Return to Transcripts main page

CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Swine Flu: Big Jump in Cases; Popular First Lady

Aired April 30, 2009 - 21:00   ET

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


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Michelle Obama -- she's compared to Jacqui Kennedy -- style icon, trend setter and model for women around the world, substance and style on her agenda. Michelle Obama making over the role of America's first lady.

Plus, the number of confirmed swine flu cases has jumped to more than 200 in 11 states and around the world -- why people with coughs shouldn't be flying, what school closures mean for millions and how no one thing is going to stop this virus. Next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

Joining us from outside the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent, just back from the epicenter of the swine flu, the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico City.

Houston, Texas, has Dr. Christi Murray, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Center for Infectious Diseases, the University of Texas School of Public Health.

And in Fort Worth, Dr. Melanie Johnson, superintendent, Fort Worth Independent School District. That school district has been shut down.

First, we'll start right with you, Dr. Johnson.

Why did you shut the schools?

MELODY JOHNSON, SUPERINTENDENT, FORT WORTH ISD: Well, we decided to shut the entire system down after we had four probable cases. And we had four schools that we needed to close. And so the advice from the Texas commissioner of health and in consultation with the commissioner of education for Texas and the local health authority for Tarrant County, which is where Fort Worth resides, advised strongly that we shut the entire school system down immediately.

KING: Dr. Murray, did you agree with that?

DR. KRISTY MURRAY, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EPIDEMIOLOGY: Well, I think it is important to stop the spread. And certainly within a school, you have -- if a child is sick, it's very easy to transmit the virus. And with something like flu, it can spread so quickly throughout an entire school.

School districts are having to take it according to what their needs are. I mean, here we've already had schools close. We didn't close the entire school district, but there are individual schools that have shut down as of today.

KING: Yes. All right. Dr. Gupta, you're back safe and sound, we trust.

Is this going to get -- how was it there when you left?

GUPTA: It was getting better. If you look at the numbers overall, both in terms of hospitalizations and fatalities, definitely the trend was -- was downward. And that's important. Part of the reason I was there was because what was happening there may be a little bit of a forerunner what happens in other places around the world. So I think -- I think that was a good sign -- Larry.

KING: A headline, Dr. Sanjay, in the "L.A. Times" today said this is not as bad as they're saying.

Is that right?

GUPTA: Well, I -- you know, it's hard to say. You know, one thing about the news yesterday, Larry -- you and I talked about this idea that we're having an imminent pandemic. You know, it's frightening to hear that, I think, for anybody.

What I think is important to sort of remind people is that what they're really referring to, I think, after talking to folks at the World Health Organization, is that this is much more about scope and how widespread this might become -- and it could become widespread -- and much less about severity.

KING: All right...

GUPTA: So it might the not be that serious. It could be mild illnesses, in which case, you have a couple of bad days, just like if you have the flu, and then it's gone. And if that's the case for most people, I think that's a much different message than this idea of worldwide pandemic, where you have millions and millions of people die, as in pandemics in the past.

KING: Vice President Joe Biden veered off the administration's talking points on the swine flu outbreak. In an interview earlier today, he was asked what advice he'd give a family member who was considering flying to Mexico.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I would tell members of my family -- and I have -- I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now. It's not that it's going to Mexico. It's you're in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft. That's me.

If you're out in the middle of a field and someone sneezes, that's one thing. If you're in a closed aircraft or a closed container, a closed car, a closed classroom, it's a different thing. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, Sanjay, the administration quickly backed away from this, saying the vice president only meant to discourage non- essential travel to Mexico.

Is this -- what do you make of this?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think it was a very different message than what we've been hearing all along from the Centers for Disease Control where I am and from the administration in general.

Certainly, I think if you're sick, if you feel sick, if you have a cough, if you're sneezing, then you probably shouldn't be around large groups of people, whether it be on an airplane or any other large gathering.

But, you know, I'm not sure what he meant by that exactly. Maybe that is what he meant and he just said it differently. So -- but what he said, ultimately, what was probably not the right message, that people can get on airplanes. We've done stories on the air quality on airplanes. And it, you know, it's fine. In some ways, it's better than in other -- other areas -- Larry.

KING: Dr. Johnson, when do you decide to reopen the schools?

