Opinion: Still no Sarah Palin, but Larry King chats with John McCain anyway


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Well, tough times for old Larry King.

As the Ticket reported last week, LK still doesn’t have the media star Sarah Palin and her ratings on his CNN show to compete with those Satans over at Fox. And there’s only, what, five more nights before the election. So it’s not looking good for the veteran talk-show host who’s been covering these presidential races since the second Grant administration.

Last night Larry had to settle for John McCain. He’s the Republican presidential candidate, which is important and all. But he’s not her.


McCain’s been around the talk-show circuit a few hundred times. They talked about the usual things. Larry doesn’t seem convinced that McCain’s gonna win.

‘Are you anxious?’ ‘Are you worried?’ The Arizona senator said the usual about knowing and liking that he’s the underdog, but he feels the race closing. ‘You know,’ McCain said, ‘I love the underdog status. I just want to leave that status at the time the polls close.’

They talked about all of Obama’s money. Well, not all of it. There’s too much to talk about really in an hour show. McCain made his points that his Democratic opponent had committed to public financing if McCain would do the same. McCain did. Obama didn’t.

‘What has happened now,’ McCain said, ‘are there are....

...hundreds of millions of dollars that are undocumented credit cards. We don’t know where they came from. We don’t know who contributed it.’

Later, he added, ‘Sen. Obama has not told the American people the truth. So, therefore, he now is able to buy these half-hour infomercials and, frankly, is going to try to convince the American people through his rhetoric what his record shows that he’s not.’

McCain called Obama’s repetitive strategy of tying him to President Bush ‘a very intelligent campaign tactic,’ but said the American people had figured out how different McCain and Bush are on such things as climate change, the Iraq war, Guantanamo and torture.


He dismissed talk of dissension between the McCain and Palin camps. ‘I have about 5,000 ‘top advisors’ that can be quoted by the media,’ he said. ‘We get along fine. She’s a maverick. I’m a maverick. No one expected us to agree on everything.’ And he cited drilling in northern Alaska as one example.

When Larry pressed him on the Alaska governor’s experience and capability, McCain responded: ‘I would remind you that there was an obscure governor from Arkansas, that not too many years ago -- that gained the presidency. And he had no national security experience.

‘He would never match up, as much as I love Bush I, with him on national security. We had just won the Gulf War. Sarah Palin understands these issues. She understands them very well. And frankly, with a lot of conversations that I’ve had with her, she’s an incredibly quick study.’

McCain repeated his criticism of The Times newspaper and Tribune Co. for not releasing a videotape mentioned in a news story last spring about a dinner where Obama spoke about a Palestinian friend.

‘Maybe it means nothing,’ McCain said. ‘Maybe it’s just a social event. I don’t know. But why should they not release it? And why shouldn’t the Obama campaign want it released?’ More on that over there in the newspaper pages.

Larry also asked the senator if Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama was about race and the Arizonan replied, ‘No.’

Larry pursued the race issue and McCain expanded:

‘Look, there is racism in America. We all know that because we can’t stop working against it. But I am totally convinced that 99 and 44 one hundredths percent of the American people are going to make a decision on who is best to lead this country.

‘These are one of the most difficult times in our history, both domestically and national security. I have faith in the American people that they’ll make the judgment for the best of reasons, not the worst of reasons.’

The interview’s complete transcript is available here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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