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Obama's Surprise Iraq Visit; One-on-One with Nancy Pelosi; Interview With the Osteens

Aired April 7, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, President Obama's surprise stop in Baghdad.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm honored and grateful to be with all of you. You have performed brilliantly in every mission that has been given to you.


KING: What happens when an anti-war candidate becomes commander- in-chief?

And why did Obama go to Iraq, not Afghanistan?

And then, one-on-one with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- the most powerful woman office holder in America. Some charge that she's also ultra partisan.

What is she pushing Obama to do when he gets back from his big trip overseas?

And then, mega preacher Joel Osteen and his co-pastor wife, Victoria. The church has more than 40,000 members. The sermons go out to millions in nearly 100 nations.

What do the Osteens believe Americans need most in these troubled times?

It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Before we meet the speaker of the House, a discussion about the president's surprise visit to Iraq.

In Baghdad is Frederik Pleitgen, CNN correspondent.

And here in New York, our own Christiane Amanpour, CNN's chief international correspondent, who will also be guest anchoring "A.C. 360" tonight -- Frederik, whom did the president see on this visit?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, the president spent less than five hours on the ground here in Baghdad. The first people that he met were, of course, the top commanders here in Baghdad -- the top U.S. commanders. He huddled with them, got briefings on the security situation here, how it's evolving, and, also, how the preparations for the troop drawdowns are evolving here in Iraq.

The next thing he did was he met with about 1,500 U.S. troops, gave a speech to them, thanked them for their service in Iraq; also, said that Michelle Obama thanked them for their service here in Iraq and said it was now time to transition more and more of the responsibility here in this country to the Iraqis.

And that led him to his next stop, which was a meeting with top Iraqi officials, including Iraq's prime minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, whom he urged to stay the course of political reconciliation in this country, in Iraq, which is one that has been very difficult, especially in the past couple of months with the different groups -- the Kurds, the Sunni and the Shia -- still very much at odds with each other -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Frederik Pleitgen, on the scene in Baghdad, our CNN correspondent.

All right, Christiane, why do you think he didn't go to Afghanistan?

CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a good question. I thought he might, actually, when we knew that he was actually going after Istanbul somewhere. We couldn't report it at the time.

But they say -- his press secretary says he went to Iraq because it was close, neighboring to Turkey; that he wanted to talk to the Iraqi officials about the political situation just after the elections in January; and, of course, to thank the U.S. troops there.

And it is, really, for Obama, the war that's kind of meant to be winding down, whereas Afghanistan is the one that is ramping up and perhaps he'll go there some time later.

KING: Let's watch some of what the president told U.S. troops about phasing -- phasing out combat.



OBAMA: It is time for us to transition to the Iraqis. They...


OBAMA: They need to take responsibility for their country and for their sovereignty.


KING: Now, in the past, when previous secretaries of Defense or members of the Bush administration would go and say, we're saying here for the course, they would get cheered. He says, we're leaving, they kept cheering. AMANPOUR: Well, you know, so many of the troops have been down so many rotations, many of them multiple times. And, you know, they follow their commander-in-chief. You know, when President Bush said something, they cheered him. When President Obama is saying something, they cheer him.

President Obama was clear from the beginning that he opposed the war. That was the very rationale for his presidential candidacy. And he was asked, in fact, that very, very same question -- what is the difference between you and President Bush?

He was asked by a student in Turkey, in Istanbul.

And he said, look, although I, unlike President Bush, wants to drawdown the Iraqi presence, now that I'm president, I can't just swerve the ship of state suddenly. Things don't work like that. And I have to do it responsibly. That's the burden on my shoulders.

And he has said that he's going to withdraw them in about 19 months. That's a little bit longer than the 16 months that he had said during the campaign and he had wanted. But it kind of matches the agreement that the United States and Iraq have come to under the so- called Status of Forces agreement to get all the troops out by the end of 2011.

KING: What's your read on -- on the whole trip?

AMANPOUR: Well, in terms of substance, but one can analyze and question and debate how much real substance the president achieved, whether it was at the G20, whether it was at the NATO summit, whether it was talking about, you know, a world with nuclear weapons.

You know, at the NATO summit, he was not able to persuade his allies in NATO to give as many troop as he wanted for as long as he wanted. He scrambled together some 5,000 from the allies. But many of them are just short-term for the elections.

He wasn't able to get all the stimulus he wanted from the Europeans and other world leaders at the London summit.

But in terms of public diplomacy, it was a major achievement because, by all accounts -- and all the accounts you read in the press, whether it's Europe, Turkey the rest of the world -- he has done what the American people wanted him to do and the world wanted him to do, which is change America's image in the world.

