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CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Dixie Chicks

Aired October 25, 2006 - 21:00   ET


NATALIE MAINES, DIXIE CHICKS: And we're ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight the outspoken, defiant Dixie Chicks, the biggest-selling female group ever, has set fans off by taking on President Bush. What's it been like to be told shut up and sing or else and they were on Oprah today with Madonna. What do they think about her adoption controversy?

Meanwhile, Michael J. Fox is the latest star to learn what can happen when politics and celebrity mix.


MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: Unfortunately, Senator Jim Talent opposes expanding stem cell research.


KING: Tonight, meet the candidate Fox supports in that controversial ad.

And we'll hear from the candidate who is attacked in the other ad everybody's talking about.




KING: And those aren't the only down and dirty political ads out there. We're going to show you a lot more. It's next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. We begin tonight with the Dixie Chicks, Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, Emily Robison. They are all in New York. They make up the biggest selling female group in history. They are also, thanks to an anti-Bush comment made by Natalie in London in March of 2003, as well as subsequent political statements, they're some of the most controversial figures in the entertainment world.

They're now the focus of a new documentary called "Shut Up and Sing," which was co-directed by Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple. Just to set the mood for you, let's remind people of the words that caused all of this, watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh say can you see by the dawn's early light --

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States and our allies are authorized to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behind the growing build-up to war, there's also a growing anti-war movement.

MAINES: We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you support the Dixie Chicks, you're supporting traitors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Move to France, Dixie Chicks.


KING: That's the documentary "Shut Up and Sing." What's it like, Martie, to watch that?

MARTIE MAGUIRE, DIXIE CHICKS: It's nice knowing that everything that year was documented, or those three years of our lives, because it was so huge in our career and our personal lives. And we feel it's a really great representation of, kind of, what we went through personally and professionally.

KING: So Emily, you have no qualms about it coming out and reliving it all again?

EMILY ROBISON, DIXIE CHICKS: Well, I think we relive it anyway every day. And so it's kind of a nice chance to tell a story and we, kind of, feel like after this movie is done, or when it's in the theaters, we can, kind of, say, this is the story and if you have any questions, go watch the movie.

KING: I know that Martie and Emily are sisters, but Emily has to be also somehow related to Julia Roberts.

ROBISON: You said that last time.

KING: Natalie, when you sprung this that night in London, did the did the girls know you were going to talk about it?

MAINES: No, we don't talk about what we're going to say on stage. I didn't know -- I think maybe in the back of my head I knew I was going to have to say something about the fact that we were going to war the next day, which it wound up being a few days later, but it was supposed to be the next day. And, you know, we talked about it all day long. And you see that in the documentary.

It weighed heavy on us. And we felt silly doing a show when there were so many serious things going on in the world. But we also know our job is to entertain and all those people had bought tickets and they wanted to see the Dixie Chicks. So it was sort of, you know, feeling that pressure or -- not pressure, but feeling like we needed to show that we're not oblivious to what's going on in the world, but also not get too heavy and we don't like to get preachy from stage. So I made light of it as well.

KING: So the obvious, Natalie, if you had to do it all over again, would you?

MAINES: Absolutely. I think if someone had asked me the very next day, would you take it back, I would have said, well, sure. It wasn't a huge statement. It wasn't a big deal. But knowing what it turned into and knowing that it turned into a battle for free speech, I would never take that back.

KING: Martie, the current opinion polls have the president at the lowest ever, in fact, one of the lowest ratings for any president ever. Does that give you a feeling of vindication?

MAGUIRE: I don't like to think of it that way. I think she had a right to speak out, whether it was popular or not. And I'm kind of proud of the fact that she was speaking out when it wasn't the most popular thing to do. I think that's really hard, to put yourself out there and to continually, you know, we continually put ourselves out there and stood by her statement in a time when it was not popular. But, no, there's vindication.

I'm glad people are, kind of, waking up to what I think we knew a long time ago. Not giving us credit for that, but I think the American people are smart and they're seeing through a lot of the lies and I'm glad for that.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Gail in Cave City, Kentucky, were any of the people who threatened the Dixie Chicks caught?

Emily, do you know?

ROBISON: Not to our knowledge, no. I don't think anyone was caught. They had a suspect, but I think he was just observed during the time of the threat.

KING: What kind of threats did you get?

