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Suze Orman Addresses Economic Crisis; Interview with Malcolm X's Daughter

Aired November 20, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, crisis of the century. The stock market is in shreds, unemployment claims soar and fear grips the whole planet. The big question -- will the world's economies survive and the smaller ones keep you up at night?
How are you going to get through to Christmas? Can you keep your house, afford rent, even food?

Suze Orman is here with answers, so start calling in right now.

Plus, exclusive Malcolm X's daughter -- the name of her father, one of the most recognized African-Americans, invoked by Al Qaeda to insult President-Elect Obama. She responds.

And transition report card -- does the new administration make the grade with its pick for top jobs?

All next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with our old friend, Suze Orman, the author and host of "The Suze Orman Show" on CNBC. She's at Hillsborough Beach, Florida.

Well, well, well, bad news. And every time you're on, it's bad news.


KING: Bad news -- the S&P down to the lowest point since April of '97. The Dow closed at the lowest since March of 2003.

What's going on?

ORMAN: What's going on is that we have an economy that can't support itself. There are no support levels, Larry, anywhere around. Technically speaking, the Standard & Poor's has broken -- its broken its support level now. That means it is possible and probable that it could go a lot lower from here.

So you really have to hang on for this ride at this point in time.

KING: Who, Suze, is being hit the worst? What person and what income? Or does it touch everybody?

ORMAN: Well, it touches everybody. But the people that it's really hurting are the people that are getting the pink slips -- the people that are being told guess what, you don't have a job anymore. And not only do they not have a job anymore, but these are still people who are under water in their homes, they have credit card debt, they didn't have any emergency savings. So they are really out of luck right now.

And it's vast. It's wide. It's spreading. Unemployment is skyrocketing.

And here's what's so sad, Larry, is that I don't know why, but people don't believe that this can happen to them. Everybody thinks it's OK, it will happen to somebody I know, but not myself.

It is happening to almost everybody. And if it's not happening to you, it definitely is happening to somebody that you know.

KING: But people like yourself -- not necessarily you, but many others -- have always said don't worry about the stock market, man, it'll go back up. It don't matter. The stock market is safe.

ORMAN: The state -- well, I'm not sure people ever said that the stock market was safe. The stock market is a good in...

KING: As an investment, hasn't it always gone up in the long run?

ORMAN: I was just going to say that. In the long run, the stock market will always be the best investment if -- and you'd better underline that -- if you have time on your side.

How many times have we said that if you need money within five or 10 years, that is not money that belongs in the stock market?

If you have, however, though 20, 30, 40 years until you need this money or whatever, fine. Even -- I have to tell you, the truth, I bought stock today. I bought two companies that have gone down significantly that are yielding 9 or 10 percent in dividends.

So what all of you should be looking at is if you're going to invest in the stock market, you should be investing in companies or exchange traded funds that pay you a high dividend yield that is solid, that is safe, that's not going to disappear, so that you are paid to paid wait.

And I fully expect that these stocks will go lower and I will buy more. So you have to keep money around so you can keep buying more if you're going to play the stock market game.

KING: All right. The other big economic news, obviously, the heads of the big three automakers in Washington trying to get a $25 billion bailout. Now, the latest is that Congressional leaders said to come with us -- come to us with a plan by December 2nd for spending the $25 billion.

If you have no plan, no money. What do you make of that?

ORMAN: Yes. And well, I mean, like why December? Why are you leaving? Why aren't you working this out on Monday? Why didn't you say to them, come back to us on Monday?

As if every day isn't counting. I'm sorry to say that it may be too late by then. And either way, it's really a catastrophe. So if they don't save them, then what you're going to have is millions of people skyrocketing the unemployment rate. We're going to have to pay unemployment to everybody. That will be a lot of money. We've lost the tax revenues on all those employees. And it will decimate the Midwest.

I know I'm just full of good news tonight for you, but it really will. So they've got to think about this very carefully. But I'm shocked that they actually -- you know, they went away without dealing with this right now.

KING: What do you make of just letting them go bankrupt?

ORMAN: Well, you can let them go bankrupt, and as I just said a second ago, the ramifications will be huge. They will, however, then be able to deal with the unions and restructure. And maybe in the long run, that might be the good thing to do. But it will not be an easy thing.

When you let a company go bankrupt, like the auto companies, you have to also guarantee the warranties. There's many ways that the government needs to get involved if they're going to do something like that. But it's not as easy as it sounds. Remember, we let Lehman go and look what happened, Larry, after we let Lehman Brothers go.