KING: A couple of other things -- Frederik, what was the security situation there?

PLEITGEN: Well, it was obviously a very difficult situation, as with every time that a U.S. president visits Iraq right here.

There were some parts of the program that the president actually had to scrap because, as you know, Larry, when he landed here, there was actually a major sandstorm going on here in Baghdad. What was supposed to happen is that the president was supposed to meet with the troops and then take a helicopter into Central Baghdad -- into the Green Zone there from the military base where he was at. However, due to the weather, the military decided that it was not safe enough for him to make that trip. And so what happened is that the Iraqi politicians that he was going to meet, they had to go into that military base to meet with the president. So some of the programs had to be rearranged -- and very hastily rearranged -- as this visit was going on -- Larry.

KING: Thanks, Frederik.

One more quick thing, Christiane.

How do you explain his -- no matter what happens -- his incredible popularity...

AMANPOUR: Well, a lot of it...

KING: Here and abroad?

AMANPOUR: A lot of it is abroad because he is not President Bush. President Bush and the policies of the Bush administration caused so much disruption and -- and strained relations between the rest of the world and America. I mean the poll ratings you could see throughout those eight years, particularly toward the end, were very, very low for America's leadership.

And President Obama said that he wanted to change things. The American people wanted him to change things. He also said himself that he wants to bring new optimism about the notion of American leadership. But people perceived him as somebody who was more of a partner rather than a unilateralist and also somebody who actually showed some humility, as well.

KING: As always, thank you.

Thanks, Frederik.

Thanks, Christiane.

Don't forget to check out Christiane's commentary on our blog, She'll also be sitting in for Anderson tonight.

We'll be back with the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the first woman speaker in our history, the gentle lady from California, Nancy Pelosi.

(APPLAUSE) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: All those in favor, say aye.

The bill is passed without objection and motion to reconsider...

The president of the United States...


KING: It's always a pleasure to welcome Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, Democrat of California.

This time, we're both together in New York. That's a first.

Her best-selling book, "Know Your Power

A Message to America's Daughters." There you see its cover. It's now out in paperback.

Let's cover -- we've got a lot of bases to cover.

How did the president do?

PELOSI: I think the president did great. First of all, in his trip to Europe, the -- of course, he was well-received. But I was talking to President Berlusconi yesterday to extend the condolences of the Congress and the American people to him about the earthquake. And as busy as he was, he gave me the report on what he had seen at the earthquake site. He then said I want to you hear what I have to say about President Obama. He said, there are winds of change. He made a wonderful impression.

KING: He brought that up?

PELOSI: He brought that up. He made a wonderful impression. He was humble. He listened and just -- just won everyone over. And it was wonderful to hear it coming from him, because he is not, shall we say, on the same political spectrum and had been very close to President Bush.

KING: I know.

Was Iraq a good idea?

PELOSI: Yes. Yes. It was -- the president was close by. He would always take the opportunity to pay his respects to our troops, to thank them for their courage, their patriotism, the sacrifices they and their families are making for our country.

It was important for him to get some ground truth about speaking with the leadership of Iraq and, of course, speaking with our military leadership there, as well.

And a president always has to make a surprise visit to Iraq, because of the danger of a presidential visit.

KING: What did you make of Korea's nuclear -- well, whatever you want to call that?

PELOSI: Well, I think that was a cry for attention on the part of the North Koreans. I've been of Pyongyang, to North Korea. Not many people have. And I saw the desperate situation of the North Korean people. And this is their -- this is all they have to export are missiles.

So we really have to get them into another way of thinking about their role in the world economy and do better than trying missile tests.

What was interesting to me, though, was the response to President Obama saying that he wanted to rid the Earth of all nuclear missile weapons -- nuclear weapons. This was fabulous.

Now, this has been said -- I want to tell you that President Reagan said this. And that's not my quote. This is a quote from George -- Secretary Schultz, Secretary Kissinger, former Senator Sam Nunn and Secretary William Perry. They quote President Reagan as saying it would be fine with me if we could get rid of all of them. They are totally irrational, totally inhumane, good for nothing but killing, perhaps the destruction of life on Earth and civilization.

President Ronald Reagan, as quoted by the leaders that I mentioned to you.

So when people criticize President Obama for saying they want to rid the Earth of nuclear weapons, he's in a company that has a broad base of support.

KING: Is -- could Afghanistan become Obama's war?

PELOSI: This is a war that we will have to deal with, but it certainly is not Obama's war. This is a war that's been going on for seven-and-a-half years...

KING: I mean perceived?

