updated 8/27/2008 11:40:41 AM ET 2008-08-27T15:40:41

Guests: Howard Fineman, Willie Brown, Antonio Villaraigosa, Jennifer Palmieri, Ed Gordon, Jeff Johnson, Marjorie Margolies, Mitt Romney

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Hillary‘s big night—can she win it for Barack?

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews.  Welcome to HARDBALL, live on day two from the Democratic convention in Denver.  We‘re in the middle of the action here, as you can hear, at Union Station, surrounded by this boisterous crowd of political enthusiasts all here to drink up the sight and the sounds of the biggest political party in the country.

Mark Warner, the Senate candidate from Virginia is the keynote speaker tonight.  But—big but here—the headliner is going to be Senator Hillary Clinton, who won 18 million votes in the primaries and caucuses.  The big question: Will she embrace her former opponent, Barack Obama, and really convince her die-hard supporters to vote for him in November, or will Hillary be will lukewarm and send signs to her base that she doesn‘t whole-heartedly embrace his candidacy?  Obama must get Hillary‘s supporters, everyone knows, to win this election, so this could be make or break starting tonight, and a big moment it is.

We‘ll get to all the action beginning at 7:00 PM tonight Eastern.  My colleague, Keith Olbermann, will be joining me from Mile High Studio, right above here, for complete coverage of day two of the convention.

But first, a look ahead to tonight, to Hillary Clinton‘s speech.  Two of the smartest people in the country, Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco, the former Speaker of the California Assembly, and “Newsweek‘s” Howard Fineman of MSNBC fame and “Newsweek” fame—gentlemen, you are the two smartest people I know.  And I mean, Willie, you‘re one of the few...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  No, no, I do not shine you up.  You‘re one of the few practitioners of the art who also can be a theoretician of the art.  Is there a way that we can walk away from tonight, three or four hours tonight, and not really be able to read whether Hillary put her full wood (ph) behind the bat tonight for Barack?

WILLIE BROWN (D), FORMER SAN FRANCISCO MAYOR:  I think that‘s Hillary‘s responsibility to do exactly that, and I think Hillary is dedicated to doing exactly that.  She views herself as having a career in the Democratic Party far beyond tonight, and tonight will depend upon whether or not that career reaches the same level as her original 18 million voters.

MATTHEWS:  Can you believe that we‘ll be able to know that, watching it, or whether she had her fingers crossed tonight?

BROWN:  I think Hillary Clinton will not want the news accounts to be that she interfered with Barack Obama‘s march to the White House but whether she‘s the impetus for his march to the White House.

MATTHEWS:  Your thought, Howard?  Will there be a reading we can all take objectively at the end of the night and say, She did it?  In baseball, you hit the ball over the fence, it‘s a home run.  You come home.  If you don‘t, you didn‘t.  Will we know?

HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I know that one of her best friends spent a lot of time with her the other day, and he told me that in her heart, she really wants to do well for Obama.  He wasn‘t BSing me.  This is a very tough, hard-hearted guy.  He said, I know her and she really wants to probably become the sort of Ted Kennedy-type figure.  If presidential stuff doesn‘t work out, she would be happy being a sort of conscience of the Senate-type person, as the model of Ted Kennedy has proven—do health care, do other stuff, maybe be to Obama‘s left on some things in the Senate.  That‘s the good Hillary Clinton, OK?

But the other Hillary Clinton gets out there in front of her ardent supporters, and they say, Hillary, you won 18 million votes.  You came this close.  Don‘t give up the dream.  Remember women‘s rights.  Remember what you can do.  Remember the slights to your husband, Bill, and how Obama didn‘t give him his props.  And then she gets wound up again and starts thinking, Well, maybe I should be a little angry.  And whichever Hillary shows up tonight...

MATTHEWS:  So you don‘t know.

FINEMAN:  I don‘t really know.  I think she‘s torn between the statesman and the fighter.  And Hillary, statesman though she can be, is one heck of a fighter, too, and she‘s going to be struggling with that in tone, if not in the words.  The words will be fine.  The words will be fine.  But television can sometimes show you more than words can convey.

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you a middle case.  Will it come across in her speech, or can she convey it, that either she lost a close one—which we all know from Jeffersonian democracy, when you lose by one vote, you lose, that‘s how it works—or will she let the message sink into her supporters, I was robbed, like the old Brooklyn Dodger fan, We was robbed?  What message will she convey?

BROWN:  She‘s got to avoid any acknowledgement of any disappointment in her own efforts, other than that which happened with her.  She cannot suggest that the deck was stacked.  She can‘t suggest that anything was done improperly and incorrectly.  She‘s got to do what Michelle Obama attempted to do last night.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

BROWN:  She‘s got to move it to a whole new level.  And Howard‘s

reference to Ted Kennedy is exactly that.  He did it in New York in 1980,

if you will recall, when he went on, when Carter was all doing whatever he was doing, Kennedy went on and gave that great speech.  Hillary can do exactly the same thing.

MATTHEWS:  But he didn‘t embrace Jimmy Carter on the stand, up on the platform.  He never let Jimmy Carter grab his hand at the end.

BROWN:  Well, he‘s not into touchy-feely.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I mean, Kennedy.  Come on!  Teddy never really fully endorsed him.  Nor did Gene McCarthy, as you recall, ever fully endorse Hubert Humphrey.  The Democrats have had bad marriages before politically.

