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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
The Palin Factor
Aired November 16, 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, Sarah Palin doesn't hold back. On the eve of her new book's release, she's firing with both barrels at John McCain and Katie Couric and revealing why she thinks Republicans lost the election.
Now some are asking, is she a GOP blessing or a curse?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think I'm going to have to cast my vote for the maverick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Setting the record straight or settling scores?
What Sarah Palin told Oprah, next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Sarah Palin's new book, "Going Rogue," hits bookstores tomorrow. I understand it's already number one. She was on "Oprah" today. We've invited the former governor to be on this program and thus far she's declined. Our panelists begin, Mary Madeline, Republican strategist, former top aide to Dick Cheney.
In New York, Katrina vanden Heuvel.
And in Washington, Nancy Pfotenhauer.
And in New York, Naomi Wolf, feminist and author of end of America letter of warning to a young patriot.
Mary, why are we so absorbed in this person?
Why does she generate so much interest, hate, love?
MARY MATALIN, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST:
There you go, Larry. That's a good question, because she's unique. And most media don't know how to take her or take conservative women in general and they don't know how to take conservative -- pretty conservative women. And they just she's just become a lightning rod for everything they don't like about conservatism. She speaks her mind. And it was an interesting campaign. And she does things that we know very few people that have been able to do -- have five children and run for office and be on the ballot and all that she's done. That's a -- that's a unique perspective in American politics.
KING: Katrina, is another valuation the fact that many thought she was not qualified?
KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR, "THE NATION": I think there is an obsession with her because she drapes right-wing -- hard right-wing policy in this folksy rhetoric and this appealing personal story.
But what intrigues me -- and Mary touched on this, in a way -- is this sense that she's a victim. The memoir she's written is kind of payback time crossed with Harlequin romance novel. And on "Oprah" today, she spun this tale of how she's a victim of McCain, his team, the mainstream media establishment and the establishment in general, when, in fact, Larry, think about it. She was basically cultured -- nurtured by this coterie of establishment men. Bill Kristol was at "The New York Times," Michael Gerson at "The Washington Post".
You had people around her -- and her book is published by the second largest media company in the world. So this notion of being a victim is playing on a lot of levels.
KING: All right.
VAN DEN HEUVEL: And I think, you know...
KING: Nancy, it's -- we'll get...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: ...to be a real maverick doesn't...
KING: All right.
VAN DEN HEUVEL: Sorry.
KING: All right. Nancy, you're a McCain campaign adviser.
Are you stung by the fact she's so critical of her advisers?
NANCY PFOTENHAUER, FORMER MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ADVISER: Well, you know, I think that she -- she clearly had a lot she wanted to get off her chest and she did it. I thought the interview today showed that she can be very genuine and actually relax in front of the camera, which is not what a lot of people saw, for example, during the Katie Couric interview or those taped segments, which I think really, really was a mistake -- was a tactical error on the part of the campaign to roll her out that way.
KING: But I'm talking -- weren't you -- aren't you hurt by the fact that she's critical of you or people who did what you did?
PFOTENHAUER: Well, I think -- you know, I guess I -- I -- I assume with the campaigns -- I mean we've got some veterans on this panel right now. I've yet to live through a campaign where you didn't have people saying, who shot John?, afterwards and deciding that this person made that mistake and that person made the other. So I'm not that thrown by it.
I do think, though, that she is a riveting person, whether they -- you know, she is someone you either love or you hate. She can bring out crowds the likes of which we hadn't seen, except for with Obama.
And I think the other side really went after her with both guns because of that.
KING: All right. Naomi, before we get your response, we're going to go to a tape of Oprah asking her today about the Katie Couric interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW," COURTESY HARPO PRODUCTIONS)
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those few minutes that were edited together -- packaged together and shown to the American public -- if people only know me from that interview, I don't blame people for thinking that I was not qualified, that I was ill-prepared, that those things you look for in a candidate...
WINFREY: You say...
PALIN: ...I was not.
WINFREY: You say in the -- in the book that you thought that Katie Couric had a partisan agenda. And -- did -- did you think that she was, you know, had a partisan political agenda or some other agenda?
PALIN: Well, I -- I think that her agenda was not to necessarily show me in the best light and not allow my mistakes -- my gaffes -- to go un -- uncaught, whereas she had just interviewed Joe Biden and he had made mistakes, but those were dismissed. They were ignored and -- and she moved on to talk about some very substantial issues. And I wish that I would have been given (AUDIO GAP).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And, Naomi, in the book, she's tough on Couric, accusing her of using "got you" moments. Here's some of what she wrote: "Out of the many, many hours of tape, I had bad moments, just like everyone else. I choked on a couple of responses. And in the harried pace of the campaign, I mistakenly let myself become annoyed and frustrated with many of her repetitive and biased questions."
