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CNN Larry King Live

Kennedy-Reagan Debate; Who Will Colin Powell Endorse?; How Race Will Affect the 2008 Presidential Election

Aired October 17, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, 18 days to go -- big questions and answers.
Is Colin Powell ready to reveal his pick for president?

Is Barack Obama slipping in the polls?

Can John McCain turn this thing around?


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will veto every single pork barrel earmark bill that comes (INAUDIBLE).


KING: Plus, Kennedy and Reagan debate -- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Michael Reagan are here, taking on the issues and each other.

Then, political pot shots.

Who brought the laughs?

Who bombed?

And live from New York, it's the real Sarah Palin.


TINA FEY: Oh, and for those Joe six-packs out there playing a drinking game at home, maverick.


KING: I said the real Sarah Palin.


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I was trying to keep Tina Fey in business.


KING: Yes, she's on "Saturday Night Live" this weekend.

Good more or a last ditch grab for attention and votes?

All right now on LARRY KING LIVE.

Let's begin in New York. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. , election and environmental attorney, a supporter of Barack Obama and coauthor of a new "Rolling Stone" article, "Block the Vote: Will the GOP's Campaign to Deter New Voters and Discard Democratic Ballots Determine the Next President?"

There you see the cover of the issue that Mr. Kennedy's article appears.

And in Los Angeles, Michael Reagan, talk radio show, "The Michael Reagan Show." And his Web site is The Reagan Exchange at, a supporter of John McCain.

Colin Powell is going on "Meet The Press" Sunday.

Is he going to endorse anyone, Robert, and, if so, who?


KING: That's simply put.

OK, Michael, what do you think?

MICHAEL REAGAN, TALK RADIO HOST, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: You know, what I think is he probably will support Barack Obama. And I think he will support Barack Obama because he's felt dissed by the Republican Party and by George Bush because of the whole thing with Iraq. And so he's felt that he has been wronged. And probably because of that, he is going to lean toward endorsing Barack Obama. That wouldn't surprise me.

KING: If that happens, Robert, how much will it mean?

KENNEDY: I think, you know, I think General Powell's very well- respected by a lot of people and that, you know, one of the issues that Republicans have used against Barack Obama is questions about his foreign policy or his military experience and that the association with Colin Powell might help there.

But I think, you know, Barack Obama is doing well on his own.

KING: All right. We're going to touch a lot of bases.

Michael, any ways you see McCain-Palin reflecting Reagan-Bush?

REAGAN: Oh, no. I mean...

KING: Not at all?

REAGAN: Not at all. I mean McCain-Palin is so much different than Reagan-Bush. It was a different time. It was a different era back in the 1980s than it is here in 2008. There's a lot more media today than there was back in 1980. Ronald Reagan's demeanor a lot different than John McCain's.

You know, he was a great storyteller, my father. So when asked a question in a debate, he could tell a great story and get his point across, where John McCain really isn't that great of a storyteller.

KING: Staying family for a minute, Robert, any way we can compare Obama to your father or your uncle?

KENNEDY: I think he's more -- I think he's very similar in his disposition to my uncle, to John Kennedy. He has the same kind of coolness and detachment. I think his deep concern for issues like justice and poverty, the passion that he has for those things is -- reminds me of my own father.


REAGAN: If I could say something...

KING: Sure.

REAGAN: I mean I've never got a chance to say this before and to thank a Kennedy. But there's a difference between Obama and John Kennedy. And one of the big differences is that Barack Obama wants to tax me.

When I was a kid, my dad used to give me a buck a week. And he told me one time that if there's a president that ever gives him a tax break, he'll give me an increase in allowance.

John Kennedy gave my dad a tax break back in the 1960s and my dad raised my allowance from $1 to $5. Barack Obama wants to take that $4 away.

KING: But he denies that.

Why do you keep saying it?


KING: Barack Obama. He said 95 percent of the public will get a tax cut.

REAGAN: Because...

KING: Why -- is he lying?

REAGAN: Yes, as a matter of fact. He's being disingenuous because about 40 percent of the public now doesn't pay taxes. So the only way you can give them a tax cut is give people money who aren't paying taxes at all. So you're going to send them a check. We normally call that welfare, when we send somebody a check.

KING: Well, it seems to me that the Republicans have done that in their history, as well, send a lot of people checks...

REAGAN: Well... KING: Haven't they?

REAGAN: Sent people checks, like who sent checks?

KING: Yes, like recently when the government had (INAUDIBLE).