MAGUIRE: Natalie got a death threat, which is all in the movie. It shows the day she read the letter. It shows everything. I mean, the fact that we had cameras filming way before she even said that is just amazing. I look back and think about the fact that we documented so much of that beforehand, during and, of course, after. Once we realized what was happening, we felt it was very important to have the cameras rolling. But, yes, you see all of that in the movie. You see the emotion that we went through and what led up to it and the aftermath.

KING: Natalie, how has all of this effected or not effected performance? MAINES: As far as being on stage, it is a completely different feeling than we've ever had. And from what I understand, from just our crew that's been on a lot of tours, they've never seen anything like it either.

Our audience, even though it's half the size, is so passionate and there's this energy in the air and it is the most awesome feeling than anything I've ever felt on stage. They feel like they have a purpose. They're not just there to enjoy their favorite song. They feel like they're there to give you something back. And it is overwhelming at times and really awesome.

KING: Martie, the audiences are half the size?

MAGUIRE: Yes. We were selling about 14,000, 15,000, sometimes 17,000 tickets in 2003. And now it's about 7,000 per night. It's a visible difference, for sure. But the record's selling great. It's kind of ironic, you know. The record's selling so great, but the ticket sales aren't. And, you know, I attribute a lot of that to the fact that a lot of people don't even know we're on tour. Some country stations wouldn't even buy our paid advertising.

KING: How discouraging is that, Emily?

ROBISON: You know, at this point nothing really discourages us anymore. One good thing that came from all of this is just that fire that we have again to just prove ourselves, you know, like we did in the beginning. It's just winning one fan back at a time. There's a certain excitement to that. So, it's not so much discouragement anymore. It's just the fight to prove ourselves.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Bobby Joe in Louisville, Kentucky, some stations refuse to play your songs and claim listeners don't want to hear your music. Do you think they are practicing a form of censorship, Natalie?

MAINES: Now, not necessarily. At the time, definitely. We know that they were. Cox and Cumulus (ph), who own a lot of radio stations across the country, had corporate bands from the top, and you see that in the film as well, had some Senate hearings for media consolidation and the guy says himself that he's trying defend what they did.

He then says and everyone fell in line, which is very telling and, you know, we know DJs that got fired for playing us anyway, because they didn't want to get political and they didn't want to make music political. And so, you know, I think -- you know, people get tired, maybe, of us talking about it, but I think the importance, we feel, is for people to recognize that this sort of thing can go on without you knowing it. It was a form of censorship and media consolidation and that is very scary.

We didn't have a problem with people not wanting to buy our music, or not liking us anymore. That is a form them voicing their opinions as well, but when people are deciding things from a corporate level, and they're deciding, pretty much, what you're going to hear, or like, or listen to, there's some very scary consequences to that scenario.

KING: We'll be right back with more of the Dixie Chicks. The film is "Shut Up and Sing." Don't go away.


ROBISON: This whole week they didn't play us. This whole week they didn't play us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other one boycotted.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not a boycott.

MAINES: How, how is it not a boycott? They haven't been playing our music for a few weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A boycott is when someone says we are not playing --

MAGUIRE: (INAUDIBLE) action speak louder than words.

MAINES: What's the difference? You tell me the difference.

PAUL BEANE, GENERAL MANAGER KRBL: We're not going to play them anymore. It simply would be financial suicide.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep playing. Keep making music.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And keep your mouth shut.



MAINES: It says Natalie Maines will be shot dead Sunday, July 6th, in Dallas, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have a guy that we have reason to believe that he might be the guy, because he's made other threats against Senators.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The FBI had some intelligence on this guy, but they didn't share it to anybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're making some changes with security.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think the National Guard should be in Dallas?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The National Guard?


KING: We're back with the Dixie Chicks. The new film all about them, a great documentary, "Shut Up and Sing," directed by Academy Award winner Barbara Copple.

Martie, Michael J. Fox has gotten a lot of attention for a campaign he's doing supporting candidates who support stem cell research. What do you make of that? Do you think it's a good idea?

MAGUIRE: Yes, I think it's great. We're all for stem cell research. And, you know, Emily and I went through in vitro and when you do that process, you end up freezing a lot of embryos that you can't possibly use, unless you want, you know, 10 or 20 children. I think it's a real problem that we aren't allowed to donate those embryos to science. People that oppose -- sorry?