Do you want to react, Nomi?
NAOMI WOLF, FEMINIST: Yes. KING: Naomi.
WOLF: I do.
KING: I'm sorry. Go ahead.
WOLF: I do. I have to say, you know, there was every reason for me to want to cheer this woman on, not because I share her politics. I don't, Larry. But because it's true that it would be a first to have a working class woman, not Ivy League educated, a mother of many children, you know, in the prime of her life as a mother, running for such high office and -- and possibly winning and becoming a heart way -- a heartbeat away from the presidency.
But, again and again, when she had the opportunity to rise above the fray, to keep her eyes on the prize to talk about issues facing Americans who are suffering in ways now that are unprecedented -- and were at the time that she was running -- health care, global warming, unemployment, two wars -- she chose to play the victim card. And she chose to play a feminine kind of "poor me, they're all gunning for me," kind of role. And she's not done.
That Katie Couric interview, Larry, went viral. It got 3.8 million hits. It could have been the thing that swayed the election. And it was Independents watching it, not just people on the far left.
What did she do in the interview? Katie Couric asked her to name a newspaper that she had read or to name a magazine, to give one indication that she is informed and curious about the state of the world that she's claiming to be able to lead and she couldn't do it and she wouldn't do it.
And she was given many, many chances. Katie came back once, twice, three times in that segment. And this woman couldn't say, well, I've read "The Wall Street Journal"...
KING: All right...
WOLF: ...or, you know, I read my local paper in Anchorage. And -- and that is distressing to me...
KING: OK, I've got to...
WOLF: ...as a feminist who was willing to cheer for her.
KING: I've got to take a break.
OK, we'll be right back with more on Sarah Palin's new book and what's in it, right after this.
KING: We're back with our panel.
She says, does Sarah Palin, at one point, campaign manager Steve Schmidt wanted to try and dictate her diet. She writes: "I'm a 44- year-old healthy, athletic woman raising five kids, governing a large state. I thought, as his words faded into a background buzz, sir, I really don't know you yet, but you've told me how to dress, what to say, how to talk to a lot of people, not to talk to and who my heroes are supposed to be. And we're still losing and now you're going to tell me what to eat.
Mary Matalin, you've been an adviser on campaigns.
Is that dirty pool or is she just laying it out?
MATALIN: You know, I want to go back to something Nancy said earlier. Every campaign I've ever been on -- and there's seven or eight -- they're always a pressure cooker and you always remember it after the fact from your perspective. It's like (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: But you don't write books about it.
MATALIN: I -- yes, people write lots of books about it. As Nancy said earlier, she had stuff to get off her chest and -- but the book was much larger. I think we're -- it's much broader and much larger. It's about her whole life. It is about her family and her faith and those other organizing principles of her life.
But what -- what the -- what we all understand and what the interviews about been about so far have been these more public episodes. But if one reads the whole book, they'll see something much larger and they will not see a victim. I love my -- how my liberal friends always tend to project. They're doctors of victimology.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know.
MATALIN: She says quite the opposite, she wasn't a victim...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: Well, can...
MATALIN: She's -- her opposite view in the book is that...
KING: All right, Katrina...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: Can I jump in?
MATALIN: ...is that she had something to offer.
VAN DEN HEUVEL: You know, Larry...
MATALIN: And they were constraining her.
KING: All right, Katrina, go ahead.
VAN DEN HEUVEL: Yes. Well, I was going to say...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: ...Larry, if you had been doing the interview this afternoon, which gave softball interviews a new meaning, I'm sure when Sarah Palin spoke about how 2012 wasn't on her radar, you would have pushed back.
Talking about doctors of victimology, though, let me -- let me just talk about -- the one reason we're keeping an eye on Sarah Palin, who isn't leaving the political building -- the political building -- is what she did by injecting herself into a health care debate, which requires reason and thought and humanity, where she did the death panel card.
This is a woman who, as governor of Alaska, permit -- wanted end of life counseling, a very humane thing for families, for mother -- for my mother, for my father. And for her to inject herself into this debate is the example -- an example of a small minority using a conspiracy and -- and hijacking a debate this country needs to have.
So I think she is a very toxic force. She is a potent brand. It is a testament to the good judgment of the American people that we're looking at her with -- 9 percent would support her for president. And Independents running...
KING: All right, let's...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: ...for cover.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would love to jump in...
KING: Here's what she said about her daughter's preg -- hold on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
KING: Here's what she said about her daughter's pregnancy and we'll get a comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW," COURTESY HARPO PRODUCTIONS)
WINFREY: When you realized it was public, about Bristol's pregnancy, that Bristol called you and said that she'd seen it on the news?