If we let these go, we never know what could happen there, as well.

KING: Suze, why is it going to get worse?

ORMAN: It's going to get worse because there's no solution. There's nothing to make it better. We don't have anything coming down the pike. You know, first we had that $700 million -- you know, the TARP program, that should have been used, in my opinion, to do what?

Create these loans. Get these loans out of the bank. Make them wide, make them good loans.

But, no, now we're readjusting that. So there's no clear leadership. Everything is still tumbling down. And today you felt it again.

Larry, you have Citigroup at under $5 a share -- under $5 a share. When the financials are going down still, all of a sudden you have this fear that's come back in the market. And you have Treasuries at the low -- the 10-year Treasury, the 30-year Treasury, these are the lowest interest rates ever on a long-term Treasury in the history, I think, of the United States.

So we have a flight to safety because people are scared to death. And they're scared to death because they don't see the current leaders giving them any direction to save anything. So everything's starting to go bad again.

KING: In view of all this, why is -- why are oil prices down?

ORMAN: Oil prices are down because that's a -- you know, that's a great question. You have to ask why, in the past two months...

KING: That's why I asked it.

ORMAN: Yes. Look, you know, you have a habit of doing that.

But why, really, have they fallen $100? Just a few months ago, we were asking why are they going up? What can we do about it? The same question has to be asked -- why are they going down?

I've always thought it was manipulation. I never thought it was need, supply, this and that. So now oil prices are coming down. And that's the only good thing in the economy, that now you can get a gallon of gasoline for like $1.89, $2 a gallon.

But here's the bad thing -- you don't need to drive anywhere because you're losing your job.

KING: Yes.

ORMAN: So it's the only bright spot in the economy right now. But, really, unemployment, the stock market, real estate -- everything is so serious. We are really, really, really teetering, once again, on the brink of a serious financial disaster.

KING: Christmas is coming. That's credit card season. More with Suze after the break. Ask her a question at, click on blog and type away.

Stick around.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But first the breaking news -- another horrible day -- horrible day on Wall Street.


KING: Before we take a call, Suze, I have had three different friends in three diverse areas, all of whom got the same message yesterday from American Express -- we're cutting your credit limit, period. Why?

ORMAN: Well, here's the thing, we're back to the credit crunch again. None of the credit card companies want you to be using the credit on your credit cards if they are not positive that you're going to have the money to pay them back.

Why will you not have the money to pay them back? Because you've lost your job. Something's gone wrong.

KING: Even if you've had a perfect... ORMAN: They're...

KING: Even if you've had a perfect pay record?

ORMAN: That's right. So what they're looking for is they're actually looking for people who are only paying the minimum every single month on their credit cards, even though they've always paid on time, they've never gone over their limit. And when they see somebody paying the minimum, they know that that's a person who's using their credit card but obviously they can't afford to pay more than the minimum. So they're in financial trouble. They're reducing their credit limit or they're revoking credit cards now across the board and raising interest rates to 32 percent.

When you still have to make a minimum payment and your interest rate is 32 percent, you are never, ever going to get out of credit card debt.

KING: Let's take a call for Suze Orman.

Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Hi. My name is Maryanne (ph). I'm calling from Detroit, Michigan. I'm 40...



I'm 46. My husband is 49. We each have some money we left in former employers' 401(k)s. And with it sinking, we're wondering if we did the right thing. We have about $100,000 cash. We own 10 rental properties, so we thought we could risk leaving that money there for a while.

I would like to know what Suze thinks about this.

KING: Suze?

ORMAN: Here's exactly what I want you to do, so listen to me very closely. If they're in a former employer's 401(k), you now can do an IRA rollover with it. You should do an IRA rollover at a discount brokerage firm. And within that brokerage firm, if you want to stay in the market here, you should be investing in either high yield dividend paying stocks or exchange traded funds so that you are paid to wait.

Because, in my opinion, you will see these markets continue to go down. They may go down tomorrow, up. But in the long run, they are still trending down. And they can trend significantly down here.

And unless you are being paid an income -- a dividend -- to hold these stocks, it will be very, very difficult, because you aren't investing more.

So when something goes down a lot, it's got to go up. And since you're not dollar cost averaging down, you at least have to get dividends for that. That's what I would be doing right away if I were you.