KING: But do you like the idea of Michael supporting -- do you think it's OK for celebrities to go around supporting candidates for whatever cause?

MAGUIRE: Yes, absolutely. And I think some, you know -- he's got a condition that, I think, can bring a lot of positive attention to something that really needs to happen, because so much could be done to, you know, prevent that in the future.

ROBISON: And he's doing this, not as a celebrity, but as somebody who's very passionate about stem cell research. So, you know, people have to realize that.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Tony in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, do you donate money to any campaigns or candidates? Do you, Emily?

ROBISON: I have in the past. Right now I've donated to Kinky Friedman, down in Texas, for governor.

KING: Whose campaign theme is How Hard Could It Be?

ROBISON: Yes, he makes a lot of jokes, but he makes a lot of sense at the same time. You know, it's more, to me, it's more so about not just having a two-party system, but just having that independent voice out there as well. So I think it's a fight for that, as well as his run for governor.

KING: Are any of your supporting candidates next Tuesday, a week from Tuesday?

MAINES: Well, even though I live pretty much in L.A. now, because my husband is an actor, I still am registered to vote in Texas and have a residence there as well. So we will be voting. We will be back on our tour. But, yes, not -- didn't do any campaigning for anyone, but definitely involved in the political process.

KING: You guys were on the Oprah show today, taping at the same time Madonna was taping. I think you were on the show with her. Let's watch a little segment of that and I want to get your thoughts.


OPRAH WINFREY, DAYTIME TALK SHOW HOST: Did you ever speak to David's father?

MADONNA, ACTRESS: Yes, I met David's father in court. And he looked into my eyes and said to me that he was very grateful that I was going to give his son a life. And that -- that had he kept his son with him in the village, he would have buried him.


MADONNA: So I didn't really need any more -- what's the word.

WINFREY: Confirmation?

MADONNA: I didn't feel like I needed anymore confirmation, thank you, that I was -- that I was doing the right thing and that I had his blessing.


KING: Natalie, what do you make of all of this?

MAINES: I think with Madonna and with Michael J. Fox, I just think people, you know, need to stop hating and judging. And, you know, if -- you know, I think adopting a child is a wonderful thing. Now, if there's a legal process and it wasn't followed, then let's leave it to lawyers and governments and the authorities.

I don't understand why we play everything out in the press and why everyone has to have such a rush to judgment and an immediate opinion about something without facts and with one side of a story. I just think there are -- if people want to be worried about children right now, there's lots of children in Iraq we can worry about.

KING: Martie, Madonna says she's shocked by all the reaction to this. Were you shocked by the reaction to the words said by Natalie, the follow-up?

MAGUIRE: I was absolutely shocked. I still have a hard time believing that people could be so angry over something like that or that people could think that you shouldn't criticize the commander in chief or the president, you know, under no circumstances, you know. That's just ridiculous, in my opinion.

KING: Emily, were you shocked?

ROBISON: At the reaction, yes, sure. I mean, it's, first off, that people really care what, you know, a country singer thinks or says from stage at a show. Secondly, that our country had gotten to a point where -- I think it was probably out of fear, you know, I mean a lot of people had emotions after 9/11, but once again, kind of touching on what Martie said, just that dissent was not even an option in our country anymore and to me that's very un-American.

KING: Natalie, what do you think is going to happen a week from Tuesday?

MAINES: I -- I hope the new drapes will be arriving, to stay on the president's terms of communication. I hope the drapes change.

KING: You apologized, Natalie, and then took it back. Do you regret that?

MAINES: At the time I meant it. You know, the apology was very specific. I wouldn't apologize for the meaning behind what I said or my feelings about going to war or the president. But I did feel that, you know, if people thought I had offended or disrespected that office, then I could understand that and apologize for that. But since the war and especially since Hurricane Katrina, I would not even apologize for that today. I think he hasn't earned my respect.

KING: The Chicks start their fall north American leg of Accidents and Accusations tour on Friday, this Friday, in Ottawa. The final date is December in Dallas. And the film is "Shut Up and Sing."

Congratulations, girls. Keep on keeping on. Thanks for being with us.

MAGUIRE: Thank you, Larry.

ROBISON: Thanks so much Larry.

MAINES: Thank you Larry.

KING: Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, Emily Robison, the Dixie Chicks.

Next, advertising and campaign 2006. You're going to see some things you might not believe. That's next.