PELOSI: Well, I don't think so. I think that the public knows that for seven-and-a-half years, we have been in Afghanistan. We have missed opportunities there time and time again.

When we went in, we then turned our attention -- we routed the Taliban and the Al Qaeda. We did not defeat them. We did not destroy them or their base. So now they are coming back and they have for a number of years.

And we -- this is a very important year, 2009. And so the presidential leadership here to focus -- to narrow the focus, to make it a regional initiative, I think, is very, very important.

KING: Fidel Castro met with U.S. Congressional delegates today.

Did the speaker know about that?

Back in 60 seconds. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Before we ask about the Castro visit, we have an e-mail question from Ted in Filderstadt, Germany: "Madam Speaker, how do you justify the many trips House members take at taxpayers' expense, especially during this time of economic hardship?"

PELOSI: The House of Representatives and the Senate have to vote on very important issues regarding our national security. I do limit the trips that they take, especially because we are in two wars. And we need, of course, we don't want to squander money. It never is a squander, but at a time when we need the planes, we limit the travel.

The administration -- and maybe some in the public would like Congress not to see what is the ground in the ground -- on the ground in some of these places.

But we have to vote on war. We have to vote on development assistance that we give to countries. Many of these trips are on the basis of intelligence to find out more information. This helps us a great deal in the decisions that we have to make.

KING: Do you approve the trips?

PELOSI: Some I approve and some are some committees, like Appropriations, they have their own trips. But much of the trips I -- many of the trips I approve.

KING: We'll ask about Castro, about her book and other things, right after this.


KING: By the way, tell us what you think on our blog --

All right. Castro met with members of visiting -- a visiting Congressional delegation, the first since his illness.

Did you know about it?

PELOSI: I knew that they were going on the trip. I didn't know if they were going to be meeting with Fidel Castro. I think that's a development that occurred once they were there.

KING: We're apparently going to open up some visitation from Cuban-Americans to visit their families.

Do you think we should go further than that?

PELOSI: Well, I have long been a supporter of lifting the embargo. The 22 years I've been in the Congress, I've advocated that position. I don't speak for every Democrat when I say that or every member of Congress. But it has been my view.

And I think now that many people are coming toward the end of their lives, they want to see their families. They want more travel and more remittance -- remittances, to be able to send medicine or money to their families there. I hope that the president will allow that to happen.

KING: Did they...

PELOSI: This embargo has not accomplished much.

KING: Do you thing we'll see the whole thing change...

PELOSI: I think so...

KING: ...the embargo lifted, open travel?

PELOSI: Well, I don't know if that will happen now. But I think much of it will depend on what happens in Cuba.

KING: Former Vice President Cheney recently told CNN that decisions by President Obama -- I want to get this right -- had raised the risk of another terrorist attack against the United States.

Earlier today on this network, Vice President Joe Biden responded to that.



JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's dead wrong. This administration -- the last administration left us in a weaker posture than we've been anytime since World War II -- less regarded in the world, stretched more thinly than we have ever been in the past, two wars underway, virtually no respect in entire parts of the world.

And so we've been about the business of repairing and strengthening us. I guarantee you, we are safer today. Our interests more secure today than they were anytime during the eight years...


BIDEN: We are more safe.


KING: Do you think Cheney was out of line?

PELOSI: I think it's constructive to make a statement like that. This is a new administration. We all have to work in a bipartisan way to keep the American people safe. It is our first responsibility as elected officials -- the safety and the security of the American people, whether it's in their neighborhoods, their communities or as a nation.

And so to -- to make a statement like that, that is provocative, can only be for a provocative purpose. It is certainly not for a constructive purpose.

KING: Were you surprised?

PELOSI: You would think that there would have been better judgment in order to wait. But, you know what, I don't want to be drawn into that.

What I want to say is we all understand our responsibilities to the American people. There are no guarantees of safety under any circumstance. And it's a very big challenge for our country. And hopefully, we can work together, exploiting all the knowledge that we have from previous administrations and with the current administration to keep the American people as safe as possible.

KING: The House passed a $3.5 trillion budget and the $787 billion stimulus plan -- no Republican votes.

Does that lack of any support from the other side of the aisle -- does it -- does it trouble you?

PELOSI: As we go forward and we're dealing -- we're working on health care and working on energy and we're working on education -- the three priorities that the president has in the budget, I believe we will be able to get some bipartisan support. I certainly hope so. I would have hoped we could have had support for the recovery package.

The budget is usually a party line vote. In fact, the Republicans didn't even vote for -- some of the Republicans didn't even vote for the Republican package.

