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CNN Larry King Live

Carville vs. Richardson: Whose Candidate Can Come Out on Top?; First Lady and First Daughter Discuss New Children's Book

Aired April 23, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, showdown -- die-hard Hillary Clinton backer James Carville versus Barack Obama's supporter, Governor Bill Richardson. Once allies serving Bill Clinton, now politically split. They tangle one-on-one for the first time since Richardson did this...

GOV. BILL RICHARDSON (D), NEW MEXICO: endorse your candidacy for president.


KING: And Carville compared him to Judas.


JAMES CARVILLE, CLINTON SUPPORTER: I thought it was an appropriate metaphor.


KING: Plus, First Lady Laura Bush and daughter Jenna on their new book. The corporate wedding (ph), the presidential race, Chelsea and more, right now, on LARRY KING LIVE.

We're in Washington.

With us in the nation's capital is James Carville, the CNN political contributor, Democratic strategist and supporter of Hillary Clinton.

And in Santa Fe, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico, the Democrat who served as Energy secretary and U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President Clinton, a supporter of Barack Obama.

By the way, have you guys spoken at all?


KING: Not since then?


KING: OK. We'll take it -- let's go back a little. Bill Richardson endorsed, surprisingly, Barack Obama for the presidency. And James Carville called Richardson a Judas for doing that.

Now, it's been a few weeks. How do you feel?

CARVILLE: Well, I said it. I was quoted back in -- you know, it was quoted in context. I thought it was an appropriate metaphor and that, you know, but it's all been bared out and everybody has had their say.

KING: But you meant it?



CARVILLE: I mean, I said it was -- but if it would have been the Fourth of July, I would have said Benedict Arnold.

KING: OK. I got you.

CARVILLE: But, yes. Yes, no.

KING: How did you react to it, Governor?

RICHARDSON: Well, I said I wasn't going to respond and get in the gutter. I feel very strongly this is typical of the reaction of many of the Clinton supporters. They feel that they're a dynasty, they're clinging to the throne. Anybody that disrupts that dynasty or challenges it -- I ran against Senator Clinton. I served with President Clinton, very honorably. And I'm grateful to him.

But, you know, I had a larger loyalty to the country, to doing what's right for America. I think Obama is the candidate who can bring us together.

So it's typical of the negativity that the Clintons right now are using against Senator Obama. And I think it's wrong. It's going to divide up the party.


RICHARDSON: This debate should be about the war in Iraq, this horrendous energy policy that we have, universal health care, education...


RICHARDSON:, technology...

KING: Hold it a second, Governor. If what the governor is saying is if that is in his heart -- it was obviously in the heart of Robert Reich, what do they do but support who they support?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, I have never criticized any other Obama supporter. I have many dear friends that support Senator Obama. That's a charge that they've made. As I said, representations were made to people. I thought it was a unique situation. It required a response. I think I gave it the appropriate response and I've said what I had to say. And I don't take a word of it back.

KING: So, other -- wait. Other people can support him, but Bill Richardson was out of the line...

CARVILLE: Again, it was -- again, I don't name names that representations were made to. I've said -- I've had my say on it. I said what I said. I'm in it. And I think the more important thing is, is what's going to happen in here Indiana and what's going to happen in North Carolina. He has his opinions and I have mine. I said it and was quoted accurately. I was quoted in context. I don't take a word of it back.

KING: All right. One of the things said, Governor, that we ought to clear up is had you said -- told people that you were going endorse Senator Clinton?

RICHARDSON: No. I was close to endorsing Senator Clinton after President Clinton visited me in Santa Fe to watch the Super Bowl. He's a very persuasive guy.

But the more we got into the campaign, it really bothered me, that 3:00 a.m. phone call, implying that Senator Obama was not experienced. That's wrong. This man can face dictators. I've faced dictators. He can lead our foreign policy. He has a judgment and temperament to move forward.

I felt, as the campaign moved on, that Obama had a special quality of being able to bring the country together. And I felt my loyalty wasn't to my past and who appointed me, but my loyalty was to the country, who can bring this country together, who can internationally send a message that America is going to stand on moral standards and change our climate change policy and be a beacon of hope and human rights around the world. I think that's Obama.

KING: Are you -- "The New York Times" today criticized your candidate in strong terms. They said: "This campaign in Pennsylvania was even meaner, more vacuous, more desperate and more filled with pandering than the mean, vacuous, desperate pander-filled contests that preceded it."

CARVILLE: Well, first of all...

KING: Was she out of line in Pennsylvania?

CARVILLE: Well, of course -- again, I'm reading from Monday's "Washington Post," Dan Balz, who probably knows more about politics than everybody in "The New York Times" editorial board put together: "Since Wednesday's debates in Philadelphia and Ohio, Obama has steadily escalated his rhetorical attacks. He's questioned whether she's honest and trustworthy and cast her as a practitioner of old- style special interest politics."

What we need to do is stop whining and stop this namby-pambyism. I'm going to a thousand percent for Senator Obama if he's the nominee. But all they do is -- they -- we offered to pay for a primary in Michigan or to pay for a primary in Florida. They ran away from that. He's running away from a debate in North Carolina right now, running away from a debate in Indiana.

