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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Obama Cabinet News; Economic Situation

Aired November 21, 2008 - 21:00   ET

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


JOHN KING, GUEST HOST: Breaking news -- the guessing game may be over. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is on track to be secretary of State in the Barack Obama administration.
But would it be a two for one deal?

Would her husband Bill have a role in the middle or move to the sidelines?

And the rest of the cabinet appears to be taking shape -- who's in, who's out and who's still waiting to hear?

Plus, the economy is in shambles.

How will you survive the holidays?

Get your questions ready, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Thanks for spending some time with us on this Friday night.

I'm John King in Washington.

Larry is off tonight.

A great political group for the first half of this show -- a little bit more than that -- to discuss who's in, who's out -- the pros and cons of the new Obama cabinet, as we learn.

With me here in Washington, Paul Begala, the CNN contributor and Democratic strategist; Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and former senior adviser to Senator Hillary Clinton. And in New York, Leslie Sanchez, a CNN contributor and Republican analyst.

We will get to them in just a second.

But a lot of breaking news tonight.

Let's go straight out to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry.

He is in Chicago manning the Obama transition beat tonight -- and, Ed, so much for keeping secrets. We're learning more from our sources about the cabinet.

Fill us in on the latest.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They're starting to leak out, John. And Tim Geithner is really at the top of the list, for Treasury secretary. Two sources close to the transition saying that could happen, that essentially he's on track and it could happen as early as Monday.

The point there is the Obama transition team wants to send a message to the markets. They've been watching as this financial crisis has been deepening. And let's face it, there's a bit of a leadership vacuum right now.

President Bush is a lame duck. Barack Obama, as president-elect keeps saying there's only one president at a time, he doesn't have the authority to step in on the auto bailout or other issues.

So there's a leadership vacuum. And what the Obama transition team wants do early next week is send a message to the markets that they at least are getting their team into place and that they want to hit the ground running on January 20, instead of having a lot of run up time then, when they take office.

Second, Bill Richardson unlikely to get the secretary of State job now that Hillary Clinton is in line for that. We're hearing from two sources close to the transition that he's being seriously considered for Commerce secretary -- another job that's important, obviously, relating to the business community, a key economic adviser to the president.

And then, as you mentioned, as well, Hillary Clinton. Three sources close the transition telling us that, in fact, she is in line to be secretary of State but that that will happen after Thanksgiving -- again, so that they can get the economic team in place early next week and then start moving with the national security team later next week, into early December -- John.

KING: So, Ed, as we watch the powerhouse names being assembled for this cabinet, people are also fascinated by the personal story of this family coming to Washington, including two children in the White House, two young girls in the White House. We learned a bit more about where they will go to school once they relocate from Chicago to Washington.

Fill us in.

HENRY: That's right. Malia and Sasha will be going to Sidwell Friends. You know it well, because that's where Chelsea Clinton attended. Obviously this is a school -- an elite private school. A lot of powerful Washingtonians send their children there, but, also, it's very familiar with the security issues that the Obama family will be dealing with.

And what we're hearing from the Obama transition team is that Michelle Obama herself visited a lot of private schools, as well as the public schools in Washington, D.C. , checked them out, wanted to take a good long look. And they felt that basically that Sidwell Friends had the best situation for their children right now.

Obviously, a very interesting and historic transition for their family. But for two young daughters, as well, a very difficult time to adjust to a new city, adjust to all of this media attention, etc. So the family wants to make it as easy and smooth a transition as possible -- John.

KING: Thank you, Ed.

A very busy Ed Henry for us on the transition beat out in Chicago.

Ed, thanks very much.

Paul Begala, straight to you first.

Let's spend a few minutes on Hillary Clinton before we move on to the rest of the emerging Obama cabinet, because many people, even as this has leaked out and maybe settled in a bit over the past couple of days say wait a minute. Wait a minute, this is the woman who, A, almost beat him, but as she ran against him said not ready to be president -- too young, too naive, too weak, even, to lead America's foreign policy. And now he's going to pick her to represent him around the world, speaking for America's foreign policy.

Why?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Well, what an act of strength and self-confidence, right, to reach out?

He's clearly been inspired by Lincoln and other great presidents who have taken the strongest people in America -- even those who were some of his strongest critics -- to put them in the cabinet.

The content of their debates really -- it was testy at times, but it was more style than substance, really -- the war notwithstanding. Senator Obama was against the war before the beginning. Senator Clinton voted for it.

But today, they have very similar views on that, too. I think during the campaign they took the measure of each other and they each wound up with sort of a grudging admiration.

Then, through the course of the campaign and now in the transition, several phone calls, a couple of meetings. I think they've dropped the grudge and now it's just flat out admiration.

I hear from each side gee -- each side says my principal says the other one is really impressive.

And so it's a wonderful thing to see for the country. These people, obviously, big egos and big talents, putting all that aside to try to do what's right for the country.

KING: So, Maria, how does this woman -- we watched her in her husband's shadow. Even when he was Arkansas governor, Hillary Clinton was no slouch. This was a very serious, accomplished professional attorney, who had to put her career aside sometimes to say I'm the first lady of Arkansas.

She came to Washington. She had to be the first lady of the United States, even though she could be making gazillions at a law firm, she could be the head of a charitable foundation. She had to give up her career.

