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CNN Larry King Live

Interview with Sarah Palin

Aired November 12, 2008 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Sarah Palin says don't blame her for the election results.

GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't believe that I caused the -- the outcome to be what it was.


KING: She questions some of her own ticket's tactics.


PALIN: I didn't call the shots on a lot of that strategy.


KING: Regrets that she wasn't vocal enough.


PALIN: I wish I could have done more interviews along the trail.


KING: And is open to becoming a U.S. senator.


PALIN: Larry, if they called an audible on me and if they say they want me in another position, I'm going to do it.


KING: Does she need the Republican Party more than it needs her?

Governor Sarah Palin, unscripted, uncensored, unleashed, right now on LARRY KING LIVE.


KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, finally, from the Republican Governors Association Conference in Miami, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee.

Thanks for joining us. Governor, something that occurred late in the campaign, when Ted Stevens -- Senator Stevens, was found guilty -- both you and Senator McCain called for him to step down. That has not happened. He was re- elected.

What should he do now?

PALIN: Right. And I did. I expressed my opinion, called it like I saw it and said before that election, as he had been found guilty on the seven counts, that he should step down.

Now he chose not to and voters in Alaska, at least thus far, until those final ballots are counted, it looks like they are reelecting Senator Stevens. And that's the will of the people. And I'm not a dictator. I'm not going to yank anything out from under the will of the people.

And now it will be up to the U.S. Senate to decide what happens next.

KING: Was that -- is that the kind of post you would want some day, the Senate?

PALIN: You know, not necessarily. I'm not going to close any doors that perhaps would be in front of me and would allow me to put to good use executive experience and a world view that I think is good for our nation. I'm not going to close any door there in terms of opportunity that may be there in the future.

But at this point, I love my job as governor. There's a tremendous amount of work to do in Alaska, as we develop our resources and contribute more to the United States of America, to allow us to be secure and prosperous.

I look forward to continuing doing my duties as governor.

KING: All right. Our new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that 49 percent of adult Americans have a favorable feeling about you;

43 percent an unfavorable.

In retrospect, do you think you might have hurt the ticket?

PALIN: If I hurt the ticket at all and cost John McCain even one vote, I am sorry about it, because John McCain is a true American hero. He's got great solutions in terms of the challenges that are facing America right now, with national security and needing to get our economy back on the right track.

John McCain has solutions. I look forward to seeing him as a leader in the Senate, reaching out to Barack Obama and the new administration, being able to work together with the solutions that he has.

Again, I'm sorry if I cost him any votes, if I did. KING: But you don't have an opinion as to whether you did or didn't?

PALIN: I personally don't think that I, Sarah Palin from Alaska, the V.P. pick, I don't believe that I caused the outcome to be what it was.

I think the economy tanking -- tanking a couple of months ago had a lot more to do with it than the V.P. pick.

But, you know, I think, too, not winning the Hispanic vote and being outspent so tremendously in this campaign. John McCain had fulfilled his promise in just keeping with the public financing of the campaign. And Barack Obama went on to accept the private donations and contributions that allowed us to be very, very greatly outspent.

There were a lot of contributing factors. And I'm not going to point the finger right back at me and say that I was the cause of the outcome, but there were a lot of contributing factors.

But again, you know, if I caused even one person to shy away from electing an American hero, John McCain, to the presidency, then I apologize.

KING: Do you -- what role do you think you have in the party? You're at the Governors Association Convention, the Republican governors.

How do you see yourself down the road?

PALIN: Oh, every Republican governor has a tremendous role to play in making sure that Americans understand that -- what it is that we do out there on the front lines, balancing multibillion dollar budgets and dealing with tens of thousands of employees in our organizations. The executive experience that we all have, as governors, needs to be put to good use in helping in this new administration...

KING: But...

PALIN: ...reaching out to Barack Obama in order to progress this nation and find solutions to the many challenges that we face.

KING: But your own role...

PALIN: Every Republican governor has much to contribute.

KING: But your own role...

PALIN: Well, I'm one of them. I am one of them, desiring to reach out and assist the new administration that's recently been elected.

What I can do, specifically, in helping our nation become energy independent, of course, comes from my experience as an oil and gas regulator in a huge energy-producing state and now as governor of that state. We know that we have the domestic solutions and the domestic supplies of energy. And we have the American ingenuity and we have the American workers ready to be put to use to allow our nation to become less dependent on foreign sources of energy, volatile foreign regimes that control too much of our energy supply and use energy as a weapon.