And I think it's opposed to what pundits and politicians think of each other or surrogates think of each other. I think it's very important that these candidates go out and continue to debate. And if somebody wants to ask Senator Clinton about that or Senator Obama wants to confront her, go ahead and do that.

But you can't -- my problem is, is that when you're running for presidency, you've got to run two things. And it's a very, very tough job. And you just can't -- you can't keep running away. And "The New York Times" editorial boards -- bless their hearts, they're all well- meaning people -- they don't know anything about politics.

KING: Governor, do you think the senator was out of line in Pennsylvania, Clinton?

RICHARDSON: Yes. Well, I think she was too negative. It really bothered me, those ads about Osama bin Laden, 9/11 and then implying that Senator Obama doesn't have the experience. These are very, very strong ammunition for the Republicans in the general election. The debate should be on the issues. It should be about who can bring the country together.

So my concern right now is that we're going to go into the Democratic convention with a candidate, Senator Obama, that is ahead in the popular vote. He's ahead with delegates. He's won twice as many states. He can show he can win among Independents. He has won battleground states like Kansas, like Colorado. He's going to win in Oregon, I believe, and in Indiana and North Carolina.

Yet, you know, there's this, as I said, clinging to the throne. You know, we're America. We're not Monaco.

KING: OK, I want to...

RICHARDSON: You know, this country has had enough...


KING: I want to...

RICHARDSON: ...with families running...

KING: Hold one second.

RICHARDSON: ...the country.

KING: Hold on one second, Governor.

I want James to respond to that.

CARVILLE: I just...

KING: But we're going to take a break.

Round two, Carville versus Richardson, next on LARRY KING LIVE. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: We're back with James Carville and Governor Richardson.

The governor is saying, James, that your candidate, Senator Clinton, is acting as if she's entitled to the throne.

CARVILLE: I don't know how to address that kind of idiocy, but let me try.

The people are voting. There's no -- it's not like somebody is sitting here -- and, by the way, they voted in Pennsylvania. They're going to vote in Indiana. They're going to vote in North Carolina. And as opposed to this kind of vacuous kind of comment, why don't he encourage his candidate, Senator Obama, go to debate. And as opposed to he and I sitting here and doing this, let Senator Obama and Senator Clinton sit (INAUDIBLE)...

KING: But they've had 20 debates.

CARVILLE: Well, why not have 21?

They had 10 million people watch the last one. It's not like anybody is saying gee, we don't want to see any more debates. I'll bet you CNN would be glad to have it.

And how many times have we had surrogate and another surrogate doing this? Why don't we have these candidates -- and you can't run from this. You're not going to be able to run from John McCain. You can't run from the thing. And all this foolishness, clinging to the throne. Like -- the last time I checked, people are out there voting and they're going to vote some more.

KING: Governor, he says it's idiotic. It's not clinging to the throne, people are voting.

RICHARDSON: Well, you know, there have been over -- as you said -- 20 debates. I was at about 10 of them. It seemed like 100 of them. So it's not as if one more debate is going the make a terrible difference.

But I say why do we now have to change the rules and say that Florida and Michigan where, when I was running, we all decided that weren't going the participate in those two. Then all of a sudden now, when Senator Obama in one of those state hasn't even been on the ballot, you want to count the delegates there. You can't change the rules. And this is what I'm saying about the Clinton campaign.

CARVILLE: I never...

RICHARDSON: They're changing the rules. They want to bring in Florida and Michigan all of a sudden and count them. They're basically saying that Senator Obama is -- can't win in November, when he is, obviously, the strongest general election candidate winning battleground states and his message with Independents.

And now, all of a sudden, the presidency is slipping away and they'll do anything to keep it.

CARVILLE: You know, maybe the governor was vacation and not taking phone calls when myself and Governor Rendell and Governor Corzine offered to pay for a revote in Florida and Michigan.

And, by the way, I would point out, of people actually voting, Senator Clinton leads the popular vote. People did go vote in Florida. They did go vote in Michigan. If you don't want to count the delegates after they voted.

But we said...

RICHARDSON: That is false.

CARVILLE: Excuse me. Governor...

RICHARDSON: That is totally false.

CARVILLE: Governor, I don't...

RICHARDSON: How can you say, when they didn't participate, James?

CARVILLE: Governor, I...

RICHARDSON: How could you say that?

CARVILLE: Honestly, sir...

RICHARDSON: That is lunacy.

CARVILLE: I have not interrupted you.

RICHARDSON: That is lunacy.

CARVILLE: Sir, I have not interrupted you.

RICHARDSON: All right. Go ahead.

CARVILLE: I have not interrupted you.

KING: All right. One at a time. Go ahead.

CARVILLE: Right. So maybe he was on vacation not taking phone calls. We offered to pay for it -- to have a vote in Florida and Michigan. We got -- we've got nine percent of the Democrats in this country live in Florida and Michigan. They did go vote. Now you may not want to cost the delegates (ph), but please don't offer to me that Senator Obama won the popular -- is winning the popular vote, because he's not.