FINEMAN:  It strikes me—and I know a lot of people think this is just a media creation—but if you go around in the Pepsi Center, as I did all day and night last night, the resentment of the Clinton people is real.  The fact is there are many Obama supporters who think that Barack Obama should have picked Hillary.  And Hillary‘s got to be careful not to play to that because if she does, it‘s a fire that‘s almost but not quite out.

And the last thing they‘re going to be arguing about is this whole business over roll call votes.  Willie Brown remembers about roll call votes.  There are a lot of Clinton people...

MATTHEWS:  (INAUDIBLE) back yard delegation.  Remember?  Wasn‘t that you?

BROWN:  In 1972.

FINEMAN:  But there are a lot of people—a lot of the Clinton people want a roll call vote to document how close she came.  She says she doesn‘t really want that, but her whips are not exactly playing like that behind the scenes.  There are still arguments going on within delegations about who‘s going to get to vote and what the bottom line is going to be.

MATTHEWS:  I understood last night with Keith that the deal was that Hillary would, at some point, call off the roll call, offer up for acclamation the nomination of Barack Obama, and it will be done with great dignity.

FINEMAN:  The key words are some point.  There are lot of—there are a lot—what the Obama people wanted originally was for there to be votes in all the delegation breakfasts in the morning, tomorrow morning.  Each delegation meets every morning.  They would have a vote at the delegation breakfast meeting in the hotels.  They would take the tally there for the roll call and then report it on the convention floor.

The Clinton people would not go along with that.  They refused to—at least as of this minute, refused to accept that.  They want some kind of roll call.  The question is how extensive, and within each delegation, it‘s a question of who gets to announce how many votes because there are arguments about that.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Let me ask you the bottom-line question.  Will there be a moment in Hillary Clinton‘s speech tonight—and it will be a great speech—where she points to her delegates and says—and to her people by the millions, the 18 million who voted for her, and the independents who are thinking of voting for her, and say, This election‘s too important to let anger or revenge play a role, you must vote for interest, you must vote the Democratic Party ticket?

BROWN:  I think she has to do exactly that.  I think with the closeness of this election, as the polls are beginning to show, Hillary can establish herself as having saved the Obama candidacy.

MATTHEWS:  Wow.

BROWN:  And if she does that by her speech, she will have achieved the goal of being the new Ted Kennedy of the Democratic Party.

FINEMAN:  This is why I mentioned the details of the roll call business.  It sounds trivial, but don‘t forget, conventions sometimes are actual voting meetings.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.

FINEMAN:  And to some people, this matters a lot.  There are people who want to be able to cast their vote.  If Hillary says tonight, I want all of my delegates to vote for Barack Obama, she will be going too far for her own so-called bitter-enders.  I don‘t expect her to say that exact thing tonight.  If she does, it‘ll be a big help, and I‘m not sure Obama‘s expecting it.

MATTHEWS:  So just to underline your point, she cannot allow the attitude to grow because of tonight or expand because of tonight that the Democratic Party was once again screwed out of an election.  It cannot be an echo of Florida in 2000, where many Democrats believe that the Supreme Court intervened and ruined a Democratic process.  You‘re saying, Mayor, she must leave the clear impression it was fair and square, the other guy won it.  That‘s the way it works.

BROWN:  Tonight has to end the primary fight, and Hillary Clinton has to be responsible for ending that primary fight.

MATTHEWS:  Wow.

BROWN:  And she can do it with dignity, she can do it with respect and she can do it with honor.  And if she does that, she will be the toast of the Democratic Party.

MATTHEWS:  Howard, are you optimistic that that might happen?

FINEMAN:  I‘m not sure it‘s going to happen because of the technical things I‘m talking about, where a lot of these Clinton delegates want a chance to vote with their free will and conscience for Hillary in some kind of roll call tomorrow.  And if Hillary says that exact thing, they may not like it.  I don‘t know.  Watching the Clintons as much as I have, I‘m not sure they‘re ready to end all of the last moments of suspense tonight.  I think they would like to possibly carry it out one more day.

MATTHEWS:  How do you explain this to another country?  Why—you know, every country has a parliamentary system.  All the modern countries do.  They have votes, and they‘re close sometimes.  And elections decide who rules.  And yet in some countries, usually underdeveloped countries or developing countries, you find, you know, sour grapes to the extreme.  They don‘t—the army moves.  Zimbabwe being an example.  The guy that‘s—it almost seems like—I know they‘re not going to (INAUDIBLE) trouble, but it‘s almost like, Screw you, this election doesn‘t count.  I‘m hearing that.

BROWN:  Well, what some of them are telling me is it was Barack Obama said it‘s about delegate votes, not popular vote.  Let‘s count the delegate votes.  I mean, they‘re that pig-headed about it or stubborn or whatever you want to say, and because they didn‘t pick Hillary on the ticket—because Obama did not pick Hillary, that gave them the right to feel aggrieved, in their own minds.  And they‘re going to play it out if they possibly can.

By the way, behind the scenes, the two people who are doing the most to try to avoid this, I‘m told, are Michelle Obama—Michelle Obama is the one who‘s reaching out to Hillary even as we speak.  They were in an event together today.

