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Death at the Olympics; Bill Clinton Released From Hospital

Aired February 12, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, breaking news -- death at the Olympics. An athlete killed in a practice run hours before opening ceremonies.

And then Bill Clinton walks out of the hospital one day after two stents were placed in a blocked artery and he reacts today.


WILLIAM CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I felt that it was just a -- kind of a repair job.



Good evening.

Tragedy today at the Olympic Games, even before they started. A luge slider from the country of Georgia killed when he veered off the track at a very high speed and hit a pole. You'll see video of the incident, but because it involves a death and out of respect for the victim and his family, we'll not show the moment of impact.

First, we'll join with Mark McKay, who is in Vancouver for the latest developments.

Mark, our CNN journalist -- is, is the luge dangerous?

MARK MCKAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's quite dangerous, Larry. These competitors come down at 80, 90 miles an hour. And that's what was happening today. The final luge -- run the final training run at the Whistler Sliding Center for 21-year-old Nodar Kumaritashvili of the Republic of Georgia.

Just as he was reaching the finish line, he lost control of his sled, was propelled off the sled into a -- a steel pole, an unpadded steel pole. CPR was administered immediately. He was taken to a local hospital in Whistler where he died of his injuries -- Larry.

KING: Do were -- weren't there complaints about how fast the luge in Vancouver is this year?

MCKAY: There were a number of complaints all week long, Larry, leading up through the training runs. A number of competitors from around the world from a number of countries complaining -- not necessarily complaining, but noting that this is, some have said, the fastest track in the world. The investigation by the International Olympic Committee is currently underway. The -- the actual German designer has come out and said perhaps safety modifications will have to be made before the Olympic competition begins.

But with that investigation underway, we do not know where that will go.

The men's luge competition here at the Vancouver Games, Larry, begins tomorrow.

KING: Does the luge have a history of accidents?

MCKAY: There have been a number of accidents -- not fatal accidents -- in this sport. It is completely a dangerous sport just because of the sheer fact of the speed. It is concrete. It is ice. The control that you have is -- is, some would say, maybe limited. But as you come down, if you lose control, like this young man did today, you're really at the mercy of where you're going to land.

KING: The Georgia team -- thanks, Mark.

The Georgia team, by the way, will compete in honor of their teammate.

Joining us on the phone is David Epstein, a staff writer with "Sports Illustrated."

Did this shock you, David?

DAVID EPSTEIN, WRITER, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": Well, yes, it has to. This -- this sport, there is some danger to it. But I think the last death was in 1964. So it's safer than driving your car, for example. So I think it shocked everybody, absolutely.

KING: Do we know how fast they're going at top speed?

EPSTEIN: The top speed, during the competition, the top athletes are getting up into the mid-to high 90s, which makes this by far and away the fastest course in the world. It's not even close.

This particular rider was going 88 at the time, which is still faster than any other course in the world.

KING: The key to the sport is what?

Are there decisions to be made by the luge driver?

EPSTEIN: Oh, absolutely. Luge, actually, of the sliding sports, bobsled, luge and skeleton -- there are the most decisions in luge because the steels or the blades that they run on are very rounded, so they don't dig in much. So if you don't steer, that sled is going straight.

So luge athletes typically start younger than any other sliding athletes because it takes a long time to master this kind of steering. KING: Do you know who -- what countries generally excel in this?

EPSTEIN: Yes. Well, the -- the Canadians are good. The Germans are really, really great. The U.S. has some good athletes. Russia has some good athletes. The Germans are really, really great at it.

KING: Do we know anything about the Georgians?

EPSTEIN: That is a -- that's a nation with less experience. So we don't know a lot about them, partly because they are not one of the marquis nations in this sport.

KING: Thanks, David.

David Epstein of "Sports Illustrated."

Now joining us from Vancouver is a former United States luge athlete, Patrick Quinn.

How surprised were you at this event today, Patrick?