She emerges in the Senate and then runs for president and wants to be the top dog again.

Can she go step in the shadow of someone else again?

Can she do that comfortably?

MARIA CARDONA, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, HILLARY CLINTON: Well, I don't think that that is what we should -- that's not how we should look at it.

Hillary Clinton is somebody who has been a very dedicated public servant all of her life. All of the issues that she has dealt with throughout her Senate career, when she was first lady, throughout this tremendous campaign that she ran, are issues that she is tremendously passionate about.

When she steps into -- and I hope that she does it -- into the role of secretary of State, she's not going to be stepping into the shadow of anybody. I think that it's going to be a fantastic team. I agree with Paul, that this speaks volumes about Senator Obama and his leadership and the fact that he was able to pick somebody who he knows is going to be very, very strong, representing him and the United States abroad. And they're going to be a tremendous team. You know, some people called it the dream team going into it.

KING: And Leslie Sanchez, as a Republican, a conservative, you're on the other side. But you're someone who's watched Bill Clinton for many years, when he was frustrating Republicans because he was such a strong and powerful politician.

Do you think -- he's obviously doing all the right things now from the legal vetting process, making -- saying he will make any records they need available, that he is ready to be as transparent as possible with his private dealings now, his foundation and the like.

Can he step out of the way and not get in her way as she's secretary of State?

LESLIE SANCHEZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think he's been much of a frustration to Republicans and Democrats. And I think that was the part I think a lot of my Democratic colleagues were surprised about.

It's very much for us to believe -- it's, you know, asking us to really put aside what we know historically is a very intelligent person who's been on the world stage, who has really shaped this country, has had tremendous success in his own administration by working with Republicans. And to think that he's really going to be able to sit on the sidelines and not have counsel for his wife or for the pres -- the next president, is really a suspension of disbelief.

I think there's some interesting things, too. You can't drink the Kool-Aid here. There's some serious political maneuvering that's taking place on the president's side, the future president. He's looking at taking out his largest rival, who probably could be the largest critic.

And, also, for Senator Clinton, she is strategically not in line to be in a leadership position in the Senate. She could take on an issue, but health care is already taken by Senator Kennedy. I think it puts her, yes, with the gravitas she needs, but I think it strategically helps her probably more than it does him.

KING: All right. We'll talk more about this. Paul's jumping -- he wanted to...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: The never shy Paul Begala has something he wants to say. We're going to work in a quick break and we'll get to it on the other side.

Stay with LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with our panel discussing the pros and cons of Hillary Clinton serving as secretary of State in a Barack Obama administration -- Paul, we were talking Bill Clinton before the break. You know him as well as anyone. He loves the spotlight and the limelight.

How does he deal -- he has some things he wants to do, whether she's secretary of State -- if she were president, he would have things he wants to do.

BEGALA: Right.

KING: Where does he draw the line and how does he be careful?

BEGALA: Well, look at the last eight years, while his wife has been in the Senate. He hadn't been running around there, you know, trying -- I suggested he actually run for president of the Senate Spouses Club against Bob Dole, when Bob Dole's wife was in the Senate. But he shot me down on that.

He does have his own life.

If his country were to call, as George Bush has asked him, when the terrible tsunami hit Indonesia, he would obviously say yes.

My hope is the current -- the new president would ask maybe with a little greater frequency. But he understands, this is Hillary's time. And just as there's only one president at a time, there's only one secretary of State at a time.

I worry not about this. Look at how fast these obstacles have fallen. He has, you know, as Carville likes to say, Hillary didn't marry "Joe the Plumber," you know?

She didn't marry Todd Palin. She married a pretty accomplished guy. And how quickly all these obstacles have fallen, how completely transparent he's been with the transition team -- all right, you want this concession, you want this changed, you want this record, whatever you want.

It's because I think he understands this is Hillary's time and he's going to be fully, fully supportive. Lord knows, she has been of him. And I am quite sure he will be of her. And that's what makes them such a great couple.

KING: Very interesting. Even the question is somewhat not fair to her, because she is a very accomplished person in her own right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely.

KING: But he is the former president of the United States. I assume if she were secretary of State, she would want to use him in some capacity, no?

CARDONA: Well, you know, I assume that they will have their conversations when they have their conversations and we will never know about that. But I think that she will use him when she needs to. But again, you know, I think that the focus is what she brings to the table.

And I think what she brings to the table is an incredible ability to build consensus, an incredible ability to bring people together. We saw that when she went into the Senate. She kept her head down. She wasn't in the media limelight for several years. She worked really hard, rolled up her sleeves for the people of New York.

She's going to take those assets and those qualities and bring it to the world stage.

And the other thing I'll say is, you know, criticize however you want the Clintons -- and lord knows they have their critics. But what you can't take away from them is the incredible star power that they enjoy around the world and that popularity. And that is not an unimportant or insignificant quality when your role is going to be to rebuild alliances around the world and to try to re-establish America's reputation abroad.

KING: Leslie Sanchez, can a foe -- a critic of the United States -- a regime across the world that is having a profound disagreement with the United States at the moment try to take advantage of her past disagreements with Barack Obama in foreign policy or is it over, like here in the United States, when we say the campaign is over, you won, let's move on?