We need to get away from that. And domestic solutions that are at our fingertips -- I want to help lead in that area.

Also, what I can do as a Republican governor is do all that I can in my state and, hopefully, in the nation, also, in helping our families who have children with special needs.

It's an issue near and dear to my heart. It resonated well throughout the campaign, also. Americans recognizing that it's time that our families who have children and adults with special needs -- that America shows its good heart to them, also and we start cherishing every life. I want to help in that arena, also.

KING: All right. You were a step away.

As you look at yourself, think about it, are you -- are you ready to run for the presidency? Is that something that would interest you?


PALIN: Again, I'm not going to close any doors of opportunity that perhaps are open out there in the future. Not having a crystal ball, I do not know what those opportunities will be. If I have to call an audible down the road here and circumstances change and the door is open for me to do so, it would be something that I would take that challenge on, that responsibility if I believe that it is in the nation's best interests.

But at this point, I'm very happy to get to serve my constituents in the great state of Alaska and start contributing our state more to national security and economic prosperity across America.

Alaska is growing up. We're growing together. And under our administration in that great state, we need to be doing more for the U.S. We're going to do more.


KING: Oh, by the way, in a result just in, we learned late today, with all precincts reporting, Mayor Mark Begich of the Democrat is leading Ted Stevens, the Republican, in the Senatorial race in Alaska by three votes and they're still counting some absentee ballots.

I had mentioned that Senator Stevens had won that race. It is now -- he's three votes behind and they're counting absentees.

How soon is too soon to start criticizing a president-elect?

Do you think Republicans will work with President-Elect Obama to get legislation passed?

Go to our blog and answer it, What did Sarah Palin wish she had done more of during the campaign?

That's next.


KING: Welcome back.

Governor Palin admits to some missteps during the campaign. Her heavily scrutinized interview with CBS News anchor, Katie Couric, is not one of them.


KING: Should you have not done the Katie Couric interview?

PALIN: Sure, I should have done the Katie Couric interview. Her questions were fair...

KING: You should have done it?

PALIN: I should have done it, yes. And her questions were fair. Obviously, being a bit annoyed with some of the questions, my annoyance shows through. And I am who I am, though, and I call it like I see it. And some of those questions, you know, regarding what do I read up in Alaska, were, to me, a bit irrelevant. And my annoyance at those questions showed through.

But there was nothing off-base, unfair about it. Certainly, I should have done the interview. And to attribute, I think, that interview to any kind of negativity in the campaign or a downfall in the campaign, I think it's ridiculous. And I wish that there would be -- would have been, perhaps, more dilution, in terms of that interview being one of many, many. I wish I could have done more interviews along the trail.

And in retrospect, in hindsight, I wish I would had more opportunities or that we would have seized more opportunities to speak more...

KING: Why didn't you?

PALIN: ... to the American people through the media.

KING: Why didn't you?

PALIN: I didn't call the shots on the -- I didn't call the shots on a lot that strategy. But I'm not going to look backwards and point fingers of blame in regard to the strategy. And just suffice it to say, it's very, very important for candidates to be able to speak to the American voter. The electorate deserves to hear a person's positions, their values, their convictions, their plans, their records and their associations.

I'd love the opportunity to get to talk to Americans about my own...

KING: One of the...

PALIN: ...and John McCain's.

KING: One of the most frequently asked questions I had -- and I don't like to use the word I -- was when are you going to have Sarah Palin on?

And we never got a good response. It's kind of sad. Anyway, it's good to have you now.

Katie Couric, by the way, said last night that she thinks you should keep your head down, work really hard and learn about governing before contemplating a presidential run.

PALIN: Well, thanks...

KING: What are your thoughts about her saying you should learn about governing?

PALIN: I'd say thank you, Katie Couric, for your advice. And I won't reciprocate in giving her any advice, that's for sure, because I have respect for her and the profession that she is in. I would have greater respect, though, for the entire profession called mainstream media if we could have great assurance that there's fairness, that there's objectivity throughout the reporting world.

And, you know, Larry, there, too, if there is anything that I can do in terms of assisting there and allowing the credence -- the credibility that that great vocation -- that cornerstone of our democracy called the press -- if I can help build up that credibility in the press and allow the electorate to know that they can believe everything that is reported through the airwaves and through print, I want to be able to help.