PATRICK QUINN, FORMER MEMBER, U.S. LUGE TEAM: Well, certainly, like everyone else, just in complete shock. It's -- it's an enormous tragedy and certainly not the way anybody wanted to start the -- the Olympic Winter Games, that's for sure.

KING: Have you ever had a bad accident?

QUINN: Yes, sure. I mean I think pretty much the nature of -- of any of the sports, particularly the speed sports in the Winter Olympics, is that's -- that's part of the course. You know, it's -- you're going to have accidents. It's -- it's part of the game.

But I think there probably are very few athletes, be it in luge, skeleton, bobsled, skiing, you name it snowboarding, that -- that haven't had some sort of an accident.

KING: What made you take it up?

QUINN: You know, for me it was just -- really, it was the opportunity to -- to fulfill an Olympic dream. And I think that's the case with a lot of the athletes here. And again, it's just an enormous tragedy that here's this young man on the eve of fulfilling that lifelong dream. So I think for a lot of athletes, that's what you try to do is get to the Olympic Games and, you know, here's your moment. So it's just a -- a shock wave through the whole community.

KING: So you would term it a dangerous sport?

QUINN: I'm sorry?

KING: You would term it a dangerous sport?

QUINN: Well, in fact, I really would not, despite the fact of what happened today. I mean luge is really a safer sport than many in the way that -- despite the way that it looks. And, you know, I grew up as a hockey player. And I can tell you, there were more injuries that I had as a hockey player than I ever did in luge.

There's no question that there is inherent danger in it. You certainly are going very fast. But there's a lot of safety precautions that are put in place. And this is an anomaly. I mean, certainly there has not been this sort of occurrence in many, many years. And again, it -- it's a tragedy.

KING: Yes.

Thanks, Patrick.

Patrick Quinn, former United States luge athlete.

Bill Clinton is talking about -- today about his health scare last night, next.


KING: President Bill Clinton was released from New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital this morning. He walked out in excellent health, according to his statement. Doctors performed a stent procedure Thursday to restore blood flow in one of his codon -- coronary arteries.

Here he is in his own words just a few hours ago.


CLINTON: I was quite tired over Christmas and afterward. But from the time of the Haiti earthquake, which was a month ago today, I've been working a lot without sleeping much. You know, I've been down there a couple times. But I've been working all over the country and trying to -- I went to Switzerland to get some more business support there and had three overnight flights in a week, which is pretty tough.

So I didn't really notice it until about four days ago and then I felt just a little bit of tingling -- not pain, no grabbing in my chest. And I thought I ought to check it out. And it is a fairly typical thing. As you know, Larry King had the same thing done about a month ago and didn't even say anything to anybody.

It's miraculous what they do with the stents, you just go in and go out. And I didn't take any sedatives or anything, so I was alert. I wanted to watch it. I got to watch it all on the monitor.


KING: The president and I are in the same club.

Mr. President, by the way, if you're watching, you are welcome to call in.

Let's meet our panel.

Dr. Wayne Isom returns, chairman of cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical Center. He performed heart surgery on David Letterman, Regis Philbin, Walter Cronkite and me.

In Los Angeles, Dr. Dean Ornish, founder and president of Preventive Medicine Research Institute. He's a physician consultant to President Clinton.

Port-au-Prince, Haiti features Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent.

And in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, the lovely and talented Jane Seymour. She just attended the Red Dress event here in New York, Emmy winning actress, artist, designer, advocate for women's heart health. She had a life-threatening condition linked to blood pressure.

Wayne Isom, were you surprised at how well the president looked today and acted?

DR. WAYNE ISOM, WEILL CORNELL MEDICAL CENTER: No, not at all. It's -- that -- that's routine and you're a good example of that. I -- I would expect him to be back going strong. And it sounds like that's his personality. He'll be going by Monday or even before.

KING: Dean, do you expect him -- Dr. Ornish, to be as active as he was?

