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CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Murder Suspect Van Der Sloot Confesses
Aired June 8, 2010 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, HOST (voice-over): Tonight Joran Van Der Sloot confesses to murder. Peruvian police say he admitted to breaking the neck of a university student there five years to the day that Natalee Holloway disappeared in Aruba.
Did he kill her? He's the prime suspect in that case. Is he a psychopath? A predator? A serial killer, free to harm others because he hasn't been prosecuted before?
Plus live election results from 12 states. Is the Sarah Palin factor an issue? How about Tea Party?
All next on LARRY KING LIVE.
KING: Good evening. Peruvian authorities say Joran Van Der Sloot has admitted to killing Stephany Flores Ramirez, claiming that the 21-year-old university student intruded into his private life by looking at his laptop and confronting him about something apparently linking him to the Natalee Holloway case.
Van Der Sloot was arrested twice in connection with her disappearance, but released for lack of evidence.
Let's get down to Lima, Peru and our CNN reporter Rafael Romo.
Would -- did they reenact the crime scene today or not, Rafael?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: It didn't happen today, Larry. That's one of the things that the judge really wants to do in this case. That's going to allow them to really get to know what happened here.
I'm standing right in front in of the hotel where this homicide happened. And that's part of the investigation. They need to reenact. They need to find out exactly how 21-year-old Stephany Flores died, Larry.
KING: Do you know why he confessed?
ROMO: I was talking to the chief of information for the Peruvian National Police this afternoon, and he was telling me, listen, he has been interrogated since Saturday, and we have presented him with evidence.
We have videos of him and the victim. We have videos of him and the victim here in the hotel, at the casino where they met. We have forensic evidence. We have circumstantial evidence.
And what he tells me is, in the end, he had no option. He saw that he needed to recognize that he was guilty, and that's the reason why he confessed. By doing that, it's going to be considered a mitigating factor. It's going to allow him to possibly get a reduced tension here in Peru, Larry.
KING: Now Peru has no death penalty. It has no life sentence. The max is 35 years. He will probably get less than 35 years, right?
ROMO: That's correct, Larry. Ultimately, it's up to the judge. The death -- the sentence for murder here in Peru goes from -- anywhere from 15 to 35 years, depending on the aggravating circumstances.
But the fact that he has confessed is definitely going to be taken into account. But at the same time, you have other factors like, for example, he fled, and also this was an extremely violent murder.
So a judge has to really take a look at all of the facts. And in the end, he is the one who is going to ultimately decide how much time he spends in jail.
KING: And what is next, Rafael? Is there any kind of court proceeding beyond the judge sentencing?
ROMO: Well, he has yet to be formally charged. It hasn't happened yet. By Peruvian law, they have 10 days to gather all the evidence and build a case. Now what they're trying do right now is gather as much evidence as they can so that the case can be stronger and they can give it to the judge so that they can get the maximum sentence that they can under Peruvian law.
KING: Excellent reporting. Rafael Romo on the scene in Lima.
We go now to Memphis, Tennessee. Natalee Holloway's aunt Linda Allison joins us.
What is your reaction to this incredible story, Linda?
LINDA ALLISON, NATALEE HOLLOWAY'S AUNT: Larry, when I heard the information this morning that he had confessed, which was a surprise for me because we never got a confession out of him with our case with Natalee's disappearance.
But then as the story goes on and I hear more details to confess because he is at the end of his rope and he has nowhere else to go except to say I've done this, and then try to negotiate a lighter sentence out, then try to negotiate a lighter sentence out of it.
KING: Have you heard anything as to the possibility of Aruba trying to extradite him back to sentence him, maybe get more information on Holloway, or do you think it's over and you just have closure?
ALLISON: I -- I don't think we're going to have closure, and I don't think Aruba is probably at this point going to do anything to reopen the case because right now Joran is having to go through and be convicted on the charges with Stephany Flores' brutal death.
And so he'll be in that prison system probably, at least we know -- at least 15 years. We know that it's probably going to be a lighter sentence because now they're throwing in this mitigation of the -- that he was smoking marijuana, that she was attacking him.