I started out as a journalist. It's that important to me that that cornerstone of our democracy is given the credence and credibility that it deserves.

But we have to have a two-way street here going, where reporters are fair, objective, non-biased; we get back to the who, what, where, when and why, and allow the viewers and the listeners and the readers to make up their own minds and not so much commentary, I think, being involved in mainstream media's questioning and reporting on candidates.

I'd like to kind of help build back that credibility in that cornerstone of our democracy called our media...

KING: Don't you also...

PALIN: ...allowing for the checks and balances that government needs.

KING: Don't you think, Governor, that there's also a right-wing media?

PALIN: There's a right-wing, there's a left-wing. I tend to believe that what we need is, again, back to the who, what, where, when and why, and allow the electorate -- allow listeners, viewers to make up their own minds based on fair, objective, non-biased reporting. That's what I'd like to see.

At the same time, though, it's healthy, it's interesting, it's entertaining -- entertaining to be able to hear the commentary on both sides. But when mainstream media, especially, is expected to be non- biased, without the commentary being involved, I think we really need to get back to giving the -- some credence to the wisdom of the people, allowing them the ability to make up their own minds without hearing too much commentary infiltrated in the questions and the reporting.

KING: But you do admit you should have done more?

PALIN: I would love to have done more. Yes. Yes.


KING: Next, John McCain's appearance on "The Tonight Show" last night and Governor Palin's reaction to it.

And does she think she went off message?

Back in 60 seconds.


KING: Governor Palin -- I spoke about her relationship with John McCain. She appreciated his sense of humor and still does.


KING: John McCain did "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" last night -- his first interview since conceding the election. Jay asked him about you and here's what he said.




JAY LENO, HOST: Did she ever get off message at one point?

MCCAIN: Did you expect mavericks to stay on message?


MCCAIN: I'm sure that from time -- what, but she was -- look, I -- we did a lot of things together, a lot of these rallies. The people were very excited and inspired by her. And that's what really mattered.


KING: And now you get a lot of flak from inside the campaign -- unnamed people knocking you. And that's got to hurt you.

PALIN: Well, it doesn't hurt me because I don't know who anybody is who is knocking me from within the campaign. And, you know, I'm going to stay above any of that pettiness, that stuff on the periphery that really is irrelevant, especially at this point.

When these are unnamed sources, unless somebody has got the guts to put their name on a criticism, then come forward and tell me what they thought that, perhaps, I did wrong.

But I love seeing that clip of John McCain. I have nothing but honor, admiration, love for him, for his family. He's a true American hero. He needs to be listened to.

And now in his position as senator, I certainly hope that others will allow him to get his message out -- his plans for this nation, his ability to start uniting this nation and working with President- Elect Obama.

I look so forward to what it is that John McCain is going to be able to continue to contribute to keep this nation safe, to win the wars and get the economy back on the right track.

I still say he's the man.


KING: Does Sarah Palin fear for the United States, given her remarks about the president-elect palling around with terrorists?

Her answer might surprise you, next.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE and my interview with Sarah Palin.

The governor makes no apologies for being tough on Barack Obama -- and still is.



KING: Concerning the president-elect, during the campaign, Governor, you expressed concerns about Obama's lack of executive experience and characterized him as "palling around with terrorists."

Do you fear the United States under his presidency -- do you fear for the United States? PALIN: I don't have fear, I have optimism. And Barack Obama is going to surround himself with those who do have executive experience. And there was nothing mean-spirited -- there was no negative campaigning when I called Barack Obama out on his associations. You know, we're talking specifically, of course, about Bill Ayers -- an unrepentant domestic terrorist, who campaigned to bomb our United States Capitol and our Pentagon.

And I don't think that there is anything wrong with calling someone out on their associations, their record, their plans. I expect to be called out -- and so did John McCain -- on his associations and our record. So there's -Elect Obama with doing that.

But, no, I don't have fear. I have optimism because this is an historic moment in our nation's history. And as Barack Obama prepares to take the office of Washington and Lincoln, what progress he has shown -- he has -- he has really made manifest now, in terms of where our nation has been and where we are today.

I'm proud of Barack Obama. I pray for him, his family, the new administration. I look forward to the good things that are in store for this nation.

It's going to take a cooperate effort, though -- a united effort -- Republicans, Democrats, Independents all coming together, just like we do on a state level.