But what we have done and we hope they will be a part of is to help turn this economy around. These initiatives are job creating. They have the investments that from the business community, the education community, the scientific community tell us are the investments we need to make America economically strong -- an educational system providing us with the workforce of the future; investments in science that will make us the number one innovators in the world and the -- a health care system that will make America healthier and, also, bring down the cost of health care.

KING: Are we going to have a second stimulus plan?

PELOSI: I'd like -- I'd like to stick with the first stimulus to make sure that it works and then make a judgment at some point. Right now, I think we have the right balance of investments in the stimulus package, in the Omnibus Bill, in the budget that we have. And as we go forward, we've passed other bills for job creation, our water bill. We'll have a highway bill coming up soon -- jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.

KING: And you're saying it's working?

PELOSI: Yes, I do believe it is. And I think the American people have confidence that it will. And I think the numbers show that.

KING: Your blog comments are next. Stay with us.


KING: I'm going to ask Nancy in a minute about "Know Your Power."

But first, as we always did, we're paying attention to the comments coming in on our blog.

What are you saying?

Let's check in with our blog correspondent, David Theall -- David.

DAVID THEALL, LARRY KING LIVE PRODUCER: Larry, it's a conversation happening at Some of the things that are being said, we heard from somebody who wants the speaker to do more to get to the bottom of the Wall Street meltdown. Says this person: "Demanding answers is what we need."

We also heard somebody who said this: "Speaker Pelosi and crew better get with it," says this person, "because their approval rating is in the gutter just like the old administration's."

And, Larry, real quickly, one that really caught our attention tonight we share with you now: "An African-American president and a female speaker of the House -- we're living through the history we've been chasing for so long," says this person on the blog., look for that blog link, click it and jump into the conversation.

Larry and I always, always love hearing from you.

KING: Thanks, David.

David Theall, always on top of the scene. Quickly, the reaction to the criticism.

PELOSI: Well, the -- our numbers have gone -- have jumped -- have doubled, tripled, I think, since the -- since President Obama has become president because we've been able to produce results -- not only pass the legislation, but get it signed by the president.

But Congress is always a...

KING: No one loves Congress.



KING: Except the Congress.

PELOSI: No, Congress -- but I am pleased that in the -- the polls that we saw today, 56 percent of the American people approve of the direction that the president is taking the country. And compared to the Republicans in Congress, he's beating them like three to one.

Well, in terms of -- what was first point?

KING: The Wall Street meltdown.

PELOSI: Oh, no. Yes, I completely agree.

And what we have done in our legislation to -- that is different from what happened under the previous administration, what we have done is to call for transparency, accountability, a review of CEO compensation, which is not popular in New York, I might -- I might add. There are many people here who think that we shouldn't have anything to do with comp -- with CEO compensation. We're only talking about companies that take large amounts of federal taxpayer dollars.

KING: I want to get in a question about your book, "Know Your Power

A Message to America's Daughters".


KING: It was a best-seller and now out in paperback.

You must feel pretty good about that.

PELOSI: Well, I'm happy because the purpose of the book was -- is to encourage young women and women young in the workforce, whether they're young or old, to -- to know their power, to recognize how important it is to have many women involved in the political process and in governance.

I know for sure that the most wholesome -- the wholesome -- the most wholesome ingredient in government is the increased participation of women in the political and governmental process. We need many more.

Many more women are out there. They can do this. I want them to -- to know their power, to take advantage of opportunities, to be ready for it. And it's urgent. We need them. And I feel responsible as Speaker -- the first woman speaker, to have many more women members of Congress in elected positions in our country.

KING: We only have 30 seconds.

Do you think they have power but didn't know it?

PELOSI: I think that the power is there. It's intrinsic. I mean I had -- I wanted them to know how I went from housewife to House speaker, raising five children to being the first woman speaker of House. And being a mom was one of the things that prepared me the most for the job that I have now in terms of discipline and organization and use of time and diplomacy and interpersonal relationships and the rest.

Raising a family is the most challenging job in (INAUDIBLE).


Well, you do it all.

Thank you, Speaker.

PELOSI: Thank you so much.

KING: Madam Speaker.

PELOSI: It's wonderful to see you.

KING: Always good.

PELOSI: It's wonderful to be here with you.

KING: Especially nice to be with you in...

PELOSI: Happy Easter, Happy Passover.

KING: You, too.

PELOSI: We're looking forward to it.

KING: Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

His church has more than 40,000 members. His sermons go to millions in nearly -- well, 180 nations. Joel Osteen and his wife Victoria are next.

Don't go away.