KING: Mims, Florida for Suze Orman -- Hello.

CALLER: Yes. I heard her say that she bought some stocks, I think, today or yesterday. And...

KING: Yes. Today.

CALLER: Yes. And what did she buy and why?

And also, if she thinks that you should invest in the auto companies, like buy stock now that it's, you know, it's in jeopardy.

ORMAN: No, I think you have to be very, very careful. What you have to understand is when a stock goes under $5 a share, which the stock -- which the automobile companies are. You have General Motors at $2.50 a share. You have Ford at $1.50 a share. When any -- you have Citigroup under $5 a share. It's a bank.

When a stock goes under $5 a share, a mutual fund can no longer hold it. If a mutual fund can't hold it because of regulations, they have to start selling it.

So a lot of investors were selling it, knowing that the mutual funds here are already going to have to start selling it. So that be careful when a stock goes under $5 a share.

KING: What...

ORMAN: It starts to be a penny stock. So be careful. You have a good chance of losing money when you buy that.

KING: She also asked what you bought today.

ORMAN: Well, you know, I don't really want to say what I bought today, because I don't want to move what I bought and be one of those people. But here, I bought one of these major companies -- there's a lot of them out there -- that went from $40, $60, $70 a share down -- they're down at $13 a share, $15 a share. And they're currently paying 9 percent in dividends. And I personally think that the dividends are solid in these two companies.

There's a lot of them out there, everybody, that you can look at and you can find. The key is that make sure it has a solid dividend yield.

But even if they cut the dividend in half, it's still 5 percent, which is higher than I would be making with that money in a money market fund at 1 or 2 percent.

KING: All right.

ORMAN: So I'm being paid to wait. That's why you should do it.

KING: We'll take a break.

We'll ask Suze about Barack Obama and what he can do. And we'll also have her answer some of your blogs.

Don't go away.


KING: All right. We can see you've been busy sending Suze your questions.

Let's go to our own David Theall to hear what you're asking -- David?

DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Larry, earlier today, we did invite questions for Suze. And we were also interested in knowing this from those who visit your blog -- "Will the economy affect your holiday spending plans?"

We had a question from Jenny for Susie about the holidays. She says: "My husband and I are on a tight budget and Christmas will have to be on credit cards this year for her children. Everything is so expensive," says she -- and she's worried about how long it will take to pay off the CDs.

She asks this of Suze: "Is it worth it to draw from our very small emergency savings to pay for a modest Christmas for our children?"

ORMAN: You know, you're going to have to understand that -- and that's what I was saying before, when is everybody going to get how serious this economy really is?

And one of the greatest gifts, in my opinion, that you can give your children for the holiday season is happiness -- happiness that maybe they're going to get to stay in their home, happiness that maybe they're going to get to eat.

And if you have credit card debt, I am so sorry to say, now is not the time to be buying something. Now is the time to be talking to your kids, take a walk, make something. Make cookies. I don't care what it is.

But, no, you should not use your emergency money. You should not be putting things on credit cards, because you never know when unemployment will strike your household. And you will wish very much that you hadn't used that money to do something.

Make something for them, do something, love them up. But please don't spend money you don't have. Not now. Not this holiday season.

THEALL: Larry, we also had had another question from Lee in North Carolina. Quick. Fast. "What is the -- why is deflation as bad or worse than inflation," Suze?

ORMAN: Well, when deflation starts, everything starts getting less, less, less. It affects the companies. We then go more toward depression when that starts to happen, as well. So we just have to be very, very careful here. We don't want things to inflate. We don't want things to contract. We want this economy to be healthy.

And I'm so sorry, but we're very, very far from that being a reality at this point in time.

KING: Thanks. Thanks, David.

Back with more Suze right after this.


KING: Back with some more calls in a moment.

But, Suze, can Barack Obama -- can a new administration make a difference just by the excitement of newness?

ORMAN: Well, they can make a difference in terms of instilling hope, which I think he's done very well into the society here. But as these problems now escalate, because we're still a few months away from him taking office, the fear, as I said, has set back in. I only wish that he could be making decisions now, getting his admin -- his team in working now and really making the decisions.

But this month or two here is a very, very critical month. And he's not -- he can't be doing anything right now. So that makes it a little bit sad. But I think when he finally takes over and he starts to do things, we'll have a little bit more hope and newness will be good for us.

KING: Let's take another call for Suze Orman.

Memphis, Tennessee, hello.