And what we need to do is -- and I agree with Senator Obama. I think he made a very good point. Indiana's the tiebreaker. And I think that if Senator Obama wins North Carolina and wins Indiana, it's going to put him in a very good position in this race. But we've got to let these people vote. We've got to stay -- there's nobody clinging to any throne here. There's none of this. People are out there voting and I say let them vote. Let's debate. Let's have a race here.

We had a record turnout in Pennsylvania. People were not turned off, no matter what Gail Collins might think, of sitting up on 42nd Street or wherever that operation is.

People are out there voting. They want to participate. The same thing is true in North Carolina. The same thing is true in Indiana. They want to see these candidates.

KING: Bill, do you disagree with that?

RICHARDSON: Well, absolutely not.

Have I said that Senator Clinton should drop out?

She shouldn't. My point is that you've got nine primaries to go, that it's important for the Democratic Party to, at the end of June 3, when these primaries are over, to see who is ahead in the popular vote. And I don't know how James is coming up with them being ahead with the popular vote.

Secondly, who's got the most delegates? Who has won twice as many states? Who has won battleground states? Who is doing better among Independents?

I mean, it -- I think, to me, it's very clear that the worst thing we can do is continue this negativity, this backbiting, this negative ads, all the way to August, when we will have a Democratic convention and give John McCain, literally, six months of a honeymoon with the American people, of going into California and going after our states, of raising funds, of developing issues. And we're locked up in this bitter battle at a time when I think the -- the ending is fairly clear, that Senator Clinton is going to need 70 percent -- 70 percent of all future delegate votes to even come close. That's not going to happen.

KING: Has he got a point?

CARVILLE: I agree with Senator Obama. I think Indiana is the tiebreaker.

Let me point out, this is this morning's paper, Jonathan Weisman, in "The Washington Post," who, I think, knows a little bit more about American politics than, say, Gail Collins, the editorial -- editorialist at "The New York Times". "Unable again to score a knockout point, Senator Barack Obama is likely to make his new negative tone even more negative."

Now, that's fine. I mean, you know, the point is two people are running for the presidency of the United States. There might be some differences. There might be some differences in approaches. Now, I think it's important -- and I've said this from day one. If Senator Obama is the nominee, I'm going to write him a check for the maximum amount. I'm going to be totally supportive.

But I don't think it's smart to send your lobbyist to Lansing and try to undo the fact that the Michigan legislature wanted to have a revote. The same thing in Florida. I don't think it's smart to run away from a debate in North Carolina and Indiana. I think we've got to run to these things, as a party, let the country see the two of them as opposed to us surrogates. And I think that's very important.

KING: Governor Richardson, where is he wrong?

RICHARDSON: Well, look, if Senator Obama wants to be in this debate, he should do it. We've got nine primaries to go.

I'm for all of them happening. I haven't called on Senator Clinton to withdraw. She deserves credit for her victory in Pennsylvania.

But, you know, the reality there, she had Governor Rendell. She has family roots there. Independents couldn't vote. She still deserves that victory.

My point is that I think I agree with James, Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon. But my point is that if it's decisive in those states, then I believe the time has come for the party to rally around a nominee.


RICHARDSON: And my sense is that...


RICHARDSON: And my sense is that you guys want to drag it on and keep going to the convention.

KING: All right, I'll tell you what...

RICHARDSON: ...and hope that superdelegates change their minds.

KING: Let me get a break...


KING: Let's spend a...

CARVILLE: I think we're forgetting -- I just want to -- I have a lot of good friends in Kentucky and West Virginia and Puerto Rico. I mean, I know we'd like to X them out like Florida and Michigan, but I think we ought to count them, too.

KING: Let's spend a couple more minutes with our two twosomes, right after this.


KING: Governor Richardson, do you expect a lot of negativism in the next couple of weeks?

RICHARDSON: Well, I do. And that's regrettable, because I think what Senator Obama brings is a message of hope and opportunity and how he wants to deal with the problems affecting the country, how he wants to get out of the war, how he wants to have a renewable energy policy, how he wants to have universal health care.

And I'm afraid the debates are going to be, you know, some more Osama bin Laden ads, some more ads that basically think and say that he's inexperienced. And he isn't.

I've gone head-to-head with dictators. I've been in foreign policy. This guy has the temperament, the intelligence, the skills, the experience to deal with America's toughest challenges internationally.

KING: Do you think...

RICHARDSON: And I just think it's an argument, furthermore, that feeds into Senator McCain in a general election.

KING: Has he got a point...

RICHARDSON: And he's going to use that in...

KING: Has he got a point there, James?

CARVILLE: Well, first of all, again, as I repeat, in my day (ph), Obama steadily increases rhetorical attacks. He has questioned whether she is honest and trustworthy and cast as a practitioner of old-style special interest politics."

I think the best thing could happen here is for -- at some point -- for Governor Richardson and myself to exit and have Senator Clinton and Senator Obama take center stage in the form of debate.

And that way, as opposed to whining about negative commercials, as opposed to whining about this or that, let the two of them have a debate. Let them explain their positions. Let them say what's coming and -- because these are the real people that we want to hear from.