And here, again, as governor, what I've been able to do and what other governors do is we appoint Democrats, Independents, Republicans in our administrations. We don't let excessive partisanship get in the way of just doing what's right for the people who we are accountable to.

I expect that out of Barack Obama, too. And I expect that he will surround himself with those who have the executive experience and have ability to unite and work in bipartisan manners in order to progress this nation. I have optimism that that's what we're going to see.

KING: Are...

PALIN: It's an historic moment in our history and I'm proud of where we are.

KING: Are you going to go to the inaugural?

PALIN: I haven't been invited. It would be something, perhaps, if I'm not too busy up there in the State of Alaska, I'd love to.

KING: Did you see anything -- you said you wanted to -- did you want to make a concession speech?

PALIN: I had some very nice words penned ready to deliver it. It was going to just be a sweet shout-out to Senator McCain and all that he has overcome and the challenges that he has met and the victories within his own life and his character. I had good words penned there that I would have loved to have been able to express. But John McCain is a very, very humble man. And it was decided that -- at the very last minute that, no, he would do the concession speech solely. And that's our right. That's, you know, that's their call. That's strategists' call and John McCain's.

And I would have loved to have done that shout out, but I'll do that here instead.

KING: Were you very sad when you learned the result?

PALIN: You know, sad because I knew had hard that our ticket had worked. And, again, I'm convinced today, as much as I was along the campaign trail, that John McCain is a true American hero and he does have solutions that need to be...

KING: But were you sad?

PALIN: ... tapped into, plugged into. And he'll be able to do that as a leader in the United States Senate. And -- disappointed, because, again, you don't run a race to lose. My goodness.

KING: Yes.

PALIN: What a futile effort. What a waste of human resources, fiscal resources -- if you ran just kind of a sort of a benign, complacent type, lackadaisical effort. Heck no! I run to win. And so does John McCain.

So there was disappointment. But at this point, again, that chapter is closed now. The campaign is over. It's time to move forward, time to unite and look forward to the opportunity that John McCain will have to lead in this united effort. And I'll assist wherever I can.


KING: Sarah Palin gets -- Sarah Palin, rather, gets personal about her daughter's pregnancy. And we'll talk about that next.


KING: I spoke with Governor Palin earlier today. And one thing that seemed to throw her was a question about her children and the difficulties of putting them in front of the public.


KING: You said you were surprised that your children became part of the campaign story.

Wasn't that kind of naive?

I mean, if you go into a grocery store and just look at tabloids and you would know that your children are going to be part of the story, right?

PALIN: Well, it wasn't naive, not after Barack Obama came out and said that his wife was off limits.

Why should my children, then, have been this assumed target?

And they were and that was unfair.

But, yes, I thought it was ridiculous, not so much the reporting on my children, but the lies that were told about my children and about my own record. That -- you know, stupid things, Larry, you know, like who is Trig's real mother?

And mainstream media wouldn't correct the erroneous assumptions or suggestions in a story like that?

That was ridiculous.

But there again, knowing that we're in that together. Our family -- it's always been a team effort in the Palin family. And we decided that we were going to take those shots because, at the end of the day, we were on the right path, knowing that we could be in an assisting, supportive role to help our nation. It was all worth it.

KING: Something all mothers fear, though, is the knowledge that her daughter is pregnant.

Was that very hard for you to take?

PALIN: When it was revealed to...

KING: Yes?

PALIN: ...on national media that...

KING: No, revealed to you.

PALIN: 18-year-old daughter was pregnant?

Oh, when it was revealed to me.

Well, what do you think, Larry?

Of course.

KING: I think...

PALIN: You know, I looked at her and thought -- and I thought, Bristol, honey, you're going to have to grow up really fast. And she is a strong and kind-hearted young woman.

She's going to make a great mom. And she -- she is very strong. She's going to be just fine.

But Bristol has an opportunity, at this point, also, to reach out to other young American women and let them know that these are absolutely less than ideal circumstances that she or any other unwed teenage mother are in. And it is not something to glamorize. It's not something to condone, if you will. Bristol has an opportunity to reach out to other young mothers and help them and, hopefully, not see such a prevalence, also, of unwed teenage mothers. The rates are too high.

KING: Yes.