REAGAN: Well, I think this bailout, I think, is outrageous, the bailout. And what I think is outrageous really about it, Larry, is the fact that -- you know, I said this to a couple of members of Congress, that within the bailout package, none of the regulations, none of the laws that were in effect that helped Congress, in fact, go this direction, or the banks go this direction, were, in fact, rescinded in the bailout bill. And I think that's outrageous.

KING: Bobby, let's discuss the article you've written in "Rolling Stone."

Allegations of -- do you fear a lot of voter fraud coming?

I know that today the Supreme Court went on your side and sided with Ohio's top election officials in a fight with the state Republican Party over voter registration. The judges overruled the lower court ruling that ordered the Ohio secretary of state to do more to help counties verify voter eligibility.

What are your concerns?

KENNEDY: Well, the voter eligibility issue really is a -- it's a sideshow, Larry. And all of this stuff that we've heard recently about ACORN falsely registering people, it's really not an issue our country. Over the past, since 2002, there's been 270 million people who have voted and there's only been 24 proven cases, across the country, of actual voter fraud.

The stuff that ACORN was involved in really was people who were working for ACORN defrauding ACORN.

You hear these stories about somebody filing 18 different registrations for the same person. Well, there's actually nothing illegal about that. You can file as many registrations as you want. It's only the last one that counts. And that, you know, they have Mickey Mouse registered or whatever.

But Mickey Mouse is not going to vote. It's really, you know, those people who are falsely registered -- it was people that ACORN hired that they were paying per registration that went to a phonebook and just copied down names or made up names and then collected their money from ACORN. But none of those people are actually going to show up and vote.

You know, David Iglesias, who was the prosecutor -- was the U.S. attorney under the Bush Justice Department for the State of New Mexico, was ordered by his boss, Alberto Gonzales, and by the Karl Rove machine in the White House to go out and prosecute voter fraud because they wanted to gin up this hysteria about it. He looked for two years. They gave him 100 names off of ACORN lists. He was not able to find a single case in New Mexico of anybody ever showing up and trying to vote twice or vote under somebody's name...

KING: All right, let me get...

KENNEDY: It's just not something that happens.

KING: Let me get a break and we'll come right back.

By the way, take part in our show now. Go to, click on our blog and tell us what you're thinking as you watch and let us know if you have any questions for our guests --

Stay with us.



SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Now let's go win this election and get this country moving again.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESUMPTIVE NOMINEE: We've got to keep fighting for every vote. We've got to keep running to the finish line. This election is too important. We can't take anything for granted.


KING: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Michael Reagan remain.

We're also joined in St. Paul, Minnesota by Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, the Republican of Minnesota, and in Washington, D.C. by Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist.

Let's get in on the Colin Powell talk.

Congresswoman Bachmann, what do you think he's going to do?

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA, SUPPORTS MCCAIN: I'm not sure, Larry. I don't know what he'll come up with this weekend. But there's a lot of talk about him coming out and making an endorsement for Barack Obama. He's a very well-respected individual and I'm sure that his endorsement will mean a lot to whoever receives it.

But I know the constituents that are being served all across America, they're -- that's the main endorsement that the candidates are looking for.

KING: Maria, what do you hear? MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, SUPPORTS OBAMA: I agree. I don't think that any of us here can really predict what Colin Powell is going to do. But there is rumor that he is thinking about endorsing Senator Obama. And if that happens, obviously, it will be great news for Senator Obama and Senator Obama's campaign.

I think it will mean that Senator Obama's message of bringing economic relief to middle class families is reaching a consensus, is reaching across party lines and is reaching many, many sectors of this electorate and bringing people together, which I think is what American voters want.

But again, we don't really know what he's going to do...


CARDONA: ...and at the end of the day, it's really the American voters who are going to say what the consensus is on November 4th.

KING: Robert, CNN's latest poll of national polls shows Obama leading McCain by 6 points. The previous poll showed 8 points. That's a 2 point difference.

Do you see anything happening here?

KENNEDY: You mean -- I don't -- I haven't seen a -- I don't think that those polls are that significant, Larry. I think the lead -- I mean I've been out on the road for Obama in the last couple of days in Colorado and New Mexico and I've seen very, very strong support. You asked about the similarities with my father. The kind of enthusiasm I see and the excitement among the crowds that I see is something I haven't seen since 1968.

You know -- and I've never seen a presidential campaign so well organized. I've never seen a campaign that is trying to reach so many people, not only in registering like, in all, over a million people that they've registered. But in the State of Colorado, I think John McCain now has 11 offices, which is the most of any presidential campaign in history. In the past, people, you know, have had offices in Colorado Springs, in Union Springs, in Boulder, in Denver. But he has 11 offices around the state.