DR. DEAN ORNISH, FORMER PHYSICIAN CONSULTANT TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: I do. I love President Clinton and I'm -- like most of us, I'm delighted that he's -- like all of us, I'm delighted that he's OK. And I expect him to be as vigorous as ever.

KING: Dr. Gupta, Clinton's doctor said he showed no evidence of any heart attack or damage to the heart. The prognosis excellent.

Would you call this procedure a big deal?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's funny, surgeons always say that there is no such thing as a simple procedure, just simple surgeons. So everything, potentially, has its risks, for sure.

But as compared to the operation that he had back in 2004, this is much less in invasive. That was obviously -- involved opening the chest. This is just a -- a -- it's a puncture wound in the -- in the leg area and try to catheter up through the -- through artery. And sometimes you can have problems with that. But it's much less risky than what he had back done six years ago -- Larry.

KING: Jane, when we think of -- if -- if I say the word "bypass" or "stents" or "a heart procedure," we think men.

That's a misnomer, isn't it, Jane?

JANE SEYMOUR, PARENTS HAD HEART DISEASE: You know, I -- I think he was just saying that mostly you think about it -- heart disease being for men. But actual for women, it is the number one killer of women. You are 10 times more likely to die of heart disease, as a woman today, than all the cancers put together. And it's a silent killer. That's the terrible thing. There are no symptoms at all. You have no idea. And -- and it happened to me, so I know it firsthand.

KING: Wayne, what -- what -- Dr. Isom, what should the president be doing now?

I was told, after the procedure, don't exercise for a week to 10 days, take a little more aspirin.

ISOM: Yes, that's it. And stay away from barbecue and chicken fried steak and Mexican food, things like that. You don't want to -- so, watch -- watch your diet.

KING: Dean, the -- the doctors -- his doctor said that it was not due to lifestyle or diet.

How do they know?

ORNISH: Well, you know, I -- I have a different perspective. And I -- I can't talk about the president directly. But I can say, in general, for them to say that lifestyle, diet, exercise, stress really don't have anything to do with whether a bypass clogs up is just not what the facts show.

You know, studies -- we've done studies and others have replicated them, showing that when you change your lifestyle, you can stop and even reverse the progression of heart disease.

But if you just -- if you put a bypass in but you don't change your lifestyle, it's a little like mopping up the floor around a sink that's overflowing without also turning off the faucet or putting a new oil filter in without changing the oil. It's just going to clog up again.

It doesn't have to be that way. And I say that not to blame, but to empower, because when we make our lifestyle choices, when we change our lifestyle, more than most doctors recommend, we can stop and even reverse the progression of disease. And we can keep those bypasses open without necessarily having to have another stent.

KING: Sanjay, you're there in Haiti.

Would it be wise for the president to return to Port-au-Prince?

GUPTA: Well, you know, the -- the conditions here are somewhat tough, there's no question about it. But to somehow connect the dots between being in a place like Haiti and haven't a heart problem is probably going to be pretty hard to do. It is a polluted city. In fact, according to surveys, the fourth -- one of the most polluted cities in the world, the fourth most in the world, in fact.

It's hot down here. When he was down here before, he was, you know, walking around a lot, touring hospitals, very active. So I -- but, again, I can't -- I can't imagine that they would connect the dots between a trip to Haiti and heart disease. I don't think he would take that trip right away, but at some time in the future, I don't think it would be a problem.

KING: When we come back, we'll ask Jane Seymour about the emotional effect on the heart.

He's held my heart, David Letterman's heart and Regis' heart in his hands. Still ahead, we'll go inside the operating room of Dr. Wayne Isom.

More in 60 seconds.


KING: Jane Seymour, it is Valentine's Day weekend.

What do we know about the connection -- and I mean this seriously -- of broken hearts and heart disease?