PALIN: Bristol can be used as an example of, Larry, taking less than ideal circumstances and still making the best of these circumstances. And that is who she is. She's strong. She's kindhearted. She's going to be just fine.

KING: What do you make of all the clothes stories, the $150,000 stories?

PALIN: I think that was the most ridiculous part of the campaign was the whole clothes story. They weren't my clothes. They aren't my clothes. I don't have the clothes. The -- I don't think it was $150,000 worth of clothes, anyway. It was for eight people -- everybody in my family plus a couple of others that arrived at the convention with our overnight bags. There was a wardrobe there, just like there was staging and lighting and all the other effects of a national -- a multi, multi-million dollar convention.

I borrowed the clothes along the campaign trail, wore them once in a while and they are back in the RNC's hands, where they were going to be all the way.

Here is something, we took a little bit of criticism of she has somebody doing her makeup before she goes on stage. Who is paying for that? Is this a reflection of who she as a hard working every day American hockey mom from Wasilla, Alaska, is this who she is? Kind of a double standard there, Larry, because I have never heard still the other ticket have been asked who is doing their makeup before they go on stage. Who is making sure that their tie is straight, and ready to head out there to do a speech? A little bit of a double-standard, but again a little bit of an annoyance there.

The whole clothes issue, that's part of the periphery, kind of the pettiness that was involved in the campaign that had absolutely nothing to do with policies, plans, records, values, convictions, kind of ridiculous.

KING: We're almost out of time. Quickly, do you pledge to the people that you will serve out your term?

PALIN: I pledge to the people of Alaska I will do anything and everything that I can to progress the great state of Alaska. I will do what the people of Alaska want me to do. Larry, if they call on audible on me and they say they want me in another position, I'm going to do it. I'm not going to, especially here today, tell you, tell anybody what some crystal ball is going to show me, because we don't know what that crystal ball has in it.

There again, my hands -- my life is in God's hands. If he's got doors open for me that I believe are in our state's best interest, the nation's best interest, then I'm going to go through those doors. KING: Governor, thanks finally for the time. Hope to see a lot of you down the trail.

PALIN: I hope to see a lot of you also. I invite you to come up to Alaska, and especially look at the resources that we have, Larry, ready to be tapped in to secure our nation. Come on up and report on that, maybe.

KING: Our thanks to Sarah Palin. We want to know how soon is too soon to start criticizing a president-elect, and do you think Republicans will work with Barack Obama to get legislation passed. Tell us about it at Click in our blog and we'll share some of our comments with you. And what do our observers think about Palin and her political talk? We're all happy here. Find out when LARRY KING LIVE returns.


KING: Let's meet our terrific panel to discuss all of this. In Stamford, Ari Fleischer, Stamford, Connecticut, White House press secretary for President George Bush; in New Orleans, James Carville, our Democratic strategist, political contributor to CNN; in Washington, Susan Molinari, senior principle at Bracewell and Giuliani, former Republican congresswoman; and Hillary Rosen, also in Washington, CNN political contributor and political director and Washington editor at large at

All right, Ari, we just saw the interview with Sarah Palin. John McCain says he expects she'll play a big role in the future. How big?

ARI FLEISCHER, FMR. WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: She's fascinating, Larry. I think her future is what she's going to write. Like it should, it's going to come down to whether or not the American people believe she's substantive enough, deep enough. She sure has a great launching pad, particularly in Republican circles, to be the front-runner for whatever she wants to be next time around.

She has a lot of work to do to rebuild the image that was damaged, but it's doable.

KING: James, what do you think? I know you were critical of her during the campaign.

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I was. You know, having been critical -- I didn't think she was qualified for the office of which she aspired. It was interesting to watch her tonight. She's compelling. People are interested. I sitting here wondering, she's attacked the mainstream media, and she's been on every mainstream media outlet, which seemed to me to be slightly odd. But look, she's an interesting person. The press loves her. We love having her on. Every other network had her on. We'll see where it goes from here.

KING: Susan, are you an admirer?

SUSAN MOLINARI, BRACEWELL AND GIULIANI: I certainly am, Larry. I think she has brought a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm. I love to see females out there advocating for Republican party policies. And she's a steely woman. You know, she has gotten knocked down a lot of times and she just keeps getting back up and staring people straight in the face and telling them that she's not going to go away. I think that exemplifies the type of leadership that the Republican party needs right now.

We have a bunch of great stars on the horizon for the Republican party to get us back to be in the majority party.

