Well, we already had that. "Team Sarah" was inspired, really, by Jane Abraham and Margerie Dannenfelser four or six short weeks ago. And it really was a way to galvanize so many American women who are showing up at these rallies for Sarah Palin.

You know, for all the criticism she gets for those -- from those covering the campaign, Larry, you've got 10,000, 20,000 people pushing wheelchairs, pushing strollers just to see her. They're not there to mock her. They're fascinated with her flurry into American politics.

Plus, we've really felt like these women were looking for serious answers to policy questions. Most of the questions we fielded for three hours on Saturday had to do with health care, education, tax policy, entrepreneurship and energy independence.

KING: Janine, you obviously feel she's a plus.

JANINE TURNER, ACTRESS, "TEAM SARAH," SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Oh, absolutely. I think she's refreshing and she's energized the party. And when I -- I was driving down to Austin when I heard that she was nom -- you know, that McCain brought her on board. And I just cried. I was so excited that there was now our first female candidate for vice presidency and now our nominee.

And it's -- I think she's just a breath of fresh air. She's honest and forthright and intelligent and has integrity. And people love her. I mean when you listen, when they're there, she just has a way of it. She's kind of a shot in the arm. She gets everybody motivated.

KING: Barbara, on the campaign trail this weekend, "The View's" Elisabeth Hasselbeck pushed back against the controversy over Sarah's pricey wardrobe and the candidate went off script and talked about the issue, too.



ELISABETH HASSELBECK, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Instead of the issues, they are focused -- fixated on her wardrobe.


HASSELBECK: Yes. Now with everything going on in the world, it seems a bit odd. But let me tell you, this is deliberately sexist.

PALIN: Those clothes, they are not my property, just like the lighting and the staging and everything else that the RNC purchased. I'm not taking them with me. I'm back to wearing my own clothes from my favorite consignment shop in Anchorage, Alaska.


PALIN: And my wedding ring, it's in Todd's pocket because it hurts sometimes when I shake hands and it gets squished -- a $35 wedding ring from Hawaii that I bought myself.


KING: It sounds like Nixon's cloth coat.

Barbara, are they getting off message here if we're talking -- if you need health care and the like in Iraq and you're talking about clothing?

BARBARA COMSTOCK, "TEAM SARAH," SUPPORTS MCCAIN: Well, listen, I think the point they were making was let's get to talk about the issues. And as Kellyanne said, when we had our Million Women Call on Saturday, it was to talk about the McCain and Palin agenda. It was a lot of these kitchen table issues tax issues. Tax issues were very big on their agenda. They were very concerned about Barack Obama's interest in spreading the wealth.

And you've seen it again today and they keep reinforcing it. And they were concerned when Joe Biden tells them it's patriotic to raise their taxes. So that was a big concern of theirs.

And then national security was a very big concern that came up again and again, because, you know, as Joe Biden warned us, you know, gird your loins. They're going to, you know, test this guy, Barack Obama, because he's young and inexperienced, and there's going to be a crisis in the first year. And that genuinely scared a lot of people.

So they're girding their loins, as Joe Biden warned them, but they're also guarding their wallets. And whether it's a small business woman or, you know, families who are concerned that, you know, you're going to get rid of it -- you know, the marriage penalty is one of these tax credits we have right now...

KING: Yes...

COMSTOCK: ...and, you know, he wants to get rid of the current tax cuts. And so we're going to be -- families are really going to be hurting. And they -- they understand that they're going to be the ones, when they need to spread the wealth around, you know, we're where the money is.

KING: All right -- Kelly...

COMSTOCK: Like Lily Sutton where the banks are...

KING: Kellyanne...

COMSTOCK: ...Barack Obama is hitting families.

KING: All right, hold it, Barbara.

OK. Kellyanne, if everything Barbara says is true, why aren't you 10 points ahead?

CONWAY: Good lord, I don't know if a Republican ever would have been 10 points ahead this year, Larry. We've got a United States Senate...

KING: Why not?

CONWAY: Because you've got a United States senator convicted today of corruption. I mean and whose idea it was to keep him on the ballot. We have an unpopular war, an unpopular president.

You've got a -- Barack Obama, it's reported, spent over $100 million in two weeks in October trying to convince people to vote for him. And he's only in the early -- maybe at 50 percent or there above.

So the question really is why isn't the Democrat running this year with the wind at their back, as he likes to say, at 56 or 60 percent?

And, look, here's the thing, I think in some of these swing states where both campaigns are making a last minute push and really focusing on economic issues and showing a great deal of contrast -- so if you're an undecided voter, all you need to do is listen to Obama -- redistributing the wealth. You need to listen to McCain on his tax policy plan. You have a contrast and you can make your decision.


Kellyanne is going to stay with us.

So will Janine.

We thank Barbara for coming by.

We'll come back with another panel and lots more to go.

Go to our blog, by the way, right now -- Tell us what you think about the show and about our guests and any questions you want.

Next, more on Sarah Palin.

Does she have her own agenda?

It's being brought up today.

Don't go away.


KING: Kellyanne Conway and Janine Turner remain.