MATTHEWS:  Good for her.

FINEMAN:  Yes.  And you‘re going to...

MATTHEWS:  Well, last night, I thought when she gave credit to Hillary Clinton for 18 million—let‘s take a look at...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Here‘s Barack (SIC) Obama making her best effort to bring peace last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, WIFE OF BARACK OBAMA:  I stand here today at the cross-currents of the history, knowing that my peace of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me, all of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work, people like Hillary Clinton...

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

MICHELLE OBAMA:  ... who put those 18 million cracks in that glass ceiling so that our daughters and our sons can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  That, of course, was one of the great moments of the convention so far.  Mayor Brown, is that the beginning of the truce, of the charm initiative across the lines here?

BROWN:  I think that is exactly how Michelle started it, and I think she carried it forward at Emily‘s List today.  The two of them were there together for lunch, and it was a love fest.  And I think it will go forward.  And I think, by the way, Michelle Obama will probably be present tonight to welcome Hillary.  And if she does, that is the best indication it‘s working.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re the best, Mayor.  We‘re looking for this incisive reality to come to play.  We‘ve only previewed it here.  Let‘s see what happens.  Mayor Willie Brown, former long-time Speaker of the California Assembly, and Howard Fineman, who knows all things.

Coming up, we‘ll examine how Democrats did last night.  Are they now ready to go after John McCain?

You‘re watching HARDBALL from the site of the Democratic national convention in Denver, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  ... will now come to order.  Delegates, alternates, standing committee members, guests, and fellow Americans, welcome to the 2008 Democratic national convention deliberations.  Please rise for...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS:  Of course, here we are, the second night of the Democratic national convention out here in Denver.  We‘ve got the demonstrators out here.  This is a free country, as we can tell.  We‘ve got bullhorns and everything.  We‘re going to try to ignore some of the crazier elements and hear from the people who are here to cover the convention (INAUDIBLE) paying attention (INAUDIBLE)

Right now, we‘ve got Jennifer Palmieri, a former John Edwards adviser, and one of the most powerful men in California, Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, LOS ANGELES MAYOR:  How are you today?

MATTHEWS:  Thank you, sir.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  ... time together.  You know, I guess it‘s the old question of carrot or stick.  Last night, I never saw so much carrot, the charm of Michelle Obama.  She was downright fetching as a family member, as a mother.  The children were divine.  The father was fatherly.  It was “father knows best,” or rather, it was the Huxtables.  Also, there was a great sentimental moment with Senator Kennedy, who‘s now sort of post-political.

Tonight, is it time to throw the red meat to this crowd and remind them why they‘re Democrats, Mayor?

VILLARAIGOSA:  Well, I think it‘s time for us to remind our party and the nation that there‘s nothing more important than change and hope.  Yesterday, we had an opportunity to hear from soon-to-be first lady Michelle Obama.  And I‘ll tell you, I was inspired.  But I‘ll be—I think we‘ll all be inspired by another first lady, Hillary Clinton, tonight.  She‘s going to reach out to everyone in the convention, reach out in a way that speaks to the better angels among us, the sense that America is a great  place and we have to come together to make the change that we need right now.  And I totally expect her to hit the ball out of the park.

I know you were talking a few minutes ago, speculating what she was going to do.  She‘s going to hit the ball out of the park because she knows that the country is more important than the party or any individual.  She‘s always been someone who is passionate about her values and her party, and she‘s going to get behind Barack Obama‘s candidacy in this election as she has ever since the end of the primary.

MATTHEWS:  Jennifer, your thoughts?  Do think Hillary Clinton wants Barack Obama elected this November or would she like the opportunity to run again in 2012?

JENNIFER PALMIERI, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  I think that she wants Barack Obama to—I think she wants Barack Obama to be elected.  And I don‘t—she does not want to wake up Wednesday after the election and Democrats (INAUDIBLE)  I think that she has been—I think she‘s done everything that she can do thus far to convince her supporters to be for Obama.  But I think that there‘s something about her being on the stage tonight, you know, in that venue with the national audience, you know, where she then says to the—you know, to her supporters, I do not (INAUDIBLE) John McCain cannot be elected president.  As she‘s been saying, I‘m Hillary Clinton and I don‘t approve the message that John McCain has been sending, saying that my supporters should be for him.  But I think there‘s something about her doing it in this forum that will be very powerful.  And her supporters need to hear that.

MATTHEWS:  John McCain has been presenting himself as a maverick, as a man who says, We‘re not—we‘re worse off than we were four years ago, and he‘s openly challenging the economic policies of this administration.  How do the Democrats corral him back into being a Republican?

VILLARAIGOSA:  Well, he actually may have done that four years ago. 

What he said in the last few days, in the last months of the campaign, is that he wants four more years of Bush policies in Iraq.  He wants a 100-year war.  As he said, we may be in Iraq for another 100 years.  He says he doesn‘t know much about the economy in a country that is in a recession. 

Frankly, I don‘t see the maverick.  I see a man beholden to the extremes in his party, someone who doesn‘t represent the center of America, the heartland of America.  And that‘s why I believe that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. 

MATTHEWS:  How tough do you think the Democrats are going to get?  Are they going to go after McCain, who will be 77 years old in his first term?  Will they lay that in as one of the issues?