SANCHEZ: No. I believe the latter part is true. Let's look at the -- what we're all going to agree on. She is very capable, tremendous caliber, ran a superb presidential campaign. And to many -- many believe that she deserved to be the presidential candidate.

So I think she's more than qualified to stand and support what the next president wants to do with -- in terms of foreign policy. That's not an issue.

I think the more interesting case is that what the, you know, we talk about this "team of rivals." You put your top opponents and your rivals together.

But look at what the reality was of that. It caused a lot of power plays. It caused limited political traction and policy traction in terms of success. And many of those early supporters were the people that were the first to leave the administration of Lincoln.

So I don't think we can brush over this and say this is all a great idea. I think history does teach us other lessons.

She is an independent thinker, has her own ideas. It's going to be interesting to see how she challenges the president, you know, and voices her concerns.

And if he ever has to let her go, how could he strategically do that?

It's a very difficult spot.

KING: Maria, do you think she will try to carve out a specific portfolio that is Hillary's portfolio, Senator Clinton's portfolio, Secretary Clinton's portfolio -- in addition to the Obama foreign policy?

CARDONA: Sure.

KING: Her goal is to promote the broad foreign policy. But women's issues were something she focused on as first lady.

Do you think there will be a part that is hers?

CARDONA: I think that she will definitely bring her stamp to it, however she decides to do that. And I think women's issues could be something that she could bring to the world's attention. We know that is something she's incredibly passionate about. Women -- children's issues, as well. I think she will definitely bring her stamp to it.

But I do want to comment on something that Leslie said. And, you know, everybody keeps talking about this "team of rivals." And I think what we need to remember is that after the primary, Senator Obama and Senator Clinton were no longer rivals. I know that everybody likes to inject drama in that. But they come from the same family. Like Paul said, their policy positions were not, you know, far from each other.

So I don't think by putting her in the cabinet that you -- you can sort of bring that, in that that's putting a "team of rivals". She was part of his team and she will absolutely be a team player. And they're going to be a phenomenal team player...

SANCHEZ: You know, I don't think...

CARDONA: ...team together.

KING: Quickly, Leslie. SANCHEZ: Yes, I just think -- look at the convention. I mean half of the convention was trying to unite the Democratic Party. It ultimately came together. But that was...

CARDONA: Well, look how it came together.

SANCHEZ: You can't look at this like...

CARDONA: I mean how can...

SANCHEZ: ...there was not alliances on each side that were very bitter. I mean that's -- to say this is just all brushed over and point to the convention -- CARDONA: You can point to the convention...

SANCHEZ: ...(INAUDIBLE) didn't see that fire.

CARDONA: You can point to the convention...

SANCHEZ: And as...

CARDONA: ...as proof that they really came together.

(CROSSTALK)

SANCHEZ: Finally, it did.

CARDONA: And the fact that she worked for him...

KING: All right...

CARDONA: ...to get him elected. Nobody can doubt that.

KING: I'm going to call a -- I'm going to call a quick time out here.

We'll be back with more discussion of some other names in the Obama cabinet that we're learning, including the economic team and more members of the national security team.

Stay right with us.

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with more discussion of the emerging Obama cabinet.

If you've got something you want to say, a comment you want to make or a comment about the economy -- we'll talk about that later in the show -- go to CNN.com/larryking and click on the blog. We'll be watching that throughout the program.

Joining me now here in Washington, Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana, a Democrat. You might remember him from the Democratic National Convention -- a fiery speech that woke up the crowd there.

Paul Begala is still with us here in Washington. Chris Cillizza is with us, the Washington -- White House correspondent for "The Washington Post" and author of The Fix on Washingtonpost.com.

And still with us in New York is CNN contributor and Republican strategist Leslie Sanchez. Governor, let me get to you first.

You're a chief executive. You have to put together a team.

What are the cons -- the down side of bringing in -- and we'll get to more of the names in a minute -- but these powerhouses, where you have a number of people who are independent-minded, strong-minded, have their own policy credentials and portfolios?

There's some strength to that, obviously.

What's the potential down side?

GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER (D), MONTANA: Well, the potential down side is they become competitors publicly. You want people to challenge you. You want people to bring you new ideas.

The people I've selected around me, they'll say to me, you know, Brian, that's not a bad idea, but maybe not right now. That's the kind of person you need around -- not somebody who is a yes -- oh, yes, that sounds great. Oh, you're the smartest person and dust you off and send you out. You don't need those kind of people.

KING: Well, Chris we heard the name of Tim Geithner for Treasury secretary. On track -- that's, to anyone watching at home, that's one of these...

(CROSSTALK)

KING: We speak a strange language here in Washington. That means it's probably going to be you unless we learn something over the next 72 hours and change our mind.

You see Tim Geithner there. You see him. He's the president of the New York Fed, if my memory is correct. He has some Treasury Department experience.

Now, the market heard this name today and rallied. He may live to regret that, because if it tanks on Monday, they'll credit him for the rally today and blame him for the tank on Monday.

But why?