SEYMOUR: Well, they've just had the science on it. I just met with one of the top cardiologists in the country two days ago at your event, Larry. And she was telling me that there is an actual disease now where people die. And the reason they die is their hearts are broken and they have closed off their hearts, literally, which I know, you know, with the whole open heart thing that I do, it might it's a little bit close to that.

But it -- it's really true. Apparently, these people die from something that, if they were able to open their hearts and let go of the pain in their lives -- let go of their emotional pain, that, you know, they actually recover.

KING: Huh.

SEYMOUR: And it's just astounding, because another thing they discovered is there is real feeling in the heart. There's actually emotion in the heart.

It's astounding, isn't it?

KING: Wow!

I'll ask Wayne about that in a minute.

President Clinton doesn't seem to be taking it easy.

Here's more of what he said today.


CLINTON: And I worked about three hours this afternoon on Haiti. We've got a lot of challenges there. We've still got -- we've got too many people living in close quarters with, you know, water building up and too much risk of water borne illnesses and stuff like that. So I worked on that.

But I feel great and the doctors and the hospital crew did a great job. And, as I said, I even did a little -- I did a couple miles on the treadmill today. So I feel good.


KING: Politics aside, he is amazing.

What do you make of what Jane said about emotions in the heart, Dr. Isom?

ISOM: Well, I -- she knows more about it than I do. And I'm -- I'm sure not an expert. I do think that -- I see this after surgery, if somebody comes out of surgery with a positive attitude and is emotionally stable, they're going to do better. And I -- I guess you could say the same thing even before the surgery, if they've got a positive attitude and they take care of themselves, like Dr. Ornish says, they'll probably -- they will.

KING: Dr. Ornish, Dr. DeBakey told me once that he would have two patients, very similar conditions, the one who was more up about the condition, who was more optimistic, did better.

ORNISH: Well, he's right. I trained with Dr. DeBakey and studied bypass surgery with him as a medical student. I have great admiration for him. And, by the way, with -- also for Sanjay. You're doing God's work in Haiti. So thank you for doing that.

But, you know, stress does cause your arteries to constrict. It can cause the blockages to build up faster. It can cause your heart to beat irregularly. It can cause blood clots to form that can cause a heart attack. That's the bad news.

But the stress is not simply what you do, more important is how you react to what you do. And if you practice some simple stress management techniques, you can be in the same job -- the same environment, you can go to Haiti and not have it affect you. Your fuse gets longer so you can accomplish even more without getting so stressed and without even getting sick in the process.

KING: Sanjay, do you understand why the president is so passionate about Haiti?

GUPTA: He's had an affinity for this place for a long time, Larry. You know, I interviewed him when he was down here and I've talked about Haiti with him a few times in the past. He -- he, you know, he had his honeymoon here, as I know you -- you've talked about, Larry. So he's been thinking about Haiti for a long time.

I think he's -- you know, he has a strong affinity not only to Haiti, but to the Haitian people living in Haiti and in the United States. And he's talked about the -- the great potential for this country. And I think, you know, he's -- like many people, have been confused, maybe even saddened a little bit by how devastated this place was even before the earthquake -- 80 percent poverty rate, a very poor medical infrastructure. It's very hard for people to have any sort of way of life.

And he always -- he always says the same thing. He says that, you know, hope, dreams and ambitions are equally distributed around the world, but working systems of justice are sometimes not. And I -- and he says Haiti is a good example of that -- Larry.

KING: Right.

Jane, both your parents had heart disease.

Does this add to your concern?

SEYMOUR: Yes, I think it is. You know, I -- I think you, you know, everyone is going to have something. And both my parents had heart disease. And they -- you know, they had really bad eating habits. My mother survived a concentration camp, so she just decided she was going to eat everything she possibly could. But she lasted to 92. She did pretty well.

My father had a quadruple heart bypass, heart valve replacement and all of that. And I've actually watched a -- a number of open heart surgeries, so I know the miracle of, you know, what is done.