PALMIERI:  I don‘t expect that you will see that the Obama campaign will use that as an issue. 

I think that this is—it‘s an election where the issues are so much on the Democrats‘ side, even if you were inclined to be negative like that, you don‘t need to do that.  You don‘t.

I mean, you can run—I mean, you can run a positive campaign on Obama, who is a very appealing candidate, obviously.  But the—you know, as the mayor was pointing out, McCain‘s turned so much into—you know, he votes with Bush 95 percent of the time.  But his policies, his tax cuts, they are not only just—they are not only Bush‘s. 

He has $200 -- $200 billion more in corporate taxes.  There‘s ways to show that he‘s actually worse at (INAUDIBLE) Things are bad enough, that people are worried about policy than personality.

MATTHEWS:  Well, you know what I mean.  I have been watching these polls, like you both have.

PALMIERI:  Right. 

MATTHEWS:  And I see them coming together.  It‘s not just that the presidential matchup is very close, if not within the margin of error. 

But the whole question we always ask, do you want a Democratic Congress, do you want a Republican Congress, that‘s narrowing.  And despite the bad economic times, the credit crunch, questions about the credit market, unemployment rising, gas prices still high, the whole problem of debt and—and trade, and, yet, with all that information in their hands and their personal experience, they‘re getting closer to the idea of a John McCain presidency. 

VILLARAIGOSA:  First of all, the country is evenly divided.  And it has been for decades.  And nobody‘s going to run away with this election.  We‘re going to have to work hard for every vote.  And that‘s the challenge of this election, to speak to America‘s heartland, to speak to the values that I think Michelle Obama spoke to last night, to demonstrate that Barack Obama is about that opportunity, America.

He‘s benefited from that opportunity, and wants to ensure that more people get to enjoy it.  And it‘s going to be a tough campaign.  We all know that.  But I expect that the vast majority of people in this country want that change, want the hope that he gives us, that‘s he‘s imparted throughout this campaign.  And I expect a victory in November. 

MATTHEWS:  What do you say to the woman voter perhaps as old as I am who feels it was Hillary‘s...

PALMIERI:  As young as you are.

MATTHEWS:  Well, who feels that it was Hillary‘s turn, a woman‘s turn, if you will.  They felt that this young guy, this skinny young guy, just sort of jumped line and made it to the nomination, despite being African-American, and that being a trendsetting, perhaps, event, or record-shattering event. 

And she says, you know, I‘m going to send a message to the Democratic leadership.  Don‘t mess with us.  I‘m going to vote for this fellow, this John McCain. 

What do you say to her? 

PALMIERI:  I think...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  Because I think Hillary Clinton has to talk to her tonight. 

PALMIERI:  Right.  I think Hillary Clinton has to talk to exactly her.

And I think what she will say is, this is too important to let—as she‘s said before, if you supported me, you can not support John McCain.  It‘s too important to let, you know, our hurt feelings get in the way of what is an incredibly important election.  And—and she‘s been doing that since June. 

But I do think that she will—I think something about how she does it tonight, from that podium, will have a big impact.  And I also think that President Clinton, tomorrow night, needs to deliver the same message and will deliver the same message. 

You know, a lot of people say, well, how are you going to convince the Clinton supporters to be for him?  And I think Bill and Hillary Clinton need to do that.  And, you know—but you know Bill Clinton.  He‘s not going to get up there and not deliver a great speech, right?

MATTHEWS:  Oh, he will give a good speech.

PALMIERI:  He‘s going to—he‘s going to hit it out of the park.

VILLARAIGOSA:  That‘s right. 

These were two historic candidacies that came together that attracted millions of new voters, young people, African-Americans, and women.  It‘s natural that, with the kind of titanic struggle that we had during the primaries, there‘s going to be some hurt feelings. 

But, at the end of the day, Democrats are going to be united.  They‘re going to be united around the idea that Barack has something different to offer America, something that reminds them about what our values have always been about, a future where all of us can live that American dream. 

MATTHEWS:  Jennifer Palmieri, thank you very much.  You worked for John Edwards.

And you, of course, the great mayor of the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  Up next: the greatest Democratic Convention speeches of the past 40 years.  You don‘t want to miss that.  If you‘re a history buff like me, you love to see the history of these conventions. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL from the Democratic National Convention, only on MSNBC.  

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”)

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, “THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN”:  Right here, the list, top 10 ways to make the Democratic National Convention more fun, more fun. 

Here you go.

Number 10:  Offer John McCain $1 million if he correctly guesses how many homes he owns. 

(LAUGHTER)

LETTERMAN:  Number nine:  Every night one lucky lady gets to go home with John Edwards.  Oh.

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

LETTERMAN:  And the number-one way to make the Democratic National Convention more fun:  Try to squeeze Al Gore into the same suit he wore at the 2000 convention. 

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(MUSIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(LAUGHTER)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s good.

Welcome back to Denver.  That was David Letterman, of course. 

It‘s Mark Warner now with the keynote address tonight, and Hillary Clinton with the barn burner, the headline speech tonight.  Everybody is going to be watching that.  You‘re going to get theater reviews tomorrow on how well she did. 

The Democratic Convention over the years has had plenty of memorable moments, of course, some of them a little bit weird. 

HARDBALL‘s David Shuster is here with a look at some of the best. 