So I don't know if he's going to throw in the self-defense, and that he was invading her -- she was invading his privacy. So I don't know. It's very disappointing to hear all these other things that are going on because the plain facts are they saw it on a video surveillance camera, the two of them going into the hotel room.
And he was the only one leaving. And there was nobody else that went into the hotel room. So he knew he had no way out except to say that he was involved.
KING: Linda, do you know anything about the alleged extortion? Did he extort the Holloway family for money in exchange for some information he had about the passing of Natalee?
ALLISON: I really don't know any details other than what I've heard through the media sources. And I did talk to Dave after I heard the information on the news, and he wasn't aware of anything, and he has been talking to FBI agents concerning that. And -- so no details that I can -- that I have had privy to at this point.
KING: What conclusion did they make in Aruba about Van Der Sloot?
ALLISON: You know, one of the police officers said that he is guilty. They -- used a couple of explicit language, and -- but they said they couldn't prove it. And the last we knew, we tried everything they could. We tried everything we could to -- for them to act on the taped -- secretly taped confession.
And they said because he's lied so many times and we have no evidence, that there was nothing that they could do about it. And so as far as I know, at this point, they have not reopened the investigation. But they said they would be willing to do that if there was a need to do that. A need to do that.
KING: Linda, does -- yes. Linda, does this give you or the family any feeling of some closure here?
ALLISON: I think it does help us knowing that he is going to serve some prison time for Stephanie's death. But I still think that we won't have closure until we know, really, what did happen to Natalee.
I think that's always going to be an unanswered question for us until we get more information out of Joran Van Der Sloot.
KING: Thank you, Linda.
Linda Allison, Natalee Holloway's aunt in Memphis.
When we come back, we'll go to Aruba. Rather -- yes, to Aruba. How are the developments in Peru affecting the investigation there? We'll find out from the man in charge of that case, next.
KING: Joining us by phone from Aruba is Taco Stein. He's the solicitor general of Aruba.
What, Taco, is your reaction to the arrest of Joran Van Der Sloot in Peru?
TACO STEIN, SOLICITOR GENERAL, ARUBA (via phone): Well, I'm glad for the people there that this happened. It was a terrible tragedy over there. And I think it's a good thing that they got him so fast.
KING: Have Aruban authorities spoken to anyone in Peru about this?
STEIN: Right this morning, my colleague that's still in charge of the Natalee Holloway case here has tried to be in contact with the prosecutor in Peru. She was not available at that time, but we left message and we are expecting a call back from them to share information and see how we can help each other.
KING: Do you want Peruvian authorities to question him about Natalee Holloway?
STEIN: That's -- would be a possibility, but I might imagine that they have enough on their own hands. So we have to see how we can work this out in a way that is profitable for both of us.
KING: Natalee's aunt said she didn't expect Aruba to try to extradite or anything, says he is going to be serving a number of years in Peru. Is that correct?
STEIN: Well, extradition -- there is no treaty between the Dutch kingdom and Peru as far as I'm aware that makes an extradition a possibility. So then it's up to the countries themselves to work a deal out. But I can imagine that Peru will be reluctant to let him go.
STEIN: In view of what has happened there.
KING: They've got him nailed, as they say.
STEIN: Yes. Sure. Yes.
KING: What is the status of the case -- the case of Van Der Sloot in Aruba right this minute?
STEIN: OK, well, if you look at it from what has happened recently, for us not much has changed. We are still in a position that we say we have done a very great number of land inquiry which didn't work out, and we still are willing and ready to pick up on new lines of inquiry or new information that needs to be investigated.
But at this moment, they are not yet there. But the new case might bring something about. We've heard about the laptop and that laptop might or might not -- we don't know that yet of course -- information that might be useful for us.
KING: To your knowledge, when was the last time he was in Aruba?
STEIN: He was in Aruba until recently, somewhere in May.
KING: Now this is puzzling. What was Aruba's awareness of, involvement in this May 10th sting operation against Joran in connection with an alleged extortion of money in which he would get money and give you information about Natalee?
STEIN: Well, to begin with, I don't know if this would be a real sting operation, that's one. But that's not up to me to decide. Two, if that was an American investigation done by the American authorities, and we were only involved in the investigation in a support of capacity.