What does he bring?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think what he brings is stability. He's a known commodity. And I think, to be honest, this interregnum that we're facing, in some ways, there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding it. I'm not saying that if Barack Obama picked me, for example, to be Treasury secretary, the market would have improved. But I do think picking a known commodity, saying here's what we're going to do, this news that the economic team will be rolled out on Monday.

I think it's all aimed at easing concerns. Barack Obama understands that. The first thing he's going to deal with -- and the first, second, third and fourth thing, probably, John, is the economy -- trying to get people to feel better about it, to go out and spend money, to -- you know, get the mortgage situation back in place.

So I think it's more aimed at the visual of it. Geithner, from everything I know about him, is eminently qualified. But I think it's more the idea that he's the guy, we've got a plan in place and we're going to put it -- we're going to make this thing work, turn it around.

KING: In Washington, Paul, there's this obsession with, well, this guy ran on change and he's putting Hillary Clinton at the State Department...

BEGALA: Right.

KING: ...Rahm Emanuel, an old Clinton guy, in at the White House; other Clinton names throughout the administration. And people think, you know, horror or horrors, this isn't change. That's a Washington conversation.

Does it matter at all out in the country?

BEGALA: No. As long as he's not anybody named Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld.

(LAUGHTER)

BEGALA: This was change, but it was change away from what George W. Bush had done.

Very few people in this country would like to turn away from the Clinton brand of change, which was peace and prosperity.

I think that what President-Elect Obama is doing -- you know, this is going to be his own team. Even the Clinton people don't just want to just rerun the Clinton years. They understand it's a completely different situation, a completely new setting.

So I think that Tim Geithner is a Clinton guy because he was at Treasury when I was at the White House.

Well, guess what?

He was at Treasury under Reagan, under Bush One, under Clinton, under Bush Two.

So these are really accomplished people. I mean we'll take credit for any of the ones who succeed and I'll kick off on the other ones who fail.

But, no, I think that that's -- as I said before with Hillary, it shows a lot of strength. I think, as a White House staffer, it makes the White House staff all the more important, because I think Governor Schweitzer is right, this could spin off.

This could be Powell and Rumsfeld, who wouldn't speak to each other, right?

And I think the reason that that failed was that there was no strength in the White House. It -- literally, Condoleezza Rice was an ineffectual and incompetent national security adviser.

So these two titans that Bush brought in couldn't get along.

If there's strength in that White House staff -- and under Rahm Emanuel, he is stronger than garlic in a milkshake. There will be strength on that White House staff, I promise you.

KING: Leslie, I know you want to jump in.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: I have a question for the governor, as well.

We need to take a quick break. We'll be right back with more LARRY KING LIVE.

SANCHEZ: Thanks, guys.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with our -- for our discussion of the emerging Barack Obama cabinet.

And remember, if you want to join the discussion, nudge us along and go to CNN.com/larryking and click on the blogs.

Governor Schweitzer, an interesting question, as we watch the emergence of this national security team in the Obama administration. We are told Senator Clinton almost certain to be the secretary of State. She voted to authorize the Iraq War.

We are told that Secretary Gates, President Bush's defense secretary, may stay on for some period of time. He is now, of course, leading the effort -- the military effort in Iraq.

And we are told that retired Marine General Jim Jones could come in as the national security adviser. He supported the Iraq War and supported his old friend, John McCain.

Is there any concern in the Democratic Party -- Barack Obama won the nomination because he was the most anti-war candidate back at the beginning.

Is there any concern that the grassroots Democratic Party that thought this was their guy, he would get the troops home yesterday, that maybe from campaigning to being president, he's backing off? SCHWEITZER: Look, he's a confident, cool guy. He knows what he's doing. We're not talking about going into a new war. We're talking about getting out of a fix that we're in. And you might want some of the people that got us in there to help get us out.

I think Chuck Hagel ought to be part of this administration and if not right away, I think in the future. Bring a Republican in -- one who's fought a war, one who was involved in coming out of Vietnam, one who called it very early -- we need to get out.

Get Chuck Hagel involved in this administration in some way.

KING: Leslie Sanchez, politics is a jigsaw puzzle in both parties. And when you're assembling a cabinet, everybody says well, what about this constituency?

The labor unions helped Barack Obama.

What about this constituency?

He won those Western states, in large part, because of the surge in Latino votes for the Democrats.

And one of the odd men out at the moment is the New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson. There's been some talk he didn't get secretary of State. That is what he wanted. Ed Henry, at the top of the show, said he could be on the list for Commerce secretary.

When you're putting together this puzzle -- and, again, you're a Republican -- but when anybody is putting together a coalition government, if you will, and a coalition of your own party, what is the risk of not bringing Bill Richardson in and keeping him happy?

SANCHEZ: You know, I wouldn't even look at it from an ethnic perspective. I think Governor Richardson is somebody who is immensely qualified on many different fronts. He has so many advantages that he brings to an administration, in terms of his global connections, his network of experience, his understanding of the energy issues -- former energy secretary -- you know, and as an executive of a state. He's tremendously important.

What's interesting is he's not being looked at for that tier one group of positions. You know, we're talking about economic and national security, your Treasury team, you know, your State, your Ag or your Defense secretary that you talked about.

This is almost the tier-two group. And Commerce secretary, interestingly enough, tends to be the most political of appointments. And a lot of political business appointees end up being shuffled, ultimately, to the Commerce Department. Some parachute in right away. I think that's where you see a lot of those business fundraisers land.

