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CNN Larry King Live

Jesse Ventura Calls for Revolution of Political Parties

Aired April 01, 2008 - 21:00   ET




LARRY KING, HOST, LARRY KING LIVE: Tonight, Jesse Ventura for president?


VENTURA: I think that we may need a wrestler in the White House in 2008.


KING: The former wrestler and governor is back and talking revolution. Where has he been? What's got him so upset? Democrats and Republicans, for starters.

Is he man enough to make a run for the White House? We'll find out next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's been almost six years since Governor Ventura was with us, but Jesse is back.

A panel on politics later.

He's the former governor of Minnesota, of course. And the best- selling author of the new book, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me". There you see its cover.

Jesse has changed. The mustache is gone. So is the hair atop the head. And he's added hair on top, reduced hair below...


KING: ...and he's leading a -- where have you been?

VENTURA: Well, two days ago, I just finished a film called "Wood Shop" in Boulder, Colorado. So I'm back doing a little acting again, which is a lot of fun.

But I'm living now at least half the year down in the Baja in Mexico, Larry. I live one hour from pavement and one hour from electricity, about 850 miles down there. And, amazingly, I live with those brown-skinned people that frighten Lou Dobbs so much.


VENTURA: I mean these people that just strike fear into Lou Dobbs.

KING: Here you go.

VENTURA: I can assure Lou they're great people. I live among them.

KING: Have you removed yourself from conventional society?

VENTURA: In a way, yes, because I'm off the grid. I live totally in a house.

KING: This was obviously by choice?

VENTURA: Oh, yes. Absolutely by choice.

KING: All right, why?

Why did you leave St. Paul and Minneapolis and...

VENTURA: Well, because I'm at the age, Larry, where I'm young enough yet to need another adventure. And living down there -- I drive down and back every year and it's truly an adventure to live down there where I do, because I'm off the grid. I live down there close...

KING: No electricity?

VENTURA: Oh, I have electricity but it's all solar. I'm completely solar-powered down there. And it makes you pay more attention. It makes you turn the lights off when you're not using them, which --

KING: How does your wife like it?

VENTURA: She loves it. She loves it. She at first didn't. And I'll say hi to her, because they're all down there watching tonight. Hi to the Crossroads Country Club, where they have open mike every Saturday night, Larry ...

KING: All right, don't you --

VENTURA: ... where anyone can play guitars and sing. It's marvelous.

KING: Why did you write the book?

VENTURA: I wrote the book because I was down there and I met the writer Dick Russell a few years ago. And he lives down there part- time, too. And we would get together every Wednesday. And we wrote the book together. And I wrote the book, hopefully, to awaken America, the United States, to what I believe we need a revolution here.

KING: What kind of revolution?

VENTURA: Well, when I say revolution, I don't say a violent one, because I'm not for violence. But we need a revolution to get rid of the Democratic and Republican two-party dictatorship that goes on in this country. Larry, they've got us $9 trillion in debt now, these two parties. Trillion.

I can't fathom what a trillion is. Can you?

KING: But the Clinton Democratic Party had you in the plus side?

They didn't have you in debt. Not all parties all the time have gotten you in debt.

VENTURA: They weren't out of debt. They just stopped the debt where it was at for a little while. The debt was still there.

KING: Well, what do you want to do?

VENTURA: You can't get $9 trillion in -- we've -- since Nixon took us off the gold standard in the early '70s, $9 trillion. So if we -- if there's 300 million Americans right now, that means we all owe $30,000. So a family of four would owe $120,000 to get us out of debt.

Larry, if you did that in the private sector, you'd be in prison. You'd be put in jail. And yet they get away with it running our government -- Enron, WorldCom, ring a bell?

KING: Do you want to bring back what, an Independent party? What are you --


KING: How does the revolution work?

VENTURA: -- I believe there shouldn't be parties. I believe that --

KING: No parties?

VENTURA: No parties, that you should run on ideas and who you are and not be part of these two...

KING: But who does the backing? Who forms the groups? Who -- how do you get elected?

VENTURA: That's the problem.

KING: Yes.

VENTURA: That's the problem. The problem is these groups. You know, as I would get in trouble with before, I used to call them the Democrips and the Rebloodlicans. They're the same as the street gangs, only these guys wear Brooks Brothers suits.

KING: All right, what do you think of what we -- what do you think of Hillary Clinton? You met her.

VENTURA: I met her. She's a very intelligent woman. I don't take anything away from her. But, let's look at -- are we a dual monarchy now, Larry?