David, history, a walk down memory lane. 

DAVID SHUSTER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Chris, even if you put aside the people who have been on the ticket, put them aside, there have been some incredible, incredible Democratic speeches throughout the years, usually starting on the Tuesday night, when the keynote speaker starts. 

We went back through, looked at all the best tapes from the last 40 years.

Here is the best of the best. 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER (voice-over):  They are the speeches Democrats will always remember. 

REVEREND JESSE JACKSON, FOUNDER, RAINBOW/PUSH COALITION:  It gets dark sometimes, but the morning comes...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

JACKSON:  Don‘t you surrender. 

SHUSTER:  ... the remarks that turned a politician into a Democratic Party icon or deepened their already legendary status. 

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on.  The cause endures.  The hope still lives.  And the dream shall never die. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

SHUSTER:  In 1976, the magic came from Texas Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, the first African-American woman to deliver a national party keynote address. 

REP. BARBARA JORDAN (D), TEXAS:  We cannot improve on the system of government handed down to us by the founders of the republic.  There is no way to improve upon that.  But what we can do is to find new ways to implement that system and realize our destiny. 

SHUSTER:  In 1984, New York Governor Mario Cuomo became a Democratic household name with this. 

MARIO CUOMO (D), NEW YORK GOVERNOR:  And we proclaim as loudly as we can the utter insanity of nuclear proliferation and the need for a nuclear freeze, if only to affirm the simple truth that peace is better than war, because life is better than death. 

SHUSTER:  Few Democrats will ever forget the convention in 1988.  Keynote speaker Ann Richards of Texas ridiculed the Republican nominee, George H.W. Bush, as out of touch. 

ANN RICHARDS, DEMOCRAT:  Poor George. 

(LAUGHTER)

RICHARDS:  He can‘t help it.  He was born with a silver foot in his mouth. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)  

SHUSTER:  Jesse Jackson inspired African-Americans in the hall and mesmerized Democrats across the nation. 

JACKSON:  Wherever you are tonight, you can make it.  Hold your head high.  Stick your chest out.  You can make it.  Keep hope alive.  Keep hope alive. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

JACKSON:  Keep hope alive on tomorrow night and beyond.  Keep hope alive.  I love you very much. 

SHUSTER:  Four years ago, a U.S. Senate candidate named Barack Obama burst onto the national scene with this. 

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There is not a liberal America and a conservative America.  There is the United States of America. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

B. OBAMA:  There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America.  There‘s the United States of America. 

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER:  And that was just Barack Obama just four years ago, the keynote address, Chris.

And, again, some terrific speeches have come on this, the second night of the convention, putting aside whoever is on the ticket that comes Wednesday and Thursday night, great speeches through the years on the Tuesday night of a Democratic Convention. 

MATTHEWS:  You know, it‘s amazing how few great speakers there are.  I think it‘s this medium of television, because I think a lot of lazy politicians get all the way to U.S. Senate, even to running for president, by simply asking and answering our questions, instead of getting up there and grabbing us with a great bit of oratory. 

SHUSTER:  And what was remarkable, Chris, about all those speakers in that piece was, they were great not just on TV, but they were great in the convention hall.  When you talked to people who were right there, who didn‘t see it on TV, but saw it right there in person, they were just as mesmerized as the audience... 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  How come the guy who gives the best speech never wins? 

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS:  I just want to know.  Jesse Jackson, Mario Cuomo, Ted Kennedy.  This could be the first year...

SHUSTER:  Could be. 

MATTHEWS:  ... that the man who gives the best—or the person who gives the best—Hillary could give the best speech.  The best speech will go—the winner will go to the best speech. 

This could be groundbreaking, sir, just like William Jennings Bryan. 

I love history, David Shuster. 

Up next:  Former presidential candidate, he‘s coming here.  He‘s poaching.  Mitt Romney is sneaking around the Democratic Convention.  How did he get in the door?  Where did he get his credentials?  Who‘s he know?  Does money buy your way in here?  Let‘s ask Mitt Romney, the Republican, hiding around the Democratic Convention. 

Just kidding.  We will have him here.  We will welcome here. 

It‘s coming up on HARDBALL.  And Mitt Romney, is he going to be on the ticket?  Does John McCain like him enough to put him on the ticket?

We will be back from Denver. 

This ain‘t Saint Paul, Mitt Romney.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL, live from Denver.  That‘s where we are this week, where the second night is just getting under way, the Democratic Convention, of course, all eyes tonight on Hillary Clinton. 

She lost things narrowly, this race for the nomination.  She got an 18-million-vote endorsement from the Democrats of this country.  And tonight‘s about respect, I think, and whether she gets adequate respect in the eyes of those people watching on television for the work and the achievements that she did.  She broke through a lot of glass ceiling. 

Right now, let‘s take a look at what people think of that speech tonight as they begin to anticipate it.

Ed Gordon, of course, is host of “Our World With Black Enterprise.” 

And Jeff Johnson is host of BET‘s “The Truth”—boy, that‘s a standard—

“With Jeff Johnson.”

Let me ask you.  You‘re watching Hillary, tonight, gentlemen.  You‘re watching it.  What are you looking for? 

You first.