So we helped in the investigation, but it was not our investigation. The crime was an American crime perpetrated on American soil against an American citizen.
KING: So you don't know anything about money exchanging hands?
STEIN: Not more than I've heard, and I know that that was the story behind what was happening was that as far as I get it that Joran Van Der Sloot asked for money to show the place the remains of Natalee were buried.
KING: Without admitting that he harmed her.
STEIN: Of course.
KING: Yes. Have you been keeping track of him?
STEIN: In a part of the help in the investigation was keeping track of him, yes.
KING: As you look back, were there mistakes made by Aruban authorities?
STEIN: You mean in this last part of the investigation?
STEIN: I don't think so, because we were just supporting the investigation. KING: How about the early part?
STEIN: -- how it worked.
KING: How about the early part?
STEIN: That is very difficult to say for me. I wasn't there when the investigation took place. Only was appointed to Aruba recently about six months ago. And it's a very complex and big file, and I cannot say I know the whole file.
But I know about the early start of the investigation, 2005 until, say, 2009. I was on St. Maarten so I'm not aware of that.
STEIN: I don't know -- I'm not aware of the details of that.
KING: Thank you, Taco. Taco Stein, solicitor general of Aruba.
When we come back, we'll talk to a profiler who has some frightening insight into Joran Van Der Sloot. We'll get her observations, and we'll hear from a private eye working on the case. Stick around.
KING: Welcome back.
T.J. Ward is a private investigator working on the Natalee Holloway case, rather. He's joining us from Atlanta. And in San Francisco Candice Delong, former FBI profiler. She can be seen, by the way, on Investigation Discovery's "Deadly Women."
OK, let's start with T.J. Ward. Are you surprised at all of this having been investigating this?
T.J. WARD, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR, NATALEE HOLLOWAY CASE: No, I'm -- I'm totally taken that another family is a victim of Joran Van Der Sloot. And I was listening to the prime minister that was on with you just a few minutes ago saying that he didn't think this case was hampered from the beginning.
This case was very much hampered from the beginning. To go back and to say that there was three boys that were seen with Natalee Holloway leaving Carlos & Charlie's and got into a vehicle, and those three boys were not -- they weren't pursued like a normal investigation should have been.
They turned their investigation over to two security guards, and shortly thereafter, we find out that the lead investigator in the case is a godfather of Joran Van Der Sloot. In a normal investigation, they should have pursued these three boys to get answers. As you --
KING: Are you convinced -- are you convinced, T.J., that he was the one responsible for the death of your client?
WARD: Yes, I am. Yes, I am. And if he would do the right thing, it might give him some advantage in Peru if the Aruban government deals with Peru along with the FBI dealing with FBI from their charges that have been sustained now in the United States, we can make sure that this individual, who may be a sociopath, does not get back on the street.
And -- but exchanging this information and going back, and I believe Aruba has a responsibility to find out from the time he left Aruba to Colombia to South America to find out where he went, what he was doing, where his money was spent, and how he got his money.
KING: All right.
WARD: And for all three of these governments to join hands and to find out what the real story is and hopefully the evidence on Natalee Holloway will come out.
KING: Candice Delong, the video of Joran going into that hotel with his alleged victim, Stephany Flores. You're a profiler. What does it say to you? Can anything be read into the body language as these two people go into that hotel? There we see it.
CANDICE DELONG, FORMER FBI PROFILER: Well, one of the things that strikes me is either Joran is very, very tall, or everyone else around him is really, really short. So this woman, who's considerably smaller than he is, goes into his hotel room, follows him in, and the next thing we know he's confessing to her murder. She's beaten apparently with a baseball bat.
Why does such a big guy who we know is pretty good with words -- why did he have to kill her? And he comes up with this excuse she was peeking at my computer. She was invading my privacy.
Considering the enormity of what we believe his lies have been in the past, I'm not sure -- I'm not at all inclined to believe that. Natalee Holloway meets him in a casino, leaves, she is never seen alive again. This woman meets him in a casino, goes up to his room with him. She's never seen alive again. There seems to be a pattern here.