PALIN: She had seen it on the news...
WINFREY: Tell me about that.
PALIN: ...and she was -- she was quite devastated. And perfectly honestly, she was quite embarrassed. She called me in tears. She was saying, "Oh, mom, not -- now not just in Wasilla do they know what's going on in my life, but now the whole world knows, mom. And should -- should this be news? Should it be a top news story?"
And I said, "No, it should not."
And -- and I would hope that my children would be kind of excluded from the controversy and any of the tabloidization of what's going to go on in the campaign. But I knew off the bat that with that -- with that episode, that the kids were going to be a part of it -- good, bad or ugly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Nancy, was that fair?
PFOTENHAUER: Well, you know, I think most of us who -- who are veterans were kind of shocked at the kind of the breaking of the last remaining element of civility that had existed in presidential politics and that -- that is that you pretty much left the kids alone. And even then -- then Candidate Obama stepped forward a couple times and said, this is just not appropriate.
But it was a feeding frenzy.
If I could speak to Katrina's comment earlier about health care, if you are looking at Independent voters, first of all, anybody has the right to interject themselves -- any American -- into that debate.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's true.
PFOTENHAUER: ...and Independent...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: Not with a lie.
PFOTENHAUER: ...and Independent voters are voting -- are, in droves, against the thing that's being shoved down -- force fed down their throat right now.
So before you, you know, acquaint or -- or try to equate, rather, Sarah Palin's interjection into the health care debate as somehow illegitimate, I would pay attention to what Independent voters are thinking about that, as well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just to jump in, Nancy...
KING: All right, let me get a break and come back. I think...
KING: I think she was saying that she was saying one thing with one eye, that she was counseling the aging and then voted, then saying that that's a terrible thing to do.
Anyway, we'll get back to that.
By the way, would you buy Sarah Palin's book?
That's tonight's Quick Vote question. Go to CNN.com/larryking.
Back in 60 seconds. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
KING: Sarah Palin, by the way, has also been talking to Barbara Walters.
Let's see some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "20/20," COURTESY ABC)
BARBARA WALTERS, HOST: Toward the end of the campaign, the press report quoted unnamed McCain aides calling you a diva -- you know this -- a whack job, a narcissist.
Why do you think these people were trying to destroy your reputation?
PALIN: For some people, this is a business. And if failure in this business was going to reflect poorly on them, they had to kind of pack their own parachutes and protect themselves and their reputations so they wouldn't be blamed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The concession speech that wasn't -- why the McCain campaign turned out the lights on Sarah Palin.
And "Joe the Plumber" is with us, after this.
KING: Joining us now before we get back with the panel, in Las Vegas, is Joe Wurzelbacher. You know him as "Joe the Plumber."
Here's what Palin had to say about you in her book: ""Joe the Plumber" reminded me personally of those country kitchen guys I sat with on Friday mornings in Wasilla when I was mayor. I liked him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Joe, did you like her is this.
JOE WURZELBACHER, "JOE THE PLUMBER": Yes, I liked her a lot. She was real genuine. She didn't sit there and try to wow me with her being Sarah Palin. She just sat there and talked to me like a regular person. And I enjoyed that. I've met a lot of politicians that sat there and think I should be on my knees worshipping them.
So she was a -- a fresh, you know, difference there.
Do you think she's going to run for president?
WURZELBACHER: You know, I liked her answer that she gave Oprah, which -- I mean I thought Oprah did a pretty good job. But, you know, I don't know. But she said that you don't necessarily have to be in a position of leadership, you know, an office to exact change in America. And I think that's really her calling. I mean she can get out there and really motivate the grassroots of this country to get back involved and take our country back.
And so I -- really, I hope that she does that, to be honest with you, because I mean she can really get out there and talk and get people excited and get them back involved in our government -- not necessarily politics, Larry, but back involved in our government.
So I'm -- I'm looking forward to see what she does.
KING: What about the oft heard statement -- is she, frankly, really qualified to be president?
WURZELBACHER: Well, that -- that's a question that everyone is asking. You know, look how many experts are in Washington and look at where we're at economically in our country right now. I mean it seems like we're at a crossroads.
So I don't know if I really want an expert running our country. I think we need to get back to the basic principles of our countries. You know, that's going to be someone who has five children and -- and can run the State of Alaska.
I -- you know, she's got my vote. I -- I really like her genuineness, her love our country.
So I -- I don't see anything wrong with her as far as that stuff goes. She -- like I said, she's -- she's genuine. She really wants to serve the country and she wants to serve her fellow man, to where our current politicians want to serve themselves. And you see that in Republicans and you see that in the Democrats. So I really like her.
KING: Thanks, Joe.
Good seeing you again.
WURZELBACHER: Hey, thanks, Larry.