JOHNSON: Well, we're taking our guidance from the health professionals and particularly from the health department. And right now, we're looking at potentially reopening on Monday, May 11th. So we'll just kind of a wait and see. And the -- the data are changing day by day. So we just have to, you know, wait and see. And that's -- that's what we're targeting right now, hopefully.

KING: Dr. Murray, what's the situation in Texas?

MURRAY: Well, I'm in Houston. And here we are certainly seeing an increase in cases. There's a lot of cases being investigated. We have a handful that are probable cases. We've got now a couple that are confirmed here in the Houston area. So we're seeing an increase. But, of course, we're also looking.

And it is a bit of a time delay between when we get the sample to when it actually gets tested positive. But in the meantime, we're actually treating those cases that are considered probable, meaning that they're untypabable, as being most likely the swine flu cases.

So we're treating them as though they are.

KING: Dr. Gupta, the people getting it, is it much like, really, seasonal flu?

GUPTA: Well, it does seem to be, at least in the United States. What was a little bit different in Mexico was that the symptoms came on much more suddenly. They came -- they were more severe -- for instance, a high fever of 103, 104 came on very quickly. Also, who was suffering sort of the worst consequences of this flu was -- were people sort of more in the prime of their lives -- 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s -- as opposed to the very elderly or the very young.

So it seemed to be behave a little bit differently than the seasonal flu, at least in Mexico.

It may act more like the seasonal flu here in the United States, in which case, that means over the next month or so, as we get into summer, you're going to see a decrease in cases and you just have to keep the caveat that come fall or winter, you've got to be vigilant again about it.

KING: Thank you all very much.

Obviously, CNN will be atop this story around the clock.

What's it like to call the White House home?

For starters, Michelle Obama and the girls now have a staff seeing to their needs. That's next. Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The subject is Michelle Obama. The guests are, here in Los Angeles, Patti Davis, daughter of President Ronald and Mrs. Nancy Reagan, best-selling author. Her newest is, "The Lives Our Mothers Leave Us." There you see its cover. This is a terrific idea for a book -- a whole bunch of wonderful women talking about the effect their mother had on them. And the first chapter is written by Patti and it is terrific.

Robin Givhan is in -- Givhan, rather -- is in New York, "The Washington Post" staff writer, focusing on the Michelle Obama story and the first family. She is a Pulitzer Prize winner.

Also in New York, our old friend, Lisa Caputo, who was press secretary for First Lady Hillary Clinton and served as deputy assistant to President Bill Clinton.

And, by the way, a week from Saturday, May 9th, Patti will be signing copies of this book at the Reagan Library here in Southern California.

All right, Patti, what -- what's your grade?

What do you make of Michelle Obama?

PATTI DAVIS, DAUGHTER, RONALD & NANCY REAGAN: I think she's terrific. I think she has such a balance about her -- her strength, her -- her obvious maternal instincts, her intelligence, her humor. She just -- she just has a great balance in the way she presents herself. And you kind of have the feeling that could you do anything with her. You know, you could go walk the dog, you could take a hike, you could go to a formal dinner to... KING: Or write a legal thesis.

DAVIS: Or write a legal thesis, if you were of a mind to do that. And, you know, she'd just -- she'd just be cool to hang out with whatever you were doing.

KING: Robin, do you see any -- any defects?

ROBIN GIVHAN, COVERS FIRST FAMILY: Well, I don't want to be the one to poke holes in the myth -- in the mythology. But I think that she has -- has really captured the imagination of the American people and also internationally. But I also think that that is a difficult position to be in, because, in some ways, she's become less of a real person. And more of this sort of aura, practically, that people are projecting all of their desires onto. And I think, inevitably, there will come a point when they're disappointed.

KING: All right, Lisa Caputo, what's your -- what's your read on the first lady?

LISA CAPUTO, FORMER PRESS SECRETARY, FIRST LADY HILLARY CLINTON: Oh, Larry, I think she's doing a fantastic job. And the reason I think that is she's being absolutely true to herself and true to her interests.

If you -- if you've observed her over the past couple of months, you've seen her really be active in her -- her now home community, in Washington, whether it's trying to foster and help the president with a bipartisan effort to really change the way business is done in Washington by yesterday, on the 100th day, hosting Congressional spouses at a food bank in Washington. I just thought was brilliant. And, also, really hosting on a regular basis luncheons for Congressional staffers -- Republican, Democratic, Independent -- one or two times a month.