You know, Democrats keep this race open. It's not us. It's the Democrats out there who are voting. It's the Democrats of Pennsylvania that said let this thing go on, let's hear from these candidates, let them sit up there, let them stand for what they believe in. If they have a problem with one of them, don't go hiding underneath "The New York Times" editorial writers...

KING: Let's...

CARVILLE: Come out and do it...

KING: What's -- the governor's point... CARVILLE: ...and go at each other.

KING: What's more to learn, Jim?

After 20 debates, what are you going to learn in Debate Number 21?

CARVILLE: Well, we learned -- you know what?

We learned a lot. We learned a lot in the ABC debate. We've learned a lot in these CNN debates. The situation is changing. You know, the world changes.

And why not -- why have surrogates out there? Why be whining about this TV spot said this, that Osama bin Laden is an issue in the race? Why not let these candidates come -- let them debate, let them discuss. Ten million people watched it. The public is not tired of this. The public wants to hear it.

KING: Governor, would you advise your candidate to debate?

RICHARDSON: He's done over 20 debates. You know, if he's going to go to another debate where all he's going to be is attacked, I probably would advise not to do it. I'm not sure you're going to learn much in another debate. I mean we've got these candidates that have been campaigning for at least -- almost two years. The American people know them well.

And the time has come, I believe, for Democrats to come together. We've got two good candidates. But this negativity, this sniping -- and I agree. I'll go off the stage with Carville and not do anything anymore. You invited me, Larry. And I, you know, I love your show.

But my point here is the time has come for this bloodletting to end and for us to have a nominee because we need to win the presidency to change this country.

KING: Is he right, James?

RICHARDSON: And we were heading toward the presidency. And right now, you know, John McCain is just laughing at all of us, including probably laughing at this program and how we're just backbiting each other.

CARVILLE: Look, I don't -- all of the whining -- the Obama campaign doesn't want to run in Florida. They don't want to run in Michigan. They want to run from the debate. Then he questions whether -- and I'm quitting -- "she is honest and trustworthy and casts her as a practitioner of old-style special interest politics."

I don't whine about that, but I point it out. And I think it's important to point out what's going on here.

And, again, I come back to -- the thing is, if they have all of this problem and they have all these people, why in the world don't we just sit on the stage and let them the two of them do it? I'm fine. I love being on your show. I'll debate anybody, any time, any place. But it really doesn't matter what James Carville thinks, or, for that matter, what Governor Richardson thinks. It matters what these two candidates think.

And the party decided. People in Pennsylvania said we want this thing to go on. And the people in Indiana will decide.


CARVILLE: And whatever they decide...

KING: All right...

CARVILLE: ...I'm going to be for it.

KING: I've got a panel right behind me.

Governor, thanks very much.

Governor Bill Richardson, thanks for joining us.

James Carville will remain. He'll join a panel of others as we get back with more debate, right after this.


KING: We're back.

Now our panel is assembled.

James Carville remains.

Joining us is Jamal Simmons, Democratic strategist; Paul Begala, CNN political contributor, a supporter of Hillary Clinton; and good to have Robert Wexler, the congressman from Florida.

Robert Wexler -- my mic fell.


KING: OK. We'll find our mike in a minute.


KING: Remember our mike (INAUDIBLE).

What did you make of that previous episode, Congressman Wexler?

REP. ROBERT WEXLER (D), FLORIDA: I think what's important in the Democratic Party...

KING: Go ahead

WEXLER: What's important in the Democratic Party is that we remember we have a luxury of riches. We have two phenomenal candidates for president. Some of us support Senator Obama, some of us support Senator Clinton. We're in the middle of a heated battle. We need to pick the candidate that wins the most pledged delegates. And when we do that, we need to unite.

And we're going to unite about -- around the platform of health care, of bringing our troops home responsibly from Iraq. We're going to do things for middle class and working Americans. And that's what we need to focus on. That's what Democrats and Independents and disaffected Republicans across the nation want us to do.

KING: Paul, has your candidate still got a shot?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR, SUPPORTS CLINTON: Oh, absolutely. She's just -- she's won four out of the last five primaries. She went to Pennsylvania. She won by 10 points. And, you know, she had a very formidable opponent. Barack drew 35,000 people in Philadelphia. He spent $11 million on television. And he went at her very hard.

Well, she won. So she's definitely got a shot. I think superdelegates are taking a breath now and they're taking a look.

If you actually look at all the voters, the Democrats who have cast a vote, she's got more votes than anybody else, including Senator Obama.

KING: Jamal.


KING: Has he got a point?

SIMMONS: Well, Senator Clinton also had the governor of the state. She had the mayors of the major cities. She campaigned for a long time in that state. President Clinton had been in that state for a long time. There's a lot of fondness.

And what I think is going on here is you've got a big section of Democratic Party that has a fondness for Hillary Clinton. You've got a large section of the Democratic Party that has a fondness for Barack Obama. But there are more of them than there are the ones who are for Hillary Clinton.

At the end of the day, we've got to see who has the most delegates. That's the rule book that we are all playing under. And right now, Barack Obama is winning under those rules.

KING: Jim, frankly, isn't superdelegates undemocratic?

