Larry King Live: Voting With the Stars
March 3, 2008
LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, voting with the stars -- Hayden Panettiere, Rosario Dawson, Lance Armstrong, Josh Groban and Wyclef Jean. Celebrities speak out on why it's important for you to help pick America's next president.
But first, primary pressure -- it's the eve of four crucial campaign contests.
(Clipped to just the portion containing Josh)
When we come back, voting with the stars -- Hayden Panettiere, Josh Groban, Lance Armstrong and Rosario Dawson are still ahead. We're going to be rocking the vote.
So don't go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY ROCK THE VOTE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Almost 20 years ago, Rock The Vote was founded by members of the music industry in response to a wave of attacks on freedom of speech. Today, it has become a household word -- shorthand for young people being politically engaged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you care whether there's a military draft...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is the only recognizable global brand for youth voter registration, political action and awareness.
KING: Getting out the vote; it's been kind of a slogan over the years. Now it means a lot more as these young people get active. Let's meet people really active. Hayden Panettiere, she's an actress and singer well known for her role on "Heroes." She's the official spokesperson for Declare Yourself, a national non-partisan voting campaign. In Austin, Texas, his home, Lance Armstrong, seven time Tour de France winner, a cancer survivor, chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and very politically active, in that he's making the fight against cancer a national political priority. Here in LA, Josh Groban, the renowned singer and entertainer, he's working with Rock the Vote, helping to get young voters to register and then vote. Also in L.A., but not on set with us, is Rosario Dawson, the actress and co-founder of Voto Latino.
All right, Hayden, what is Declare Yourself? HAYDEN PANETTIERE, ACTRESS: Declare Yourself is a non-profit organization that was created in 2003 by Norman Lear. Many celebrities have been involved with it, many political people. It's basically to encourage young people to vote and that their vote counts and it matters.
KING: Norman Lear is an outspoken Democrat and liberal. But this organization is not.
PANETTIERE: No, it's not at all. It's simply to encourage people to vote, not specifically vote for Democrats or Republicans, or any of that. Just to get out there and make a decision and have an opinion.
KING: Lance, the fight against cancer as a political weapon; Richard Nixon in 1968 declared war on cancer. Nothing ever happened. Why does nothing happen with this?
LANCE ARMSTRONG, SEVEN TIME TOUR DE FRANCE WINNER: It's a complicated disease and a complicated problem. It was in 1971 when Nixon declared war, he created the National Cancer Institute and funded it with 150 million dollars, which at the time sounded like a ton of money. Now, we spend approximately five billion, six billion dollars a year to fight this disease.
But at the end of the day, when you count up 560,000 American deaths every year, it's probably not enough. And I think there's other things along the spectrum of the disease that we could do as well. We're just trying to engage here and make sure that anybody who wants to be the president of the United States of America addresses the number one killer in this country.
KING: I was off by three years.
ARMSTRONG: I'm sorry. I didn't want to call you out there.
KING: It's OK, lance. You're a star. You're a champ. But I think he's the only president ever to declare war on cancer.
ARMSTRONG: Well, you know, it was the kick off of the war. By him declaring the war and him creating the separate body of the National Cancer Institute and giving it -- or giving the institute its own budget, he basically kicked off the war. I don't think anybody has ever come along and sort of restarted the war or refocused on the war. But that's what we need.
KING: Josh, what is Rock the Vote?
JOSH GROBAN, SINGER: Well, Rock the Vote is an organization that's been around since 1990, and primarily used music and created a platform for young people to feel like they had a voice. For so many years politicians were focusing on issues that didn't necessarily reflect youthful mentality. What Rock the Vote did through MTV and things like that -- now when you see shows like John Stewart and Colbert, it's at the forefront. Give young people the opportunity to understand that their vote is important and their voice is important. And it also sends the message to politicians that those are issues that should be considered in their campaigns.
You'll find that so many people campaigning now are listening more to youth voters now.
KING: How old are you?
GROBAN: I'm 27.
KING: When did you first vote?
GROBAN: I first voted when Al Gore was running. I had just been signed. I remember doing some campaigning for him and singing at some events for him in Nashville. It's empowering. It was really -- as soon as I could vote, I started voting.
KING: You feel good every time you vote?
GROBAN: Every time I vote. I wear that sticker.
KING: When did you first vote, Hayden?
PANETTIERE: This year, just turned 18. I'm a newbie voter.
KING: What did it feel like?
PANETTIERE: It felt very empowering, just like Josh said. Very empowering to have a voice and declare yourself, did that for me. On my 18th birthday, the first thing I did was walked out the door and went to see Norman and signed up on the computer at DeclareYourself.com, which is also a wonderful thing, because it allows kids to have access to register to vote very easily.
KING: And Rosario, what is Voto Latino?
ROSARIO DAWSON, ACTRESS: I'm sorry. Say that again.
KING: What is Voto Latino?
DAWSON: Voto Latino is an organization that was founded in 2004. It was on the heels of Puff Daddy's Vote or Die Organization. It was specifically addressed at the Latino population, recognizing then, as it ended up being, Latinos were the swing vote in the 2004 election, and wanting to kind of continue to address that, knowing that 15,000 Latinos are turning 18 every month, 400,000 turning 18 every year. That's going to continue to be the case, with having Latinos be the swing vote.