So I think she's doing the right things in terms of bipartisanship. But, as I said, also being true to her interest -- her interest in service and community, being active, speaking at the D.C. public schools, speaking at practically all the federal agencies, thanking public servants for their service, I think, is really brilliant.

KING: Yes. All right, Patti, you can get real close to this. You are the daughter of a first lady.

DAVIS: Um-hmm.

KING: What does your mother think of her?

DAVIS: Oh, she likes her a lot. Yes. She likes her a lot. I mean she's very -- she has a lot of admiration for her. And -- and I think -- you know, my mother is perfectly aware that it's a different time. And Michelle Obama is a woman of a different generation than my mother, so she's not going to do the same things that my mother did or that any other first lady did.

KING: So are comparisons wrong to do?

DAVIS: I think they are for the first lady. I really do, because there is a generational factor. And, also, it's -- you know, none of the women are -- are really similar to one another. I think you have to compare presidents historically. I mean that's just a given.

KING: And politically.

DAVIS: And politically. But I don't -- I think it's a little unfair to compare first ladies. I think as long as somebody is being authentic and true to themselves, which Michelle Obama certainly is -- I mean there is nothing phony or manipulative about her.

KING: Robin, do you buy the comparison to Jackie Kennedy?

GIVHAN: Well, in some ways, I think that it is -- it's fair to compare them, only because it's a way for us to measure the different ways in which women in public life have progressed as the decades have passed.

As far as the comparisons to Jackie, I think it really comes down to that both of their ability to use fashion in a way that's been very powerful. So in terms of the political element, I don't think so. But in terms of just the symbolism that they've been able to use, I think it's an absolutely fair comparison.

KING: We'll take a break and be right back with more.

Patti Davis wrote the Obama daughters a letter.

What was in it?

We'll ask in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEYONCE (singing): At last, my love has come along...

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The first lady of the United States. She's around here somewhere.

(APPLAUSE)

B. OBAMA: And to paraphrase one of my predecessors, I am also proud to be the man who brought Michelle Obama to Prague.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Patti, you wrote -- you wrote a letter to the kids?

DAVIS: I did. Yes. I mailed it -- well, I mean I didn't mail it. I had the Reagan Library do it so it would get there.

KING: The purpose?

DAVIS: Oh, I just thought it was a nice thing to do, you know, and nobody ever wrote a letter to me. And I hadn't written a letter to anybody else. And I thought that was something that should change.

KING: What did you say?

DAVIS: Well, one of the things that I said was that I -- I thought there would probably come times when they would miss their normal life, without millions of eyes watching and millions of -- of people sort of intruding into their lives. But by the same token, there would come times when all of those millions of people would be a great comfort to them.

You know, there were a couple of times in my life, especially when my father passed away, when it felt like it was one big huge family of America. And I really, really appreciated that.

KING: Would you gather these kids are going to handle things pretty well?

DAVIS: Yes. Yes. Because they have a great family.

KING: Yes.

DAVIS: They have a great relationship with their parents. They really have that grounding there.

KING: Yes. And you sense -- you see it.

DAVIS: Yes, you do see it. Yes.

KING: Lisa Caputo will be leaving us for a couple of moments, but will be coming back with the later panel.

When we come back, we'll discuss how she single-handedly improved sales at J. Crew -- Michelle Obama as a fashion icon, next.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back.

Patti Davis remains. Her book, "The Lives Our Mothers Leave Us" available everywhere.

Robin Givhan is still with us, the fashion editor of "The Washington Post" and Pulitzer Prize winning columnist.

And we're joined now in New York by Andre Leon Talley, editor-at- large at "Vogue" magazine.

OK, Andre, you put her on the cover, did you not?

ANDRE LEON TALLEY, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "VOGUE": Well, we -- Anna Winston and I worked very hard for the campaign. And then we just thought it was organically correct that she'd be on the cover -- we'd be the first to have her on the cover. It was history and we loved it...

KING: All right, since she's buying...

TALLEY: We loved the process.

KING: Since she's buying stuff at J. Crew and maybe will next Target...

(LAUGHTER)

KING: ...why does this interest the American -- how is that a fashion icon?