It's not necessarily a bad spot, it's just traditionally where they end up.

But he did a tremendous job and I think it opened the dialogue on the Western hemisphere, Latin American culture. He just -- he brings so many positives.

KING: Is there a connect the dots?

Is there a thematic strength to what we know so far about this?

Tom Daschle, the former Senate leader, we are told he will come in to the Department of Health and Human Services. He will take the lead on health care legislation, one would assume that's because of his negotiating skills, on Capitol Hill especially.

On the Senate side, where Senator Kennedy will take the lead with the bill.

Eric Holder, who is a person who served in the Clinton administration, coming in as attorney general.

And you see Tom Daschle there on your screen. And we'll show you show of the faces -- the faces and even the names probably aren't known to many Americans.

But is there, Paul, a thematic connection to these people?

What does it say about the kind of government Barack Obama is trying to assemble?

BEGALA: I think he wants a very pragmatic government. I think he understands he's got to put points on the board, right?

And I think health care today, for example, is much less of a policy matter than a legislative matter. In other words, all the smart people -- Senator Daschle has written one of the better books on this. I mean people have thought this through.

And where we -- or I failed when I was serving President Clinton -- was in getting this passed through the Congress.

To have -- to recruit a senator majority leader who could do anything he wanted in the whole wide world to come and run this effort for him and to give him special status in the White House, as well as at the Department of Health and Human Services, very, very smart.

You know, President Truman once said the most important power of the president is the power to persuade. This guy can persuade. You can talk the Senate majority leader into joining your cabinet, potentially talk his chief rival for the primary nomination into joining his cabinet -- this is an all star -- this is pretty impressive.

SANCHEZ: John, there's an interesting...

KING: Hold on.

(CROSSTALK)

KING: Hold on, Leslie.

Hang on one second, OK? SCHWEITZER: I just want to just quickly, to Paul's point, it's funny, because I was going to say pragmatism, as well, in a different way, though. I think that everyone -- people tend to see Barack Obama as an idealist -- hope, change, these sort of big, broad ideas.

Look at the campaign for clues as to how this guy is going to govern. Go back to mid-June, when Barack Obama said I know I sort of said that I'm going take the public financing money, that $84 million, but I think I can raise a lot more than $84 million. I'm going to back out of it. That was a practical, very calculated political decision.

I think what you see a mix of in the cabinet, John -- and Paul was speaking to this -- is you see loyalists. You see people who were with him very early on -- a Daschle, a Janet Napolitano.

But you also see a Hillary Rodham Clinton. You see a Bill Richardson, who -- we forget, but Bill Richardson ran against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the primaries.

So I think it's this interesting amalgam that you're seeing.

KING: Some would also call that campaign finance decision cutthroat. But we'll leave that for...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: We'll leave that for another time. The guy likes to win.

And guess what?

He did.

We're going to take another quick break.

When we come back, our guest, Governor Schweitzer here, we're going to give him a little surprise.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BRIAN SCHWEITZER, (D) MT: They need all of you to stand up. Stand up, Colorado! Stand up. Florida, stand up! Michigan, stand up! Pennsylvania, stand up! Get off of your hind end. In the cheap seats, stand up!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The very colorful governor of Montana. Your speech at the Democratic Natioanl Convention. Up to that point the hall was pretty dead. Hillary Clinton people, the Barack Obama people, still trying to figure out how to make peace. Still looking at each other. You brought them to life there. What's your memory of that moment?

SCHWEITZER: It was being run like a dang funeral. These conventions ought to be fun. And there ought to be just a little old fashioned get excited and get on your feet and shout a little bit. That's what I was attempting to do there.

KING: You spent time here in Washington today doing important business. You were meeting with some of your other western governors with the Obama transition team, to talk about an energy policy. You were putting together a policy no matter who won, if McCain won you would be having the meeting with him as well. What do you think we can expect in material days of an Obama administration? Let me ask the question political context, the price of gas has dropped considerably. It is around $2 a gallon. I got a haircut today. And the woman said gas is so cheap again, it is OK. I wouldn't say it is cheap but it's cheaper. How does that -- the way consumers feel that way affect the urgency for the politically getting things done.

SCHWEITZER: By the way, with $2 gasoline, you can afford to spend more on the hair. That's all right.

KING: Lord knows I can use it.

SCHWEITZER: Look, this is an imperative. Between can't lose the moment just because gas prices have come down a little bit right now. One of the things we can do - and the next energy secretary, I think, is going to be one of the most important ...

KING: Who will that be.

SCHWEITZER: There's a few names that they are kicking around. But it is going to have to be -- I hate to use energy czar because people talk about those sorts of things. But it has to be someone strong enough they rise up almost like Tom Daschle, where you have one office over at the White House and one office at Energy. This is going to be the infrastructure project the next four years.

Probably the next 10 years. We are looking for a jobs program. This is jobs. It is a new transmission grid. It is a new kind of car we are going to build that runs on electricity. It's pipelines. It is coal gasification. It is wind farms, it is solar farms. This is 5 million jobs and God knows we need them right now. Let's invest for the future and investing in energy.