KING: According to a source, he says Stephany slapped him -- this according to a source. Then he hit her back and grabbed her neck. Does that sound plausible to you, Candice?
DELONG: Sure, it sounds plausible. But he's a big guy. He could have controlled her in other ways. What he -- what he is doing here, OK, so she slapped -- so she slaps him. Let's say that is true. He had to kill her in return for that?
It seems that well, and of course, this will be up to the attorneys who I don't know that much about, if anything, Peruvian law. But I mean, you know, this big guy is setting up a defense that this little girl slapped him, and oh, my gosh, he just accidentally broke her neck. That's kind of hard to believe, especially when one considers the things that he's admitted to and then recanted in the Holloway investigation.
KING: T.J., does it surprise you that he confessed?
WARD: I think that after the evidence had come out and the government had showed him what they had, they had him dead wrong, I don't think he had any other alternative but to tell the truth, or a version of the truth, we should say, because we've heard several versions in Aruba.
But I will say, if you will recall from the evidence that the Peruvian law enforcement has talked about, they said that she -- the only thing she had on when they found her was a -- with her shirt and her panties.
There is a possibility that he tried to have a sexual encounter with her, and that's what caused the altercation. And even putting in play the computer, I still think there was some more to what his encounter with her before he got into this tussle with her.
KING: Candice, the video of him in police custody, which everyone has seen all day, how does his demeanor there strike you?
DELONG: Yes, I was -- I was paying a lot of attention to that. He doesn't really seem to be relishing the -- publicity. I could be reading into it, of course, but it's like wow, they've got me, I'm kind of really -- I've really done it this time. Yes, you have.
KING: Does he seem very different from your impressions of him from five years ago when we saw a lot of them?
DELONG: Very much so. Very much so.
KING: How so?
DELONG: I thought five years ago he was more cocky. He -- I think he may, if he certainly was responsible -- if he was responsible for Natalee's disappearance and probable death, he knew she'd never be found, her body never be found.
This is a little bit different. I agree with his investigator. His back is against the wall. They have the evidence. They've got the dead girl in the hotel room. They know he did it. And it's over. It's the end of the road. And he is not in his country.
KING: Is this a classic sociopath? Psychopath? Both?
DELONG: Probably. I mean, look, there's two dead young women who were last seen alive with this guy. And I agree with the -- I agree with the detective. There probably was an attempt at a sexual encounter, and what turned -- what he maybe turned into a rape and then a murder.
KING: More with our guests and the attorney for Natalee Holloway's father, who'll join us from Aruba. We'll get her take on today's sensational developments next.
KING: Director Oliver Stone is our guest tomorrow night. He has written a commentary about his new documentary "South of the Border." Read it at CNN.com/Larryking. And see him right here on Wednesday night's LARRY KING LIVE.
With us now is Vinda De Sousa, the Holloway family attorney, on the phone from Aruba.
What's your reaction to what occurred in Peru today?
VINDA DE SOUSA, HOLLOWAY'S ATTORNEY IN ARUBA (via phone): Good evening, Larry. First of all, thank you for having me. The reaction is I expected this confronted with the evidence, there is a body. That's the difference with the case in Aruba.
There is a body. DNA can be gathered. Evidence can be collected. I expected him to confess or at least crack. And he did that sooner than I thought, actually.
KING: So you're not surprised that he did, though?
DE SOUSA: No, I'm not surprised that he did, because all through the investigation here in Aruba, he appeared to be a person very much in control, and appeared to be very cocky.
I agree with Candice, and in that point I agree with T.J. Ward as well, that he appeared to be very much in control because he knew there was no body and the evidence against him would be very difficult to be found.
KING: What have you heard from Natalee's family and from her father?
DE SOUSA: I spoke to Dave. Of course, he is very saddened about what happened. And he feels with the family of Stephanie in Peru. But, then again, he hopes that this -- what transpired in Peru will compel Joran Van Der Sloot to at least shed some light on what happened here in Aruba.
KING: They want closure, right?
DE SOUSA: Of course they want closure. They want closure because it's been a long time. It's been long enough. And every parent wants to know at least what happened to their son or daughter.