CARVILLE: Hey, I am not a big fan. Paul is -- has a much more articulate critique of the superdelegates or whatever it is. But what is Democratic is to go on and have these primaries and let's see what happened.

I completely agree with Senator Obama. I think Indiana's a tie breaker. I think it's going to be very difficult for Senator Clinton if she loses both in Indiana and North Carolina. I said the same thing about Ohio. I said the same thing about Texas. I said the same thing about Pennsylvania. think she has to keep pressing the bet, doubling down.

If she wins in Indiana, it's going to cause some people to turn up and look around. I think it's a very important contest. Let's get through that contest. Let's see where we are. I agree with the Congressman Wexler, we have an embarrassment of riches. I have said this a thousand times; whoever's the nominee, I'll be 1000 percent for him.

I have a check made out to Senator Obama that's undated, if he is the nominee. I hope I don't have to put a date on it. I may be able to give him a check.

It's important that we hear from these voters. I do think, as I said earlier, that we should have debates and we should get the surrogates out of the way and let the main actors get on stage and do this.

KING: Congressman, you think you can go to Denver with a brokered convention?

WEXLER: I think all of the super delegates understand that that's recipe for disaster. My Democratic colleagues that I spoke with today share much of the sentiment that's been expressed here. Let the people vote. Let's have Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, have their say, and then the candidate, he or she, who has the most pledged delegates needs to be the candidate that the party rallies behind.

KING: Paul?

BEGALA: Super delegates do exist. I don't like them. James is right. It's a house of lords. With all respect to Robert Wexler, who is a congressman and a super delegate, I don't like that system. I don't like anything that's anti-Democratic. I also don't like the proportional system.

I think it should be winner take all the way the electoral college is. Instead, the Democratic party has now organized their party like five-year-old t-ball. sally gets a trophy and Jimmy gets a trophy and Timmy gets -- no, it should be like the World Series, winner take all. It's tough, but that's life.

Life is winner take all. You know, that's how the Republicans organized theirs, and they nominated their strongest candidate.

KING: Are we going to have conclusion, Jamal, before Denver?

SIMMONS: I'm pretty sure we have to. We need some time as party for everybody to heal and get over their hurt. Look, half of the party is going to lose in this campaign. Little less than half, probably, but people are going to feel a little left out. We need some time for everybody to come back together and realize that we have a common enemy, which is John McCain. That's really where our fire ought to be focused. We saw today in North Carolina the Republicans are already starting to run ads against Barack Obama. We got to get in the fight. We're sitting here arguing amongst ourselves. We have to get in the fight. I think we let this play out. It's going to go through May 6, at least, maybe June 3. Then super delegates will make a decision and we'll go ahead and get back to the real business at hand.

WEXLER: I think we also need to put Pennsylvania in context. As we're counting the votes today, finally, it seems that Senator Clinton, because of Pennsylvania, will pick up, eight, nine or 10 pledged delegates. That still gives Senator Obama what seems to be an unsurmountable lead when you consider how many delegates pledged have been determined and how many there are left.

KING: Thank you, Bob. We'll be calling on you a lot.

Paul, always good to see you.

Jamal will remain, so will James Carville. What would a good political clash be without Republicans?

Ari Fleischer will join the fray when we come back.


KING: Jamal and James remain with us.

Joining us from White Plains is Ari Fleischer. He was White House press secretary for President Bush. He is a supporter of John McCain.

Is all of this helping your candidate?

ARI FLEISCHER, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: You bet it is. You know, to hear James Carville talk idiocy of Bill Richardson, and have Bill Richardson trash Bill and Hillary Clinton is, especially short term, music to Republicans' ears. Long-term, the Democrats eventually will coalesce. The general election is going to be a tough one because the environment is so tough.

But the Democrats have a wonderful ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They're on their way to doing that. They're really exposing fissures within the party, particularly for Barack Obama, who I still think will be the nominee. He's going to have a very hard time getting over the areas that Hillary Clinton defeated him in Pennsylvania, particularly with white voters and Catholics voters, are going to be enduring problems for Barack Obama all fall.

KING: James?

CARVILLE: First of all, the question is the idea that somehow anybody's clinging to a throne is idiocy. (INAUDIBLE) I would also point out to Mr. Fleischer right now his boss, President Bush, has his lowest rating of any president in 70 years, and people in this country really want change. We have two very talented Democrats that are running. Had we had the good fortune to run against Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani or Fred Thompson, somebody would have gotten 99 percent of the vote.

Our party has two very talented people. For the first time, we're either going to have an African-American nominee or a woman nominee. I'm very proud of my party for that. But you're right, Democrats, and this is something worth doing, we'll unite.

We'll take into the general election a message of change. We'll win in November. I understand that the Republicans are sort of counting on this, but we're going to all be together.

KING: Ari's right. You're being hurt?

SIMMONS: It's interesting, I did a radio show today for Michael Baisden. I sat there and listened to calls for 20 minutes. And for 20 minutes, African-America callers calling in saying things about the Clintons I have never heard African Americans say. It was really kind of shocking to me.