TALLEY: Well, I don't see Michelle as a fashion icon because she's buying at J. Crew, although that does help the fashion industry. You know, we are in a slump, too, as well. Her support of a company like that, just -- it represents, you know, fashion at a price -- affordable. So all the women in American can look up at Michelle, see her in a sweater and a skirt and t-shirt for $400 on a talk show and they say, hey, I can do that, too.

So, in a way, it's very smart how she approaches fashion, not just from a high fashion level, but as well as the soccer mom level.

You know, she went online and bought her own J. Crew outfits. And that's a cool thing.

KING: Robin, do you agree?

GIVHAN: Yes. I think one of the great things Michelle has done when it comes to fashion is she's given women what the fashion industry has really failed to give them, which is essentially a woman who is not twentysomething, who is not a starlet and who is not a size zero, who enjoys fashion and incorporates it into a life that includes soccer practice and boardroom meetings and dinner parties. I mean, it's -- it's a fully evolved life and it shows that fashion has a place there.

KING: Your mom, no doubt a very stylish lady and wore clothes -- wears clothes beautifully, how important is all that in all of this scheme, what a first lady wears?

What does it mean?

DAVIS: Well, it's apparently really important because everything is scrutinized -- I mean everything. I wouldn't do well in that, but Michelle Obama is doing great.

KING: Do you like the way she looks?

DAVIS: I love it. I love it. But to have people analyzing everything you're wearing, even when you just go to walk your dog, is a lot of pressure, I think. KING: What makes her, Andre, from a fashion standpoint, aside from where she buys the clothes, what makes -- is her height a detriment or a plus?

TALLEY: Certainly, her height is a plus. And, you know, she's fit. She obviously works out at the gym. You know, her arms are -- you know, as Peggy Noonan said in "The Wall Street Journal," a very conservative Republican, you know, when you've got arms like that at her age, you should show them in the winter.

Her height is a big plus. But it's also the way she approaches fashion. When she spoke at that girl's school in England and she was so moved by the performance of those -- that girls choir, she almost wore a collegiate outfit that day. But she didn't cross the line of avantguardism with the argyle sweater and the full skirt.

She just knows how. And she loves fashion. Michelle obviously loves to get up in the morning and experiment with a sweater. She loves to belt her -- her waist so you can see her silhouette. And she loves color. And she's just -- I think she loves fashion.

She's a very confident woman. And it's not the most important thing on her agenda, but she certainly does take risks. She's not just a one note lady.

KING: No.

TALLEY: She's not to going to go and just wear one designer, which is a good thing. She's endorsed young designers that you probably never heard of, that's not a household name. I think she has a great sense of diversity about fashion talent -- I mean Isabel Toledo is from Cuba and she wore Isabel Toledo in the inaugural.

KING: Robin...

TALLEY: Jason Wu...

KING: Robin, what part of the story, fashion included, is the fact that she's African-American?

GIVHAN: Well, I think that's a subtext that runs through everything. I mean one of -- you asked why is fashion important?

And, in many ways, it's particularly important for Michelle Obama because she's being described not only as strong and capable, but also beautiful and chic and stylish. And these are words that, in popular culture, aren't usually applied to black women, particularly black women with darker skin.

I mean, historically, they have been, to some degree, marginalized when it comes to discussions about beauty. And beauty is a way that we, in fact, judge people and determine how we value people.

So I think this conversation about how stylish she is and this idea that she's somewhat of a fashion icon is important because it says we are now recognizing a demographic that has long been, in some ways, invisible in this regard.

KING: Patti, isn't that a really good point?

DAVIS: It's a really good point, yes.

KING: Because this is all new to us, all of us.

DAVIS: It is. And it's gloriously new, you know, and they -- I don't know, I just know I woke up the night after the election and I -- and I had more hope than I'd had in the previous eight years.

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What do you think your father would have thought of him?

DAVIS: Oh, I think my father would have liked him a lot. Yes. You know, they have a similar calm about them.

KING: Don't they?

DAVIS: Yes, they really do. And both Michelle Obama and Barack Obama have that. They have a -- they have a real -- a serenity about them. And you get the sense that they are both very patient people, which I definitely believe patience is a virtue.

KING: Comfortable in their clothes?

No, they walk easy into the room.

DAVIS: Yes.

KING: Right?