KING: Do you think he might provide information to the Peruvian government now that the jig is up, so to speak?
DE SOUSA: He just might. Our hopes are hanging on in that aspect, to the fact that he might be compelled. Confronted with the evidence and maybe try to cut a deal in some sort, by shedding light on what happened. We were all hoping for that.
KING: How is he viewed in Aruba?
DE SOUSA: People are angry. In Aruba, a lot of people are angry because they're saying -- and this I read from Internet and from people talking to me -- they're saying, you know, it's been long enough. And now everybody is going to be convinced that he was really involved with Natalee's disappearance, and possibly not being alive anymore. And they just want closure for the family, for Natalee Holloway's family, and for Aruba as well.
KING: Thank you, Vinda De Sousa, the attorney for the Holloway family. Back to our experts, T.J. Ward, the private investigator, and Candice Delong, the profiler.
T.J., do you think we're ever going to find out the whole story?
WARD: Well, I hope Aruba takes the incentive to start this investigation over from the beginning, and what evidence they have, and put a new set of eyes into place. And I hope that they can work with the Peruvian government in order to try to get an answer from Joran Van Der Sloot, in order to bring closure to the Holloway family. And, you know, it's sad for this other family had to suffer a loss from this individual that should have been probably behind bars.
And then I hope the FBI works with the Peruvian government also to bring charges here in the United States to keep him off the street forever.
KING: Candice, do you think we'll ever find out the whole story?
DELONG: Well, I don't see what he has to gain by -- excuse me, being -- if he did kill Natalee, I don't see what he has to gain in Peru by confessing to it. And if he is truly a sociopath, the family suffering will not bother him at all. I certainly do agree with the other gentleman that perhaps this new FBI case, if charges are brought, they stick, and perhaps after he finishes a sentence in Peru, providing that he isn't killed in prison, that he could come to America and finish a federal sentence here, and keep him off the streets.
KING: Thank you, T.J. Ward, Candice Delong.
Politics is at the top of the news tonight, of course, across America. The latest on today's primaries. What will the results tell us about President Obama, about Sarah Palin, the Tea Party? By the way, there will be a second edition of LARRY KING LIVE tonight, at Midnight Eastern, 9:00 pacific, hosted by Wolf Blitzer. So there will be two LARRY KING LIVE tonight, with more follow-ups, especially with those California results coming in later. We'll be right back.
KING: It is a big primary day in 12 states. CNN's Dana Bash is in Little Rock, Arkansas at Senator Blanche Lincoln's headquarters. She is in a tough race in a run-off against the lieutenant governor, Bill Halter, seeking reelection. The polls are closed. What is the latest, Dana? DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is that with only eight percent reporting, Blanche Lincoln is doing OK. She is doing more than OK; 53 percent for Blanche Lincoln, 47 percent for her challenger, lieutenant governor of this state, Bill Halter. Of course, eight percent is not a lot right now.
But just in terms of the feel here at Lincoln Headquarters where I am, there was a lot of tension building up to this, and a lot of Democratic sources I talked to widely saying that they didn't think she could pull it off. There is a little bit of a feel, in talking to some to Senator Lincoln's senior aides and senior campaign officials here, that they are doing better than they had expected in some of the key areas.
What has she been battling? She has been battling, Larry, the same sentiment that is really sweeping this country. And that is anti-incumbent fever. She is feeling it. She is feeling it strong. We saw it. We heard it in talking to voters at the polling stations today.
KING: Has each promised to support the other in the general election?
BASH: That's a good question. I asked Senator Lincoln that very question today. And she said yes, that she is a Democratic, and she will always support the Arkansas Democratic party. In fact, she also -- a side note here -- said that she could not leave the Democratic party, which would potentially be her prerogative, if she didn't get the nomination as an incumbent senator.
On the other side, Bill Halter, the challenger, he wouldn't say that he would support Blanche Lincoln. He said it's hypothetical to answer that question. So unity a little bit, but not all the way when it comes towards looking to November.