MAINES: I'm not ready to make nice. I'm not ready to back down. I'm still mad as hell and I don't have time to go round and round and round. It's too late to make it right. I probably wouldn't if I could, because I'm mad as hell, can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should.



KING: We will now devote our attention to advertising and campaign 2006. Joining us in Knoxville, Tennessee is Congressman Harold Ford Jr., the Democratic candidate for Senate.

His opponent is Republican Bob Corker. The seat they are competing for is being vacated by Senate majority leader Bill Frist.

Our analyst throughout the show will be Paul Begala, the Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor and Michelle Laxalt, the Republican strategist. They're together in Washington.

We're going to begin, Congressman Ford, with a videotape. You're the target of a very controversial ad in this campaign. Let's watch it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harold Ford looks nice. Isn't that enough?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrorists need their privacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I die, Harold Ford will let me pay taxes again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ford is right, I do have too many guns.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Harold at the Playboy party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd love to pay higher marriage taxes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Canada can take care of North Korea. They're not busy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So he took money from porn movie producers. I mean, who hasn't?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republican National Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.



KING: How do you react, Congressman Ford?

REP. HAROLD FORD JR., CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: It's a little silly and it's unfortunate that the national Republican party has resorted to such tactics, but it's not totally surprising because there's not a whole lot for them to brag about. There's not a big record for them to defend in this election. So they've taken to just personally attacking me and lying on my record and talking about things that really have no place in anyone's living room, particularly those with children.

KING: Were you surprised by it?

FORD: Well, you know, politics at this level, when you're looking at a race like Tennessee, that many in Washington believe could determine which party is in the majority come next year, so much money has descended here from national Republican sources, not only from Washington, but all across the country. And some of their smartest and maybe cruelest minds in politics, in terms of these ads, have all come here as well. So I'm hopeful we can get back to talking about Iraq and North Korea and education and health care, the things that people really care about down here.

KING: the ad was backed by the Republican National Committee, not your opponent, by the way. Here's what Bob Corker told CNN about the commercial.


BOB CORKER, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: I've seen the ad one time on a computer. I've never even seen it on television. I don't like it. I've asked for it to come down. I don't know what else we can do. I know many people are calling the RNC on our behalf to see what can be done to get it down. But we have nothing to do with it.


KING: That OK with you, Congressman?

FORD: Well, I think the ad came down today. It ran for about a week. And it was a little surprising, because I thought that, you know, if there was an ad he didn't want up, he could have gotten it down. I just think people find it hard to believe down here in Tennessee. If the Democrats ran an ad that crossed the line, like that one did, I can assure you, it would have been pulled long before a week had passed by. I'm just hopeful we can get back to talking about some of the serious things in the campaign and things that voters really want to hear us talk about.

KING: Michelle Laxalt, how do you react to it?

MICHELLE LAXALT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think the ad, as Mr. Corker indicated, the relevant point is that he asked that the ad be taken down and the ad was taken down. The ad was in bad taste and the national committee has taken the ad down, at the request of the candidate. And I think he is to be commended for that. The fact is that no one can control outside money coming into these races, either from Washington, California, or parts unknown.

KING: Paul?

PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, Michelle makes a good point, but this is the National Republican Party. It's not some wing nut fringe group that put this up. You know, let's put the cards on the table. They're playing the race card. When you have a white woman winking, saying, Harold, call me, they're trying to say something. And I'm from the south and I like to believe that we're beyond that and we have overcome, but maybe we haven't. We'll see if this works. We'll see if it works.

KING: The RNC has switched. They've got a new ad replacing it. Let's watch that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Harold Ford Jr., he's slick, he's smooth, but his record? A little shaky.

Ford is Tennessee's most liberal Congressman.

He campaigns in a church, but to took cash from Hollywood's top X-rated porn moguls. Ford talks values, but voted to recognize gay marriage, voted for taxpayer funded abortions ten times and wants to give the abortion pill to our school children.

Harold Ford, smooth talk, Hollywood values.

The Republican National Committee is responsible for the contents of this ad.


KING: Congressman, fair?

FORD: False. I don't support gay marriage. I supported both amendment -- both efforts in the Congress to amend the constitution. I've never supported any effort to provide abortion pills to school children, or schoolgirls. And there have been so many accusations, I don't know all the --

KING: Are you supported by the porno industry or people in the porno industry?