Have a great night.
KING: "Joe the Plumber."
By the way, she didn't give a concession speech on election night and wasn't too happy with the McCain camp about that. Here's what she said today and then we'll get a comment from our panel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW," COURTESY HARPO PRODUCTIONS)
WINFREY: What was going through your mind?
I looked at the concession speech and was looking at you and I was wondering what you were thinking. You -- you looked sad. PALIN: Well, there was disappointment, of course, in the loss. You don't run a race to lose.
WINFREY: Were you disappointed, obviously, that you'd lost the election, but disappointed that you weren't allowed to speak that night?
PALIN: Not so much disappointed that I wasn't allowed to speak, but disappointed that the explanation that I was given why I wouldn't be able to speak is, A...
WINFREY: Which was?
PALIN: ...that V.P. candidates never give a speech on an election night. And I -- I knew that was false because I've seen it happen over the -- all the years. In fact, four years prior, of course that had happened.
But disappointed, too, that we didn't take one last opportunity to remind Americans that all of us, together, need to be able to move forward and united, we will stand as a country. And that's what I wanted to talk about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Naomi Wolf, somebody said today that they don't remember a vice presidential concession speech.
Anyway, you want to comment on what she said?
WOLF: Yes, I personally have no idea whether it's traditional or not. I don't think tradition should matter that much. I think what's more important is what I keep hearing -- the refrain I keep hearing from people is, you know, oh, we should have rolled her out more narrowly, she's genuine, I like her, she's got all these kids, she speaks from the heart.
You know, all of those are lovely in a neighbor or in a co- worker. But what people have to remember is do we really want to hand our country over to consultants like -- like my colleagues on other side of the aisle on this panel, with all due respect, who seem to want to roll her out like a product.
And let's look at what she was fronting for. She wasn't just doing what the McCain team wanted. She was carrying water for policies of Rove and Cheney and Bush, including policies on torture.
Bear with me.
And it -- history has seen plenty of examples of a cabal -- a group of people who get into power. And then she is a telegenic, charming, Evita-type front person to kind of lure the masses...
KING: All right, let... WOLF: ...while the same old guys remain in power with some very dark and negative policies...
KING: All right, Mary...
WOLF: ...that our country is still recovering from.
KING: All right, you worked with -- you want to...
WOLF: I'd like to hear what you have to say about that.
KING: Do you want to respond, Mary?
MATALIN: I don't know where my friend, Naomi, who was the third wave leading feminist and has turned into a Grassy Knoller. There is no Cheney/Rove cabal. Sarah Palin a grass...
WOLF: There's no Cheney-Rove cabal, huh?
MATALIN: See, you've got -- I don't -- this is why people think liberals are such fringies. I mean you -- you run around saying that she's such a dope, but you were all duped by the dope. That's what you've said about George Bush, too.
She's just a mainstream American. And if you read this book and the framework of her philosophy of government, it goes all the way back to the founders -- what's the role of government, can we afford this?
She has a very timely philosophical framework. And to put her in some kind of cabal...
MATALIN: ...says more about you guys than...
WOLF: Mary, I admire you and I like you and you're...
KING: All right.
VAN DEN HEUVEL: Yes, I was going to say...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: I was going to say, you know, Sarah Palin today spoke of "united we stand." Her friend, "Joe the Plumber," spoke of mobilizing people to be part of the government.
I mean Sarah Palin, at the end of the campaign, traveled this country, Larry, at a time of unprecedented economic pain and hurt and fomented rage and anger, talked about President Obama palling around with terrorists...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: ...who are targeting our country.
WOLF: Yes, that's right.
VAN DEN HEUVEL: This -- this is not about united we stand. And these are people who hate government. They are government bashers at a moment when we need government for the common good.
So I'm not sure -- I'm all with Joe, by the way, we don't need more experts in our government. We need people who care about using government for the common good.
But this is not what Sarah Palin...
KING: All right, Nancy...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: ...stood for on the campaign trail...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: ...or what she stands for now.
KING: All right. We're running close on time.
PFOTENHAUER: I find it...
KING: Nancy, quick questions for you.
Do you think she wants -- Nancy, do you think she wants to run in 2012?
PFOTENHAUER: I think that she's considering it. And I think that she's done -- from the standpoint, that standpoint, stepping out and being able to go out and -- and basically raise some money, raise her profile, etc. All -- all makes sense.
However, the idea that candidates are not rolled out is point blank laughable. And if you're worried about the direction of the country, maybe we should be talking about the 10 percent unemployment rate, the two wars...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: Certainly we should.
PFOTENHAUER: ...that are still going on and etc. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's true.
PFOTENHAUER: We didn't -- shouldn't be ascribing poor motives to other people who want to engage who just happen to disagree with you.