We're joined by Stephanie Miller, the talk radio host.

And Julie Menin, board member of The Women's Campaign Forum.

However, we're going to spend the first few moments in this segment with our own John King, CNN's chief national correspondent, who we congratulate. He broke this whole story this weekend about the tension going on between the Palin camp and the McCain camp.

What is the story -- John?

What's happening?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, some other news organizations were involved, as well. Let me say that first and foremost.

What's happening is that you have tensions in a campaign, which are not unusual. What is remarkable is the language being used here -- words like diva.

Now, part of that is that you have the first female candidate for vice president and a male used that word to describe Sarah Palin. That is part of the controversy.

We do have, from sources very close to her, accounts saying she feels that this whole rollout of her was botched at the beginning. They essentially handed her books and said memorize these books, there's a quiz in the morning. And she did not do so well in the interviews.

And she is concerned about her own image and, of course, about her own future.

At the same time, the McCain aides are saying this isn't about your image and about your future, it's about an election now eight or almost seven days away.

So there is tension, Larry. And we've seen this since the beginning of time.

My first campaign was the Bentsen/Dukakis campaign. The Texans with Lloyd Bentsen thought the Massachusetts people were nuts, frankly. And this has gone on and on and on in every cycle.

But it is remarkable and it is hurtful that it is spilling out so close to the election. And remember what you were just talking about with the first panel. Sarah Palin is a fascinating, compelling figure who is helping McCain with the base, without a doubt; also, hurting the ticket with some constituencies, without a doubt.

And we won't know until election day, whether that is a wash or whether it's a net gain or a net minus.

KING: All right.

We'll be checking back with you in a couple of minutes.

John King, CNN's chief national correspondent, in San Francisco.

A new member of the panel, Julie Menin.

What do you make of this controversy?

JULIE MENIN, DNC WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP FORUM, SUPPORTS OBAMA: (INAUDIBLE) just saying that they're calling her a diva. If anything, I would say that she was actually overly submissive by allowing herself to be handled in this way.

If she would have gone out from the start and said, listen, I'm a hockey mom, I'm folksy, this is who I am. But now there are these inconsistencies, that she allowed the RNC to spend $2,500 a day on clothing or that she allowed herself to be sequestered from a lot of press interviews.

I think she's really taking a hit in terms of her overall reputation and that's something that she's thinking about. She's obviously thinking about 2012 and what she can do to get back to who she is as a person.

KING: Yes.

Stephanie, what do you make of it?

STEPHANIE MILLER, TALK RADIO HOST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: Oh, Larry, to be a fly on the wall in these "My Fair Lady" sessions, where they're putting the book on her head and going no, that's not what a vice president does...

KING: No, but does she have -- does she...

MILLER: No, that's not the Bush Doctrine.

KING: Does she have a point?

MILLER: You know what, anyone that allows themselves to be dressed in $150,000 worth of clothes to go out on the campaign trail and call Barack Obama an elitist is not very bright.

KING: Bob Dole told me that every candidate gets managed. They wouldn't let him, when he ran in '96, use humor. Don't use humor. And enough people said it to him, that you don't. So everybody has it happen to them.

MILLER: Yes, but...

KING: She really let it happen or it happened?

MILLER: You know, Larry, you got -- when you watch the Katie Couric and the Charles Gibson interviews, there is no amount of schooling that can fix that. She is -- the American people have judged her to be completely unqualified for this role and to be completely intellectually incapable of it.


KING: So, Janine, in a sense, does the McCain camp now know this?

TURNER: No, absolutely not. First of all, she doesn't wear $150,000 clothes in one sitting. She didn't know -- she didn't know the price of those clothes. She's returning -- they're going to be given back to charity.

She is a smart, intelligent woman. She's the governor of Alaska, which -- the State of Alaska has the fifth highest ranking -- they have the most power of the top five states in Alaska. She's had executive power. She's a smart, intelligent woman. She has not proved herself (INAUDIBLE)...

MENIN: But Janine...

TURNER: She's going to be...

MENIN: Janine...

TURNER: She's going to be the most popular Republican when this is all over.

MENIN: But Janine...

TURNER: People love her.

MENIN: But, Janine, let me just jump in here, because when you talk about Alaska, you have to point out the fact that Alaska is completely different than the rest of the country. First of all, there's no income tax. There's only one town over 100,000 people; two towns over 1,000 people...


TURNER: But she has more power...


TURNER: She has more power...

MENIN: It's not about power, it's about experience. TURNER: It is! It is about power.


TURNER: It is about power. It's about power and it's about executive decisions and it's about veto power. She's had more executive power than Barack Obama.


KING: Kellyanne, do you want to...

MENIN: You just absolutely can't say that.

CONWAY: Yes, you can. I mean under...

KING: Kellyanne, do you want to get in on this disruption in the campaign?

CONWAY: But under Julie's construct, Barack Obama has been the governor of what?

The back bench of the Illinois State Senate.

MENIN: He's had 12 years of experience...

CONWAY: Now you're insulting Alaska.


KING: One at a time...


KING: Ladies, one at a time.

One at a time.