Larry, that's an important point. And this that is a very conservative state in a tough year for Democrats. No matter who wins tonight, there is a lot of concern that they can still keep this seat in Democratic hands. For the most part, in terms of the Democratic sources I'm talking to, at this point. it's likely to go Republican in Arkansas.
KING: That's Dana Bash, CNN's senior congressional correspondent on the scene in Little Rock, at Senator Lincoln's headquarters.
Now to Burbank, California, down the road a piece, Jessica Yellin, CNN's national political correspondent. The polls are still open in California. Which way are they leaning in the governor battle?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right now, Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, is poised to win this race. She has been polling well ahead of her primary challenger, Steve Poizner. Larry, she has put 71 million dollars of her own fortune into this campaign. She promises that as governor, she would use her business skills to reform the state. But some of her own business dealings could end up hurting her in the end. Notably, her involvement with Goldman Sachs, which has been a big attack point during her primary. Expected to be a very lively fight when she progresses, if she should progress, to face Jerry Brown, the likely Democratic candidate on the other side. Larry?
KING: And the current attorney general, former governor himself. Now what about that Senate battle to run against Barbara Boxer? Where does that stand?
YELLIN: Also another woman, another former CEO, this time Carly Fiorina. She is the Republican most likely to win today. And she has done something very different from Meg Whitman, who I just talked about, ran as a moderate republican. Carly Fiorina has positioned herself squarely as a very conservative republican. She wants significant change across the state. And it's her belief that Barbara Boxer, the Democratic incumbent, is so weak that she can wipe her out and take her seat, even though Fiorina's views are somewhat to the right of most of California's voters' views.
We have yet to see. Barbara Boxer promising a very contentious fight ahead. The two of those candidates have already gotten into it, even before voting day began. I expect that election competition to begin first thing tomorrow morning, Larry.
KING: And Jessica and Dana both will be back in the second segment of LARRY KING LIVE with Wolf Blitzer at Midnight Eastern.
Right now, let's go to Stamford, Connecticut. Ari Fleischer joins us. He was the White House press secretary for President George W. Bush. And in New York, Marc Lamont Hill, professor of Columbia University, and contributor to TheRoot.com.
Ari, how does this look so far to you? Where is this tilting, or is it too early?
ARI FLEISCHER, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, I think whenever you have a lot of primaries, what you need to do is step back and say, is there an overarching trend that is driving events for the year? Certainly, the biggest overarching trend is the American people are in a rebellion, a rebellion against spending. They're associating that mostly, overwhelmingly, with the Democratic party in Washington.
A very troubling number came out this morning in the "Washington Post" if you're a Democrat. And a new "Washington Post" poll showed that only 29 percent of the American people favor reelection of their incumbent, of their congressman. Lower than the number that there was in 1994 when Republicans won more than 50 seats in the House, and took back the Senate as well that year.
The trends still overwhelmingly show huge rejectionism of President Obama, his agenda, his party. Incumbents are in trouble, but it's overwhelmingly Democrat incumbents.
KING: Marc, do you see any glimmer the other way tonight? MARC LAMONT HILL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR: Well, we see some possibility here tonight. Every state isn't arguing over right wing talking points. If you look in Arkansas, for example, the argument between Blanche Lincoln and Halter has nothing to do with the right. It has everything to do with the left. They're saying Blanche Lincoln isn't progressive enough. She is not left wing enough.
There are some states that are really trying to deal with issues around unions, around health care, around the public option. And they're actually upset that Blanche Lincoln didn't go far enough to the left. Strategically, I think that's a major error, because if the Democrats continue to drag themselves to the left in the primary, when they get to a general election in Arkansas, it's very likely they'll lose the seat.
I'm glad to see the progressive conversation going on, but I'm disappointed,, strategically, to see how that's going to play out strategy in November.
KING: Ari, do you see any upsets in California?
FLEISCHER: Well, I just think it's fascinating that we're talking about can Republicans win in California. When was the last time we had that conversation? Decades ago. Now we're talking about two divisive Republican primaries. A lot of jobs are being created, at least on the campaign trail in California. And possibility of Republicans picking up the Senate seat against Barbara Boxer. You never would have thought that was possible.
HILL: I'm still not sure that that's possible.