CALLER: Hello, there.


CALLER: My question is should -- I have most of my money in a money market with a credit union. And I have the funds to go ahead and pay off of an FHA loan. I'm 20 years into a 30-year of the loan.

Should I go ahead and pay off that -- the balance of my house or just keep it in the money market?

ORMAN: Yes. Can you -- can you tell me, are you going to keep this house for the rest of your life?

CALLER: I don't think so. And I'm in an area that's got lots of foreclosures and houses up for sale, as well.

ORMAN: All right. So then if you're not going to keep the house, it make no sense to pay off the mortgage on the house. So I would absolutely put my money in the highest yielding FDIC insured account or in a money market account with a credit union, as long as you know it has insurance on it, as well.

KING: OK. Good advice.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. Happy Birthday.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: And thank you, Suze.

I have an investment account with an educational retirement board. I have a stable employment. I'm mostly concerned about my deferred account. I added that a couple of years ago and I see that dropping -- if I should take it out or not or stop paying in for a while.

I'm also concerned about my grandson's Coverdale and my daughter's college fund. I see both of those dropping.

ORMAN: All right, so -- so let's talk about that for a second, the college funds. The big mistake that many parents and grandparents are making is they are not moving their college funds out of the stock market in time for when their kids are going to be going to school. Remember my rule of thumb -- money that should not be in the market is money that you need within five, possibly even 10 years.

So if your children are of the age where they're going to be going to school in the next year, the next two years, three years, you've already lost a significant part of that.

But that was never money that should have been in the market at this point in time. So make sure as your children and your grandchildren get older, that you're staging out of these accounts and you're keeping the money safe and sound so that you know you have it there, because we're in for a wild ride here.

KING: Should...

ORMAN: In terms of the other accounts, if -- what were you going to say, Larry?

KING: I was going to say -- I was switching subjects here because I can't dwell on one call too long.

ORMAN: OK. Go on.

KING: Should people continue...

ORMAN: So switch.

KING: Could people continue putting the max into 401(k)s?

ORMAN: No. I've always said that I would only be putting up to the point of the match in a 401(k) if your 401(k) matches -- you put in a dollar and they give you 50 cents. After that, I would not be putting money into my 401(k). And if they did not match, I would not be putting money in my 401(k) because an IRA -- a Roth IRA will give you access to more types of investments.

Remember, in a 401(k), you only have mutual funds to invest in and maybe your employer's stock.

In an IRA at a brokerage firm, you could buy individual stocks, exchange traded funds, no load funds. And again, I'm looking for individual stocks or exchange traded funds that give you high dividend yields to be paying you while you're there. And that's very hard to do in a 401(k).

KING: House prices are down. Is this a good time to buy one if you can afford it?

ORMAN: If you can afford it and get a deal of a lifetime, not a bad time. But you have to know you can afford it.

Do I think in certain areas that you're going to see house prices continue to go down?

As I've said many times on your show, I think real estate will continue to go down to about the year 2010. So we have a whole another year and a few months to get a great deal.

KING: All right...

ORMAN: So don't go rushing out there to go buy a piece of property.

KING: Chicago, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry. I have a question for Suze.

KING: Sure.


CALLER: I'm retired. I'm 78 years old. I think I'm safe. I would like to know if she thinks I'm safe. Most of what I have is in FDIC insured CDS, all under the limit. And the rest is in a major -- I guess you don't want me to use the name -- major...

KING: You can use the name.

CALLER: All right. In Vanguard mutual funds -- a Treasury money market fund, everything in Treasuries. Am I as safe as I think I am?

ORMAN: You are as safe as you think you are. Only one caution. Currently, as you know, the FDIC limit is $250,000. That goes away December 31, 2009. So don't go buying a CD for above $100,000 that extends beyond December 31, 2009, because you might find yourself in a situation that you're not insured.

So as long as you are insured, you know how it works, girlfriend, you should feel just fine. KING: It goes back to $100,000 on December 31st?

ORMAN: Yes, it does. So on January 1st of the year 2010, we are back currently to $100,000. So if you bought a CD for two years for a quarter million because you were thinking you were insured and now we're past December 31, 2009, you might find yourself not insured.

KING: As always, Suze, thanks a ton.

ORMAN: Anytime, Larry.

KING: Suze Orman.

Malcolm X's daughter joins us next.