CONWAY: First we're going to insult Sarah Palin. Now we're going to insult the whole state of Alaska. I mean you guys have got to find a narrative that you want to use against this woman.

First, the intellectual snobbery was that her husband doesn't have a college degree, she went to six schools in five years, she was a successful jock, but never a scholar.

Now it's that she somehow is part of the privileged elite?

You need to make up your mind about this woman, because let me tell you something

MENIN: But, you know, Kellyanne...

CONWAY: Excuse me. You all had your chance. Excuse me, because I'll try to make a little sense here.

This woman is so popular, people are showing up at her rallies 20,000 deep -- KING: Then why...

CONWAY: ...and not to knock her...

MILLER: But...

CONWAY: ...and wait a second. You find a woman in this country who doesn't feel like she's been put upon at some level. I think people are going to push back on all this assault on this woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I think women would have been...


KING: All right, Stephanie.

MILLER: Kellyanne, what are you referring to?

Every single poll shows the American people agrees with us that she's just not qualified.

CONWAY: Who are these American people?


MILLER: She is not qualified.


MILLER: She is not qualified.


MILLER: She's not intellectually capable.


MILLER: I mean, you know, who are you saying we're being -- who's being elitist?


KING: Wait a minute. Wait a minute...


MILLER: They're talking about the same thing.

CONWAY: Hey, let me tell you something...

MILLER: We are talking about the same thing Colin Powell said...

CONWAY: She certainly did (INAUDIBLE) 120 times.

MILLER: ...that she is completely incapable of this job.


KING: But Janine...


KING: Janine, if the...


KING: All right, girls, I'm going to have to take a break and come back.

TURNER: I heard my name. I heard my name.

KING: Please, when we come back -- all of you are going to come back. And we'll start with Janine when we come back. But we're going to spend a couple of minutes with John King. Back in 60 seconds. More on the Palin/McCain strain.

Don't go away.


KING: John King is back with more insight about what's really going on inside the McCain campaign.

How bad is it, John?

J. KING: Well, Larry, they understand the steepness of the hill in front of them. Heading into the last week of the election, they are behind in many of the states that George W. Bush won to become president. Those states include Florida. They include Ohio. They're tied in Missouri. McCain has to somehow try to win Pennsylvania, where he's down 10 or 12 points.

So when you are down like that, after investing so much time and so much energy in a campaign, guess what, tensions get frayed.

And the conversation you're having with the ladies reflects part of this campaign is also this remarkable woman, Sarah Palin. Love her or hate her, she is a remarkable, compelling character added to the scene, in which barriers are coming down in this election.

We may have an African-American president. Otherwise, if we don't have an African-American president, we will have the first female vice president.

It has been a fascinating election year. And the drama will go on for another week. It is not over. McCain is behind. Very hard for him to pull this up, but it is not over. And the tensions are fraying. And, yes, there are some people in the McCain campaign who say that Sarah Palin thinks it's over, or is beginning to think it's over, and she's worrying about 2012.

If McCain loses, Larry, we are going to have a fascinating drama after this election about what is the Republican Party, who leads the Republican Party, what is Sarah Palin's role in the Republican Party. There are some leading Republicans who are already thinking maybe we need a new party.

So this -- we have another week of this drama to go. And then when it is over, Larry, one way or the other, there are a lot of pieces of our political puzzle in this country that we're going to have to deal with.

KING: John King, one of the best observers, best correspondents ever.

Thank you, John.

J. KING: Thank you, Larry.

KING: We'll be calling on you, as usual.

John King, CNN's chief national correspondent. We call him on the money.

We'll be right back.



MCCAIN: We must win Ohio on November the 4th and with your help, we're going to win here. What America needs now is someone who will finish the race before starting the victory lap. Let's go win this election and get this country moving again.


OBAMA: We are one week away from changing America. We cannot let up for one day or one minute or one second in this last week. We will not just win Ohio, we will win this general election.


KING: Janine Turner, does John King's report about cleavage in the campaign that might lead to a new Republican Party bother you?

TURNER: Say that again?


KING: Does the cleavage that John King just reported...

TURNER: Right. Right.

KING: ...might even lead to separation of the Party, a different Republican Party, does that bother you?

TURNER: Well, I don't think there will be -- I don't think there will be another Republican Party. I think there will be a fresh face on the Republican Party and an energized base, because I think that there's a poison in Washington, D.C. right now. And I think that's partisan politics. And I think that the approval ratings are down so much -- 17 percent of Congress has an approval rating -- because this partisanship is killing America and its spirit.

And what I love about McCain-Palin is they're putting country first. And they both have stood up to other Republicans and reached across the aisle to make a difference for the country. And I just think we're all fed up with this division. And if we can unite, I think we have terrorism, we have the economy. Let's come together. Let's come together.

KING: Julie Menin, what do you...

And I think that...

KING: What do you make of what's happening?

MENIN: A couple of things. I don't see how we can unite when it is allowed that there's rhetoric inciting these kind of rallies that Sarah Palin does, talking about Bill Ayers, talking about Reverend Wright.