Well, Barack Obama has 44 offices around the state. He has offices in places like Alamosa and Pueblo and Durango and places that presidential campaigns have never gone before. And he's reaching out to constituencies that Republican -- that are traditionally Republican constituencies. And he's changing people's minds. And I've just seen...

KING: Michael, what do you...

KENNEDY: know, huge crowds.

KING: Michael?

REAGAN: Yes, I think you can make the right argument, the fact that the Barack Obama campaign is a well-oiled machine, much different than the McCain campaign. But I think as you see the polls closing by the 2 percentage points is that, you know, "Joe the Plumber" is sticking somewhat to the campaign. And the answer that Barack Obama gave the other day about spreading the wealth is resonating among conservatives out there to really get out for John McCain.

I mean "Joe the Plumber" -- the reality of it is, whether you like it or not, whether he has a license or not -- asked a question that three million small business owners would ask who make over $200,000 a year -- are you going to increase my taxes?

If so, what are you going to do with the money?

And spreading the won't is not the right answer.

KING: Are you saying you think it's going to get very close?

REAGAN: It always gets close. It always does.

How many of these have we been through?

I've been through, as Bobby Kennedy has been through -- elections get close. They always get close at the end. This one, too, will get close.

KING: Maria, can your candidate get too cocky?

CARDONA: No, I don't think so. And he's made it very clear to his campaign and to all Democrats across the country that this is not the time to get cocky. In fact, this is time to double down and really continue to focus on his positive message of bringing relief to middle class voters. and I agree with Michael, that this actually is going to get closer, as it always does. But I think it's because Senator McCain has actually been underperforming so badly that he can't help but go up two or three points. And as long as Senator Obama continues to hit 49, 50, 51, I think that he will be fine.

KING: All right...

CARDONA: But again, we're not taking anything for granted.

KING: Time to...

CARDONA: And we're going to work very hard until November 4th.

KING: Congresswoman Bachmann, do you give McCain a shot?

BACHMANN: I do. Larry, the third debate was really John McCain's best. He had great moments in all three, but I think there's a wide consensus that he really performed on the third debate. And he did so because he went after Senator Obama's high tax plans. And, you know, we talked about this earlier, the fact that Senator Obama said that he's going to give tax cuts to 95 percent of the American people. It really doesn't seem plausible that 5 percent of all Americans will essentially be paying a larger bulk of the taxes. Today, Larry, 5 percent of Americans already pay 60 percent of the taxes.

So how much more will they have to share of that burden?

KING: So, the question was do you think McCain can win?

BACHMANN: I think -- I think there's a chance. It will be difficult. There's no question it will be difficult. But I think the enthusiasm is growing. And the more people question Barack Obama's propensity to, it looks like, raise taxes, the more John McCain, I think, looks positive to the American people.

KING: We'll be back in 60 seconds with a few laughs.


KING: You know, if laughter is the best medicine, the presidential candidates were writing the prescriptions last night at a New York dinner. They were actually quite funny.

Let's look at comedians McCain and Obama.


MCCAIN: We've talked about it. I told him maverick I can do, but messiah is above my pay grade.


OBAMA: Contrary to the rumors that you've heard, I was not born in a manger. I was...


OBAMA: I was actually born on Krypton and...


OBAMA: ...sent here by my father, Jor-El, to save the planet Earth.

MCCAIN: After all, it began so long ago with the heralded arrival of a man known to Oprah Winfrey as "The One." Being a friend and colleague of Barack, I just called him that one.


OBAMA: Many of you know that I got my name, Barack, from my father. What you may not know is Barack is actually Swahili for that one.


MCCAIN: You know, I had fun with the media. And we all know the press is really an independent, civic-minded and nonpartisan group... (LAUGHTER)



OBAMA: The mayor of this great city, Michael Bloomberg, is here. The mayor recently announced some news -- made some news by announcing he's going to be rewriting the rules and running for a third term, which caused Bill Clinton to say, you can do that?



KING: Not bad.

More news of the day, when we come back.



MCCAIN: Look at all the conversations I gave you.


MCCAIN: Including...

LETTERMAN: Yes, it really was fun.

MCCAIN: ...including having Mr. Olbermann on.



LETTERMAN: But, you know, John, you called me


LETTERMAN: called me...

MCCAIN: I haven't had so much fun since my last interrogation.

LETTERMAN: You called...


KING: That was John McCain on Letterman last night. He was making up for canceling on Dave last month.