KING: Hilary, as a potential opponent to your political philosophy, do you worry about Hillary -- do you worry, rather -- there's a Freudian slip -- about Governor Palin?

HILARY ROSEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think Susan is right. It's always nice to see a woman politician out there. But, you know, it was weird. I couldn't help but watch her apology over and over and over again. She's done it now on several networks; you know, if I caused John McCain one vote, I'm so sorry. And I couldn't help but think a guy politician would never do that. Susan agrees with me, I know this. A guy politician would never do that.

And, you know, on the other hand, I think this whole strategy of hers this week of getting out there and saying, gosh, I wasn't in charge of the campaign, and I might have done something differently and do that in that in this wholesome way, it's clearly better now for her to be seen as disloyal and somebody who was questioning the strategy than it was -- than it is for her to be seen as being a drag on the ticket that she fairly certainly was in the closing weeks of the campaign.

KING: Ari, did she hurt rather than help?

FLEISCHER: People say it, Larry, but I don't think so. I think what really lost the election was the financial tsunami. John McCain was losing in every single poll from May, last Spring, all the way forward. The only time he ever was winning after he announced Sarah Palin. He was up for about ten days. I don't think so.

I think the real issue for her was she was thrust onto such a dramatic national stage so late in the game. Barack Obama, who also didn't have a lot of experience, he had 20 months to work on the wrinkles. He got to make his mistakes, more or less, in private, without a lot of press scrutiny. She didn't have that luxury. I can't help but think, what would she have been like if she had 20 month to run. She's pretty impressive. She has building to do, particularly on foreign policy and on substance, but what governor doesn't?

KING: James, what is her future, from a political expert's stand point?

CARVILLE: First of all, she's got an incredible future in right wing politics. She could do anything that she wanted from talk radio show. She could be governor. Obviously, she filibustered pretty good tonight. She could go into the Senate. Her main problem is that people don't view her as substantive enough, as Ari pointed out, in a lot of areas to be a candidate for national office. I don't think she advanced that ball any with the interview tonight. She's got four years in -- three years before it all starts again. So she's got time to deal with that. I don't think she helped herself in that sense. Maybe there were some things, she had some things on her mind that she wanted to talk about. Obviously she got to do that. Who can fault her for doing that.

Her problem is not that -- the clothes that she allegedly wore, or the clothes they provided for her. The problem is that she doesn't know enough about international affairs or national affairs to be vice president of the United States.

KING: Susan, what's her strategy? She wants to go larger than governor of Alaska. What is the strategy?

MOLINARI: I think the strategy this week was to just try and undo some of the back biting that was coming out from some people who -- unnamed sources in the McCain campaign. Again, it's one of the things I admire about her. A lot of people would have said, I'm glad this is over. I want to take some time to take a deep breath. I think it was important she got back out there as quickly as possible to say this isn't true. A lot of things were thrust upon me. I'm moving forward. I'm not going away. I think there's a big role for her in the Republican party.

We have to engage as a party back to the days when we had a little bit of a broader tent and became the majority party. I will say, I thought there was no more exciting time in the last few years as a Republican than to sit there on the night that she spoke and Rudy Giuliani spoke. And Republicans of all different -- center, liberal, moderate, conservative felt that there was a place for them in this party. She's going to be a strong figure head for this party if she wants to be.

KING: Let's transition a little, Hilary. Does Obama hit the ground running, or does he ease in?

ROSEN: Well, I think he's got to hit the ground running. I have to say, I have been thinking lately that the biggest problem that a President Obama could have is being too careful, in some respects. He had a pretty big election night. That's a mandate from the country. And we have a lot of issues and a lot of problems. And this country wants to see action on them. I think that the worst thing the Obama presidency could do is be a little too tentative for fear of failure.

I think that members of -- clearly, Democratic members of Congress are ready for big change. They're willing to vote for big change. I think that Republicans who are smart are going to work with them to get some things done.

KING: Let me get a break, and we'll come back. Your blog comments coming up too. We'll be back in 60 seconds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: To show you the example of what Sarah Palin creates, here are two blogs. Roman writes, "Sarah Palin is a bright, articulate, intelligent political leader. She added a breath of fresh air to the Republican party and to our federal government in general."

Another comment, "Larry, I watched your interview with Sarah Palin. A gross display of greed and blind ambition. She has no substance during her campaign and doesn't have any now."