But the other point is really about the future of the Republican Party. And I do think that because McCain picked someone to the far right, it really did alienate Independents and moderate women. If he were to have picked someone like Kay Bailey Hutchison or Christie Todd Whitman or Susan Collins or even Condoleezza Rice, these are eminently qualified women that would have appealed to the more moderate wing of the party...


MENIN: ...and could have had an inclusive attempt, but they weren't selected because they're pro-choice.

KING: Kellyanne?

CONWAY: Well, that's why you want them. You want them to be selected because they're pro-choice.

Look, before Sarah Palin, the presumed litmus test for any woman in national politics was, number one, she had to be for abortion rights. We didn't care if she was married or had children or had cats or stood on her head in the corner as a hobby, as long as she was for abortion rights.

That's what bugs the heck out of so many of...

MENIN: No, but, you know what, Kellyanne...

CONWAY: That's what bugs so many of you in the chattering class, because this woman is pro-life. And not only does she talk about it...

MENIN: It's actually not...

CONWAY: ...she lives it. MENIN: It's not just because of the choice argument...

CONWAY: It is.

MENIN:'s because these women were eminently qualified and experienced (INAUDIBLE) in Washington.

CONWAY: But Sarah Palin, what, you know, listen...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's call her Governor Palin.

CONWAY: How are they qualified?

What do you know about them?


CONWAY: What do you know about them that they were qualified?

TURNER: She's Governor Palin. She is qualified.


KING: Ladies, one at a time.


KING: All right. Ladies, hold it.

CONWAY: Julie, she oversees an...

KING: Hold it.

CONWAY: $11 billion budget.


KING: All right.

All right.

MILLER: Kellyanne, can I jump in here?

Can I jump in here?


KING: Yes, you may.

MILLER: What is Sarah Palin basing a run in 2012 on...

CONWAY: I don't think she...

MILLER: ...the fact that the majority of Americans are completely terrified that she might be president this time.

CONWAY: Stephanie, where are these polling questions...

MILLER: Is that the...

CONWAY: I mean...


MILLER: Have you not looked at the polling?

She is a complete drag on the McCain ticket.

KING: Wait a minute, Kellyanne, you're...


MILLER: You are just terrified that she's not even qualified to be vice president.

KING: Kellyanne, you're in the polling business.

You don't believe in polls?

CONWAY: Of course I believe in polls.


CONWAY: But I don't know what she's talking about that most Americans, "the American people" say she's a total drag on the ticket.

KING: Well, who else do you poll?

CONWAY: I've never seen that (INAUDIBLE) question. Because that's what the pollsters...



TURNER: I think she should bring up things about...

KING: One at a time.


CONWAY: Listen...

KING: One at a time.

MENIN: She has the higher unfavorability rate. I mean that's really the problem, is her unfavorables are higher than her favorables. And that's what is...


MENIN: Because half the country is going to vote against...

MENIN: So that is -- that's a fact.

CONWAY: Listen, Julie, I've been in this business for 20 years. News flash -- half the country is going vote against one ticket or the other, but not 55, not 60 percent.

MENIN: But the total (INAUDIBLE) is that Sarah Palin is serving as a drag on the McCain


CONWAY: This is the problem with people reading (INAUDIBLE) not knowing anything about them.


KING: Well, you know I...

TURNER: May I talk now?

KING: Ladies, I can't understand either of you or any of you if you all talk at once.


KING: If you let one person finish and then I'll call who's on the next person -- who's the next to go.

And I believe it's Stephanie's turn.

MILLER: Kellyanne, I think we're just saying that in any poll you look at, Sarah Palin has been a drag on the McCain ticket. The American people do not think she is qualified to be...

CONWAY: That's just not true...

KING: Here you go again.

MILLER: ...either vice president or president. So, you know, I don't know what you're basing she's the new face of the Republican Party. In fact, I think that's a good idea. I think you should go with that. I think she should be the new face of the Republican Party.

CONWAY: Stephanie, I think you're a good example of how awful people are about this woman. She brings out the best of some women and the worst of some others. I know that you're a comedian and you think it's funny, but...

MILLER: I don't think she's qualified?

CONWAY: ...she's a governor.

MILLER: What's mean about that?

CONWAY: Wait a second. Wait a second. But you keep on saying that she's running for 2012.

Who said that other than a couple of people in the McCain campaign, who, by the way, shouldn't be talking to journalists, should be out there coming up with an economic message for their candidate.

TURNER: All right, how come nobody talks about Biden's gaffes and the drag he is on the ticket?

CONWAY: Oh, and, again, absolutely.

TURNER: And what he's saying about there's going to be a terrorist attack and just bear with us...


KING: Wait. Wait a minute.

TURNER: You may not agree with how we respond.

KING: Hold it. In all fairness...


KING: In all fairness, ladies, a lot of people talked about Biden's attack. You just did. And everyone has quoted over -- ad infinitum about what he said about some sort of attack coming (INAUDIBLE) were attacked.

CONWAY: But, Larry, if Sarah Palin is Lucifer, why isn't the Obama/Biden ticket at 60, 65 percent?

Why haven't they closed the deal yet?