But I went to the -- to Dean Ornish and I -- with my husband, James. And we did his program for a week. And it made a huge difference. And I really believe in it. I do believe that you have to do everything in your power, especially if you know that your family carries that, you know, that ailment. You've got to do everything in your power if you want to live.

I mean if you don't care...

KING: Yes.

ORNISH: It's true.

SEYMOUR: -- that's fine. It's your choice. But...

KING: Yes. Well said, Jane.

ORNISH: I was going to build on what Jane...

KING: Thank you.

Yes. Hold it, Dean.

ORNISH: Can I just add one thing to what Jane said?

You know, even if your...

KING: Quickly, Dean.

ORNISH: -- even if your mother and father and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles all died from heart disease, it doesn't mean you need to. It just means you probably need to change your lifestyle more.

We published a study last year that when you change your lifestyle, it actually changes your genes in only three months -- hundreds of them, turning on the good genes and turning off the bad genes.

KING: Jane, thanks very much for joining us.

We'll be back with more.

And we're going to see Dr. Isom perform open heart surgery.

A quick personal comment, something near and dear to me. The Larry King Cardiac Foundation saves a heart a day. That's that red band I wear. For information on how you can help or if you need surgery, check out

We'll be right back with a look inside the operating room.


KING: We're back.

Dr. Wayne Isom's cardiac team has performed more than 30,000 open heart surgeries. He's literally held my heart in his hand.

Our cameras got an exclusive look at one of his very delicate operations. We followed his patient, 73-year-old Gerald Munshine (ph), as he underwent triple bypass surgery.

Take a look at this story.


GERALD MUNSHINE: This all happened because I took a stress test, which I take yearly.


MUNSHINE: And it showed that I had some, what they call ischemia, which is the heart muscle wasn't getting enough oxygen.

ISOM: He could die. This is -- the reason we're doing this is -- is even though he doesn't have any symptoms, he's -- he's got a good chance of dropping dead over the next year or two. He's got some blockage right in this vessel which is called the left main stem. And that's actually what Larry had. Larry had a left main stem.

So you've got about, I don't know, a 10 or 12 percent chance a year of dying.

Sharp scissors -- or -- just regular scissors. I know where the blockages are, so it gives me an idea of -- of where I need to go. I -- I make a mental note of it back when I first saw the patient last week and I always look at things right before I go in. This is my road map.

The fact that he had had a stent in the past makes it a little more difficult. We're 95 percent certain of what we need to do and what the plans are, 5 percent you might need to call some audibles (ph) at the line. Most of the times when you operate on somebody, you -- you -- like this, you develop a real bond between the patient and the patient with you.

How are you?

MUNSHINE: Fine, thank you.

ISOM: It sounds perfect.

MUNSHINE: That's what I was waiting to hear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stick your tongue out and go ahhh.

MUNSHINE: I was hoping for a quick recovery and getting back to normal, you know, ways. And the fact that I'm already back to work, to me, is -- is a big plus. And if it didn't save my life immediately, it certainly saved my lifestyle for the future.


KING: Gerald is a noted pediatrician.

Your patient said he felt no pain or discomfort. He didn't even know his life was in danger.

ISOM: Yes, well, that's -- that's one of the...

KING: You're supposed to get some signs.

ISOM: Well, that's one of the problems. And we always thought that patients -- patients who had really bad chest pain, you had to do something. But over the years, we've found out about 10 or 15 percent don't have any pain at all. We call it silent myocardial ischemia. And it's even worse with women because they have atypical angina that may sound like something completely different. So it's very difficult to diagnose.

KING: Dean, from what you know of -- of the president's condition -- and you watched that video -- any similarities between Gerald and Bill Clinton?

ORNISH: Well, I can't really talk about the president since I've -- I -- I work with him and I -- but I will say that what's important is that -- if you need a bypass, Dr. Isom is the guy to see. He's a master at it.