DAVIS: Well, they're comfortable and they're in -- within themselves, you know?

KING: Yes.

DAVIS: And so they -- yes, they're comfortable, as well, in their clothes.

KING: What influence -- I meant in themselves. (INAUDIBLE)

(LAUGHTER)

KING: What influence -- Andre under...

DAVIS: I'm taking you literally.

KING: Andre understood me.

What influence has Michelle Obama had on you?

Tell us at cnn.com/larryking and see if your comments -- we'll see if we air your comments later in the show.

Don't go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We want everybody to think about moving their bodies, get out -- we don't have tennis. It's on the tennis court.

(LAUGHTER)

M. OBAMA: The peanut gallery back here.

And there isn't a day that goes by, particularly after having kids, that I don't wonder or worry about whether I'm doing the right thing for myself, for my family, for my girls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with Andre Leon Talley of "Vogue," Patti Davis, whose new book is "The Lives Our Mothers Leave Us," and Robin Givhan, the fashion editor of "The Washington Post."

Andre, what about that favorite, I'm told, leather and metal studded belt?

She said the president doesn't like it and calls it Star Trek, but she keeps wearing it. It's by Azzedine Alaia.

TALLEY: Azzedine Alaia. Yes.

KING: Do you like it?

TALLEY: I love it. I think it's just her fun way of saying, look, I'm in shape. I'm fit. I want to show my waist. I worked hard on my fitness program. I've got other priorities, which are my husband and my children, and my issues and my programs. But I look good, too.

That is one of her favorite accessories. IT has gone over many outfits. She's made it cross lines over many dresses. She got off the plane in Europe with it. She had it on the purple dress. It's the right accessory. It's the perfect note for her.

Michelle is not taking advice from anyone. This is Michelle being Michelle. She is very confident about her choices.

KING: Robin, what about the cardigans? She wore a black cardigan on election night.

GIVHAN: I am a little ambivalent about all the cardigans. But I think one of the great things about Mrs. Obama, and one of the things that people are attracted to is the fact that every time she steps onto the public stage, she looks as though she has chosen her clothes based solely on what pleases her, and not some preconceived notion of what a first lady is supposed to look like, or what a Washington powerful woman is supposed to look like.

I think, in many ways, she is injecting femininity and a certain degree of sexuality into this idea of sort of formal public attire. I think it makes it very contemporary. I think that's what people are latching on to.

KING: Patti said a very interesting thing during the break about her and the feminist and what we expect of the tough woman. Explain that.

DAVIS: I said there is sort of outdated definition of -- idea of feminism is that if a woman is strong, particularly if she is accomplished professionally, that there has to be a toughness there, almost a brittleness there. She proves that that is not at all true. She is a lawyer. She is a very strong woman, but she is very feminine. She is sexy and she's warm and she is funny and she is a great mom.

KING: So she belies that image.

DAVIS: Yes, absolutely.

KING: Andre, as a fashion expert, is there anything you would advise her to wear that she's not wearing?

TALLEY: Absolutely not. I would not advise Michelle. She needs no advice. She is doing it all on her own. She loves fashion. She feels like she wants to wear a sweater, she wears a sweater. By the way, those sweaters are practical, because she sometimes goes in and out of climates where sometimes it's warm, sometimes it's not. She needs to cover up.

I think it's a great uniform for her. She's made it modern again to have a sweater. And a sweater is a very classic garment for a woman to wear. She does no wrong in my book. I think she looked great in Europe. The way she embraced the queen of England and the queen of England embraced her, that was history itself.

KING: Robin, anything you would advise the first lady? Like would you say, wear hats?

GIVHAN: I think the very last thing I would say to her would be to get involved in millinery. I think you can only get in trouble.

KING: However, I have a theory, and I'll introduce myself into this, Robin. I think most ladies look good in hats.

GIVHAN: I think we have to remember what we have been sort of applauding her for, which is her authenticity and her ability to wear things that speak to her. I've yet to see her in anything on her head.

KING: Even on Inaugural Day, she didn't wear a hat?

DAVIS: No. I completely disagree with that.

KING: Your mother wore hats beautifully.

DAVIS: Not all the time.

KING: I understand. OK.

DAVIS: Not much.

KING: Again they rack me down.

DAVIS: Maybe one.

GIVHAN: Enough with the hats.