MENIN: But Kellyanne...

CONWAY: You can't have it both ways. I think you guys -- I think people are scared of her and her future. And if you're not, swat her away like a fly.

What is it about this woman that just sets off this type of nerve and this anger and this vitriol and this bias?

TURNER: I know why.


TURNER: You know what it is?

She's a threat to the liberals and to the Democratic Party.

MENIN: No, that's -- Janine, that's not...

TURNER: That's why. She's a threat.

MENIN: Wait. Let me just get a word in. That's not what it is. The fact of the matter is the United States ranks 70th in terms of all nations of women in elected office. People want to see more women run for office. But we want to make sure that the women who are running are the best and the brightest of our generation.

CONWAY: Well, who's we?

Hillary Clinton ran, she was qualified and the Democratic primary voters turned her out.


KING: All right, let me get a break. We'll come back with more right after these words.


I'm -- that's me.

We'll be right back.


KING: We're back.

We have a blog question from our panel. It's from Venn Cat (ph) on our blog site. It says: "The GOP seems to be in the limelight for reasons like Ted Stevens' federal corruption charges, Sarah Palin going rogue, which I think are bringing down its reputation. Does this give an edge to the Democrats in the red states like Alaska or won't it matter?"


CONWAY: Well, I think the Ted Stevens corruption matters a great deal. I think senators like Elizabeth Dole and John Sununu are going to be asked a very tough question about whether or not to have him back as a ranking member. And I think the whole situation is unfortunate.

I don't defend anybody who lies on federal disclosure statements, I don't care what their political affiliation is.

The bigger question, though, Larry, about the state of the Republican Party, I find it very curious that none other than Barack Obama is running on tax cuts. He says he's against universal health care, is against same-sex marriage. These were Republican ideas.

KING: All right...

CONWAY: And I think now he's running on them because he knows.

KING: But he's always been against them. He's always been against that. That's not new.

CONWAY: No, no, no. But these are classic "Republican ideas"...

KING: So? CONWAY: ...and tax cuts.

Well, he...

KING: Well, can I say if McCain is for the environment, he's taking a Democratic idea?

CONWAY: Not at all. But if Barack Obama...

KING: If he's for stem cell research, he's a Democrat idea. Wait a minute, you want it both ways?

CONWAY: No, I'm sorry, Larry, I didn't hear you.

KING: I said, when McCain talks about the environment or he talks about stem cell research, is that a Democratic idea?

CONWAY: Those are ideas that have been associated with the Democrats, traditionally.

KING: So? Six of one, half a dozen of another?

CONWAY: It is. It is. But all I'm saying is we're having a conversation about the embattled Republican Party. I'm saying it's so curious that Barack Obama himself is running successfully, may I add, on classically Republican ideas. If John McCain wins next week, Larry, then I will chalk it up to his positions on some of those Democratic issues, I promise.

KING: OK. Julie, do you think that if McCain had to do it all over, he'd still pick Sarah Palin?

MENIN: No, absolutely not. I think he wishes that he had picked Mitt Romney, with everything that's happened with the economy. You can imagine if he had Mitt Romney on his side now, where his campaign would be. I think Sarah Palin, once people really got to know where she stood on the issues, it ended up to be a real distraction. We're eight days before the election and what are we talking about tonight? About Sarah Palin. We're not talking about John McCain and his policies. And that's really a problem.

TURNER: We're not talking about John McCain and his policies because the press doesn't want to. They want to stay centered on these things that divert the attention from the real issues. That's what's happening here.

MILLER: I wish the press would talk more about John McCain's policies. The poll numbers would be even worse.

TURNER: That's what's happening here. Talk about Rose. I think she's a lot better off script than Obama. When Obama goes off script, he certainly says a lot of things that he wishes he hadn't said, like spread the wealth.

MILLER: Janine, I love you an actress. All I'm saying is Sarah Palin has been a huge drag on this ticket. She has abuse of power, ethics violations in Alaska, now we have Ted Stevens corruption.

TURNER: She has not! If you have listened to her on the stump, people love her.

And by the way, she went to throw the puck out at a hockey game the other night at the red carpet they laid out for. The goalie like, broke his leg, or something.

TURNER: That's so bad.

KING: That wasn't her fault. You're blaming her for the goalie's --?



KING: Janine, one thing though is if you needed to have a huge rally for the vice presidential candidate a week before the election, isn't that a poor sign? Shouldn't all rallies be for McCain?

TURNER: Well, I think they're a team. So --

KING: I mean, logically. Why does a vice president need a huge, national rally hookup, first lady calling in a week before an election?

TURNER: Oh, well, I don't think -- I think that women loved it. The --

MILLER: I think they need to repair her reputation.

TURNER: Wait, wait, wait! My turn. and this phone call we did when we reached out to a million women, it wasn't a rally. It was women calling in and having real specific questions. We talked about Supreme Court justices and abortion and all sorts of terrorism and all sorts of issues that reflect upon what a mother and a woman is thinking about in this country. And it was very informative. The women loved it. It was a history making.