VAN DEN HEUVEL: Nancy -- Nancy, bear with me...
KING: All right, guys...
VAN DEN HEUVEL: She supported torture.
KING: We've got another panel coming.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
KING: We'll have you back.
Mary Matalin, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Nancy Pfotenhauer and Naomi Wolf.
Mary's husband will be with us in a little while. And they don't -- they don't agree on a lot of things, but they've got a happy marriage.
And we'll come back.
KING: Our next panel to discuss the Palin phenomena, in New Orleans, James Carville, CNN political contributor, Democratic strategist and husband of Mary Matalin, who was just here.
In Wasilla, Alaska, Kristan Cole, Palin's long time friend and former spokesperson during the campaign.
Here in Los Angeles, Stephanie Miller, progressive talk show host and host of her own very popular radio show.
And in New York, S.E. Cupp, the well-known conservative columnist.
In her interview with Oprah today, Palin said she doesn't feel responsible for the McCain loss.
OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: Do you think in any way if you had been allowed to be more of yourself and less scripted there would have been a different economy?
SARAH PALIN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not necessarily. I think the reason that we lost, the economy tanked under a Republican administration. People were sincerely looking for change. They were quite concerned about the road that America was on with our economy. They did not want more of the same. They did not want status quo. And I think unfortunately, our ticket represented what was perceived as status quo. So I don't think I was to blame for losing the race any more than I could be credited with winning the race had I done a better job as the VP candidate.
KING: All right, James Carville, we'll start with you. What's your read on all of this, read, not necessarily being a pun.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: If you believed the exit polls, she was one of the main reasons that Senator McCain lost. I think it was something like 17 percent said they voted against him because they didn't think she was qualified to be president. You know, he would have probably lost anyway. But I think it's safe to say that she wasn't much of a help. But look, I think she did fine today. I think she served notice on the Republican Party that she's going to be a major factor in 2012.
KING: Kristan, logically, was the public generally correct or many in the public in thinking that your friend wasn't yet qualified to be president?
KRISTAN COLE, FORMER PALIN CAMPAIGN SPOKESPERSON: I don't think that's true at all. I mean, she was the executive of one of the largest states, in Alaska. She did more in two years than most governors do in four. So to say that she wasn't qualified is almost laughable.
KING: All right. You want to comment, Stephanie, on that? Was she ready to be president?
STEPHANIE MILLER, TALK SHOW HOST: Was that the Evelyn Wood school of speed governing whereby you get to quit half way through and somehow that makes you a good governor? She quit Twitter, Larry. If you're a Twitter quitter, you don't have the stamina to be president, I'm sorry.
KING: You don't think she was qualified or is qualified?
And I think the latest CNN poll showed 70 percent of the American doesn't think she's qualified and I'm not as qualified as James Carville, I'm not married to anybody on the previous panel. But I'm just saying, the polls are the polls.
KING: S.E. Cupp, what do you think of this phenomena?
S.E. CUPP, CONSERVATIVE COLUMNIST: I think she's unstoppable. You know, she walked into Oprah today to a standing ovation and yelps from the crowd. I think Oprah missed a real opportunity here. Only five minutes in she started asking about Bristol and then it was on to her clothes and Levi. I think she was treating her like some tawdry, sleazy kind of Jerry Springer guest when this was the youngest and first female governor of Alaska.
She's incredibly accomplished, she's a woman to admire, regardless of what you think of her politics. And I think this was a side show today. I think Oprah missed a big opportunity to get to the root of what people really love about Palin. But the mainstream media doesn't really want to solve Sarah Palin. They just want to marginalize her.
KING: James? What did you think of the interview, James?
CARVILLE: I thought that she served notice on the Republican - Party that she's going to be a major factor. You know, she has support of the neocons, the "Weekly Standard" crowd. She can fire up people. She's got Joe the Plumber has come out for her tonight.
I think they're going to have to reckon with her in this 2012 thing. I mean look, she's not my cup of tea, I don't think she has -- I said she was uniquely and supremely unqualified, but to a lot of Republicans, a lot of supporters, they're not interested in what I say or what I think. She is going to be a person that has a lot to say in that party. The talk radio crowd loves her, a lot of the cable TV people really like her. She's got some support out there. They're going to have to deal with her.
KING: Spoken by a political pro. We'll come back with more. We'll ask Kristan about the Levi Johnston matter. And living with diabetes, by the way, or know someone? We've got another great blog for you, exclusive for you, five questions with Oprah's fitness expert, Bob Greene. Go to CNN.com/LarryKing to read it. You won't see it anywhere else. More about Sarah after this.
KING: Back with our discussion about Sarah Palin, the publication of the book which comes out tomorrow. One of the side shows that Palin had to deal with is her grandson's father, Levi Johnston. He came up again today in the interview with Oprah. Watch.