She'll tell us what she thinks about Al Qaeda using her father's name to smear Barack Obama. It's an exclusive, right after the break.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE an exclusive, Ilyasah Shabazz.

She's the daughter of Malcolm X. She's in New York. This is her first interview since bin Laden's top deputy released a tape insulting Obama and comparing him unfavorably to Malcolm X.

They had Obama on one side wearing a yarmulke at the Wailing Wall. On the other side we see your father kneeling in prayer at a mosque.

What did you make of that?

ILYASAH SHABAZZ, MALCOLM X'S DAUGHTER: Oh, my goodness. You know, I was, quite frankly, appalled to see my father -- his image, kneeling in prayer -- a very intimate moment -- kneeling in prayer, surrounded by other images of terrorism, extremism. And those are usually images associated with Islam, with Muslims and even often my father. And, you know, number one, Islam is truly a religion of peace. And just because one person advocates, you know, this extreme measure doesn't mean that this is the -- the thought or the practice of Islam.

And my father was just a young man who continued to evolve. He was only in his 20s when the world learned of this man with great compassion, impeccable integrity, you know. And to have that image associated with him, it was really disturbing. It really was.

KING: I had the honor of knowing him, interviewing him. He was extraordinary.

Let's see a video of your father speaking. Watch this.


MALCOLM X, HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: You have to read the history of slavery to understand this. There were two kinds of Negroes, the old house Negro and the field Negro. And the House Negro always looked out for his master. When the field Negroes got too much out of line, he held them back in check.


KING: Do you think they're trying to make Obama look like a hypocrite and a traitor to his race, comparing him unfavorably with your dad?

SHABAZZ: Comparing him unfavorably with my father. You know, my father would be extremely excited. He would share in the elation of the American people as well as the people around the world about -- the elation of Obama's victory. And I just think that he would be very proud.

You know, President-elect Obama demonstrated determination. He demonstrated so much -- he showed that he was truly qualified to be, you know, the 44th president. His credentials truly speak for itself. He involves people across the lines of race, sex, creed. He got us all involved in his campaigning.

And, you know, I know that he is going to do an excellent job. And my family and so many people, you know, in this country and around the world truly celebrated this victory. You know, it's time for a change, and I think the American people voted. And my father would truly support the Senator Barack Obama, President-elect Barack Obama.

KING: Would your father have -- he would have supported him. Do you think he would have liked him?

SHABAZZ: Of course. I like him. I mean, I don't know too many people who do not admire his sense of commitment, his determination, especially his compassion for social justice and for change, because truly, Larry, you know, it is time for change. And I'm just happy that I could truly witness and participate in this historical moment.

KING: Now, Obama had to clarify several times during the campaign that he was Christian and not Muslim. How did that hit you?

SHABAZZ: Well, he's Christian. He's not a Muslim. And, you know, really I think Colin Powell said it best, what difference would it make if he was Muslim? And why should he have to defend his religion? I don't recall too many other presidents defending their religion. So, I don't really think it matters.

You know, we're all human beings. You know, we all breathe, live, eat. You know, we all do -- you know, we share that humanness, you know, that same -- you know, it really doesn't matter if he's Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, you know, atheist. The point is that he is -- you know, he won and --

KING: We're all in this together.

SHABAZZ: He'll be our next president. Excuse me?

KING: Thank you so much.

SHABAZZ: Thank you so much.

KING: We're all walking this earth together,

Ilyasah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X. Is the President- elect making the grade? Next.


KING: We're going to look at things transitional now with Amy Holmes, CNN political contributor. She's in Washington. We'll discuss the cabinet so far.

We learned today, Amy, that the Arizona governor, Janet Napolitano, is Obama's likely choice for secretary of Homeland Security. How qualified?

ANY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: She's very qualified, the governor of a border state so it seems like a natural, logical pick for her. Although she might be from the West, she is no stranger to inside the belt way hardball politics. Governor Napolitano was Anita Hill's lawyer back in 1991 with those Clarence Thomas hearings, so she knows how the Washington game is played.

KING: Former Senator Tom Daschle likely for health and human services. What does he bring?

HOLMES: He brings proof there are second acts in American life. He was minority leader and majority leader in the United States Senate. He is a savvy politician. He knows the corridors of power. He'll be able to help Barack Obama negotiate and get his health care policies possibly passed and enacted. Daschle's a good person to have on your team.

KING: Even though Amy is a Republican, she's a very objective reporter.

Eric Holder is the name we hear for attorney general. What about him?