KING: Always a great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE here in New York with Joel and Victoria Osteen. He is the senior pastor for the Lakewood Church in Houston, home to America's, by the way, largest congregation. And she's, of course, Joel's wife and co-pastor there. Her book is "Love Your Life", that is out in paperback. And their new book together is their notes and encouragement are featured in the new "Hope for Today Bible". I have that Bible right in front of me. You'll see it on your screen.

One other note. On April 25, the Osteens will host the first non-baseball event in the new Yankee Stadium. The event is called "Night of Hope." That is on April 25. I was there today and so were you. That's quite a place.

JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: It's beautiful. Really magnificent.

KING: OK. Since you were last on we have sworn in our first African American president. What are your impressions?

OSTEEN: Well, I think he's doing a great job. I'm impressed with his skill, his calmness, his just strength under pressure. These are tough times for him. He got a lot put on his plate but I've been impressed.

KING: And you, Victoria?

VICTORIA OSTEEN, JOEL'S WIFE: I've been really impressed. In fact, I've been impressed about the first lady. She stepped up and she's done a remarkable job. And under the situation they have done great.

KING: So Michelle, she's cut a swathe through Europe, hasn't she? Through everywhere.

V. OSTEEN: She has. And people are taking note and I think that's wonderful.

KING: The Obamas -- I don't think the Obamas attend church, do they, to your knowledge?

V. OSTEEN: I don't know --

KING: I don't think they do.

J. OSTEEN: I don't know, I haven't heard.

KING: Does it matter? To you, does it matter?

J. OSTEEN: I think if they're in a position where they can go because of their security, then I think they will when they get settled in. But I think it's important that we go to church. But I wouldn't hold it against them because of the other reasons.

KING: They may be looking for a church, which also should be done by people moving into a new town.

J. OSTEEN: I think so. I mean, they're new to that town. but I would hope that they would want to put -- make that a part of their life.

KING: Recent polls show that 12 percent of Americans still believe Obama is a Muslim, and 35 percent say they don't know his religion, but to most of them it don't matter. Should it matter?

J. OSTEEN: Well, it matters to me. I could speak for myself. It matters to me that I know he loves the Lord and I think it's important that he has convictions from his faith. So to me it matters when I'm making my personal decisions.

KING: Does it matter to you, Victoria?

V. OSTEEN: It does. Well, it matters to me. Just like Joel says, your personal decisions are usually based on your standard which you believe. And so I think it does matter. I believe he is a Christian, though. I do.

KING: What is -- this puzzles me. "The Hope for Today Bible." This is a new Bible. Have you written your own -- have you gotten to that Osteen? This big, it's now your Bible, right? J. OSTEEN: No, no.

KING: So how is this different from other Bibles?

J. OSTEEN: What it is, Larry, it's a living translation of the Bible, which is an easy version to read. And then it's got our notes besides certain passages. And it's just to help people maybe to understand the Bible a little bit easier.

KING: How did you come up with this idea?

J. OSTEEN: Well, it's been done before but we --

KING: Not by you.

J. OSTEEN: No, no sir, not by us. But we just wanted to -- as the ministry has grown -- we've been doing this 10 years now. We just thought, how can we make God's word more applicable to people's lives? And I think a lot of people that watch us maybe weren't raised in church or don't consider themselves religious. And I wanted to provide a way to say, read this passage, here are some of my thoughts on it, not that I'm the expert, but it may be helpful to understand it better.

KING: What are -- help me as someone who questions this. What is the Bible? Who wrote the Bible?

J. OSTEEN: Well, the Bible was written by different people. People like -- just everyday people years ago. But it was inspired by, I believe, the Holy Spirit. It was inspired by God. And so that's why we call it God's word.

KING: Why do you believe it was inspired, Victoria?

V. OSTEEN: Well, I was raised believing. I was raised in a Christian home with Christian beliefs and it's like anybody who was raised. That was put in me from early childhood.

And I've lived out to my best ability the word of God and it's just blessed my life. It's been a great standard to live by. I think you know what? It has put love on the inside of me. It changes me.

KING: It works for you.

V. OSTEEN: It works for me. It really does.

KING: What's the role -- I don't think I've ever asked this. What's the role of the preacher?

J. OSTEEN: Well, the role of the minister, I think it's multifaceted. One, it's to help God's people to -- sometimes a pastor is called a shepherd, and that's to guide, help guide people, help inspire people, help comfort people in their difficult times. But I guess just really boils down to help draw people closer to God and explain who he is.

KING: Is he a teacher? A pastor is a teacher?

J. OSTEEN: Absolutely. Teach God's word. Explain the scripture. I think part of my gift is teaching, just explaining what the Scripture means and how to make it applicable to our lives today.