FORD: No, sir. No, sir.

KING: So are you're going to ask him to remove that one, too?

FORD: We have letters at the station. Just because there's an element to the law that calls for the ads to, at least, have some independent verification. You just can't run an ad saying that Larry King is now on CNBC. We know you're not on CNBC. You're on CNN. You can't just run ads making up things. The one thing and Mr. Begala makes an excellent point, but I say this, people in Tennessee are good, decent people.

And I think the national party has grossly, grossly underestimated the goodness and decency of people in this state. Bob Corker alone didn't have this ad pulled. There were people all across this state who wondered aloud how is it that Mr. Corker could be trusted to represent them in the United States Senate if he couldn't convince the National Republican Party to take down an ad that demeaned women and dishonored families and children like that.

KING: I got to get a break. Thanks, Congressman. Thanks for appearing with us. And we'll be back. Paul Begala and Michelle Laxalt will remain with us and next we'll discuss the campaign in Missouri and Michael J. Fox. Don't go away.



KING: We're back. We're looking at political advertising 2006.

Joining us now in St. Louis is Claire McCaskill, the Missouri state auditor, now the Democrat candidate for the Senate. She's seeking to unseat Republican incumbent Jim Talent. We invited Senator Talent to appear. He does have a scheduling conflict and had to decline.

Paul Begala and Michelle Laxalt remain.

Claire, Michael J. Fox has done a campaign ad for you and several other supporters of stem cell research.

Let's watch it.


FOX: As you might know, I care deeply about stem cell research. In Missouri you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures.

Unfortunately Senator Jim Talent opposes expanding stem cell research. Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us a chance for hope. They say all politics is local, but it's not always the case. What you do in Missouri matters to millions of Americans, Americans like me.


KING: Is that a good ad, Claire?

CLAIRE MCCASKILL: I think it's a very powerful ad. In America, we really admire courage and commitment, and I think this is a great example of both.

KING: All right.

What do our experts think -- Michelle.

LAXALT: I think Mr. Fox, as the candidate indicated, is quite an admirable human being. We all feel so badly for his plight and admire his courage and the fact that he will speak on a public basis. After all, he did come from the communications world, indeed, the screen world. And so we pray for him and the fact that he is involved, I think, is a positive thing.

And the fact is that Missouri is looking at different aspects of this issue and it will be, as Ms. McCaskill indicated, it will be the people of Missouri who indicate what they want, both on a state level, vis-a-vis the Constitution, as well as what they want from their United States senators here in Washington.

KING: Effective, Paul?

BEGALA: Very effective.

I think Michelle makes a very good point. I mean -- and frankly, the opposition has helped Mr. Fox and Ms. McCaskill a lot. I mean, Rush Limbaugh, the obese drug-addled gas bag ran out there and mocked Michael J. Fox. So here's now the juxtaposition we have. Michael J. Fox, decent, beloved, heroic now in his performance on screen to reveal his disabilities, illness in this way, versus Limbaugh, who's about the most unsympathetic character imaginable. That... KING: Hold on, Paul.

BEGALA: I'm sorry.

KING: Although he back-pedaled today, Limbaugh had very harsh things to say about Fox's ad. Let's watch -- let's listen.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, HOST, "THE RUSH LIMBAUGH SHOW": This is Michael J. Fox. He's got Parkinson's Disease. In this commercial he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking and it's purely an act.


KING: Claire, what do you think of that response?

MCCASKILL: Well, I think when people are confronted with something that's powerful and real and it's not what they agree with, I think unfortunately, they sometimes attack the messenger. And I think that's unfortunately what happened.

You know, only in politics would someone, I think, have the nerve to belittle Mr. Fox this way. I think most Americans, even if they disagree about stem cell research -- and by the way, I respect that disagreement. This is a difficult issue for many people and many people disagree with my position. And I'm deferential to them and I respect them. I certainly think that Mr. Fox deserves that same respect.

KING: Michelle, do you think that Mr. Limbaugh embarrassed the Republicans?

LAXALT: I think that his behavior in that clip that you just showed, Larry, was despicable. I think the notion of anyone looking with any kind of criticism or laughing, as Mr. Begala indicated, at Mr. Fox in his condition, I think it's awful. I think it's terrible and, as you indicated, I gather, reading the press earlier today, that he apologized.