KING: I was e-mailing Paul with a good friend of yours and a good friend of mine. I won't name him because our e-mail conversations are private. He said you are missing the point. You are looking at this name, looking at that name. Looking at this name, looking at that name. This guy has essentially put together a government, the shell of a government in 17 days.

BEGALA: It is remarkable. I don't think that any major cabinet nominee had been announced in the past before December 1st. Here we are, November 21st. I need to know that, my wife's birthday is the 23rd. Coming up my wife's birthday -- how late is the mall open?

But, you know, this is remarkable. And it's one thing -- Now that I'm sort of in the media. I hope we give this new president time to put his team together. There will be some stumbles. There have not been yet. He's still two months before his first day in office. I do think he ought to take his time. I think he's emphasizing internally and this guy is telling me and gals, emphasizing team as much as rivals. He really wants this crowd to work together. So I think he is viewing it as a different pod. Here is my energy, economy pod. Here's my national security, my health care. And I think that's a wise way do this.

KING: Leslie, do Republicans look at this team -- they are pretty heavyweight names. You have seen a few releases from the Republican National Committee. Eric Holder was involved in a controversial pardon at one point. He is going to have to answer to that in his confirmation hearing.

Tom Daschle has take a million votes as any senator has, and there are eight or 10 of those or 20 of those you can say aha, look at this. Do Republicans look at this and say this will be our opening? Do you just simply have to sit back and wait and see?

SANCHEZ: I think the Republicans, the smart thing do and many have been talking about that, let this president build his team and let them go through a confirmation process and just like everybody else has. And see what happens. Most of those individuals are not going to be confirmed until May. Have you this period of time where we will see what happens there. That's not really where the shot they are going to come from. They are going to come more so in how these teams can work together and Republicans and Democrats to move this economy forward.

You know, Republicans are looking in the mirror to see what we need to do to reprioritize. It will not be looking at the candidates for Cabinet secretaries. I think there is an interesting thing you haven't talked about. Yes, you are taking the Clinton folks and have the credentials. Important people and know the legislative process. But it is also the executive management of the White House. That's a lesson also that came from the Clinton administration. Maybe Paul can talk about that. It took Bill Clinton some to get off his feet and several years after that to clean up that mess. It is also, I think, I will tell you a lot of folks on capitol hill are looking to see does he put an executive team together that knows how to manage the White House.

KING: We are about to run out of time with this group. Lot of complaining internally about leaks. Inside baseball game. But, Chris, we have talked about all these names and heavyweight names. We will see how they do when they actually get in the government. Any mistakes in the transition so far?

CILIZZA: I don't think so. I think it is easy, John, point out, this name leaked out before the Obama campaign wanted it to. Truth of the matter is, the people we remember -- I hate to say this because Paul is here. The Zoe Baird and the Kimba Woods, the people put out there and ultimately didn't make it through the vetting process. We don't remember whether Janet Reno's name leaked or it was announced. You have to keep focused on the big picture. I think Barack Obama, you want to get the right person in there who can get confirmed, as Leslie said, and do the job you are putting him in for.

KING: As a real world Democrat, out there far away from Washington, any complaints of what we see so far?

SCHWEITZER: Like it so far. Leaks, come on. When you put your own holes in the bucket and water runs out, that's not a leak.

BEGALA: Can I say I'm nominating him for energy secretary?

KING: That's not bad.

KING: Governor Schweitzer is leaving us soon to Ireland to get the James Joyce Award. We will give him a plug for that. You will give us a travelogue report when you get back. Paul Begala, Chris Cilizza, Leslie Sanchez, thanks for being with us. When we come back, we will change our folk us to the economy and whether you should be in the holiday spirit. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Shift our focus to the economy. A little political economic news. Also how you should feel watching the turbulent Wall Street markets ask and economy heading into the holiday season. Joining us in New York, Jean Chatzky, she is a financial editor for NBC's "Today Show." Also hosts a daily show on Oprah and Friends. And she's the author of "Pay it Down."

Tony Robbins is an entrepreneur, author and life and business strategist. He joins us from us Miami. And John Assaraf is the founder of One Coach, he is in San Diego tonight. He advises small businesses, also works in the area of personal businesses. Coauthor of a "New York Times" best-seller, "The Answer."

Jean, let me start with you. We learned the name Timothy Geithner today as the likely treasury secretary. What's the signal in terms of policy shifts from that? Obviously, it reassured the markets in the short term. Will that linger?

JEAN CHATZKY, MONEY EXPERT: The markets absolutely liked it. We saw the market go up more 500 points. Closed up 494 on the day. And I think that what the market was most reacting to was the fact that this guy is no novice. He has been in there working on the plans already. That, of course, has both good and bad aspects. But it is a clear signal to market. That things are absolutely going to get done and get done in the relatively short term.

KING: And does it signal any major shift in policy from what Obama said in the campaign or is this guy consistent with how Obama campaigned?

CHATZKY: Fairly consistent with how Obama campaigned. The signals that we are getting already from the Senate you heard what Nancy Pelosi and her team had to say to the automakers today, they don't just want to throw good money after bad. They want answers about how the money is going to be used. I think the Tim Geithner appointment is consistent with that.