The senator cancelled an interview with me, too. He said he'd reschedule before the election. I spoke with his campaign today and they're going to -- we'll have it -- hopefully have a date for you by Monday.

And he's going to appear with you, right?

REAGAN: On Monday.

KING: On Monday. So, I think they're going to be making a lot of rounds.

REAGAN: You think so, toward the end of the campaign?

KING: I do.

REAGAN: Always making a lot of rounds.

KING: The squirrel goes in.

All right, "The Washington Post" endorsed Obama. No big surprise. So did "The L.A. Times" and the "Chicago Tribune" -- the first time they've endorsed a Democrat for president.

What do you -- is this -- what do make of all this, Robert?

KENNEDY: I think he's -- I think he's inspired a lot of people. And I think, you know, I respect -- I respect Senator McCain a lot. But I think that he -- for many people, he sort of represents four more years of what we've seen for the past eight, of an administration that...

REAGAN: You know I...

KENNEDY: ...that really doesn't understand the uses of power, that doesn't understand that...

KING: Michael, you don't agree with that?

REAGAN: No, I don't agree with that. You keep on hearing it. It -- you know, it's the same program, You know, you hear nothing about, you know, the Barney Franks of the world, the Christopher Dodds of the world and all these people. They're going to be there. Yes, you've got the same thing you've gotten the last two years.

People forget that the Democrats were elected in 2006, took over in 2007.

They have been in charge for the last two years and what they done?

They have done nothing. That's why they're at 9 percent.

To say that John McCain is just going to follow on with George Bush is absolutely the wrong statement to make. I just disagree with you, Bobby. I'm sorry.

KING: Do you believe, Maria, that the...

KENNEDY: Can I reply to that? KING: Yes, go ahead.

KENNEDY: Can I reply to that, Larry?

KING: Yes. Go ahead.

KENNEDY: Yes. I mean the -- what John McCain has said about foreign policy, for example, that he wants to continue in this war, it's clear that he really doesn't understand the uses of power, that the greatest power that we really have in the world is our moral authority, not using our military torture people...

REAGAN: I mean this is a man...

KENNEDY: ...eavesdropping...

REAGAN: ...who went against the president, Bobby.

KENNEDY: Let me -- let me just...

REAGAN: ...on torture.

KENNEDY: Hey, Michael...

REAGAN: On torture.

KENNEDY: Michael. Michael.

REAGAN: Moral authority (INAUDIBLE)...

KENNEDY: Michael...

REAGAN: ...Bobby. Don't talk about John McCain, not on moral authority. Here is a man for five years tortured at the Hanoi Hilton, his arms broken, he can't raise them above his shoulders. He can barely salute the American flag...

KENNEDY: Can I -- can I say something without being interrupted?

REAGAN: And I'm sorry, but at that point in time...

KING: Don't interrupt him.

REAGAN: ...Bill Ayers...


KING: He's talking about the war in Iraq.

REAGAN: ...Bill Ayers was bombing the Pentagon.

KING: He's talking about the war in Iraq.

KENNEDY: Can I be -- can I say something without being interrupted, Michael?

KING: Go ahead.

KENNEDY: John McCain originally said that he was against torture, but then he went and signed the bill -- the CIA bill -- signed off on the CIA bill that allows the CIA to continue to torture people. And, you know, I don't think that's right for America and neither does Barack Obama. We're eavesdropping on our citizens. We're -- we've suspended a habeas corpus. We're acting like the Constitution is a luxury we can no longer afford.

He was -- you know, he jokes about bombing Iran. He wants to deregulate Wall Street -- even more deregulation, which is the problem that -- you know, which is the cause of the terrible economic catastrophe that we're in right now.

So I'm not saying he is George Bush. I'm not saying there's things that he doesn't differ with George Bush on. But of the issues that are now of concern to most Americans, and really speak directly to our role in the world, I think that John McCain is not going to give us a different agenda than we received for the last eight years.

KING: OK. I want to get in one more thing, guys, because we're closing on time.

The McCain campaign has unleashed a barrage of anti-Obama robo- calls in a number of key battleground states.

Here's part of the message.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC, because you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home and killed Americans. (END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: Congresswoman Bachmann, how close has he worked with Mr. Ayers?

BACHMANN: Are you asking me how close has Senator Obama worked with Mr. Ayers?

KING: Yes, the charge they just made on that phone thing.

BACHMANN: I think that's something that the investigators need to take a look at -- the media people who know. I don't have personal knowledge of how close he's worked with Mr. Ayers. But I think what this does raise are very serious questions that Americans have about associations that Senator Obama has had. Whether it's been with William Ayers, whether it's been with Father Flager or with Jeremiah Wright or other associates that he's had, people are very concerned about these associations.