KING: All right. Forget the hats. Actor Gary Sinese is quite a guy. He's done so much to help our troops, a truly selfless man. He's written a web exclusive about his experiences and how they've impacted. You've got to read it. It's only at CNN.com/LarryKing. We'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Robin Givhan, you reported that Michelle seems to have a certain ambivalence about all the focus on her appearance and her fashion choices. Explain.

GIVHAN: I think anyone who has a resume like Mrs. Obama does and who obviously has a pretty lengthy agenda of things that she wants to focus on as First Lady, to have so much attention being paid to her clothes is a bit overwhelming. You want to make sure that the other things don't get lost in that conversation.

But the fact that -- I also think that she's made a lot of fashion decisions that have drawn attention to her clothes. She's not wearing things that fade into the background. I think it's significant that she rarely wears a traditional suit. She dresses in a way that does make her stand out from what we typically see in sort of C-Span Washington fashion.

KING: It's a little bit overdone. It's a little bit much. We have comic books, a comic book, the Michelle Obama comic book.

DAVIS: I hadn't seen that before. It's not a very good likeness of her.

KING: It's not a good likeness?

DAVIS: No. They should take that off the shelves.

KING: Can it get too much or is that just the nature of the beast?

DAVIS: Sure, it can get too much.

KING: Your mother was annoyed by some of it. It got to be too much. DAVIS: I think it's inevitable. It's inevitable that it's going to be too much and it's inevitable that you are going to get annoyed by it. What are you going to do? Especially now, when there is 24/7 news coverage, more than ever before. There's nothing you can do about it, so I don't know. You go and hit pillows and scream in some secret room in the White House, I guess.

KING: Isn't there an impact on the kids?

DAVIS: Yes. I think as they get older, there definitely will be. Again, I think they have such a strong family unit. Having spent a year writing about mothers and daughters --

KING: By the way, it's a terrific book. All these people gathered together to write little essays about it.

DAVIS: I would have loved to talk to Michelle Obama about her mother, but she was a little busy at the time. She has such a strong relationship with her mother.

What was interesting was when they announced her mother was moving into the White House, there was this attempt to make jokes about it. The mother in law is moving in and all that. And the jokes really felt flat. People really sensed that this is very authentic and very strong relationship, which she is also imparting to her kids.

KING: Andre, before you leave us, will there be more "Vogue" covers of her?

TALLEY: Oh, sure, absolutely. The next eight years we'll be right down there trying to be the first.

KING: Thank you. Andre, always good to see you.

TALLEY: Good to see you, Larry. Thank you so much.

KING: Patti Davis, and Robin, thank you so much for joining us, as well. You always add so much to this program.

GIVHAN: Thank you.

KING: Patti Davis remains. We'll be joined by three other contributors, including the return of Lisa Caputo. You know those comments you've been sending us all day. Well, we will read some of them right here. Get to that in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Michelle Obama has people going to our blog in drove. All day, people have been telling us what they think of her. Here is our blog correspondent Sarah Schnare to tell us what you are saying.

SARAH SCHNARE, CNN BLOG CORRESPONDENT: Larry, yes. The hot topic tonight on our blog at CNN.com/LarryKing, the first lady's first 100 days. Keeping with what polls are showing, she certainly has a lot of fans. We heard from people tonight like Scott, who writes, "Michelle Obama is more like Princess Diana to me. She has class and seems to be a real people person."

Here is another one. She agrees. She says, "all Americans should be proud of their first lady. She brought vitality, style and wholesomeness to the office, to her country, and to her neighbors to the north."

Larry, there are a few critics. Saj is one of them. He thinks it's too premature to be spending this much time on Michelle Obama. He says, "it's been 100 days and we are already comparing her to other presidential spouses. We need more time to find out what really makes her unique."

There you have it, Larry. Just a few of our many posts today. I never thought that I was going to be saying this, but you have been covering our Twitter page. Give us some good Tweets.

KING: Scott says, "Michelle has the same exact class Princess Diana had." Naked Monkey says -- I've got a follower like Naked Monkey. "She's got the Jackie-O vibe but maximized to the cat. She's too commercialized, more of a brand than first lady."

If you want to get on my Twitter band wagon, by the way, my address is KingsThings, one word, no apostrophe.