But he is not the candidate opposing Ms. McCaskill. The opponent is Senator Talent and it will be in the end of the day, those voters in Missouri who will determine who should represent them here in Washington, D.C.

KING: We'll take a break and be back with Paul and Michelle.

Good luck, Claire. We'll be talking to you a week from Tuesday.

MCCASKILL: Thank, you, Larry.

KING: We're going to do a special, by the way, a couple of specials coming up. We'll do a special edition of LARRY KING LIVE on Sunday the 5th preceding the election. And then on the night of the election itself, we'll be on at midnight Eastern, following all the election results, talking to the winning and losing candidates across the nation for two hours.

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


KING: This segment we'll spend just with Paul Begala and Michelle Laxalt.

The Republicans are clearly playing a national security card in this election. Let's look at this controversial ad called, "Stakes."




KING: Whose that ad aimed at, Paul?

BEGALA: Well, it's aimed at the folks who delivered George W. Bush's re-election in 2004, the famous so-called soccer moms or a whole lot of us dads. Very powerful, very emotional. I don't mean to be too much of a film critic here, but I wish they would -- you know, I'm not as young as Michelle, I wish they would put the type a little bit bigger so I could read it.

But they're trying to get back, you know, the mojo that worked so well two years ago. The question is will that old dog hunt anymore. And doesn't seem to be working.

KING: Michelle Laxalt, what do you think?

LAXALT: I think it's a powerful ad. I think it speaks to the national security of this country and I think it speaks to the fact that, in many voters' minds, who is in control of a number of these committees here in Congress is very, very important indeed. And they will be the faces with whom the enemy will think about having to deal with. And so, too, the consequences.

KING: Is national security, Paul, the big issue in this campaign?

BEGALA: It's actually not. I checked today, at least with the folks running Senate campaigns around the country. They say that three-fourths of the ads that the Republicans are running are on taxes. It's because, I think, the Republicans have figured out that national security is now a loser for them. The war in Iraq is not going well. In the latest CNN poll, only one out of five Americans thinks we're winning the war in Iraq.

But there's one other thing about that ad I want to point out. Those four words, "These are the stakes" appear on there. And they call the ad "Stakes". "These are the stakes." Those are the first four words that Lyndon Johnson utters in that famous Daisy ad that he ran against Barry Goldwater just once in 1964, where they show the mushroom cloud blowing up in that little girl's eye. So "these are the stakes" means something, at least to connoisseurs of these things.

KING: That's the most famous political ad ever telecast and it only aired once.

LAXALT: It only needed to be aired once.

KING: In Pennsylvania, incumbent GOP Senator Rick Santorum has upped the stakes in his race against Bob Casey with this commercial. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Korea, close to a nuclear missile to reach America. Yet Casey opposes deploying the missile defense system now.

Iran, also close. Yet Casey opposes creating the bunker-busting bombs that may be needed to stop them.

China, drilling oil just 50 miles off our coast. Yet Casey opposes us doing the same, putting our energy at risk.

Terrorists, trying to enter our country. Yet Casey comes up for amnesty for illegals.

We just can't take a chance on Bob Casey.


KING: Rick Santorum trails in all the polls.

Michelle, is this a good last-ditch effort?

LAXALT: It's a last-ditch effort. Mr. Begala can speak to this better than I, since I think he spends more time in Pennsylvania. But when you're running behind, you really do ratchet up the negative ads and, in this particular instance, I would suspect that the campaign for the Senator is trying to turn out their absolute rock hard base, the conservative base, and attempting to draw distinctions that, in other issues, as between the two candidates, there really aren't.

KING: How, Paul, do you counter an ad like that?

BEGALA: Well, you know, and of course our viewers should know that I am working for Bob Casey, and so I'm not objective. He's an old friend of mine, I worked for his father 20 years ago, and I'm helping him as a consultant in this campaign. So I'm hopelessly biased.

KING: How do you consult him in regard to this ad?

BEGALA: Well, in this one, he's not even airing it on broadcast television. Senator Santorum has spent $25 million on this campaign and he's moved exactly zero points in the polls. He's at 40 percent two years ago. He's at 40 percent today. The state didn't like him, they're rejecting him. Now, these issues came up in the debates, Casey pointed out that he in fact supports research on missile defense, he supports the bunker-buster bombs, he opposes amnesty. None of those things are factually accurate. And I think that's the point. You put it into context that he's losing an election and so he's throwing a Hail Mary with a lot of things that aren't very accurate.