PALIN: Because so much of the discussion with Levi has to do with his most beautiful baby boy, Tripp, my grandson and Tripp's future, that I don't think a national television show is the place to discuss some of the things that she's doing and saying.
By the way, I don't know if we call him Levi -- I hear he goes by the name Ricky Hollywood now. So if that's the case, we don't want to mess up this gig he's got going, kind of this aspiring porn, some of the things that she's doing. It's kind of heartbreaking.
WINFREY: The "Playgirl" centerfold?
PALIN: Right. I call it porn, yes. So a bit heartbreaking to see the road that he is on right now.
KING: What do you make, Kristan, of the whole Levi situation?
COLE: Well I think the governor and really the entire family is incredibly disappointed, of course, in the path that Levi is taking because there is a lot of good that can come from all of this and I think everybody would like to focus on the good, and that is that sweet little boy, Tripp. And also, the entire family has been affected by this.
I think that there's a lot that can be done to move this forward in a positive way and help other young people who may be addressing the same thing. I think they're disappointed that he's taking a path that can really be destructive to him personally and to others. And I think that's their biggest concern. And I know the governor just wants the best for him.
KING: Do you know why she left him out of the book?
COLE: You know, I don't know. That's probably just a personal choice to focus on the positive. And right now he seems to be going through a difficult time. And she probably didn't want to shed any light on that.
KING: All right, what do you make of that aspect about this? Everything about her life we know, Stephanie.
MILLER: I think it's an unfortunate choice of words to have to say he came up again on the week that he's doing a nude photo layout. However, I think that the thing people ejected to with Sarah Palin was the sort of lecturing other people about family values when, you know, I'm sorry, but this whole display, she's someone that preached against abstinence education in the schools. I think that's really more of the issue to most people is the hypocrisy more than anything else.
KING: She's also on the cover of the latest edition of "Newsweek." Some are even talking about her sex appeal. It is a very sexy cover. S.E. Cupp, does that take away from the -- there you see it. What do you make of -- do you think "Newsweek" is running that cover to harm her or help her?
CUPP: Well, calling her a problem, I think is a pretty blatant attempt at hurting her. But it's nothing new. She's been sexualized. And this is kind of just what the mainstream media has decided to do with young, attractive conservative women. I think it's really a huge step back for feminism. It's this sort of vestigial organ of the angry identity politics of the '70s. And it doesn't do anyone on the left or the right, men or women, any good. It just really brings down the national conversation.
CARVILLE: Larry --
MILLER: Excuse me --
CARVILLE: I'm a little vexed here.
MILLER: Excuse me, I've got to say something here, Larry, because excuse me but Sarah Palin...
KING: Hold it, James.
MILLER: Sarah Palin sexualized herself. What was all the winking about? What were all the signs at the Republican Convention that came out about how hot she was?
CUPP: That's crazy.
MILLER: You guys sexualized Sarah Palin.
CUPP: That's crazy.
MILLER: She sexualized herself. What's with the winking?
CUPP: She's an attractive woman.
MILLER: What vice presidential candidate has ever winked during a debate?
CUPP: Why do conservative women have to ugly up or act like men to be taken seriously?
MILLER: I didn't say she did. But what vice presidential candidate in a debate has ever winked at someone?
CUPP: I'm sure I could name five or six.
KING: All right, James, you wanted to say something.
CARVILLE: Excuse me. I'm a little vexed here. Did "Newsweek" doctor the photo or did she pose for the photo?
CUPP: She posed for the photo for the cover a running magazine.
CARVILLE: OK but I mean she posed for the photo. It's not a photo that she doctored.
CUPP: No. She's in great shape. She's a runner. I think she was proud to do that photo.
CARVILLE: Again --
COLE: She posed for that photo for a running magazine.
CARVILLE: Again, "Newsweek" ran a photo that she posed for. It was her, I mean, you pose for a photo, you're running for vice president, people are going to use the photo. I don't know how to tell you that, but that's what happens out there. You throw yourself in the public arena and why are you surprised that this happened? Everybody that gets in the public arena, this happens to.
And, look, I think Levi Johnston is unfortunate. I don't think he ought to be in someone's house, particularly the grandmother of your children's house and going out and saying something. But she willingly went into the public arena, she willingly posed for these things, she willingly gave these interviews. And this is what happens when you run for vice president.
CARVILLE: This cannot be avoided. This cannot be complained about. This is what happens in American politics.
CUPP: I don't think she's apologizing for any of it nor do I think that she should. She doesn't have to apologize for posing for a running magazine. She's in great shape. Good for her.