I mean we've had only Bushes and Clintons for the majority of my voting life have been running this country. So the two elitist parties -- that's all they give us are Bushes and Clintons, because you technically could go back to 1980, when Bush was with Ronald Reagan. So from 1980 to 2008, 28 years it's been Bushes and Clintons...

KING: We had --

VENTURA: ... and if Hillary wins, it will be another eight.

KING: All right.

So does Barack Obama bring you a degree of hope?

VENTURA: Barack Obama, to me, is the best of what they're offering us because he's new. He's got fresh ideas. But he's still going to get his strings pulled by the Democratic Party. He's talking about all this change. There won't be change happening.

Look it, OK, 2006 -- the voters clearly sent a mandate to the spineless Democrats. They sent a mandate to them saying get us out of Iraq.

Have they done it? No. Are they even close to doing it? No. All we're getting is cheap talk from them.

KING: And Barack wouldn't be able to do it?


KING: Yes, but you must like...


KING: ... with your record, a Navy SEAL, you must like John McCain.

VENTURA: No, I don't. No, I don't. I dis -- I like John McCain as a person. I respect him for his military service. But I don't like his positions at all, when he starts telling me that we could be in Iraq for 100 years. Larry, I can't hold my country on a pedestal anymore.

You know why? Because we lined our military up at another sovereign nation's border, we invaded that country and overthrew that government without being asked. That's what the Nazis did. That's what the communists did. And now we've done it.

And I say this personally because I'm Slovak descent. I'm a Slovak. And when I was growing up, I believed that I was Czechoslovakian because of what Russia did. They came in and took two separate countries -- Slovakia and the Czech Republic -- put them together as one. And I remember sitting one time at a party and someone asked me my nationality. I said, "Well, I'm Czech."

And my 85-year-old aunt spun around in the chair and her finger went up. She said, "You're not Czech, you're Slovak."

And now we've done what those countries have done. We've invaded a country that did not do one thing to us. There isn't one shred of evidence that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. I mean, it's like if you go back to World War II and Pearl Harbor. The Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, so maybe we should have attacked Thailand.

After all, they're Asian too, aren't they?

KING: Let me get a break.

The book is by Jesse Ventura, of course, "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me".

So is Jesse going to run for president? What do you think, Jesse? Don't tell us now.

We'll get an answer right after the break.


KING: On the streets of Brooklyn, we used to say put your money where your mouth is. Are you going to run?

VENTURA: Am I going to run? Too difficult, because they make an Independent like me jump through 50 different hoops, because every state has different things you have to do to qualify to get on the ballot.

KING: Ross Perot did it.

VENTURA: Ross Perot did it because Ross Perot had a great fortune of wealth -- of his own personal wealth. And he did it with enough time. Right now, it's already March and to get on the ballot it's too late right now.

KING: So you can't run. So, what tact do you take to change the country you love and want to change?

VENTURA: What I'm doing right now -- speaking out and hopefully waking people up out there to get -- to stop being lemmings. We're a country full of lemmings today. We just follow, follow, follow. And we don't have to put up with that.

KING: But how do you (INAUDIBLE) -- you're going to have to vote for one of the candidates. You can't say I'm...

VENTURA: No, I'm not. I never vote...

KING: What are you going to do? VENTURA: ...Democrat or Republican. I'll pick someone else. There'll be a libertarian on the ballot. There'll be someone else on the ballot. I will not vote for a Republican or a Democrat and I don't do it every election.

KING: But the person you will vote for will not win. So what -- it's kind of like repeating your own...

VENTURA: Well, do you know what I wish they would allow here, Larry? I wish they would allow "none of the above" on the ballot.

KING: Do you think that would work?

VENTURA: Yes, because in most of your elections across America today, if you gave the Democrat, the Republican or "none of the above," I believe "none of the above" would prevail in most elections. And that would force these two -- because that would be a no confidence vote.

KING: All right, take me through your revolution. How do you change things. What do you do?

VENTURA: Well, you -- people out there have to stop participating into the Democratic and Republican machinery and start voting for Independent candidates, because I proved an Independent can win. Governor Angus King of Maine proved an Independent could win.

And you know what's ironic, Larry, Minnesota and Maine always lead the nation in voter turnout percentage. See if there's a third viable candidate, more people participate.

How many elections -- the last governors' election in Texas do you know how many people voted? Twenty-six or 27 percent. That means over seven out of 10 Texans didn't even bother to vote. And that's something the Dems and Repubs can be proud of?