MENIN: So one of the things that I worry about with Sarah Palin is what it means for future women running for office. One of the main deterrents that women have for running for office, research has shown, is negativity. And the negativity and divisiveness that we've seen out of Sarah Palin with the Bill Ayers attacks and Jeremiah Wright, I think does not bode particularly well for more women opting to run for office in the future.

CONWAY: Then why are you so negative about her? Because I think one major deterrent to women running for office is they get sick and tired of other women trying to cut them down. So what encourages any women tonight who may want to run for future? What is it, other than if they're pro-choice?


KING: One at a time.

MILLER: Most women don't agree with Sarah Palin. I tried to get on that call today, and I just kept hearing, can you hear me now, can you hear me now?

CONWAY: It was Saturday.

TURNER: It wasn't today.

KING: She's kidding.

MENIN: Kellyanne, they need to be experienced. And that's all we're saying. It's not a personal attack.

CONWAY: She's a governor! She's a governor!


KING: OK, guys. I hope that the next rally of men for Biden --

CONWAY: I'll lead that call too.

KING: Thank you guys. Eight days to go, the candidates are running a furious, final lap. What are they saying to win your vote, next.


KING: Another panel now joins us. In Washington, our old friend, Susan Molinari, the former Republican member of Congress, senior principal at Bracewell/Giuliani. In Denver is David Sirota, political journalist, syndicated columnist, former Democratic strategist and a supporter of Barack Obama. Here in Los Angeles is Tanya Acker. Tanya a frequent guest here is a Democratic strategist as well. And in Washington, another frequent guest, Kevin Madden, Republican strategist was senior adviser to the Mitt Romney campaign.

Barely a week until Election Day. CNN's latest national poll of all polls shows Obama leading McCain by eight points. Let's take a look at each candidate on the trail today and then we'll get the comments of our group.


MCCAIN: This election comes down to how you want your hard- earned money spent. If you want to keep it invested it in your future or have it taken by the most liberal person to ever run for presidency and the Democratic leaders, the most liberal who have been running Congress for the past two years? Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. You know, my friends, this is a dangerous threesome.

OBAMA: After decades of broken politics in Washington, after eight years of failed policies from George W. Bush, after 21 months of a campaign that has taken us from the rocky coasts of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are one week away from bringing change to America. (END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: All right, Susan Molinari, how's it look?

SUSAN MOLINARI, FORMER REPRESENTATIVE: Well, you know, some of the numbers are showing a lot better than the ones that you talked about. We have a Zogby poll that shows John McCain only four points down.

I think there's still a lot of fighting spirit in this campaign as we go state to state. The numbers are starting to get closer. Senator McCain is continuing and Governor Palin, to take the argument of the words that Senator Obama had given us as far back as 2001 and as lately as a few weeks ago in terms of his determination to redistribute the wealth throughout the United States.

And also another argument that we just heard him make that I think he needs to make loud and clear to the American people in the next week, which is this, you know, united government of all Democrats. We've always known that the American people want a system of checks and balances. And at a time when we are in the kind of economic crisis in this world and the uncertainty that we're dealing with in these United States, I think we're going to find some reverberation there.

KING: Do you think he's going to win? Is that what you're saying?

MOLINARI: I think he is going to win. I think he's going to make that long climb. I think it's going to be close and I think he's going to win.

KING: David Sirota, if that's true, why is he campaigning in red states?

DAVID SIROTA, JOURNALIST: Well, I think that's a good question. I think he's campaigning in red states, John McCain is, because I think he's worried about losing red states, for instance, like Colorado, where I am.

What I think is very fascinating about this race, is that it's become very ideological. As Susan just said, McCain is basically running as a Reagan conservative and he is portraying Barack Obama, essentially, as a socialist.

Now, Barack Obama isn't a socialist. But what this is going to have the effect of doing, I think, is if Barack Obama wins under this portrayal, lit will create a mandate, specifically on economic issues for him to be very, very aggressively progressive. In many ways, perhaps more progressive than he might have wanted to be or might have campaigned to be.

KING: OK. Kevin Madden, what do you make of all this?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think that the McCain campaign recognizes the challenges that they face right now, with the electoral math and the fact that they've got a week to really make a closing argument to the American public.

I think what you're going to see over the next seven days as we get closer to Election Day is the McCain campaign making the argument that John McCain is actually what the American people want right now, which is somebody who has a bipartisan record of accomplishment, who's shown leadership in a time of crisis.

And the conflict that has to emerge outside of that argument is that Barack Obama has spent the last year and a half faking it in front of the American public as a centrist. He has views on the economy and on national security that are very far outside the main stream.

I think words like socialist and words like "liberal," they probably -- that's probably too simple. Instead, take a look at where the American public is on the big issues like taxes, like spending and Barack Obama is very far outside on those issues.

KING: Tanya, why are you laughing?

TANYA ACKER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I'm laughing because it's so ironic when I hear Republicans talk about Senator Obama being this big government person when George Bush has presided over the largest expansion in the federal power since the New Deal.

I mean honestly, I think that right now, you're seeing the right wing in the country really in a panic because what they've got is a candidate, who, frankly, maybe once upon a time was a maverick before he started to kowtow to the right wing of his base. In terms of where we end up in eight days, we won't know that for eight days.