KING: We've run out...

KENNEDY: Larry, can I say one thing about that? KING: Yes, quickly.

All right.


KING: Yes.

KENNEDY: OK. You know, this is an issue that the media has completely distorted. Not only, you know, Bill Ayers is a guy who was the -- Illinois made him Man of the Year, the Illinois legislature. He's been -- he's -- but let me just say this. John McCain has had close associations with G. Gordon Liddy, who six years ago advised shooting taxpayers in the head.

Sarah Palin has spoken this year, four months ago, to the Alaska Independence Party, whose head was blown up making plastic explosives in 1993. She gave the keynote address there in 2006.

These are people who are extremely anti-American.


KENNEDY: They want to withdraw Alaska from the United States.

KING: All right, we've run through time...

KENNEDY: One (INAUDIBLE) land mass.

KING: We'll do a lot...


KING: All right, Bob, I'm going to have to cut you...


KING: Because we've run through time. Because I've got a time constraint.

Race -- is it a legitimate issue in the campaign or a distraction?

We thank all of our guests.

They'll all be back with us.

We'll talk about that next.


KING: A distinguished panel now joins us as we discuss race and the election. In Atlanta is Michael Eric Dyson, university professor at Georgetown, best selling author. His most recent book is "April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr's Death and How it Changed America." Here in Los Angeles is Joe Hicks, conservative commentator, KFI-640 talk radio host, once a self described leftist, now a registered Republican. In Fargo, North Dakota, Ed Schultz, talk radio host of his own program. And in New York, Kellyanne Conway, Republican pollster and strategist.

OK, race, is it still around, Joe? Is it still going to affect this election? Are people to go in, the Bradley effect, and pull the lever for someone?


KING: Against someone because they're black?

HICKS: I don't think so. There will obviously be people who will vote against Barack Obama because of skin color. There will be people voting for Barack Obama because of his skin color. But I think this Bradley affect thing is something that, frankly, doesn't have any significance. There is some dispute about what all that meant in 1982, when Bradley ran for governor in the state of California.

Is race around? Of course it is. Is it a factor in this race? Has it been made a fact? Yes. Should it be? Of course not. We have two highly qualified men running for this office. The color of their skin should have absolutely nothing to do with why we should or shouldn't vote for them.

KING: Michael, do you think its a fact?

MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: It's certainly a factor. I agree with brother Hicks that certainly race continues to be a significant axis along which this country fractures. But the reality is that there are many people who may vote against Mr. Obama because of his color, but there will be many people who look beyond what they have perceived to be the limitations of color to embrace him as an American.

I think that Mr. Obama, above all other candidates in this race, has done an extraordinary job of trying to keep race at bay. He doesn't want to exploit it. He doesn't want to divide America along those lines. He's tried to transcend the bitter divisions and bigotries that spoiled the American union. I think he's the man who's been exemplary in trying to do that.

But at the same time, Larry, it would be silly for us to deny that Mr. Obama's skin color doesn't play a role for some Americans who continue to disbelieve that he can be qualified on the one hand and be an African-American on the other. We just hope that won't --

KING: Kellyanne, do you think it exists in any significant degree?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, certainly people are going to vote against him because of his race. Some people will vote against John McCain because of his age. Fortunately, Larry, those are very small percentages. Even in the Democratic primary race against Hillary Clinton, where Mrs. Clinton did very well in certain states where some of those Democratic white voters said race was a factor in their vote, that's different than the Bradley effect. I think there's a very thoughtful article written by one of the pollsters, actually for the pollster of the man who beat Tom Bradley for governor of California, George Dukmajin (ph). He wrote a great article this week about why the Bradley affect really didn't exist in 1982.

I was 15 at the time, so I can't say much about it other then to commend people to look up the article on But essentially what he said I learned from. He said that he thought -- he certainly acknowledged, as we all do here, that people vote for and against candidates based on identifying characteristics, sometimes like gender, like race, like religion, ask Mitt Romney, and certainly because of age. But what he said was that there was a poll -- the Field Poll was way off in its modelling analysis and that pollster came back and said there must have been undecided conservatives, Democrat and Republican, who said they were undecided and then voted against Tom Bradley. And you heard it come out again in New Hampshire this year after Barack Obama lost to Hillary Clinton.

KING: Ed, do you think it's going to play any part in this election?

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If it does, Larry, I think it will be in Virginia and North Carolina. We're talking about a black presidential candidate possibly winning two southern states, where emotions are still pretty high. Obama's got great ground infrastructure in those two states and he leads in Virginia by ten points. If there was ever a place where the Bradley effect might take affect it would probably be in those two states or somewhere in the south.