KING: But it takes money.

VENTURA: Not really.


VENTURA: When I ran for governor of Minnesota, I only raised $300,000. And I'll tell you a quick story. My father, a World War II veteran, an eighth grade education, one time said to me, you know, all politicians are a bunch of crooks. And I said dad, how can you say that?

You can't make a blanket statement like that. And I said, why do you say that? He said, well, because they spend a million dollars for a job that pays $100,000 a year.

Well, I could look -- my dad is gone now, but I could look my dad in the eye and say your son is not a crook. Because I only raised $300,000 and I was paid $120,000 a year for four years. To that's $480,000 for four years. So I made more with my salary than what I spent to get in.

KING: A light moment from the Letterman show and we'll ask Jesse about age.

John McCain's age was fodder for late night comics. McCain strikes back. Here's a preview. It happens tonight. It will happen later tonight.



DAVID LETTERMAN, LATE NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: He looks like the guy who points out the spots they missed at the car wash --


LETTERMAN: Right over there, you've got this stain (INAUDIBLE).

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You think that stuff is pretty funny, don't you?

LETTERMAN: Yes, well.

MCCAIN: Well, you look like a guy whose laptop would be seized by the authorities.



MCCAIN: You look like a guy caught smuggling reptiles in his pants.



KING: That's later tonight on "Letterman". Humor plays a part in politics. You use humor a lot.

VENTURA: Yes. Yes.

KING: Should age play a part? John is 71.

VENTURA: Well, let me put it this way. I think the government is hypocritical in that thing, because if John McCain were simply a federal worker, he'd be forced to retire at 65.

Now, how come a worker is forced to retire at 65, yet a politician can go to any age or a Supreme Court justice can go to any age?

Yet there's a mandatory retirement. If he did the job -- my brother was a lock and dam operator for the Corps of Army Engineers. He would be forced to retire at age 65. He could not work a day more. How come they're allowed to go -- yes, age should make a difference, I think.

KING: What do you want in a commander-in-chief?

VENTURA: In a commander-in-chief?

KING: Yes. What do you want?

VENTURA: I want someone I can respect. I want someone who will understand that going to war is really a simple decision.

You know how simple it should be, Larry? A war is justified if you're willing to send your son. If you're not willing to send your son, then how do you send someone else's?

See, our problem with this current war in Iraq is that we're being governed by the chicken hawks. You know what a chicken hawk is? That's somebody when it was their time to serve they were chicken. But now they come back when they're 50-years-old and they're hawks.

You know, why -- where was -- and I laugh when President Bush says -- he come out a few months ago and said the problem with Vietnam was we left too soon. Well, why didn't he come over and help out? Or why didn't five -- or four or five deferment Dick Cheney show up?

And how is it that a guy with four or five deferments from the military can end up the secretary of defense? Shouldn't you have at least served -- you're the main liaison between civilian and military, shouldn't you have at least had military service? And yet here's Dick Cheney, a secretary of defense.

KING: There is no commander-in-chief on the horizon to you?

VENTURA: Well, there will be one. But, again, I would hope that it would be -- my problem with Senator McCain is he says we may have to stay in Iraq for 100 years if we have to. And I say no. I agree with Ron Paul, we marched in there, we can march out.

KING: Would you be his vice president?

VENTURA: Maybe would he be mine.

KING: But you won't run?

VENTURA: I can't. I can't get balloted. Give me ballot access, Larry. Let me get in the race now and I'll beat them all. I've beaten them twice already.

KING: The book is --

VENTURA: They fear me. Oh, let me tell you, I'm the most powerful man in America. You know why?

KING: Why? VENTURA: I'm the only one who can get the Democrats in bed with the Republicans to oppose the moderate middle. Me. It happened in Minnesota.

KING: The book is "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me". And don't take him lightly.

Do you think Jesse Ventura should run for president? That's tonight's Quick Vote.

Cast your ballot at Vote now. Check out the results.

We'll be right back.



VENTURA: I'm so beautiful, sometimes I can't even live with myself. Pay back time. We shocked the word. This is still the United States of America, where dreams can come true. You're going to see a lot of me whether you like it or not.


KING: We're back with -- he's back, Jesse Ventura.

Arnold Schwarzenegger can't run for president, he wasn't born in the United States. Should he be allowed to?




KING: So you favor the Constitution?