Tonight's hero of the week went from serving drinks to serving people of the world. You probably don't know Doc Hendley, but you should meet him. You will right now. You'll be inspired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DOC HENDLEY, CNN HERO: I was a bartender up until 2003, when I began noticing on the news and on the Internet of the water crisis in the world. I began seeing figures like 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water. I was completely shocked.

I decided to host an event at one of the bars I worked at and call it a wine-to-water event to raise money for a water project. Six months later, I found myself living in Darfur, Sudan, trying to fight the water crisis there.

KING: How do you do it? How does the money come to you? How does the water go to them?

HENDLEY: We like to host wine events, whether it's at a bar or restaurant, anywhere in the country. Then how we take that money and bring it overseas is we really focus on sustainable development in areas where we are working. We focus on local people, local materials to solve the water crisis there, whether it's with a well or a filtration system.

KING: Why the wine concept?

HENDLEY: The idea came to me one night when I was thinking about what to do about this water crisis. I thought about Christ's first miracle. Having something that we have plenty here in the states -- wine symbolizes fortune. Maybe we can turn that miracle around now to save lives all around the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Thanks, doc. You took an idea and turned it into action. Congratulations. Keep up the great work. Back with more about Michelle Obama after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

KING: Patti Davis is with us. Lisa Caputo, the former press secretary to First Lady Hillary Clinton and deputy assistant to President Bill Clinton, returns. We are joined now by Nancy Giles, social commentator and writer. She's a contributor to CBS News "Sunday Morning" and Ana Marie Cox, national correspondent for "Air America," contributor to The Daily Beast.com. Join in on all of this.

Nancy, what do you make of her?

NANCY GILES, SOCIAL COMMENTATOR: I think one of the things about Michelle Obama that really inspires me is how she is making being educated a really cool thing. She is inspiring young women and young boys all over the country to go to school, to get a good education. I think that she and President Obama, by going to public schools and going to some of the finest universities that the country has to offer, they're being there really opened them up to all these different experiences and I think makes both of them comfortable in all kinds of different settings. It's really something for young people to shoot for.

KING: How do you read it, Ana?

ANA MARIE COX, AIR AMERICA: You spent the whole program talking about how wonderful she is. I think what is amazing is how much she's had an impact on the way we thought about her in just this 100 days, also the campaign. I called her office today to get their feedback on what they think of her first hundred days. They told me something, which I was really surprised by. She only does, at the max, three public events a week.

Now, doesn't it seem like we've seen so much more of her?

GILES: Yes.

COX: She's had, like, such an amazing presence in all of our lives, in all of the media, but she's very serious about making time to be Sasha and Malia's mother. And she does her -- she works her entire schedule around what they do. And so, really, maximum three events a week.

GILES: Wow!

KING: Her husband does three events a morning.

COX: Exactly. KING: Lisa Caputo, you've worked for a first lady. Do you think you would like working for her?

CAPUTO: Oh, I think I'd love working for her. There's no question about it. I have friends who are working for her. Everything I know about her and hear about her is that she's absolutely extraordinary to work for. And the thing about her is, she strikes the right balance. She's not only true to herself, but she's true to her family.

And she's not shy about being the mom in chief. And I think that's quite extraordinary because, you know, Larry, so much pressure is put on being a first lady. You have this great platform and this, you know, bully pulpit, so to speak. And we tend to try to stereotype our first ladies and put them in a box that fits a label. They should stand for such and such cause.

And what Michelle Obama has done is just be true to herself. And that should be respected.

KING: You mentioned earlier, Patti, you've got that new book, "The Lives Our Mothers Leave Us." Her mother lives with her in the White House. You count that a plus. And the public hasn't made fun of that.

DAVIS: No. And I think -- well, I think the reason they haven't made fun of it is that it's so clear that it is a very strong and authentic relationship. And I think that a lot of her confidence probably came from that, from that relationship. You know?

And she is then, in turn, raising her daughters like that, and they're going to be two very confident young women.

KING: Ana Marie, you were on the White House lawn when Bo, the puppy, was introduced to the country. What was that like? Earth shaking.

COX: Earth shaking, clearly. I have to say, the jaded press corps, every time that dog did something cute, you heard this ripple of "aww" run through the entire press corps. It was really wonderful to see them as a family. I think we've all seen it, but it is incredible how natural it all seems, and how just enthusiastic and unself-conscious the kids are. I think that that's a true sign of, like, what grounded parents they must have.