CARVILLE: I agree. But why criticize people for sexualizing her? I agree she doesn't have to. I think she's a -- everybody I know thinks she's a really nice-looking woman. That doesn't have anything to do with her being president. She poses for a picture, they're going to run the picture.
KING: Let me get a break guys, we'll come back. Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live," punch line or politician? Back in 60 seconds.
KING: Sarah Palin talks about meeting Tina Fey who had skewered her in "Saturday Night Live" skits. Palin said Fey was friendly and gracious. She described the meeting as a nice mom moment. She said Fey joked, believe it or not I have Republicans in my family, to which Palin replied, believe it or not, I've got Democrats in mine. Here's Sarah Palin on "Saturday Night Live."
TINA FEY, ACTRESS: The only pole I care about is the North Pole and that is melting, it's not great. What? The real one? Bye.
PALIN: Thank you. Thank you. Now, I'm not going to take any of your questions. But I do want to take this opportunity to say, live from New York, it's Saturday night!
After a lot of thought, I think it might just cross the line.
SETH MEYERS, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: OK. Well, in that case, Amy, do you want to do Governor Palin's part instead?
AMY POEHLER, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: one, two, three. All the mavericks in the house, put your hands up. All the mavericks in the house, put your hands up. All the plumbers in the house, pull your pants up. All the plumbers in the house, pull your pants up.
KING: Someone is watching this from Mars. Does Sarah Palin have a future in politics? Back after this.
KING: Anderson Cooper will host "A.C. 360" at the top of the hour. Is there anything else in the news tonight, Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There are some other stories, we're going to cover that. We're going to be starting of course with the story you've been covering, Larry, keeping them honest. Sarah Palin in her new book, you've been talking about it, making a lot of waves. Does everything in the book though check out? We have our copy today. And I've been going through it. It's fair to say the answer is no. We're going to tell you which parts seem to stretch the truth.
We'll talk to Dede Scozzafava, the former Republican congressional candidate who was basically told she wasn't conservative enough by Sarah Palin, ended up pulling out of the race when her poll numbers dropped. We'll talk about Palin's past, present and future.
Plus, former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson convicted for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. He was sentenced to 13 years in prison. But get this, he's still eligible for his pension for the rest of his life. That's right, your tax dollars going to the pension of a convicted criminal from Congress. He's not the only one. We're keeping them honest.
All that, plus new mammogram guidelines that change the recommended age and frequency of the exams. It's really a stunning story. It's very confusing. The question is, should the new guidelines be followed? We'll tell you what age they now say you should be before having your first mammogram. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us for that and a lot more Larry, on "360."
KING: Thanks, Anderson. That's 10 Eastern, 7 Pacific.
For awhile during the campaign, she had Democrats worried. Let's see some of our RNC speech again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALIN: I had the privilege of living most of my life in a small town. I was just your average hockey mom, signed up for the PTA. I love those hockey moms. You know they say the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Kristan Cole, do you think your friend is seeking higher office?
COLE: Well, I think that she's going to involve herself in whatever different programs and helping other candidates run for election because I think she resonates with people across this country, ordinary Americans just like she is. And I think the smaller government taking personal responsibility, trying to help small businesses, cutting, you know, capital gains tax, cutting taxes on small different businesses. All of those things are important to the small guy, which is the majority of Americans. And so I think she resonates with those folks. We love her. And I think that she will continue to help in whichever arena that she thinks she can make the most impact for our entire country.
KING: Stephanie, she's going to campaign for Republican conservative candidates all next year.
MILLER: Yes, I hope so. I hope she has as much success as she did in New York 23. If she can make one race after another implode, I'm very happy.
KING: Do you think she's going to hurt the Republicans she endorses?
MILLER: It seems like it so far, yeah. I mean the Republicans are having more war within their own party, right now.
KING: There's only one race you're talking about. What about that war, S.E.? Is she going to contribute to it? Is she going to be a harbinger of it? What do you make of that?
CUPP: You know this is a woman that goes on Facebook and writes a note and actually gets policy changed so I think the sky's the limit for her. I don't have a crystal ball and I don't know what she is planning, but whatever it is, I'm sure that she'll have a ton of support, just groundswell of support behind her, lots of people rooting for her and helping her. I don't think Sarah Palin needs me or anyone else to defend her. She's just fine.
KING: James, how will she do on the political circuit supporting candidates next year?
CARVILLE: Well, you know, mixed bag this year. But look, she's right. If there's one -- the sky is the limit. There is one sky in American politics and that is president of the United States. There is one way that you affect policy and that's run for president.
It seems to me given her answer today, and I listened to a friend talk and other people, she is going to run for president. And if she is, she's going to be a major force in the Republican Party. People have to get over it. She's very skilled. If you watched her interview today, she -- she's, you know, got very skilled at answering questions and things like this.