But what many people don't realize is that angioplasties and stents -- unless you're unstable -- and from what I've read about the president's condition, he needed one. But 90 to 95 percent of the people who get stents are stable and they're getting it mainly because there's some concern that -- that they're not getting enough blood.

But the randomized trials, like in the "New England Journal of Medicine" two years ago, the Courage study, showed quite clearly that stents do not prolong life. They don't even prevent heart attacks. And so the main reason for getting them is to make the angina, or chest pain, better.

But we've shown -- and other have shown that if you change your lifestyle sufficiently, you can regu -- you can reduce angina or chest pain by 90 to 95 percent in just a few weeks simply by changing diet and lifestyle.

KING: Do you agree with that, Wayne?

ORNISH: And it's a lot cheaper and the only side effects are good ones.

ISOM: Well, I don't know. He's -- he's -- he may be a little smarter than I am. I try not to be too smart. If -- if a pa -- certainly if a patient has got really bad angina and they've got critical blockage, you need to do something for the symptoms. If -- if they don't have it and they've got critical blockage, the big question is, do you have time for the medical therapy?

KING: I can't let Sanjay go without asking about the one month anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.

How are they doing?

GUPTA: Well, you know, there's no question things are better here than they were a week ago, which was better than a couple of weeks before that.

You know, the way I would describe it -- and I've thought about this quite a bit over the past couple of days -- is that the sort of immediate phase of things, when it comes to medical, you know, that's sort of coming to a close now. You know, the operations that needed to be done to save lives, a lot of those have been performed. There -- there were a lot of critically injured patients, as you know, Larry.

What's really been striking to me is that now is the recovery phase for these patients. They have to recover from their -- from their operations, their wounds. And, unfortunately, Larry, a lot of people recovering in -- in the setting behind me, in -- in tent cities. People literally living nose to nose, at high risk of infection. It's very hard to get the medications they need. They can't get the dressing changes. It's one of those things. Obviously, you want to do the life-saving operation, but unless all the follow-up is there, all the rehab and all that is done, it makes that immediate care a little less reasonable. Both really need to be done. That's the challenge now, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Sanjay. Thank you all.

Tea Party, Sarah Palin, alleged scandal, we'll talk about it all next.


KING: It's political time. The panel is Katrina Vanden Heuvel, the editor of "The Nation," S.E. Cupp, senior writer "The Daily Caller" and daily columnist for the "New York Daily News," Stephanie Miller, radio talk show host, who moved east from LA, and Andrea Tantaros, Republican strategist and columnist. First, Michelle Obama was our guest on Tuesday. Here's what she had to say about health care and we'll get your comments.


KING: Do you think they'll get a health bill?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: I think we don't have a choice. When we look at these statistics, we're spending billions of dollars on preventable diseases. And new health care legislation could go a long way to improving prevention, first and foremost. People have to have a pediatrician in order to get good information from their pediatrician. People have to be able to take their kids to well doctors visits to have all this information tracked.

We have to get this done. I'm hopeful that Congress will come together, that the American people will recognize that doing nothing is absolutely not an option.


KING: Ms. Katrina, what do you make of what she said?

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, "THE NATION": I think this is a crisis in our country, Larry, the crisis of child obesity. One-third of all childhood obesity, one half of minority children. I think Michelle Obama has taken on the right crusade. It's -- she's doing it with, I think, humanity and dignity and trying to bring people together. But also understanding that there is a measure of the way we organize our life, the way food is subsidized is leading a lot of people to -- junk food is less expensive than healthy food.

KING: Is it a blight on our country to see that we don't have a better story in medicine?

S. E. CUPP, "NEW YORK DAILY NEWS": I think she's right in that we need to get a better health care system. Where she's wrong is putting up this straw man argument that the people on the right don't want to have that happen. That's just not the case.

I was listening to Jonathan Kron (ph), 14-year-old wonder kid today, and he said we need to scrap both bills and start over. I think if a 14-year-old realizes we need to start from scratch, I think we should all listen up. This is a pragmatic approach.