ED GORDON, HOST, “OUR WORLD WITH BLACK ENTERPRISE”:  I think that what we‘re going to see from her is legacy trumping ego.  And I really think—

Chris, you and I both know, for both Clintons, legacy really is what they are fighting for now. 

So, I think, in the end, she is going to play for a bit of sympathy, but, with that, move forward and say, but I‘m bigger then all of this, and I‘m giving my true endorsement and asking you to follow. 

MATTHEWS:  Will she come across—and she has the power to the move the audience—she‘s skilled with all this experience—to come off as a victim of an unfair system that rooked her, or as someone who lost a close one, fair and square? 

JEFF JOHNSON, HOST, “THE TRUTH WITH JEFF JOHNSON”:  I think she‘s going to come across as somebody who lost a close one. 

I don‘t think playing the victim is going to be—is going to work

for her tonight.  I think she want wants to be seen as somebody that is

throwing all the support she can behind Obama.  And playing victim doesn‘t

doesn‘t help her do that.

I think I agree with Ed.  I mean, I think this is about legacy.  And the polls are so close right now, I don‘t know if she believes that Obama‘s going to win.  And she‘s...

MATTHEWS:  Well, that‘s the question.  If Obama loses, she can say, I told you so. 

JOHNSON:  Absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Bill Clinton can say, fairy tale and all that stuff, I told you so, right? 

JOHNSON:  No, absolutely. 

MATTHEWS:  Right. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  So, do they have an interest in—do you they have an objective interest in Barack winning, or an objective interest in Barack losing? 

GORDON:  Well, I think that depends on really what kind of behind-the-door conversations have really been had between the two camps, because we know that the Clintons, in spite of all of this, in spite of the hurt feelings, are going to try to vie for something for Hillary, if, in fact he win. 

You and I both know they don‘t like to play just cards on one side. 

They‘re going to cover both bases. 

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS:  They are known for having what is called a trapdoor. 

GORDON:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  And, you know, if I don‘t get drafted this way, I will find some way around the ROTC.  I agree.  I know they‘re very brilliant that way.

They always have a plan B.  So, you‘re saying, if Hillary wins, they want to be part of the team.  If Hillary loses, they want to be the new team. 

GORDON:  That‘s right. 

MATTHEWS:  Can you be both?  Can you work both options? 

GORDON:  Well, they have been—look...

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

GORDON:  They have been doing that, Chris. 

MATTHEWS:  Jeff.

JOHNSON:  Well, there‘s a—there‘s a Dr. Clinton and Ms. Hillary going on here.  And Ms. Hillary, I think, doesn‘t want to see...

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Describe—describe the good doctor. 

JOHNSON:  Doesn‘t want to see another Republican in the White House.  Clearly in support of Democratic values and wants to see a shift in the White House.  But then there‘s the power Clintons, the Clintons that want to have power, the Clintons that want to be in charge, that want to be in the front.  So there‘s a that‘s dynamic contradicting each other here. 

MATTHEWS:  Will we see both faces in the same speech? 

JOHNSON:  I think absolutely, without question.

GORDON:  I think what‘s been surprising to us is the idea that this sense of hurt, this sense of defeatism has been much larger and much deeper than any of us expected on both sides. 

MATTHEWS:  I completely agree.  I have been through as a kid, you know, the old Bobby versus Eugene McCarthy fight.  I‘ve been through the Ted Kennedy versus Jimmy Carter fight.  Maybe because we‘re right in the middle of it, but it seems so deep.  Maybe because it‘s about gender.  Maybe because there‘s a particular—what am I saying maybe.  I know it‘s true.  Women my age who believe it was, let‘s be blunt, their turn.  They have a candidate they felt was ready, accomplished and superior. 

Along comes this young guy with two or three years experience with the right words, and he woos the party with the right words but not with the experience.  She‘s put this sweat equity in.  She‘s got some skin in the game.  And—well I‘m just making the case. 

JOHNSON:  You had two historic-making campaigns happening here, with American people that were vested in both, seeing the first female or the first African-American, both as emotionally invested as they were politically invested.  I don‘t think this was just about the candidates.  The deep rooted hurt here is about the supporters, as much as it is the candidate. 

GORDON:  A political insiders can have fun with the idea that every Sunday we get together and talk about bare knuckle fights and love it.  And then when you lose it, fall back and cry about it. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s hard.  I‘ve been through this in politics all my life.  It‘s easy to say love your enemy.  It‘s very religious and Christian, particularly. But, you know, when you have your whole heart and your whole life set on one dream, there‘s no option play.  You want to be president. 

Let me ask you about Bill Clinton.  We haven‘t spoken about him.  He got hit hard for some comments he made comparing Barack to Jesse Jackson, for phrases that were open to interpretation like fairy tales.  We know all this.  He was accused by some people of being racist.  I think that‘s BS.  I think his record is more important than interpretations of a stupid line he made.  Although, it‘s clear he was rooting for his wife and rooting against Barack.  If he could have said something to undermine that guy‘s chances, he was going to do it.  What‘s your sense of the legacy of Bill Clinton as of tonight? 

JOHNSON:  I think the night will be setting the stage for what he talks about tomorrow.  We‘re going to see a tag team here.  As has already been mentioned, the Clintons care about legacy.  There‘s going to be some damage control that‘s done to say, look, we‘re not racist.  We don‘t hate Barack Obama.  We did want to win. 