KING: All right. We'll take a break. And when we come back, we'll look at the race in Ohio with Senator Mike DeWine.

But right now, John King will be sitting in for Anderson Cooper at the top of the hour, hosting "AC 360". And he'll be with us all week.

John, what's up tonight?


A great show tonight. Fourteen years ago Bill Clinton rode his way into the White House by getting Americans to focus on the economy. This year Iraq is the defining issue and Democrats are hoping to use it, hoping to take control of Congress. Tonight we'll go inside one tough Congressional battle where the Republican candidate is taking the unusual of using a campaign ad to admit that mistakes were made. Why would he do that? Ahead on "360" -- Larry.

KING: That's John King. Watch him at 10:00 Eastern, 7:00 Pacific.

And we'll be right back with Senator Mike DeWine of Ohio and Paul Begala and Michelle Laxalt. Don't go away.


KING: We're discussing ad campaigns in Campaign 2006.

Joining us from Columbus, Ohio, is Senator Mike DeWine, Republican of Ohio. As the incumbent, his opponent is Democratic Representative Sherrod Brown. We invited Congressman Brown to appear, but he has a scheduling conflict. Paul Begala and Michelle Laxalt remain.

Senator, you and your opponent have both been airing some tough ads. Let's watch an example here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 1993. The World Trade Center is bombed. Months later Congressman Brown votes to cut intelligence funding.

1996. Al Qaeda kills 19 U.S. servicemen. Brown votes again to slash intelligence spending.

1998. Terrorists strike U.S. embassies. Brown votes against the intelligence budget.

After 9/11 a bipartisan Congress gives law enforcement tools to fight terrorism, but Congressman Brown votes no.

The record is clear.

SEN. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): I am Mike DeWine and I approve this message.


DEWINE: No questions, Mr. Chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like your style.

DEWINE: Yes, sir.


KING: How do you react, Senator, to your opponent's ad?

DEWINE: Well, Larry, I couldn't see it, but I will tell you...

KING: I guess you know it, though.

DEWINE: Look, the basic facts are in this campaign -- and you saw the ad that we ran -- Sherrod Brown has never denied those facts. The facts are that here's a man who voted during 1990s ten different times to cut intelligence spending. He was in the minority of his own party most of those times.

Then after September 11th, when we all came together, Democrats and Republicans alike, to pass the Patriot Act -- it passed, Larry, 90-1 in the Senate. Ted Kennedy voted for it, John Kerry voted for it. But when it got to the House, Sherrod Brown, he votes no. And he's one of 66 members.

KING: Is that...

DEWINE: When it comes up, he votes no again. Those are basic facts that I think shows he's got a pre-9/11 mentality and this is an important issue. National security is an important issue.

KING: Senator, Congressman Brown issued this statement for us.

"In order to keep money from a national Republican party flowing to his sinking campaign, Senator DeWine agreed to abandon the issues and legitimate personal false attacks by Sherrod Brown" -- I can't read this word -- "It's clear that he's doing everything he can to avoid talking about how his record has cost middle class families in Ohio."

How tough is this race for you, Senator?

DEWINE: It's a tough race, but you know, when Sherrod Brown talks about running from a record, he's the one that's running from his record, Larry.

Here's a man in 14 years in the United States House of Representatives, who's passed four bills. Four bills: one to rename a federal building and the other three to help the country of Taiwan go to a conference in Switzerland.

And that compares, frankly, fundamentally different to my record. First ad I ran, Larry, in this campaign was about a problem that Chris Dodd and I found out about when we found that 80 percent of the new drugs that come on the market are never tested for kids. We haves forced the drug companies to test these drugs and now over 120 new drugs have been tested for kids.

KING: Do you...

DEWINE: The second ad I ran had to do with support that Chris Dodd and I got, again, working together, Democrat and Republican, for our fire departments. It's brought $100 million back to the state of Ohio. So I've got a long record, Larry, of working with Democrats and Republicans. Sherrod Brown, on the other hand, has been called partisan and on the fringe, on the fringe by the "National Journal".

KING: Michelle, how does that race look to you?

LAXALT: Well, I agree with Senator DeWine on this one. I think that the difference between the other ads and this one is that you have two candidates, both of whom have records that can be calculated and can be checked.