KING: Do you know if you're touching them?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I only know -- I can feel it in my heart, but I know when you're out walking on the street and people stop you -- all through today and as I was here in New York, just people stop you and say, you helped me get through a difficult time. And they say me, but it was God's help. And so that's how we know we're making a difference, when you get the phone calls and touching people like that.

V. OSTEEN: Letters, e-mails.

KING: The book is the "Hope for Today Bible" and Victoria's book is "Love Your Life." We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: We will now touch other bases with Joel and Victoria Osteen. Their book is "Hope for Today Bible: The New Living Translation: The Red Letter Edition."

Iowa Supreme Court just allowed same-sex marriage, making them the third state; Massachusetts, Iowa and Hawaii. The general forecast is that's coming.

Other people are now saying, why not make marriage a religious institution, and have the state bonding that the non-marriage state issue. So we can have two kinds of getting together.

J. OSTEEN: I'm not sure I understand --

KING: In other words, if you want to be married and you're both religious, go to your church. If you want to be bonded together and you don't want to call it marriage, go on down to the civil servant office.

J. OSTEEN: I don't know if --

KING: The state will not marry you.

J. OSTEEN: Sure. I guess my thing, Larry, is I just like the definition of marriage to be between a man and a woman. So it sounds like you're saying something different.

KING: Well, it still would, except the state wouldn't perform it.

J. OSTEEN: Well --

KING: You could perform it.

V. OSTEEN: It would be called something else. It would be called partnering or something.

KING: By the state.

V. OSTEEN: Yeah.

KING: If the religious institution -- I'm just throwing this out.

J. OSTEEN: Sure.

KING: Do you think, though, the other side is coming, that eventually many more states are going to allow same sex marriage?

J. OSTEEN: You know, I don't know where it's all going, but again, I just -- it's my desire that we keep the family unit, the basis of our society -- I'd love to see it stay between a male and a female, not knocking anybody else. But I'm not sure where it's all going.

KING: If this continues, do you think it will harm things? Supposing there were more states that had it. What would be the harm?

V. OSTEEN: Again, you know what? We really want to see marriage between a man and a woman. There is going to be people who get together and have relationships and have what they call their families. But I just think marriage should be sanctified by the church. It should be between a man and a woman. But yeah, I mean they're doing it today.

KING: The proposal is if that should happen, sanctified by the church, the state shouldn't be in the marriage business. That was the other proposal. Why should the state be -- just throwing it out there.

J. OSTEEN: I don't know if I'm 100 percent clear on it all. But I guess, Larry, we come back to that -- will it undermine the basis of society? I don't know. I think that -- I know God's best is for a male and a female to have a marriage and raise their family. It doesn't always happen, but I believe that's much better.

KING: Should a gay couple be allowed to adopt?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think that again, it's best for a male and a female. I can't say -- I'm not saying that gay people aren't good people. And --

KING: Or good parents.

J. OSTEEN. Yeah, exactly. But again, I like to shoot for God's best, and that is a father and a mother in the home. It doesn't always happen. I know a lot of people raised by single parents. And you know what? We bless them and pray for them as well. but I think God's best is a male and female.

KING: The new issue of "Newsweek", the lead story by Jon Meacham, "The Decline and Fall of Christian America." Just off the premise of that headline, do you accept that? That Christian America is in trouble?

J. OSTEEN: I really -- I'm trying to think where he's coming from. I don't -- in my own point of view, I don't because I see faith in America at an all time high. I mean, I'm having -- we're having church every Sunday in a former basketball arena, with 40,000 or 50,000 people coming out. And so I see -- I don't necessarily see that myself.

Now, sometimes I think people don't call themselves religious anymore, but they do have a relationship with Christ. And I think some of it is -- people today are not as concerned about being a Baptist or Methodist or a certain denomination. But they do come to churches like ours and many other people's.

KING: Is church attendance going down to your knowledge?

J. OSTEEN: We've not seen it go down at all. It continues to grow.

V. OSTEEN: Even in the hard, in the difficult, uncertain times, we see that people are coming back to church, that they want to find hope, that they need help.

KING: The "Newsweek" article quotes our Albert Mohler Jr. He's been on the show many times. And he's president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. And he said, quote, "the so-called Judeo-Christian consensus of the last millennium has given way to a post-modern, post-Christian, post-Western cultural crisis which threatens the heart of our very culture."

J. OSTEEN: Well, he's a smart man and I respect him. I just -- you know, maybe what he's saying is true. I think part of this, that headline is America is more diverse than it was 50 years ago. Just with more different faiths here and stuff. And I don't know that that means we as Christians are any less. I would like to think our influence is still there. But then again, we're all about love and accepting other people and people of other faiths.