SIMMONS: Knocking them. People felt like they had been used. I think there's some merit there. I think most voters are going to come back together after this process is over. They'll realize that, in fact, we're better off with a Democrat in the White House next January than we are with a Republican.

KING: We're running close on time here. I have the first lady and her daughter coming up in a couple of minutes.

Ari, do you see November now, when they get all together, as very close.

FLEISCHER: Yes, absolutely. It will be very close. Republicans are fortunate to have John McCain, who has such an appeal to Independents. The Democrat's problem is they're going to largely unite. They won't entirely unite.

What Pennsylvania showed, Larry, is 25 percent of Hillary Clinton's supporters won't vote for Barack Obama this fall. That's what they said in last night's exit polls. I would say half of that is disgruntlement of the moment. Even so, that's an unusually high percentage of Democratic defection away from Obama.

Obama has his own share of problems with Independents in this country because of polarizing things that he has been a part of that have turned him off to a lot of independent voters. So in a bad year for Republicans, there's a lot of hope for John McCain.

SIMMONS: Larry, last night in Pennsylvania, there were actually over 20 percent of voters who voted against John McCain last night. Ron Paul and Huckabee still got in the 20s combined. There are Republicans who are not so thrilled with John McCain. He has some work to do on his right flank to bring that party back together too. Let's not let him completely off the hook.

KING: Does Ari have a good point, James? CARVILLE: It's a Republican point. It's what they've got left. They have a horrendous economy. They have a horrendous war going on. They got about everything going wrong they can. They're saying, gee, maybe the Democrats might destroy each other. I don't think that's going to happen. I think we're going to go through this. I agree with Senator Obama, that Indiana's the decisive battle.

The winner of Indiana will end up being the Democratic nominee. I think it will send a very strong signal. Whatever that is, or whatever that verdict is, I think we can live with it, accept it and unite.

KING: Ari, before I let you go, who do you think McCain's running mate might be?

FLEISCHER: No idea, Larry. I think that's wide open issue. I don't think he knows yet at this stage, either.

KING: You don't have a thought in mind? More people mentioning Mitt Romney now?

FLEISCHER: I'm a believer that this comes down to the people at the top of the ticket. Whoever he picks as vice president, actually in both parties, it doesn't really deliver votes in the modern media age. People always vote for the person at the top. John Edwards didn't deliver North Carolina for John Kerry. This all comes down to leadership and the person at the top, not the number two spot.

KING: Thanks, James Carville, for a sprightly beginning here tonight. Jamal Simmons and Ari Fleischer.

Laura and Jenna Bush are here. Wedding talk after the break.


KING: Great pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE a return visit for Jenna Bush and an often-return visit for a multifaceted guest, Laura Bush, who's been on this program many times.

They are the co-authors of a terrific new book, "Read All About It." There you see its cover, illustrated by Denise Brunkus. By the way, terrific illustrations. A children's book co-authored by the first lady and her daughter. And we'll talk a lot about that book in a moment.

Are you glad that it's ending now, politics?

LAURA BUSH, FIRST LADY: The book tour?

It's just beginning.

KING: Politics, going to go home?

L. BUSH: Well, sure, in some ways. I mean, it's bittersweet, really. We're going to work up until the very end. As George said, we'll sprint to the finish. And we still have a number of months left, and then we'll move back to Texas. So --

KING: And for you, it's getting married, right?


KING: No "sir."

J. BUSH: Getting married. Yes, I'm getting married in a couple of weeks, which will be fun, but in between now and then we have a book tour, which we've just started off, and it's been a lot of fun and a lot work. Today we had our first book event. And it's cool, this one, really fun for us, because it's a lot of young --

KING: Book event, meaning?

L. BUSH: Signing.

J. BUSH: Signing.

KING: Signing.

J. BUSH: Book signing.

L. BUSH: At a book store.

J. BUSH: At a book store, where also one of the great things about HarperCollins that I got to do in "Ana's Story" and now with "Read All About It" is go to schools. So we're all three touring --

KING: I want to talk a lot about it, but just cover a couple other bases.


KING: Why did you decide not to get married in the White House?

J. BUSH: Well, I've never really lived in the White House. I was 18 when my dad was elected president, so I was living in Austin, Texas. And I lived in Texas my whole life. And so really what feels like home is Texas.

And, you know, I think it's an honor and I think the White House is a historical, beautiful building, of course, and place, but I wanted to have something more private and something that fit my personality a little bit more, which, as unglamorous as it is --

KING: So where will it be?

J. BUSH: It'll be in Crawford.

KING: Oh, at the ranch?

J. BUSH: At the ranch. L. BUSH: At the ranch.

KING: Big wedding?

J. BUSH: Outdoors, very small wedding, you know, very small, all relatives, our families, really, kind of big. So it's half-family and then half-very close friends.

KING: Laura, has it been difficult putting up with all the flack that your husband has taken? And, you know, low polls, is it tough for you emotionally?

L. BUSH: Well, in some ways, of course, because I want George to be popular. But on the other hand, I know that he does what he thinks is right for our country and that he doesn't think he should try to be popular, that that's the easy way out.