HOLMES: Again, there's a second act to the America life. This is someone who, after the Mark Rich (ph) pardon scandal that he got embroiled in, he told "The Washington Post" his public life was over. Now he's being resurrected in the Barack Obama administration. He was deputy A.G. under Janet Reno. Looks like he will become the first black attorney general.

KING: Obama has said there'll be some Republicans in the cabinet. Could Defense Secretary Robert Gates, already there, be one of them?

HOLMES: That's a possibility. There are reports that they're talking about keeping him on through the transition and then possibly replacing him sometime down the line. Not unlike George Bush, keeping George Tenet at CIA to make that transition into the new administration.

KING: One of your favorite people, Colin Powell. Will Obama find a job for him? He said, you know, he doesn't want any, but if a president calls you, a president calls you. What about him?

HOLMES: Well, yes. That's a hard call to turn down. And Colin Powell, there's been some talk about him being possibly secretary of education. In that Tom Brokaw Meet the Press" interview he did where he endorsed Barack Obama, Colin Powell said that education was the number-one policy priority -- sorry, policy, that candidates were not paying enough attention to. He the founder of his own children's organization, America's Promise, where he's put a lot of focus on this. It would be an interesting pick. He's pro vouchers, pro charter schools, which would not make the left of the Democratic Party happy, but could be an interesting broker and mediator for Barack Obama.

KING: And of course Senator Hillary Clinton. How would Republicans feel about her as secretary of state?

HOLMES: That's an interesting question. I think Republicans would love the get their hands on her in a nomination hearing and start asking all those tough, sticky questions about her husband's financing. You know, Barack Obama, he campaigned and he said no drama. Well, this last week, the Clinton drama has been back. And I think he might have some second thoughts about whether or not he wants that in his cabinet.

KING: Taking -- by the way, though, she's popular inside the Senate, isn't she?

HOLMES: She is. She is a big voice. She has a big megaphone there as a New York Senator, a lot of power and a lot of influence. She is considered one of the leaders of the Democratic Parties in the Senate, even though she's the junior Senator from New York.

KING: And finally, looking at it as a group. And you'll be back in our panel in a moment. What are your impressions so far of the transition? How is it going?

HOLMES: Well, so far, it seems to be going smoothly. He's been raising these names, you know, trial balloons and they haven't run into too much opposition. Napolitano is an interesting choice. If she were to come to Washington, it means that the next governor of Arizona would be a Republican. That makes some Republicans happy.

It looks like he's trying to bring real savvy, Washington insiders, a little bit of his contradiction campaigning for new faces and change, but these are people who are grown-ups, who know how the system works.

One of the biggest criticisms of Bill Clinton when he got into office, was he had a lot of people who were -- they were just undisciplined. It was a frat house. It was more like a frat house, a sophomore bull session. And they weren't getting stuff done. Barack Obama is trying not to make that mistake. KING: Thanks, Amy.

Amy Holmes will remain with us. She'll be right back with other guests as well.

Don't forget, we love your comments on our blog. Join in at We read them all. And we're back in 60 seconds.


KING: Amy Holmes remains. We're joined in Washington by Kiki McLean, the Democratic strategist.

No decision, yet, Kiki, on Hillary. What do you make of it?

KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I make of it that I think Hillary and I think Barack Obama will make good decisions and make them for the right reasons.

I mean, this is a great thing. There are a lot of ways to serve in America. She's clearly prepared and capable of doing many jobs being in the Senate, being a secretary of state. So, I think whatever the outcome, Americans will be lucky to have her on President-elect Obama's team, either driving critical agenda items in the senate or serving us as the world leading diplomats. So, you know, not everything gets named on a daily basis, but, boy, they're making headway, I think.

KING: What do you make, Amy, of those who are sniping already that we're not seeing enough change yet?

HOLMES: Well, indeed. And if you remember in the Democratic primary, Barack Obama himself said of Hillary Clinton that you can't get change if you're using the same old faces. And I think Americans could be forgiven for saying I think I recognize a lot of these people from eight years ago.

But with Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Larry, I'm puzzled by this. I'm not sure what's in it for her, for her to tie her political fortunes to Barack Obama. There's that old phrase, keep your friends close, your enemies closer. So, maybe for Barack Obama this is a way to kind of rein her in.