Is this a classic example, Ari, of the appeal and lack of appeal that Sarah had?

FLEISCHER: Yes, it's a reflection of the split that has been part of American politics for probably about 15 years. People watch the same thing and have diametrically different opinions. I think what she has to do is three things. One is go back to Alaska and be a solid, serious governor, which we know she can do. She's already been that. Number two, she ought to associate herself with a think tank in Washington that has expertise on foreign affairs. And three, she has to do a little bit of foreign travel and polish that aspect of her resume. No governor has foreign policy experience, but she needs to open up that front and show that substance.

KING: Jim, what strategy should she follow?

CARVILLE: I agree with Ari. I really do. I thing his advise is sound. Again, what she needs to do, if she wants to run, and apparently she does from every indication she's given -- if she wants to run for president in 2012, she's got to build up her qualifications to serve as president of the United States. Obviously, she didn't measure up in this cycle. That's OK. That's what she needs to work on. Again, maybe there were some questions that she wanted to answer or maybe there were some things she wanted say after the campaign. Now that she's done that, I would urge her to follow Ari's advise. I mean that. His advise was very sound and that would be the same advice I would give her.

KING: We'll be back with the entire panel and we'll look at the transition, some thoughts about who might be in the cabinet. Don't go away.


KING: Susan, should the cabinet be very diversified? Do you want Republicans in there?

MOLINARI: Yes, that works for me. I think it does. I think it does certainly help President-Elect Obama to do what he said he was going to do during the campaign, and to bring in some Republicans. And look, he had some Republicans, some outstanding leaders like Colin Powell, Susan Eisenhower and others who stepped forward and supported his candidacy. So I think there are those leaders out there that Democrats would welcome with open arms, in terms of providing leadership and being a part of the first few years of the Obama presidency. KING: Hilary, is there any Republicans or any people you definitely want in the cabinet? From your standpoint, who is somebody you would say, yes him in this post or her in this post?

ROSEN: I don't know. I can't go there. I think there are a whole lot of great choices that President-Elect Obama has. And I think the fact that he is giving a lot of thought to how you're going to execute the agenda, what's going to happen first on the economic issues and on national security, the fact that those are his priorities I think is right in line with the country. And I'm pretty confident he is going to make good choices.

KING: Ari, I'll give you a conservative Republican you may not want in the cabinet. Would you want Senator Chuck Hagel in there?

FLEISCHER: Oh, well, no, not me. That is the ultimate leaving the party step for him. If he wants to do it, that is his business. At the end of the day, Larry, what is more important than any individual -- it's modestly helpful if you have somebody from the other party. It is a nice symbol. But it's policies that will create bipartisanship, not with you have a cabinet member who is a D or a R. It really does come down to what is the president going to propose, the new president, and will those ideas attract bipartisan support.

KING: Are you surprised, James, that President-Elect Obama apparently forgave Joe Lieberman and asked the leadership -- he couldn't tell them -- to leave him in his post?

CARVILLE: No. I think it sends a signal. I think Senator Reid sort of sent a signal. The question is whether he retains his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. I don't think that he's going to be like -- Democrats, we don't drum people out of the party. There are a lot of people are really upset out there with Senator Lieberman. I wasn't surprised by that at all.

KING: Are we going to have, Susan, a battle over aid to the auto industry before George Bush leaves.

MOLINARI: It certainly looks like there is going to be a battle, whether it takes place at the White House and Capitol Hill or just at Capital Hill. As you know, Senator DeMint today had said that he is going to fight to propose that stance today, and any more taxpayer money going to the big three auto makers. I think there's going to be some problems in the Senate. President Bush has said he is not sure -- he has indicated he would not go along with that.

Treasury Secretary Paulson is now advocating the 25 billion dollar loan program that Congress authorized in September, and maybe they can do something to revamp that and make some changes and open up some capabilities, in terms of accessing those loans more immediately and with more flexibility. I think that is probably the way it is going go, if, in fact, Speaker Pelosi really wants to get some aid to the auto makers. I don't see Congress voting for a 25 billion dollar bailout to the auto industry, after we just took a drubbing because of a bailout on the financial industry. ROSE: I think the point that Susan raises is interesting. I liked hearing Sarah Palin earlier say that she thinks Republican governors are going to work with this administration to get things done on behalf of the American people. But what you hear Republicans in Congress doing is sort of jockeying for position to rebrand themselves. I think that, you know, they are starting to use this as kind of a test. At a time when unemployment is at a 14-year low, job losses were another 240,000 this month.