The kids actually ran up to the reporters. They were so excited about their new dog. I mean, I think that's pretty expected and natural and not the kind of guardedness we usually see with children that grow up in the public spotlight, who seem very trained or cautious around the media.

They wanted to tell us about Bo. And the president wound up telling us about Bo, too. He told us Portuguese Water Dogs like tomatoes, which I haven't read anywhere else, but interesting.

KING: Yes, he would know that. COX: Teddy must have told him as a joke, is my theory. Also Michelle was there, and she was a little more guarded. Also, I noticed that she tried to get the dog to sit. She was the first one who tried to do that. So she might be the disciplinarian.

KING: Puppies don't do that right away. We'll be back with more on Michelle when LARRY KING LIVE returns.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

M. OBAMA: I am an example of what's possible when girls from the very beginning of their lives are loved and nurtured by the people around them.

My purpose here is to listen, learn and scoop some Risotto.

I hope that Sojourner Truth would be proud to see me, a descendant of slaves, serving as the first lady of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: If that doesn't move you, you're dead. Nancy, we seem to know everything about her. If you were with her now, what would you want to know? What would you ask her?

GILES: You know, just seeing that clip of her talking about Sojourner Truth, it almost -- it really almost made me want to cry, because you realize that as a black American, we did come to this country as property. We weren't considered full human beings. And just to see that trajectory and to see her as the spouse of the leader of the free world is so staggering.

I'm sort of stunned. I don't know if I can answer your question, Larry. I'm just thinking of that moment, and it's stunning.

KING: Lisa, what would you ask her?

CAPUTO: I'd ask her what she'd like to do as far as national and community service. She's been long dedicated to it. There's a fantastic opportunity with the new legislation, the Kennedy Serve America Act that the president's just signed. It's going to triple funding for national service. And I would like to know kind of what she thinks about it and how she'll be active, because I think it will be a great platform for her.

KING: Patti, you mentioned to me when we were seeing the dog on the lawn how much of a piece of property the White House is and how much use they get out of it.

DAVIS: Yes. I've never really appreciated or even seen it. Well, I don't think any of us have seen it used like that, romping around with the dog and using all of that huge meadow and everything. Every time I see that footage, and every time I see the still photographs of that, I go, boy, that's a really lovely piece of property.

KING: Ana Marie, reportorially, is she easy to cover?

COX: No, no, no. She is a very private person, much like her husband. And I also think she guards her privacy pretty jealously, and I think that's because of her role as a mother. I think she sees herself -- she said this again and again. Her role in this campaign was to be Sasha and Malia's mother. And she arranged her schedule during the campaign around their school schedule, and she continues to do that.

She's not interested in making news for her own sake. She really is interested in amplifying her husband's message. And then she has -- she has a very specific goal that she has with working with military families. And she also -- I think this is something that doesn't get as much attention outside of Washington, which is she has become really interested in the community of Washington, sometimes what we hear in the political journalistic complex called the real Washington, which Is those thousands and thousands and thousands of people who will never set foot inside CNN, who will never set foot inside the White House Correspondents Dinner, who live and work here. And she has really gone out of her way to make herself known to that Washington, which is primarily African-American.

And I can tell you that my neighbors have a whole new interest in the city, have a whole new interest in what's going on politically. It's really actually kind of stunning.

KING: I'm also told, Nancy, that she has -- she and her husband, when they're in the White House, they have dinner with the children every night.

GILES: Wow. Well, I'm stunned. I'm stunned by the fact that she's only doing three public things per week.

KING: That's amazing.

GILES: As Lisa was saying, you see her everywhere. You see her covering the territory, whether it's handing out food or starting that garden. She's like our Eleanor Roosevelt, almost. Yes.

KING: By the way, I want to congratulate Patti on this book. The book is "The Lives Our Mother Leave Us." It's prominent women discussing the complex, humorous and ultimately loving relationships they have with their mothers. Great idea. You wrote a great piece.

DAVIS: Thank you.

KING: Thank you, Patti, and thank you, ladies. Joy Behar and Anne Coulter are here tomorrow. I'm going to guess -- don't think. I guess they'll have something to say about everything. Anderson Cooper is next with "AC 360." Anderson?