But I also know -- and I've been watching the campaign, just like everybody else has, and it's been great theater -- that he takes a huge pounding from the other candidates, not all of them, not my candidate, John McCain, but I think that is -- that's demoralizing to me. I don't like that.

And for people who are running for this very office, I think it's sort of a good thing for them to think about --

KING: You don't like the way the Clinton-Obama campaign has been run, you mean?

L. BUSH: No, no, the way they talk about the president.


L. BUSH: For somebody who wants to be the president, I think maybe it's a good idea not to talk about the president that way. But anyway, that's my advice to them.

KING: Do you watch that race? Did you watch the Pennsylvania results yesterday?

L. BUSH: Sure, last night, we had book events and we came home late and turned on the television. We were in New York last night to see who had won. I mean, I don't watch a lot of it, but whenever I have a chance I'll turn it on and see what's happening.

KING: Do you have a favorite between the two, the two Democrats?

L. BUSH: My favorite is the Republican.


KING: Yours, too, I would imagine.

J. BUSH: I don't know.

KING: A-ha. J. BUSH: But, I mean, you know --

KING: Are you open to --

J. BUSH: Yes, of course. I mean, who isn't open to learning about the candidates? But, I mean, and I'm sure everybody is like that. But I really -- I honestly have been too busy with books to really pay that much attention.

KING: One other thing and then we'll get into the book. The Pope.

L. BUSH: Oh, that was a wonderful visit. He was such a --


L. BUSH: -- is such a lovely and gentle man. And it was really great. First, Jenna got to go with us when we went out to welcome him at Andrews Air Force Base. And he just is so loving and so lovely to be with. I mean, you really want to be with him, because he's such a gentle person.

KING: Your brother-in-law, Jeb, is a converted Catholic, right?

L. BUSH: That's right, Jeb is a Catholic. And our sister-in- law, or my sister-in-law, Dorothy, her children are Catholic because her husband is Catholic.

KING: The decision to go to Andrews, was that -- because usually you don't go to Andrews to greet someone.

L. BUSH: Yes, this is the only time we've gone to greet someone at Andrews. But, of course, I think the holy father deserves that kind of respect.

And then the next day, the program that -- the arrival ceremony that was on the lawn at the White House was, I think, very, very lovely, too. It was a thrill for us. It really was, to have that opportunity to host his holy father.

KING: Was he easy to be around?

J. BUSH: Yes, he was very -- I mean, I didn't spend that much time with him.

KING: I mean, cordial?

J. BUSH: Yes, very kind. Really kind. Very gentle and open person, I thought.

KING: Because your husband is a man of faith, so he must -- that must have been interesting to watch those two go at it?

L. BUSH: That's right. Yes, yes. Well, the two of them to talk with each other, and I think, you know, at every -- he's the certainly, the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church, is certainly a preeminent religious figure in our world.

KING: All right.

Tell me about "Read All About It." We're going to get into it -- we'll take a break and get into it. But basically give me how this idea came about.

J. BUSH: Well, I mean, it's been something we've talked about for a long time. My mom, of course, was an elementary school teacher and a children's librarian, so she is very -- always been interested in kids and children's education and children's literature. So she'd always wanted to write a children's book.

And this story is about a boy named Tyrone who is a composite on one particular student --

KING: There he is.

J. BUSH: Yes, there's Tyrone.

L. BUSH: There's Tyrone.

J. BUSH: He rules the school.

KING: How old is he?


L. BUSH: Second grade.

J. BUSH: So he's about nine or 10, eight or nine.

L. BUSH: Eight or nine.

J. BUSH: And he was a student that my mom had, who she would tell Barbara and me about.

KING: Oh, you knew Tyrone?

L. BUSH: Well, this -- Tyrone is really like a lot of students that I had --

KING: He's a composite.

L. BUSH: -- that Jenna had --

J. BUSH: But one specific, too. And she would tell us about him, and he, like all boys -- you have two boys, maybe you know this -- they want to be out playing baseball.

KING: Correct.

J. BUSH: They want to be outside. They want to be playing video games, unfortunately, now in this era. But they don't always -- they're not always attracted to reading as girls. KING: We'll take a break and come right back. The book is "Read All About It." Our guests are the first lady and her daughter. Don't go away.


KING: In writing a children's book, what is the key to not writing down?

L. BUSH: Well, I think we tried not to write down. We actually had arguments with our editors, because they wanted --

J. BUSH: We love them, though.

L. BUSH: We do, we love our editors.

But they would think that some of the words we were using were too difficult. And we didn't -- they were words you could understand in context. And both of us believed that children develop a bigger vocabulary because people use bigger words with them. And they learn those words by hearing them. So --

J. BUSH: And of course reading is a great way to develop a larger vocabulary.

KING: Is the book about reading?

J. BUSH: Yes.

L. BUSH: The book is obviously about reading and it's based -- this is based on a real class. I had the very first class I taught at Longfellow Elementary in Dallas years ago. When I read chapter books to them they would pretend the characters were in the class, that they were class members. And so that's sort of what happens in this story.

J. BUSH: It's about one boy who believed that books are so "last year" to quote from Tyrone, and that he prefers to do real things. And then of course once he starts engaging -- it's about a great teacher, too, who engages him. And, we know great teachers like that all over.