VENTURA: Yes, because of this. Nothing against Arnold, but Arnold took an oath of allegiance to the Austrian Army, because when he lived in Austria, you were required to do that. I don't want a commander-in-chief who took an oath to another army.

KING: He couldn't give up that oath and...

VENTURA: Well, I just -- no. I just -- well, George Washington was born here.


VENTURA: So it's been a long time. And, no, I think that you definitely should be born in this country to be the commander-in- chief.

KING: An e-mail question from Steve in Newport, Minnesota: "As a citizen of Minnesota, I found your political views refreshing. You had a chance to push the Independent Party to new heights, but got caught up with the press and your own ego. Any regrets about how you handled things?"

VENTURA: No, because it wasn't my ego that caught up with anything. He's wrong right there. I chose not to run again. If you read my book, I explain it completely. I didn't run for a second term because of the health of my wife. And I will pick my wife over any political office in the land. She means more to me than holding an office.

KING: What was the matter?

VENTURA: Well, the moment I won election, she was having a lot of difficulty and they couldn't determine what was wrong with her. It turned out that it was Epstein-Barr mono that then evolved into this Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. And she's still troubled with it today...

KING: (INAUDIBLE) a lot (INAUDIBLE) sleep a lot (ph)?

VENTURA: Yes. And she would be at certain points where she told me lifting her purse felt like it weighed 250 pounds. It's a very difficult disease that doctors have just recently begun to recognize. At the time she had it, they weren't even recognizing it fully. And the Baja has really cured her of it because --

KING: What are your impressions, by the way, of Al Gore?

VENTURA: I think Al Gore is terrific. I think that he found -- he's one of the few politicians who, I believe, almost went to greater heights after getting out of office. To win the Nobel Prize is remarkable. I really love the fact that he's focused so much on the environment and the global warming. And that's a very honorable thing.

Even if you don't believe in global warming, isn't it still better to have a mission's be less (ph)? Isn't it still better to use less fuel? You don't even have to buy global warming to realize what everyone is saying about it would still be the best thing for us to do as a society.

KING: You took a little swipe at Lou Dobbs before. But what do you think of illegal -- you can't say I favor illegal immigration, do you?

VENTURA: No, I don't. But why do you -- you know, remember this, the Pilgrims didn't have visas.

KING: Well, it was a different time.

VENTURA: Oh, really? So, in other words, we come in, kill the Native Americans, take their land and now we require paperwork to be here?

KING: We stole it fair and square.

VENTURA: Yes, exactly. (LAUGHTER)

VENTURA: And now we require paperwork? Why should somebody have to give a reason for being in a country? What if you were a Mexican person who just wanted to come here for two weeks vacation? Can you imagine the paperwork you've got to go through just to do that, Larry?

KING: Well, I think the thinking would be you'd have just ...

VENTURA: Let me put it --

KING: ...anarchy.

VENTURA: -- Let me put it to you this way. Lou Dobbs and his fence at the border -- well, if they build it, I'm going to climb it and protest the other way. I'm going over it to Mexico where I live. And you know why the reason I'll do that, Larry, is people better wake up in this country. The defense that goes up today to keep people out 10 years from now might be to keep you in. I don't particularly want to live in East Berlin.

KING: But do you think rules count?

VENTURA: Certainly rules count.

KING: Don't you think government should have rules?

VENTURA: Certainly.

KING: And shouldn't you have to abide by certain rules to become a citizen of this country?

VENTURA: Certainly.


VENTURA: But you shouldn't have to abide by rules to come and visit it. I go to Mexico --

KING: Or work in it?

VENTURA: I -- why? So you come up here and get a job. Blame the person that's hiring. Don't blame the poor guy that takes the job. If you want to stop illegal immigration, you have to make it so that -- so that the people that hire the illegal immigrants will not be in a position to hire them.

Just like the war on drugs. You're not going to win the war on drugs going after the supply side. You win it on the demand side through education.

KING: Yes.

VENTURA: You don't win it because -- you know, and the illegal immigrant that comes up here, well, I hope people -- I hope Lou Dobbs and all the people like him are prepared to pay double for their food, because when they stop allowing the illegals up here, if they're going to have me out there picking that food, Larry, I'm going to charge them $250 an hour and the price of food is going up.

KING: What's your read on what's happened with the economy?

VENTURA: I think it's directly to the Iraq War.

KING: That's the reason that --

VENTURA: I think that's a great deal of the reason. When we've sent over 500 million -- I don't know what they're at now. We're getting close to a billion dollars over there.