FLEISCHER: I'm sorry?
KING: You're not sure it's possible?
FLEISCHER: No, no, Barbara Boxer is very vulnerable.
HILL: She is vulnerable at the moment. But I think she has been very wise to be aggressive early on, and say look, you know, Fiorina, in the long-term, is someone who has lost jobs, who is irresponsible in her own corporate life, and as a result will likely not be a good governor. I think once the primary is over, as the economy picks and jobs continue to grow, I think you will see Boxer get a strong hold on the election.
KING: Let me get a break. We're also following an exciting contest in South Carolina that has captured the national spotlight. State lawmaker Nikki Haley leads the battle for the Republican nomination for governor with three quarters of the vote in. Haley has captured 49 percent of the vote in a four person field, needs 50 percent to avoid a runoff.
In the past week, two different fellow Republicans claimed Haley had affairs with them. She denies the allegations. Back after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (NEWS BREAK)
KING: Ari Fleischer, in the elections tonight, will we learn much about the Tea Party effect, or is that going to take a while?
FLEISCHER: I think that's going to take a while. I think we saw its clearest manifestation in Massachusetts, with Scott Brown's surprise victory. And we're seeing it in pockets now around the country, sometimes successful, sometimes unsuccessful.
But I think the thing to keep your eye on with the Tea Party, I know a lot of Democrats like to dismiss it as a fringe. I hope they continue to do that. My hunch is it's not only Republican; there is a lot of people in the center, Larry, a lot of independents who are fed up with the spending, fed up with the debt. And if people dismiss it, I suspect they're going to get caught by surprise by it this November.
KING: Marc, what do you make of the Tea Party?
HILL: Well, I think they are to some extent ideologically on the fringe. But I think it would be foolish to completely dismiss them. I think the biggest impact you'll see them have, just like Sarah Palin, will be in the primary elections. We've seen in Utah, we've seen in Florida, and we've seen even in Pennsylvania, to some extent, the way in which this sort of ideological shift has affected the primary elections.
The question will be, just like with Democrats in Arkansas, will dragging each other all the way to the right in these primary elections affect them with moderate and independent voters in November. I suspect that someone like Nikki Haley, who has gotten the endorsement of Sarah Palin, she may struggle -- I think she'll win South Carolina, actually, in November. But I think it's going to be more of a struggle than people anticipate, because moderate voters are still uncomfortable with Tea Party and moderate ideology, in spite of the state of the economy.
FLEISCHER: It's not that simple. Actually, in South Carolina, people would tell you they're more conservative candidates than Nikki Haley, who is running. There are many House primaries in Arkansas and other places, there are Republican Tea Party candidates who are going to do well, others who won't do well. It's just like American politics overall. Some people do well, based on who they are and their ideology; some don't. I don't think you can --
HILL: I agree. My point isn't that the Tea Party is going to over-determine elections all around the country. My point is that if Republicans continue to drag each other to the right, based on Tea Party ideology or Sarah Palin's endorsement, you may pay a penalty for that in November, just like Democrats are doing that by supporting the public option and union in Arkansas right now. They're going to pay a penalty for that in November. I don't think that's fairly clear.
FLEISCHER: Didn't happen in Massachusetts with Scott Brown. I think that's where you see somebody who can win, somebody who has broad appeal. And when the appeal is on these economic grounds, when the issue is the debt, when the issue is all the spending, that is something that really captures 70 or 80 percent of the country. That's a big issue that gets the middle going, center, center right. A powerful issue and problem for our country.
HILL: The other thing that gets the middle going is job growth. We just saw 450,000 new jobs this month. Of course, most of them government jobs, but nevertheless -- I'll admit that.
FLEISCHER: Need I say more?
HILL: I'll concede that point. But we did see 40,000 jobs that weren't government jobs.
HILL: If, by November, we see more growth, it is going to be tougher to make the case against the government.
KING: Hold it, guys. We'll bring you back. Hey, the Baby Boom is turning into an elderly explosion. Already in 20 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in five people will be over 65. This week, CNN's Hero is tackling the growing need for elder care head-on, helping elder Americans stay active, engaged and independent. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IRENE ZOLA, CNN HERO: My mother went in the nursing home after a stroke. I was shocked that our culture doesn't have place for very old people, except in nursing homes. I decided I wanted to do something about that.