KING: Do you think kids at this age like to read it themselves or be read to?

J. BUSH: Well it depends --

L. BUSH: A little of both I think.

J. BUSH: It depends on if they're reluctant readers. I -- we both know as teachers that some kids love reading aloud hour, and some kids prefer to be independent readers.

L. BUSH: But I think everyone loves to be read to. I think we all do, even now.

KING: Books on tape.


J. BUSH: Exactly.

L. BUSH: And one of the reasons the big National Book Festival and all the book festivals around the country are so popular -- because people want to go hear their favorite author read to them. And so that -- this is a great story to read out loud. I think you'll have fun reading it.

KING: Is it? I've got one for each kid. Thank you very much.

If this book takes off, big hit, do you intend to become now authors of children's books?

L. BUSH: Well Jenny is already. This is her second book. Which is --

KING: I know. But will the two of you go on writing more?

L. BUSH: We might. We think Tyrone might have a few more stories to tell.

J. BUSH: We need to start brainstorming because this book was so fun, and natural and organic to write because it's based on all these stories that my mom would tell us about her students and -- as little girls.

KING: Do you think you might go on and do others?

J. BUSH: Yes. I hope to always continue writing. I think we would love to. It was a lot of fun to work creatively together.

KING: What does the president think of it?

L. BUSH: He thinks it's great. He thinks it's very, very great. He read it -- our first draft, last December when we just finished it, before we started working with the editors and then sent it to the illustrator. And then he read it last week when we got the first box of the first published books.

KING: And is he the type who would be honest with?

L. BUSH: He'd be very honest with us,

J. BUSH: Yes.

KING: So if he didn't like --

L. BUSH: He would be very honest, but frankly he's biased. There's no doubt it.

J. BUSH: And also, we wrote it in a way that we thought is funny and smart and it's something that parents would want to read to their kids. And we know -- I know, because he read to me when I was a little girl -- what he would find funny. And so I do think -- we knew he would like it.

KING: How did you come up with Tyrone as a name?

J. BUSH: That might be a secret.

L. BUSH: That is a secret, but --

KING: OK. The only Tyrone I've ever heard of was Tyrone Power, great actor.

L. BUSH: Well, that's right. Exactly. But I had some students named Tyrone, actually.

J. BUSH: And one in particular that might be very similar with --

L. BUSH: (INAUDIBLE) very funny. And then all the very funny names of the teachers -- the cafeteria manager is named Ms. Gravy, and science teacher is Ms. Toadscan, and you know, we had fun.

J. BUSH: We had teachers, Ms. Tonedeaf.

L. BUSH: And then the coach, Coach Smith (ph).

KING: That's great. We only have a short time left. The book is "Read All About It," Laura Bush and Jenna Bush.

Are you nervous?

J. BUSH: Am I nervous about the book? I think it's going to be very fine.

KING: No, the wedding.


KING: Are you nervous about the wedding?

J. BUSH: I'm very excited about it. No, I'm not nervous. I'm really excited. I'm ready to, you know, start our life together.

KING: Is Henry nervous?

J. BUSH: No, he's not. I mean, he -- we're really haven't had time to be nervous. But you know, I think if we were really nervous, maybe we shouldn't be getting married.

KING: Do you like Henry?

L. BUSH: I like Henry a lot. Really, a whole lot.

KING: The president likes him?

L. BUSH: Very much. He likes him. He likes to ride bikes with him and fish with him. So George is really thrilled --

J. BUSH: Everything he's ever dreamed of.

L. BUSH: -- a son-in-law who could do that.

KING: Honeymoon where?

J. BUSH: Oh, I don't -- right now, you know, we get married and then we continue the book tour. So we don't know yet. That's not -- we -- not something we've charted out. But I do hope we, you know, take some time to relax.

KING: Do you feel a kinship with Chelsea?

J. BUSH: Yes, of course. I mean --

KING: It's a tough life.

J. BUSH: It's tough and it's amazing. I mean, the opportunities that we both had -- Chelsea's had too on the campaign trail with her mom. I mean, I saw her last night on TV, and I thought, that's a lot of fun that they get to do that together. And also, the opportunities to travel and see the world with her mother and her father. I mean, those are amazing opportunities. I do -- we're going to get together for coffee one day.

KING: You want to do that.

J. BUSH: Yes.

KING: You ought to call her.

J. BUSH: I will. She's probably a little busy right now. We'll wait.

KING: The two of you would really get along.

J. BUSH: Oh, absolutely.

KING: Congratulations on the book.

L. BUSH: Thank you so much, Larry. Thanks a lot.

J. BUSH: Thank you very much.

KING: Great seeing you. Continued good luck.

The book is "Read All About It," Laura Bush and Jenna Bush.

Want more of our show on your schedule? Go to Check out upcoming guests, send them e-mails or download our latest podcast.

This week, it's Stephen Colbert.; we never close. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will be here tomorrow night. Switching gears on Friday, Pamela Anderson and John Walsh. Hey, round about show.

Time now for Anderson Cooper and "A.C. 360" -- Anderson.