And what happened to the fact Donald Rumsfeld sat on TV and told us Iraqi oil was going to pay for the whole thing? What happened to that concept?

I guess that went down the drain with weapons of mass destruction, ties to al Qaeda. And, you know, when I give speeches, this isn't the first war we've been lied to about. The Vietnam War -- McNamara has now come out and said the Gulf of Tonkin incident never happened. And that was the catalyst that put us into the Vietnam War and that was a lie. I'm tired of -- you know, every president since I've been alive and can remember, which basically takes me from LBJ on, has lied to me.

KING: Let me get a break.

The book is "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me". Jesse will be with us.

And then, in the remaining three segments after the next one, we'll have an outstanding political panel. And Jesse has agreed to stay among them. I wonder if they're happy about that?


KING: You know, Jesse might have something to say about Eliot Spitzer and the sex scandal that drove the New York governor from office. Ventura vents on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: We're back with Jesse Ventura. OK, the Eliot Spitzer matter, what do you make of it?

VENTURA: Well, first of all, my position on prostitution -- if you look at it, Larry, if you are a consenting adult, you can do any sex act, right, it's legal. So really, the only thing that makes prostitution illegal is the exchange of money. So that means the reason is the government needs to be the pimp. They're not getting their cut and that's why they make it illegal.

KING: They make it illegal. They don't get their cut because it is illegal. VENTURA: Exactly. The point is that you can do the sex act. So the only thing illegal is exchange of money and it's because the government is not getting their cut, because it is an illegal act.

KING: What are your feelings about Spitzer?

VENTURA: I think he was a damn fool, to put it bluntly. When you are in a position like that, you have to watch everything you do, because you have enemies in the world of politics. You have people that hope and pray you will screw up so you will fall and they can take you down.

When you are the governor like that, I -- I made so darn sure that I never, even with my staff -- I would never touch a female at all. I would never say anything off-color, because I didn't want anyone coming back with any sexual harassment things or anything like that. In the world of politics, it is the dirtiest game out there, Larry. Therefore, you have to keep your backyard clean.

KING: A King-Cam question for the governor, former governor.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesse, what advice would you give Hillary Clinton? And the same would go to Obama, huh? No? Really? That's strange. But then again, you are a strange man.


KING: He is answering his own King-Cam.

VENTURA: I'm not sure what he asked. I would tell them to be --

KING: That was weird.

VENTURA: Yes, very. To me, it's be true to yourself. Don't try to be something you are not. You can only be what you are. And don't try to put, you know -- like I have always said, wrestling prepares you well for politics in the traditional sense, because many of us in the world of wrestling are nothing like what you see on the screen of what you see in real life.

And I believe that the -- the average politician is the same. They're not what they portray themselves to be to us. They're playing an act to get elected.

KING: We have a caller from Kansas City, Missouri. Hello.

CALLER: How are you doing tonight?


CALLER: My question is: I hear you talking about don't start the revolution without me. Why do you think that now, if you were to run for president, that if you started right now that you couldn't get it and you couldn't become president and start something different?

VENTURA: Well, I could if I could get ballot access in the 50 states. But the Democratic and Republican parties make it so difficult to get ballot access that there is no time to do it now.

KING: You need a Mayor Bloomberg to back you?

VENTURA: Yes, it's even too late for him. He would need to have started six months ago, because -- there is another thing that is terrible. Why isn't it the same in every state? You are running for a federal office.

So the qualification to get on the ballot in each state should be identical. They're not. They're different in every state. Some states, you have to use only certain sized paper to get signatures on. There is all this nonsense. That is all created by the Democrats and Republicans so that there is no further competition for them.

Let me put it to you this way -- what you have today is like walking into the grocery store and you go to the soft drink department, and there is only Pepsi and Coke. Those are the two you get to choose from. There is no Mountain Dew, no Root Beer, no Orange. They're both Colas; one is slightly sweeter than the other, depending on which side of the aisle you are on.

KING: You are very pessimistic then?

VENTURA: No, I love my country. I am not pessimistic. I just want them to wake up.

KING: You think they will?

VENTURA: I don't know. I hope so. We're trying here tonight, Larry.

KING: Yes.

VENTURA: I mean, I was handcuffed for three years and couldn't talk to anybody. This is my first time back.

KING: What, the network didn't let you?

VENTURA: MSNBC wouldn't put my show on, and the contract stated I couldn't do any other news shows or nothing on cable or, satellite television. I have to honor that contract because I signed it. And so I did.