But she has a real power base as a New York Senator, and keeping that power base, she can align herself with Barack Obama when it's politically prudent and then she can criticize him and oppose him from the Senate and get legislation passed from there. Secretary of state, that's a much closer relationship and her political fortunes rise and fall with him.

MCLEAN: You know, I have to say, I think we saw in the general election her desire to support a new president, a desire to see a Democrat who would lead in office, her partnership and the way she worked with him as the nominee, the way she worked with Joe Biden as the vice presidential nominee. You know, there's a terrific relationship there between Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. Both of them with experience on foreign policy I think who would both be quite capable of serving in counsel and advice in that role together. That's really the development of a great team. It's not necessarily about just what's in it for her. I know that maybe all the Republicans don't really want to admit that. But, in fact, it's the call to service.

And, you know, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton will be the two people who decide the best way for her to serve in terms of the discussion of these two jobs in the Senate or in the cabinet.

KING: With that majority he has in the Senate, Amy, 59 -- he may have 60, 58 now, may have 60 -- isn't he going to get every one passed?

HOLMES: Well, you know, he's got a much better chance of doing that and you have moderate Republicans who could also climb on board, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Chuck Hagel. He has numbers in his favor, but these are really complicated issues. If you look at health care policy, you know, the devil's in the details. And some of those details will be pretty shocking to the American people. I think there's going to be a real debate.

And Republicans, you have to remember, now that they're in the minority, they can be the loyal opposition and it will help them focus in terms of principle and policy.

KING: OK, let me get a break in. When we come back, Hill Harper with will join us. He appears on "CSI: New York." He's a friend of Barack Obama's. They went to Harvard together. Be right back.


KING: Anderson Cooper stands by with "AC 360" at the top of the hour.

What's up?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "AC 360": Larry, we've got breaking news on the economy in crisis. Stocks down a lot, closing at the lowest level since 2003. More than 500,000 workers filing jobless claims. We'll have the details.

And in Washington, Congress tells Detroit, show us a plan before we show you the money. Lawmakers tell the big three, no bailout unless they can tell the Congress how much they need and how they'll spend it.

And a story that's still breaking tonight, President-elect Barack Obama's phone records hacked. How phone workers were able to access the information and what, if anything, they may have found.

Those stories and more, Larry, tonight on "360."

KING: That's "AC 360," 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific. Time to check in with David Theall monitoring our blogs. David, what's everybody talking about tonight?

THEALL: Listen, Larry, there may be a new President-elect in town, figuratively speaking, but those who stop by your blog are talking about a former president and his wife. Of course, we're talking about President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Clinton.

We have posted many stories on the blog about the transition, about various names that have been mentioned as staff or cabinet positions. However, the topic always goes back to the Clintons on the comments that we are seeing on your blog. People divided between saying no Clintons and those who are saying that Hillary would make a good secretary of state. But they're still worried about the problems posed by President Clinton.

Eric says, "I thought electing Obama was about change. A Clinton back in the administration is not change."

And also Ashley stopped by the blog, and she said this: "Hillary would be an excellent choice, but people would always wonder about the back-room deal struck with her and former president Clinton. That cheats her out of the respect that she deserves and President-elect Obama out of the claim that he was above politics as usual."

We're going to continue this conversation, as we always do, throughout the evening, Look for the live blog, click it, come on in. We're talking this conversation under your live discussion thread tonight.

KING: Thanks, David.

We'll be right back with a famous face. You may know him from "CSI," but he went to Harvard with Obama. Hill Harper is here.


KING: We're back. Amy Holmes and Kiki McLean are still with us.

We welcome Hill Harper of "CSI New York," a friend of Barack Obama's. They went to Harvard with him. He worked steadily on the Obama campaign, played basketball -- in fact, I'll show you how he played basketball with him. Watch.


KING: Was he tough to guide here?

HILL HARPER, "CSI NEW YORK" & FRIEND OF BARACK OBAMA: First of all, he's tall. He has long-arms and he's a lefty. So it's very difficult because you think he will go right and he goes left on you. He's very good.

KING: You played with him on Election Day?

HARPER: I played with him on Election Day -- that is actually November 4th, this year, Election Day.

KING: Wasn't his mind elsewhere?

HARPER: First of all, it's good luck ritual. There was a basketball game on the day of the Iowa caucus. You really look back. I mean, Iowa is what set this in motion. So that was good luck and also a good distraction to be around friends. It's really wonderful.