I don't think it is going to make a difference in Colorado or Iowa or Nevada or New Mexico. I think I'd look to those two states. And I also think, Larry, that these robo-calls that are going out -- we've seen a big change here tonight. Some in the Senate are calling on John McCain to knock off these robo-calls. Susan Collins from Maine, Republican senator, called on McCain to stop the robo-calls in her state.

Now, I personally think that these calls are race baiting.

KING: Let me have a break. We'll come back and discuss will race relations be affected should Obama lose?


KING: We're back. Joe Hicks, if Obama loses, let's say, close, will race be blamed?

HICKS: Well, Jacob Weisberg wrote a very infamous column that made that point in "Slate Magazine." A couple of other writers have said the same thing. I think that's a load of you know what. Listen, there are a lot of reasons why people will find not to vote for Barack Obama. If he loses, he'll lose because people decided that they had more confidence in John McCain. But you already hear people trying to make race a reason. Now it appears Obama may win. But I think it's very unfair to try to label the American people bigoted because of their vote.

We've seen that there's still the whole issue of Jeremiah Wright. There's the whole issue of, you know, the guy that -- the so-called terrorist guy, Bill Ayers. There's the comments that were made in San Francisco that unsettled a lot of middle class voters, working class voters in the mid part of the state. So there could be a lot of reasons why people will find discomfort in that.

KING: Michael, won't race be blamed?

DYSON: Of course and it should be. I think, Mr. Hicks, while he's a very sharp and intelligent man, is overlooking the weight of history and has denied the legacy of white supremacy and racial injustice in this country. Let's be real. If Barack Obama were a white man, he'd be up by 25 points. We wouldn't even be having this discussion, because the obvious superiority in terms of him as an effective candidate. John McCain is an American hero who has been an extraordinary presidential candidate. But he's been left behind in the dust by Barack Obama. So I think to deny that race has not played a role in people's perception of Obama --

And this kind of race baiting. I think Ed Schultz is exactly right. These robo-calls going out, this trying to tag him and associate him with Bill Ayers. Now, I think it's quite desperate of Republican brothers and sisters to bring up and resurrect Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. These are -- Most Americans get the point. That is simple race-baiting by inference, what Stuart hall, the great intellectual, calls inferential racism. It's empirically verifiable in the way that the 1960s variety of racism of was, but you get it. It's code words. It's suggestions and inferences.

The beauty of Barack Obama is that he continues to smile through all of that. That's his power.

KING: Kellyanne, do you agree, if Barack Obama were white, he'd be ahead by 25 points?

CONWAY: I think if he was a white woman named Hillary Clinton, he would be in like 55, 56 percent. But that's also because she has a brand name and it's always because she has the experience that many people who voted against Obama in the Democratic primaries said was the reason they voted against him. You remember if you're going to vote, John Kerry, nobody mistook him for the first African-American president, and he got 51 percent of the country to vote against him four short years ago.

So I think there are people who are going to vote against McCain because of his age, against Obama because of race. But there are going to be people who vote against both of them for a whole host of other reasons. Tax is a four-letter word in this country. And the reason McCain has a new life this week after that debate is because he's tapped into a nerve in the country that feels like it's out of money. They feel like they might get taxed. There are going to be plenty of people who will vote against Obama for that reason.

KING: Ed? SCHULTZ: I don't think it is going to come down to taxes, Larry. I think it is going to come down to an overall plan. I think we should point out tonight that, for the first time, Barack Obama leads in a Gallup poll tonight in this race among white independents. This is a big number because Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and also John Kerry never led in this category.

Now, here's Barack Obama, we're close to the election, just weeks away, he has taken over in this category. Most of these polls have been spot-on. We have seen John McCain fail to make any headway in any of the blue states. The question is, what blue state is John McCain going to win? He's going to have a hard time winning the red states that Bush won? So maybe race is going to save John McCain in this race because it certainly isn't going to be his policies.

KING: Joe, don't you feel the tinge of racism in your life? Don't you feel it? You don't?

HICKS: No, I don't. And listen, I love Michael Eric Dyson, you know, but he is just flat wrong here. The fact that there's been a great deal of progress in America that gets discounted by people that often articulate the kind of line we hear brother Dyson making here seems to suggest that no racial progress has been made in America. Hold on. We already said up front there will be people that will go to the polls and decide that they're not going to vote for a black man for president. I suggest that's a very small percentage. There are far more black people who will go to the polls and vote for Barack Obama because of the symbolism and what he represents than white people will certainly go --

KING: Quickly, Michael.