KING: You were quiet.

VENTURA: Had to be.

KING: By the way, we recently did a show with your old friend Vince McMahon, and his WWE star. You remember Vince?


KING: I got the chance to get into the ring with Vince. Watch this and envy, envy, envy this.




VENTURA: Wow. I'm impressed, Larry.

KING: Are you impressed?

VENTURA: I am impressed. I tell you. Especially, you are not a young guy anymore.

KING: That was one of the highlight moments.

VENTURA: To be doing moves like that. How did your back feel after that?

KING: Still hurts. Anyway, I'm going to take a break. When we come back, a top political panel will join us and we'll get what they think about Jesse and Jesse thinks about what is going on. You think Jesse should be running for president? Still time to vote at He is not going anywhere. Don't you either. We'll be right back.


KING: Former Governor Jesse Ventura, author of "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me," remains with us. Joining us now, our political panel, in Washington, Amy Holmes, CNN political analyst and Republican strategist. Also in Washington, Kevin Madden, former Romney spokesperson, Republican strategist.

In New York, Lisa Caputo; she was press secretary for first lady Hillary Clinton, deputy assistant to President Bill Clinton, and is a supporter of Hillary's. And in Columbus, Ohio, David Wilhelm, former campaign manager for Bill Clinton, now a supporter for Barack Obama.

Amy, first what do you think of the Jesse Ventura candidacy, if possible?

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I certainly understand his frustration with being fed up with Washington politics. It's a perennial problem that voters see that here in Washington it's quagmire. It's fighting. Nothing ever gets done. I think Jesse Ventura's election as governor was tremendous. It was a watershed moment.

I remember that night. I remember the excitement and the thrill people had that they could get around this two-party system. We heard him saying tonight, governor, that it is likely impossible. It's unlikely. But hey, I think you are speaking to a real concern out there among American voters.

KING: Kevin Madden, what do you think? KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think there is a big difference between -- you asked the question before whether he is a cynic or pessimism? I think there is a big difference between trying to tap into cynicism out there and pessimism, versus anxiety that the American public has about the status quo.

I think if people can talk about solutions and can challenge the status quo, the way Barack Obama has and the way John McCain now seems to be gearing his campaign towards, I think people can do well. The realities will never be fit perfectly for a Jesse Ventura candidacy.

KING: You want to respond, Jesse? You laughed when he said Obama. You don't think Obama can change?

VENTURA: I think the only thing that is going to change is that your taxes are going to go up. Now let me categorize this.

MADDEN: With Obama?

HOLMES: I agree.

VENTURA: Both of them spend equally. The difference is the Republicans put it on the credit card, the national debt. The Democrats are more cash and carry. So it will be equal spending. It's just that now our taxes will go up.

HOLMES: Governor,, let me jump in. Sorry.

KING: I want to bring everyone in. Then we'll get back to you, Amy. Lisa Caputo, what are your thoughts?

LISA CAPUTO, FMR. CLINTON ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think what the governor said is very poignant. I think when you take a step back and you look at the field right now, it's clearly Senator McCain who is running on the same platform as President Bush, and wants to extend the tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

And I think that you see on the Democratic side Senators Obama and Senator Clinton not wanting to do so. I think also that the governor does tap into this desire to shake up Washington, to have people in elected office to change the way things are done.

KING: And David Wilhelm, what are your thoughts about Governor Ventura, and then we're going to talk about the whole political spectrum. David?

DAVID WILHELM, FMR CLINTON ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don't know him. I like much of what he had to say. Obviously, he speaks with an authentic and energetic voice. He taps into the very real frustration that people feel about the inside the beltway non-action.

I guess as a former Democratic party chair, I need to take some exception to the notion that there is really no difference between the two parties. I think there is actually a pretty significant difference between the two parties. Whether it is on Iraq or whether it is on economic growth policies, or whether -- a party like the one that I once led, that has been the party of civil rights and Social Security and the New Deal and winning in World War II.

I remember asking my dad, an immigrant, why we were Democrats. He said, because they stand up for the little guy. I think part of what Governor Ventura is saying, the parties have got to get back to that. The role of big money needs to be diminished. And we need to stand up for the little guy once again.

KING: Governor, wasn't the Democratic party generally regarded as the party of the little guy?

VENTURA: Yes, they might be. In the words of my buddy Charles Barkley, poor people have been voting Democrat for 50 years and they're still poor.

KING: You don't think the programs have worked?


KING: Amy, what were you going to say?