KING: It impresses me, Joel, that if this statement is true, you're still not concerned.

J. OSTEEN: I'm not concerned. I would be concerned if I saw churches going down, if I didn't see 50,000 people coming to Yankee Stadium to hear a minister from Texas. I think people are hungry for hope. They are hungry for faith. I think New York is a -- gets the wrap of these people -- they are not -- they don't show their religion and stuff like that. But everywhere we go, people stop us and fill these auditoriums.

So I see it just the opposite. And I'm sure I'm an optimistic by nature.

KING: That ain't bad, by the way.

J. OSTEEN: I know.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments from Osteens. Don't go away.



KING: A couple of other quick things with the Osteens. They'll be at Yankee Stadium April 25. Their website, if you want tickets -- what do you make of these mass shootings?

J. OSTEEN: You know, it's really sad. What can you say? People get deranged. People get confused and there's just -- I believe there are dark forces in our world. There are evil forces that can -- unfortunately, we can give into. And some of it is just from depression, just that mental illness, but it's just a sad thing.

KING: Do you pray for them, Victoria? The shooters?

V. OSTEEN: Oh, absolutely. You've got to pray for them. They're obviously tormented in their mind. They're obviously, like Joel said, they're just not -- they're deceived and not cherishing life and being able to take that out. So yeah, we do pray for them.

KING: We've had a mass depression in this country, recession, depression. Do you think that might be at the core of some of these things?

V. OSTEEN: I think it is. Just the people we talk to, some of them, when you've lost your job and you've just been beaten down and you don't see any future, it's easy to start letting those negative thoughts play, to say you know what? You don't have anything to live for. It's never going to get any better. And I think that just -- if you don't watch it, you'll just spiral down and down and down.

And that is why we feel so strongly about just giving people hope. Even at your lowest moment, you never know what God can do. He can turn any situation around. I mean, you can be just one night from getting the break you need, getting the job you want.

KING: I would imagine many people in your congregation -- and there are what, four of them every weekend?

J. OSTEEN: That's right.

KING: Are out of work.

J. OSTEEN: It hasn't been as bad in Houston but it is true. I mean there are. We pray for them all the time. But I feel like we've been blessed in Houston versus -- we were in Elkhart, Indiana the other day and 20 percent no work.

KING: Do you subscribe to the idea that -- many believe this, that a little suffering is good for the soul?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I think that --

KING: Particularly when you're not suffering.

J. OSTEEN: Yeah, and I'd probably put it in a different way, in that in the tough times, that's when you grow, that's when your character is developed. And so yeah, I never say, you know, if you have faith, you're never going to have a problem, never go through difficulties. I think the difficulties are when can really grow.

KING: Where do you guy stand on embryonic stem cell research?

J. OSTEEN: Well, again, it's complicated for me. I think that -- I believe conception starts at the moment that seed is conceived and so I wouldn't want to go in there and tinker with things that is somebody's human life to make another life better. If it goes beyond that, where it's not going to be used --

KING: That's what I mean, the cells aren't going to be used. It could save a life somewhere else.

J. OSTEEN: I don't know that I understand it all. But my general feeling right down in here is anyway we can help people is important. But I wouldn't want to stop another life to get a kidney or whatever --

KING: The question is that going to be a life?

V. OSTEEN: I don't know.

KING: There's the rub.

J. OSTEEN: It's complicated and that's why I think we have to be careful and not play God and yet be compassionate and help mankind.

KING: Toughest part of being a minister or preacher's wife.

V. OSTEEN: Well, you see a lot of hurting people. You see people who are hurting. And you want the very best for them, want to pray for them. And that's difficult. It's pretty easy being his wife. He's a nice guy.

KING: And you're a part of his -- you work with him.

V. OSTEEN: Absolutely.

KING: You're not at home while he goes out.

V. OSTEEN: No. No. We've been married 22 years yesterday. So we can only -- we've been doing -- whatever we've done, we've done it together. So we've learned how to navigate with our relationships. So it's been a good 22 years.

KING: How do you deal with death, having to console people, people dying?

J. OSTEEN: Well, it's difficult. But Larry, we have the hope of heaven. We believe we'll see our loved ones again. And as hard as it is, we'll just try to encourage people that, you know, death is just a separation. One day you will see your loved ones again. And so that's the only way that we know to do it, to pray for them. And it's amazing -- I lost my dad 10 years ago and he was my best friend. But it's amazing the peace that God gave me.