DYSON: Let me tell you the difference. The difference is white people voting for a candidate who's white; 43 of the presidents have been white. None of them black. So there's no equivalency between white support and bias and black pride. Those are two distinct animals that must accounted here. But I agree with Joe; the reality is I think many white Americans are going to embrace Barack Obama.

We might have a reverse Bradley effect. Many white people who are loathe to admit publicly they will vote for a black man will go in that poll and vote for him.

KING: Again, we have time constraints. We'll do more on this and I thank you all. Don't forget to blog with us at Michael Eric Dyson just wrote an interesting post about race and the election. Our thanks to him for that. Check it out. We're back in 60 seconds.


KING: We're back. Everybody is buzzing about Sarah Palin's expected cameo on "Saturday Night Live." The show is on a roll this season, and some say it's having an effect on the election. Let's take a look at some of the highlights from "Saturday Night Live's" special Weekend Update on Thursday. It's a parody of the McCain rally where a supporter was confused about Obama's background. Watch.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I went to the library and had this little black girl help me look up Obama on the computer pages. And let me tell you, says he converts with terriers.

Because the truth is Obama is a muz lynn (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama is a muz lynn? No ma'am muz lynn is a kind of fabric.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, he wasn't born here. He's a -- he's a jer (ph) --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's a big jer. He's Jerish (sic)?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you mean Jewish? No, ma'am, he's not Jewish.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do know he's 50 percent Egyptian. And he's going the change to White House to a pyramid.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama wants all the weddings to be gay weddings. They have orgies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Orgies? Ma'am, orgies? I don't know where you're getting this stuff.


KING: That's funny. Should Sarah Palin appear on "Saturday Night Live?" Maybe not. Is it a smart or political suicide? We'll discuss it all after this quick break.

TINA FEY, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": For all you out there playing a drinking game at home, "maverick."



PALIN: I'm excited for tomorrow night. I have no idea to expect. I haven't seen any scripts or anything else yet. It will be fun. The opportunity to show American television watchers, anyway, that, you know, you've got to have a sense of humor through all of this or this could really be wearing and tearing on you. So, an opportunity to show that sense of humor and that side of all of this; I look forward to it.



KING: In St. Paul, Minnesota, Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann returns. Still with us in New York is Kellyanne Conway. And joining us from Portland, Oregon is Lars Larson, talk radio host billed as being right on the left coast. All are supporters of John McCain. We know that Sarah Palin is going to be on "Saturday Night Live" tomorrow night. Here is how "Saturday Night Live" and Tina Fey have satirized her. Then we'll get the thoughts from our guests. Watch.


QUEEN LATIFA, ACTRESS: Governor Palin, would you extend same-sex rights to the entire country?

FEY: You know, I would be afraid of where that would lead. I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred institution between two unwilling teenagers.


KING: OK. Michelle Bachmann, good idea for her to go on?

BACHMANN: You know, it's a big risk, I think, for someone who's running for president to go on. But with Sarah Palin as the person, I think she's going to do really well. She has a lot of self- confidence. She has a fabulous sense of humor. And she has that little mystery called pluck. She has a lot of pluck. I think she'll be able to carry it off because she has a lot of confidence and people like her.

And Tina Fey is just hysterical as Sarah Palin. So I can't wait to watch. I know our whole family can't wait to watch it on Saturday night.

KING: Lars, you think it's a good idea?

LARS LARSON, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think it's a great idea. I talked to the governor yesterday morning for my show on Westwood One, and I've got to tell you something, that lady has heart and she does have spunk. I think she'll do just fine. I think it's wonderful that she can walk into the lion's den, in the heart of liberalism, in the middle of the most liberal city in America and take on this show, this show that has found itself trapped with this caricature of this woman that they probably all don't like politically, but they can't avoid the fact that in Tina Fey they've found somebody who can do a spot on impersonation.

KING: Kellyanne, though, she'll be provided a script. CONWAY: Oh, so what. I think it shows she's got great moxie. This is a woman who is impervious to her critics and nay-sayers. I don't know how many people in politics are. Here's the other thing; we talked about race. There's something else going on in this campaign, and I think her going on "Saturday Night Live" almost pricks the boil. There's a tremendous amount of class -- I think class discussion going on, whereas people are now making fun of Joe the Plumber. Is he really a plumber? Does he have a license? Does he make 250,000 dollars?