KING: Stephanie?

STEPHANIE MILLER, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Which 14-year-old is this?

CUPP: Jonathan Kron.

MILLER: Ah. I don't think that anyone really thinks the Republicans, Larry, have engaged in any bipartisanship. They sent this ransom note to the president demanding all these things before they would even have this televised debate with him. I think they were afraid to show up for this debate because they were afraid the president would make them look like obstructionist jerks. I say if the ass hat fits, then go ahead and wear it.

KING: "Politico" has as story today, Andrea, headlined family feud. Apparently, Ms. Pelosi is at some odds with Obama. Do you see a rift there?

ANDREA TANTAROS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Absolutely. I think the rift has been in place for a very long time. Obama outsourced this bill to Pelosi and Reid. He should have taken the lead from the beginning, and now he has these two mill stones around his neck. You can blame Republicans all you want, but the deep divisions are within the Democratic party on this.

They could have passed this bill. They didn't have the votes because of these deep divisions. And so just blaming this on the Republicans and obstruction is an empty argument.

KING: Do Republicans want every American to be insured? Do they? Yes or no?

TANTAROS: Yes, but there's other ways to get people who are eligible for Medicaid on the roles now, without cutting 500 billion from Medicare. There are other things we can do. I don't think Republicans need to work with the president just because he's the president. If it's a bad bill, and Barack Obama is inviting them to the table, he's essentially saying, this thing is a stinker. The American people don't want it. Come help me take ownership of this stinker.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think he did need to draw lines in the sand, President Obama, earlier than he did. We shouldn't have had a Summer where Max Baucus was playing footsie with any Republican he could find. There have been too many compromises. The idea that Republicans have not been brought in is laughable.

The idea though -- there are divisions among the Democrats.

MILLER: I agree with both of them. The president needs to be a little less Erckel and a little more Shaft on this whole health care thing.

KING: We'll have Ms. Cupp comment on some of the things Vice President Biden said to me earlier this week right after this.



KING: We're back with this bright and lively panel. Both the vice president and John Kerry had some surprising things to say about Sarah Palin. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KING: Sarah Palin wanted your job. You like her?

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do. I like her. She's an engaging person. She has a great personality. I don't agree with what she says, and I think some of the things she says are not -- well -- I --

KING: what were you going to say?

BIDEN: It's sort of like some of the comments made are just so far out there I just don't know where they come from. But she -- if you met her, she's an engaging person. I understand why people like her.

KING: Are you concerned about Sarah Palin?

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Concerned? No. No. Why would I be concerned? I mean, look, she's interesting. She represents some of the transformation of American politics into entertainment. And I think, you know, if you come up with a phrase like "how do you like that hopey changey stuff," that's a pretty good phrase.


KING: What does Sarah mean to the Republicans? We'll start, Katrina.

VANDEN HEUVEL: I liked what John Kerry said about entertainment because I do think she's entertainment, first and foremost. What do the Tea Partiers mean to the Republican party I think is the deeper question, because at the moment they're anti-establishment. I think they could be a threat to the Republican party. They could become a third party.

You have to wonder, Larry, about people who are so anti- government. If they're so anti-government, I say to them, give up your Social Security. Give up your Medicare. Give up public education.

KING: I get it. What does Sarah Palin mean to your party?

CUPP: I don't think they're anti-government. I think they're anti-big government. And I think they're expressing a frustration that's happening all over the country.

Look, conservatives don't agree on Sarah Palin. I know that Andrea and I, for example, don't agree on Sarah Palin. I think she has a bright future. I think she's really smart. She's galvanizing. I stand behind her. I like what she's doing. But she's not one thing to all people.

KING: Stephanie, are you -- as a Democratic liberal, are you concerned about her?