The way someone plays team sports, to me, tells you a lot about their personality, the type of person who elevates the team and makes the team better. Are they the person that's a ball hog? He's definitely the type of person that wants everyone to win.

KING: When you think back to going to school with him, what do you make of your friend being president?

HARPER: I think it's fantastic. I looked up to him at Harvard, not just because he's taller than I am. I looked up to him because he is someone who came there with a sense of purpose, a sense of gravitas. He worked for five years doing community organizing and helping workers laid off from steel mills in Gary, Indiana, Chicago. And definitely there with a sense of purpose.

To see someone elevate and stay on purpose -- he's been doing community service, helping people, a public servant for all this time. That hasn't changed from Harvard to now.

KING: Still, he's president.

HARPER: Yes, and that a way he can affect more change.

KING: Kiki, what do you make of all this non-ending excitement.

MCLEAN: It's interesting. I was listening to Hill. And, Larry, you know Hill and I were on your show together a lot during the primaries, on opposite sides. I understand the enthusiasm. My husband worked for Barack Obama on his Senate campaign, one of the first people there. I remember him calling from Chicago saying, I met this guy who wants to run and I'm going to work with the campaign. People who met him early on saw this clearly in him.

But I can tell you what I think what people are also excited about this year, the chance to be involved. Barack Obama didn't do this by himself. He invited people to come on this journey with him. I think that's why you see the enthusiasm staying as high as it does even weeks after the election and THE enthusiasm and excitement about the inaugural and transition and every announcement and every nibble that we get about it. It's not just about insider Washington. It's about America.

KING: Amy, as political opponent, granted, what impresses you the most about him?

HOLMES: The people that say good things about him, like Hill on the show tonight, that seems to be a real person that people like and admire. And when people come into personal contact with him, it's a positive experience. I think these are all wonderful attributes of Barack Obama. It's just so extraordinary to see the president of the United States, president-elect, playing basketball on Election Day, not in a bunker down there with his people and pollsters and all of that. That he has the ability to relax and let go is very impressive.

KING: Hill, would you go to work for him? You've got a good gig?

HARPER: I have a good job. So I don't think so. I will volunteer.

And I think that's -- Kiki is absolutely right. This call, and I think that all the issues that we're facing in this country will require everyone committed and engaged in this election, no matter what side of the aisle you're on, to actually get involved in your communities.

You know, if they're talking about millions of people descending on Washington D.C., for an inauguration, let's have the conversation how could all those millions of people go back to their communities and actually be of service.

KING: As you know him, are you surprised he's talking to Hillary Clinton about a post?

HARPER: No. You're talking about an amazing public servant. You're talking about someone who is brilliant and has been for years. He's somebody that wants to surround himself with the best team possible, no matter if they're Republican, Independent, and Democrat.

KING: No grudges? He's not...

HARPER: No. Absolutely. If you want the best result for the country, why would you put your own personal grudge above that? I don't see that. I think actually the media has made much more of a division during the election than there actually was.

KING: Kiki, are you a little amazed how poised he is? Did he ever get ruffled?

MCLEAN: I don't think we saw him get ruffled. In the early debates, everybody was getting used to the idea and he really hadn't had a lot of experience in those formats. But I think he moved into this.

The beauty of a really tough primary campaign is the growth of the candidates. You can look at Al Gore when Bill Bradley challenged him in Iowa in the 2000 campaign. That made Al Gore a candidate. So the challenge of having a big field and it's slowly narrowing down and, in the end, being Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, made both of them better leaders, better candidates. It shows.

One of the things that's been interesting to watch is, through the general election, you see this almost grace that has come over him and this strength as he get to closer and closer and recognizing he would be taking all this responsibility. and see it in his face. KING: We don't have much time, Hill. That was an extraordinary campaign.

HARPER: Extraordinary.

KING: They didn't goof.

HARPER: No. And it was so well organized. I know the media focuses on top level appointments. But having traveled the country the last 20 months working on the campaign, all the people I met across the country, the people if, even if they have one-third of those people filling -- who are going to be all the people working for the people you talk about on the media, then it's going to be a successful change in Washington without question.

KING: Thank you, Amy Holmes, Kiki and Hill Harper, on the fifth year of "CSI: New York."

Hey we want to hear -- he's a good player, huh?

HARPER: He's good. He's good.

KING: We want to hear from you. Go to Click on Blog Time now -- no, it's Blog now, end of sentence, period. Time for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360."

It's been a long week -- Anderson.