We're attacking this poor guy Joe the plumber the way Sarah Palin has been attacked. I think it comes from people in her family not having a college degree or making less than 100,000 dollars a year. God forbid. Most people in this country don't have a college degree or make more than 100,000 dollars a year. I think her going into Manhattan on "Saturday Night Live," where she's been ridiculed and satirized, and going out there as herself is going to show yet again, free and unfiltered, why so many people are still showing up at her rallies.

Larry, for every two people out there in the pundocracy (ph) saying get her off the ticket, get her off the ticket, there are 20,000 people showing up at some of her rallies. Why? To make fun of her? No, because they love her.

KING: We'll talk some more politics when we come back.



USHER, R&B SUPERSTAR: You can make a difference by using your vote. You should. Actions speak louder than words. So vote November the 4th.


KING: We thank Usher for being part of our go vote series. Michelle Bachmann, we have a couple of minutes left, all three of you. How does McCain play the next couple of weeks? Does he hit Obama harder? Does he stress more things he's going to do? How would you play it?

BACHMANN: I think, Larry, John McCain needs to do exactly what he did on the third debate, and that's talk to the American people about the stark contrasts that there is between himself and Barack Obama when it comes to people's paychecks, taxes, and spending. Because it's very clear, with all of the spending that Barack Obama has proposed, about a trillion dollars in additional spending, beyond what we're spending now, that someone has to pay for that. I think John McCain has made it very clear that the American people will be paying for that in the form of high taxes.

And, again, that goes back to Joe the plumber saying, look, I'm a common man and one day I want to be successful. But you, Barack Obama, are going to take my taxes. And then, of course, we know the infamous line that Barack Obama said he wanted to spread around the wealth, which is redistribution of wealth. That scares the American people. I think if John McCain stays on that message, that could be a big victory for him.

KING: Lars, what would you advise him?

LARSON: Larry, he's got to be bold. He's got to tag Obama as the Marxist that he is. Again, from --

KING: Marxist? Hold it. He's a Marxist?

LARSON: That's Marxism.

KING: Does that make the right wing fascist?


KING: You can't have it both ways.

LARSON: No, fascism is about celebrating the country. America has always been about the individual. And conservatives really are about the individual. But saying we want to spread everybody's wealth around and giving tax rebates to the 40 percent of Americans who don't pay federal taxes, that's Marxism. That's redistribution of wealth. And John McCain should be bold enough to tag him.

Barack Obama doesn't believe in drilling for oil. He doesn't believe in nuclear power. He does believe in spreading the wealth and redistributing Joe the plumber's wealth. That's just dead wrong and Americans know it.

KING: OK. Kellyanne, how would you handle it?

CONWAY: Sure, three quick things. He needs to be the Navy pilot he was in this last debate, the really tough guy who's in this to win. Number two, I would personally drop the Ayers, Jeremiah Wright stuff. I've never been a fan of that strategy, whatsoever. Number three, the most important thing he can do is show significant contrast to Barack Obama. Barack Obama is more ideologically aligned with the six unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidates in the last 40 years than he is with the two successful Democratic presidential candidates. He's much more like Kerry and Gore and McGovern and Dukakis and Mondale in terms of the ways he's voted, the things he's prescribing.

The other thing John McCain has do, very quickly, is he should be quoting Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and calling into question Barack Obama's experience. Quote Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and make people understand Barack Obama is not ready to be president. Maybe one day, but not yet.

KING: Do any of you know the involvement of John McCain and G. Gordon Liddy?

LARSON: We're familiar with it.

KING: What is it, Lars? LARSON: Just that he says he's willing to talk to him, that he's not minded to take him as his friend. Liddy was found guilty of some things. The fact is, though, Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist.

KING: Some things? He broke into the party's center.

LARSON: I understand that. But the fact is William Ayers is unrepentant, unapologetic terrorist, and his wife is worse.


LARSON: A killer.

KING: Thank you guys.

CONWAY: Taxes.

KING: Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, Kellyanne Conway and Larson --

BACHMANN: Always a pleasure.

LARSON: Thanks, Larry.

KING: You can take part in all our shows. Go to -- I'll be glad when this is over -- /LarryKing and click on blog. We read all your comments as the show airs and after. We're open 24/7, weekends too. Our latest podcast is a good one, greatest political hits from the stars. Charles Barkley, Sheryl Crow, Ben Stein and Dean Cain; each have interesting takes on election 2008. Download it now at

Finally, I want to wish Nancy Reagan well. She broke her pelvis in a fall, went home from the hospital today. Nancy, we love you. We're thinking of you. We wish you a speedy recovery. Tom Brokaw, Bob Schieffer will be here Monday night. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?