So I believe that God can give you a strength and a new beginning.

KING: Where do you believe he is?

J. OSTEEN: I believe he's in heaven.

KING: Which is a place.

J. OSTEEN: I believe it's a real place. I believe that this body is like the suit I'm wearing, that the real me is on the inside, that someday -- that I'm going to live forever. I'm going to step out of this body.

You've had people on a lot about near death experience, and I've talked to them too, how they've had an accident and all of a sudden, they're up watching themselves. And I believe that our spirit's on the inside.

My belief as a Christian is when we receive Christ as salvation that that gives us a guarantee for heaven.

KING: When we come back, we'll talk about Yankee Stadium. First this.


KING: I'm back with the Osteens, who are no -- not related to Claude Osteen, former Major League, and very good Major League pitcher and pitching coach.

How did this Yankee Stadium, April 25 event come about?

J. OSTEEN: Well, probably a year ago, or close to that time, one of the people in the Yankees organization contacted us about possibly taking one of our Nights of Hope, which we do in other cities, there to the new ballpark. And I didn't know if it would really be possible. And I don't know if they would want a minister from Texas to come be there on the first non-baseball event.

But you know what? God does amazing things.

KING: Was it a little awe-inspiring to you today to see that place?

J. OSTEEN: It is. It is very -- I feel very humble to be there.

KING: You feel humble anywhere.

J. OSTEEN: I'm telling you, it's just a beautiful place and just the history behind it, coming from the old ballpark, just the Yankees being one of the most famous franchises around. To be able to speak hope to America and to people's hearts, I feel like it's a great, rewarding thing.

KING: Now, Peter Max, our friend, our co-friend, the great artist, he is going to be part of this how?

J. OSTEEN: Well, his organization contacted us and Peter wanted to draw a painting, the official painting for our Night of Hope event. So he's taking that upon himself and such a kind of man --

KING: He is very -- that will be unveiled on the 25th.

J. OSTEEN: I believe so, yes sir.

KING: It holds 53,000. I don't know how many will be there. But let's say -- isn't that going to be harder to do than anything you've done?

J. OSTEEN: Well, I don't really look at it like that. Every week there at the church in Houston, I mean, there's thousands of people there. And to me, I'm going to prepare if there's 100 people or if there's going to be 100,000. So I feel like -- it'll probably be a little more nerve racking because there's things, the wind and the outdoor stadium. Will it be cold or hot. Probably be a little colder.

But I don't know, I've just -- I've always, Larry -- I've always thought I'm just going to be myself. I don't try to go out there and perform. I don't try to be any different than I am right here. So that takes all the pressure out. The pressure off to say God, I'm who you made me to be.

KING: Are you going to get up and talk too?

V. OSTEEN: I am.

KING: How do you feel about it?

V. OSTEEN: Well, I -- it's amazing. It's amazing that we're going to be part of the new history that's going to be a part of that stadium, which we were talking about it. And to be able to tell our children and our grandchildren, we were actually a part of the new history. So that is outstanding.

But it is a little nerve-wracking for me. But it's going to be fun, it's going to be wonderful. I just want -- it's such a huge place. You want to be able to connect with the people. You want to remember to talk show, so that they can hear you and just -- there is a lot of things to think about. But we think that it's going to be fun. It's going to be a celebration. And that really, people are going to leave there inspired and hopeful.

KING: Don't want to put any more pressure on you, but at the old Yankees Stadium, had Billy Graham a number of times and the Pope. J. OSTEEN: Sure. I know. Thanks for not putting any pressure. You know what? Again, I don't feel -- I feel honored to be able to come and I just feel like God gives us the strength to do what we need to do. And so, again, I don't -- I don't look at it as some big performance. It is just go out there and share hope with people --

KING: Is it tied into the "Hope for Today Bible".

J. OSTEEN: No, that's just our whole theme --

KING: Hope is your thesis, right?

J. OSTEEN: It is. And it just so happens the Bible came out now. But of course it's all a part of it.

KING: We'll be back with Joel and Victoria Osteen. That date at Yankee Stadium is April 25 and I -- who do you contact for tickets?

J. OSTEEN: They can go to our Web site. Easiest place.

KING: Which is?


KING: It's always a pleasure seeing you, Osteen. Good luck on the 25th of April.

V. OSTEEN: Thank you.

J. OSTEEN: Thanks, Larry.

KING: They'll be at Yankee Stadium. The first non-baseball activity at Yankee Stadium. You can go to their website for tickets and the book is "Hope for Today Bible." Joel and Victoria Osteen.

That is it for tonight. Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. "AC 360" is next.