I would not want to -- I wouldn't want any Democrat to be complacent. I think the election's not over until it's over, but these sound bites that are coming out now about wealth redistribution, the entire economic -- the American economic policy, certainly American tax policy has for generations been premised on wealth redistribution. The notion that that's somehow now socialism -- that's what taxation is.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll be back in 60 seconds.


KING: "Saturday Night Live" continues to ride the political wave, mining more comedy gold. Here's what they were up to this past weekend.


FRED ARMISEN, ACTOR: The Barack Obama variety half hour, it's time to have some fun!

MAYA RUDOLPH, ACTRESS: Because we've got a lead in the polls, and we built it up.

ARMISEN: We built it up. RUDOLPH: We built it up. And now it's solid. Solid as Barack. That's what this lead is. That's what we've got.

ARMISEN: And of course, a party is never complete without Bill Clinton.

DARRELL HAMMOND, ACTOR: Don't you forget about me.

ARMISEN: You'll even see Reverend Jeremiah Wright and university of Illinois Chicago professor Bill Ayers.

KENAN THOMPSON, ACTOR: White devil be crazy. White devil be crazy.


KING: Tanya, you were laughing at that.

ACKER: I was laughing, that was good.

KING: They were spoofing you, the Democrats.

ACKER: You know, it's funny, though, because there was one comedian who said that Barack Obama doesn't give comics enough to work with, but I think there's some good stuff there. I thought that was cute. It's all in good fun.

KING: Susan, what'd you think?

MOLINARI: Well, "Saturday Night Live" has been so good lately, even an old lady like me has been staying up to try to watch it.

KING: Oh, Susan.

MOLINARI: You know what, it's good. And at the end of the day, as we all know, not to sound too Pollyanna, but those of us who have been through these wars and have been in politics, if you can't make fun of yourself and your opponent, then you don't belong in this game.

KING: Next, we'll meet the TV anchor who made Joe Biden angry. Don't go away.


KING: Let's check in with Anderson Cooper, who will host "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour. Anderson, what's up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, it's down to the wire. Barack Obama and John McCain stumping in the same states today. Both Pennsylvania and Ohio in play this year. A victory in both could push one candidate over the top. We're going to look at the latest poll numbers, new numbers out tonight. Is there trouble on the McCain/Palin team? One McCain aide accuses Governor Palin of "going rogue" and of being a diva. And explore that. And we're tracking Obama's record cash flow. Where is all the money coming from? We're keeping them honest. And the tragedy connected with Oscar winner actress and singer Jennifer Hudson's family. Today we learned her 7-year-old nephew was murdered in addition to her mother and brother. The latest on the investigation and the latest on the case at the top of the hour on "360," Larry.

KING: That is one of the strangest.

COOPER: It's just so sad, yes.

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

Before we get back to the panel, we're going to spend a few minutes with Barbara West, the anchor at WF-TV in Orlando, Florida. Your recent grilling of Joe Biden has stirred up a lot of controversy. Let's take a look at part of it and we'll get your comments. Watch.


BARBARA WEST, WF-TV CORRESPONDENT: You may recognize this famous quote. "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." That's from Karl Marx. How is Senator Obama not being a Marxist if he's intending to spread the wealth around?

SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Are you joking? Is this a joke?


BIDEN: Or is that a real question?

WEST: That's a question.

BIDEN: He is not spreading the wealth around. He's talking about giving the middle class an opportunity to get back the tax breaks they used to have.

I know this has been a pretty mean campaign. I was on a television station the other day and doing a satellite feed to a major network in Florida. And the anchor quotes Karl Marx and says in a sense, isn't Barack Obama Karl Marx? You know I mean folks, this stuff you're hearing, this stuff you're hearing in this campaign, some of it's pretty ugly.


KING: All right, Barbara, what were you getting to, since generally the redistribution of the wealth is a graduated income tax?

WEST: Well, Larry, no, I don't believe that it is just a graduated income tax. I think a lot of people who are talking to me out on the street are saying they are very, very concerned that this idea of redistributing the wealth means taking it out of somebody's pocket who is a wage earner and putting it in somebody's pocket who refuses to work. And they're asking about. That's what they don't want. That is what they want to know, what does this really mean? My job as a journalist is to ask those questions and get those answers and I don't believe I got answers at all.

KING: Was the implication in the question that Barack Obama is a Marxist?

WEST: I was asking him to tell us about how Barack Obama's redistribution of wealth was different from that quote by Karl Marx, that's all I wanted to know.

KING: I see. And you're saying that if someone pays more taxes that person therefore and that other person gets benefits and then some people who don't work get welfare, that's not redistribution of wealth? That's not?

WEST: You know what, Larry, I'm not here to debate the issues. I am not a political pundit.

KING: No no, I'm asking.

WEST: I'm a journalist. And I -- my job is to ask tough, probing questions of the candidates. I had a very short time to be able to do that, only about four minutes. There were issues that I wanted to cover including the issues about ACORN and the abuses that they've done with voter registration, particularly here in Florida and Florida is such a key state.