KING: Tony and John, I want to bring you into the discussion at a time when many Americans are anxious, frightened, worried, and sad actually that they are looking at the bottom line of their financial statements. Let me start with you, Tony. In terms of the message getting from this Obama administration, still two months to wait. A lot of people thought there would be change right away. Still two more months. In terms of public mood and opinion, what do you say to someone that walks up to you, why would I even try to be happy?

TONY ROBBINS, LIFE STRATEGIST: I get that question every day. It is more what do I do? What do I tell my wife and my children? What do I tell my husband to be able to deal with the situation? I tell people it is really simple. You need two things. You need to have mental emotional physical strategies to be strong and be able to deal with what's in front of you because it is here. Denial will not make it stronger. And being rageful about something you can't change isn't going to make it different. And you also need the strategies.

And I think what people need today is they have no compelling future. The idea that Obama will save everyone, I have enormous respect for him, I voted for him but one person or one group of people aren't going to do it.

This is a long-term challenge. I've had the privilege of coaching one of the top 10 financial traders in the world for 16 years. I mean, every day. What he has done, measure it. This is a man that made a half a billion dollars in 1987 when the stock market crashed. What he said to me is look, Tony, people today have to get strong and they have to get ready because there are stocks that a few months ago were $80 and today they are $5. If the market continues to drift, which it has great possibilities of doing, depending on type of industry, the valuations, some of those could be a dollar and some could be 25 cents. He said, you know, the great opportunity is going to be when that goes not back to $80, it may take you five, 10, 15 years. When that 25 cent stock goes to $5, he said have you a 2,000 percent return. If you look in the 1970s and you look in the 1930s, that cycle happened in six months.

So for people that have no future, I say to people get strong mentally and give people tools on do that and you've also got strategies that really work. You can't allow yourself to think that someone else is going to do this. You have to participate in your own rescue.

KING: John, jump in on that. The psychology of the moment. It is almost the holiday season. Thanksgiving is next week. This is a time where people cheer themselves up by spending largely on others. Buying gifts for others. Supporting their friends and their families and as a result, the economy and yet, if you are thinking now watching the unemployment rate go up, watching the markets in constant turmoil, you may be afraid to dig deep and spend. How do you solve that conflict?

JOHN ASSARAF, BUSINESS STRATEGIST: Absolutely. It is really tough. You know, when you are wanting to have a great holiday season go out and spend when times are tough. What we have to remember is the holiday season is not just about spending. It is about love and family. And Tony mentioned a great thing. It is about time for us to recalibrate our skills and strategies. Right now we have to have the mindset for success. And the only thing that separates us from maybe a pig or horse, ability to choose. So now is the moment to choose. Now is the moment to actually have the hope. Tough times don't last. Smart people and resilient people do. And it is our turn now to take heed of where we are and figure out what can I do in this holiday season to make it a really great one? What can I do in my business with my spouse and with my children and significant others to make a difference?

It may not be financially based. To hunker down and do the right thing with having the right mindset first.

KING: We are going to sneak in a quick break. When we come back, more advice of what you can do. You out there watching. If you want to join the discussion at cnn.com/larryking. Click on the blog. Add your thoughts on this economic crisis facing the United States. Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's check in with David Theall, our producer. He is checking the Larry King blog tonight and has a question for our panel. Hi, David.

DAVID THEALL, CNN PRODUCER: Hi, John. This conversation, by the way, is going to continue on throughout the show. And throughout the evening on Larry's blog. Which is at cnn.com/larryking.

This week we have received thousands, thousands of comments from people visiting Larry's blog about the economy. People who are worried about the state of the economy. People who are frightened about the upcoming holiday season, how they are going to get through it. People who are very angry about the proposed auto industry bailout or loan. Boy, did that set people off.

But earlier this evening, we just -- received a question from somebody for the panel, we thought was a perfect question for them. It is from Louise and she asks, "Can the panel agree on what three bench marks would signal an economic recovery?"

Let's go straight to our panel. Jean, you go first.

CHATZKY: All right. I will throw a couple out there. We will see if we can come to some consensus here. We need to see housing prices either bottom or start to recover. That's number one. We need to see unemployment turn around. And I think when both of those things start to happen, that will set the course for both consumer spending, to start to really come back, and for the greater economy to start to come back. Gentlemen, you agree?

ASSARAF: Absolutely.

ROBBINS: Very important. I'm actually -- I'm sorry. I'm here in Miami and I have actually put together a group of people because of the traders that I work with. Everybody from Jim Rogers, the billionaire who is George Soros' partner. Robert Proctor, who called the Dow when it was at 780 and said it would go up seven times in 1978 the middle of a bear market. We have been talking about this for the last four day was the smartest minds around.

And what each are saying is you are in a situation here where the idea that there is going to be a quick turnaround of any sort is of getting people in the positions, setting them up for some real pain, what people have to be able do instead is put themselves in a place they get liquid as possible and begin to look for what that bottom is and that bottom, they believe, is going to take time. There are opportunities that exist right now but for the average investor, they really have to conserve what they have and protect themselves right now.

Yes, obviously, if we are going to see a turnaround in the real estate side of things and we're going to see a turnaround in unemployment, that's going to make a difference. I don't think we should giving people false points of views. People have to get incredibly strong so they have to figure out what they're going to do so they can have more meaning and emotion in their lives while they get their finances together. Otherwise it will be more stress.