MATTHEWS:  Does he have to release him from that—does Barack Obama have to stand up there Thursday night in the big football field, Mile High, Invesco—does he have to stand up there and say, I‘m taking the knife out of this guy‘s back?  He‘s not a racist.  I don‘t want any brother believing that or sister believing that.

GORDON:  I think he leaves it alone all together. 

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t think that‘s in there, that sentence?  You‘ve got guys like Jim Clyburn, extremely impressive guys who are saying, I will tell you later what he said on the phone.  You know what I‘m talking about. 

GORDON:  It‘s time for us to treat Barack Obama as we treated every other nominee heretofore.  That‘s the idea that come Thursday, it‘s all mine.  It doesn‘t really matter.  It‘s my ball game.

MATTHEWS:  You are Pollyanna.  You think it‘s going to be that neat? 

The cake is going to be his birthday cake? 

GORDON:  I don‘t think it‘s going to be a birthday cake.  I think at that point, everybody has to get in line. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s an argument, but is that what your prediction is? 

GORDON:  Yes.  Absolutely.

JOHNSON:  I‘ve got to disagree with Ed a little there.  I don‘t think it‘s going to be about every gets in line.  I do think that Barack Obama‘s going to own it, regardless of what the Clintons say. 

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s talk about ethnicity.  I‘m just seat of the pants here.  Everybody gets in trouble who‘s white and talks about this.  I like to dance on the edge of the platform here.  I figured there‘s about one in five white guys who have a problem with race and openly in their own heart will admit.  They‘ll just say it to themselves, I‘m not voting for a black guy.  They‘ll say it to their wife, girlfriend.  They won‘t say it to their kids.  Some will. 

Then there‘s another quintile, the second bit, they‘ll vote for Colin Powell, he wins the war and saves the nation.  They‘ll vote for a fellow, the guy that save the people.  It seems to me that second quintile is the one that Barack‘s got to work on.  He can‘t give away 80 percent—I mean, 25, 40 percent.  He‘s got to get in there and convince some of those recalcitrant, resistant white people that normally are a bit conservative about race.  They may have had neighborhood turf fights, whatever.  He‘s got to sell them.  Is there any way he can do that that you guys can imagine? 

GORDON:  I think the beginning of the sell was last night with Michelle.  I mean, I think—

MATTHEWS:  If you‘re open to it, she sells. 

GORDON:  No, but, I think that beginning to put this family in a position of traditional thinking. 

MATTHEWS:  Like the Huxtables.  They were almost like the perfect family.  They were godly.  They‘re gorgeous to begin with. 

JOHNSON:  I don‘t think you sell those guys.  I think the two in five, three in five, whatever we‘re talking about, whatever number, they‘re not going to come around. 

MATTHEWS:  I‘m saying, don‘t you have to work that edge?  Don‘t you have to reach out and get the guy in the bar right now, looking up to those people, saying they‘re rich.  They went to Ivy League schools.  They get all the breaks.

GORDON:  That same guy says that about a white guy who went to an Ivy League school, who had a better knock on life than I did. 

JOHNSON:  There‘s still some kind of connection.  There‘s still a connection.  There‘s still a connection there, where he‘s devoid of that connection with Barack Obama.  Plain and simple. 

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  It‘s America.  You guys live it.  I live it a little bit.  But it must be—I saw a lot of crying faces last night.  Happy faces. 

GORDON:  Absolutely, absolutely.  You cannot put a number on the euphoria that‘s being felt among blacks.  And if women that are hurt by Mrs. Clinton can get over it, they can see not the same type of, but a euphoria in Michelle Obama, who was brilliant last night. 

MATTHEWS:  She‘s the ideal like Hillary‘s the ideal.  They did everything right, these women.  When they were girls, they did everything right.  When they were women, they‘ve done everything right.  They have great kids.  They worked their hearts off.  They make it their profession.  They work hard.  They play by the rules.  They don‘t live off welfare. 

They don‘t commit crime.  They don‘t live on affirmative action. 

Everything‘s based upon self-reliance and achievement. 

I just wonder about these conservative white guys.  What more do you fricking want?  What do you want? 

GORDON:  That‘s why I disagree a little bit.  I think she is one of the selling point.  I think what Michelle did last night was the beginning of a selling process to say, we aren‘t who you think we are. 

JOHNSON:  She‘s a wonderful selling point. 

MATTHEWS:  It‘s like Bill O‘Reilly going up to Sylvia‘s up in Harlem and saying, they use knives and forks. 

JOHNSON:  That‘s a bit of a—

MATTHEWS:  I would put him in that other fifth maybe.  I don‘t know which fifth.  Sorry, Bill.  Ed Gordon, Jeff Johnson, interesting discussion right at the edge of America change.  America is changing.  Much more coming back here from Denver.  This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS:  I guess Mitt Romney got lost somewhere in the Democratic convention.  Maybe he was looking for the Republican convention.  We‘re hoping to still get him next time.  I‘m joined right now by former U.S.  Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies.  She‘s now a professor at University of Pennsylvania.  These are your students behind you, right? 

MARJORIE MARGOLIES ®, FMR. US CONGRESSWOMAN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  The big question I‘m putting to you, like a seder question tonight on a seder night, what makes this convention—because you‘re teaching a course in conventions—what makes this one different than any other convention? 