And also this issue of the redistribution of wealth, as well as Senator Biden's comments about you mark my words, in six months, Barack Obama will be tested.

KING: I got you.

WEST: But it was his caveat afterward that was the issue that I was questioning, and that is it may not be readily apparent as to what, as to whether or not the actions or whatever he does are in fact the appropriate ones. And so America, stand with him and trust him.

KING: I got you.

WEST: I just wanted answers to those questions.

KING: The "Orlando Sentinel" reports that you are registered as a Republican, your husband is a Republican strategist, is that true?

WEST: Let me correct that. My husband did do consulting for the Republican Party back in the Clinton administration and he also worked for Senator Paul Wellstone, who was a very liberal Democrat at the time and they were working together to shape the media message as far as the sex slave trade was concerned. He was sent by the Clinton administration to go to Europe and also South America to consult with local officials who were perceived as friends of America in fighting the war against drugs.

KING: Thanks, Barbara, hope to see you soon.

WEST: Thank you, Larry.

KING: Barbara West, anchor, WF-TV. Michelle Obama will be on the "Tonight Show" with Jay Leno. We'll have a preview and back to our panel next.



MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA: And Malia sort of overhears it. She's 10 and she says are you going to be all the TV? She says, are you going to interrupt my TV? And he said, he's sitting like this, he says, no, we didn't buy time on Disney and Nick. And she said oh, good, and she just got up and walked away.


KING: That's Obama buying a lot of time later this week. Some individual questions for our panelists. David Sirota, how will Colorado come out?

SIROTA: I think it's looking like it's going to be for Obama. I don't want to make any guarantees, tough state, but you have got a U.S. Senate candidate here, Mark Udall, who's running very, very strong, and Obama's running very, very strong.

I think it has to do a lot, Larry, with the demographic changes out here. You've got more Latinos, you've got more new voters out here, you've got changing demographic politics in terms of Republican erosion in the western slope where there's energy development.

There's a bigger environmental movement out here. You've got the legislature that went Democratic out here, governorship went Democratic out here. I think it's looking good out here for Obama, but no guarantees.

KING: Susan, any key state, or couple of states you'll be looking at?

MOLINARI: Well of course I think we're all be looking at what's going to happen in Florida, Michigan, particularly Ohio, Colorado. The numbers seem to be slipping in Pennsylvania, but we'll still keep an eye on Pennsylvania. But I would say Florida, Michigan, Ohio.

KING: Tanya?

MOLINARI: Virginia.

KING: Who are you going to look at?

ACKER: Just to echo Susan's point, I'm really interested in the way that Senator Obama is attempting to redraw the electoral map. And the fact that we're looking at states that Democrats have not been competitive in for years that now very well may move into the blue column. I think that's going to be one of the more exciting features of the race.

KING: So those states like Virginia you're going to look at.

ACKER: Yeah. Right now, he's ahead in about I think between five to seven polls, including Zogby, which is surprising. So I'm excited about that, I think that's going to be something to watch.

KING: Kevin, you're a veteran strategist. What are you going to look at?

MADDEN: Well, we have to look at Pennsylvania. The road to electoral map victory for John McCain goes through Pennsylvania. If he can win Pennsylvania and you give away some of those states that David was talking about, Colorado and New Mexico, which the trend lines are looking quite troubling right now, but we're still putting up a good fight. You give those away in addition to Iowa and you're looking at the math that requires John McCain to win, Nevada and Pennsylvania in order to get to 273 electoral votes.

KING: Kevin, in your opinion, has your candidate, would he have been a better choice, Mitt Romney than Governor Palin?

MADDEN: No, I think you can't look at VP candidates as to which one would be better than the other. The presidential candidate has to make the choice that he thinks is best going to fit his ticket and is best going to enhance the attributes of the ticket. This pick was made to reestablish a maverick image and to double down on the issues of reform and to really take on a Washington which has succumbed to the status quo. And with that argument, McCain made the right pick.

KING: But with a financial crisis, which he could not have foretold.

MADDEN: There's no doubt that Mitt Romney was very good on the economy. He also had a great appeal in some other states like Nevada, Michigan and Colorado. But ultimately the argument about the economy has to be made by the top of the ticket. It can't be someone that is on the bottom of the ticket.

KING: Thank you all very much. Susan Molinari, always good seeing you. David Sirota in Colorado, Tanya Acker, who just walked a couple of blocks and she's here, and Kevin Madden in Washington. All of you, we thank you very, very much.

Go to our blog at And weigh in about this show or others. And while you're there, take tonight's quick vote. Is Sarah Palin helping or hurting McCain? And download the Bill Maher podcast.

We touched briefly on the tragic news about Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson. Her mother and brother were killed last week and her missing nephew's body was found this morning. Here's Jennifer in a performance for our show back in February of 2007.




KING: An unspeakable tragedy. Jennifer you have inspired so many with your talent and your talent. We are thinking of, wishing you and your family the very best during what must be, has to be the most difficult time of your life. The vagaries of human beings.

It's time now for Anderson Cooper and "A.C. 360." Anderson?