My name is Irene Zola. My organization is Helping Seniors Age at Home.
Do you want to sit on a bench for a moment?
We help to connect seniors with people in the community. The volunteers provide any kind of informal care that's wanted by the seniors.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a sweetie!
ZOLA: This is one way that a community really makes a difference.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Makes you feel enriched. She has a way about her. My God, somebody cares.
ZOLA: Some people believe that old age is a time when people stop learning, but it's not. Why not live life to the fullest? That's what I love to see.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: It really does take a village. Irene Zola's website is SupportSeniors.org. To nominate someone you think is changing the world, go to CNN.com/Heroes right now. More on the primaries right after this.
KING: Election update for you; AP is projecting Nikki Haley will be in a run-off June 22nd with Gresham Barrett for South Carolina governor. She was endorsed by Sarah Palin. I can't let Ari Fleischer go without asking him about the abrupt retirement of Helen Thomas. He was one of her strongest critics for what she said about Israel, and may have been part of what led to her leaving Hearst. What do you make of that story? Were you surprised?
FLEISCHER: Larry, I think it's tragic end to a storied career for Helen. She said something that was reprehensible, and she did the right thing. I don't think in good conscience it would have been right for Helen to have continued to be employed by Hearst. I don't know what Hearst would have done if she didn't resign. It's a sad and sorry ending to what was a wonderful career.
KING: Marc, are you surprised we didn't know these feelings before?
HILL: I don't think she said anything she hasn't said before off-camera. This is the first time she was caught in that moment. I was a little disappointed, like Ari is, to see her career end in that way. I thought her comments were inappropriate. I do think that it's interesting we had an op-ed columnist at this point still with White House access. I think that was the real question.
I don't think her hand should have been forced to retire. People make mistakes. I don't think you should be reduced to your worst moment in a 40 or 50 year career. That just doesn't make good sense to me.
KING: Ari, who gets access to white house briefings?
FLEISCHER: Well, the access to the briefing actually, the 48 seats in the room, are determined now by a group called the White House Correspondents Association. The journalists themselves decide who will sit in what seat. Access to the White House itself, actually, there are a couple thousand credentialed reporters. The White House, being the government, really doesn't play a heavy role in deciding who should or should not get in , as long as you're credentialed journalist. The definition of what's a journalist now is changing. But the seats are special, and the front row seat is the most special.
HILL: Right, that's my point.
KING: That was the Helen Thomas seat? Wasn't it, Ari?
FLEISCHER: That seat is unique because everybody else is credentialed by organization. ABC has it seat. CNN has its seat. There was one seat in the front row that is a front row seat, that has a name on it. That was Helen's. That was out of respect for Helen and her long career. She is or was the only columnist to have such a seat.
When I was there, Larry, I always enjoyed my ideological clashes with Helen. I remember, she used to refer to Hezbollah, the group that the State Department calls terrorists, as freedom fighters. It's long been known where her sympathies lay. And she's free to hold those opinions.
But when you call for the expulsion of people on the basis of religion, that's a real troubling matter, different from anything else.
KING: John Kennedy sort of played with her, didn't he, Marc? He used her.
HILL: Absolutely. She's been -- it's very interesting to think about, historically, the role she has played in various administrations, either as the foil or as an ally for a variety of administrations, because of her clear ideological leanings. I think she's been an extraordinary figure, and a major freedom fighter. And I actually hope that we celebrate her and don't remember her just in this last dark moment.
KING: We thank you both very much. Ari Fleischer was the White House secretary for President George W. Bush. Marc Lamont Hill, professor Columbia University, contributed to TheRoot.com.
Tomorrow night, Oliver Stone will be our special guest. He's got a new documentary out. He's done a blog for us that you can check in on our website and read. Kathy Griffin will be our special guest Friday night. LARRY KING LIVE will be back at Midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. Wolf Blitzer will be aboard with a special live hour-long election update.
Right now, let's get down to New Orleans, Louisiana, Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?