MILLER: No, I get a lot of hate mail on my radio show saying you're a bitter, childless loser that's jealous of Sarah Palin. Let me go on record, I am. I saw the return address. Let me say, Larry, I am a bitter childless loser, but I'm a bitter childless loser that agrees with 71 percent of the country that she's not qualified to be president of the United States. That's the main thing. I think that's the thing everybody personalizes.

KING: Andrea?

TANTAROS: Well, I was laughing listening to John Kerry talking about how she was interesting. He ran against a bumbling idiot who connected with Americans, and ask him how well that worked out for him.

MILLER: You think George W. Bush is a bumbling idiot?

TANTAROS: You can argue -- you can't argue that she's captured the imagination of the good portion of the electorate. What she does next, it's anybody's guess. But she is on the side of I think -- of a majority of Americans, independents, swing voters now, who say government, even a Republican approach to employing government solutions, is the wrong way.

KING: Let me check in --

VANDEN HEUVEL: I think that statistic is worth a fact check.



KING: Last night, I talked with Governor David Paterson of New York and gave him every chance to rebut the sex allegations swirling around him. Watch.


KING: The "New York Post" had story. They said that about ten weeks ago, a state trooper caught you snuggling with a woman in a closet at the governor's mansion. They quoted a police source saying the trooper opened the door, first thing he saw was the governor and a woman inside, two of them snuggling together, embracing. Nothing more than that. Snuggling and had their clothes on. Is that a false story?

DAVID PATERSON, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK: It's not only a false story, Larry, but there is no such closet as they described in the executive mansion, and there's no troopers in the executive mansion. The troopers do not patrol or check inside the mansion at any time.


KING: No closets in the mansion. Where do they hang their clothes?

MILLER: Snuggling? That's what we're talking about?


VANDEN HEUVEL: This is frenzied media speculation about a story that hasn't been published. You just came out of thanking Anderson Cooper, who's been in Haiti more than any other news journalist. That's the kind of journalism this country needs, not this kind of stuff about, which is sex, allegations and --


KING: what do you make of it? A story that has not appeared.

CUPP: I've been listening to these rumors a few weeks now, and I've been trying to get the inside scoop. I have a number of insiders who tell me there is a story and it's sexual, not ethics or fraud related. I don't know if that's true. I mean, I don't know.

Unlike Katrina, I have been on the edge of my seat. As a politico I want to know the story. When he described last night that this was almost Kafka-esque, he's right. Either he's done nothing wrong and this is a witch hunt, or he's going to be embarrassed soon.

MILLER: We had someone in the closet in the Larry Craig scandal and he's still around. There's no hookers, what's the story here?

TANTAROS: David Paterson has already cheated on his wife. He came out before he took office.

KING: Admitted that.

TANTAROS: Exactly. We have to put this in context. This is New York. I worked on the last governor's race against Eliot Spitzer. It's tough. New Yorkers are pretty -- look, we have the tabloids here. We have other papers. Everything is sensationalized. New Yorkers are used to it. They're actually quite forgiving, surprisingly.

VANDEN HEUVEL: Why is the governor's private life news? Serious question. Why are there state journalists up in Albany reporting on ethics and integrity in a state senate which has been deformed by corruption? Where's the journalism about real issues in this country?


MILLER: I love Governor Spitzer, but he did sign the giant golf check; should I just sign it governor of New York and just put four hookers at the bottom here? I mean, that's --

VANDEN HEUVEL: Governor Spitzer made big mistake, but he knows where the bodies are buried in this financial crisis, which is a larger public issue, in my mind, than sex scandals.

KING: Spitzer might be back, right, with the New Yorkers forgiving, is it not?

TANTAROS: I don't know that we're that forgiving.

CUPP: He's a professor at a city college now. That's forgiving.

TANTAROS: That's true.

KING: Do you think the "Times" story is going to break soon? Who knows?


KING: Next week, Celine Dion is here Monday, Bill Maher on Tuesday, Judge Judy on Wednesday, and Priscilla Presley on Thursday.

Right now, it's time to go back to Port-Au-Prince, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?