We're not a monolithic group. So, it was important to address them and have people have a closer understanding and debunk the myth that they were just voting Republican. Now everyone is saying they're just voting Democratic. So we wanted to kind of have a little more access and put it into the hands of the Latinos themselves, the Latino youth.
We've been creating this with Voto Latino. It's an online presence. We use through cell phones as well to kind of get young people to engage themselves and each other to actually register each other and vote. When you watch in 2006, Latinos were mobilizing through Myspace and texting to come out into the streets in millions to talk about the immigration issue. You're seeing that there's a definite need there to have their voice heard.
KING: Watch this. We're going to show -- hold on. I want to show something. Organizations are trying to get these voters' attention, actually using the Internet. Forgive me for interrupting. I want to get this clip in before we take a break. Then we'll get back to you. Watch this clip from Voto Latino.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAWSON: There's nothing that you can tell me that will change the way that I feel about Rodgrigo.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you know he did not register to vote?
DAWSON: What? You're legal, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, I'm legal.
DAWSON: So how come you're not registered to vote?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just never really got around to registering to vote.
DAWSON: But it's so easy!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never really thought that voting ever mattered.
DAWSON: No! I do not know! Who are you?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: That is great. We'll be right back. Don't go away. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PANETTIERE: Hi. I'm Hayden Panettiere. Welcome to the power of 18.
Just like me, on your 18th birthday, you can go to DeclareYourself.com and register to vote. I definitely feel empowered by being 18, by being able to call myself an adult, by participating in Declare Yourself and being able to choose our leader in this next campaign. I encourage all the youth of America to go out there and vote and participate in the choosing of who is going to run our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARMSTRONG: We want to know how the next president is going to fight for us and our loved ones against this dreaded disease, and throughout this campaign, I promise to make it my mission to keep cancer at the forefront.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Josh Groban, is the get out the vote, is that working?
GROBAN: I think it is. I mean, it feels -- you know, it feels like a big event now. Every election you find that youth voters are getting more and more to the table. The myth that youth voting is dropping is just that. It's a myth. Every time they feel like the issues get stronger and stronger and are talked about more and more. You know, the potential -- we have the potential to have 45 million youth vote. That would be 1/4 of the voting population.
We're hoping to get 20 to 25 million, hopefully more this year. Yes, you know, it's an incredible time. I think the people are feeling that.
KING: Do you knock on doors, Hayden? What do you do?
PANETTIERE: Do I knock on doors? Well, I will. I speak at schools. I've spoke on behalf of Save the Whales campaign about saving dolphins and whales. That's a very important thing to me, an important issue. It links up right there to Declare Yourself, because Declare Yourself speaks to young people. I've said to them, ask your candidates about problems, whether it be environmental or Lance with cancer or war. Ask them what their views are on it. Then let that weigh in on their decision.
KING: Before I ask Rosario about the impact of the Latino vote, Lance, do you expect cancer to be discussed in this year's campaign?
ARMSTRONG: Oh, yes.
KING: You do?
ARMSTRONG: If we have anything to do with it, we will. You just showed the clip for the Presidential Cancer Forum that we did last summer. We're doing another one next summer. We're going to invite, you know, the candidates again to come and discuss this disease. Again, I can't reiterate enough, I think if you want to be the commander in chief, you have to discuss something that kills one American every minute. We'll give them the opportunity in Ohio, in a critically important swing state, to come speak to the voters of Ohio and lay out an agenda, lay out a plan, and refocus the war on cancer.
KING: Damn right. Rosario, the impact of the Latino vote, I guess that's the largest minority vote in America.
DAWSON: Yes, Latinos are the largest minority as of March of 2003 in the entire country. So the numbers will only continue to grow. When you saw the numbers coming in from California in the primaries, I mean people who voted, that was 38 percent of the vote was actually Latino in California alone. Those numbers are continuing. You're seeing them in Texas. I think that's what all the hoopla is going on with talking about the Latino vote.
They're the swing election in the last election. They're going to continue to be now. What we're saying right now is we want 20 million strong. That was MTV's theme in the last election. We got 17 percent of the youth vote in that election. But everyone else came out in record numbers, so those numbers were put down. The young vote wasn't as strong.
We reached that 20 million and surpassed that. So we have so many people still to be registering. Looking at the primary numbers, things are so close over just the thousands. We have millions of people untapped right now. The Latino vote is specifically something that's going to be special with that, because you have 50,000 Latinos turning 18 every month.
KING: I salute you, Rosario. She's co-founder of Voto Latino. As always, Josh, great seeing you.
GROBAN: You, too. Thanks, Larry.
KING: When we come back Hayden and Lance will remain with us. We'll be joined by Wyclef Jean, the renowned musician who is working with Rock the Vote, and Michael W. Smith, the Grammy award winner, one of the best selling artists of Christian music, a conservative who fights AIDS and poverty in Africa.
Let's check in first with Anderson Cooper. He will host "AC 360" at the top of the hour. What's up, Anderson?
(Remainder of transcript not reproduced here)