CHATZKY: Tony ...

KING: John, you agree with that?

ASSARAF: I agree with that. I think there is one other thing. We are talking about a financial institution bailout or stimulus package. We talkrf about a stimulus package for the auto industry. What about an emotional stimulus package? What about giving people the hope?

When we see people or hear about people talking about how things are about how things are getting better at home or businesses, at coffee shop or their watering hole at the office, that's when we see stability. I think we have to understand, this is not a short term solution. We have got to help people with the strategies and skills to know how do you deal with this. Most of us have never seen this happened. We were not here in the Depression of '29.

Now this is something very, very new and with unemployment possibly going to be at 10 percent, we have to teach people how to think differently and then teach them how to act so I really can master my emotions, my thoughts and my behaviors.

KING: Sneak in one quick break. I'm sorry. One more quick break. When we come back, more on the state of the economy and what it means for you. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A few minutes away from the top of the hour, AC 360 is up then. Anderson Cooper is standing by in New York with a preview. Hi, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, John, breaking news tonight.

Stocks rally today, erasing yesterday's losses, the markets rising on reports that President-Elect Obama is going to name David Geithner (SIC) as treasury secretary as early as Monday and we'll have more on Obama's possible Cabinet appointments including late word on Senator Clinton.

Also tonight, is your 401(k) safe? We're going to talk to financial expert Suze Orman about how you can protect your money and your future. She's going to be taking your calls and your e-mail questions. You can find the link on ac360.com.

And the Obamas have a school for their girls and we will tell you what it is and why the Obamas think it is the right choice and which other White House kids have gone there.

Those stories and more tonight on 360, John.

KING: Thanks. We'll see you in a few minutes. When we come back from a quick break, more with our panel on the state of the economy and how you can get into the holiday spirit. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Just a few minutes left in our program. Let's get straight back to the panel and talking about the economy and what you can do. Jean Chatzky, help me understand your perspective. You mentioned the auto bailout, the proposed bailout earlier. Washington kicked that can down the road a little bit and want answers from the Big Three. Is the political culture helping or hurting at the moment?

CHATZKY: I think the culture has things at a standstill. We have seen the market down 500, up 500. Until we know exactly what is going to happen with this money, I think we're rather stuck. We're talking about the holidays, how you, an individual can get through the holidays.

And I think that the answer to that is controlling the things you have the ability to control. John was talking about controlling your emotions. Let's talk about controlling your spending. Figure out what your nut is for this holiday season and get that money either in cash, on a debit card, on a credit card you know you have the ability to pay off this month and don't go over it. Explain to your children, this is it this holiday. You know what, we're fortunate to have it because there are a lot of kids who have far less.

KING: And John, when you hear talk like that, when you hear even Tony was saying earlier, every crisis is an opportunity, but what do you tell a blue collar worker who lost his job, may be losing his home, how do you convince that person times are tough right now, but prepare yourself because there is an opportunity here.

ASSARAF: Well, I think it is really important to let them know this is not a short term solution, number one. They have to make two decisions. One is either play the price of discipline or price of regret. Discipline will weigh ounces come paired to the price of regret. What I mean is they have to understand this is survival of the fittest. This could happen to millions of people potentially. What can they do about it? What can they think about it? What can they do with the skills they have to change their circumstances. We can't control the circumstances outside of us but we certainly have control over the circumstances within us and that's where we must start, start with giving hope there is a blue lining here, or a silver lining here somewhere. That is what they have to start looking for. It's not easy, but it is possible and can be done.

KING: Tony, when you're consulting and advising these power players you talk about, translate that for the little guy. How do those who lost tens of millions of dollars I assume in this, what motivates them looking for the silver lining? What motivates them and what exactly are they looking for?

ROBBINS: I think what everybody is looking for is certainty, compelling future. What people need is they need examples in strategies. People like Sir John Templeton, I interviewed him right before he died, he was one of the greatest investors of all time. He'd say I'm not a investor, a little guy. Sir John was not a sir, he was from Tennessee, had nothing.

He made all his money from times of maximum pessimism. When World War II broke out, Hitler was invading Poland and we had been going through a Depression. He picked up these stocks that were 25 cents, 50 cents, a dollar, they had been $70, $80, $50, the equivalent in that time period and made him more than a billionaire.

What I am doing now with people is saying look, you need a plan, not just for your finances. But for your head, your emotion and your family.

My foundation, we feed 3 million people from now to Thanksgiving. How do we do it, we invite say even if you have a little, go do the feeding. You don't have to have a bunch of money, go be there so you see someone having a tougher time than you are to put things in perspective.

And the second thing I'm doing is I'm creating what I call a course for America. All the coaching I've done for years, I will do it for free, I am doing it online and anybody that goes to tonyrobbins economy.com for four weeks, I will do this coaching and I'll start doing this in January and right away I am giving people a plan what to do for your crisis, what to do to right now to learn from somebody like Sir John. I have an interview online.

KING: Tony, I have to cut you off. Find that Web site, though, thanks to our panel tonight. ANDERSON COOPER 360 is up right now. LARRY KING LIVE, watch it this weekend as well. Take it over, Anderson.