MARGOLIES:  I think the build up has been different.  I think the interest between Hillary and Obama is obvious.  Now it‘s time to unite.  I think it was much less of a coronation than many other conventions that, at least, we have dealt with. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you, come here.  Quick.  What do you think about this convention?  What‘s your feelings about it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I haven‘t been to other conventions, so this is my first impression.  But I feel like the energy surrounding this convention is a lot different than it has been in the past.  You have an electorate, old and young, who is extremely energized about this candidate.  It just makes a great feeling. 

MATTHEWS:  You are all juniors in college.  Come here.  Young man, this is your chance.  This is your greatness moment here.  What?  Same question.  What are you grabbed by here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think Barack Obama‘s candidacy is definitely unprecedented.  But overall, I think there‘s a lot more precedent for a lot of the things that are going on here than a lot of people are pointing out. 

MATTHEWS:  We‘re going to Governor Romney now.  Governor Mitt Romney, thank you.  Did you get your traffic screwed up and you ended up at the Democratic convention? 

MITT ROMNEY ®, FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  It feels like I‘m back in the Massachusetts state house.  What can I say? 

MATTHEWS:  OK, how many houses do you have? 

ROMNEY:  One less than John Kerry.  That would be four. 

MATTHEWS:  How many do you have?  You have four?  You have 11 between you, if you get on the ticket, right? 

ROMNEY:  We are to turn the sound up in here.  The band has struck up a chord.  I‘m afraid I can‘t hear you.  OK. 

MATTHEWS:  That‘s an old Reagan trick, I can‘t hear you. 

ROMNEY:  Give it again? 

MATTHEWS:  Governor Romney, can you deliver Michigan for the ticket if you get on it? 

ROMNEY:  I‘m not here to talk about myself or being part of the ticket.  I‘m here to talk about electing John McCain as the next president of the United States.  I think despite all the hoopla and the ceremony and the glitz associated with Barack Obama‘s candidacy, the people are going to focus on the issues.  They are going to vote for John McCain, because he has the judgment and experience to lead the country. 

MATTHEWS:  How will John McCain offer a different economic policy than President Bush has?  What will be the difference in the two policies? 

ROMNEY:  The greatest difference, of course, is between John McCain and Barack Obama. 

MATTHEWS:  No, no, no. 

ROMNEY:  John McCain wants to keep our taxes down.  He will not raise taxes. 

MATTHEWS:  What‘s the difference between Bush and McCain? 

ROMNEY:  They‘re a number of places where they have differences.  One is in health care.  One is in health care, one of the largest parts of our economic vitality.  One sixth of our national economy is health care.  John McCain has put out a plan to get every citizen insured with tax credits.  With regards to energy, as you know.  John McCain was the first one to come out and say we ought to do more offshore drilling.  He was right on that, absolutely spot on.  He has also put in place a plan to stimulate new technologies in battery technology, specifically giving a reward for people coming up with new battery technologies. 

Look, the Democrats are going to try every way they can to say John McCain is like George Bush.  John McCain has proven over the last eight years, at least, that he‘s anything but anybody‘s carbon copy.  He‘s the maverick.  He‘s proven it time and time again. 

MATTHEWS:  Let me ask you about the Republican party.  Is the Republican party happy with the performance of the last eight years?  Are the members of the party happy with the policies and achievements of this administration?  Are they happy with it? 

ROMNEY:  Some parts, yes, and some parts no.  I think the area that the Republicans are most concerned about is the over-spending in Washington, when we had control of Congress and when the Democrats had control of Congress.  Spending is running amuck.  John McCain is absolutely committed to reducing federal spending and vetoing bills that have excessive spending.  That‘s one of the places, of course, he took great exception to George Bush.  He would have vetoed more bills. 

He voted against Medicare Part D, that great expansion that was very expensive.  He also voted against George Bush‘s energy plan, saying it gave too many tax breaks to the big oil companies.  He‘s a different man than George Bush.  And Republicans want to see a reigning in of spending.   

MATTHEWS:  Do you believe that—and I‘ve argued this—if you take the Romney plan up in Massachusetts on health care, and you take the Schwarzenegger approach, and you take some elements of the Obama plan, can we put together something better than what we have for health insurance for those millions of people, tens of millions who are uninsured today?  Can we reach a compromise? 

ROMNEY:  There‘s no question but that we can find common ground on health care to get our citizens ensured.  We‘ve proven that in Massachusetts.  I think others are going to find their own experiences will prove that.  One thing I don‘t believe in, and something which Barack Obama says he supports, which is the single payer system.  That‘s the wrong way to go.  We don‘t want the government to be the single payer for health care in this country.  It would be a terrible mistake.  That‘s a place where you‘ll see John McCain and Barack Obama as far apart as you can imagine. 

MATTHEWS:  Well good luck on Friday, governor.  We do think you‘re going to get picked for vice president.  Good luck on Friday.  MSNBC will covering all the ceremonies as that takes place.  Thank you very much for joining us at the Democratic convention, Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts. 

In one hour from now, Keith Olbermann and I will be together for all night coverage of the big second night of the Democratic National Convention, featuring keynoter Mark Warner and the big night, the headliner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, tonight on MSNBC. 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

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