In the case of Congressman Brown, his voting record is very, very clear and he's been in Congress and, therefore, the facts are not in question, as they say. Whereas I think that the ad that the Congressman ran against Senator DeWine is one of the oldest, warmed over, empty chair ads, very unoriginal, whoever paid for that should get a refund because it's been run many times before.

KING: Paul Begala, what do you think?

BEGALA: Well, my test on these things is the Jean Friday (ph) test, she's my mother-in-law in Austin. And I think, OK, what would Mom Friday think? And I think if she those ads we showed before in the Harold Ford race, which were personal and nasty, I think she would kind of recall from that.

But I think both of these ads, I think Mom Friday would think, well, those are important issues. Whether someone's voting for or against intelligence funding is a legitimate issue. And whether someone shows up in Intelligent Committee hearings, those are legitimate issues. They have a much higher ground that both Sherrod Brown and Senator DeWine are fighting over in Ohio. I suspect their voters are probably a little more proud of them than some of the others in the other states we've seen.

KING: Nicely said.

Good luck, Senator. We'll be talking to you, and that's a week from Tuesday.

DEWINE: Thank you, Larry. Thank you very much. KING: Senator Mike DeWine, a Republican incumbent of Ohio.

Back with our remaining moments with Paul and Michelle. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with our remaining moments with Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala and Michelle Laxalt, Republican strategist, and daughter of the famed former senator from Nevada, Paul Laxalt.

We're going to have little fun here now. It's been reported that a campaign ad made by a Hollywood director for GOP operatives was deemed too hot by Republican strategists.

You're one, Michelle, so we'll get your reaction to this.

They never used this ad. But the ad, which mocks former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has ended up on the Internet on YouTube. It was produced and directed by David Zucker. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the year 2000, in an effort to stop the North Koreans from building nuclear weapons, President Clinton's secretary of state, Madeline Albright gave North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il a basketball signed by Michael Jordan. The Democrats thought her gift had two major results. The first was this. And the second was this.

In a post-9/11 world, making nice to our enemies will not make them nice to us. History has taught us that evil needs to be confronted, not appeased. Evil dictators will be evil dictators, no matter what they do. Unlike basketball.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go get them, your animal!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The security of the United States is not a game. Can we afford a party that treats it like one?


KING: OK, Michelle, why did they pull that?

LAXALT: Well, it's a ridiculous ad for starters. The only one who looks better in that ad than ever before is Kim Jong-Il. But the fact is that it's not airing and there's a reason for that.

KING: I know. It would have worked in reverse, wouldn't it have, Paul, had that run?

BEGALA: Yes, I mean, it was stupid and sexist and I will point out no Republican made it. It was just some very amusing...

KING: I know. Kidding around. BEGALA: Amusing, goofy film maker in Hollywood. But...

KING: We have a minute.

Michelle, what's going to happen a week from Tuesday?

LAXALT: I think that the turnout will be the determiner. Whether or not...

KING: So if we see a big turn turnout, what?

LAXALT: If there's a big turnout, I think that the Republicans will hold the Senate and either Hold the house by a slim margin or lose by a slim margin.

KING: So a big turnout helps them, the Republicans?

LAXALT: I think Republican ground game, when it comes to grassroots voters showing up, and the ground game of registering new voters and getting their own voters out, yes, I think that if the Republicans turn out their voters, that they'll hold the Senate and either hang on by their nails or lose the House.

KING: Paul, we only have 20 seconds -- Paul.

BEGALA: I think the Democrats will take the House, and I think the Senate is too close to call. I do think there's an enormous mood out there for change. I think people really want a new direction, and that's what the Democrats are offering.

KING: Is turnout out going to be a factor, Paul?

BEGALA: It will be, and I'm with Michelle, in that I want more people to vote. but I actually think it's better for my Democrats is high, because everywhere I go, people want change, they want a new direction.

KING: So we can make a case for both, with a huge turnout, and being strategists, you both will all day long.

BEGALA: Absolutely.

KING: We'll see you next Tuesday.

Paul Begala and Michelle Laxalt, they're two of the best in the business.

And we hope you found tonight's show fascinating.

Tomorrow night, John Walsh will be with us. He's got some new ideas on protecting our nation's children. If you have any e-mail questions for him, just them in to

Right now, we'll slash our way to New York.