HOLMES: I was going to go to the governor's point about spending and John McCain. We has been campaigning vigorously against that spending, against this out of control spending. A lot of Republicans blame their losses in 2006 on out of control government spending. I don't think it's exactly fair to be characterizing, as David was saying, to be characterizing the Republicans and Democrats are interchangeable. John McCain -- this is a central platform for John McCain's campaign this year.

WILHELM: Well, out of control spending; let's begin with the unnecessary war in Iraq. But that's the kind of big issue that represents a fundamental difference between the two parties. And I guess that's the point I want to make. I do not believe that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between the two parties. This race is about big stuff this year.

KING: Jesse?

VENTURA: OK, now the Democrats are opposed to the war in Iraq? What about before it happened? Where was their spine then? They went along with it. They voted for it. They gave the president this carte blanche to go. And you know why they did it? Because they believed that it would be about a three-week war, gas prices would go down, and if they weren't on board, it would solidify the Republican position. They were gutless when it came to the war on Iraq.

And now, all of a sudden, at the eleventh hour, because it's gone bad now, now they're trying to tell us they didn't support it. The Democrats did too support the war in Iraq.

KING: Let me get a break. Hold on, we'll come back and discuss all that's going on. We'll get the opinions of everybody.


KING: Jesse Ventura and the panel are assembled. Jesse, do you think it's fair that these college kids have been asking Chelsea Clinton about Monica Lewinsky?

VENTURA: No. I think it is completely off base. It has nothing to do with governing. I find it very interesting, Larry, that we actually impeached President Clinton for cheating on his wife and lying about it. But going to war on lies is not impeachable. That just boggles my mind.

KING: Do you see hypocrisy there, Amy?

HOLMES: No, I think they are very separate issues. Getting back to the point of Chelsea being asked these questions by college students; I'm surprised it hasn't happened sooner. College kids are a tough crowd. The fact that she's been to 70 campuses and only recently has been asked about this.

I thought that her response to it was not wise. When she said that it's none of your business; Bill Clinton's impeachment was everybody's business. It dragged this country through a terrible crisis.

I thought that Hillary's (sic) answer, unfortunately, opened the door for her to continue to being asked that question.

VENTURA: What crisis?

KING: Lisa?

CAPUTO: Can I interject respectfully to Amy. I just wholeheartedly disagree with that. I think it is honestly shortsighted. You know, I was there -- back in the White House when we talked to the press about the privacy around Chelsea Clinton. It is a great, I think, untold success of the relationship between the media and Chelsea Clinton, in the fact that they by and large let Chelsea Clinton lead a normal life, as normal a life as possible in the spotlight. But they have respected her zone of privacy, which was her parents' wishes.

If I may, to ask her about the Monica Lewinsky situation, which is not relevant to this election -- I think she had every right to say what she said. It is personal. It is a family issue.

HOLMES: Lisa, she was not being asked about her personal feelings. And she is campaigning on behalf of her mother. She is becoming --

CAPUTO: It is not an election issue.


KING: Kevin, what do you think?

MADDEN: I tend to be a realist on this, having been one of the staffers that is kind of tasked with helping out with surrogates. Governor Romney had five sons that were on the campaign trail all the time, fielding questions about the governor, about their life as a Romney son. And I used to tell these guys, you have to be prepared for every single question. Many of them will be out in left field, and many of them will be inappropriate. You have to by prepared for the inappropriate question.

What I do disagree with Amy, I think, is that I think it's perfectly within Chelsea's right to not answer it. You do have to expect those questions. I have to disagree with Lisa. Privacy issue is gone. Once you become a surrogate on the campaign for your mom, you have to expect the questions. But I do agree that she doesn't have to answer them.

KING: Before we get Jesse's response, I want David's thought. David?

WILHELM: I just think Chelsea Clinton has been one of the great assets of Senator Clinton's campaign. She has campaigned her heart out with dignity and class and I think she shows that every day on the campaign trail. I just wish Barack Obama had a daughter that age so they could go out.

KING: Why do you get so ticked?

VENTURA: I don't get ticked, Larry. How would that person feel with Romney if I was in the crowd and asked why five of his sons weren't over serving in Iraq?

MADDEN: You know what, that's a great point. Governor, that's a great point. Because you know what, that actually happened. That actually happened. And the governor answered it. The sons answered it. It doesn't matter.

VENTURA: What answer did they give? They had more important things to do, like Dick Cheney said back in Vietnam?