What Republicans in Congress are starting to do is say, all right, we're not in charge anymore, so we're not going to take any risks. We are not going to go out on a limb to help anybody. We are just going to now be the opposition to everything. We are going to support talk radio that calls Barack Obama a fascist. We are going to support the name calling. I think that they're going to end up making a huge mistake and losing more support.

KING: We'll get a break and come back with lots more with Ari Fleischer, James Carville, Susan Molinari and Hillary Rosen. Don't go away.


KING: Ari Fleischer, do you think your party is helped or hurt by conservatives like Rush Limbaugh saying that this recession is an Obama recession because his ideas are killing the economy?

FLEISCHER: Well, look, the Republicans are helped by Rush Limbaugh in the fact that Rush has for a decade been a great voice for Republicanism. Not exactly my personal style. I'm one of those types -- I hope this was my style in government. I try to talk a little more reasonably. Every party needs its powerful, vociferous advocate. Rush is one for the Republicans. Democrats have Keith Olbermann.

KING: What do you make of it, James?

CARVILLE: If that is an accurate quote -- so the person in office's policies are not killing the economy, it is the guy whose ideas. I have heard something -- nothing more powerful.

KING: How could a policy before you are elected --

CARVILLE: Right, I mean, I can't believe he said something that stupid.

KING: Yes, he did.

CARVILLE: OK, that is unbelievable.

KING: Susan, are you sometimes -- there are far left talkers and far right talkers. Do you think they help or hurt?

MOLINARI: You know what? I think people who listen to the far right talkers and the far left talkers are the people who agree with what they are saying. I think they help gin up the base. They help excite people. I think people, legislators look to them for them to say good things to get their base going. But, in general, people don't take their orders from them and I don't think they get reflected in the policies and the personalities that you see in legislators.

I would like to think that I've seen when the men and women walked into the Capitol, that they took on a different demeanor.

KING: You don't think, Hilary, any of the extreme types, left or right, affect one vote? Do they? Aren't the people listening to them merely affirming their own views?

ROSEN: Well, I think what we have seen in the last couple of weeks is a little depressing. There is so clearly a desire for the -- you know, the center of this country who is really the one that is constantly responsible for electing presidents. It is never the left or the right. It is always the middle. To have a new kind of politics. It is a little disheartening to see so many Republicans just not giving this a chance to succeed.

I said before that unemployment is at a 14-year low. It is the opposite, it is at a 14-year high. There are real problems in this country. I don't care if Rush Limbaugh is charming to Republicans. This doesn't help.

MOLINARI: In fairness, we can pick 20 different liberal radio talk show hosts who have said terrible things about President Bush every day. My goodness gracious --

ROSEN: Well this president kind of deserved it. It happened after the fact.

MOLINARI: Oh, I see.

ROSEN: They were responding to bad policies. President Obama hasn't done anything yet.

FLEISCHER: Larry, I do think the Democrats are now going to say that there should be no criticism of Barack Obama.

KING: Before he takes office.

FLEISCHER: Barack Obama ran a campaign -- even afterwards, they are going to say we need to be bipartisan. We shouldn't talk like this. Barack Obama ran his entire campaign saying George Bush, John McCain failures the last eight years. It is one thing when they do it and then they say nobody should do what we just did. You can't do that in politics.

KING: James, you've got 30 seconds. Does he begin strong, James, or does he come in quietly?

CARVILLE: Hilary said he needs to hit the ground running. I think the ground is going to hit him running, the way this thing is going right now. Look, he has to come on strong. I really hope that he really succeeds. I think he is a very talented guy. I think he surrounded himself with some very talented people. Godspeed, man. Do a great job. KING: We are out of time. Thank you all very much. Go to Click on the blog and how soon is too soon to start criticizing a president-elect? Guess what, from what we just heard, you never know. You know voters in California think. Last week they voted no on same-sex marriage. But the ban has prompted a backlash. It is the subject of LARRY KING LIVE Friday night. Joy Behar, Cynthia Nixon, Peter Wince (ph), and Mayor Gavin Newsom are among the guests.

And a reminder, my interview with Sarah Palin replays at Midnight Eastern, 9:00 Pacific. Time now for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?