I suspect that she will run. She does. She is going to get a lot of support out there and it's going to be an interesting thing. I know I'm going to watch with great interest here. Run, Sarah, run, go for it.
KING: But how will she be next year endorsing Republican candidates? Will she have a strong impact, James?
CARVILLE: You know, again, in Virginia and I believe in New Jersey, I hope so that the Republican candidates asked her not to come in. She came in at New York 2030 as Stephanie pointed out, that didn't work out very well.
You know, if the Republicans are going to have a good year, they're going to have a good year. Sarah Palin might affect two or three congressional seats. But I doubt it much more than that. But a lot of people are not going to want in.
But her people, the true believers, the people that she connects with, they don't care. They're for her. They don't care what's in the book. They don't care about anything else. They really are for her. And they make up a good part of the Republican Party and she's got some institutional support out there and I think -- look, I hope she runs. Plus, she's just fun to talk about. She's kind of a, you know, you always are interesting in a potential train wreck every time there is something going on. I kind of like it. I'm for her. Go for it.
KING: We'll be back with more after this, don't go away.
KING: As we said at the beginning, Sarah Palin has been invited on this program again but thus far has declined. When she was on this show after the election last year, I asked about her presidential ambitions and Oprah did the same again today. Watch.
KING: Are you ready to run for the presidency? Is that something that would interest you, you?
PALIN: Again, I'm not going to close any doors of opportunity that perhaps are open out there in the future. Not having a crystal ball, I do not know what those opportunities will be. If I have to call an audible down the road here and circumstances change and the door is opened for me to do so, it would be something that I would take that challenge on, that responsibility.
WINFREY: Have you thought about running for president of the United States in 2012? Have you just thought about it?
PALIN: It's not on my radar screen right now.
WINFREY: Was it ever?
PALIN: As I'm dealing with so many issues that are important and -- Oprah, what I'm finding, clearer and clearer every day what I am seeing is you don't need a title to make a difference.
KING: Kristan, do you want your friend to run?
COLE: You know, I do personally because I think that she can make a huge impact across this country. I think there are a lot of hurting people and this economic crisis has been serious. And I think we all need to take a step back and look at personal responsibility. And I think she's the catalyst for that. And I think that she can bring this country together for good and to move us forward out of this economic crisis by, you know, some of the things I suggested earlier with capital gains taxes being reduced and you know.
So do I want her to run? Of course I do. I want our country back. And I think we're headed in the wrong direction. I think there's a lot of Americans that agree with me. So yes, absolutely I'd like her to run.
KING: All right, James wants her to run. Stephanie, do you want her to run?
MILLER: Larry, I don't think she's going to come back on your show because clearly you were being inappropriate and she was about to rip her microphone off and leave. Of all the conservative women's books out, I found Carrie Prejean's book more intellectually satisfying. But you know, I wish Sarah Palin well.
KING: Do you want her to run?
MILLER: Yes, I'm with James.
KING: S.E., do you want her to run?
CUPP: Well, of course I do. I mean, you know, if you contrast her to someone like Obama who is having fear summits and job summits --
KING: No, I'm talking about contrast her to other Republicans who might run, Mitt Romney, Huckabee, do you want her to beat them?
CUPP: You know --
KING: Do you want her to be a candidate?
CUPP: I don't have any sacred cows just yet. It's a little early and I don't think she needs a target on her back quite this early. But I'd love to see her run. I think she is completely qualified, able, and an inspiring woman.
KING: James, you want her to run, what, for the fun of it, for the spirit of it?
CARVILLE: Yes, of course. Could we sit here for an hour and talk about Mitt Romney? Of course not. Yes, I mean she's compelling, she's interesting, I don't think she's qualified or able. But she's a lot of other things which goes to she's one of the most interesting people in American politics.
By the way, if you want to be vice president, by extension you want to be president. There's nobody that's ever wanted to be vice president said, gee, I don't want to be president. Even Dick Cheney's daughter is touting for 2012 now. I mean everybody that's vice president wants to be president.
KING: OK, let me get a quick call in. Miami, hello. CALLER: My question is for Mr. James Carville. What does your latest democracy core survey say about Sarah Palin's approval rating since the book media blitz?
CARVILLE: We haven't done -- we haven't done one. But there have been any number of polls out. And you know, look, a large segment of the Republican Party loves this woman. And they're going to vote for her and they're going to be for her. Once you get out of that segment of the Republican Party, I have to be honest, it tails off pretty good. In fact, drastically. But she's a compelling person.
KING: Thanks, guys. You made the case, James. James Carville, Kristan Cole, Stephanie Miller, S.E. Cupp.
TD Jakes, tomorrow night. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "A.C 360." Anderson?