MADDEN: Look, we have in this -- in this country, we have a volunteer Army. We have citizens in charge of our volunteer Army.

VENTURA: Come on. Come on.

MADDEN: That's the way the system is. The question that was asked was an appropriate question, an appropriate question. They answered it appropriately. You may disagree with the answer. But they had the right to ask it. So if your point is there is somehow -- that just because you don't agree with the answer, that doesn't make any sense.

KING: You would agree, Kevin, the governor's answer is a little weak when he said they were out working to make him president. It seemed like that was more important than serving.

MADDEN: There is always a more artful answer on a question that difficult. I think Governor Romney paid quite a political price for that answer. But the person who asked the question had the right to ask it.

KING: We've still got more time with Jesse Ventura and our panel. Don't leave us.


KING: OK, Amy Holmes, what does it look like in Pennsylvania?

HOLMES: Well, most recent polling shows that Obama is narrowing that gap between himself and Hillary Clinton. You know, most people are still betting that Hillary Clinton is going to win Pennsylvania. But I think one of the significant points about this is this is after the Jeremiah Wright fiasco, that Barack Obama has recovered. He has recuperated. We know it will be on exit polling to find out if this had any influence on the voters.

We also know that Harold Ickes, one of Hillary Clinton's campaign folks, was trying to persuade super delegates that Hillary Clinton is more electable than Barack Obama because of the Jeremiah Wright scandal, and it may be Pennsylvania proves that wrong.

KING: Lisa, how do you see Pennsylvania?

CAPUTO: I think Pennsylvania will go to Hillary Clinton. It's where a lot of her roots are. I think it is on to Indiana and North Carolina. The one thing I want to say tonight, Larry, is what you are capturing tonight is the importance of the independent voters in this election.

I think it is very interesting to see that you have Senator McCain on the right having to reintroduce himself through his biographical tour, which I think is interesting. And then you have two Democrats who are really operating with 130 delegate difference between the two of them, less than one percent, and you've got ten states left to have their votes cast.

And I think this is showing the importance of the independent voters, and who is best able to capture the people and who is best able to deal with the issues of the economy, of the sky-rocketing oil prices and gas prices.

KING: Kevin, how do you see it?

MADDEN: First, I think on Pennsylvania, the expectations game couldn't be set up better for Barack Obama. A couple weeks ago, we saw Hillary Clinton with a 20-point lead. That's beginning to narrow.

As they begin to pour more money into ads in places like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, we're going to see it get closer. If it becomes close enough that Barack Obama can win a moral victory, even though he doesn't win the state, it will be interesting to see. Lisa is absolutely right; 2008 is about the return of the swing voter, the independent voter.

KING: David, how do you see it before a final comment from Jesse. David?

WILHELM: Well, Barack Obama is going to be on the sixth day of a six-day bus tour through Pennsylvania. He has had a great two weeks. He is speaking out on issues that matter to middle-class families. I agree too.

I think the great promise of Barack Obama's campaign is that he is the candidate in this race that best speaks to the frustration that Jesse Ventura spoke to tonight. To break the gridlock, bring us together, that's Barack Obama's candidacy.

KING: Thank you, David Wilhelm. What should the super delegates do, Jesse? Follow the electorate --

VENTURA: Well, of course they should. You have to remember, Larry, I am not part of those two fiasco party. I don't know what they should do.

KING: Who is going to win Pennsylvania?

VENTURA: I don't know. Like I said, I would like to challenge these four people, would they dare put none of the above on the ballot, to see how many votes that would get.

HOLMES: In the Democratic primary, absolutely.

KING: They would go for it immediately.

VENTURA: No, an open election, put none of the above on there and watch it win.

KING: Do you think none of the above would win?

VENTURA: I think it would a much higher percentage than what these people would give it credit for. It would be much, much higher.

KING: Thank you all very much. We're going to do this again. Amy Holmes, Ken Madden, Lisa Caputo and David Wilhelm and Jesse Ventura. "Don't Start the Revolution Without Me" is Jesse's back. Much success with it, Jesse. Come back soon.

VENTURA: I will.

KING: Should Jesse Ventura run for president? Still time to cast your vote at Right now, get this, 85 percent say yes.

VENTURA: What did I tell you, Larry?

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Tomorrow, Jenny McCarthy and the puzzle of autism; can the mystery surrounding this troubling condition be solved? Hopefully some answers tomorrow night.

Answers now from Anderson Cooper and "AC 360" -- Anderson.